I had a customer leave a Yamaha FG-150 red label acoustic for repairs. It's been almost a year now and I just discovered the s.o.b. skipped town!  I've got about $150 worth of repairs in it (bone nut & saddle, fret dress, small crack fix, strings, clean & polish) and I'm about to take it into one of my client shops and put it on consignment for a 20% fee.

The guitar was made in Taiwan in the early 70's, has a laminate top but it sounds pretty good, all things considered. Functional chipboard case. The action is nice and everything's intact.  Ebay prices are all over the board, so that hasn't been a great help. Any clues as to what I should be asking, in order to get my $$ out, pay the 20% and still be in the ballpark?  

This doesn't occur often, so I'm not terribly concerned about collecting $$ up-front, but does anyone do that? Is it becoming more commonplace? 

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If it's convenient, you might consider Craigslist and ask $150, but take a lower offer if it's reasonable. Any more time wasted on this repair is, of course, money out of pocket. I have an older Aria LP that is here for similar reasons. I'm only asking for the amount of the repair (I had a 6th sense telling me not to take the job, as it was close to the value of the guitar and the owner seemed I've had only a couple of deadbeats in 2 decades so I'm not bothered much by it.

Hi Mike.

The red lable doesn't increase the demand unless it says "Nippon Gakki" on it. It seems everyone looks for the MIJ models although the Taiwanese models are just as adequate.

I recently was offered $125 for my MIJ FG-75. Like yours,[different model of course] I did some work to it & it played like butter.  You bet I took the offer!

This [your] guitar would sell for between $115 & $135 (all figures in U$D) in the shop I do repairs for.  Unfortunately, bone upgrades etc., don't mean a thing to buyers in that price range.  If it were mine, I'd consign it for $125 & let the retailer keep anything over that.  If the dealer won't budge on the 20% consignment fee, then price it at $150.  That extra $25 though will cause it to sit for a while.

BTW: I did a quick scan of e-bay.  With few exceptions for higher priced Yamahas, nothing is getting bids if priced over $150.  You could always value it at $250 and donate it to a church or other NFP and take the tax write-off.


Also, the only time I charge anything in advance is when I have to order a specialized high ticket part.  I ask for 100% of the part cost + shipping up front.


Either way, best of luck with recovering your $$$,



I had a customer who owed me $350 on a '50s Danelectro U2. After around 14 months of phone calls, I sold it to a VERA grateful friend for that price.   I figure $125. should be good for that one though....

You are right, pricing on ebay is all over the place but it is a "red label" even if it doesn't have the magic words on it. If it were mine, and I didn't need the money right away, I think I would first try to make my money back before dropping the price too much. A lot of the guitars that list on ebay need work. It's already been through your shop so that's done. You can always come down in price. 


BTW, If you should decide to donate it to someone, I've been looking for a beater to fix then give to my church so that the kids that play will have a guitar available. I can get you a  letter of donation and I would pay the shipping and handling cost.  That said, I really think that some patience could get your money back.



Hi Ned.

Please e-mail me at

I may be able to help you out with a few beaters for your church.



I'd try to get @ $400'cause if it was made in the 70's and in great shape you know it'll outplay anything in that range these days and no China stickers is a plus! ching ching!I've played some sweet FG-150's....Guess I'm dreamin',hunh?I'll give you$75 which is half of what it says on the label!
CYA.... Most states require that you send a certified letter to the owner... even if it is returned.... it proves that you made an effort to contact the owner. Plus, most sates require that you wait 30 days after serving (or attempting to serve), before you can sell for the cost of repairs.

Good point, Chris. Thanks for the reality check. It's been a year so I'm no hurry.... I'll send a certified letter to his last known address (now vacant), wait for it come back and then wait a month. It's never been as issue up to this point, so it's not something I'm accustomed to dealing-with. 

Insofar as the value goes, I'd be pleased to sell it for $180, which would give me my $150 and the store owner can get his $30. If it goes for less, then I'm still breaking-even to a certain extent... and learning something along the way.

Thanks to all for the input.... much appreciated. 


I don't know if you've got the language on your estimate/service agreement but in Virginia it's a common requirement that the customer pay, or initially start to pay, within 30 days of an agreed upon completion date or notification of completion. - the same in KY, TN, and OH.  Afterward if the customer doesn't make arrangements suitable to the service center for payment and keep up with those payment the instrument may be sold for the cost of repairs plus a reasonable fee for dealing with the matter.  No notification letter need be sent if this language is included in/on the original "proceed with work" agreement!  And no one in the repair business should ever initiate repairs, order parts, or provide other than a brief description of work to be performed without a signed agreement.

I've got a stock form worked up on my computer in MS Word (linked to a Excel document for when things get complicated) that I can fill in, print off, and produce two "originals" - one for the customer and one for me (the document captures name, address, phone, e-mail and other electronic contact and, where not paying with cash or requiring a deposit, bank account contact and/or debit/credit card information with an agreement not to copy this and to destroy it in the customer's presence if fully paid in time - along with a reasonable service charge for handling debt depending on customer history including personal).  Most of this I had in the 1990s while managing my own  home shop the rest of which I "stole" (acquired with permission) when I managed a much larger long established electronics service shop. Perfectly legal, honorable, method of doing business that limits your "exposure" to 30 days by agreement.


Good thoughts, Rob.  I should probably make a stock repair order form and get things more "formal and solidified".  

The reality of working with individual customers has sorta' crept up on me. I started this little repair venture by doing repairs for 2 (sometimes 3) music stores in the area. It was nice to have the stores as the interface.... they would deal-with the individual customers and my only interaction with them was a phone call now & again to give in-hand estimates or ask q's about playing style or preferences, etc.  

Fast-forward to now, and many of these customers have opted to bypass the music stores and call me directly... or have recommended me to friends and they will call. Not complaining, mind you, but it's probably time to whip-up some sort of paperwork.  If yours if available for a gander, I surely wouldn't mind taking a look and see if it's applicable for me? 



I'll dust it off and send you a copy within the next few weeks - it's in the 2003 version of MS Word/Excel but you can sever the Excel part, Word has some internal calc. functions, since I was primarily doing electronics the Excel part is linked to an inventory spread sheet for a couple of what were then my primary vendors.  That way when I wanted to place an order I loaded this document to see if there was something else I was forgetting.

Most states allow you to also add "carrying charges" - interest on unpaid amounts - with some, DE I believe, going as far as 24% APR.  While my spiritual beliefs are a personal workable muddle I was raise Catholic and up until the middle ages the "Seven Deadly Sins" included "Usery" - loaning money for profit (this fall within that category of Roman Catholic official church beliefs - like celibate clergy - that the church claims it's never changed but has done so frequency - Catholics realized they were losing too much money in interest to Jews so "Usury" was changed to "Avarice," I believe - can't remember now).  Anyhoo, although I could, and most businesses do, charge interest on unpaid amounts I've always felt uncomfortable with the idea as I do with any of those "businesses" that make a profit simply by shifting paper/amounts and don't actually produce anything - to me that's much more "sinful" and was the origin of the Usary ban.  I do have some blurb on the invoice stating my right to charge interest "up to the current applicable state limit - I believe you can also allow language that provides for reimbursement for the costs of collection of due amount (but I feel these people are leeches within an industry rife with fraud and have never done so) so this may be a wise CYA that I'm ignoring.

Most localities have community colleges that every year or two offer a short course (about 5 evenings) on the paperwork side of small business management including necessary book keeping to keep the Feds off you back side in the unlikely case you get caught up in someone' audit - I used to teach a short course called something like "Handyman Book Keeping" or such back in the mid 1990s (long out of date by now I'm sure). But I'd check my local CC or even city govt. (during the Reagan yuppie years there were more individuals in adult ed. in Fairfax Co., VA than elementary school students!).

Sorry for the long answer but I believe the subject is applicable to all of us who are truly "small business-folk" (US Federal definition is 100 or fewer employees - that would be a major employer 'round these parts now).



if you want your money just charge for your repair, The guy defaulted over 1 year if 10 of your customers did this what would you do ...Blast it out on Face Book Craigs list and etsy charge $150 it will go quickly or maby save it for when you get one of those terriable repars in that you believe the customer will be happier with the Yamaha instead Or give it to a child it would be the greatest gift to Give Giving a child future is like ensuring Our Future as Luthiers...


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