review of repair work - Three Wave Music

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review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby 8bit9bot » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:23 am

I just want everyone to know I am not a writer and I'm just laying out the story... if you find it boring I apologize in advance.

I bought a Prophet-5 from Switched-On Austin last year. $3600... the price was good... it arrived in less than perfect condition. The calibration was off... some screws were missing... and the worst part was the "sustain" knobs didn't work properly. Switched-On offered to fix it free of charge (as long as I pay for shipping). My suspicion was the shipping was what caused the issues in the first place so I opted to bring it somewhere local instead. Three Wave Music was my repair shop of choice.

When I initially dropped it off I was quoted 6-8 weeks for repair time. Instead it ended up being 9 months. I had called Three Wave many times between the start and end asking about the progress. From what I understand... there are more people getting their stuff repaired now than before and that threw off the quoted time by A LOT. Sam (the main guy working there) was always very professional and convinced me that he was TRYING to do his best.

I just picked it up today and everything is back in action. The total amount for repairs ended up being $1300... steep but that's the reality of maintaining this stuff. The fact that I have it back and everything is working is a good feeling. I didn't notice until I got home... there were 4 screws missing... I called Sam and he said he would mail them to me. He did seem in disbelief that he would return a synth with missing screws... it was an uncomfortable moment... but as long as I get the screws back I'm fine with it.

In summary... I recommend Three Wave for the quality of the work itself. My biggest regret is not paying the rush fee for faster service... 9 months is a long time if you expected 6-8 weeks. I want to like these guys... but I can't let the bad points slide. Will I go back? Maybe... I'm curious about their competition now.

EDIT: Just for fairness sake I'm going to copy the list of services from the invoice:

[2 keys had double triggering]
-Disassembled unit
-Removed the keyboard assembly from chassis
-Removed all J-wires from contact circuit board
-Buss bar treatment. Replaced and soldered 61 new contact wires.
-Adjusted key height and side - some keys had clatter sound
-Removed these key caps. adjusted key base metal and tightened screws.

[Program #1 & #5 switch LEDs burned out]
-Removed the panel boards
-Desoldered and removed switches (with burned out LEDs)
-Replaced and soldered original Prophet-5 switches

[Decay and release of filter and amp from 8-10 positions don't work]
-Desoldered and removed 3 ICs - IC201,202,203 on panel board
-Replaced 3 4051 C-MOS ICs with 16 pin IC sockets - still didn't work properly
-Diagnosed panel board and processor board... found improper DAC trimmers
-Calibrate DAC trimmers

[Re-capping]
-Desoldered and removed risky tantalum capacitors (5 capacitors on power supply board, 1 on panel board, 6 on processor board, 3 on voice board)
-Replaced and soldered 13 new capacitors

[Callibration]
-Power supply +15V and -15V, DAC gain, ADC gain, SEQ interface trim, oscilator scale trimmers, poly-mod filter envelope VCA balance, filter envelope amount VCA balance, filter tuning, initial frequency and scale, final VCA balance, voice volume

-Loaded factory patches for Bank 1,2,and 3
-Clean up front panel, all keys inside etc
-Reassembled
-Replaced 2 #8 screws, 10 wood screws, and 8 cabinet screws
-TESTED OK
-Labor ($80/hr) total $1120.00
-Parts $132
Last edited by 8bit9bot on Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby Sir Ruff » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:53 am

I appreciate you posting, but man, hate to say it, but it sounds like you got quadrupally screwed. $3600 for a (presuming) rev. 3 P-5 is not really a good price. High if anything. Secondly, it's far too high for what was most likely a flawed machine BEFORE they shipped it--I seriously doubt those problems happened during shipping. Thirdly, $1300 for the repairs you describe is insanely high. I don't even want to ask what their per hour rate is I've had entire machines recapped and repaired for half that by far more competent techs. Lastly, the 9 month thing is bogus, and is just the sign of a bad tech, or someone putting other jobs before yours. Prophet-5 repairs have to be one of the easier jobs--I would accept a month or two MAX for a clearly defined repair job. And then he forgets the screws on top of it?! What a jerk.

sorry for the negativity, but if anything, your reviews should be a good warning to those buying from Switched-on, or getting Three Wave repairs. Switched-on seem fairly reputable--maybe that was a fluke--but Three Wave are clearly out to take people for a ride.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby 8bit9bot » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:01 am

sir ruff... yeah I'm glad your view is more negative than mine... i was worried about coming off as an asshole - i believe(d) switched on about those problems being non existent before shipping - it did ship during an ice storm... i'd not be surprised if the UPS guys threw it around and the cold temp made it more brittle - but what do i know

and then three wave... yes they definitely put other peoples work ahead of mine because they have a 2 tier system... RUSH and non-rush... if i realized it would take 9 months i would have paid for rush

i posted the real # prices because i did think they were high for what i got... but $3600 seems pretty low compared to the $5000+ you see on wine country... then again... if i got it from wine country it would have been already fixed up - i did get a bit ripped off but i'm sure i could have gotten much worse - after seeing the price of a repair @ three wave i'm thinking about going into the repair field ;) ...or not :P
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby skunk3 » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:36 am

Everything from Wine Country is crazy expensive. They ask absolute top dollar for everything, but I guess that's worth it if you want something that is in generally exceptional condition.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby Z » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:45 am

Yeah, 9 months for 3rd tier service is totally bogus. And $1300 to make simple, routine repairs is extortion. Did 3 Wave give you an estimate before performing the repair?

I use Audio Electronics in Dallas to service my synths and always use the standard, non-rush service which usually takes 1-2 months before they look at it and give me an estimate. Their rates are fair ($80/hr) and do good work.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby phesago » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:57 am

first off-

Wine COuntry isnt as bad as people make them out. I got my p5(when i had one) repaired form them really cheap, compared to the price dude paid.

2

Fuck switched on. SHow up on moog's website once and they jack u their prices to stupid level. They're ok, but their prices are fucked in the head. Generally pretty shitty about communication as well.

3

you got fucked hard. Did sam buy you dinner first at least? 3 wave is ok, they always have cool stock, and sam has never been rude to me, but i wouldnt ever take a synth back for any reason. My local tech who is an actual engineer(degree) charges bad ass prices. Dean At 5star enginnering in mesa az if your interested.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby 8bit9bot » Fri Aug 15, 2014 2:33 am

he gave me an estimate... it sounded like it was going to be around $800 at first... i set aside $1000 for the repair in case it went over... and it went WAY over - oopsie

his rate is $80 / hour and the stuff he had to do to fix the envelope problem apparently took a long time
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby silikon » Fri Aug 15, 2014 2:38 am

8bit9bot wrote:When I initially dropped it off I was quoted 6-8 weeks for repair time. Instead it ended up being 9 months.


To be honest, if you were quoted 6-8 weeks for standard service, you shouldn't have had to wait an order of magnitude longer. If you would have paid for rush service, you would have received what, a 2-4 week quote and it arrive in three months? Bullshit. Nine months to do anything but fully restore a Hammond Novachord is ludicrous. He should have been paying rental fees to you.

8bit9bot wrote:The total amount for repairs ended up being $1300...


$1300 dollars, the caps must be filled with the liquid excrement of fairies. How many hours labor? What parts were replaced? This should NEVER be the 'reality of owning vintage analogue' -- unless of course you're doing a complete rebuild. CMS charges about the same price to do a pretty comprehensive rebuild (and additional functionality, upgraded parts) of ARP equipment and one can see what goes into that work.

Analogue Synth Service in California (and by the way a very, VERY reputable person) would have charged you probably a quarter of what your repair bill was elsewhere. He specializes in Prophet 5's.

http://www.analogsynthservice.com/prophet_5_service

8bit9bot wrote:I bought a Prophet-5 from Switched-On Austin last year. $3600... the price was good... it arrived in less than perfect condition. The calibration was off... some screws were missing... and the worst part was the "sustain" knobs didn't work properly. Switched-On offered to fix it free of charge (as long as I pay for shipping).


I disagree with the premise of this. You paid for something that wasn't what you neither expected, or likely paid for. I can't / won't comment on price because the vintage scene as a whole has me bitter; that said, you should have been fully compensated for the return shipping. The onus is on them to get it right. I know places like Switched-On have shipping accounts with the various shipping companies, and they could likely arrange to have it picked up and returned to them at no charge to you.

I have to agree... you kind of got shagged, mate. Your regrets should not have included paying out even more money for rush service that I would speculate would have only netted you more out-of-pocket and still highly unreasonable wait times. If they're really on that big a backlog, then they have no business taking on new clients. If they're too incompetent to actually state that, or define realistic timelines and stick to that, or offer you at the very least a highly discounted service for almost a year of waiting, then that's simply poor business.

Also, next time, come use this place as a springboard for ideas and thoughts. People will at least give you different perspectives so you don't end up getting buggered.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby Z » Fri Aug 15, 2014 3:04 am

8bit9bot wrote:he gave me an estimate... it sounded like it was going to be around $800 at first... i set aside $1000 for the repair in case it went over... and it went WAY over - oopsie

his rate is $80 / hour and the stuff he had to do to fix the envelope problem apparently took a long time


He should have honored the original quote and not stiff you for another $500. That's just bullshit.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby 8bit9bot » Fri Aug 15, 2014 3:11 am

hmmm... well... you shouldnt make me feel worse - i posted this story not to be shamed but to give a real life account of what its like right now - i saw some other guys complaining about the synth spa and i thought... well no one ever posts reviews of stuff - if someone had reviewed three wave i'd have had an idea of what to expect

since you guys want to tell me who to use... who do you recommend around the philly, NJ, NYC area for repairs? i know analog lab NYC does repairs and they charge more than Three Wave... plus tolls to get in NYC are higher
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby synthparts » Fri Aug 15, 2014 4:29 am

You should have shipped it to Greg Montalbano (analogsynthservice.com). He is THE P-5 repair expert and very reasonable rates and repair times. I bet you would have had it back within a few weeks and for less than $400. He repaired my non-functional P-5 Rev 1 and got it completely calibrated and even factory patches loaded for $200...

You probably should have had the place you bought it from pay for at least part of the repairs too...

By the way WC often has Greg do their repair work for them. Except you get to pay an addition premium per hour to WC instead of going direct to Greg...
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby V301H » Fri Aug 15, 2014 5:42 am

I have had several items serviced at Three Wave. At first he was very prompt but then he started taking a long time even for fairly simple work. If I didn't call him every week he would probably never have gotten around to it. One of my Synths has been on his display floor for over two years and he hasn't gotten to it yet. My repair work is now going elsewhere.

If you live in the Philadelphia area you should try RetroLinear in North Wales. They can do full restorations of all kinds of vintage Synths and Keyboards and do work for many high-profile artists. Also, in North Wales is Ray Klos, the best Vox/Farfisa Combo Organ repairman around.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby StepLogik » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:03 pm

synthparts wrote:You should have shipped it to Greg Montalbano (analogsynthservice.com). He is THE P-5 repair expert and very reasonable rates and repair times. I bet you would have had it back within a few weeks and for less than $400. He repaired my non-functional P-5 Rev 1 and got it completely calibrated and even factory patches loaded for $200...

You probably should have had the place you bought it from pay for at least part of the repairs too...

By the way WC often has Greg do their repair work for them. Except you get to pay an addition premium per hour to WC instead of going direct to Greg...


This.

Greg didn't fantastic work on my P5 for a very reasonable rate.

8bit9bot, sorry to hear about your troubles. Analog/vintage synths are a dirty business these days.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby Jabberwalky » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:20 pm

Both sustain knobs were dead? Sounds like they replaced a pot and called it a day.
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Re: review of repair work - Three Wave Music

Postby Bitexion » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:06 pm

And there was recently the other thread about Synth Spa who keep synths for over a year and don't answer emails or phone calls. It's a shame that the synth tech business seems to be completely in shambles.

I'm sure they are swell old guys with lots of synth knowledge, but it doesn't seem like they know anything about business management.
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