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"I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way" -Gustav Mahler

Review of Ann Arbor Guitars

Recently, it came to my attention that my favorite luthier spot in town was getting some heat for a personal photo, on a Master Luthier’s personal Facebook page, of a mock-up receipt that read “F*** Trump.” No customer received this receipt, it was a meant to be a private joke between employees. Some lady saw it though, screen-captured it, and recruited others across the country to write negative, 1-star reviews of this establishment, regardless of whether or not they had been there or even played a gosh darned instrument that they fixed up.

Since my days in undergrad, I’ve maintained a great relationship with Ann Arbor Guitars. I can’t recommend them enough for the great work they do. It is not my intention to take a stance on whether I agree or disagree with any of their political views, nor is it my intention to comment on the appropriateness of the joke. Here is my review of Ann Arbor Guitars:

How dare they? I’m extremely outraged. A few years ago, all I wanted was to restore an old Kalamazoo archtop. The guys here had the audacity to transform that guitar from barely a playable hunk of wood into a tone slinging, angel singing, face splitting, existential crisis causing, soul melting, work of art. I couldn’t believe it.

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1930’s Kalamazoo KG-21: This is not your father’s guitar. Probably more like your grandfather’s guitar. Still plays and sounds amazing, thanks to Ann Arbor Guitars

In all seriousness, there is a reason why I brought my 5th instrument through their doors yesterday morning. I can handle most small adjustments to my guitars myself, but sometimes I run into some problems that really deserve the expert attention that I’ve only found at Ann Arbor Guitars. Acoustics, electric basses, and now my electric guitar, they can handle it all: even folk/other stringed instruments, if that’s your jam. Pickup installation, setups, crack repairs: you name it, they can probably do what you want with it! Like I mentioned before, I had salvaged an old and roughed up Kalamazoo KG-21 archtop. When I say roughed up, I mean “lovable-only-by-its-mother-and-probably-Jesus” sort of roughed up. When I got it back, I was impressed at all the work they put into bringing that guitar back up to playing speed without making it lose its history. They earned my trust. Since then I’ve brought back a couple of recording king acoustics, a MIJ/franken-fender Jazz Bass, and yesterday a MIM strat, not to mention guitars I’ve brought in for friends looking for setups/etc. They’re all okay-decent in their own right, especially for the low cost I obtained them at. Using some sort of witchcraft, Ann Arbor Guitars converted them into guitars that sound WAY out of their price bracket. I’m always stunned at the results and always assured that other players’ super expensive gear doesn’t necessarily translate into the best sound, feeling, or overall playing experience.

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The MIJ Frankenbass, after A2guitars made it playable.

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My friend brought this Washburn from Chicago, just to have Ann Arbor Guitars work on it. Good move, friend, good move.

The guys here are also extremely efficient in their work. Not only do you get top notch quality attention that your baby deserves, but you’ll get it back as fast as possible, often same day. Guitar Center and other big chains may be able to accomplish this too, but at nowhere near the quality level of Ann Arbor Guitars. Sure, other places might be a little cheaper too, but after my experiences with GC techs, the only people I think would trust them are probably also people who’ve given Ann Arbor Guitars a 1 star rating without even visiting them. HA! Look, a joke, I can make one too. But I digress, the pricing at Ann Arbor Guitars is completely fair, but they definitely do as much as they can to reduce costs for the customer without cutting corners. For example, yesterday my strat needed some bridge work and since I was already getting a setup, the strings were coming off anyway so we could shave a couple bucks off the final cost of labor. Which leads me into my final point.

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Recording King RAJ-26: Cracks repaired, L.R. Baggs pickup installed, new setup. I’m not exaggerating, I really can’t tell it apart from a Gibson.

The guys at Ann Arbor guitars are absolutely fantastic. They are super nice, knowledgeable, and overall good dudes. They are super attentive to your needs, and won’t just slop some work down on your guitar and call it good, like those GC guys. Completely professional in the workplace, but not in a guitar-neck-up-their-butt kind of way. Whenever I go in to drop off or pick something up, I always chat with them, fascinated by the wealth of knowledge that have to offer about their craft. Regardless of your political views and regardless of their political views (because, yes, they can have them too) if you are looking to improve or repair your instruments, you won’t find a better place. Come here and let their work speak for itself. As long as my hands can play, I’ll be bringing my guitars to Ann Arbor Guitars.

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Reverse Headstock MIM Fender Stratocaster. Custom Shop pickups, bridge/tremolo fixed up, new setup, trying out D’Addario NYXL strings. LOVE IT. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed playing electric.

 

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