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November 7, 2006

Filed under: music»tools»bass

Curbow Stomp

As I wrote my review, I recently bought a Cort Curbow bass. I ordered it from Curbow Stringed Instruments directly because I hoped that ordering straight from the designer would be a safer proposition than one of the online retailers. Indeed, Curbow representative Simon Griffiths assured me in response to my concerns about instrument problems:

Yes, we do put them on our bench prior to shipping and set them up to optimum playability as far as it is possible. We have never had a dissatisfied client.

Sadly, Mr. Griffiths exaggerated his case. The bass is faulty to the point of unplayability, due to a pronounced resonance issue. And, he then informed me when I let him know about the problem, Curbow does not back these instruments with a refund policy. And because they state as much at the bottom of their terms and conditions, although not in any of the e-mail interactions I had with Mr. Griffiths, my credit card company can't do anything except advise me not to buy from them again. I'm stuck with an instrument that is unplayable--a defect that appears to be a recurring part of the design.

I'm writing this because I've found that Mile Zero sometimes rises to the top of the Google stack when searching on more obscure topics--and the Cort Curbow is a pretty obscure bass. I can't recommend this bass, but more importantly I would urge any prospective customers to forgo purchasing an instrument from Curbow Stringed Instruments, period. Their refusal to stand behind their own "optimum playability," for which I paid a premium of about $70 over the price of other online shops which would have offered me a refund, is craven. I wouldn't buy another Cort Curbow from them, and I certainly wouldn't send them the high-dollar fees for their custom bass solutions.

It pains me to say this. I've heard very good things about Greg Curbow, the founder of the company and by all accounts a fine luthier with a genuine concern for his customers. But if that was the case while Greg was alive, it does not appear to be true now. Caveat Emptor.

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