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View Full Version : Help: Looking for Toronto Repair Shop that is Not Completely Unreasonable



Kem
07-26-2011, 08:07 AM
So my little soprano has lost its bridge, and I would quite like to get it fixed without having to ship it across the border to the maker, inconveniencing both of us and costing a silly amount of money for shipping. I have called The Twelfth Fret, which is the logical place to go here for stringed-instrument repairs but which has a reputation for...well, let's say for tolerating the existence of the ukulele but rather wishing it didn't have to. On the phone, the guy first implied that it would not be worth his while to bother with a ukulele, then brusquely told me that it would cost $125 for a bridge repair, so I shouldn't even bother for a $200 instrument. He then hung up.

$125 does seem to be what TTF charges for this sort of repair on guitars. Is this reasonable? Am I going to get the same treatment from everyone I approach? I have a phone phobia and hate dealing with people in stores of any kind; I would very much like to get this done without being rejected and treated like an idiot by a dozen people before I find one willing to help. Does anyone know where I should go?

Mandarb
07-26-2011, 08:14 AM
I don't have any suggestions - I justed wanted to say....good luck, I hope you get it resolved.

Kem
07-26-2011, 08:24 AM
Thanks...I hope I do too. It's worth adding that though this is "only" a $200 instrument, it's hand-made and unique, and I love it and would like to be able to play it again. The guy at the shop was basically telling me that such a low-priced instrument was automatically a piece of garbage not worth bothering with.

Rick Turner
07-26-2011, 08:29 AM
There must be independent luthiers in Toronto who could do the work. Or call TTF and ask for David Wren, the owner.

WhenDogsSing
07-26-2011, 08:47 AM
I'd do it for you for free but you'd have to ship it. $125. is about $100. too much in my humble opinion.

Kem
07-26-2011, 08:50 AM
Yes, Vic will do it for free as well, and I'm fine with paying for the shipping both ways, but it seems like a lot of hassle and fiddling with customs for what should be a relatively simple repair.

WhenDogsSing
07-26-2011, 09:22 AM
Yes, Vic will do it for free as well, and I'm fine with paying for the shipping both ways, but it seems like a lot of hassle and fiddling with customs for what should be a relatively simple repair.

Hopefully, you will find someone in Toronto who can fix it for a reasonable cost.

Steve vanPelt
07-26-2011, 09:28 AM
If you don't get an answer here, try asking over here... http://www.luthiersforum.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=10101

RichM
07-26-2011, 09:34 AM
There must be independent luthiers in Toronto who could do the work. Or call TTF and ask for David Wren, the owner.

Sadly, David Wren is no longer with The Twelfth Fret, but Grant McNeill is. While I am not shocked by the repair price, I am shocked at the treatment Kem received; I have done business many times with The Twelfth Fret, and never been treated as rudely as Kem reports. That's not acceptable for any shop, and certainly not for a shop of TTF's caliber.

As far a prices go, I know Elderly charges around $90/hr for repair work, with a one hour minimum. That may sound like a lot, but you'll wait weeks to get a repair slot at Elderly, so they must be doing something right. It may be the same at TTF. A simple repair may be better to take to a smaller shop or an independent repair person. Good luck!

Kem
07-26-2011, 09:57 AM
Sadly, David Wren is no longer with The Twelfth Fret, but Grant McNeill is. While I am not shocked by the repair price, I am shocked at the treatment Kem received; I have done business many times with The Twelfth Fret, and never been treated as rudely as Kem reports. That's not acceptable for any shop, and certainly not for a shop of TTF's caliber.

As far a prices go, I know Elderly charges around $90/hr for repair work, with a one hour minimum. That may sound like a lot, but you'll wait weeks to get a repair slot at Elderly, so they must be doing something right. It may be the same at TTF. A simple repair may be better to take to a smaller shop or an independent repair person. Good luck!

It's quite possible I'm being overly sensitive and reading too much into what I perceived as the guy's tone. I expect, for instance, that he was just doing the math and figuring I was in danger of spending too much money repairing what he saw as a low-quality instrument. It was the fact that he left me entirely without options and dismissed me before I could ask any more questions that sort of stung. It kind of seemed that according to him, the only options available with ukes were: 1) spend money repairing your high-end instrument; 2) take a loss on the $200 junker, which clearly isn't worth getting fixed. I do not think of my little soprano as a junker, and I would like to take a third option. This particular uke is not replaceable.

Thanks for all the advice. The problem is that I don't know who the "smaller" Toronto luthiers are (someone did send me a suggestion via pm) and have an irrational fear of phoning a bunch of strangers and being sneered at. I know it's silly of me. I'm sure I'll figure something out in the end.

mr moonlight
07-26-2011, 11:00 AM
The price doesn't sound bad, but if the shop doesn't usually work with Uke's it may not be worth it for them. For a $200 uke, if you still have the bridge and it still has an exact perfect fit, I'd do it myself. You can pick up some titebond wood glue and bridge clamps for less than $125. With a soprano you may be able to just find some cheaper clamps at home depot... or you could use some 5min epoxy. The epoxy will be permanent and you can't mess up, but will definitely be the cheapest since you could just hold it there or 5 min. No need for clamps.

JamieFromOntario
07-26-2011, 11:04 AM
I'd give Dave Snider Music a call and see if they can do it. They aren't luthiers but they seem competent for simple repairs.

Rzr
07-26-2011, 12:18 PM
There is a local guy who does work through the Corktown jam. I had both my ukes set up by him. His name is Richard Bales and if you go about half way down the page on the the Corktown site http://www.torontoukes.com/ you will find a link that has info. If it doesn't work or if you have any questions just let me know.

Rick Turner
07-26-2011, 01:28 PM
Ultimately, the cost of a uke does not set the price to repair it; that is set by a usually reasonable hourly rate. Unfortunately, it often takes MORE time to work on an inexpensive instrument than on a more up-scale one. The one reason to put money into a "cheap" instrument is the emotional bond you may have with it. I have two inexpensive guitars that belonged to my dad: a Harmony archtop...yes, all plywood...and it needs a neck reset and a new bridge. The other is an entry level Gibson classical. Yes, I'll fix them both up and probably put as much into them as they'll be worth. I don't care.

This is quite different from guitars and ukes as pre-landfill...

I have stopped using Titebond on musical instruments in favor of LMI white glue (if you must use a simple modern one part glue) or for bridge reglues, hot hide glue, often referred to as HHG. Also, you must remove all old glue unless it's HHG. Modern glues do not stick well to older glue.

Vic D
07-26-2011, 02:58 PM
Guh!. That is not a junker. It is a loud and proud ambrosia maple ukulele with custom inlay and it's absolutely not a junker. That you got it for $200 bucks is the nature of eBay and I'm fine with that. My offer to pay the shipping both ways and repair it still stands. But I take issue with that cat calling my ukulele a junker. Please ship it to me, I'll send money up front via paypal for the shipping.

And yes I'm switching to LMI white and hide glue.

Thanks!
Vic (Blue freaking Frog) D!

Rzr
07-26-2011, 03:04 PM
Guh!. That is not a junker. It is a loud and proud ambrosia maple ukulele with custom inlay and it's absolutely not a junker. That you got it for $200 bucks is the nature of eBay and I'm fine with that. My offer to pay the shipping both ways and repair it still stands. But I take issue with that cat calling my ukulele a junker. Please ship it to me, I'll send money up front via paypal for the shipping.

Thanks!
Vic (Blue freaking Frog) D!
I know the shop he is talking about and although they sell some ukes it is still a guitar shop first. My guess is the guy just doesn't want to work on a uke and is a bit of a snob.

Vic D
07-26-2011, 03:13 PM
I seriously don't want that guy working on it and I'm so sorry you had to put up with that. That video where you were playing the uke made me beam, it sounds GREAT. I'll GLADLY pay the shipping both ways, I know you think it's too much for me out of pocket but I seriously want to fix it for you, a bit of pride I suppose. And it's my guarantee, so take advantage of it. Just message me with the info.

It'll take a couple months to get it back but it won't cost you a dime and it'll make me happy... seriously. And that bridge will NEVER come off again lol. Well... probably never.

Besides... I've got the new saddle held ransom ;)

Kem
07-26-2011, 05:57 PM
I seriously don't want that guy working on it and I'm so sorry you had to put up with that. That video where you were playing the uke made me beam, it sounds GREAT. I'll GLADLY pay the shipping both ways, I know you think it's too much for me out of pocket but I seriously want to fix it for you, a bit of pride I suppose. And it's my guarantee, so take advantage of it. Just message me with the info.

It'll take a couple months to get it back but it won't cost you a dime and it'll make me happy... seriously. And that bridge will NEVER come off again lol. Well... probably never.

Besides... I've got the new saddle held ransom ;)

Heh...I probably will send it to you. I would feel better if the person who originally made the uke repaired it, and no, I do not want to let that TTF guy near my ukulele. TTF is a wonderful store full of beautiful instruments (mostly guitars and banjos, with some mandolins and one wall lined with ukes), but the emphasis is on high-end guitars, and I do rather get the impression that the store stocks ukes mostly because people have been asking for them lately. (I did play a sweet little resonator there once. It had a lovely tone.)

I would absolutely insist on paying shipping at least one way. It's not cheap when that magical border is in the way, but it's still a bargain when compared to that $125 repair fee. I have an Ohana soprano on its way to tide me over until the Blue Frog is fixed, but I shall miss it.

Rzr: I had already checked the Corktown page and noticed the Richard Bales blurb, but I couldn't (and still can't) find any contact link. There's a link to a powerpoint presentation on changing strings, but that seems to be it. Incidentally, I've gone to the Corktown jams a couple of times now, and they're fun; I'll be there again tomorrow night (if I can find the venue, which is apparently a bit Diagon Alley-like.).

Anyone interested in the video Vic mentioned can find it here (http://www.specfic-colloquium.com/apps/videos/videos/show/13816790-kari-maaren-and-dave-nickle-at-the-chiaroscuro-reading-series) (it involves a reading and a song; my bit, the song, starts about nine and a half minutes in). The song contains an awful lot of Canadian in-jokes, but at least you'll be able to hear Vic's ukulele.

Thanks for all your help, everybody. Hurrah for helpful people!

Rzr
07-27-2011, 02:19 AM
Rzr: I had already checked the Corktown page and noticed the Richard Bales blurb, but I couldn't (and still can't) find any contact link. There's a link to a powerpoint presentation on changing strings, but that seems to be it. Incidentally, I've gone to the Corktown jams a couple of times now, and they're fun; I'll be there again tomorrow night (if I can find the venue, which is apparently a bit Diagon Alley-like.).


Good luck finding Corktown tonight and with the speedy return of your uke. How awesome of Vic to offer to pay for the shipping.
The link to the powerpoint string thing is where the info is if you need it in the future. See you at Corktown sometime.

WhenDogsSing
07-27-2011, 04:32 AM
Vic is a stand up guy and I am proud to know the man...!!!