Hi folks. In another life (read REAL job...being a Luthier is just part time) I work for an "online thrift shop" and spend my time evaluating musical instruments and electronics for them. Anyway, to make a long story short, much to my surprise I was presented with a 1968 Harmony Model 54 Rocket to get evaluated and eventually put online. She's a "purty thang" but unfortunately has been abused.
Hopefully the following picture(s) will help you understand my quandary...I know what I would say and charge as a repair fee, but that a) is just me and b) here in Colorado. My questions to the great people of the forum are:
a) is this repairable?
b) What would a gross estimated cost be for repair to just get it back into playing condition.
c) What would the full monty run (again gross).
I'm asking so that if the person who ends up buying this baby on line is not a luthier, what can they expect to be spending extra. This way, they know how much to think about spending.
I know this is a rather large imposition on the forum and I know that pictures only tell part of the story, but I want to do right by my customers and give them the best information I can.
I hope this doesn't break some good practice here on the forum...but I want the customer to have every chance to go in to this purchase with eyes wide open.
Thank you for your time. If you would rather respond via PM, please feel free.
Greg (The Lonely Luthier)
This type of side crack is very common on this series of Harmony guitars.
A bit of local humidification and a simple glue & clap should make it nearly invisible.
I can't give you info on restoring it to a playable state as there's not enough info and too many variables.
As far as pricing: you can only get that from the repair person you contract to repair it. There may be other unseen issues to address.
Thanks for your reply. I agree that the actual repair should be fairly easy. If I were to be the one to do it, my only concern would be matching the finish.
I've done a few just like that which required no touch-up if the clamping is done correctly. Some inventive internal/external jigging may be required to get the sides aligned well enough.
If I may suggest: just get it structurally sound and let the eventual buyer worry about finish touch ups. A visible repair on a guitar of that vintage and quality, done properly, looks more 'vintage correct' than a too perfect touch-up job. The 'problem' occurs when the repair site looks MUCH better than the original finish. Just call it a "character mark".
You shouldn't have a problem getting it to look great.
Have a good'un, Greg :)
I can only hope that I get to work on this baby. It would be a major feather in my cap.
The reason I was asking the question is to be able to give a price range for the repair to our customers who will be bidding on this instrument. That way, they can consider the cost of the guitar, the cost of the shipping (which would be close to $40 from Colorado to most any place) and then the cost of repair when they enter their bids. If I didn't try to do it that way, even if they know about the needed repair, they could be unhappy with the purchase. So in the listing, I would not only have pictures and a very good description of the features of the H54-1, but also attempt to give them a range of prices for the repair (like "Shipping is about $40 and repair estimates run somewhere between $150 and $750 depending on your location and any other undiscovered issues"). I feel that is the only way to do it.
Thanks again for your help!!!
Just my 2 cents worth.
I've spent a lot of time looking for project instruments online. It's my opinion that including as clear a description as you can make and as many good pictures as you can get /post is enough. In fact, I'd say that clear pictures are the most important part of disclosing existing issues based upon my own experience in spotting things that were not included in the description.
The truth of buying online is that nothing arrives in as good a condition as it seems in the ad. I think it partly the fact that most of the people writing the descriptions are not really qualified to evaluate the instrument properly AND the hopeful expectation of the bidders. I've had exact one (1) instrument exceed my (very low) expectation when dealing with a project instrument. It's just a given that there will be other problems.
In your case, I think you may be overthinking it by trying include an estimate of repair costs. There isn't any good way to determine just what will end up needing to be done by a paid repairman and what may be done by the new owner. There is also no way to estimate what the new owner will be willing to tolerate. In the end, I think it's more likely that any pseudo-accurate repair estimates will drive away potential buyers rather than attract them because everyone wants to think they can fix it or that it won't cost "all that much" to get it done. It's part of the mystic of bidding in an auction. If it were me, I'd just stick with the best pictures I can get and a clear description of the instrument and it's condition.
As I said, just my 2 cents.
Thanks for your 2 cents. I totally understand how you feel and I fall into the same gross group that you seem to be.
That having been said, I've been doing the musical instruments and electronics for my day job for almost a year now with the 7 months previous to that dealing with their collectible items (please read "antiques"). I take great pride in the fact that I have never overstated an item, nor have I ever had a complaint about my listings. I actually have a tendency to be overly critical of an item. And still my sales surpass all my "equal numbers". I owe this to my background and research and "brutal honesty".
Anyway, I agree, some people will shy away when I am honest. However, those will be the ones that if I don't over emphasize the negatives, will be the ones to most loudly complain. Those who stick in, will be pleased with the product that they receive, because it isn't as bad as they thought from my description. I guess you could say that I'm an "honest used car salesman" or "honest politician".
Again, thank you for your honest 2 cents. I truly will grasp your thoughts to my mind and use them as I write the description.
Sorry Greg, It seems that I made you feel that I thought you would be dishonest in your listing on this guitar. That's not my feeling at all. By all means, be one of the, very rare, listers that actually makes an accurate description. I've seen some that I felt were very fair but have only actually purchased the single one that turned out to be better that expected. The truth is that I would be willing to bid higher than I do IF I knew that I could trust the descriptions on the listing.
My point is that including an estimate on repair cost is a needless and possible counter productive thing to do. People like you and me will not need it and it has the potential of scaring away other less informed bidders. Personally I don't see this as dishonest in anyway as long as the description is honest and complete. It's the way the market works.
No need to be sorry, Ned. I didn't think for a second that you were suggesting that I was being dishonest at all.
Sorry for my rant, it's been a rather crazed week.
Yes, it might potentially be counter productive. I will keep that in mind and discuss it with my manager.
Once again, thank you for your 2 cents. It WAS helpful.
A guitar like that is attractive to the St. Christopher (patron saint of lost causes) contingent. If you were to post it for sale here, you'd probably stir a lot of interest, myself included. It is a good project guitar without much downside.
You deserve some fun. If you can, get it for yourself and fix it. Then post pictures.
Bless your 'lil ole heart. Thanks for that. I'd give various body parts (that aren't used anymore due to my advanced age) to be able to do the work.
Keep an eye out on the web. Probably on Monday the 9th or Tuesday the 10. I'm sure you'll see it and my description. The bidding is not local, but be forewarned that the shipping costs today can cause heart beat issues. But those of us who have G.A.S (or even I.A.S) and enjoy working on things will surely want to bid on it.
I think you'll find that's actually St Jude's job. St Christopher is far too busy trying to stop people crashing their cars to get involved in lost causes :-)
I had repeated Ian's post before reading it.