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Venting: Story about an incompetent luthier.


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I've recently decided to give rechargeable 9-volt batteries a try. Considering that I run two (soon to be a 3rd) 18-volt preamp basses and an ebow with some regularity and also have in my arsenal 3 acoustic-electric instruments, and occasionally find myself ponying up a 9-volt here and there when a band member's pedal or wireless pack goes out, I figured it would be worth the investment.


So I bought a charger and a bunch of batteries, and immediately ran into a little problem. The battery cavity of both of my Peavey Cirrus basses is barely big enough for the slimmest profile 9-volt batteries you can find. I can usually fit Energizers in without a problem, but Duracell can be a squeeze, and the Local Music Store (LMS) carries Danelectro batteries that are also a squeeze. Sometimes I have to use a screwdriver or allen wrench to pry the things out of the cavity when it's time to change them.


Well, I charged up a pair of my $12-a-pop Radio Shack batteries, opened up my fretless's battery cavity, and much to my chagrin, there was absolutely no hope of fitting those things in. Since it had always been a problem, I figured now was the time to do something about it.


Before my lesson at the LMS (Local Music Store) Monday, I went in to their luthier, a young-20's guy named D.W. For three or four minutes, and in the presence of Danny, who is the drum/guitar salesman and who I have known for about a year, I explained to him that I needed the battery cavity enlarged. We opened it, and I removed the two Energizers in there and demonstrated to him with the 2 Radio Shack batteries how they wouldn't fit. I said he could rout it or power sand it or whatever, and that I would have done it myself but I didn't want to go to the trouble of buying the electrical insulation goop or whatever that you have to coat it with.


D.W. said that Mark (the manager and other luthier) had a Dremel or power sander or something but that he would be in the next day. He (D.W.) wrote down my name, my cell phone number, and something like "Enlarge battery housing" on a little tag and put it on the bass. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that D.W. understood perfectly what I wanted done, and I even left the rechargeable batteries there so they would know exactly how big they needed to make it. I also let him know that I would prefer to have the bass back by Thursday evening for practice, and he assured me that it wouldn't be a problem.


Yesterday, Thursday, by 5:30 I hadn't heard from them so I went over there after work. I walked in and neither D.W. nor Mark was around, but I could see my bass hanging on the wall with a piece of paper wedged in the strings. I asked Danny if he knew whether or not it was finished, and since he didn't know, we walked over to check it out.


I noticed as I brought down my bass that the piece of paper in the strings was actually the cardboard backing for the Danelectro-brand batteries that LMS stocks. Okay...I turned it over and written thereupon was this note: "Changed batteries, charge only for batteries ($3.99)"




I immediately voiced my concern to Danny as I rolled my bass over and got out a screwdriver. Sure enough, upon removing the battery plate I discovered two brand new Danelectro batteries comfortably nestled in an untouched, factory-finished battery housing.


Now, I rarely if at all raise my voice. However, I'm pretty good at modulating the intensity of my voice when I'm angry. While not directing my ire at Danny himself, I let him know exactly how annoyed I was as I looked around the luthier's workbench for my now-missing rechargeable batteries. I admit that my thoughts were probably too clouded to have looked in the trash can, which is where the batteries probably were at one time.


I told Danny that I would be back after work today (D.W. is apparently off work today, but Mark is there) to pick up my bass, and if it wasn't ready, I would be there just after they opened Saturday morning. I didn't threaten anything or to take my business elsewhere or whatever. I just made it clear that I expected to see a larger battery cavity with two Radio Shack rechargeables in it.


Of course, I didn't need to remind Danny that I've spent just shy of $10,000 at this store over the past years, including a Yamaha Clavinova, my other Cirrus, my 12-string guitar, my mandolin, several mics and mic stands and music stands and miscellaneous percussion instruments and a fat stack of music and instruction books and luthier work. He knows all that, and if he (and Mark) know what's good for the store, there will be an expertly-enlarged battery cavity with two rechargeable batteries in it when I show up this evening.


To be continued...


EDIT: And yes, I'm just glad at this point that I didn't discover my bass was equipped with two and a half battery housings and a new low-quality preamp and a sheetmetal pickguard or something...

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Remember back in 4th grade when the teacher gave you a page with instructions on it, went something like this:


1. Write your name at the top of the page.

2. Say your name out loud.

3. Tap your pencil on your desk.....

45. Do not follow these instructions.


Yeah. Now you remeber.


That excercise was to teach people to read instructions.

- Matt W.
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I remember those stupid direction following tests: I got one in 7th grade and promptly read through the directions. When I got to the last line, I understood the point of the asignment but I also realized that it made no sense- why would the important direction be the last one? The entire set of directions is a fallacy.
...think funky thoughts... :freak:
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Originally posted by bikertrash:

It would appear to me that the Gods have given you a warning. Had I been you, I would have grabbed my bass on the spot and run screaming from the store.


Giving them another shot at you seem ill-advised at best.

And in retrospect, I agree that you are correct. I should have just left them their batteries, taken my bass and the $25 loss on my batteries and maybe sorted it out later. Now it's a hostage to their incompetence. :/
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You missed an important detail in your description of the good old list of instructions thing. There's supposed to be something at the top that says "Read over the instructions before beginning." The point being that even when you are explicitly told this, most people don't bother and just start in on the steps.
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Good news, my batteries were resting safely in a drawer. When I talked to Mark, the other luthier this morning, he said that he plugged them in first and didn't think they had a high enough voltage level to sound good and that he also was wary of using rechargeables because they occasionally leak. So he didn't want to take a router to the bass, on principle of how beautiful it is.


On the downside, those Danelectro batteries either suck, or my maple fretted bass is just a LOT livelier than the walnut fretless. Their output levels are vastly different. Maybe I need to raise the pickups or something.


So, no boycott yet. But I would have liked a phone call or a more specific note left on the bass. :)

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I have found that a 9 volt rechargeable only puts out 7.5 volts. Somewhere there must be a maker of rechargeable 9 volt batteries that actually put out 9 volts, but I've been unable to find them.


I've also found that rechargeables are slightly bigger than regular batteries and don't fit everywhere.


I have no idea what the battery manufacturers are thinking.


Glad to hear that the result of your repair escapade was actually good and we didn't all descend on the shop with pitchforks and flaming torches.

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I'm also glad it turned out okay, now that you had a chance to talk to the right guy. It sure would have been nice if these guys who work together had some better note writing & reading skills.


Somewhere I have seen an article or chart about the variance in battery output. This would be a good place for a link... but I have no clue where I saw the info.


Hope it all comes out in the wash.

- Matt W.
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