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Warmoth - Am I unreasonable or is their customer service terrible?

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  • Warmoth - Am I unreasonable or is their customer service terrible?

    So, after pondering the idea for a long time I decided to finally build a guitar. The original plan of a pretty standard Jazzmaster quickly got out of hand. Swamp ash body with quilted maple top, jungle burst finish, white binding, 3 P90s, roasted maple neck, ebony fretboard, stainless frets...

    I got everything from Warmoth except the pickup switch, pots, tuners, and nut. It ended up somewhere around $2,100, but it looks awesome and will definitely be one of a kind. My first mistake was not looking things over as carefully as I could. I inspected each piece, but didn't test fit anything. I finished the neck myself so that took a little time, then started on the body, shielding, string ferrules, etc. When I finally slipped the neck onto the body I found a problem.

    The neck fits nicely in the pocket, but the pocket wasn't cut right or finished right.

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    I think the body should have been cut so the neck and body were flush on the bottom like everything I have is, including a cheapo Squier Affinty. Or, at minimum, the edge should have been rounded and painted at least a little into the pocket. Now, this is something I can fix, but, given what I spent, I don't think I should have to.

    I emailed Warmoth, sent pictures, and asked for opinions. They replied that that happens because the neck and body aren't made together as a matching set. That is nonsense since the only way for the bare wood to be covered would be if the neck heel was wider, but then it wouldn't fit in the pocket. The solution he offered was for me to cover it with nail polish.

    The next day I decided to call and talk to someone about it. The guy on the phone told me it looks like the neck fits the pocket really well, so there shouldn't be any playability issues and since you cannot see that part when you are playing it, they don't see it as a problem.

    Needless to say, they won't be getting any more of my money. I was really surprised because there are stories all over the internet about how great their stuff is and how easy they were to deal with. I was never rude or impolite. I simply pointed out a problem and waited for a response.

    I'm anticipating other issues as well, but, again, things I'll be able to fix. I can't tell for sure until I'm ready to put strings on it, but it looks like the pickups will be solid against the body and still too high. I hope not, but, like I said, that's fixable as well.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    If you look at the other W* thread I mentioned that I just bought a W* neck and an American Special Strat loaded body. The fit of the neck into the body was flawless. I was totally amazed that two parts could be manufactured by two different companies and that the fit could be so perfect, better than every F* guitar I've owned. And I mean perfect -- the fit could not possibly have been better. I have nothing to complain about, so I never bothered to contact W* customer support.

    With that said, the neck was not flawless. The 22nd fret was installed at a bit of an angle, where it appeared that the tang of the fret bent sideways a bit as it was being press fitted. The result was that the spacing between the 21st and 22nd frets was not uniform on the E and e sides. I decided not to bother with a return, as I didn't think the problem was significant enough to be noticeable in practical use. So I can say that although the neck was definitely not perfect, I accepted it as it was and I didn't bother to contact C/S.

    As good as the neck/body fit was between he W and F parts, I ended up returning the body, as it had a defect elsewhere.

    My impression of W* is that they're good about allowing you to perform a return/rejection during the allotted time period, but once that time period expires your only option is a warranty claim, and warranty claims are up to their discretion as they build to their own standards. I hate to say it, but if their standards are not up to yours, you should have returned the defective parts right away. Now all you can do is argue with the guy who made your body that he didn't make it right. Chances are they're not going to be helpful. I suppose your only other option might be to seek help from your CC company.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

    "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

    Comment


    • #3


      I wouldn't be happy with that fitment either. But I have to admit, I can't tell from the pic why that non-colored part of the body is visible. The angle of the photo doesn't allow me to tell if the problem is that the neck's base is tapered, so it's more narrow at the bottom than at the top and creates a gap, or if the mortise in the body is not vertical and creates a gap. Can you provide a better pic?

      It certainly looks like the neck-body fitment is tight up top, but I don't understand why the fit is bad at the bottom.

      Where are you in The Region?
      "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

      "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

      Comment


      • #4
        That IS odd. It looks like the neck heel is tapered narrow toward bottom, the pocket is tapered wide toward the top or both.?. Also, the finish on those frets looks poor in the pic. Also, the fret edges look very steep and too sharp.

        EDIT: re: repair... If Warmoth doesn't step up and you choose to repair the fit, how do you plan to do that? You might try making a blank of the neck heel and carefully tapering the body to it, but that's going to take the cutaway out of plane visibly unless you also pull the binding, re rout the top corner for it and replace it. The actual "finish" probably won't be hard to match, but the color/s surely will. And the level of expertise required for a good repair here is very high. So far Warmoth is trying the "Hands in our pockets and whistling" approach. I wouldn't accept that. I know it's a bird in the hand right now, but it's a turkey. Force the issue. If you take this problem to any authority you'll win. Part of their service and product at the prices they charge is fit and finish. That is a fail. You'll win.
        Last edited by Chuck H; 05-02-2018, 05:15 PM.
        "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

        "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

        "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
          That IS odd. It looks like the neck heel is tapered narrow toward bottom, the pocket is tapered wide toward the top or both.?. Also, the finish on those frets looks poor in the pic. Also, the fret edges look very steep and too sharp.
          yeah, that's what i was thinking. it looks like a taper of some kind, but i'm not sure. we need better pics to know for sure. what we really need to see are pics of the neck and the body with a caliper/ruler to show their actual dimensions, and the specification images from the W site that tells us what the measurements should be. If those measurements differ then they have to take it back.

          were both the body and the neck ordered on the same ticket? as in advertised to be 100% compatible by fit, and specifically built for each other? if so then you've got a much better argument than if you purchased them separately. if you purchased them separately then all you have to go by is any deviation from their advertised dimensions.

          regarding those frets -- i think final fret dressing ends up being the responsibility of the builder.

          EDIT: re: repair... If Warmoth doesn't step up and you choose to repair the fit, how do you plan to do that? You might try making a blank of the neck heel and carefully tapering the body to it, but that's going to take the cutaway out of plane visibly unless you also pull the binding, re rout the top corner for it and replace it. The actual "finish" probably won't be hard to match, but the color/s surely will. And the level of expertise required for a good repair here is very high. So far Warmoth is trying the "Hands in our pockets and whistling" approach. I wouldn't accept that. I know it's a bird in the hand right now, but it's a turkey. Force the issue. If you take this problem to any authority you'll win. Part of their service and product at the prices they charge is fit and finish. That is a fail. You'll win.
          I wouldn't be happy with them standing with their hands in their pockets and whistling. I'd give them the option to fix the problem before I made a decision never to buy another one of their products.

          From a practical standpoint, you're not going to get anywhere until you force the issue by shipping the parts back to them. Until that happens they'll just blow you off. Think about it -- in order to get anything replaced, which is what you want, you have to send it back. So do that now and get the ball rolling. They're not going to do anything but whistle until they get the guitar back.

          Before you ship it, take extensive photos from several angles, and be sure that they illustrate the dimensions of the neck and the mortise, using a ruler and/or calipers. And compare those dimensions to the published specs for the neck and the mortise. Something subjective, like a gap, is difficult to explain to a CC company, but something objective, like measurements that don't meet the advertised specs, are easy for a CC clerk to understand. If the measurements of the actual parts don't meet their advertised specs then your credit card company should force a refund for an item purchased that was defective/not as advertised. Get plenty of pictures to prove your case and hold their feet to the fire.

          At an absolute minimum, if they come back with the opinion that nothing is wrong and the guitar is playable and you should dress it up with nail polish (gads!) I think they should offer to re-shoot the body to colorize and finish the mortise, so that there's no visible bare wood. You paid for a premium finish, and they should give you that. In the best case scenario they'll replace the defective part, or parts. But if they won't give you satisfaction, then use your CC company to stick it to them.

          The way I see it, the only problem that you have is that you blew off the return period, and then you finished the neck. They are likely to claim that your decision to finish neck is evidence of your acceptance of the parts as satisfactory, and finishing makes the neck non-returnable. So you're in kind of a gray area, as you shouldn't have modified the product by finishing it. They'll claim that was proof of acceptance of the on your part, according to their terms of sale. But if the pocket is where the measurements are off, you won't need to return the neck.

          I'd photograph everything, box it all up, and call the CC company. You've got no choice but to send everything back to Warmoth. I'm willing to bet that they'll be a lot more cooperative once the guitar is in their hands and the CC company pulls the money back. That gives them incentive to help you that they don't seem to be expressing right now.
          "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

          "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

          Comment


          • #6
            Can you provide a better pic?
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            I've never owned a Jazzmaster and they (at least this one) are cut differently around the neck than all of the Strats I own. It does seem that, because of this, there would have to be some weird angles on the body for the neck bottom to be flush with the body. Maybe none are? Either way, if the finish had covered the neck pocket in that spot it would have seemed perfectly normal to me. From a feel and aesthetic point of view I think the neck should be flush with the body, but, that doesn't seem practical by design. The exposed neck pocket is the thickness of the body where it tapers into the neck pocket.

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            It certainly looks like the neck-body fitment is tight up top, but I don't understand why the fit is bad at the bottom.

            Where are you in The Region?
            Schererville

            Also, the finish on those frets looks poor in the pic. Also, the fret edges look very steep and too sharp.
            The frets aren't that bad. They are steep but they tell you final finishing may be necessary. There's a little bit of finish (from me) on some of them. It scrapes right off, but I haven't done a final cleanup yet. I'm letting it cure fully so I can sand and buff.

            I know it's a bird in the hand right now, but it's a turkey. Force the issue.
            My brain tells me to do that, but I'm not sure I have the desire right now to start a battle. They might take it back, leaving me with nothing. They might throw some paint on it, but I can do that (not nail polish). Everything below the binding is black and should be easy enough to blend. Shipping it back puts me out the cost of boxing and shipping and gives it more opportunity to be damaged.

            The thing I still can't wrap my head around, and maybe why I decided to post in the first place, is their attitude about the whole thing. I couldn't believe the nail polish suggestion. I assumed they might offer me a couple resolution options and at least an apology, maybe some cash off the next purchase (which I was planning). Then, when I called and was told, "You can't see it when you are playing it." I was speechless. I'm still having trouble understanding all the stories about them bending over backwards for customers. Something has obviously changed there. I assume I just talked to some low level sales/customer service reps. It would be nice to get an official company point of view from someone a little higher up

            were both the body and the neck ordered on the same ticket? as in advertised to be 100% compatible by fit, and specifically built for each other? if so then you've got a much better argument than if you purchased them separately. if you purchased them separately then all you have to go by is any deviation from their advertised dimensions.
            I bought the neck a week after the body because I was still deciding on options. Since the body was going to take longer than the neck by 2-3 weeks I didn't see that as a problem. Interestingly, they both shipped the same day. with the exception of the exposed, unfinished wood, the neck fits the pocket perfectly. Tight, but not overly so. Holes line up perfectly.

            The binding changes things a lot. I wonder how may are made that way. Because of the binding the top isn't rounded into the sides like a normal Jazzmaster. Not sure if that had any effect on the CNC process that could have contributed to the neck pocket issue.

            I think I can match the paint and color enough of the pocket so it looks right. For what it's worth, here's what the rest looks like.

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            Comment


            • #7


              wow, that's what i call quilt!



              looking at that pencil line photo, i think i understand now -- they wrote their CNC program to make the width of the shelf flush with the outside edge of the body rather than flush with the inside edge of the mortise. If we assume that the same CNC program is run on all of those bodies, then the next one is guaranteed to be just like the one you have. that's a design error.

              looking at the final photo of the complete guitar, that little shelf is plainly visible from far away. that would really annoy me.

              I think the CNC programming is the first problem. but if we accept that the CNC programming is what it is, and that's not a defect, then there's a second problem that needs to be dealt with -- the finishing should cover up that shelf. not painting that shelf is a workmanship problem that they need to correct.

              i guess they could fix the problem either one of those two ways, rewriting the CNC or changing the way they do finishing.

              i think the best solution involves painting the shelf yourself, and calling warmoth to ask to speak to someone higher up. even if you don't press to return the body, the higher-ups need to know that you're not happy and that they've blown their next sale. the need to hear this feedback. maybe even read this thread. and someone in C/S needs a talking to about how to handle customer complaints. i think they really dropped the ball here. that nail polish comment destroys their credibility.
              Last edited by bob p; 05-03-2018, 04:11 AM.
              "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

              "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

              Comment


              • #8
                Ok... Rethinking a possible solution that doesn't involve taking the cutaway surface noticeably out of plane or require pulling the binding to avoid thinning it's profile...

                It might be possible to angle just a tad. Hopefully so little that the plane will be preserved visually. This would recess the sharp angle at the pocket edge a couple of millimeters. But not into the actual point. Hopefully it would just make it more of a right angle to the heel plane (if you get my meaning). I don't think this would cause a visual thinning in the binding. This depends on your finishing skills. If you got nitro, blending the finish should be easy. See below.
                Attached Files
                Last edited by Chuck H; 05-03-2018, 02:58 PM.
                "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                Comment


                • #9
                  Incidentally, who drew that pencil line? If that was already there when you got the body it represents an obvious failure during production to meet dimensional spec IMO.
                  "Take two placebos, works twice as well." Enzo

                  "Now get off my lawn with your silicooties and boom-chucka speakers and computers masquerading as amplifiers" Justin Thomas

                  "Being born on third base and thinking that you must have hit a triple is pure delusion!" Steve A

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chuck H View Post
                    Incidentally, who drew that pencil line? If that was already there when you got the body it represents an obvious failure during production to meet dimensional spec IMO.
                    I drew the pencil line

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      any news?
                      "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                      "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bob p View Post
                        any news?
                        Not much progress yet. Between work and some personal issues I'm dealing with I haven't had much time to do anything. I put a little more effort into the neck because I thought the finish on the headstock could be improved a little. The neck was purchased unfinished, so no fault of Warmoth here.

                        They were pretty clear about their position, so I won't be wasting time trying to deal with Warmoth any more. I hate to do that, but I don't see the effort worth any improvement to the situation they might eventually offer. It's too bad because I do like the variety of options they offer, and was already thinking about my next build. I'll have to see what other sources are available.

                        I do have a little time off now and fully expect to have a complete guitar in about a week. I'll post pictures when it's done.

                        I talked to my brother, who is a lot better at this than I am, and he's pretty confident we can make it look good. It will be a minimalist repair. Neck and body won't be flush, but, as is, the body is only about 0.050" too wide. We can roll the corner a bit and blend the finish into the neck pocket and it should look fine. If not, we can attempt something a little more drastic.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          In talking to customer service you can always ask to speak to the agent's boss and the agent's boss's boss...

                          Steve A.
                          The Blue Guitar
                          www.blueguitar.org
                          Some recordings:
                          https://soundcloud.com/sssteeve/sets...e-blue-guitar/
                          .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think that the problem with your guitar was due to a CNC programming error when they designed that body; they made the shelf width match the outside of the mortise rather than the inside, and that creates the lip/shelf that's demonstrated by the pencil line. Because the error is embedded in the CNC programming every JM that they make is going to come out exactly like that.

                            If that's the situation then I don't think talking on the phone with anyone is going to help, unless you get hold of the guy who wrote the CNC program and you can convince him that he screwed it up, so that *he* tells his boss and management becomes aware of the problem. He's the only one who is going to understand the problem well enough to understand that it was a design error and until he admits it, then management is unlikely to admit that there is a problem. Chances are that everyone else just has faith in the computer and is going to say "the computer does everything and it never makes misteaks."

                            That's too bad, as it's a definite case of Warmoth making a substandard product that contains an obvious workmanship/design error, and not being willing to admit it, much less do anything about it. I'm thinking that the moral of the story (for me at least) is to stick with the ultra-common bodies like the Strat and Tele which have had all of the bugs worked out. Obviously their Jazzmaster hasn't been fully debugged, and that model should be avoided.

                            I think you got screwed. I think that you have a definite beef, and I think that it's important for you to get the word out. As good as most W products seem to be, this is NOT one of them, and I think it's important to get the word out that while their Strats and Teles are OK, that the Jazzmaster body design is defective and should be avoided. I honestly wonder whether they have the same problems with some of their other less common "custom" bodies. This definitely tempers my enthusiasm when it comes to considering any of their other body designs. In other words, I'm never going to take the risk.

                            Thanks for making us aware of the problem. If I were in your shoes I would fully document every step in the fix and post the story on all of the builder sites. IMO this is the kind of information that people need to know about.
                            "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

                            "I happen to have an original 1955 Stratocaster! The neck and body have been replaced with top quality Warmoth parts, I upgraded the hardware and put in custom, hand wound pickups. It's fabulous. There's nothing like that vintage tone or owning an original." - Chuck H

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ok, so I rounded off the edge of the neck pocket so there wasn't a sharp edge and blended the finish into the pocket enough to cover the exposed part.

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                              Here is the end result. Honestly, if it had arrived like this, I never would have given it a second thought. As designed, the neck pocket has to be wider than the neck heel. It was a minor thing, and fairly easy to correct, but something that absolutely had to be done to look right. It's sad that Warmoth had the attitude they did. I'll never buy from them again, but I am happy with what I finally ended up with.

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                              It plays pretty well, but I'm going to give it some time to settle and do whatever it's going to do with string tension on it, then do some final fret work and setup. This is my only guitar with P90s and I'm really happy with them. Hard to describe the sound. It's definitely different than anything else I have. It has standard Strat pickup switch wiring, but the volume control is push-pull to turn on the neck pickup, allowing a 7 combinations.

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