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Old 09-20-2023, 09:20 AM
Pete_Sustain Pete_Sustain is offline
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Default My first (NEW) Emerald purchase.

As a long time fan and owner of several Emerald guitars, I feel compelled to write an honest review of my recent purchase of a beautiful Kestrel archtop.

I had been admiring the kestrel for years since it’s debut. In my eyes it was my dream guitar, but unfortunately it was at a price point that was well beyond my reach. Fast forward a few years later, Emerald announced their big 25% off sale.

I immediately thought of the Kestrel and how if I was going to pull the trigger, now was the time. I thought of a game plan of how I could justify the purchase and made the decision. I was finally going to own my dream guitar.

Fast forward a couple weeks later, with only one tracking update upon its arrival in the United States, the postal service attempted to deliver my kestrel. I wasn’t home, so the package was held at my local post office for pickup. When I picked up the Kestrel at the post office, I noticed my street was spelled wrong on the package. At that point I was just relieved to have it in my possession.

I excitedly rushed home to play my new guitar. But that’s where my excitement came to an abrupt end. Upon opening the case, I saw pickup had came unglued from the top of the guitar. Still attached by the wire, it had been traveling with this heavy pickup bouncing around against the top, marring the finish of my brand new guitar.

I can’t even begin to explain all of the emotions I felt in that moment and still feel to this day. I sit here with a $4000 guitar that I still haven’t even been able to properly audition and put though it’s paces. In that moment, full of anger and sadness, to prevent any further damage to the instrument, i wrapped the pickup in a soft cloth and closed the case. I couldn’t even bear to look at the guitar.

A couple days later when I was finally able to reach Emerald customer service, the team expressed their sympathy for unfortunate circumstances. I was told I had two options. The first option was to send the guitar back (at no cost to me) for repair and the second option was to find a local automotive body shop in my area to have the scratches buffed out and they would reimburse me for the cost. As much as I wanted to keep the guitar, my excitement over my supposed “dream guitar” was completely deflated. I inquired about returning the Kestrel and it fell upon deaf ears. Silence. No reply. No third option. It was then I realized returns are not accepted at Emerald and I didn’t have the energy to fight over it. Maybe I still wanted the guitar? What I really wanted was to fall in love with it from day one, but that ship had quickly sailed into complete heart-sinking disappointment.

Emerald said they would be patient with me while I made my decision. After much internal debate, I thought it would just be easier for me to get the scratches buffed out by a local automotive body shop. I took the guitar to two local shops in my area and neither place was an environment where I felt comfortable letting the employees handle the instrument, let alone just opening the case inside their facility. I left disheartened and reached out to Emerald again. I guess I was sending it back for repair.

In our second chat, Davy ensured me Emerald wanted to give me another chance at my “new guitar day”. Again I brought up the option of a return and refund, but again, no reply. Crickets. With no fight left in me, I agreed to send the guitar back for repair. To those reading this review, ask yourself this…how excited would you be the second time around?

I was instructed to ship the guitar via USPS, uninsured, the same way they instruct all customers who have warranty repair issues. I was told if something happened to the guitar in shipping, Emerald would accept responsibility. A little unnerving, but ok, I guess that’s what I’ll do. A couple weeks had passed by at that point and I could still hardly bear to look at my new $4000 guitar, but it was at that point I began to examine the guitar closer. Aside from the loose pickup and the scratches on the top as a result, I noticed the guitar sits very loose in the hardshell case. A guitar simply should not move around in its case. Emerald should have taken more care in the packing and shipping of this guitar, but it seemed as if they were in a rush and things were done haphazardly.

Another thing I noticed when examining the guitar closer was a small hole inside the slotted headstock. It took me a couple minutes to realize what I was looking at. It was from when they pre-drilled the tuner mounting screw holes… They drilled completely through the headstock! At this point all I can do is laugh about it, but I ask myself this:
Is this acceptable on a brand new $4000 guitar?
If you are reading this review, just know that this is a possibility when you buy an Emerald and returning the guitar is not an option.

The list of issues continues to the floating bridge. The individual piezo pickup saddle pieces have slight movement from side to side. I wonder if this is normal? Also, I noticed during my short stint of trying to play the guitar acoustically (as carefully as I could with the pickup dangling by a wire) that the strings catch in the saddle grooves and make pinging and creaking noises as I play. I wonder if this can be alleviated, or is this just the reality of owning and playing this brand new $4000 guitar.

So as of today, I still have yet to send the guitar back to Emerald for repair. For one, life has been extremely busy and it’s not easy to take time out of my day to make it to the post office, BUT when I was finally able to take off work early to make it there before it closes, I find this out….
USPS doesn’t ship boxes of this size internationally!
Emerald instructs customers to use USPS all the time though….
This doesn’t make sense to me and I kinda feel like I’m being jerked around.

To finish up this review, I came into communication with another Emerald customer who had to return a custom shop guitar for warranty repair. Emerald sent them a prepaid UPS return label. No leg work for the customer, quick and easy.
I can’t help but wonder, why is the protocol different for me? Why am I not valued to the same degree as another Emerald customer?

Last edited by Pete_Sustain; 09-20-2023 at 09:27 AM. Reason: I Felt like editing my post.
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:05 AM
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RP RP is offline
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Originally Posted by Pete_Sustain View Post
...I can’t help but wonder, why is the protocol different for me? Why am I not valued to the same degree as another Emerald customer?
First of all I'd like to welcome you to AGF and the Carbon Fiber Guitar subforum. As a big fan of Emeralds, I'm really sorry that you're having so much difficulty with your "dream guitar." To answer the question above that you posed, I would just posit that customer service can vary from one customer to another and from one order to another with little rhyme or reason. I'd also like to add, and this is by no means intended to be an excuse, the 25% sale moved a lot of guitars, and I truly believe that people who were doing the shipping didn't necessarily know the correct way to pack a guitar and perhaps final guitar inspection went by the wayside in some cases.

My experience with Emerald guitars have by and large been very positive and never as bad as what you've described. I bought two guitars during the sale and paid extra for expedited shipping. The first, an Amicus, arrived in a week as expected. I had ordered the second, an X20, about 24 hours after ordering the Amicus. I received an email saying that the X20's shipping could be delayed due to the volume sold and staff going on vacation, probably poor timing by Emerald. The X20 arrived about two weeks after ordering it, but it was delivered by USPS despite having paid an extra $195 for expedited UPS shipping. The case was in the box with minimal packing materials but everything was in good shape. I contacted Kevin at Emerald and received a very prompt $195 refund.

For me, the moral of the story is that Emerald makes great guitars, but unfortunate stuff sometimes happens. Persevere and don't give up on them because good things are usually worth the wait...
FOR SALE '23 Larrivee 000-44 Full Gloss with Sunburst Top
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:25 AM
Earl49 Earl49 is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Idaho
Posts: 10,717

Pete, welcome aboard the forum, and sorry to hear of your travails. It appears that this issue has been handled poorly on their end. I agree that proper packing is 100% on Emerald, especially if there is wobble room inside the hard case. This seems not much different than damage that occurred during shipping.

I have returned two Emerald guitars, using USPS both times. One was a stock Chimera which was perfect and was almost cool enough to keep as art, but I ultimately decided that the 12/6 string necks were not going to work for me and my playing. The second return was a custom order that turned out poorly (long story) and cost me a restocking fee plus return shipping. The only issue I had with the returns was that Emerald had at that time a rather primitive address label without the Ireland country code -- F93. The post office at first objected to the address and then the box size, but I pointed out that they were the ones who had delivered it in the first place in that box, and the clerk finally relented.

Unfortunately I can tell you from bitter experience that if you have a major issue with a guitar at first, it is forever tainted and you never really get over it. I wish you well in resolving this issue. We are watching....
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Old 09-20-2023, 10:52 AM
tbeltrans tbeltrans is offline
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Pete, as others have said, welcome to the forum. I saw your post on the Facebook group and as I recall, you purchased the blue Kestrel. I was interested in that one, but my wife picked one of the veneer models instead.

I am sorry to read of your troubles and can assure you that if Emerald can address all your issues, that guitar could easily become your "dream" guitar. My Kestrel has become my go-to guitar for daily play, ad I own two other Emeralds (X20 and X20-7). All I did to mine was lower the bridge and then it played as easily as any guitar I have owned.

My Kestrel exhibits none of the issues you described - no weird holes in the headstock, the strings stay put in the bridge, and the Krivo pickup seems solidly attached. I took the battery out since I don't (at least for now) intend to use the bridge pickups. They sound fine, but the Krivo seems to do fine on its own too.

I would think that a guitar such as this would either exhibit problems on delivery or be capable of performing without the need for repairs at all since it is carbon fiber (at least that is my hope and expectation).

My Kestrel, according to the date provided on Emerald's site, was almost exactly a year old when I bought it during the 25% sale. That tells me that it is likely that the Kestrel is one of their slower moving products and that there is a good possibility that other of the Kestrels are probably as old or older than mine.

I sincerely hope you and Emerald can get your issues worked out to your satisfaction. I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Edit: One comment I forgot to address - the guitar rattling around in the case. I have owned one other guitar that had a Hiscox case. That guitar, too, was not at all a tight fit. I wonder if that is just how Hiscox cases are. If so, then what I did was to put a towel or other appropriate size cloth in to take up the extra space. Inside, Hiscox cases that I have owned and/or seen just seem no the cavernous side rather than being of the "fits like a glove" type of case.

“The guitar is a wonderful thing which is understood by few.”
— Franz Schubert

"Alexa, where's my stuff?"
- Anxiously waiting...

Last edited by tbeltrans; 09-20-2023 at 12:03 PM.
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