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  • Jazzaferri 6:21AM
  • steffo 6:21AM

My experience with my new Altamira

I would just like to share the tale of my Altamira purchasing experience, I don't know if anyone else has had one like mine, and if you have maybe this is a place to speak up. I purchased mine about 6 weeks ago, and out of the box it had a number of issues. While its to be expected that import guitars aren't perfect, the guitar was supposed to have been setup by the tech at Djangobooks. The frets clearly had not been dressed, there were a number of high frets that needed to be taken down quite a bit, the truss rod had not even been touched (it was completely loose) and the neck clearly needed an adjustment. On top of that the action was 5mm high. I know these guitars are supposed to have fairly high action but that was excessive, it looked like when the stock bridge was replaced the new bridge was not fitted for the guitar. I brought these issues to Micheal and he said it was my fault for leaving the guitar out of the case in 60% humidity instead of 50%, so I'm guessing the truss rod is because of the humidity too? This all happened over the course of a few weeks. I decided to keep the guitar because I like it otherwise, and I did manage to get it playing well after leveling the frets, adjusting the truss rod, and fitting the bridge. But I feel like it was ridiculous that the guitar needed that much work, especially after the djangobooks website clearly states "Free Setup Included with all Altamira Guitars, Includes Fret Dress, Custom Bridge, Restring, Tailpiece Leather, Action and Truss Rod Adjustment." None of which were done on this guitar.

I'm making this public because it was aggravating, I hope that people who buy these guitars in the future won't have the experience that I did.

Comments

  • I can't speak for your vendor, but I did purchase an Altimara grande bouche from a vendor here in L.A. He didn't promise that any extra set-up work was done, so my expectations were adjusted accordingly. In fact, he warned me that these guitars came pretty "raw", but with a little work like fret dressing and truss rod adjustment, it could be a very good sounding and playing guitar. I took his warning as a sales tactic to purchase a more expensive guitar, but in retrospect, he was just being honest.

    I did have a luthier dress the frets, add about 1mm of height to the bridge on the high side, and with that, it was almost perfect. I did the truss rod adjustment to get the action where I wanted and had a the 14th fret filed down a little to get rid of an annoying buzz plucking the 12th fret.

    With all that done, it's a fantastic sounding guitar that's very comfortable to play. It took some work—and a little money—to get it there, but it's one of my favorites to play. Again, I can't speak to your grievances with the seller, but I can say that with some proper set-up, my Altamira guitar is as much of a pleasure to play as my Castelluccia.

  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Altamaria guitars come really raw as humphrymusic said. I've tried over a dozen shipped directly from their factory. They need serious set up in just about every area. However, once it's properly set up they sound and play great. Depending on who you ask or unless you know how to do it yourself, be prepared to spend extra money.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    edited September 4
    Hi William,

    Sorry to hear you're still having trouble with your Altamira. As we discussed in our correspondence several weeks ago, you're free to send the guitar back for replacement or we can credit it towards another instrument if you choose. I hadn't heard back from you in weeks so I was surprised to see this post from you on the forum. Regardless, you're still free to send it back if you'd like. Just let me know and that can be arranged.

    As I mentioned in our previous correspondence, your guitar was fully setup by our tech Josh and was playing and sounding beautifully here at our shop. However, that was in the mild climate here in the Pacific NW. Since you're in NY, the guitar has been exposed to much, much higher humidity (often 90% or more for extended periods) which will cause the top to rise. It's not your fault, it's just the reality of summers on the East Coast which many of our members can attest to. It's very frustrating for everyone, but there's not much that can be done other than having the action adjusted to compensate for the rise in the top. Anyway, feel free to send back to be readjusted or replaced.

    Thanks!

    Michael
  • roch@rochlockyer.comroch@rochlockyer.com new mexico (current)✭✭
    Hi Givemeyourguitar I just wanted to chime in since it wasn't that long ago that bought my first "gypsy guitar". I have been fortunate to play just about every major brand/make of this style guitar, and have owned several imports as well as the best of the best of these guitars. I myself have never spent under 2 hours setting up one of these guitars and that includes the 10K ones you see on this site. I always have to dress the frets a bit, adjust the truss, file down & oft-times buy an extra bridge or two depending on where in the world I will have the guitar (I travel quite a bit with my instrument) etc.
    These guitars move around quite a bit..I had a high end guitar whose action moved up 3mm. in 7 days time in south asia. Also if you do dedicate yourself to the style you will find that the technique required to make these guitars sound good in in the 1000's of hours (retraining there right hand).
    Anyway...It's super cool that your are diving in..I love the altimiras..they are great!!
    MichaelHorowitz
  • Actually the above post reminded me how Geoff Benge who's one of the best guitar techs in the Chicago area, used to tell me "I don't care how good the luthier is, it's going to need a set up once it gets here".
    MichaelHorowitz
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
    Had a similar experience when I get my got my first gypsy guitar from Michael. In fact, it was virtually the same guitar: one of the Altamira grand bouche models. In my case, it was shipped to me in winter and Michael told me that it was particularly dry in their shop that month. When it got down here (New Orleans), the action seemed quite high and I called and spoke with both Michael and Josh who advised me accordingly.. As it turned out, I also had a local luthier do a little extra work with the frets, bridge, and truss rod adjustment. Once the guitar acclimated to my climate,if played beautifully.

    Sold it to upgrade to one of my current guitars, the Alves de Puga petit bouche. It arrived in fine shape and ready to play. Granted, it was a much more expensive and higher quality guitar.

    I think there's something to the fact that the higher-quality guitar I bought from Michael travelled better and was in immediately playable condition than the lower-priced Altamira. I don't know how often that's happened, but perhaps a little explanation regarding the possibilities of changes when shipping across the country would have made you feel a little better. But, my conversations with Michael and Josh were spot on, and they brought the Altamira into prime playing condition. I had then and have every confidence now that Michael will stand behind his product and make sure you are completely satisfied
    MichaelHorowitz
  • DragonPLDragonPL Maryland✭✭ Dupont MD 50-XL (Favino), Castelluccia Tears, Gitane DG-250M and DG-250
    I had the same experience with an Altamira. The truss rod was so bad even at the local repair shop they could not help it. Don't know how such bad instruments can be sold. Guitanes get a "bad rep" but those are miles better quality guitars requiring minor setups in the same price range as the Altamira.
  • GiveMeYourGuitarGiveMeYourGuitar New Altimera M01D-A
    edited September 13
    Well, since everyone is saying that its normal, I would like to formally apologize to Micheal for being such an ass. The guitar does play and sound excellent after some work. In the world of electric guitars, they generally come perfectly setup with ultra low action and super level frets for over $1000. But I understand that's because they're not nearly as susceptible to changes in climate.
  • ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
    Good man. Now get ready for frustrations undreamt of as you attempt to learn this music. But fear not, there are great rewards too.
    Buco
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    @GiveMeYourGuitar thanks and no worries.....getting Gypsy guitars setup and stable is a constant source of frustration for everyone in this style but it's worth the effort as they sound so good! In fact, I have my own guitar at the shop right now to have a new, lower bridge cut for it (I already have four different size bridges for it, oi!)
    GiveMeYourGuitar
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