Sunday, June 16, 2024

God Deliver Us From Wicked And Unreasonable Men

2nd Thessalonians 3:1-2, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.”

I have been sad the past couple days. I had been wanting a professional banjo for a long time. I ordered a Hatfield Buck Creek banjo a couple months ago. I received it on Wednesday. The FedEx driver left the $3,000 banjo sitting on my porch, but didn't knock or let me know it was here. Thankfully, by chance I found it before a thief did. I don't know why Arthur Hatfield didn't require my signature. People are something.

Then I opened the cardboard box with anticipation to see my new dream banjo, but saw that the case was filthy, covered with a thick layer of fine shop dust. Even though that made a bad impression, I let it go, figuring it's just dust that I can wipe off myself.

When I opened the case I was delighted to see a nice handsome looking banjo in a green velvet interior. But when I lifted out the banjo a part fell off. It was a nut that came off the tailpiece. So I removed the pot cover and fastened the nut. I noticed that the tailpiece hadn't been adjusted at all, and was sticking all the way up. So, I adjusted the tailpiece parallel with the banjo head.

I tuned the banjo and went to play it but immediately noticed that the intonation was way off the mark. That is, when you strum the banjo strings open (unfretted) it sounds very nice, but when you fret the strings to play a chord it sounds awful because the distance is incorrect from the nut to the bridge. I spend 4 hours trying to set the bridge in different positions, but nothing worked. When I moved the bridge 1/2" toward the tailpiece, the intonation became accurate on the lower frets, but the higher frets were way out of pitch. When I moved the bridge back slightly, I couldn't get the banjo to have proper intonation, which made it worthless to me.
The Hatfield is the nicest sounding banjo I have ever played (I haven't played many). I have a Recording King Elite 85 with a maple 27 3/8" scale neck. The Hatfield has a standard 26 1/4" scale mahogany neck. The Hatfield sounded MUCH better than my Recording King in tone and resonance. Unfortunately, the best sounding banjo is worthless if it won't play in tune. It was late on Wednesday, so I went to sleep for the night.

Thursday morning I went back to work trying to resolve the intonation problem with the Hatfield. I had purchased a Deering Goodtime Special student banjo earlier this year. When it arrived the bridge was laying sideways. I didn't mind setting the bridge position and intonation, and I did, which took me about 10 minutes and has been very accurate since. The point being that I DO know how to adjust a bridge and set the intonation on a stringed musical instrument. I used to work as a truck mechanic, so I am mechanically inclined. I couldn't get the Hatfield banjo to adjust.

There was also a bad buzz on string four, because the truss rod was too tight. So, I removed the truss rod cover on the headstock and loosened the truss rod, but in the process stabbed my hand on one of the four 1/2" sharp strings ends that Arthur Hatfield carelessly left sticking out on the tuning pegs. Blood was all over my hand. I was frustrated, so I took a photo and sent it to Arthur, to let him know kindly that he needs to trim the string ends in the future at the tuning peg, and not leave them sticking out 1/2" for someone else to cut them self. He got mad at me and at no time ever bothered to apologize for anything. He just wickedly didn't care.
I asked him for any suggestions to remedy the bad intonation, but he didn't want to deal with it and just insisted that I return the banjo to him for a full refund. I was heart broken. I didn't want my money back, I wanted a professional banjo. The guy couldn't have cared less. Like my pastor said a couple months ago in his Sunday morning sermon, the heathens are just doing their job being heathens.

So, yesterday I shipped the Buck Creek banjo back to Arthur Hatfield in Glasgow, Kentucky, but I am very sad. I loved the sound of the banjo, but it was unplayable because of the poor intonation and the builder wasn't willing to make things right with me, except to refund my money. He even horribly rubbed it in my face that he has deposits from three people waiting to buy a Buck Creek banjo from him. I kindly asked him what that had to do with the fact he sent me a defective banjo? What a horrible man.

Well, praise the Lord anyhow. I'm back to square one wanting to purchase a professional banjo. I'm coming along nicely in my banjo practice. I've been making backing tracks for the banjo and freely sharing them with other banjo enthusiasts online.

Lord willing, I plan to make many more backing tracks, and also some banjo recordings at some point down the road. I'm working on learning several songs right now. The progress is slow but rewarding. I enjoy making backing tracks and freely sharing them with other banjo enthusiasts. My favorite banjo artist is Dave Hum (1966-2012). I love this man's music!

Dave had three banjos, a Chinese made Epiphone (Gibson's cheaper banjo line), an Ode banjo (made in the 1970's in Arkansas), and his main banjo that he played 95% of the time, a 1992 ESS (Earl Scruggs's Standard) Gibson banjo. I am in a peculiar situation. I live in Pensacola. Even though it is the deep south, and we do have a few music stores here, they don't sell any high end banjos. So I don't have any way to play different banjos to see which make and model I like and want to purchase. I have to rely on watching YouTube videos and reading reviews online.

That is why I chose to buy a Hatfield Banjo. I had read a bunch of positive comments about Mr. Hatfield and his banjos online, so I am bewildered that the banjo he sent me was so shoddy in quality and that his attitude is so horrible and unwilling to cooperate to work with me to remedy the problem. I had offered to send him more money and swap banjos with a different one with proper intonation, but he was mean and refused. I don't know what his problem is. Evidently his success has gone to his head, like PCC.

Perhaps it is the Bible verses in my email signature. Perhaps he resents me as a Christian and this is really about his anger against Jesus Christ (John 7:7), and has nothing to do with me at all. I'm still scratching my head, wondering what happened (Ephesians 6:12).

When you pay someone $3,000 for a banjo—you don't expect to randomly find it laying on your front porch, and receive it filthy with dust all over the case, and then a part falls off the banjo the first time you pick it up, and it won't play in tune, and the tailpiece hasn't been adjusted, and it has a bad buzz on string four, and then you cut your hand open on a sharp string sticking out trying to adjust the truss rod that the builder failed to do right at his shop, and then the builder gets mad at you when you kindly complain to him. 𝟐𝒏𝒅 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒂𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒊𝒂𝒏𝒔 𝟑:𝟐, “𝑨𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒘𝒆 𝒎𝒂𝒚 𝒃𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝒖𝒏𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒃𝒍𝒆 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒘𝒊𝒄𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒎𝒆𝒏: 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒂𝒍𝒍 𝒎𝒆𝒏 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒇𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒉.”

I kindly told Arthur on Thursday that I am praying for him, but emphasized that he did me wrong, and this is all his fault for not doing better quality work. I told him that it seems like he didn't even bother to play the banjo before boxing it up. This is so sad and unfortunate, because I really had my hopes set high to get a nice banjo. 𝑷𝒓𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒃𝒔 𝟏𝟑:𝟏𝟐, “𝑯𝒐𝒑𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒇𝒆𝒓𝒓𝒆𝒅 𝒎𝒂𝒌𝒆𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒉𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒕 𝒔𝒊𝒄𝒌: 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒅𝒆𝒔𝒊𝒓𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒕𝒉, 𝒊𝒕 𝒊𝒔 𝒂 𝒕𝒓𝒆𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆.”

I know it's just a stupid banjo, but I love music. A banjo is a tool to make music. I greatly enjoy playing the banjo, making backing tracks to play along with, and sharing it all with others. Music makes the world a better place! Finding a nice sounding banjo is not easy. I spent $1,795 for my Elite 85 Recording King in 2018. It is a sturdy built banjo with accurate intonation (after I put a compensator bridge on it), but it just doesn't have "that sound" which is coveted by banjo players who desire great tone, like I do.

The Hatfield has a beautiful tone, but without good intonation it was worthless to me, so I reluctantly returned it to banjo hell where it came from. My Deering Goodtime Special I paid $1,099 for earlier this year. It has excellent intonation for a student model. That banjo doesn't even have a truss rod, because the neck is made of hard rock maple. Yet, the intonation is very accurate. The pot is made of violin grade maple. The Goodtime Special has a tone ring inside the pot, and the sound quality is very nice, but not near as exceptional in resonance as the Hatfield Buck Creek was. I've never had the opportunity to play a Gibson, Huber, Deering Golden Era or Calico, Nechville Phantom, Stelling or other $5,000 plus banjos.

I have learned that the average going price today for a great mandolin, Dobro or Banjo is about $5,000. The Dad of the Gospel Bluegrass group from Texas that comes to our church each October to perform at our 3-day revival (my favorite event of the year), showed me his new Dobro in 2022 which cost him $8,000. Great fluffy biscuits in the morning! He sure plays it sweetly. I bought a Gold Tone solid mahogany body Dobro last year for $2,000, which included a Nashville pickup system installed. I love the beautiful quality sound that the Dobro has. I love stringed musical instruments.

Lord willing, I need a quality mandolin after I get a banjo...lol. I'm getting my one man band together. I've been playing a cheap Donner mandolin (a boat anchor), but it's good to learn on. The mandolin I think I'll buy is the Eastman MD505 which comes with a hardshell case for $849 (not a bad deal). It has a solid spruce top. It lists at Eastman for $1,199. If you're not into music you likely won't understand spending insane amounts of money for musical instruments, but if you love making music and want great tone then you know those instruments are worth every single penny. A professional American made mandolin costs about $5,000. A quality ukulele made of koa wood can easily cost $5,000.

That's crazy! Thankfully, there are cheaper high quality Chinese imports like Eastman. Due to the insanely high cost of musical instruments, rising inflation and the struggling U.S. economy, in the future we will see many more Chinese imports in music stores.

I am content with what the Lord has given me over the years. I dropped and cracked my $130 Cort acoustic guitar last month, but it is my favorite guitar, because it plays easy and sounds very organic (natural wood without a lacquer coating to deaden the sound). I bought it locally at Guitar Center in 2022.

Anyway, I was very sad for the past few days because the banjo I had hoped to play for the rest of my life turned out to be a LEMON. But the good thing is that when (Lord willing) I do finally get a great banjo, I will appreciate it all that much more. Dave Hum was a skilled musician on mandolin, harmonica, bongos, guitar and banjo. I don't think he ever played the Dobro or steel guitar. Steel guitar will always be my favorite instrument to hear and play.
I'm okay on mandolin and banjo, but getting better as I play. I've been trying to play the banjo each day, depending on how my neck pain feels. I rarely feel like doing anything due to my constant chronic neck pain and burning nerves. The good thing is that acquired skills on one instrument carry over to others. So, as I increase my dexterity, speed and accuracy playing single note scales on the mandolin, it helps me also play the banjo better (and vise versa).

Having said all that, please pray for God to help me with my sadness. I keep telling myself that it was only a banjo, but it sure sounded nice. It just wasn't playable because of the poor intonation. I asked the Lord today to please give me a wonderful sounding banjo in Heaven. I had prayed for the Lord to make this Hatfield banjo a special one, and it was, but not in the way that I had hoped...lol. God knows what He is doing and I trust Him though He slay me (Job 13:15).

It is not the Lord's fault that Arthur Hatfield took my money and didn't take the necessary time to make sure that my banjo was Kosher, ready to play and accurate in intonation. He didn't do a good job at all, which is sad and pathetic. Mr. Hatfield said he'll refund my money, and I have no doubt that he will, but we'll see. Albeit, even if he does return my money, I still lost over $200 in shipping costs because of his incompetence, and he wasted a lot of my time. That is what a wicked and unreasonable man does! 2nd Thessalonians 3:1-2, “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.” The hardest thing that I deal with in life is rotten people.

One of the most comforting Scripture passages I've ever read is found in John 16:22, “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.” I read that Bible verse about 24 years ago and wrote it on the inside of my toolbox at work, to help me cope with hostile co-workers who persecuted me as a Christian. The dear Lord promises that one day when He return, no man will ever take away our joy again. Thousands of times throughout my life my day has been ruined by another human being. Case in point was what Arthur Hatfield did to hurt me this past week.

What saith the Scripture? Matthew 18:2-6, “And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” The dear Savior clearly intended this passage to apply to little boys and girls, but He specifically applies it to those who “believe in me,” that is, the redeemed saints. Woe be unto the person that offends a child of God. Woe be unto Arthur Hatfield!

One of my favorite quotes by Pastor Jack Hyles is: 
“The most important job is the one that doesn't get done.”
Thank you for reading about my sad heart. It's been a down few days for me, because I had such high hopes to finally have a great banjo. But I rejoice that my name is written in Heaven (Luke 10:20). God is so good and I count my many blessings. Jesus is precious!

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry you got ripped off. As a banjo nerd myself I would not be too happy being ripped of with a poor quality banjo that cost thousands of dollars. Out of curiosity what styles of banjo have you played? Have you played 2 finger and clawhammer style? It is quite fun. Anyways hope the guy who ripped you off gets saved. God bless

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