So, My Angel decided to get me a really cool gift.
But I'm telling the story out of order if I start there.
Years ago, at a local store, I'd seen an all-acoustic Martin bass guitar. It was a good price, but my budget wasn't nearly good that year. It was the first acoustic bass I'd held in my hands, an all-mahogany instrument with beautiful tone. And it was, predictably, sold the next time I went by the store.
I never forgot that guitar. For a long time, it was a gentle wistfulness. But then, as my skills increased, I started noodling at playing bass lines on my guitar, and I started thinking more about that bass. Finally, I decided to look online. E-bay didn't have it; no one did. I saw some other acoustic bases of course, with names I recognized and names I didn't, but sadly, e-bay doesn't come with a sound track or the chance to pick up the instrument and play it before buying.
Would I really buy an instrument on e-bay? My friend Susan said she'd had luck doing so, but of course she and Phil know instruments better than I do. I decided I would have to stop in somewhere with actual instruments and play a few acoustic bases. I made a plan to head to Cascio, which was thwarted by life happening. So I kept looking online. I mean, why not? The all-mahogany Martin might show up.
But I did see an instrument that caught my attention. It was beautiful--but again, to the eye, and instruments have to be beautiful to the ear as well. But how to find out? I tried U-Tube, but the one video showing someone playing this company's bass was someone with less skill than I have showing off his new one. Hard to tell.
Finally, I made it to Cascio, and played all the acoustic bases they had, though they didn't have this brand or a Martin. But it was information, and let me cross several brands off my potential list. I called a few other places (cell phones are so cool) and didn't find anywhere else to try, so I went home and looked up stores that are advertised on this brand's website as dealers, and called them. No one in Milwaukee or Chicago had an acoustic bass in stock that I could just stop in and try. I also learned that Martin isn't making the model bass I looked at so long ago; the one they are making now is significantly more expensive.
Now, I didn't want to ask a music store order something I wasn't at all sure I would want, just so I could try it out. If I did want it, that was one thing--supporting a local store would please me. But leaving them stuck with a lousy instrument, if I didn't like it, after asking them to take time to order it during the holiday season, that would make me feel bad.,
Oh, well. I had other things to do. And then I came down with bronchitis for the holiday. Oh, yay.
I didn't have focus or energy for writing, which often means I waste time online. So I looked around online some more, and found that the bass I'd been looking at could be bought from Amazon for less than the e-bay seller was asking.
That's when My Angel said I should order it and try it, and she'd either pay the credit card back for the instrument or pay the shipping for returning it. I realized I wouldn't feel bad about making Amazon go to a bit of extra work if I hated the guitar, and they had 10 in stock. So I ordered it.
To my delight, it arrived a day earlier than promised, doubtless due to Amazon and UPS trying to keep ahead of the holiday rush. The box was huge, bigger than it needed to be, but in fine shape. Inside, was another box, not in such good shape, with a third box inside that, and inside all of that was a damaged bass guitar. *sigh*
That chip on the front went with a crack that was at least 6" long where the face of the guitar was joined to the side. There was also cracked wood at the bottom by the box where you would plug the bass into an amp--and who knows if the electronics were damaged?
I tuned it anyway so I could at last hear an example of the brand. It has a nice tone--probably not as good as that long-gone Martin, but quite good enough to make it pleasant to play, which is important. I figured if I wouldn't enjoy playing it, there was no point in having them ship a replacement.
So then I took pictures, reported that it arrived damaged, got the return shipping document, hooked up my printer to print it, and packed the poor bass back up. UPS arrived bright and early to cart it away, and I went back to recuperating from my bronchitis and waiting for another delivery.
Which had not arrived when I got the notice that it had been delivered, "no signature required." I checked the front and back doors. I tried to contact Amazon online and was advised, by form message, to contact FedEx. FedEx could only tell me that the driver had gone home and couldn't be reached until Monday. I went back to my e-mails from Amazon about the first, damaged guitar, and got them to call me. I told them I wasn't pleased that they had shipped it no signature required, and that I figured it could be gone forever--had they asked, I would have said there was no way anyone should ship something more valuable than a couple of books no signature required to my neighborhood. Once I cleared up the misapprehension that I had reported the first one not delivered ("damaged with obvious denting to the inside box and none to the outside box suggests to me that Amazon should have inspected the item in the damaged box before shipping it out again" and "I already got the e-mail acknowledging that I had returned the damaged item and would not be charged for it"), they agreed to ship yet another guitar.
I went back to moping because I still couldn't spend my long weekend playing my gift to distract me from the bronchitis, and on Sunday, dragged myself out into the cold to try to finish gift shopping. It was too cold for my lungs, despite not being cold at all for Wisconsin in December. Christmas Eve I got up when I needed to get to my sister's party on time, and fell back into bed again. I'd gone to bed really early the night before after shopping, but clearly that wasn't good enough. Eventually I got up and packed the stuff I needed to take with me, but I was going to be late.
After I should have left for Chicago, the guitar finally arrived, via UPS. It's just as well--FedEx might have been earlier, but had already proved incapable of finding my house.
I had to open it, and then I had to laugh. Inside the box, there was not one guitar, but two. I tuned both; one had a buzzy string, quite fixable but why bother when the other didn't? I packed that guitar back into the box and the one I'm keeping into the gig bag I'd picked up while gift shopping, and left. I wasn't about to wait around and report the second guitar when I was late for family festivities. That could wait until I was back in Milwaukee.
Oh, but it gets sillier, my friends--on Christmas Day, the neighbor whose porch received the second shipping dropped off that box at my house, already opened. When I got back late Christmas night (well, late when compared to my exhaustion and having to work the next day), I thought My Angel had moved the box into the hallway near the front door. After work the next day, I learned it was the missing package and that it contained another two guitars!
That's right--for a brief time, I had four beautiful and essentially identical bass guitars in my house. I also had disgruntled cats--New! Huge! Boxes! kept arriving, and I wouldn't let them play inside.
I dared not try to leave feedback in a form for this. I made Amazon call me again so I could explain they had shipped me what they thought were three guitars, I'd already returned the first (damaged) one, was keeping one, and now needed to return three perfectly good guitars--but in only two boxes.
When the young lady was sure she understood me, she put me on hold. After she came back on the phone, she set up the returns and thanked me, several times, for calling.
UPS arrived while I was at work and I finally have just one new bass guitar (and no Huge! New! CatToys!).
Hopefully, despite the Muse Fusion this weekend, I'll find time and energy to photograph the guitar I kept (these are all pictures of the damaged guitar), and maybe even figure out how to record a bit of it so you can hear how it sounds. Maybe. Figuring that recording thing out is one of my goals, sooner or later, at least.
(Oh, and if you know filkart
, don't tell him. I want to surprise him.)