Bit The Bullet

Expecting some new gear from Kiesel Guitars? Post here!

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Big O
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Bit The Bullet

Postby Big O » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:49 am

I finally pulled the trigger on ordering a Kiesel guitar after years of being a Carvin customer for other items, mostly accessories and parts. For my 60th birthday and retirement present this year my wife wanted to bequeath me a "special" guitar to add to my collection, which started out with a Harmony 1310 Archtop Jazz Acoustic back in 1971 (still own it), when I first started playing. For my present, I wanted a "Vintage Modern" type guitar - sort of old school but with some modern amenities. Because of this, I first started first looking at higher end Gibson LP models such as the Les Paul Standard 2017 HP, but the fancy G Force tuning system it has sort of turned me off as electromechanical things tend to break over time and it just seemed too gimicky to me. However, the Blueburst color option really struck me as being the type of color I wanted as I have been jonesing for a blue LP style guitar ever since I saw one hanging on the rack in a guitar store a couple of years ago. My wife was also wowed by the blue LP and asked me at the time "what kind of guitar is that!?"

During my search, my wife asked me why didn't I just order a custom guitar from the Carvin website I had been looking at a couple of years ago in my search for something close to a Gibson ES-125. I did not want to spend $3000 for a 45 year old Gibson, so I was contemplating obtaining a Carvin SH550 and dropping in humbucker sized P-90's in it to get something close to the ES-125. I had been looking to get an ES-125 for years as it was the first electric guitar I had ever played. The music store where I was taking lessons back in the early 70's tried to get me to push my parents to purchase one by letting me play the ES-125 for a couple of my lessons. I also tried out a Hagstrom H-III as well. But fate intervened and the Loar guitar company started producing a clone of the ES-125 sans pickguard so I obtained one. The Loar model is a Thinline HOLLOW body with the same body dimensions as the Gibson, and has P-90 pickups in it, so the Carvin being a SEMI-HOLLOW with different body dimensions and no P-90's was not exactly close enough to what I wanted to obtain (I also now have a new Hagstrom H-III to complete my collection of "demo" guitars).

My wife reminded me of Carvin, now Kiesel, during my search because she was absolutely blown away by the options available to build a guitar, and she was right. I could build basically what I wanted to suit my tastes and desires in a guitar - that is a guitar with an old school pedigree such as having a thicker neck but with modern upgrades such as a flatter fretboard radius, tremolo, etc. I already own a real Gibson LP and a couple of LP type clones, but none with a tremolo system (would have preferred a Bigsby but it is not an option on the CS6).

So I ordered a CS6 with a Hipshot Trem (already have a guitar with a Floyd Rose) that is blue in color and with a lot of "bling" as my wife puts it. Got it with coil splitters like the Gibson I was looking at and added an Option 50 on the wiring - Passive Treble and Bass controls instead of the standard 2 tone controls. There is an article in Premier Guitar on this circuit. It helps "clarify" distorted humbuckers or make them less muddy sounding with distortion.

I would like to thank Chris Hong of Kiesel, who helped me get my guitar ordered with the special options I wanted. What I ordered is below.

CS6X Right Handed Hipshot/Kiesel Tremolo System
BBE - Natural Top Wood Body Binding (Standard)
UM - Burled Maple Top
NMAH - Mahogany Neck & Body (Standard)
CG - Clear Gloss Finish (Standard)
TNB - Translucent Nightburst $40.00
TN - Tung Oil Finish Back Of Neck (Natural Wood)
TH - Traditional Style Headstock
UMPH - Burled Maple Headstock
REF - Royal Ebony Fingerboard
IB - Block Inlays
IA - Abalone Inlay Material
FR - Med-Jumbo Frets .048" H .103" W (Standard)
R14 - 14in Fretboard Radius (Standard)
S22B - S22B Bridge Pickup w/ Metal Cover to Match Hardware
S22J - S22J Neck Pickup w/ Metal Cover to Match Hardware
VT2 - 2 Volume/2 Tone w/ Push-Pull Coil Splitters
G - Gold Hardware
ABL - Abalone Logo $30.00
AK - Metal Knobs w/ Abalone Inlays
TCP - White Pearloid Truss Rod Cover

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby ElfDude » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:01 am

How cool is that? I'm excited for you!

Also a little jealous of the retirement at 60 thing.
But that's beside the point. ;)

Looking forward to the pics and review when you get it!
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby skully13a » Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:06 am

Sounds pretty cool. I'll look forward to checking it out. 8)
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby DWG » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:37 pm

Now that's how to get retirement off to a proper start! Congrats

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby Big O » Mon Dec 04, 2017 11:32 am

Guitar finally on its way after a little over 4 months. Was tracking through FedEx. Delivery given as tommorrow 12/5 so I made plans to be home all day tomorrow and run all the important errands I had to do today. So of course while I was away for about 2 hours FedEx attempted to deliver the guitar a day ahead of schedule.

Lately I have had nothing but trouble with all delivery services - FedEx, UPS and USPS. Their tracking is unreliable making it difficult to be around for delivery. Very frustrating!

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby Big O » Tue Dec 05, 2017 4:11 pm

My highly anticipated guitar arrived today 18 weeks after ordering. I already posted regarding this, but my post had disappeared, hopefully not deleted as this does not paint an entirely favorable picture. All I can say is that my family and I are somewhat disappointed in the finished product due to issues with the top (see picture below). I ordered the burl maple top option, but there is very little burl present and the top is primarily flame maple. The top looks nothing like the photos of burl maple tops on Kiesel's website, and while I don't expect perfection, the lack of a burl pattern in most of the top as well as issues with less than optimal bookmatching, primarily in the lower body of the guitar, leaves us fairly disappointed for something that was to be a special gift. My wife thought that they joined 2 separate guitar bodies together because that is how it looks to her.

That being said, the paint and color is absolutely beautiful and the remainder of the guitar build is absolutely stellar, better than anything else I have in my collection including a PRS Custom 24. I just wish that someone had communicated the issues regarding the top during the build process to see if something could have been worked out such as starting over again with a more asthetically pleasing top. I really don't care if the process would have taken longer to delivery. Looks like I may be sending the guitar back.

Image

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gumbynotpokey
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby gumbynotpokey » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:08 pm

For taste, IMO, I would send that back.

Let us know how this turns out in the end.
Wife: C350, Claro top SH550, Vintage 16
Oldest: DC400M greenburst, C980TMW
Youngest: C750, GK1, CT624M Deep Black Cherry on flame, V3MC Celestion,
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby skully13a » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:28 pm

gumbynotpokey wrote:For taste, IMO, I would send that back.

Let us know how this turns out in the end.

I concur. Return. :? :( :o
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby spudmunkey » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:37 pm

This thread can only serve to be an echo chamber, I feel.

Big O, you're disappointed, and I think no matter if it's "wrong" wood, just an undesirable outcome, or even a production error, you're entitled to be unhappy with what was delivered (even if it WAS exactly as you imagined), and if you haven't already, please contact Kiesel right away. Only you can decide if you are satisfied. And if you aren't, no matter the reason, we won't be able to change your mind, no matter how we might rationalize it! :)

If you do decide to send it back for a rebuild, you do have a unique opportunity: make sure you like all of the other specs you've chosen (fret size, fretboard radius, neck thickness, give the trem a work-out, etc) so you can change anything else that maybe you might prefer another way. :)

Oh, and your other thread wasn't deleted. It's still here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=49909

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby gumbynotpokey » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:47 pm

From a non echo chamber perspective, I will say this - we have seen them BLOW THE MIND of the buyer on the rebuild time and time again, including the look of tops.
Wife: C350, Claro top SH550, Vintage 16
Oldest: DC400M greenburst, C980TMW
Youngest: C750, GK1, CT624M Deep Black Cherry on flame, V3MC Celestion,
SH550 white/white, black binding, gold hardware
Me: LB70P jet black, LB70PF Claro BEM HAN, MB 10

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby spudmunkey » Tue Dec 05, 2017 5:49 pm

gumbynotpokey wrote:From a non echo chamber perspective, I will say this - we have seen them BLOW THE MIND of the buyer on the rebuild time and time again, including the look of tops.


:applause:

I started writing a sentence like that, but it wasn't coming out right. Yours id better than mine was. :lol:
Last edited by spudmunkey on Tue Dec 05, 2017 11:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby ElfDude » Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:51 pm

I think it's an awesome top. But if I had ordered burled maple, I'd be disappointed too.
One more vote for returning it.
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby texastoast » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:40 pm

gumbynotpokey wrote:From a non echo chamber perspective, I will say this - we have seen them BLOW THE MIND of the buyer on the rebuild time and time again, including the look of tops.


I can personally vouch for that. My rebuild is still one of the best tops I have ever seen period.

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby MarshallTSL » Sun Dec 10, 2017 3:01 pm

OK, one more voice of support for a return.

I sent my first two Carvins back. I ordered #5 8 weeks ago and almost ordered #6 last week when I was in SoCal. Give them a chance to wow you.
CT6 Deep Blue Quilt, HH2 Claro, TL60C Black Cherry Quilt, Master Grade Ziricote SH65, Aries A6X Flamed Redwood Top AND an Aries A6X Red Candy Quilt In The Oven!!!

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby Big O » Wed Feb 21, 2018 11:24 am

The saga of my guitar has ended. As some here recommended, I asked for a return due to the top issues – not much burl appearance. The following are excerpts from the response I received.

“We sincerely apologize that your recent custom build didn’t meet with your particular expectations. . . You are certainly welcome to send it back for a rebuild (exchange). . . Due to the nature and circumstance of this particular situation I can make an exception and authorize a one-time prepaid FedEx return label sent to you via email so that you can return the guitar back to us.”

With my returned guitar I enclosed a letter that had pictures explaining the reason for the return. I had to drive 3 towns over to ship out the guitar since that is where the closest Fedex dropoff place is located.

Pictures of my guitar top (enhanced to bring out the grain - the true appearance in below in the instagram photo).

Image Image

Picture of the same model with a burl top and similar paint/stain scheme from Kiesel's website (provided with my letter).

Image

So it seemed pretty obvious to me that they considered there was a fairly significant problem with the appearance of the burl maple cap because an immediate approval for a rebuild was granted, and I was also provided with a prepaid label to send the guitar back. About a month later I received a phone call from Kiesel expecting it to be an update on my rebuild. Instead I was informed that after all this time a rebuild was not going to be granted. As I was dealing with a family emergency at the time, I asked that I be sent an email with an explanation of the reasons and what my options were.

The following are excerpts from the reply.

“It turns out that he will not be able to authorize a rebuild of the original guitar you had ordered and sent back. . . One reason is because of the THKN option which automatically makes any guitar non-refundable. . . we are aware that your original salesperson did not specify that the thicker neck option would a non-returnable choice. . . Also (a person of authority) personally picked out the original top out of (a) reserve section of woods, and (considered) that it was perfectly fine and . . . (Kiesel does) not allow returns on figured tops simply because a customer does not care for it.”

“However. . . has authorized me to offer you the following options –

1. Take delivery of the original guitar
2. Order another model with different options
3. Request a refund and forfeit the option of buying from us again in the future”

This reply did not make me entirely happy, of course, because at the time I ordered the guitar back at the end of July 2017 the THKN option was a STANDARD option, and not an option 50, so the guitar should have been returnable. I am kicking myself for not having done a screenshot of the ordering pages when I made the original order. Second, I was expecting a very different result with the top given the picture of the burl top from Kiesel’s website above. Also, I discovered the following. My guitar had been on the “Guitars in Stock” page on Kiesel’s website when I checked a couple of days before I received the phone call, which why I was somewhat taken aback when the call came through. I rechecked the page and discovered that someone must have put the guitar in their cart. See screenshot below.

Image

Also, I found that the guitar also had been in Kiesel’s showroom as there was a picture of it on instagram that was taken a couple of days before I received the phone call. The picture (see below) received over 10,000 likes in a short period of time, more than for any other Kiesel guitar photos I viewed on instagram. I wonder if the real reason they decided not to allow me to do the rebuild was because of the overwhelming positive response the guitar was receiving, and because of that positive response there was no way in their minds that it should have been returned for a rebuild.

Image

Another problem with regard to the guitar was that I had requested a minor wiring change, which required me to send them new capacitors at my expense to accomplish the change, but the pickups were wired in the standard fashion and the caps I sent them did not appear to have been used.

My ultimate decision was to ask Kiesel to send the guitar back to me. When I received it and looked closer at the pickup wiring, even the standard wiring had not been done according to Kiesel/Carvins own wiring diagrams. The coil splits for both humbuckers were done in exactly the same fashion. Both pickups were split to the North (toward the neck) coils rather than one split to the North coil and the other pickup split to the South coil. The way the pickups were wired eliminates the hum cancelling capability when both pickups are on and split (middle position on the pickup selector switch). As previously mentioned, the pickups were wired in the standard fashion and the caps I sent them were not used, which was confirmed when I opened and inspected the control cavity. Also, instead of the gold tremolo arm which had been returned to them with the guitar unopened in the original plastic bag, I received a matte black tremolo arm when the guitar was reshipped to me. Kiesel did send me a gold arm, but I was required to send the matte black one back, again having to make the trek 3 towns over to drop it off at Fedex.

I do say I love the guitar. The finish is spectacular. The tung oil finished neck, flat fretboard and string action make it the finest and easiest playing guitar of the many guitars I own. As they say, it plays like butter. I can’t say that for any other guitar I have.

On a final note, my daughter who lives in California (Livermore) was talking to her neighbor who is also a collector of guitars. She told him the story of my guitar with regard to the problems I experienced, but she couldn’t remember the name of the company. He said, “it sounds like a Kiesel.” And my daughter said, “that’s it.” I don’t know if this is a precautionary tail or what, but I wonder with the significant increase in Kiesel’s business that overall quality control is starting to suffer. Because of my experience, I am not sure I would order another Kiesel in the future. If I do, then it will be a simpler paint scheme and top. This is because the playability of the guitar I ordered is fantastic.

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby dejabluguitar » Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:07 pm

my 2 cents. That top is not burl. Which equals a mistake. Should be rebuildable.
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby spudmunkey » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:25 pm

Not gonna lie...that is a stunning build, and as an in-stock, where someone doesn't necessarily have a specific vision in mind, I could see how that would get sold, like, super quick.

The challenge is definitely the "jeff to select" because he's definitely drawn to the super unique pieces of wood, which can sometimes fall outside of what many people might want. If someone were to ask for "Flame, but...like...Master Grade flame", they would probably be disappointed if it had burls in it. That customer might not be satisfied with a burled top that's more flame than burl, even if it's a super cool and unique piece. It reminds me of...you know how when you go to some fast food places where you can get regular or curly fries (or fries and onion rings) at the same price? Isn't it funny how if you get regular fries and there's an onion ring in it, it's like a bonus, but if you order onion rings and you get a fry in it, you somehow feel cheated (again, even though they are the same price)? :lol: I know...terrible analogy. I'm hungry...

For what it's worth, that would be a STUNNING piece of wood that would probably get claimed FIRST in a "pick your top tuesday" live video session. I'm droolin' here, and I don't even generally care all that much for night/aqua burst (whichever that is), I don't care for gold hardware, and I'm not a trem guy...but that thing is probably in my top 25 Kiesel/Carvin builds of all time.

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby texastoast » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:10 pm

I do think they are being somewhat reasonable except the last option of bugger off if you want your money back. However the trend of not wanting you happy is alarming. Not to mention a major change in the business model without informing the customer properly. I never heard of a too bad if the figure is not to you liking rule. And I buy a few a year from them.

What ever happened to no questions asked returns. They expect us to buy a guitar sight unseen. In the past I returned guitars due to top preference.

I do not see a tuff if you do not like the top here."Your trial period starts when the merchandise is received by you, not when it's shipped. Really give it a workout. If you're not satisfied for any reason, send it back for a prompt refund or exchange - you would only be responsible for the shipping."

Then there is this," Also (a person of authority) personally picked out the original top out of (a) reserve section of woods, and (considered) that it was perfectly fine and . . . (Kiesel does) not allow returns on figured tops simply because a customer does not care for it.”
according to the sales boiler plate all wood is hand selected,"Kiesel Guitars Custom Shop instruments feature hand selected, kiln-dried tone woods"

I got to thinking about some of the namm builds. There is no way you could return one of them due to all the options he trows out there. Yet the intent is to sell it in the gis. But when we want those options somehow it is unsaleable and too big of a risk.
I bet you a large potion of the namm display was non returnable for one reason or another.

I like you guitar but would not pay for burl. That would be one bad a%^ flame. It does not live up to what they show burl looking like. The facebook photo is what I would expect. If they told me refund and loose the privilege to purchase from them again I would giggle the whole time I told them to cut me a check. Lots of other fish in the music sea.

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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby Doctor Turn » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:14 pm

That ain't burl, it's "flurl" at best, and even then you gotta hold it the right way.

If everything you're saying about what you did and requested on your end is 100% true, that's totally, totally uncool for them to do that. I know what option I would have taken from their checklist. I would have told them to light a rocket and attach my refund to it and FIRE!

When they say something like that, they're saying in my language, "PULEEEZE don't do business with me. I'm not awake to the hard working human at the other end of that dollar."

We must not ever allow ourselves to get too comfortable, too defensive, too taken with our stretches of success when in business. It's never written in the stars, it's never destiny...

With todays world of ecommerce especially, if another new guitar was never built ever again, there'd still be so many fabulous used instruments to choose from.
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1985 DC150K (koa) Stereo, M22N/M22SD w/black hardware.
1985 100 Watt X Amp 2 x 12 combo (XV212) upgraded w/ 2 Vintage 30's
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Re: Bit The Bullet

Postby texastoast » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:41 pm

spudmunkey wrote:For what it's worth, that would be a STUNNING piece of wood that would probably get claimed FIRST in a "pick your top tuesday" live video session. I'm droolin' here, and I don't even generally care all that much for night/aqua burst (whichever that is), I don't care for gold hardware, and I'm not a trem guy...but that thing is probably in my top 25 Kiesel/Carvin builds of all time.


It is an absolutely stunning guitar. I like all the things like gold and trems. So I really dig it. I would have told him to think about it for a couple extra days before shipping it back. Knowing I would sell it quick if it comes back. Heck I might have snagged it myself. The only hang up for me is a reasonable expectation on Kiesels part of that particular guitar is not what comes to mind if you read me the build invoice. I would have pictured the one in the facebook photo. If it was closer to that and just had a few less burls on it I would say luck of the draw. Kiesel should be proud of it. But also be understanding that their previous consistency allows us to expect things to look a certain way.


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