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  1. #26
    I was a GC tech at one of the most heavily frequented stores in the North East US. I came in as a fully trained and certified luthier with Fender, Martin, Taylor qualified repair skills. I agree with mcontour that the pay is insulting, but I didn't have an issue with that; I did get healthcare.
    I will say we had the reputation of being a really reliable GC tech shop and I'd done much more beyond the list of normal repairs (Nobody else in the system would do a neck re-set on a Gibson. We did. With perfect satisfaction) but I will say that a lot of people brought in repairs done from other GC stores and I was appalled at the quality of workmanship. Reglued bridges repaired without cleaning out the old glue joins? Top cracks misaligned and "repaired" without cleats? Buzzing repairs that were "repaired" by relieving the truss rod and raising the action that way? Floating trems that were unbalanced and not re-intonated? C'mon guys.
    I had the unique perspective of seeing the work of GC repair techs that had charged good money for their "services" but I have to say there is evidently no QC when it comes to who gets hired. They also had regular conferences from regional heads who encouraged "step up" services that aren't needed but make a lot more money for the company. The management cared more for the money than the quality. I had a tech come in and ask for a job. What experience? Minimal, none professionally. His turnaround time on a trial setup was glacial and the work was way below par and he missed many points. Obviously we didn't hire him. But get this, a few months later, his work comes to OUR store: He was working at another GC.

    Now in all fairness, there were many techs I enjoyed a nice communication with within the GC system. The techs in Times Square, Alburquerque NM were amazing. But the truth is, it's a mine field. And the upper management really did put tech services low on their lists of priorities.
    mcontour, make your reputation through your actions, your skills and word of mouth and that will make hopeful customers into happy ones.
    But guitar owners, know that it's a minefield out there and please ask yourself, is there a luthier or repair tech operating in your area that doesn't rely on the convenience and reputation of a big name store to make their reputation (they earn it, the old fashioned way)?

    Anyway, it's not a new story. Be careful who you entrust your beloved instruments to, GC does not do any setups before the instruments are hung on the wall and they charge you their setup fee if you want an instrument that plays well. This says a lot.

    And a little Public Service reminder: we're getting into the spring. It's time when humidity is on the rise and your instruments may be feeling the changes. Find a really good tech, have them set up the instrument for the summer months and you'll both be happier.
    Good luck.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcontour
    Hi folks..

    I am an actual repair tech at a Guitar Center location in northern Colorado, and I thought I'd toss out my thoughts.

    Truth be told...Yes, the pay is not that great. I earn a minimum base wage + a commission. The commission rate is based on the revenue per hour for the previous calendar month. I'd say that the commission amounts to an extra pay check each month....not too bad if you are good at repairing and maintaining instruments.

    It may not be obvious but the repair tech works in a fully equipped workroom "in the back". We have all the tools needed for basic maintenance as well as fretting, crack repairs, re-gluing, etc.. We really are a full service shop.

    When I started working at Guitar Center the beginning of this year, I came in as the 2-day a week repair tech to fill in the days the full time repair tech was not working. I will soon be the full time tech as the present tech is moving on. We had about a 3-week backlog of repairs, but 2 months later, we are down to less than a week turn around time. We take restrings in and handle them on the spot without the customer having to leave the store.

    Most of the instruments I touch are setups, but I deal with a whole bunch of wiring repairs, pickup swaps, output jack swaps, new nuts, new saddles, acoustic pickup installation, etc. We do a lot of cleaning and polishing on the instruments in addition to the strings, truss rod, and saddles. Most acoustic guitars require some work on the bridge/saddle....included in the price. Touch a few high frets.....included. Fill in and re-cut some nut slots.....included. I think the $49 price GC charges for the "signature setup" is a great deal. It even includes the strings.

    I imagine that the quality of GC repair service is highly dependent on the individual technician, but at my location, we crank out a ton of quality work and we have many satisfied, repeat customers. If you are unsure about the tech’s ability at your location, I urge you to drop by in person and chat with them about your particular job to see if you are comfortable with them.

    The repair business is a big money generator for the store, and they do advertise the services on the GC website.

    i will also add that the repair tech is not an entry level position. The job description on the web site needs to be corrected. I interviewed with two people, showed a portfolio of work completed, and took a very lengthy skills assessment.

    Hope this provides some additional perspective.
    Your perspective and participation are most welcome. Thank you!

  4. #28

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    Ah GC... At least in my location most of the floor staff are young and pretty much useless. I went amp shopping there once and the guys I interacted with didn't even know how to change out a speaker in the cabinet and had no idea why one might want to swap tubes (or that its really a big nothing in terms of the effort/know-how required to do so, at least mechanically).

    I ended up buying a discounted fender amp with what turned out to be a bad speaker cable. It was a pain in the ass trying to find a business that had a new one I could just swap in there really quick to confirm whether or not it was indeed the cable that was to blame for the audio cutting in and out and not a problem with the input/board.

    However the REPAIR GUY was pretty clutch in the end- I convinced him (begrudgingly) to take one off an amp he had a repair order on and do this for me. Voila'! No cutout and no expensive repair. He let me swap and to this day I've had no issues with it.

    Recently, the same guy checked out the neck of a guitar I bought on the cheap which turned out to be broken. [See my other active thread in the Workbench subforum]. He looked at it under black light for me, no charge for time asked. He didn't spot the neck fracture, but he recognized me from being there often and did me a solid no questions asked and genuinely wanted to help if possible- That's customer service.

    Probably not my first choice for expensive and/or vintage items- There's a luthier I know in the area I would give my business to 100% of the time if I required it. However for more basic operations, in a pinch I'd swing by the GC.

  5. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by BiscoDrew
    Recently, the same guy checked out the neck of a guitar I bought on the cheap which turned out to be broken. [See my other active thread in the Workbench subforum]. He looked at it under black light for me, no charge for time asked. He didn't spot the neck fracture, but he recognized me from being there often and did me a solid no questions asked and genuinely wanted to help if possible- That's customer service.
    Big heart and good intentions are what make the world a better place. Tech chops are what you need when your guitar is hurtin'.
    So he was the guy with the black light. Sorry to say but I could have spotted that neck problem from across a room.
    Now put his good intentions through some schoolin' and you've got a good combo. 'til then, I'm sorry to say, he shouldn't be in a position of handling other people's instruments.
    Say you were going on the road. He gives a clean bill of health. You're doing a sound check, you tune up the guitar and it pulls that crack open. No time for a repair. Fail.
    Say you just bought that guitar and he gives you the thumbs up. A month later the weather changes and that headstock does a flip over on you. Too late to return it.
    Sorry to say this, but being a pro tech means being able to hold the trust of the customer who walks into your shop. That was such a bad call that I wondered who made it. When I worked at GC, that's the kind of stuff customers would bring to me AFTER they paid to have it "set up" by other GC techs from other stores.
    It doesn't take a whole lot to talk one's way into a repair position at some GC stores. It takes a whole lot more to do the job right. That shouldn't even be a question, should it?