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Warning: Godin Customer Service


Verne Andru
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A few years ago my son wanted a smaller acoustic and settled on an Art+Lutherie Ami parlor guitar. He doesn't know anything about guitars other than how to play and has been happy with the Ami. When he got it I took it to my luthier who also happens to have been a Godin warranty repair person years back. The guitar came back fine without any concerns voiced by said guitar-fixer.

 

A while back something caught my eye on the guitar neck. After talking it over with my guitar tech the consensus was that the truss rod was starting to break through the neck just under the headstock. Since truss-rods are designed to cause the neck to bend to add/remove relief and these stresses are known to manufacturers it became apparent that something had failed on this particular guitar that was beyond the norm and not caused by or fixable at the customer end.

 

Being a loyal Godin customer for many years I contacted them in the hopes they would do right and either fix or replace it. These are not that expensive to begin with so the cost to Godin is insignificant if they had to provide a replacement - which would be cheaper than trying to replace the neck.

 

The whole Godin customer service experience has been pretty bad right from the start. After getting past the first layer of denial they grudgingly agreed to take a look at the instrument. It was shipped back to Godin who offered this response yesterday:

 

Our tech looked at your guitar and told me that at the time it was made (1999) they used a compressor truss rod, not a two action truss rod that they used today. Someone tighten that truss rod so tight that it broke the wood. My techs here needed to be the two of them to untighten the truss rod. That's shows how tight the truss rod was. It's not manufacturer defect unfortunately. We don't have any neck from that era left that we can swipe on the guitar. Let me know what you want to do and I'll ship it back.

Thanks

 

Philippe Chevrier

 

19420 Avenue Clark-Graham,

Baie D'Urfe, Quebec Canada

H9X 3R8

 

Ph: 514-457-7977 ext.102

Fax: 514-457-5774

http://www.godinguitars.com

 

To which I answered:

 

Hi Philippe,

 

Well that's unfortunate. [My luthier] did the setup and if there was an issue at the time he would have mentioned something, which he did not. I've not messed with that guitar.

 

I must admit to being aware of truss-rods snapping and of threads stripping but I've never seen a truss-rod break through the back of the neck. The whole purpose of a truss rod is to cause the neck to bend and the heal of the rod is a known stress point that should be designed strong enough to withstand the pressure put on it by the manufacturer supplied truss rod. In this case that stress point failed because it couldn't withstand the pressure put on it by the truss-rod installed by the manufacturer. I fail to understand how this can in any way be considered user-error.

 

I've been a staunch supporter of the Godin family of instruments owning a Multiac ASC and my son owning 2 including the Ami. If this is the best level of customer service you're willing to offer, I would ask that you return the guitar and I will look elsewhere for my musical instrument needs in the future.

 

Regards,

 

Verne

 

Long story short - Godin does not stand behind their products or provide proper customer service - buyer beware!

 

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This is a tough one. Anyone can destroy a guitar by adjusting a truss rod way too tight, plus I've heard a LOT of inexperienced people suggest (incorrectly) that if you want to lower the action you tighten the truss rod. There's a decent chance IMO thar one of your son's friends did or suggested this.

 

I'm not trying to insult, just trying to see this from both sides.

 

​​​

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In my opinion someone had to have done that to the truss rod by overtightening it in a misguided attempt to lower the action.. That didn't occur spontaneously from wood settling. Maybe your son or a friend who borrowed it? That being said it CAN be repaired...and Godin should have helped you out there. It's a bit involved in that you have to loosen the rod and remove it...either by pulling it out (highly unlikely if it was glued in)...Or more likely by removing the fretboard, then removing the rod, then repairing the channel floor...replacing the rod and fretboard....and probably leveling the frets. Lots of work. I would think $200 for a luthier to do it.

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The rod was tightened to the extent that the wood failed just beneath the washer of the truss rod shifting it, like rock along a fault line, in a grain-wise direction towards the guitar. Having no place to go the failed wood displaced itself outward and caused the witness bump. This is not a material or builder error. Someone got the magic wrench to this guitar and attempted to make an ill-informed change to the action. I must agree with the builder's response to this problem. The unfortunate part of this event is someone is shining someone on. I'd say forget the whole thing and replace the guitar. The lesson here is learned.

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What OBVIOUSLY happened here is that someone played so many 1st position "cowboy" chords, they wore away the wood in that area, causing a lack of support for the truss rod at that end. This should be readily apparent to the most casual observer.

 

 

 

 

Okay, that's just ridiculous.

 

But lacking an over-tightened truss rod explanation, waddaya got :idk:

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This is a tough one. Anyone can destroy a guitar by adjusting a truss rod way too tight, plus I've heard a LOT of inexperienced people suggest (incorrectly) that if you want to lower the action you tighten the truss rod. There's a decent chance IMO thar one of your son's friends did or suggested this.

 

I'm not trying to insult, just trying to see this from both sides.

 

​​​

 

While I can understand there are many sides to most stories, this one is a bit of a monologue. My son didn't even know there was a truss-rod or an adjustment and his friends are even worse. Most of them have their heads stuck in video games and the one fellow he does play with knows even less about instruments than he does.

 

The whole Godin experience sucked from the beginning. I got nothing but attitude from the first lackey that answered my initial email and had to force him to escalate the matter to the service manager who hasn't been a whole lot better.

 

The guitar was setup by one of the top techs in the area and I've not touched it other than to move it from one place to another. I put my tech in touch with Godin and that didn't even help.

 

I've done product design for decades and this is clearly either a design problem or that area was compromised because of a knot in the wood or perhaps something happened when making/assembling the parts.

 

I have never seen a truss-rod break through a neck like this. I've heard of truss-rods breaking, I've heard of the threads stripping and I've heard of them ceasing but I've never seen or heard of a situation like this before.

 

A little bit of "customer service" would have gone a long way, but these people have more bad attitude than the folks at Fender, and that's saying a lot.

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What OBVIOUSLY happened here is that someone played so many 1st position "cowboy" chords, they wore away the wood in that area, causing a lack of support for the truss rod at that end. This should be readily apparent to the most casual observer.

 

Okay, that's just ridiculous.

 

But lacking an over-tightened truss rod explanation, waddaya got :idk:

 

Ridiculous but funny.

 

If this is such a common problem with over tightened truss-rods, why don't we see more of this? Anybody have any other pictures of this happening to guitars? No? Didn't think so.

 

As my guitar tech stated - the truss-rod is designed to be tightened to bend the neck until you get the desired relief. That is what he did. He didn't over-tighten - he used the truss-rod the way it was designed to be used. The "fault" is that the wood in the neck of this particular instrument failed for some reason. How is that user-error?

 

It is a lesson learned and that lesson is for me to avoid Godin family of instruments. A real shame as I've been a bit of a fan-boy over the years but there are lots of builders out there who actually care about their customers.

 

By way of contrast - I bought a couple of those Snark tuners and the plastic broke so the pieces wouldn't stay together. I contacted the folks at Snark and they sent a replacement with an apology for the inconvenience. That's customer service, not the BS Godin is dishing out.

 

I could have accepted a "We're sorry but it's out of warranty - here take a few picks as a consolation" but this "it's your fault so screw off" stuff is bad business.

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Ridiculous but funny.

 

If this is such a common problem with over tightened truss-rods, why don't we see more of this? Anybody have any other pictures of this happening to guitars? No? Didn't think so.

 

As my guitar tech stated - the truss-rod is designed to be tightened to bend the neck until you get the desired relief. That is what he did. He didn't over-tighten - he used the truss-rod the way it was designed to be used. The "fault" is that the wood in the neck of this particular instrument failed for some reason. How is that user-error?

 

It is a lesson learned and that lesson is for me to avoid Godin family of instruments. A real shame as I've been a bit of a fan-boy over the years but there are lots of builders out there who actually care about their customers.

 

By way of contrast - I bought a couple of those Snark tuners and the plastic broke so the pieces wouldn't stay together. I contacted the folks at Snark and they sent a replacement with an apology for the inconvenience. That's customer service, not the BS Godin is dishing out.

 

I could have accepted a "We're sorry but it's out of warranty - here take a few picks as a consolation" but this "it's your fault so screw off" stuff is bad business.

 

Good on you for being able to take a joke :thu:

 

Consider THIS: could the truss rod have been over-tightened as part of the initial build/set-up process, and taken a while to manifest itself in material failure? I think that could be as likely an explanation as anything else.

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Good on you for being able to take a joke :thu:

 

Consider THIS: could the truss rod have been over-tightened as part of the initial build/set-up process, and taken a while to manifest itself in material failure? I think that could be as likely an explanation as anything else.

 

Define "over-tighten."

 

I have no doubt my tech tightened the truss-rod enough to adjust the relief to his satisfaction as he claims. He's been doing this for decades, trained with Jean Larrivee and was Godin's warranty repair go-to person for decades. As far as I know nobody else has messed with the guitar. Certainly not my son, who knows nothing, or me. I highly doubt his friend did anything as his head is elsewhere most of the time.

 

The fact that Godin was able to loosen the truss-rod tells me that the truss-rod is working and doing what it's supposed to. How many people it took to loosen it is like asking how many people it takes to replace a light-bulb and the fact it was apparently difficult to loosen could be caused by the rod ceasing as a more common cause than being "over-tightened."

 

And the fact they've changed the type of truss-rod they are using tells me the original had some sort-comings otherwise they wouldn't have made the design change.

 

I would certainly agree that whatever happened has taken some time to manifest and that it is likely either material failure or an improperly routed truss-rod channel that got a little too close to stand the test of time. CNC wasn't as advanced in 1999 as it is now, so manufacturing variations are highly likely cause.

 

But I'm willing to look at all the pictures you can find of truss-rods breaking through the back of the neck. I suggest the selection will be limited to mine.

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well, perhaps if Mr. Trump had not insulted their Prime Minister....still, French Canadians [and I am a descendant] can be very difficult people to deal with.

I think you may have touched on one possible issue, and that being the fact they changed their truss rod config sometime after this instrument was manufactured.

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Verne, I don't have a clue why this happened to your guitar but as you know, its not a common problem. Single acting "compression" truss rods have been around since the 1930's - while they may not be the best engineered design they do work and have been installed in millions of guitars.

 

The principal is simple, a threaded rod is inserted in a curved channel in the neck, the channel is deeper in the center and the rod is fixed at the heel end. The other end is set in a cavity in the head with a large washer under the adjusting nut

 

brokentr06.jpg

 

String tension pulls the head end of the neck up and back towards the body, tightening the adjuster on the truss rod straightens it and pulls the head end of the neck down and back. Both the strings and the truss rod are putting the neck into compression, the strings and rod are in tension.

 

A threaded rod is a very powerful mechanical system, as you know it is possible to shear a bolt head off if it is tightened too much. It is also possible to crush and damage the wood under the washer in the above picture. Normally it is the rod that fails, I can show you lots of pictures of broken truss rods and StewMac even sells a little kit to cut new threads when they fail.

 

The cavity around the truss rod adjuster is a very weak spot on guitars - the wood is cut cross grained, the cavity takes away a lot of structural material and any blow usually results in a broken head. It is one of the most common failures that I repair.

 

So, long story short, the single acting compression truss rod is a bad design but it has been used for 80 years. Newer truss rod designs are much better and moving the adjuster to the heel end of the neck is even better. However lets be very clear, the compression rod has been the industry standard.

 

What happened with this guitar? I don't have a clue, but somehow the rod got too tight. Godin told you the rod was overtightened. I believe you that you didn't do it, your kid didn't do it, your tech knows what he is doing, the factory didn't do it..... Its not a trivial repair, in fact its quite an invasive repair. A&L used bolt on necks, it would be possible to reneck your guitar provided a new old stock neck could be found. Should that be covered under warranty? I don't think so.

 

As Grant said in the second post - this is a tough one.

 

You wanted pictures

 

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hjRjn6R.jpg

 

brokentr02.jpg

 

 

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Thanks Freeman. I've seen lots of guitars with broken headstocks like you show but none with the truss-rod breaking through the back of the neck like mine. It sucks and so does Godin's lack of customer support, so I guess they're being consistent.

 

Thanks for the truss-rod cross-section shot.

 

As a counter-point to Godin I'm going through an exercise with Amazon at the moment. I bought a tablet from them which arrived yesterday. Tried getting it running only to have it enter an endless spin-cycle. I was able to get in touch with Amazon customer support immediately via chat and after some back and forth checking things they ordered a replacement unit to be sent to me and sent me a pre-paid return postage for the original. The replacement arrived from the other side of the continent and I'm up and running in less than 24 hours. They even let me keep the battery charger from the original as a consolation for the trouble.

 

Some folks understand how to treat customers and others don't. I'll suck up my Godin experience and look elsewhere in the future as my only means of protest.

Edited by Verne Andru
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Verne, I thought you would flame me instead of liking my comment. I haven't actually seen the kind of failure that you describe but I do know that the headstock is very weak in the area of the adjuster. I do totally agree that Godin handled this badly.

 

I had two incidents lately that kind of show the yin and yang of this. The second (I'll do the bad one first) was a cheap MIC Fender acoustic 12 string that has been hanging in my guitar store of over a year. Nobody wants it and I can understand why. When the bridge started separating they asked me to look at it - I worked a pallet knife under it and it popped right off. Its pretty obvious why it failed, not only was there very little glue they hadn't bothered to remove the poly finish under the bridge - glue doesn't bond to finish. Anyway, I took some picture for the store, they sent them to Fender who said "that's the way we make them, tough, and oh, by the way, its out of warranty because you haven't sold it within the year". I don't get to see very many Fender acoustics but this is the second bridge failure in exactly the same fashion. I've considered posting pictures here but frankly I'm kind of burned out about this.

 

The first is a rather unusual guitar a friend just bought. Its a harp guitar made by a small shop in Idaho. He brought it to me because it was hard to play and wanted me to set it up better, I felt that the geometry was bad and didn't feel I wanted to mess with it since it was a brand new guitar. My friend considered sending it back to the mail order guitar store where he bought it, I said that I thought the manufacture needed to know about it and offered to write them an e-mail. They replied that they wanted it shipped back to them, their cost, and two weeks later it was returned to my friend, neck at the correct angle, setup perfect. Not only did they go out of their way to fix it they were totally nice about the whole process. I told my friend to post a kudo on the harp guitar forum.

 

So, short story, sometimes things happen, sometimes people do the right things, sometimes they don't. I had always had respect for Godin and the A&L companies, I'll still recommend some of their guitars but with a little more caution. I have no respect for Fender acoustic guitars - if anyone on this forum or any other asks my opinion I'll tell them to run as fast as they can. And if anyone is in the market for a harp guitar consider Tonedevil from Sandpoint Idaho.

Edited by Freeman Keller
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Freeman - a little love goes a long way as seen in the examples you've provided.

 

I've interacted with Fender, Gibson and Godin (plus all the others) at various NAMM shows over the years. Fender is hands-down one of the most arrogant companies I've had the mis-fortune to interact with. Godin was always a close second (along with PRS) but I reserved a special place for Godin as being "the underdogs" until this interaction. Now the gloves are off.

 

Curiously enough the people at Gibson were always very friendly and helpful even if it was obvious you weren't buying a truck-load of their gear ever. The others were always eager to give you the bums-rush and move you along for "more important" people.

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There is an interesting paradox here. Godin says that the compression rod was an old design and they have change to a modern double acting rod. I use double acting rods but they too can have issues. If you look at the cross section picture above you can see that as the nut is tightened it is compressing the neck wood in back of the washer. Enough force and yes, it would blow out the wood under the string nut (two nuts here, lets not confuse them). However basically it is compressing against the end grain of the wood which is fairly strong. My problem with this design is that it requires a big routed hole in what is already the weakest part of the neck.

 

Double acting rods work entirely differently. They consist of a piece of flat metal with two threaded fittings welded to the ends. One is standard thread, one is reverse (like a turn buckle). A rod with standard/reverse threads is inserted in the fittings. As the rod is tightened the fittings are pulled towards each other which bows the flat piece up in the middle. That piece is sitting just under the fretboard, so as it is tightened it pushes the middle of the board up and the ends down, in other words under the string nut it is applying downward force right were yours failed. Here is a picture of two rods, the one on the bottom is in the normal position, the top one is upside down. What I was trying to show was how much the rod moved with one turn of the adjuster in either direction. But imagine that bottom rod in a channel in the neck one end is under the heel, the other is under the string nut. You can see that it might blow out also. This is made even worse by the fact that the double acting rod requires a fairly deep channel which can get it pretty close to the back of the neck.

 

IMG_1536_zps3598b9e9.jpg

 

Double acting rods can be installed with adjuster in the sound hole of the guitar (Martin and most acoustics) or at the head (many electrics). I think its a much better design but still not without potential problems.

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