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Ed Roman's 2009 Slimline Acoustic
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A Word From Ed Roman
Recently I was speaking to a new customer who was considering buying a hand made guitar from a smaller builder. He was impressed with the ones I have listed on my page. He indicated to me that he had been surfing the net for some time looking for a builder that could produce what he was looking for. He was trying to buy direct because he thought he could get a better price. I can't blame anyone for looking for a good deal, that's human nature.
He named about 15 other custom builders that were not listed on my site. He told me that he was considering those also. I said to him that at one time or another I had purchased each and every one of the brand names he listed. I went on to tell him that they all had failed my criteria for fit & finish.
My criteria is fairly strict, I am a stickler for fit and finish. I don't care how good a guitar looks in a picture, if it doesn't look good from 3 feet, I reject them. There are many small builders who have some pretty good designs, they just fail in the final execution of the product. I have seen some guitars with beautiful wood, with inlay work and glue ups that are not even mildly acceptable. I have seen some guitars that play well but the paint work is horrible. I have seen guitars where the paint is flawless but there are obvious flaws in the workmanship. In short it is rare that the whole package is perfect. I can remember when I was first starting, I had some problems myself.
I occasionally get stuck with some of these mediocre guitars. If and when that happens I generally will sell them cheaply on a closeout. (Call me - I have some right now at below my cost)
All the guitars listed in the links above are absolute top quality and bear my seal of approval. I have personally tested these and many others that you don't see listed. I guarantee your satisfaction or you may return the guitar (see terms). In fact I will buy at least one of almost any new brand of guitar that comes out. For every time I have been happy, I have been disappointed at least five times. Occasionally, I will still get a guitar from one of my top builders that may have a cosmetic problem. These are available at an extremely good deal. Remember that a good deal on a bad guitar is not a really good deal at all.
I can afford to do this. Many consumers simply can't afford to take a chance. Because, if I don't like the product I will either redo it and wholesale it out or just plain dump it out at cost. In several cases I have been unable to sell the guitars at all. Some people have expressed some dismay that I am not carrying certain lines of supposedly "handmade" guitars. The several usually in question are actually not handmade at all. In fact they aren't even made by the people whose names appear on the headstock.
There are several large CNC companies out there: NC Solutions, Warmoth, All Parts, WD Enterprises, Wildwood Banjo, Hill Guitars, Z&G Machine, Gidwani to name a few. These companies will make decent quality necks and bodies for anyone who has several thousand dollars to order a dozen bodies and necks.
Companies like Lak-Land, Sadowsky, Zeta, have everything outsourced either in the Orient or usually by Wildwood company in the Northwestern USA. These parts are shipped to Chicago & New York where they are assembled and sold as supposedly hand made. The last I heard Pat Wilkins in California was doing most of their paint work. Most of these subcontractor companies are quite good and sometimes I use a couple of them myself. However I don't use them for any of our handmade one of a kind custom pieces. I have a problem with companies who charge high money for supposedly hand made pieces when in reality they are not handmade at all.
There is absolutely nothing illegal in what they do. In fact I have used some of these same companies to make bodies for several of my lower cost and kit guitars.
There is also nothing illegal about pricing an instrument at three times its value just so that some poor sap will think it's hand made. In fact I would not bother exposing these companies if they sold their instruments at what I consider to be fair market value.
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