Why and How I Returned the Classical Guitar I ordered

What’s going on with me? I’ve returned the second classical guitar I ordered online. This is the one reviewed in New Guitar Checklist.

I am typical of many guitarists and sometimes have bouts of G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). And sometimes, after a period of time, I fall out of love with an instrument or piece of equipment. I may upgrade or simply go a different direction. But this time I returned two classical guitars in less than a week. I’ve never had such a short relationship with a guitar. I’ve never felt “buyer’s remorse” that required a refund while a guitar was still new.

Here come the rationalizations. 

bad-finger-position
Bad finger position – finger should be closer to fret

First, I discovered I would have to adjust my playing technique to get good tone out of the classical guitar and eliminate fret buzz. The buzzing was particularly annoying. After 52 years of playing guitar had I suddenly forgotten how to play? The buzzing was not due to the setup of the guitar (or if it was – it was something very subtle). The frets were level, the action within specifications. The problem was my fingers were not landing close enough to the frets.

OK, I always suspected I had picked up some bad habits over the years and that my technique could use improvement. But it got me wondering how my technique was on my other guitars. 1 I first tried my Epiphone Casino. A shorter scale length  of 24.75 inches compared to 25.6 for the classical guitar. A narrower nut of 1 11/16 compared to just over 2 inches on the classical. I played the same riffs on the Epiphone and my finger position was perfect. No buzz. I tried closing my eyes and playing. Still no buzz.

Then I tried playing my Martin OM-28. This has a fractionally wider nut width of 1 3/4 inches. The scale length of 25.4 inches is closer to the classical of about 25.6 inches. Again, fingers came down perfectly on the OM with no buzzing, even when I didn’t look.

better-finger-position
This is better. Finger is near fret. Eliminates buzz.

That’s good news and bad news. It’s good I haven’t forgotten how to play my other guitars. It suggests I could learn play the classical guitar without buzzing with some practice. But it suggested working on something that I wasn’t sure would be worth the effort. I don’t think learning to play the classical guitar without buzzing would be time well spent learning something that would really increase my overall enjoyment of playing guitar. This is particularly true since everything was working for me on my other guitars.

But there was another reason I returned the second classical guitar. It didn’t “thrill me”. My wife doesn’t understand but a new guitar should make you happy – your soul should soar when you play it. My soul went, “Ahh ehh!”.

The problem might have been the cedar top. I wasn’t sure about that. I had thought I might prefer spruce – as all my other acoustic guitars have for their tops. The sound – after living with it for more than a week – just wasn’t satisfying.

Returning the guitar.

I had saved all the packaging that had been used to ship the guitar to me. I re-packed the guitar the same way it had been shipped. I got a return authorization number from Sweetwater.com and labeled the outer box as their instructions had indicated.

My refund will have the original shipping chargers deducted from the amount I am credited. You only get free shipping if you keep the item. I also had to pay for shipping the guitar back to them. I included a declared value – the price of the guitar – so if anything happened during the return trip I would be covered. That didn’t add much to the return shipping but made me feel a lot better.

Online Shopping.

Of course, part of the problem is I was unable to purchase a guitar I had first played in person. It is one of the reasons so many online merchants give you extended no-hassle return periods. Playing the same model of guitar is no guarantee that the actual guitar you receive will feel or sound the same.

If I had purchased one of the more expensive classical guitars that I had played extensively in one of my local stores, for example the Kremona Fiesta FS, I might have kept the guitar. I don’t remember any of those buzzing. But those also cost twice as much as the one I returned. In the end I decided something my wife thinks should have been obvious from the start. Stick with what you know and love most.

My next guitar will be a small bodied jazz archtop electric. Something I love, know and have always wanted. Duh!

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Footnotes

  1. I still have nine guitars – too many or too few? I can’t help wanting more but I am trying to reduce my collection.

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