What Happens if a Guitar Tech Breaks Your Guitar?

A lot of people worry about sending their guitars in for repairs or upgrades. You’re putting your guitar’s well-being in someone else’s hands after all and sometimes you get it back worse off.

If a guitar tech damages your guitar, the general rule is that the damages need to be repaired at the guitar tech’s expense. The guitar technician is responsible for any damages they cause to your guitar while it’s in their care (or lack of). Also, most professional techs will likely have insurance.

But let’s say that you took your guitar in and when you get it back, there are some new scratches on your guitar, what can you do to prevent this from being another expense for you rather than get the recompense you deserve? Read on to find out.

Should you be worried about guitar techs damaging your instrument?

First off, I want to be clear that most guitar technicians are professional in their field and take great pride in being very careful with the instruments they handle. Some even go so far as to have work practices in place specifically to avoid accidents.

Guitar techs that do mostly guitar repairs, don’t make huge profit margins on their repairs, and while they can make a living from their job, damaging your guitar could cost them their month’s profit.

So should you be worried about a guitar tech damaging your guitar? 

You should always be cautious about who you trust with your instruments, but your guitar is usually in safe hands. 

We’re also going to cover some things you can do before handing your prized instruments over that will help to either lower the risk of damage or make receiving compensation easier for you.

What would happen if a guitar tech damages your guitar?

Usually, if a guitar tech damages your guitar while working on it, they’ll repair it while it’s in their workshop. If it’s a big fix, they might notify you that the return will be delayed due to this, but it’s generally good practice that they notify you anyway.

Sometimes the damage is beyond their abilities, in this case, you should be compensated for the cost of repairs, and in small claims court, you can claim for up to $5000 in reparations.

Make sure to read the fine print of any contracts you’re asked to sign so you don’t get a nasty surprise later. Then again, that’s just life advice, not guitar repair advice.

For a more in-depth look at this topic, check out this video:

Are guitar techs usually insured?

If a guitar tech is registered as an independent business then they need to have liability insurance by law in most states. This covers many types of damages their business may incur, including damage to a customer’s property in some cases.

Having liability insurance is considered good general business practice in any case and for the guitar techs who work at stores as employees, their work usually falls under the store’s insurance policies.

What should you do if you receive a damaged guitar from a tech?

If the tech you’re entrusting your guitar to is professional, they’ll usually notify you of the damage beforehand and try to fix it before they return your guitar.

In the case that you receive your guitar back worse off than when you sent it in (and hopefully you notice before you leave the store), you should refuse to accept it. The guitar tech’s job is to repair your guitar and any damages they cause are included in that.

If they’re unable to repair your guitar you can negotiate compensation. This may come in the form of cash or they could offer to replace your guitar. 

If they work in a guitar store like Guitar Center you may need to speak to a manager to discuss reparations. Managers are usually pretty helpful in this case, but if they refuse, you could try calling a district manager or someone at head offices.

Things to do to avoid issues when leaving your guitar to a tech

I’ve mentioned taking photos beforehand, but there are a couple of other things you can do to minimize the likelihood of a guitar tech damaging your guitar.

Research the guitar tech beforehand, and check reviews of their work online. You should also look for alternative techs in your area while you’re at it and try to find the best one.

Clean your guitar before you take it in and drop it off in its case. Part of this has to do with presentation, generally, people are more inclined to take better care of someone else’s stuff when that person takes good care of it themselves.

You might be requested to sign a contract before handing over your guitar that frees the technician from the liability of damages that might occur while your guitar is in their possession. In my opinion, I would take the guitar somewhere else then.

Lastly, be friendly with the guitar tech you do choose to take your instrument to. Developing a good relationship with anyone that works on your equipment is always a good idea.