Should I use Guitar Center for Set Up?


I just bought a beautiful 2013 5420T but it needs set up - probably why it's in such perfect condition - never been played! When I look for authorized dealers, the nearest one to me is a Guitar Center. My question really is - should I go there or to one of the local "independent" guitar shops with great reputations? I don't typically think of Guitar Center as doing this kind of custom work. What would you guys think? Thanks for your help!


Ive known some very knowledgeable guitar techs at G.C ,and also a few dumptrucks. My advice, go down there and talk to the Tech who is going to do the work on your guitar and ask alot of questions of his experience and type of work he is going to do.

If they cant explain what proper Intonation is, or are not familiar with "back bow" ,like JD said,RUN.

Its hit or miss with those guys as they pay them scraps and they tend to leave before they get any good experience. Sometimes you get lucky and you get a guy who knows his stuff.


Local, independent


I'm sure that there are some good techs at certain Guitar Centers. However, the reputation of the bad techs at other locations precede them.

If you're going to Guitar Center, proceed with caution, and do your homework. Like Manny said, TALK to the tech to get an idea as to whether he has a good knowledge of Gretsch setup. These guitars have a few quirks that you won't find on the average Gibson or Fender model.


This book will give you the basics:


Just like I try to suport local music stores instead of a big chain that seems to be going down the tubes anyway, I use local people who are trying to make a living. I heard GC has quotas, alloted times for certain things, etc. Maybe not true, but still find a good local person


Ask some local guitar players where they take theirs for a set up


I use "Guitar Player Repair Guide" by Dan Erlwine, very clear with a LOT of illustration. For just string height, intonation and truss rod adjustment it's great. If your still looking for that metric screwdriver or left hand crescent wrench? Take it somewhere,


I've known a few good techs that work for the Guitar Center, but I've seen a lot more who weren't so good. I personally don't use them for anything, after one of their guys botched a nut and bridge saddle replacement on an acoustic guitar of mine, years ago.

I learned to do my own setups, and use an independent Luthier, with loads of experience, for actual repairs and fret dressing. Like others have mentioned, it's hit and miss with the GC techs.

If you are completely unfamiliar or uncomfortable with setting up your own guitar, and have the opportunity to use an independent Luthier, by the all means do so. Perhaps they could explain exactly what they did, so you can have an idea of whether or not you want to try to do it yourself next time. Good luck with it, a good setup can make all the difference.


Welcome to all things Gretsch!

Assuming the local independents have a good track record and references, I wouldn't even think about GC. Think of it in these terms: if a tech at a GC were as good as local independents, wouldn't you expect him to be working for himself or with a local luthier??


Nobody competent would work for the GC. Guitar Center isn't even good for strings & picks. If they stock it, you don't want it. Take it to a good guitar tech.


I don’t see why not. I mean unless the tech at GC got a really bad review. Usually I go to independents but if the GC tech had a good reputation I’d say why not.


I agree with the most. GC is not your best bet


For things like fret work or any kind of work beyond a simple set up I’d say no but a simple set up I think they can do.


I'm 2 for 2 with GC setups - a Fender Nashville B Bender and a D'Angelico Excel. The Fender setup was excellent and the Excel setup was very good. Two different techs / two different stores because good techs don't stay that long. These were both fairly simple playability / intonation setups. One of them only charged me for a string change, which was 30 bucks cheaper than a setup. My guess is that a lot of (eventually) qualified techs start out at box stores, so it's not fair to trash them all. As was mentioned above, talk to them first and you can get a sense of their skill level. Also, try to swing a 'while you wait' deal and watch the work being done.


You might try a guitar instructor teacher at a music store. That was my introduction. My teacher directed me to a great technician before i took my first lesson.


If you tell us what city you live in we may be able to point you in the right direction towards a good tech.


Welcome aboard, you've definitely come to the right place. I agree with most all of the following comments. For repair and setups, I would go find an Independent Luthier, someone that you like and feel comfortable with. Guitar Center has a reputation for a big turnover of Employees, so it could be hit or miss in terms of the quality of service you receive. I have been going to the same 2 Independent Luthiers for a long time now, I've learned a lot from them both and now can do the basic things myself. You've definitely come to the right place for information on Gretsch Guitars, enjoy that 5420T, nothing sounds like a big Hollowbody Gretsch !


Absolutely not. I would just take the time and learn to do it, thats what I did, its not rocket science and you shouldn't mess anything up you cant undo


Follow the link in Suprdave's first post! (Thanks SD, Mal Barcley's came to my mind immediately)


My local shop that I'd used for years closed and the nearest store is GC. Previously I had a bad experience there. But the current guy is very good, often can do the work while you wait. Plus he plays and loves blue guitars! What's not to like?

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