Modern Gretsch Guitars

My Experience with Joe Carducci/Gretsch Customer Service

1

I'd like to start by saying your mileage may vary and this is just one man's experience (i.e. I don't know if the service I received is standard or unique). Also, I have owned 4 caddy green duo jets, so I have experience with the guitar/issues I'm about to discuss if anyone has questions about this guitar.

All that out of the way:

About a year ago, I purchased a duo jet from Rocky. It had a rattle that was driving me crazy, so I brought it to two local luthiers who said it had a hump on the fretboard extension. Rocky handled it very well and exchanged it, and I received a new guitar. The new guitar, unfortunately, had a different problem -- a hump in the first position, rattle, plinking/binding in the nut, a crooked bigsby, and a truss rod that adjusted the bass and treble sides differently. I wrote about it on this forum and Curtis offered to fix it for free if I shipped it to him (generous offer!), but first I decided to speak with Gretsch. Joe found my thread on here and we wound up speaking on the phone for a bit.

I told him what I thought was wrong. He asked if I had a box to ship him the guitar. I didn't, so he mailed me a box free of charge with packing material and a free shipping return label. The guitar was sent to Joe in Arizona for analysis. He confirmed all the problems mentioned and basically said they would get me a new guitar. I told him I was patient and would wait for a good one, as I had three duo jets to that point and all had issues.

Just a brief tangent on the ones I've owned:

2005 -- this was the only JD of the bunch, and it was pretty good without any serious neck problems, but due to not playing for a few years I sold it. It had a few minor issues (grounding problems, mild buzzing, etc).

2009 -- this one had the hump on the fretboard extension and a grounding issue.

2015 -- this one had the hump in the first position, binding nut, crooked bigsby, etc (all mentioned above).

2016 -- I'll continue about my experience and describe this one (spoiler: it's great).

Joe checked in several times. During that time we discussed setup, guitars in general, etc. He then made an exceptionally generous offer to pin the bridge for me on the new guitar at no cost (he said a top luthier would charge $150-200 for this job done correctly). I wasn't sure if I wanted to pin it because committing to one position like that on a rocking bar is a bit scary if intonation goes off, so Joe said to get back to him in a few days since the replacement guitar wouldn't arrive for a while. After considering the style I play (hard rock/punk/indie rock) I thought it would be wise to pin the bridge and allow me to play the instrument more aggressively -- i.e. bends and power chords. This was a great choice and the first duo jet of the three that I pinned. I highly recommend pinning if you play aggressive music.

After a few days, Joe gets the replacement guitar. He calls me up and we discuss everything more. I tell him to pin the bridge, I ask him if this guitar has any neck issues, etc. He says it all looks good and we move forward. Honestly, at this point I'm nervous because I've had several lemons and had never pinned a bridge. But, at the same time, I trust Joe since he saw and admitted all the issues with the prior guitar.

He tells me he'll have the guitar finished by the end of the day and shipped that day, so I'd receive it the following day. He overnight shipped it again for free. Pretty amazing.

So I receive the guitar, and after strumming one chord and hearing no buzz, I know immediately that this is "the one". It took four tries, but this is the one. I bonded with this guitar immediately, whereas with the prior three I always wanted to bond with them but never could due to all the issues (they really affected the intangible "feel" of the instrument). This one "felt right" under my fingers. It didn't rattle acoustically like all the others. Joe did an amazing job setting it up to my specs.

Some more notes:

-- Joe sanded down the rosewood bridge base free of charge, so it sits more flush against the body. This has made a huge difference. My luthier, an authorized Gretsch service center, wanted $30 to do this despite being the person who sold the base that didn't quite match.

-- Joe cut the nut slots in a way that almost looks to follow the fretboard radius. I'm not sure if that's what he did, but they look very different. No pinging/plinking from the nut now. The first position chords like F major, etc all are so much nicer to play with the nut like this.

This 2016 model is amazing. Granted, I've only put 2 hours on it so far. But my conclusion thus far is it's the best of my four by far. I can't find a single thing wrong with it.

Overall, this was an amazing experience with Joe and Grestch. After a few lemons, I was this close to giving up on Gretsch despite wanting to love the guitars. Something in me kept telling me that this guitar could be awesome if I found the right one. I'm glad I have a naturally persistent streak, because in the end I found a livelong keeper that will probably be with me on my death bed. I feel that strongly about how this guitar plays. My only fear now is whether it remains stable (it was only built in August...).

Anyway, thank you, Joe. And further, I'm looking at other Gretsches now. I didn't think I'd ever buy another Gretsch, but I'm so happy with the service and the way this guitar plays when it's an ace specimen, that I now want to explore other models. So it's win win, as I will likely buy another Gretsch.

The only thing I'm unsure about now, is that I don't have a proof of purchase for this guitar. I had it for the 2015 model that I sent to Joe, but he then replaced that guitar with this one, so I have no receipt with this serial number on it. If I ever need warranty coverage, I'm not sure how this will work since it's a replacement rather than a new purchase. I wrote Joe to ask this, so we'll see, but as of now I haven't heard back.

Anyway, amazing stuff.

2

Joe is an Exceptional Human being. I'm sure if you have issues within the warranty period, not only will Joe remember you, but as well you could reference this thread. I'm sure that will be enough. Glad all worked out for you. I'm surprised to hear how bad your luck is with Duo Jets. We rarely hear anyone having near as many issues as you've had.

3

And that is why we love Joe Carducci.

4

Joe is an Exceptional Human being. I'm sure if you have issues within the warranty period, not only will Joe remember you, but as well you could reference this thread. I'm sure that will be enough. Glad all worked out for you. I'm surprised to hear how bad your luck is with Duo Jets. We rarely hear anyone having near as many issues as you've had.

– Suprdave

I'm surprised to hear how bad your luck is with Duo Jets.

I know. I don't quite understand it. I asked Joe specifically, "Am I being too picky/demanding?" and he said that wasn't the case and that he'd be upset with that guitar, too.

So, I do think it was just bad luck. All were bought online, so I think that's part of the reason. Without being able to see it and play it first the chance of bad luck increase, imo. It was reassuring to know this one was going through Gretsch headquarters in AZ so Joe & crew could inspect it firsthand.

5

I love happy endings! Now for another Gretsch...

6

Joe is the best and sorry you had so much trouble. Believe me it was just a fluke; the new Gretsch guitars for the most part are as close to perfect as a production item can get. You can rest assured Joe and probably Fred are already in communication with Terada over this situation. I'm sure both men are more upset with your problems than you are since it is their bread and butter.

7

Several thoughts:

  1. I don't know if this is typical FMIC customer service, but, this is the typical customer service of FMIC/Gretsch while Joe Carducci is involved as FMIC's face of the company. Joe invariably goes above and beyond the call of duty every time to make it right by the customer. Joe has worked for FMIC since he was a teenager and he has worked his way up through the ranks, from sitting at a bench assembling amplifiers to working on Rhodes electric pianos to doing final inspections on guitars, and most everything in between. If there ever was a guy who has learned the value of good customer service, it is he.

  2. This is simply who Joe is. He is a guy who, within reason, always aims to generate satisfaction. It is one of the many reasons why those who know him love him. We are all just fortunate that he is at the helm (along with three or four other members of the team) of Gretsch while FMIC has the keys to the car from Fred Gretsch.

  3. Joe is not going to be in this position for an indefinite period of time. Eventually, he is going to want to retire. And, while I have no reason to believe that that will be tomorrow, he is in his early sixties like many of us who are also thinking about retirement. So, you are best off not trying to rely upon Joe's memory about your guitar because he may not be there when you need him to remember this transaction. Better that you get the ownership documentation that you need now.

8

Best customer service ever! He is a great guy. I had an Eddie Cochran and the neck was separating from the body, he took one look at it and said "I will send you a box and a return form, you send this to Gretsch and I will get you a new one". I was amazed. Cant say enough good things about this man!

9

Several thoughts:

  1. I don't know if this is typical FMIC customer service, but, this is the typical customer service of FMIC/Gretsch while Joe Carducci is involved as FMIC's face of the company. Joe invariably goes above and beyond the call of duty every time to make it right by the customer. Joe has worked for FMIC since he was a teenager and he has worked his way up through the ranks, from sitting at a bench assembling amplifiers to working on Rhodes electric pianos to doing final inspections on guitars, and most everything in between. If there ever was a guy who has learned the value of good customer service, it is he.

  2. This is simply who Joe is. He is a guy who, within reason, always aims to generate satisfaction. It is one of the many reasons why those who know him love him. We are all just fortunate that he is at the helm (along with three or four other members of the team) of Gretsch while FMIC has the keys to the car from Fred Gretsch.

  3. Joe is not going to be in this position for an indefinite period of time. Eventually, he is going to want to retire. And, while I have no reason to believe that that will be tomorrow, he is in his early sixties like many of us who are also thinking about retirement. So, you are best off not trying to rely upon Joe's memory about your guitar because he may not be there when you need him to remember this transaction. Better that you get the ownership documentation that you need now.

– Ric12string

Joe will never retire, thats for sissies!

10

My 2014 6120DSW FSR, which I purchased new in 2014, is the finest guitar I've ever owned. It was perfect right out of the box (literally). No buzzing, fret issues, humps. Finish is a mile deep and looks like a Steinway piano. I've modded the guitar now with TV Jones pickups (my own preference) - but the guitar itself is stunning, and I gig with it regularly now (and keep a VERY close eye on it at all times! ).

11

Kudos to Joe C!

Still....

No pics, no duo jet!

15

I've met Joe C. a few times myself. even got him to come up here to Minnesota for our Roundup a few years back. he never forgets a face. he's a great guy to work with and talk to. he's always promoting Gretsch guitars and that "Great Gretsch Sound". Joe Carducci , "That Great Gretsch Guy".

16

Plus, he's Italian. Joe Carducci for president!

17

Plus, he's Italian. Joe Carducci for president!

– Fredo

Well said. I'd love to have Joe over for some orecchiette and my homemade Bolognese sauce, wine and some good conversation. He was a helluva nice guy when I met him at Rudy's in NYC a few years ago(along with Mr. Gretsch and Paul Pigat) and "the tops" of all gentlemen and is above and beyond on customer service and representing a company.

Proud to say my Black Phoenix came to me perfect to play and my '08 5126 may just be the best deal for a guitar I know of.

18

After having the same problems with two Duo Jets and hearing your story maybe 3 times will be the charm for me too. I really hated sending those guitars back. Thanks John

19

From top-of the line/endorsed players in the Gretsch family to simple strummers (like me), Joe treats everyone like a rock star.

I've never met a more passionate, caring, and devoted person than Joe. Not only is he committed to the vision and legacy of Gretsch guitars but he's also committed to each of us who sling a Gretsch with pride.

20

I've been lucky enough to meet Joe a couple of times at the Winter NAMM show. Both times he treated me as though I was the most IMPORTANT person in the room, even though I am NOBODY. Took his time and showed me the all new stuff. Just an amazingly nice guy, there can be no better choice for the face of Gretsch.

21

I have read here how Joe Carducci has been helpful. How do I get in touch with him? I have a warranty issue and my dealer and myself cannot get a reply from a Gretsch rep. I understand with all that is going on with the COVID, but a reply call or email would be acceptable.

22

He is a member of this forum. Send him a Private Message here.

23

Joe pays attention to his people and to his clients, which is one of the best qualities someone in his position could have. He's always got his finger on the pulse of everything Gretsch.

24

I have had Gretch guitars for half a century. Ever one of them great (I think they like me) in fact when my 48 needed binding replaced, all four pieces just kinda “fell” off intact! Like the glue failed? Each one has/had its own personality, what’s not to love?


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