Archive for General whining

Doh! – Tom Anderson officially ordered!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 26, 2008 by Staff Writer

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Gear hunting in Bangkok – surprise Mesa/Boogie encounter and <groan> more Asian overpricing stories

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 4, 2008 by Staff Writer

Spent a nice weekend hanging round in Bangkok, combing the mega-malls for cheap designer clothing while my significant other checked out lingerie in between meals of Tom Yam Goong and various colored Thai curries.

Whilst sauntering at a leisurely pace around the Siam Paragon mall (by far the newest, shiniest and largest mall in Thailand) I decided to swing by a store that I’d happened across over a year ago when the mall had just opened – Music Collection on the second floor. Not a super impressive selection of brands back then, but I felt it would be worth a quick look just to break up the rhythm of being in department stores for a while waiting outside the changing rooms.

My heart rate increased when I discovered that since my last visit they had since become a dealer of Mesa/Boogie equipment. There in the window was a gleaming Dual Rectifier head atop a 4×12 cabinet, a Stiletto Ace combo and an Express 5:25 combo.  I pushed the shopping bags to my wife and raced into the store gasping “Boogie… window… Mesa… amplifiers – when? how much… where?”  They probably thought I was mad, but being Thai, gave me a calm and solemn meditative look up and down, then continued shuffling some papers instead of panicking.

The guy who served me went by the name of ‘Toey’. He gave me a price quote on a Roadster Head of THB 106875 (USD $3445) which he claimed was on sale from the list price of THB 150000 (USD $4809.45 compared to the US list price of $2099).

Riiggghhhttttt….

Needless to say I wasn’t impressed by the prices (see my rant on Bentley in Malaysia), but pretended to be none the wiser anyway. I then asked him if I could see how heavy the Roadster 2×12 combo was and proceeded to try and lift it by the handle – ignoring his sudden display of anxiety and agitated hand waving as he gibbered in Thai something that may have been translated roughly into ‘NOOOO YOU FOOL!!! YOU’LL KILL US ALL!!!!’.

Too late. I think I pulled a muscle in my right shoulder, slipped a disc and suffered a minor embolism while straining in an attempt to not let it appear as if its weight had defeated me as my wife looked on. The amp did not leave the floor for more than a second before I had to put it down again while the pain spasms subsided.

I later found out from the spec sheet that it weighs in the region of 50 kilograms. 

Fail.

"Come with me if you want to live…"

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 7, 2008 by Staff Writer

Can’t think of any good reason for the post title except that this particular line (which I think comes from one of the Terminator movies) has been whizzing round and round in my head all morning. I suppose the tenuous link is along the lines of “here, sign this petition for a better world for all” assuming that that world is comprised of people who live in Singapore and Malaysia who want to be treated fairly in their purchases of Mesa/Boogie equipment via official channels.

Other contenders for post titles were:

Your clothes. Give them to me.” – also from the Terminator, and…

Boycott Bentley Music in Kuala Lumpur for Mesa/Boogie Equipment” which I suppose says what I wanted to say in the first place. Why? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because they are in the game of Blatant Profiteering. Also, Bentley is the designated distributor for Singapore and Malaysia – there is no dealer for Singapore specifically – you must buy from Bentley. Since Singapore comes under Malaysia, Mesa won’t deal directly with the customer as a consequence.

Examples:

US Pro Net Price Bentley Quoted Price (Malaysian Ringgit) Quoted Price converted to USD (3.3 MYR/USD) Multiple that Bentley is charging over US Pro Net Price
Dual Rectifier Roadster Head $1899 RM 12190 $3694 1.95 times
Dual Rectifier Head $1699 RM 10890 $3300 1.94 times
Single Rectifier Solo Head $1279 RM 8300 $2515 1.97 times
Single Rectifier Rect-O-Verb Head $1379 RM 9490 $2876 2.09 times
Mark IV Short Head $1849 RM 12190 $3694 2.00 times
Lonestar Special Combo $1699 RM 10890 $3300 1.94 times

Sure, a business is a business and I shouldn’t begrudge them the right to make a profit – nothing wrong with making a healthy profit, but charging 200% of the US list price? This is nothing short of scandalous.

What possible reasons can they give for charging such ridiculous multiples? Shipping? Sure – add a premium for shipping, but it doesn’t cost USD $1800 to ship at 40kg package from the US to South East Asia – more like $500 if you Fedex it and much lower for bulk freight. Tax? Malaysia doesn’t currently charge sales tax, therefore 0%. Maybe there’s some kind of hidden corruption charges they have to pay the Government in Malaysia to make up for the atrocious losses being incurred by the national Proton car company due to bungling. 

Whatever it is, no sane person should cough up this kind of money where no reasonable explanation exists and I urge you all to NOT BUY MESA/BOOGIE EQUIPMENT FROM BENTLEY MUSIC IN MALAYSIA so that they get the message that they are overcharging and rethink their pricing policy. If you can obtain the goods elsewhere (not easy given Mesa’s notoriously strict dealership control) then do so, ideally from the US (look out for 110v/220v transformer issues). Otherwise, buy another brand. I personally am on the verge of buying a competitor product because Mesa HQ doesn’t seem to care one iota and won’t deal direct with me or my friends.

Oh, and one other thing Mesa – Singapore is a separate country from Malaysia and has been for over 40 years. Give us our own distributor.

$1 for hitting the computer with a hammer. $999 for knowing where to hit it…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 24, 2007 by Staff Writer

Yesterday I took my Epiphone Les Paul Pee Wee in to have the nut lowered. I’ve had a few intonation problems with this baby with the neck prone to shifting (tightening the screws helped here) and the bridge being at the limits of its adjustability. Having recently taken to greasing the nut with some silicone which has improved its tuning stability the final piece of the puzzle was to have the nut lowered somewhat.

The action wasn’t terrible, but due to the short scale of the neck (about 19″) the low string tension meant that bends were incredibly easy to do and if one pressed too hard you’d get inadvertent microtonal bends which makes things sound a bit Wild West piano, i.e. horribly out of tune. This is particularly acute right down at the 1st to 3rd frets, exacerbated by the nut being slightly too high, so pressing say, an open C chord would be a nasty sounding cacophony given that three of the fretted strings would be slightly sharp. Remedy – lower the nut slightly and the action at the first fret.

I took the little fella to a local guitar store (won’t say who) and asked them to lower the nut slightly, explaining that I wanted to eliminate those microtonal bends. The tech looked at me blankly, then gathered up his tools, whipped off the neck plate and started adjusting the truss rod. Within seconds he’d handed it back to me saying ‘the neck was twisted’ and asked me to start playing it. It was exactly the same with the micro bends except that now the intonation was off at the 12th (which I’d spent ages tweaking). I asked him again to lower the nut or deepen the string slots at which point he started conferring with the shop owner presumably to ask him to talk me out of it, which he tried. “It won’t make any difference – the neck was twisted and now he fixed it. Lowering the nut will cause string buzz.” he said.

“Please lower the nut. That’s what I want – I don’t want anything else done but that.”

“Fine, fine – you’re the boss.” He signaled to the tech to carry out my bidding which he undertook begrudgingly. A couple of minutes later he passed me the guitar with much deeper string slots and a marginally lowered action. I plugged it into their little Randall combo and started wailing, drawing a small crowd of onlookers, jaws and eyes agog as I shredded like Tony Macalpine for about 10 minutes (also checking out their resident T-Rex Swamp double gain pedal which I might buy btw…). The guitar played much better than before. The intonation had miraculously returned to as close as it would ever get given the fixedness of the bridge and the microtonal bends had all but disappeared. I was happy with the adjustments and told them so.

“Great. That will be $35.” said the tech.  I turned pale.

Hmm.. I wonder how the cost breakdown for that 10 minutes of work was, including the dispute over giving me what I had requested in the first place. Not a bad hourly rate there – no doubt the way they internalize their charging ratio is probably along the lines of ‘parts and labor 1%, experience/knowledge/having the facilities 99%’.  Think I deserved a 99% rebate there given it was me who knew the solution all the time, albeit they had the tools.

$35…. feh…    Time I got myself some of those setup tools methinks.