It went to McCabes in Santa Monica- the repair job was very well done,and the store is one of my favorites. However-the luthier who worked on it seems to have a habit in saying one thing,and then does another when it comes to prices,etc.
So I'm presenting this blog entry to try to help you learn how not to have this happen to you,not as an attack on the store.
When the uke was dropped off at the store for me,(McCabes is not close to my home and was close to where my friend lives) I called the luthier and discussed prices. I was clear that I didn't want the repair to go to $150 or beyond. If it did,I told him,I'd just buy a brand new banjo uke and sell this one as a repair project. He said he understood and would let me know.
Another call from this guy stated the repair shouldn't be expensive,and I was given the impression is would be below the price limit I set with him. To be fair, the uke was missing tuners,tailpiece,and bridge and I was to pay for replacement parts,which I totally expected...which would also include buying a string set. I had no problem with this.
A few months went by,and I got the call from the repair guy. They found the needed bracket,it was fixed,and labor was $125,he didn't have the bill in front of him,(I wanted to know the cost of the parts) and,he told me,they had found a used gig bag for it,which they were throwing in for free. I was happy.
But,as my Dad often told me, "get it in writing",which I didn't. So when the guy who dropped it off went to pick it up,he called from the store. He told me the cost was........ $191.00. And the free gig bag? That was now $25.00. I about fell over. That was way more than I wanted to put in for having this uke fixed,and like I said,I would've picked up a new banjo uke which usually comes with a free gig bag.
I felt like the horse had left the barn at this point and paid the $191,and told my friend to forget the gigbag and remind the repairman that the bag was supposed to be free. The repairman didn't remember ever saying that or the price limit I had set,allegedly.
Needless to say this initially kinda soured getting the ukulele back. I did call McCabes and asked to speak with a manager,who wasn't there.
An employee wanted to understand my story,so I calmly explained my side of it,and stated the reason for this call is I felt that the manager should know what's going on with this particular luthier. (my friend who dropped an instrument off at the same store to be repaired by the same guy had the same experience) The employee took my phone #,promising the manager would call back to discuss how to make this right.
I've never received a phone call,and it's been about 2 weeks.
Please understand this is not a slam against McCabes. I took a lot of music lessons there as a teen,and the store has a special place in my heart.
However- there seemed to be some integrity missing when it comes to prices with this particular repair guy. And I imagine this happens at other stores,too.
So-when you take an instrument-any instrument- in for repair or adjustment anywhere,get the cost in writing. If the job is going to go over the amount limit you have set,be sure the repairman or woman understands and lets you know before the work is done. Get your price limit in writing as well,so you have proof. And date the estimate you get,and have you and the repair person sign it.
To end on an up note,the repair was a top notch job. There were some parts replaced that IMO didn't need to be,like the J hooks and nut. They were replaced to make the uke look better,and it's been really nicely cleaned and polished up. The action is superb,intonation is spot on and the volume and ring is so strong I had to wrap a thick sock around the coordinator rod! I am enjoying playing it,and I am pleased that a 1920's uke was saved from going into the trash or left to rot in a box. I'm now using it in western swing,swing jazz,blues,and ragtime music.