Online guitar related shopping experiences—the good and the bad

Last month, Mick from the Guitarist Guild forums posted a thread asking what experiences people had to share regarding online purchases (related to guitar gear). I shared my list of mostly good experiences and thought I’d expand upon that here. Why? Because although the experiences have been mostly good—actually, very good—there is that one bad experience I’d like to get out there and finally move on from. That experience is the Buddemeyer Hangnail Pro guitar that never happened and left me out-of-pocket $625USD.

At the time of writing this, it’s been two years since the Buddemeyer Hangnail Pro project both began and ended. In October 2012 I sent my initial deposit to have a Buddemeyer Hangnail Pro guitar built for me in the Smoke finish (trans-black basically). Photographs of a similar guitar were shared online and I wrote about it. Things were looking good.

In January 2013 I wrote an update that included photographs of my own Buddemeyer Hangnail Pro guitar nearing completion. Things continued to look good. By this stage I’d sent the second deposit which covered the entire guitar build (but not delivery).

Then things went pear shaped.

Faults were apparently noticed in the guitar build. Derek Buddemeyer (the guy I was ordering this guitar though) tried to get the faults repaired several times, but essentially couldn’t. So there was no guitar coming my way anytime soon.

Here’s the quick rundown on how things went down:

  1. 22 October 2012
    Send the first $400USD for the guitar’s body and neck construction.
  2. 13 December 2012
    Get sent photographs of the guitar body and neck in place. Send the second $400USD to purchase the hardware and finish the guitar.
  3. 25 January 2013
    Get sent new photographs of an almost completed guitar. Get told the guitar should be completed in one week.
  4. 10 February 2013
    Get informed a new guitar case had to be ordered and mailing of the completed guitar is not far away.
  5. 12 February 2013
    Get informed the guitar neck has fissures and that the paint is not matching from neck to body. A new guitar builder apparently needs to be sourced as the original builder won’t fix the issues.
  6. 25 February 2013
    Get informed there now is no new guitar builder. Buddemeyer Hangnail Pro guitars are all now on hold. Get reimbursed $175USD with a promise to deliver the remaining $625USD in a week’s time.

There has been nothing since that date.

So I was refunded a small amount of money, but not the full amount (leaving me out $625USD). Over the next 20 months there would be promises of money to come or situations to change that would result in a full refund and/or a replacement guitar for the one I’d never received. They never came to fruition. I’ll always have these photographs though. I doubt they’re worth $625USD.

Was I offered monthly payments over the last two years to slowly pay back the money I’d lost? No. Was there an offer to receive $625USD worth of free guitar lessons when Derek started offering guitar lessons online? No. Not that I’d have taken them.

Have I given up on ever seeing my money? Absolutely. Do I wish bad things for Derek? Absolutely not. That’s not how I roll. I’ve had several people ask me why I’ve not written about this earlier. I guess part of me continued to believe it would be resolved. I no longer believe that. Nothing more to lose and nothing to gain.

Obviously that bad experience did make me overly cautious the next few times I went to buy something guitar related online. As you can imagine, a financial loss of hundreds of dollars is hard to move on from. However, I refuse to believe all people are evil. So I saved up my money (again) and went looking for someone else to build me an affordable custom electric guitar. I was however going to be overly cautious this time. I was going to be a royal pain in the backside for the next company I purchased from online. Moniker Guitars was the first to experience that annoying side of me.

Kevin from Moniker Guitars put up with countless emails from me when I decided to purchase a custom guitar from them. I’m pretty sure that’s why they posted so regularly on their website and through social media about my guitar build. There was a cool web page on the Moniker Guitars website which was updated regularly and I loved seeing the progress. I may have over-shared the progress on my social media accounts.

Moniker Guitars restored my faith in online guitar companies. My custom Reedsdale was delivered in record time and to this day it is a guitar I get a lot of commentary on. I also happen to still love it. How could I not? It’s such a sexy guitar!

My Moniker Guitars custom Reedsdale
My Moniker Guitars custom Reedsdale

Another great experience I had was with Pro Tone Pedals. This good experience occurred around the same time as the failed Buddemeyer Hangnail Pro guitar actually. So I had 100% faith at this time.

I’d been following Pro Tone Pedals on various social media networks (I continue to do so) and saw them post about a drastically reduced Skumstortion pedal. I was actually trying to fix my mother-in-law’s Internet connection at the time I noticed the sale. I’d just repaired her connection and tested it by going to my Twitter feed—Perfect luck and timing.

Skumstortion
Skumstortion

My Pro Tone Pedals Skumstortion pedal arrived quickly and I loved it. From memory I made my first ever YouTube guitar-related video for this pedal—it’s long gone now. It’s a terrible video, but I gave it a shot all the same. So now I’m at 2/3 positive online experiences. Majority rules!

In the time since that initial bad experience, I’ve also had other good experiences. I’ve purchased a Marshall MG15HFX amplifier through an eBay store. I was cautious and read eBay reviews like nobody’s business. That went perfectly. I’ve purchased many other items (such as countless Joyo guitar pedals and miscellaneous guitar hardware) through eBay and they have all gone to plan. I was always cautious.

My most current online experience is with Dialtone Pickups. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook then you’ve seen me reference them. They’re the reason I’m going to the 2015 Winter NAMM for starters. That is the most impressive positive experience I’ve had to date. They’re also putting together a set of their awesome pickups for me so I can install them into my Schecter Omen 6. That is going to be awesome.

Once that has happened and the pickups are in place, I feel like my online guitar related experiences have been at least 80% positive. It’s unfortunate the 20% (approx) set me back $625USD, but I do try to focus on the positive when I am able.

My advice to you if you’re buying guitar gear online?

  1. Research the company/individual you’re contemplating making a purchase from.
  2. Use PayPal when you can for their buyer protection (I did this for the Buddemeyer Hangnail Pro experience but unfortunately didn’t contact PayPal within 30 days of things going pear shaped).
  3. Research the company/individual you’re contemplating making a purchase from.
  4. Trust your gut.
  5. Research the company/individual you’re contemplating making a purchase from.

If you do those things, hopefully your online guitar related shopping experiences will be 100% positive. Good luck to you.

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