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  1. #1

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    Has anyone had experiences with ordering guitars from archtop.com?

    I'm considering to buy a guitar from them, but since i'm located in Europe i need to be sure that they are 100% reliable regarding quality of their instruments and answering my questions correctly, as a return would be too costly.

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  3. #2

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    I have used Joe Vinikow at archtop.com to sell a guitar (a Gibson Howard Roberts Fusion) for me. He got a very good price and the transaction went very smoothly.

    I think his site (and business) would not be successful if the patrons did not feel comfortable that they are receiving quality stuff, handled and "passed on" by someone who knows his stuff, and can be trusted.

    He is very knowledgeable and knows an awful lot about a corner of the guitar world that other people deal in as a sideline. Ask away (!), and you'll probably end up learning something. Like Pete Biltoft (w/ custom pu's), I would characterize him as a straight shooter, and very reputable.

  4. #3

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    I've had good experiences with Joe and would deal with him again. He will also demo and discuss specific guitars with you via Skype which is nice.

  5. #4

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    If you are a very precise or refined customer, watch the fine print. There is heavy use of copy/paste in the ad copy, since many models come in to the shop often. This results in occasional mistakes when a guitar is not 100% up to stock specifications. Also, watch for euphemistic descriptions of what may actually be less-than-desirable traits.

    In general, I think there is solid honesty and integrity at play there, but use the old Reaganism "trust but verify" if something really matters to you. Don't just assume.

  6. #5

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    my experience submitting a guitar for consignment was not a good one.
    phantom setup charges and substituted parts on a vintage guitar w/out my consent, subtracted from my check.
    and I've seen several guitars w/obvious known issues that I previously owned appear for sale w/no mention of said issues.
    you really need to know your stuff and read between the lines when buying as RP said, I know other knowledgeable people that have had issues w/descriptions, etc.
    but, ymmv.
    Last edited by wintermoon; 12-29-2015 at 12:00 PM.

  7. #6

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    I have had good and bad experiences. On the selling side he would always quote me a high selling price and then list it lower and if it didn't sell promptly he would drop the price without my permission but always sold the guitar but at times I took a big loss. On the buying side I once bought a X700 from him that he said was dead mint. It stunk of cigarettes and at every fret the neck binding was cracked in half. He has a 48 hour return policy but I couldn't get a hold of him in that time period so he charged me a 20% restock fee plus shipping back and was very unfriendly about me returning it. I took a big loss on that one. He does know archtops but tends to rose color things. He is not a liar but he is not perfectly honest either. You must be very specific with your questions to him. If you ask a specific question he will be truthful. He packs guitars well for shipping. Anytime I sold a guitar with him I had the check in 2 days.

  8. #7
    Dutchbopper Guest
    You sure you want to buy US? I have to add 25% to the selling price to get a guitar from the US in my home. That usually eats up any price advantage.

    DB

  9. #8

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    He is not dishonest but he leaves you with the niggling feeling that you may have been slightly had.

    One guy I know was promised new T-I strings with his guitar. He received it with old strings on it because the day he shipped it, Joe thought "it sounded better with the original old strings" and so shipped it that way. Yeah, not being able to get a hold of him within the 48-hour trial is a familiar tune. He is, uh, "travelling".

    Another guy was looking for lacquer pens to touch up the dings in the finish on the guitar that was sold to him in "immaculate condition". It was also well-gigged as well it should be because the business cards of its previous owner, an NYC pro, were still in the string compartment.

    "Frets releveled, recrowned and polished when necessary" mainly means that they aren't necessary to the eventual buyer but necessary to the consignor who would receive a bill for the services. "Hand antiqued" really means well-used. And if the description does not state "original finish" assume that it is not. If it does not state "solid carved" it means laminated. What Joe omits is as telling as what he commits in writing.

    And the $130 shipping fee for 2nd Day and it is delivered by Ground because someone made an error. No mention of a partial refund for an error as weĺl.

    In Joe's estimation, these issues should not matter to a player because which sicko buys archtops to photograph them? Player guitars that are priced for collectors.

    You should ask a lot of questions because he is compelled to answer specific questions truthfully. It is like buying an old house: Has there been violent grisly unnatural bloody deaths or combinations thereof anytime in the history of this dwelling? Has there been sightings or occurrences of spectral, poltergeist or other-dimensional activity of an occultic nature in its history? Has any witch or warlock or practitioner of the Wiccan or dark arts ever taken abode here? Oozings? Slime? Inexplicable noises or mutterings? Communion with the Great Hooved One? Things that go bump in the night? Things with horns and hooves and/or bat wings that breathe out fire and/or cold air? Red Rum? Red Rum?

    A realtor has to disclose all when asked specifically...as should Joe.

    Assume that it is going to be worse than what is written on the boilerplate and make an offer accordingly. Part of the sport of reading Joe's boilerplates is parsing them and going, "Now, what is he really trying to say? Or rather say by not saying."

    You pays your money. You takes your choice.

    P.S. All of the above were related to me by men whom I know to be truthful because they all swore that if they were telling a porky erectile dysfunction for the rest of their lives. Now, what man would wish erectile dysfunction on himself?
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 12-29-2015 at 01:45 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutchbopper
    You sure you want to buy US? I have to add 25% to the selling price to get a guitar from the US in my home. That usually eats up any price advantage.

    DB
    Yeah, you WON'T get that back from your Customs and Excise should you have to return it. Joe knows...

  11. #10

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    The only experience I had was when I contacted them about sending a guitar for consignment. First he said to send it on, shortly after that he emailed me and told me that there was no market for that particular guitar. (Guild X-180 Park Avenue in excellent condition.) Said to sell it on ebay. I was confused to say the least.

    I was even more bewildered when I saw several X-180s on the site over the months after.

    Got the same kind of thing from Guitars 'N Jazz. Won't deal with either as a result.

  12. #11

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    I was prepared to send several more high end guitars for consignment as he's high profile and seems to get top dollar but my first experience soured me permanently.

    there's more than one way to sell a guitar.

  13. #12

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    I have purchased one guitar from Joe, knew beforehand that a bunch of the slightly 'wish the experience had been different but I came away OK I think' issues existed, but I was OK to purchase what I did because I probably knew more about the guitar and luthier than he did, so my very specific questions were to eliminate the possibility of issues later.

    Otherwise, I think Jabberwocky's advice is probably sound advice in dealing with all guitar dealers you don't personally know as friends (i.e. the dealer who would rather keep you as a friend than risk selling you the wrong guitar). I don't know of any guitar dealer out there who is not trying to sell the guitar for a little more than I want to pay, or who will without questions being asked put up all the potential 'faults' anyone might ever be able to claim. When purchasing used, it really is caveat emptor.
    Last edited by travisty; 01-09-2016 at 01:09 AM.

  14. #13

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    I have heard good and bad things about Joe V. Be careful out there.

  15. #14

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    I bought a guitar that was sold by Archtop.com recently that wasn't described accurately at all. They are very good at hyping guitars yet seem to have little trouble with things like 'Totally above board ethical behaviour'

    So if they are selling your guitar probably a good thing. If you are buying, don't believe a word they say because they aren't always telling the truth (sorry being accurate).

  16. #15

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    Its really not good to be viewed this way in front of 42,000 members who are highly focused on "archtops". I removed my stupid insensitive comment.
    Last edited by Max405; 12-30-2015 at 10:02 AM.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven
    ...So if they are selling your guitar probably a good thing...
    Not always. Consignors have found sometimes deductions from the sales proceeds for "work" not previously discussed nor greenlighted or substitution of parts "to make it saleable". One person had the original knobs of his guitar swapped out and a $200 bill because "nobody wants those knobs". $200 for replica knobs? It is not a 1959 Les Paul! $300 for fret preparation; the consignor did not greenlight it. How could he as he was utterly unaware of it until he saw a $300 deduction from the proceeds?

    A luthier I emailed would not want to have anything to do with the guitars he built if they were sold through archtop dot com. He didn't say why. He demurred.

    That said, he gets nice stuff.
    Last edited by Jabberwocky; 12-29-2015 at 03:41 PM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe DeNisco
    Damn, After reading all this feedback on Joe, I need to suggest to him that he change his first name..
    Its really not good to be viewed this way in front of 42,000 members who are highly focused on "archtops".
    Nobody is out to "fix" him. Just want him to be forthcoming. Don't varnish. Don't gloss over. But that may be like asking why pork cannot be made kosher. It is that surprise sour aftertaste of dealing with archtop dot com and the uncomfortable feeling of being "dirtied" that nobody appreciates nor wants.

    I was one of his most vociferous defenders. And then I started hearing from folks whom I know are upstanding people. Folks who don't tell porkies. And then I found it out for myself...

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote
    Has anyone had experiences with ordering guitars from arch top.com?

    I'm considering to buy a guitar from them, but since i'm located in Europe i need to be sure that they are 100% reliable regarding quality of their instruments and answering my questions correctly, as a return would be too costly.
    JazzNote,

    Which guitar are you considering?

  20. #19

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    frankly I don't enjoy posting negative things about someone or their business, but if someone asks me I'll tell them.
    I'm quite certain there are a lot of dealers in all types of business that overlook/don't disclose certain issues, etc. in order to make a sale.
    but because others might run their businesses that way doesn't make it right.
    I'm sure there have been many satisfied customers as his biz continues to thrive [just read his customer reviews so prominently displayed @ the top of the inventory page ] though I wonder about all the negative reviews that of course don't get posted.
    no matter how honestly you run a business there's always going to be a disgruntled customer, but when you hear it multiple times it gives one pause.

    if he really feels that 'nobody likes the original knobs' then he can ask the customer if he'd like them swapped out for a charge, but don't just go and do it w/out permission [though I've never encountered ANY other dealer that swaps out original parts]
    all I wanted was a fair and honest transaction when I initially consigned my guitar and that didn't happen, so I'm out.

  21. #20

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    ANY businessman can have a couple of people ticked off at them in a thread but this is beyond what I expected opening up this thread.

    To me trust is the biggest factor in an online purchase, without that you have more reason to go somewhere else. That said, I know I'll never deal with them selling OR buying. It's too bad, their site while very poorly put together does have some nice stuff.

  22. #21

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    Statistically, not that many. Going by my communication, I count 6 plus myself, that makes 7. He has a lot of happy customers going by his reviews.

    But if you happen to be one of the seven, it isn't nice.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArchtopHeaven
    I bought a guitar that was sold by Archtop.com recently that wasn't described accurately at all. They are very good at hyping guitars yet seem to have little trouble with things like 'Totally above board ethical behaviour'

    So if they are selling your guitar probably a good thing. If you are buying, don't believe a word they say because they aren't always telling the truth (sorry being accurate).
    That's quite an accusation. Specifics?

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky
    Statistically, not that many. Going by my communication, I count 6 plus myself, that makes 7. He has a lot of happy customers going by his reviews.

    But if you happen to be one of the seven, it isn't nice.
    It's not just the number, it's the nature. For example, changing parts without permission? How many had things like that happen they didn't even know about? Those are horrible business practices.

    Generally I tend to believe complainers will well, complain while satified clients are generally quiet untill asked. This thread points out some really undesirable business practices, and I wait to see an equal or greater number of happy customers in this thread.

  25. #24

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    I have used him 3-4 times to sell guitars. The descriptions and asking prices have always been aggressive, something to like as a seller. I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about parts, but if he made a suggestion, I would defer to his knowledge and experience in a heartbeat. All very good experiences.

    I have never considered buying from the site. The sale forum here is very good, though. Nice folks and reasonable prices.

  26. #25

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    Thank you all very much for the valuable input!

    I was considering the Lee Ritenour L5
    2003 Gibson L-5 Lee Ritenour Signature

    But after what i read here it is just out of question. I like dealing with sellers who treat every customer in a way that would make him want to come back anytime. I had "my" negative experience in the eighties with some famous archtop specialist from Nashville and find it too nerve wrecking to take risks. So i'm very happy the folks here speak out!