Always check

No question, just some experience I learned the hard way. About two years ago, I bought my definitive turntable: a Goldmund Studietto with T5 arm and Kiseki Agaat Ruby cartridge. I listened at the dealer, and it sounded good. It was complete with extra springs, manual, extra counterweight etc. The cartridge "just had a retip", so everything was fine.
I enjoyed this beautiful TT, both as serious piece of equipment and as an eyecatcher, but always had the nagging feeling it should be able to sound 'better'. It wasn't bad, but...

A couple of weeks ago I saw a Sansui SR-525 TT at the thrift store. Nice looking table, although the antiskating weight was missing an it needed some work. Nothing fancy, but since it was very cheap and seemed like a 'do-able' project I bought it, restored it and fitted a Goldring 1012GX cartridge. Now that's a nice cartridge which I like, but nothing 'high end'. So imagine my surprise (and shock) as it outperfomed my Goldmund in every way...
To cut a long sory short: I checked the stylus of the Kiseki, which was completely worn out. After some consideration I decided to buy a new cartridge (Lyra Dorian). Now I finally can enjoy what a good TT can do.

So the moral here is to check things like needles always. It may be a small investment, but I can save you a lot of time and aggrevation.
It sounds like the cartridge wasn't retipped at all. Maybe at the factory, it was accidentally put into the "retipped" box instead of the "to be retipped" box. Is there anyway you can check this possibility with a cartridge serial number (if there is one)? Maybe the manufacturer will make it right. You can always hope I suppose.
I've had my Studietto since new (1990), with an SME V arm and (currently) a Trasnsfiguration Temper W cart. Mine has the JVC quartz-controlled motor like yours and Goldmund cone feet (you can still get the threaded ones from Goldmund, which replace the plastic ones.) But there are two big improvements you can make to that table (and they're the reason I kept mine!):

1. Re-lube the spindle bearing with the van den Hul Spindle Oil. It's laced with zirconium oxide powder which acts as micro ball bearings and really silences any bearing noise.
2. Get rid of the springs, flip the big knurled height adjusters upside-down and install sorbothane pucks. I used Panda Paws because they come in different squishynesses (is that a word!?) just like the springs. Lots of Studietto owners have done this. Besides making the TT easier to use, it drastically improves bass response and eliminates all those nasty resonances from the motorboard. It might even enable that ornery T5 arm to work decently ;-)
"Squishynesses"? Surely it's "squishinesses". What are schools teaching these days?
@ Markphd: I calculated I used the cartridge for 500 hours, a new tip should have lasted 1500 hours at least. Unfortunately, Kiseki itself has gone a long time ago, the store I bought the TT has gone to, so it's hard to find out what has been done and what hasn't been done.

@Nsgarch: Mine has the original Pabst motor for as far as I could trace back the serial number. Lubing the spindle bearing is a good idea though, I'll look into that.

As for replacing the springs: been there, done that, put them back. Perhaps it has something to do with the shelf the TT sits (wall-mounted Target, glass shelf), but with the sorbothane it sounded less lively.

Ah, the T5... I love it and hate it. Once set up properly it sounds great, unfortunately setting up basic things like the VTA took me two and a half hour (and a lot of very bad words...). But is has paid off: I hear things now I've never heard before, even on worn out vinyl.
Doug, thanks for the spellcheck, I was sure someone would know ;-)

Satch, I'm sure you could have the Kiseki re-tipped for a nominal amount by van den Hul or SoundSmith. It's a good cartridge and would be a nice back-up for the Lyra (or maybe vice versa ;-)

I know you have a JVC-equipped Studietto because of the (quartz) 'lock' indicator on the front panel (the Pabst models have two holes in the front panel to adjust the speeds manually, using rheostats - nasty!)

I also have my TT on a target shelf, but I'd stay away from glass or granite (less than 2"thick!) because they RINNNNG! And those plastic feet are a BIG problem (more so when resting on a glass surface!) So get a nice MDF or hardwood shelf and some cones; then you can retry the sorbothane. Even the Audioquest half domes work well if installed properly -- I suspect your poor results were due to other factors. You can read more comments here, about a tenth of the way down the page:
Thnx Nsgarch, I was already thinking about changing the glass. That will keep me busy for some time...
I've already sold the Kiseki. The new owner will have it retipped, I've decided for several reasons that a retip is not the way to go for me.