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1Hullabalulu 05-01-2019 09:35 PM

Mcpherson(aka Kevin Michael) versus Blackbird Lucky 13 guitar, service and product
Comparison of Kevin Michael (McPherson) carbon fibre guitar, Blackbird lucky 13 carbon fibre guitar, Blackbird Clara Ukulele and the Customer Service of both companies

Well I'm just a poor musician in Australia but I bit the bullet despite customs fees and I bought a Kevin Michael guitar, a Blackbird carbon fibre guitar and a Blackbird Clara ukulele for my Mum.

I live in a rainforest and it's humid here so they seemed the perfect products for me.

The Kevin Michael guitar developed a minor fault and the companies customer service was faultless,
They were/are 100 percent behind their guitars as far as customer service is.
They made sure that the replacement didn't cost me in any way, they treated the issue as very important, and even threw in extras with the replacement (2 x guitar cases soft and hard, strap, whole set of picks) . I would most definitely buy from this company again. In a fact after dealing with this company I WANT to buy from them again, and recommend the company to other musicians.

A company who believes in their product always has great returns and warranty policies.

I had already chosen the Kevin Michael guitar (for the majority of my playing) over the Blackbird lucky 13, simply over its playing feel, it's light and feels and sounds better then the Blackbird guitar (which is more clunky feeling) In my opinion. Also the make of the Kevin Michael as you look closer is more perfect then the Blackbird is. And when I received them both the Kevin Michael was clean inside whereas the Blackbird was sooty and dirty inside from manufacture. But I find good customer service rubs off onto the guitar and makes playing of it even more pleasurable so all in all Kevin Michael is the guitar for me.

So onto the Blackbird company. Whom I discovered DID NOT have good warranty policy.

> (‪‬)
> 1 - At the Buyerís expense, the Buyer returns the product claimed to be defective, through his authorized dealer/distributor, to the manufacturer at the Buyerís expense with shipping expenses pre-paid both to and from the manufacturer;

The lucky 13 blackbird guitar is stout and sound, and very solid. So I have no complaints with that.

However the Clara ukulele which I had also bought from Blackbird had developed a major fault in which the front of it didn't have enough bracing under the bridge and the whole face of it was buckled and unplayable within 4 years.
They were already aware of this fault when I contacted them and this was their answer

>>> We add a bridge patch now (you have one of the earliest ones). It solves the problem and we can retro actively fix yours. That said, we do need it back here to make the upgrade. If possible to send back.

So whilst admitting their defect, they believe the consumer should deal with ALL postage costs when sending it back for repair/replacement. I was happy to pay return but unaware that they wanted me to pay again postage to get it back to me UNTIL I'd returned it to America and they sent me the bill for the return.

I tried contesting this because as as far as I know ACC (Australia consumer law) is that anybody who sells into Australia should comply with ACC which states that the company pays for returns. However correspondence with them was difficult. And left me with an aversion to their actual product as a result.

Whilst refusing to pay return postage ($110 USD) Blackbird then offered me an upgrade which costs $420 USD. This I did not understand as I had already found out they were ....well, scabby. Naturally I was suspicious. Also IF their replacement proved defective I would I have to foot postages yet again.

Blackbird Quoted
>>>>>> Given your climate, I would actually recommend a sunburst Clara with clear coat finish which is better suited for extreme weather. I should have thought of this earlier but we would include this significant upgrade for FREE (normally $425 upgrade).
>>>>>> A refund after all these years is rather unprecedented but perhaps after 1000s of instruments we will need to make an exception. We can offer a refund less 20% restocking fee.

I opted for a refund on the actual product, I'd already paid 2x postages for the same product and I wasn't prepared to pay three. Blackbird charged me the 20 percent retail fee, which they deducted off the refund (due to having already made me a replacement) (the original instrument being non repairable it seems)

All in all this company (Blackbird) looks after themselves and made NO loss from this, in fact they still profited, for their own defective product. Whilst all my available options whichever way I turned , were losses.

(To get nitty gritty) even the upgrade would have been a loss for me as then I would have had to repay customs fees (I'm Australian) whereas just a replacement avoids this (considered paid the first time).
I ended up getting refunded USD $920 (pay pal charged me an extra $33 fee) so I actually got back USD $886.58

It's been an expensive lesson for me and perhaps I could have done it all a better way but in future I'll always check a companies warranty policies before I buy. As this is a reflection on their product.

A company that does not have good returns/warranty policies is not confident in their own product. And they have no motivation to ensure that their future product is better, this then makes me unconfident in the product as a consumer.

Mcphersons guitars ARE confident in their products and they look after consumers. So I leave it up to you, the consumer, to decide which company is best. Kevin Michael (the prodigy of McPherson) as a brand name has now been discontinued and the same guitar is now under the umbrella of the companies main name Mcpherson.

Also by the way I have a cheap factory made ply Takamine which hangs off a pole on the balcony which has lasted for 10 years. Go Takamine. But that can be another review for another day :)

Thanks for reading

Guest 928 05-02-2019 09:27 AM


Humm.....My experiences with Blackbird have been different than yours. I've owned the Rider, a Super OM and the uke. I had a problem with one of the guitars and Blackbird made it right.

I'm with you on the plywood guitars. I've owned several and found that they can sound good AND take a beating.

Earl49 05-02-2019 09:52 AM

We've had a couple of recent reports of "lack of support" by Blackbird, but they both were from overseas. Being half a world away complicates things like shipping and customs. US based owners like me have had much different experiences with customer support. Also remember that Blackbird is a 10-12 person company, not some giant corporate entity.

Before there were CF guitars, we had to make do with inexpensive all-laminate instruments to deal with severe climates.

Barb1 05-02-2019 11:39 AM

I am happy to say that I have had only the best of support from Joe at Blackbird. I am a happy owner of many of their instruments.

tommyld 05-02-2019 12:04 PM

There are some cases where it'd be nice--or smart--for the manufacturer to cover shipping costs. (I'm in a niche of the instrument industry, and occasionally cover shipping for warranty claims: failure in the first year, or for a longtime repeat customer, or other case-by-case circumstances.)
But in my experience in several industries, it's entirely commonplace that warranty claimers are responsible for postage.

Blackbird offering you a free finish upgrade (normally $425)--in addition to fixing the issue at no cost--seems to be going above and beyond to fix it and satisfy their customer.
Fully refunding an instrument purchase after 4 years is absolutely unheard of...even to refund 80% of your purchase price! Had you decided to sell it after having it fixed, I think you'd have been very lucky to get that much in the used market! (Then again, with the $425 finish upgrade, maybe.)

I've owned 5 Blackbirds, and had two experiences with Blackbird warranty claims (a minor issue in 2011, one in 2018). In both cases, I got fast replies from Joe, including a personal phone call; in both cases, they returned the instruments better than ever with the issues not since recurring.

1Hullabalulu 05-17-2019 05:46 PM

If Blackbird is too small of a company to pay half the return postage for a defective product maybe they should consider not selling overseas.
They may be a small company but donít forget there is only one of me.
Regards to postage I was asking them to do the correct thing and pay ($110 USD one way) the cost to me then only being ($220 USD two ways) instead of $330 USD (three ways) overall for their product, factoring in the initial postage cost I payed when I bought the Uke.
In regards (fully refunding an instrument after 4 years is absolutely unheard of) this instrument is advertised as lasting for longer than 4 years...? Perhaps you think companies should be allowed to falsely advertise products and get away with that?
The point I was trying to make was that IF I had decided to pay all the replacement postage costs HOW can I be confident the defect wonít happen again? Blackbird is obviously not confident themselves or else they would have a good returns policy. Ekoa DOES get affected by humidity, or at least the thin front face of it, unless itís just string stress that did it, but then there doesnít seem to be any other reports of this by other customers of string stress related warping. I think if you own one it may just take longer to happen as you probably live in a drier place then me, depending if you have the extra bracing underneath the front face or not. If you live in a stable environment it may never happen. I guess Ekoa is made of more natural stuff than carbon fibre. Basically itís just some sort of plywood.

BT55 05-17-2019 06:45 PM

I can completely understand your dissatisfaction with Blackbird. Based on your conversation this defect was a known issue. Since you purchased through a licensed dealer their response was poor. They should have required that you return the Clara to their dealer. Blackbird should have handled it from there. Anything else is very poor customer service.

1Hullabalulu 05-17-2019 06:54 PM

Tommyld and Barb1, just curious did Blackbird pay postage to return your fixed instruments?

1Hullabalulu 05-17-2019 06:56 PM


Originally Posted by EvanB (Post 6052178)

Humm.....My experiences with Blackbird have been different than yours. I've owned the Rider, a Super OM and the uke. I had a problem with one of the guitars and Blackbird made it right.

Hello Evan , did Blackbird pay to return the Fixed Guitar?

Barb1 05-17-2019 07:21 PM

The work that I had Joe do on my guitars was not warranty work. He revoiced my Lucky 13 and put in a sound port to bring it up to the updated version and then I sent a Rider back to him for a setup. I don't remember who payed the postage. I have only had the nicest of dealings with Joe and his company.

chistrummer 05-17-2019 07:31 PM

I'm always skeptical of someone who joins a forum to leave a negative feedback so maybe next time post some pictures of the problem.

With that out of the way I agree that if a manufacturer chooses to sell direct and ship to another country than they should treat that sale the same as a domestic sale which in this case Blackbird did. The terms on their site are very clear, they are happy to fix any warranty problems as long as you cover shipping both ways. By offering you a $400 custom finish for free Blackbird went above and beyond in my opinion, I would have jumped on that.

Guest 928 05-18-2019 09:07 AM


I paid nothing for the Blackbird fix.

Also, I see nothing deceptive in offering less than a life-time guarantee. I know of no instrument maker that offers a forever guarantee. It would, however, be deceptive if a maker offered such a guarantee and based it on however long the guitar lived. That would actually be pretty funny stuff.

lfoo6952 05-18-2019 10:20 AM


If you got almost a full refund, you should be more than satisfied with the outcome. Especially the instrument was 4 years old.

The norm in America is that the buyer pays to ship the instrument back for any repair work, not the instrument manufacturer.

1Hullabalulu 05-20-2019 07:32 AM

You obviously didnít read it properly. I didnít have a problem with paying to ship it back to them.

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