Frequently Asked Questions
We understand that ordering something as personal as a guitar over the internet is a pretty big leap of faith. Not only haven't you played it - you probably don't know a whole lot about MacKenzie & Marr Guitars, the company. From our side of the fence we don't see either one as a problem. We love our guitar and think you will too. But if you don't - if you play it and, for whatever reason it isn't the "one" for you - send it back. We'll even pay the return shipping charges. When we get it back in our warehouse in the same condition as when it was sent we'll issue a full refund. All we ask is that you make your decision within a week of receiving your guitar and hold onto the shipping materials until you're sure you no longer need them.
Whoa -- what a loaded question. Sounds like you're asking us to dis your favourite hang-out. Shame on you!
We don't want to say bad things about other companies that sell guitars but let's face it. The traditional distribution chain for musical instruments has so many layers it rivals a pre-Cambrian paleontological fossil site in the badlands of South Dakota (that was what Bruce was singing about, wasn't it?).
The typical independent music store - with dozens of models just waiting to be played - may be a great place to spend a few hours on a Saturday morning. It certainly beats mowing the lawn or cleaning up the garage. But from a purely financial perspective (accountants will ask "Is there any other kind?") it's not such a hot place to spend your money. Before those lovely guitars reached the store they went through a whole bunch of hands - importer, shipper, distributor etc, etc. And everyone who touched then slapped on a bit of coin so by the time you picked them up they had a pretty heavy coating of markup.
If we could figure out a way to distribute our guitars through the usual channels without inflating the price we'd do it. But then again, if we could figure out how to turn lead into gold we'd do that too.
You can scoop up up one of the best values in music directly from us - either by dropping by our office or by ordering a MacKenzie & Marr Tofino right on this web site or by phone at 1(514)833-8352.
If you would like to be kept up to date on the delivery of the first forty-eight Tofino acoustic guitars use the register link on the home page to sign up.
I notice your office is in Montreal Canada. I live in the US and if I order a guitar from you I'm concerned about currency conversion, shipping costs and import duty. Will I end up paying a whole lot more than the calculated price on your web site?
Yes we sell guitar to US based customers. In fact as word about our guitars spreads we're getting more and more inquiries from south of the border.
If you live in the US you'll pay the price of the guitar plus the shipping costs as calculated when you place an order but there will be no other hidden charges or fees. Your guitar will be shipped from our warehouse in Champlain NY.
You'll be billed in US dollars when buying by phone or in our on-line store.
FedEx (or UPS) sent me an e-mail with a tracking number and an expected delivery date. When my guitar failed to show up on that date I called them, only to be told they had no package matching that tracking number.
Both FedEx and UPS send notification emails as soon as we generate your shipping label. The initial notice states something like "billing information received" or "pickup information received". It's deceptive if you're not familiar with their system in that it quotes a delivery date and leaves the impression the package itself has been picked up.
We generate a shipping label as soon as we receive payment. That triggers the email with the tracking number. But a guitar still has to be pulled from inventory, go through a final inspection and be packed for courier pickup. FedEx requires one day notice for ground shipments so the normal time from payment to shipping is one, or occasionally, two business day(s). Meanwhile you're chomping at the bit for your new guitar and getting upset every time a delivery truck passes your driveway.
Being able to advise a customer of the location of their guitar by email is a great tool. You get a notice at every stage of the delivery cycle. But we wish the courier companies would re-word that initial e-mail to make it a whole lot clearer!
I've plugged the guitar in to an amp but can't get any sound. I expect that the battery bag I found in the guitar case needs to be attached but have no clue how to do it.
To think that when we started MacKenzie & Marr Guitars we didn't have a single guitar with an electric pickup. Now we offer electric sound enhancement in every guitar we produce.
Don't get us wrong: We still think that cutting into the solid wood sidewall of a guitar to add a squirrelly black plastic battery compartment is about as tacky as it gets. Thankfully both Fishman and L.R. Baggs offer alternatives. The FishmanSonotone under saddle pickup and pre-amp has a volume and tone control that sits hidden inside the upper arch of the sound hole. The amazing L.R. Baggs Anthem also adds an acoustic microphone to the undersaddle pickup. The battery of both is contained in a bag and also concealed inside the guitar. It's held in place by a patch of velcro.
Getting the pickup to work requires:
1. Connecting the battery to the terminals on the twisted red and black wire (Fishman) or all black wire (L.R. Baggs) you should see inside the guitar.
2 Putting the battery back in the battery bag
3. Attaching the battery bag to the velcro patch. That patch will be inside the guitar - either beside the volume and tone controls or glued to the neck block.
4. Test the set-up by plugging into the amp using the jack at the endpin. Don't forget the old saying "If you can't play well - Play loud!" Have fun.
You'll need to loosen or remove the strings in order to do all that high tech stuff so why not take the opportunity to change them?
The pickup and preamp we use in all MacKenzie & Marr guitars requires a 9 volt battery. The most common reason for not getting audio output is that the battery is either not installed or still covered with the protective clear plastic casing. Because we refuse to cut a chunk out of the guitar's sidewall we've elected to use the Fishman Sonotone system which has a battery bag inside the guitar - usually attached to the neck block just forward of the sound hole. Check to make sure there is a battery in the bag, the battery still has a charge and the red and black twisted pair wire is securely attached to the terminals.
If the battery is fine the problem may be as simple as raising the volume. Both tone (bass to treble) and volume are controlled by small wheels on the control module located inside the top half of the sound hole.
Starting in June of 2010 we're changing from the strings we initially used, D'Addario EJ11 light gauge bronze wound strings to a coated string set . We'll deliver your Tofino, Nanaimo or Dionisio with D'Addario EXP11's. The advantage of the EXP11 micro coating is extended string life.
Yes, in fact the quality of the case we supply at no additional cost surprises users. We ship all of our guitars in a premium quality arch-top hard shell case.
I've heard that dry weather, the kind we get in the winter, can cause damage to guitars. Do I need to do anything to protect my MacKenzie & Marr acoustic?
You bet you do - at least in the colder months! Come October the relative humidity where we live (Eastern Canada) starts to drop and by mid November it can be far less than the 40% required for safe guitar storage. That means trouble. Wood moves as it takes on and gives off moisture. That movement is across the grain. But bracing strips inside the guitar running at angles to the wood grain of the body constrain any movement of the top and back. In extremely dry conditions, as the wood contracts and begins straining against braces it has nowhere to go and eventually cracks.
This phenomenon is not unique to guitars or other wooden musical instruments. Look at an antique table. You'll likely see one or two cracks running along the length of the top. Either the leg braces or the end caps, both running perpendicular to the grain of the top, have prevented seasonal expansion and contraction and eventually the table split.
Caring for your guitar in winter and keeping it humidified is not difficult. Follow a couple of simple rules and you'll be fine.
1. Always keep the guitar in its case and keep the case closed. Don't leave the guitar on a guitar stand!
2 Humidify the guitar, either by insuring the room where the guitar is stored never drops below 40% or by using a sound hole humidifier. Music stores sell a variety of in-case humidifiers. They're not expensive and can prevent a ton of trouble down the road.
A couple of caveats:
Don't count on a furnace-attached humidifier to keep your guitar above 45% relative humidity. It won't happen despite what the company that installed it told you! You need in-room or in-case humidification.
Spend $20 and buy a hygrometer - and then calibrate it! Knowing the exact humidity in your guitar room is critical to controlling it. Small hygrometers are not expensive and the Internet has dozens of sites that show how to calibrate them. The best investment you can make!
Please tell me how MacKenzie & Marr Guitars stands behind the guitars they make.
All MacKenzie & Marr Guitars come with a limited lifetime warranty. If something goes wrong with your MacKenzie & Marr Guitar as a result of the way it was made or the materials used we fix it or replace it at no cost to you.
You can view a copy of our warranty here.
I've heard that Gotoh tuning machines are the best tuners available. Whether that's true or not, they seem to be standard on very high end guitars such as R Taylor. I find it surprising that you would use such expensive hardware on a $1,000 guitar. Please explain.
You're very observant. Those are indeed genuine Gotoh tuners on the early MacKenzie & Marr Tofinos. And yes, you're very well informed. Gotohs are usually only found on very expensive guitars. We love the smooth accurate tuning, the string lock and the 16:1 ratio. Perhaps using Gotoh 381 tuning machines was a bit frivolous but in keeping with our philosophy of putting the money we save on distribution into building a better guitar it made sense to us.
In April of 2011 we began a running change - switching from Gotoh 381s to a new tuning machine of our own design. We wanted to increase the turning ratio. 16:1 is better than anyone else offers in this price range but we found a way to get 20:1 without an increase in cost. The fact that the factory that makes our new tuners is across the street from our guitar factory is an added plus.
If you're returning a guitar within the 7 day Love It or Leave It period please adhere to the following guidlines:
Inspect the guitar carefully. IF there are dings, marks or scratches (including pick scratches) that weren't there when you received the guitar sending the guitar back is not an option - Congratulations on your new purchase. If, on the other hand neither the guitar nor the case shows signs of wear please contact us. Let us know the guitar is not for you and we'll have a courier retrieve it.
Place the guitar in the foam bag and then in the case making sure the foam is smooth so as not to exert pressure on the guitar when the case is closed.
Place the case in the plastic bag. Make sure there is padding at the bottom of the carton and slide the guitar in to the carton.
Place the additional padding on either side of the neck of the case (folding it if that's how it was received) in such a way as to completely immobilize the case within the carton.
Seal the carton with packing tape (Do not use duct tape!) and as a final test shake the carton sideways.
If you detect movement re-open the carton and start again. You really do need to make sure the contents of the carton cannot shift!
Contact us to let us know the guitar is ready for retrieval. (There must be someone at the address for the full day and please do not ask that the driver call in advance - they won't)
We'll arrange for a courier to pick up the guitar. They'll arrive with the return label. Please make sure it is affixed to the carton on the same side as the original shipping label (now removed) was attached.
We can't insure guitars we don't pack so the onus is on you to do it very carefully. If you would like the shipment insured let us know when requesting a return. The cost is approx $20.
When the guitar arrives in our warehouse it will be inspected. If there are no issues such as signs of wear we'll issue a refund.
I'd love to try one of your guitars for a week if I can return it should it not be the one for me. Can I do that?
Our "Love It or Leave It" promise allows a potential owner to buy one of our guitars and try it for a week before committing to keeping it. Should the guitar not be perfect for you we'll happily take it back...no questions asked (well, almost no questions...we value feedback so we would like to know why you didn't fall in love but if you choose not to share that with us we'll accept your decision).
If you decide to return a guitar within the first week just let us know and we'll make arrangements to have it picked up. You'll need to pack it securely and be home on the day the carrier arranges to retrieve it but we'll look after everything else - labels, scheduled etc. Naturally we'll need to inspect the guitar once it arrives in our warehouse. If it comes back in the same condition as it left - no pick marks, no dings or scratches etc - we'll issue a refund within 48 hrs.
No. Although every LTP guitar has a specific cosmetic imperfection, the minor nature of the flaw coupled with the glossy finish of the guitar makes it all but impossible to capture an accuratre image. Multiple attempts in the past have failed. Requests for photos of LTP guitars will go unanswered.
As the name implies our "Less-Than-Perfect" guitars (or LTP guitars) don't measure up to our rigorous standards and therefore cannot be sold at full price. The reasons they're classified as LTP are entirely cosmetic and in no way affect the playability or sound of the instrument. In many cases musicians who purchase our LTP models cannot find the imperfection until we point it out.
All LTP guitars carry the same 7 day "Love It Or Leave It" promise and the same limited lifetime warranty as regular price MacKenzie & Marr guitars.
The case for MacKenzie & Marr Tom Rush Naked Lady acoustic guitar includes a combination lock. By default the three digit combination is set to 0-0-0. Resetting it is a simple three step process:
- Open the lock by pushing the release button to the right until the hinge pops up
- Push the release button to the left (the opposite direction as when opening the lock)
- While continuing to push the release button to the left rotate the three numbered wheels to your desired combination. When finished release the button.
Your lock is now reset to use the combination you entered. Make sure you remember it or write it down prior to closing the lock.
I want to replace the light gauge strings that came with my MacKenzie & Marr guitar with a heavier gauge in order to get more power.
Replacing the factory-supplied light gauge D'Addario EXP strings with medium gauge strings adds additional tension to the neck. Thicker strings will change the playing characteristics of the instrument. The nut slots will almost certainly need to be filed wider - especially on the base side - in order to allow the strings to sit as low as the light gauge ones. The truss rod may need adjusting in order to remove extra relief caused by the pull of the heavier strings.
Although the guitar should suffer no ill effects you should keep a close eye on the neck and bridge. There is a slight possibility under certain humidity conditions that you will experience a lifting of the top wood behind the bridge.
We do not recommend heavy gauge strings for Tofino, Dionisio, Nanaimo or the Ian Tyson Limited Edition
The Tom Rush Signature Edition and the Tom Rush Naked Lady have a thicker neck and can handle the tension of both medium and heavy gauge strings.
I'm looking at either Tofino or Dionisio but can't make up my mind between a full body or a cut-a-way. Please help!
It seems that every performer you see is using a cutaway guitar on stage leaving the impression must be significantly better than full body acoustics. Not so fast pilgrim. What you see is not what you hear. Cutaway guitars have one significant advantage but also one noticeable drawback.
First - the advantage: If you're playing style calls for a lot of finger work high up the neck a cutaway gives your hand a few extra frets. That's great for reaching the really high notes but no benefit at all if you play primarily below the 10th fret.
The drawback? Acoustic guitars rely in part on the interior body characteristics to deliver sound. Changing either the size or the shape alters the sound. Either the timbre or the volume will be different. Cutaway guitars, ours included, have slightly less bass response. Some musicians see that as more balanced. Others find the sound too bright (too much treble).
So why are so many professional musicians playing cutaways? In a word? Electrics. Back before pickups, pre-amps and on-stage amplifiers were the norm for acoustic players you never saw pros using cutaway bodies. But the ability of modern electronic sound enhancement to boost bass and alter the sound profile of an instrument pretty much eliminates the downside of a cutaway in a performance situation.
If you play on-stage, do a lot of lead guitar stuff and rely on your amp to shape the sound of your guitar a cutaway is a great body style and our Dionisio is a superb choice. On the other hand, if you rarely electrify (all of our guitars come with on-board pickups) and want a bit more bass response we suggest Tofino or the Ian Tyson Ltd. If you really! want bass you may want to take a serious look at the coming Naked Lady.
A guitar is a very personal thing. No one in their right mind would buy a guitar online.
No one is disputing the personal nature of a guitar. As with most musical instruments there's a strong bond between the musician and his/her guitar. But that has little to nothing to do with where a guitar is purchased. We think there's a strong argument (or two) favouring on-line shopping.
We speak with players who swear the only way to make an educated buying decision is to spend time in stores playing a variety of different guitars. There's certainly something to be said for comparison shopping but in test after test we found that after playing two or three guitars most players lost all perspective - forgetting how some felt or sounded and confusing features of others. Greater choice in every case lead to greater confusion. To add to the frustration you're playing the guitars in a store - where the acoustics are either artificially rigged to sound good or other players are overriding your picking. When you buy a MacKenzie & Marr guitar you have it for a full week - to play and, if you desire, to compare to other guitars in the privacy of your own home. Your friends can try it and give you feedback and no salespeople are hovering over you pushing for a sale.
Convenience and comfort of on-line shopping alone usually lead to sound buying decisions but there's a kicker to considering a MacKenzie & Marr guitar. We're different than any other store - on-line or bricks and mortar. Our guitars come from the factory to our warehouse to our end users - you! We run a lean operation with no distributors, no dealers, no bloated distribution channel and the associated need for credit managers, salespeople, trade show costs etc etc. That means hundreds - often thousands - of dollars in savings.
We're using 21st century technology to put old fashioned, hand-crafted solid wood guitars the in the hands of savvy musicians. Try doing that without the Internet!