I'm not really sure how this thread is going to progress but I can say that it should be somewhat interesting.
My original thoughts were that, since I constantly give my advice or opinions, I should show people that I actually follow my own words too.
There have been a few recent threads highlighting the RG3xxv's that were on sale through Sweetwater and everywhere else. They were selling for $399. All of them had some QC issues either severe or insignificant. My advice to one of our friends was to return his to Sweetwater, then contact Rich to see what he had in stock. That reply didn't sit with me very well because, in truth, I had no idea if Rich could better Sweetwater or not, and was I unfairly putting Rich on the spot?
So I did it. I emailed Rich to see what he had in stock and what price point he was at. What happened next was both surprising in some ways AND a torrent of reasons as to why Rich should be our ONLY Ibanez vendor.
I'm going to first qualify that Rich and I have no relationship other than me being a constant PITA hardware customer and a fellow Jemsiter. For all the times I've bothered him for prices, I've never bought anything more expensive that a trem kit. I am NOT one of his VIP customers (I know he's going to chime in letting us know were ALL VIP's, but seriously.....).
Rich replied to my email within minutes letting me know he'd honor everybody else's price of $399, but that was only on current inventory. This meant I had to get a CA as that's all he had in stock. I think I kinda blew his mind when the next email I sent was letting him know I PP'd $425 to him- $399 for the guitar + what I hoped was enough to cover shipping. He then let me know he had three in stock that I could choose from. the bodies were all equally clean on initial inspection, but the necks on each had blemishes.
The first had a dark mineral stain on the back that was too deep to sand out but had a nice clear fretboard and almost no visible grain.......Next!
The second had a TINY black spot on the back center that would have easily sanded out if polishing didn't work. This one had a beautiful fretboard too, but Rich didn't like the action profile on this neck...... personally, it was my favorite up til now......Next!
The third had a beautifully clean back with a nice flamey piece of maple centered in the 3-piece neck BUT there was a VERY dark spot about the size of a thumbprint dead center in the 6th fret.........Next!!! Wait that was all three......DAMN!!!
I at least wanted a clean neck to do a "polishing the turd" thread. I really wanted #2 since it was going to be the easiest on to clean up without re-finishing but Rich felt like #1 was the best. I replied that I really didn't like that mineral stain because, no matter what I did to the rest of the guitar, I couldn't fix that......it was permanent. I decided on #2 again, it was going to be easy to clean and I could always re-level the frets for a better relief profile. Rich asked if I was sure. I started to waffle, He's really trying to tell me he like #1 the best. Even with the mineral stain #1 had the best relief and the cleanest board. It was going to be the better player out of the two. This is when I asked about the stain on the fretboard of #3. How bad was it? I'm gonna have to do fretwork on any of the three because, as usual, The Indo's left a mess behind. Rich said it was pretty dark then asked if I wanted a close-up pic. SURE I DO!!! WTH, if it's that bad I'll refinish the board.
The next email from him included pics....... Rich put his magic spit to work and "rubbed out" the stain (He DID tell us that he rub's it out often while on the clock...
) Well HELL YEAH!!! Other than the crappy Indo fretwork #3 was the cleanest neck with a good profile....DONE, I want #3!!!
The next couple email's I got cannot be repeated here because of the curse filter but, in a nutshell, Rich had calmly let me know how much he LOVES the Indonesian plant workers and the quality of their work..... it was touching really.
Unfortunately, they burned through the clear on the tip of the horn while polishing.... when I say burned, I mean black and brown boiled paint type of burned.....
So now, waiting for my reply, Rich dis-assembled ALL THREE guitars to mate the best body with my neck. He took detailed pics of all three, sent them, and waited for my reply. The body on #2 had some weird tiny little brown spots in it.......#1 had a run in the clear on the tip of the lower horn. I chose #1 but before I let him know he already had it together, correctly anticipating my answer, block leveled the frets (Thanks dude!), shaved the fret ends, AND polished out almost every scratch the indo's left in the frets!!!!
What I hope your all seeing is what Rich went through for a "run of the mill" customer on a guitar that he sold AT A LOSS!!!! That's right
, He actually sold it to me for less than he paid AND bent over backward while jumping through hoops trying to take good care of me...........
I can't tell you all how thankful I am to him, but I'm sure you can imagine.....
Everyone says Sweetwater has great customer service........ I'd like to see them try to match this, especially at 1am like Rich did for me..............