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  1. #1

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    Hey gang,

    Was hoping to do a new guitar day post today, but instead, I'm in a little predicament and could use some advice.

    Purchased a 1980 Aria pro ii PE-180 which came today in a disappointing state. The guitar was purchased from a shop and was on commission, but I'm surprised it left the shop like this. Dirty and dusty, old strings, crud on the frets, one pickup does not work in the middle position (the pickups work fine in the other positons - just one is out when blending), and the most obvious thing - some heavy fretboard pitting which was not disclosed. On the phone, everything was in "Great condition".

    Pretty disappointing all in all - I like the guitar and the sound is great, but I'm thinking about making a fuss and sending it back in the post. Is this normal wear or should I run?

    Fretboard pitting - What's the deal?-6527957081-jpgFretboard pitting - What's the deal?-20210913_180034-jpgFretboard pitting - What's the deal?-20210913_190751-jpgFretboard pitting - What's the deal?-20210913_201343-jpgFretboard pitting - What's the deal?-20210913_201358-jpgFretboard pitting - What's the deal?-20210913_201428-jpg

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  3. #2

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    guitar players need to cut their fingernails once on awhile
    the frets are screaming for a crowning at the very least. it's possible a refret w fingerboard planing will reduce the pitting, but maybe not eliminate it altogether, some of those look pretty deep. I'd run it over to a good luthier and get an opinion.

  4. #3

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    The fretboard is very likely dyed rosewood which makes the fingerboard more susceptible to pitting as it's softer than ebony. The guitar was likely owned by a country player. They seem to like L5 type guitars as much as Teles and Blue Grass acoustics.

    I'm sorry to see this happen to you. I remember your original post before your purchase.
    The seller is likely so long in the business that everything is in "great condition".
    Originally I used to put this down to unethical behaviour but it's more likely cynicism from years of selling guitars.

    I would kick up a fuss and renegotiate on the issue with fretboard pitting.
    If he doesn't want to cooperate, return it and move on. There's always another one down the road.

    If you don't get satisfaction, you could end up resenting the guitar.

    You have a legitimate right to be annoyed no doubt.

  5. #4

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    Switch contacts just need to be cleaned for both pups to work at the same time. Pitting happens. Shouldn’t affect playability. Frets look like they have plenty of life left. The only reason none of this bugs me is I do my own work. I can understand why you’re a little miffed over not having been made aware of it.

  6. #5

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    The pits could be filled with wood dust and glue, but it's not going to be easy to get it right. If you're doing a refret, it's much easier to do the fill and smooth it all down while the frets are out. I think I would just send it back. The cost of getting it all in decent shape could exceed the value of the guitar.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by telephone View Post
    Switch contacts just need to be cleaned for both pups to work at the same time. Pitting happens. Shouldn’t affect playability. Frets look like they have plenty of life left. The only reason none of this bugs me is I do my own work. I can understand why you’re a little miffed over not having been made aware of it.

    Pitting on a jazz guitar is rare and I would pay you less for a guitar that has it. In fact I would decline one for having it.
    I don't want a scalloped fingerboard.

    But I know a man who does

    Fretboard pitting - What's the deal?-iu-jpeg

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell View Post
    The pits could be filled with wood dust and glue, but it's not going to be easy to get it right. If you're doing a refret, it's much easier to do the fill and smooth it all down while the frets are out. I think I would just send it back. The cost of getting it all in decent shape could exceed the value of the guitar.
    I agree entirely.

  9. #8

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    I would send it back not worth trouble.

  10. #9

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    I have had guitars that were just as bad. Any old guitar is going to be a 'fixer upper.' Your guitar just needs a little work and it should be a fine instrument to play.

    Fretboard pitting - What's the deal?-img_0846-jpgFretboard pitting - What's the deal?-fret20height-jpg

  11. #10
    Thanks everyone,

    Most likely it is going back, will talk with them today and see if there is something to work out. While I do not necessarily shun a little work, the pitting was not disclosed to me which makes the purchase a lot less lucrative. The fancy binding will not make any work easier and probably increase the cost of labor if I get any work done.

    This is what I'd expect if I had purchased this blind from ebay or something. I expected more from a "reputable" guitar shop. They did not disclose the wear which seems very deceiving - we talked for 15-20 min about the guitar and I specifically asked about wear/condition of the frets and fret board.

    For the electronics to not work "perfectly" and the guitar to arrive dirty with grime on the frets and old strings is the cherry on top. After my many questions, he even said "We are a guitar shop! Nothing leaves here without being in great condition!"

    Thanks again for the feedback, it has helped put things in perspective.

  12. #11

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    Not all guitar shops are equal.
    When I bought my 1973 Les Paul Recording, it arrived with a grimey fingerboard, rusty strings and frets worn down to almost nothing.
    It was otherwise was OK so I kept it (LP Recordings are very rare here), but I can't understand how they could let a guitar leave the shop like that. Even if they spent 20 minutes restringing it and giving it a clean, it would have made such a big difference.

  13. #12

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    Seems like a lesson to all of us to insist on closeup photos of everything.

  14. #13

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    Seems like you have already made your decision, but that's the worst fretboard I've ever seen lol! The wood is gross and the frets are ground down dead. Nickel isn't satisfactory imo. Stainless frets are where it's at because they almost don't wear at all.

  15. #14
    An update and a very busy day...

    I took the guitar to two different guitar techs and showed detailed pictures/videos to two luthiers I know and trust very much.

    All pretty much agreed on the guitar's state:


    • the frets have room to be re-leveled but a simple recrowning should be fine.
    • Not disclosing the fretboard pitting was not cool - but it won't affect the playability. It could be fixed but at a pretty high cost (filling in as mentioned earlier in this thread would probably be the way to go). Interestingly, 3 out of 4 said the exact same thing, almost word for word: "it won't affect playability or sound and is not something I'd worry about - it actually means the guitar has been played quite a lot and that could be a good thing". By good thing, I'm guessing that means it was a "good one" and not a guitar that was left in a closet for 40 years.
    • Sending a dirty guitar with old strings is not professional and something that should not happen from a shop. I still can't get my head around this one. 10 min and some strings would do wonders.
    • It's a nice guitar that has a great sound
    • It needs a setup and should have been set up before leaving the shop


    I also had a couple of friends check out the guitar. All of them really liked it and did not notice the pitting until I mentioned it. Not to minimize the actual wear on the fretboard, but the macro photos from above attempted to highlight the pitting. It is not that noticeable when you have the guitar in front of you and it's not something you feel when playing.

    Also had a chance to play the guitar side-by-side with the Aria's cousin: a MIJ 1983 Epiphone Emperor (which was significantly more expensive than the Aria). Interestingly, I like the sound of the Aria more! Perhaps due to the wooden bridge. But you can see the similarities - these were definitely made in the same factory and feel identical when playing! Snapped a pic.

    I agreed with the shop for me to take the guitar into a local shop of my choosing and have the frets addressed (recrowned, level any high frets, polished), have the guitar cleaned, fix whatever electrical issues are there, and to have a full set up with new strings (and to throw in some extra sets) to my satisfaction - all at their cost. I found a local shop that comes highly recommended and seems to know their stuff - I have now dropped off the guitar to them and they will send the bill to the other shop.

    I've come to the conclusion I can live with the pitting and if it's a forever guitar I'll address it down the road. For what I'm looking for - a guitar with good playability and great sound - it fits the bill even with its wounds. Still a little miffed with the shop, but I believe I would have been fine with the pitting (knowing what I know now), and if the guitar came in an actual presentable condition I would have been content with the price and transaction. After the work that is getting done now, I should have a great player that won't need anything for quite a while (fingers crossed). So hopefully, the NGD post is only slightly delayed...

    Fretboard pitting - What's the deal?-20210914_114801-jpg

  16. #15

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    L5 replicas are getting hard to find. Good call to keep that one and fix it as if it were an original Gibson. I have seen those L5 replicas go for way more that I paid for my real L7 with pickup.

  17. #16

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    I would definitely have it leveled. Frets don't wear evenly. I have no idea how that thing would play without buzzing.

  18. #17

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    Getting a git that has issues that were not disclosed is a bummer, how to handle it? This is not advice in any way what you should do with it but...

    I have an old Gibson semi that has the FB gouges in the EBONY mostly at the "cowboy chord" locations. The PO didn't disclose this to me either, nor its generally poor condition... I never even wrote the seller to crab about it.

    The price was OK (absurdly high to some) considering what it was, rather unusual. The sound? Angelic. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I mean anything.

    Sure some day my son will take a beating on it, and considering HE will have paid nothing for it whatever he gets will be gravy.

    At my age I'm well beyond sweating the cosmetics of a git. What it does is far more important than what it looks like, YMMV.

  19. #18

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    Since I tend to keep my guitars a long time, most of them have a little bit of pitting (one of them has a lot). It's not something that particularly bothers me. It doesn't usually affect playability. But I am not one of those folks that needs to have a guitar look pristine; I like a little bit of wear and a "experience" around the edges. Older guitars that are pristine often have some sort of playing problems such as not sounding very good, balance issues, etc. A veteran guitar that has obviously been played a lot is also usually a pretty good sounding instrument.

    That one looks like it's going to be a very attractive guitar once it's cleaned up, polished, the frets are touched up, new strings, etc. That Epiphone is also a very nice looking instrument.

    Frets are a consumable item on guitars, as far as I'm concerned. Frets that need to be re-crowned, replaced, etc., should be factored into the purchase price just like one would do with a car needing new tires or new brakes.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by entresz View Post
    Not all guitar shops are equal.
    When I bought my 1973 Les Paul Recording, it arrived with a grimey fingerboard, rusty strings and frets worn down to almost nothing.
    It was otherwise was OK so I kept it (LP Recordings are very rare here), but I can't understand how they could let a guitar leave the shop like that. Even if they spent 20 minutes restringing it and giving it a clean, it would have made such a big difference.
    In my experience the "fretless wonder" frets on those leave the factory down to almost nothing.

    Danny W.

  21. #20
    And the story continues...

    Guitar tech found the truss rod to move, yet to get the correct relief it had to be tightened to the very max with 11's on. Was afraid of snapping it and said there could be issues with heavier strings and potential problems in the future...

    So time to call it quits! The guitar has now been packed and dropped off to be returned. I'm happy I took videos of opening and packing the guitar in the exact same manner it was received. I could see this shop trying to pull some funny stuff. Hopefully, this is the end of the chapter and I will be promptly refunded once they receive the guitar back. I don't really believe in dragging names through the mud on a public forum but I have definitely spread the word among friends locally about this shop in Stockholm.

    I will however give a shout out to Niklas and Max at Malmö Gitarrverkstad in Malmö, Sweden. They have been an absolute pleasure to deal with and I have seen the top-notch work they do. Who knows, maybe someone here will find themselves in this corner of the globe and need a solid guitar repair or some excellent advice.

    Thank you all for the advice and perspective!

    Now off to find another L5 copy...

  22. #21

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    I wouldn't worry about the pitting. Just get it cleaned up and the frets crowned/polished and I'll bet you'll like it.

  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound View Post
    I wouldn't worry about the pitting. Just get it cleaned up and the frets crowned/polished and I'll bet you'll like it.
    What I'd really like?

    To purchase a guitar that was not misrepresented and lied about.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by littleknicky View Post
    What I'd really like?

    To purchase a guitar that was not misrepresented and lied about.
    Oh I absolutely agree. I've had a bunch of those experiences. A twisted neck, a broken case, electronics messed around with and out of whack, cosmetic damage not pictured, etc etc. Extremely annoying. I now ask for detailed pictures (especially up and down the neck), and if the seller won't do it, I walk away. Do you want to share the name of the shop with us?

  25. #24
    I don't want to be the person bad-mouthing shops on the web. They are holding their end of the bargain and paid for the return shipping and now I just have to wait until they receive the guitar to get my full refund. So in this sense, they are making it right. Experiences can be subjective and there is nothing good to come out of bad-mouthing in public - isn't attractive on me or them.

    The takeaway is what you said: detailed photos/videos of the entire guitar - no exceptions. Take what you are told with a grain of salt and ensure there is a return policy. Hopefully, the only thing lost was my time. And I learned a few things in the process...

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by littleknicky View Post
    I don't want to be the person bad-mouthing shops on the web. They are holding their end of the bargain and paid for the return shipping and now I just have to wait until they receive the guitar to get my full refund. So in this sense, they are making it right. Experiences can be subjective and there is nothing good to come out of bad-mouthing in public - isn't attractive on me or them.

    The takeaway is what you said: detailed photos/videos of the entire guitar - no exceptions. Take what you are told with a grain of salt and ensure there is a return policy. Hopefully, the only thing lost was my time. And I learned a few things in the process...
    The strongest and weakest part of any transation is desire.