A bad experience and a warning

Discussion in 'Horns' started by radiobob, Nov 9, 2005.

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  1. radiobob

    radiobob New Friend

    I'm posting to relate a bad experience I had with someone I just saw recommended in the post on relacquering vintage horns. This person does a lot of Ebay business and frankly, with 1,386 transactions, 11 negatives and 13 neutral, for a score of 99.2%, his record isn't bad, which makes my experience all the more bizarre. This fellow, John Cyfer, offers relacquering and valve plating work on Ebay, and also sells horns he refinishes, and last spring he listed a 1930's Lyon & Healy trumpet, gold plated by himself, although he didn't mention that in the ad, with a nice engraving of two hunting dogs on the bell. I contacted him off Ebay and asked him to sell outright (I know, don't beat me up) and he came back and offered to sell for $180 plus shipping. I asked him if the valves were in good shape, and he said they were perfect and if they hadn't been he'd have replated them himself. I asked him this twice before I bought it. Imagine my surprise when I received the horn and the valves were shot! Also, he had replated it right over the imperfections, tiny dings and such, and the plating was wavy and looked kinda amateurish close up, but looked nice from any distance, I could have lived with it for the price. He said send it back and he would replate the valves, so I did at my expense. After several weeks I got the horn back, and guess what, they hadn't been touched! Again I contacted him asking for an explanation, I figured maybe a flunky had been handling the horn, as he seemed honest and had a good rating. He told me he had replated the valves. I took pictures of the valves, which were plainly worn to hell and flopped around in the casings, with bad compression. He said send it back again and he would put another layer on them, implying I didn't know what I was talking about. So I did, again at my own expense. Got it back several weeks later, and you guessed it, not been touched! I was dumbfounded, and he wrote saying he had replated the valves, I insisted he hadn't and demanded to know what was going on. Understand i really liked this horn and still do, I was hoping it was just some fluke by a flunky, he didn't respond at first, then wrote and said his mother had just passed, and to send the horn again and this time he would send it to Andersons and have the work done, which seemed strange since he does his own work, and he complained that it was going to coost him $80 to have the work done, again strange because I know they charge repairmen $47.50 per valve. Well call me guillible because I did. After a few more weeks he e-mailed and said the work was done and it had cost him $147 to do the work and he was losing big time on this horn, to which I replied I had put $45 extra into a horn that was supposed to be right the first time. Got the horn back and just about fainted because, that's right, nothing had been done. Got on the phone to the music store he ships from, the guy there knew him andd said he had just moved to Ohio, I asked him about his reputation and he said he thougt he was a decent honest guy. I've e-mailed repeatedly and did once more before I wrote this and haven't heard from him since, even after threatening him with mail fraud. So here I sit with a $235 horn I can't play and a sad story. It doesn't help that this year I also had my car stolen and was ripped of for a ton by someone else, I'm fed up. I don't know what to think about this, it's just bizarre. I don't know if he's just having a rough time right now or what, which I can relate to, but if you're thinking of having some work done by him, I would be cautious. If anyone else has any experience with him good or bad I'd be happy to hear it.

  2. Brian H. Smout

    Brian H. Smout Piano User

    Its nice to share the pain.

    I have had 4 instruments replated by John. The NY Bach came back looking great as did the Benge 3 flugel in about 6 weeks. So I sent off my Benge 8Z cornet and 3X+ trumpet in February to John at Mizell Music. After numerous email requests the instruments finally came back in July. The cornet 's bell had a small ding and the Sparx 3 B m/p was missing from the case. I had to send the trumpet's main tuning slide straight back for repair as it was red rotted through and was not fixed when the original leadpipe was replaced by John and compay. I emailed John at least a dozen times asking for a progress report with no response. In desperation I emailed Larry Mizell of Mizell Music to report my concerns. Larry contacted me promptly and advised me that Mizell Music had ended their relationship with John but he would ask John about my tuning slide and missing m/p.
    My repaired tuning slide came back today. PTL!! The replacement cornet m/p ...... a lovely gold plated Gretsch pos. I have the trumpet at my repair tech awaiting the slide so that the new leadpipe can be re-aligned.
    The plating jobs were done well overall for the price but I can not say that your experience will differ from mine. A replacement used Sparx m/p set me back $85.00 so I would have probably come out ahead at Charlie's Brass Works and had less aggravation.

    Your companion in suffering,


  3. Happy Canuck

    Happy Canuck Piano User

    Oct 31, 2003
    Toronto, ON Canada
    I guess that misery loves company!

    I sent an Olds cornet to John for replating, that was in April/05. When he sent it back he sent it USPS Ground with no tracking so it was lost in the US Postal service until Sept/05 when I get a short email from him staying that he had the horn back, it was damaged and he was ordering parts! And since then no communications at all.

    Now this horn is an Olds A6S cornet, there were only about 300 made so I'd certainly like to know what the damage was/is and what parts need to be replaced and I'd certainly expect that he'd use Olds A6 parts from Allied BUT I have no information at all!

    I had called Larry at Mizell Music but of course since John didn't work for him any more there was nothing he could do. I did have a cell phone number. but that's disconnected too.

    So to date,
    - I'm out my horn
    - the cost of the plating
    - no information
    - no communications...
    - no way to contact him other than email, which he doesn't answer!

    I share your pain!!! I should have sent the horn to Kanstul or Charlie Melk but I guess I was trying to save money!?
  4. romey1

    romey1 Banned

    Oct 25, 2003
    Thanks for the warning........

    Next time go with Charlie Melk, Ken Pettifor, or Ron Pinc.

  5. radiobob

    radiobob New Friend

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I think I remember when you picked up that A6 Bill. I hope you get it back. And trying to replace a Sparx mpc with a Gretsch is pathetic, I cringe to think what might have happened with a New York Bach. Did you guys pursue anything tougher with him? I don't think this guy is inherently dishonest, just incompetent. I suspect he's going thru some kind of life crises or something. At any rate I think one should be wary of dealing with him. His Ebay handle is musicshop_more. I'm going to send him a link to these posts and we'll see if he responds. I got taken to task for messing with someones living over at Trumpet Herald. Do you think it's wrong to post these kind of things?

  6. chetbaker

    chetbaker Pianissimo User

    Nov 17, 2003
    Not at all. I feel we should ALL be informed about not only good stuff but the bad as well!

  7. oldlou

    oldlou Forte User

    Aug 28, 2005
    Grand Rapids, Mi.
    Watching this thread

    I am in the decision making process about having my Martin Committee Model cornet refinished, so all of the messages thus far are tempering my judgement. I certainly don't want my fine collectable and usable old 1946 instrument to be messed up, lost in the mails, or, stolen. I remember a similar situation where an airgunsmith in England who had a fantastic reputation for designing new types of sporting and competition level airguns was found to take the attitude that if a customer sent a gun to him for repair which he took a fancy to, he would simply keep the gun, claiming it to be lost, somehow. It finally destroyed his repair business, as it should have. I knew the man personally and thought highly of him until I discovered his larcenous ways. Needless to say, I never did any more business with him.

  8. Happy Canuck

    Happy Canuck Piano User

    Oct 31, 2003
    Toronto, ON Canada
    Oldlou, I hope that your story isn't repeating itself here but I must admit that I'm concerned about some of the things that happened.

    1. even though he had accepted PayPal for a previous transaction this time he insisted on a bank draft (said that PayPal was costing him too much money). So, no recourse with PPal. This when his eBay ads stated that he preferred PayPal, even a transaction in Sept/05!

    2. after the horn hadn't shown up, and he said it had been insured, I asked him to start the insurcance claim ... that's when they 'found' the horn.

    3. he has now moved to Ohio from West Virgina. I never had an address other than Mizell Music so I can't trace him at all.

    4. the cell phone number I had called him on is now disconnected.

    Hopefully I'll get an email soon saying the horn is repaired with orginal Olds A6 parts from Allied, replated and is shipping via an express service.

    Any one want to make any bets??
  9. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Re: Watching this thread

    Then stick with a shop that has a very good reputation like Kanstul or
    perhaps Oberloh Music (http://www.oberloh.com/).
  10. Tootsall

    Tootsall Fortissimo User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Yee HAW!
    Or Leigh McKinney!
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