The Kent in our business name refers to the county of Kent in England where our dealership of classical and flamenco guitars is located. We are not connected with an old ‘Kent’ range of guitars that people, often in USA, ask about; which we have never actually seen and know virtually nothing about. We did recently find a reference to ‘Kent’ guitars on the following website – http://www.hagstrom.org.uk/history.htm – if you look halfway down their homepage, alongside the blue-coloured guitar, you will find reference to Kent-branded guitars there.
Yes – we deliver all over the world. We mainly use and have an account with Fedex using their ‘International Priority’ service. To some countries in Europe such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal, we have other, lower-priced options using UPS or DHL.
We pack our guitars very well. We are careful about which guitar cases are suitable. Then the guitar and case is packed in a heavy cardboard box which often has a hardboard sheet enclosure around the body area of the case as well as plenty of padding / foam / cushioning to protect against mechanical shock. In addition to the couriers labels, we add out own address labels, care of handling instructions and often a carrying handle on the box.
Yes – Our deliveries are individually registered with our independant insurers; not the courier company. They are insured for ‘all risks’ including loss, theft and damage. Insurers do not normally cover damage caused by atmospheric factors such as extremes of temperature or humidity. However when sending out a guitar that we have sold, the risk is ours; not the buying customer’s.
Yes – but we will only buy something that has sensible re-sale potential and that we like and appreciate. Normally we will only buy outright, used or vintage classical and flamenco guitars of particular makers. We rarely buy secondhand guitars from outside the European Union because on importation and payment of import taxes and VAT, we have tax burdens later that make re-selling for a sensible price rather challenging.
Sometimes – it depends what you have. We rarely take in student level guitars, valued below £1000 for example, that compete with our current range of new guitars. Usually, the trade-in allowance for the guitar you want to be rid of, will be much more than the margin or profit we make on the guitar you buy. The result of that is that we are under pressure to be able to readily sell the traded-in guitar – which means we have to be careful not to allow too much money for it or to have a guitar that few people want to buy that sits for months in the corner. This will be the same for all guitar sellers. Financially, you will nearly always be better of if you can sell your own guitar privately.
We rarely entertain trade-ins when you want to buy a guitar that we are selling on commission for another client. Effectively we would just be buying your guitar; which is fine if it is something quite desirable but otherwise is negative on our cash-flow. We also very rarely buy guitars that are not in good condition.
Not normally. It is impractical for us to sell guitars that we don’t physically have here. We need to have had the instrument in our hands in order to be able properly describe its condition (particularly in the case of used or old guitars), details and sound. We prefer to take our own photographs and to play and record the sound ourselves. We cannot do this if the guitar is in Singapore or Miami. The reason for this is that much of our sales is to buyers in other countries who depend on the reliability our judgement, our descriptions and our promises. We cannot offer those things properly if we have not seen and played the instrument.
Yes, frequently. If an instrument is attractive to us and sensibly-priced, we often offer to buy outright. Alternatively we can sell ‘on consignment’ / ‘on commission’. When you bring your instrument, we will look at it with you and confirm together the target sales price, the commission percentage, the net sum you can expect, insurance arrangements etc. and set this down in a standard form of agreement which both parties sign up to. Then we get on with marketing it. In terms of marketing consignment sale guitars, they are treated just the same as our own stock and potential buyers will be shown them with no different emphasis or lack of favour than what we own. Having said all that, we will only take in what we think we can readily sell; if we think your guitar is a no-hope job, then we will say so rather than take it in and disappoint you later – and we don’t have spare space for that anyway.
Yes, frequently. Particularly with the makers we work with regularly, we do take advance orders. With most makers, we can obtain two or three (sometimes more) guitars each year. If you wish to order, then we discuss your specific technical requirements (selection of wood, tuners, polish type, 20th fret, fingerboard dots, case type and technical data such as scale length, fingerboard width etc.,etc.) and set this down in a specifation sheet for you to check and sign. We can then confirm price and forecast delivery date before accepting the order with your deposit. In many but not all cases, the guitar you order is one we would stock anyway – so if when it is ready, if you do not want it, you can choose something else, maybe with a price adjustment, up or down – or, if there isn’t a substitute that you like, we will commonly refund your deposit (even though by consumer law, your deposit may be non-refundable). If your order is deemed to be for a special or custom-built instrument, then you may be asked for a larger deposit which is likely to be non-refundable unless the goods are defective in some way.
(Please note, this informal explanation does not override our formal terms and conditions – which reflect Consumer law and such things as the Distance Selling Regulations).
The buying process :-
– You e-mail us with your complete home address.
– We send an invoice by e-mail with bank details.
– You send full payment including the packing, insurance and transportation charge – by bank transfer is preferred. Payment by debit card is good. Payment by Credit card is also ok – but you must add up to 3% for Visa or Mastercard personal credit card fees (business credit cards and Amex may be a higher percentage). For card payments, we ask for card data by combination of telefax, e-mail or telephone. Never send all credit card information by e-mail.
– When the payment is received,(which we will monitor and notify you promptly), we send the guitar to you by the chosen courier. We will advise you how to contact the courier to satisfy any queries their customs people may have (only when exported outside of the EU) in order not to delay delivery. Within the EU, this step is not necessary
Yes. If you are not a professional guitarist and are not involved within the classical guitar business sector, then such buyers in the UK have seven working days in which to confirm keeping the goods or returning for refund. This is determined by the Distance Selling Regulations under UK Consumer law. (If you are a professional or are deemed to have classical guitar experience by being involved in that business sector for example, you may not be protected by those regulations as you are deemed to know and understand what you are buying.)
The law relating to sales of high value goods to other countries is a little unclear.
However it is our normal policy to offer potential customers, wherever they are located, a sale or return period of at least five days from receipt of the guitar in which you can decide if you wish to keep it or return it for refund. If you return it then the charge for the initial packing, insurance and carriage will be deducted from the refund value. You will then be responsible for the arrangements and costs of insured return to us. The remainder of the refund value assumes the goods are returned in the same condition as when you received them.
In the case of buyers outside of the EU, there is a deduction for UK Customs – Goods Return Fee (currently GBP35)
Yes. We accept a variety of debit cards. There is no processing fee for UK-issued debit cards. However on purchases over £1000, there is a 2.5% to 3% charge for debits cards issued outside of the UK because international transactions are treated and charged by the card companies like credit cards.
We also accept many major credit cards – however, on purchases over GBP1,000, there is a charge of 3% to cover the actual costs of personal Visa and Mastercard credit card fees. Business credit cards and Amex will require a higher percentage card fee – we will flag this up at time of purchase. We try to keep our prices very competitive and do not build in a very high profit margin to absorb such costs. Please note that in order to comply with the card issuing companies, goods paid for by credit card should only be delivered to the card billing address – otherwise we forfeit much legal protection normally covered by the card companies.
Guitars, like many other stringed instruments, are a box of air with an air column at the soundhole. Such a construction has a musical pitch /a frequency at which, as a whole, it will vibrate. The typical, or let’s say, many, modern-day classical guitars tend to have a pitch somewhere around G to G#. To test this, if you hum quite loudly into the soundhole, starting at the pitch of the open 5th string – A, and then drop the pitch of your humming, sliding chromatically down, you should feel a pitch or note at which you can feel and hear the body, back and sides vibrate – and as you go down further, you will go past that pitch and it will stop again. This is what I refer to as the body air resonance frequency.
Where this pitch lies, depends on many factors including, the woods the guitar is made from, the area and depth of the body, the stiffness of the back, the stiffness of the sides, the diameter and precise location of the soundhole, the stiffness of the edge of the soundhole, the shape of the back bars, top bars and fan-struts, the construction type of the soundboard, the weight and shape of the bridge … and many, many more things. In my view, the air resonance frequency tells a lot about the sound character of the guitar. Many older guitars, like Torres, Enrique Garcia and Simplicio, have a deep, old-world sound – and commonly have an air resonance down at E or F. Many guitars of Herman Hauser I & II had resonances around F to F#; sounding much deeper than many guitars pitched at G or G#. A few Hauser I’s, made in 1940 had a resonance down around E flat; much deeper than most and perhaps untypical. On the other hand, some guitars that are more stiffly-built have air resonances up at A or B flat – and therefore tend to be trebley, bright and probably lacking depth of bass. Do note that many guitars will have a resonance pitch that is not exactly on the note of a scale; it may be halfway between G and G#, or just below or just above a particular note – this can be advantageous.
The body air resonance is different from the guitar’s tap-tones – of which there are many. If you tap the guitar top at the bridge or just an inch or 25 mm below the bridge – using a tambora with the fleshy part of your thumb, you should be able to hear a tone (you need to damp the strings of the guitar at the neck when doing this). You may hear more than one tone, but the more obvious one is usually referred to as the tap-tone of the top. I observe that in 95+% of classical guitars, the body air resonance is usually one semitone lower than the tap-tone of the top (an octave and a semi-tone actually) – so, if the tap-tone is G#, the air resonance is likely to be G. I can’t explain why that should be, but check it yourself; I have done it hundreds of times and it is usually so.
There are so many classical and flamenco guitar makes around the world that have different sound character. One of the obvious differences is whether they are deep and rich – or bright and trebley. The deep and rich ones will have a low resonance frequency; the bright, trebley ones a higher resonance. So when buying a guitar from a long way away, if I know where the resonance is, it tells quite a lot about the general sound character. Some makers go through periods when their instruments are lighter and deeper in sound – and periods when the opposite is true. I believe this can be said of Fleta, Friederich and Hauser guitars. Some people like deep-voiced guitars; some prefer brighter instruments. If you know where the air resonance is, it tells you a lot straight away.
Another example – as a player, I prefer to avoid guitars that either have a strong tap-tone on A or an air resonance on or too near A. I find them usually to have an unpleasant open 5th string because when you play that note, the guitar body reacts explosively and produces a ‘wolf-note’ on A – which is such an important and frequently-used, open string bass note. Also preferring deeper-voiced guitars these days, I feel guitars with an A-resonance are generally too bright for my personal preference – that is not to say they are bad or worse than something else; it is just what I prefer – and others may prefer something different from me.
Another aspect relates to buzzes. All guitars buzz somewhere; particularly when new. They are more likely to buzz on those notes that relate to the soundboard tap-tone or the air resonance. Many guitars are a bit rattley when you play the 6th string G or G# strongly (if they have an air resonance on G – G#) – and the same thing, often more annoying, can be the equivalent notes on the 4th string, where the action may be slightly lower if there is curvature in the frets or fingerboard. Again if you understand where the air resonance is on your instruments, it can guide you to understand on which notes you may need to play less forcefully and why.
Yes – On all new guitars, cases and accessories, you must pay UK VAT which is currently 20% from 1st January 2011. This will be included in our invoice.
(There are some odd exceptions – e.g. Although the Faroes islands are under the political control of Denmark, the Faroes is not part of the European Union fiscal zone – so VAT is not applicable to Faroes residents. if you are in doubt, please check with us.)
Guitars that are sold ‘on consignment’ or ‘on commission’ – in other words, we do not own the item and sell on behalf of a client – there is no VAT applicable to your invoice for these sales.
No – The UK & European sales tax, VAT (Value Added Tax) is only chargeable on sales of new goods to customers resident in the European fiscal zone of the 27 member states. So living in the US, the goods we send you are zero-rated for VAT. However we have to prove that we have properly exported the goods which means we have to have shipping papers such as the Airway Bill with correct values on it to be allowed not to charge the tax.
No – If your country is one of the 27 EU member states and included in the fiscal zone then for goods sold between European countries, there are no import duties or taxes. e.g. Between UK and France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Poland etc.
Yes, normally. Any goods exported from European countries like the UK to places like USA, Canada, Central & South America, Russia, Australia & New Zealand, Far-eastern countries etc. – you will normally pay import duty and taxes according to the laws of your country and / or state. Usually there is a standard tarrif of charges in each country which is normally a flat rate % of the declared value of the goods including the transportation charges. This is the same for new guitars or used guitars. The rate depends on the nature of the goods as described by a ‘Harmonisation code’ i.e. the type of goods. For acoustic musical instruments like classical and flamenco guitars, it is code 9202 9040 00. The % duty can vary a lot from country to country – and sometimes there may be an additional local tax. Sellers have no control over this and because of changing laws and practices, we cannot confirm how much you will pay; you need to check with your local customs departments. Sometimes there is a special low or even nil percentage for instruments classed as vintage and rare.
This can only be described in generalised rules – but remember that some guitars will have characteristics that don’t follow these typical norms. In draft.
When comparing two guitars otherwise constructed in a very similar, the cedar will:-
– have a warmer, possibly darker sound
– have a little more power and volume
– may have a little less treble sustain
– may have a less clear, less focussed sound
– may have more overtones around the central note
– may sound more open; more ready to go than the spruce, when new
Conversely, the spruce guitar:-
– may have not such a warm sound
– may not be quite as loud; particularly at first
– may have more treble sustain; particularly when played in
– may have greater clarity and separation
– may have a more pure, clean sound
– may feel a bit stiff and tight in the treble; particularly when new
– will change more with playing in
The microphones are SE Electronics SE1a cardioid condenser type. These are connected to a USB audio capture unit – Edirol (now badged Cakewalk) UA-25 which is the interface unit connected to a PC USB port. We edit the wave files using Wave Editor (part of Nero suite of programmes). We can offer to supply all the hardware i.e. microphones, mic stands, cables and UA-25 interface unit.
There are many other higher quality microphones but at the modest cost level of what we use, many people have commented favourably on the sound quality. Microphone position and direction makes a huge difference to the sound quality and balance. The area which we feel should be improved is our failure to capture the true, full sound of the upper treble of guitars i.e. the upper part of the 1st string.
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