Questionable service at Soundsmith

I sent my Benz Micro for a re-tipping.  After they received my cartridge I get an email on how to check status of the job.  Their website tells you retipping takes 8 - 14 weeks.  Well that came and went, I did not hear anything.  I checked the status now and then, nada.  I started to worry because it's been about a year now.  Finally, I decided to give them a call and find out what is going on.  In my mind, I'm thinking, have they lost my cartridge?  Did they misplace it?  What?  I couldn't get through, goes straight to voicemail every time.  So I decided to email an address I got from their website to ask for help.  I got a response that it will be done soon, they are really back logged.  An hour later, I get another email from another person saying it was done and ready to ship.  What?!  Did they just do a rush job on my cartridge?  Because I started to complain?  That they've had my cartridge laying around for about a year!  And here's the kicker, please pay $450 for the retipping.  Nice.  
That's a bummer. I've used them for 5 cartridges over the years and have always found the service satisfactory. It has taken them a bit longer lately due to demand and, what I've heard, some family related issues with Peter. The new cantilevers and retipping is his work, so it does take some time.

One year and then presto is strange and maybe you didn't get the entire picture from them. However, $450 for a retip is not a lot.
I just feel like the first person I contacted called the retipping guy and that guy realized, oh yeah, this guy has been waiting a year.  Let's get this done now.  Rushed, no proper care nor testing.  I should have gone to that other guy in Washington State.  
I think you went to the right guy.  Geez, a year?  I recently sent my cartridge.  Hope it does not take a year.  I think you had it done by one of the best.  I doubt he would ever jeopardize his reputation.  He probably felt really terrible about the mix up and did it pronto.
Personally I would have been calling / emailing at week 14 (not waiting until nearly week 52). That being said, stuff happens. Peter is one of the good guys in this industry. I can't imagine not being a Sound Smith customer. His products and support policies are IMHO beyond reproach. Love my Aida, and love it even more after Peter rebuilt it. 

Have you received your cart back? Before you claim "Rushed, no proper care and testing" you should probably give it a listen. 
Is "that other guy in Washington state" the one in Bellevue?

I live about 18 miles from his shop. If he's good it would be nice to know as I'm thinking about moving on to a decent HOMC from my MMs.
Yes, that's him.  This is my first time having a cartridge retip.  I asked him for a quote however I went with Soundsmith because of their reputation.  In light of what happen, I feel perhaps Andy, his name, could have done just as good of a job if not better.  I do have another cartridge I'm thinking of retipping and more than likely now, I would try him.  
Personally I would have been calling / emailing at week 14 (not waiting until nearly week 52). That being said, stuff happens. Peter is one of the good guys in this industry. I can't imagine not being a Sound Smith customer. His products and support policies are IMHO beyond reproach. Love my Aida, and love it even more after Peter rebuilt it.

Have you received your cart back? Before you claim "Rushed, no proper care and testing" you should probably give it a listen.
Perhaps I should but I didn't want to come across as a pesky, impatient customer.  I worked in retail and I know how those kind of customers are treated.  Besides I have other cartridges I could use in the meantime.  I gave them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps theyare busy between making their own brand of cartridges and the backlog of retip orders.  I'm a patient guy but when I got to thinking its been a year, thaat when I said enough.

All this happened today.  I paid just to get the cartridge back.  I know it's gonna sound good.  It is a very good cartridge to begin with, a Benz Micro Reference.  Condition was excellent, already got the boron cantilever.  Probably the only thing it needed was a new tip.  
I am surprised he did not contact you to discuss what was going on with your cartridge.
Unfortunately my story coincides with the OP.  My Lyra has been with SS for thirteen months.  I know that Peter has had serious family troubles during that time, but I am approaching the point of calling my cartridge home.  If SS does complete the repair, the results should be worth the wait.  It helps to have lots of cartridges to play with while one is out for repair.    
Some of you are incredibly patient and forgiving, which is lucky for Soundsmith. Waiting a year to find out the status of a cartridge doesn't make sense to me. I would certainly have emailed them after the first three months for a status request and pricing estimate. My takeaway from this post is to have more than one cartridge, and follow-up with Soundsmith on any transactions with them at least until Peter gets his family problems under control. Family problems, no matter what the nature, are a fact of life but business is business. 
I sent them a cartridge 9 months ago and haven't heard a peep.  I made an email inquiry about a month ago with no response.  I've heard they take a long time, so I figured 6 months.  Fortunately, I don't need the cartridge right now. 
I believe they had already bunch of disputes of charges. That's what I would do plain and simple. $450 does not justify of a year of waiting time.
anything over a month should subtract $$ from total. Dispute will win. Efficient and saves money.
My personal experience with Soundsmith has been nothing but stellar and this has been over a period of 7 years and 9 carts rebuilt and or retipped, as a matter of fact they have my Universe as we speak, in for a suspension adjustment. Something certainly went wrong in your case though and probably falls into the shit happens catagory but I certainly wouldn't jump to the conclusion that the finished job was anything but top notch. Enjoy your cart, by now it will be like a lost jewel just found.

I've had great experience with Soundsmith retipping, and just recently received my old MC Sigma Genesis 2000 back from them after they installed a new cantilever and stylus. It did take a few months, as they make clear on the website.

Whatever happened he or his representative should've apologized if they didn't and shouldn't have charged you at all. It does sound like they only care about the money and their own problems not about other people as well. 
Sucks big time.
I started this thread because one I wanted to vent, Secondly to share what has been my experience and warn those who might be contemplating on retipping their cartridges.  I am rather surprised by some of the not so good comments here.  I thought people on Audiogon are audiophiles who are far more refined or classy.  My bad.  Like I said, I was trying to be nice and not hound Soundsmith.  I have a busy life.  I'm work in finance, play sports and have a very active social life.  I'd be happy if at all, I could squeeze in some time to listen to my system.  Trust,  a year would go by real fast.  Well, I really had spent much more time here than I needed to.  It's been fun reading some of the comments, specially the ones of support.  This is my last post on the subject.  Ciao!    
Rather than to conclude that they did a one-hour rush job on your cartridge after you finally got through to them with your complaint, I am more inclined to believe that your cartridge may have been rebuilt months ago and then stuck on a shelf somewhere, either through a bookkeeping error or simple negligence.  Your contact, which might justifiably have been done six months earlier, at least, finally made someone look around the shop to find your cartridge.  I would not indict SS for this sort of error.  In the end, they did not cheat you, and I doubt they ever would cheat you or anyone else deliberately.  It's a boutique business that seems entirely dependent upon the skill of one man who is not getting any younger, and maybe one or two disciples to whom Peter is hopefully teaching the art of cartridge repair.  Even so, I would bet that no re-tip leaves SS until PL has inspected the finished product. If Peter has had health problems in recent months, that could be the whole reason for your long wait.  All's well that ends well.
Soundsmith seems to be one of this forum’s sacred cows (reputation for stellar work, not a lot of competition). Posting anything critical about them is going to get you some responses you don’t like. I was going to send them a Sumiko cart that I’m selling for service but couldn’t stomach the stated wait time listed on their site.

So, after digging around online I saw some positive feedback for Andy Kim at Needle Clinic. I sent it to him for a re-tip. All it needed as a damper replacement. Two (2) week turnaround. $250. YMMV

This is not a exception. It took a year of waiting with no response for my friend with his Sony XL55 shipped to SoundSmith. Same situation. They are very slow and cartridge can be easily lost for some time and then re-discovered (somewhere on their shelfs), fixed and shipped. Normally they offer discount after all !
I won't get into the details of: your waiting time, "we'll check", "it's ready, please pay", although I direct you to lewm's comments above.

I do want to comment however, that there's a reason Soundsmith is a "sacred cow" around these parts.  It's because Peter ("the retipping guy") is indeed one of the good guys in the industry.  I have quite a few customers to have received nothing but first class work.

For the equivalent work from Dynavector (for example), your $450 would set you back about $2K.  I won't debate your extended wait, but I don't get why you're grumpy about paying $0.25 on the dollar for equally exemplary work.

It's clear to me that Peter is undervaluing his labor and he should align his pricing with that of the major manufacturers.  This would bring demand into line and no doubt improve delivery times.

Thom @ Galibier
Dear Mr. Viloria;

I have researched your repair - RA15628. This Benz was received on 7/6/15, not "One Year Ago" as stated. I also see that you Pre-selected a repair level of $450, so that should NOT be a surprise.

I looked up the particulars in this repair, and it took some extra time as I found some additional work that was needed. You were not charged for this work, but it does take extra time, as my time is limited these days for "free extra work". We did notify you of the slight delay - so please check you spam or junk mail. We also notified you that is was done, but that email may also have not made it to you as well.

Apologies for the miscommunication to you that it was not done, as I have some temporary help in the office answering phones, as I am caring for two close family members who have cancer, and it does consume some of my available time. I do have your phone, so I will call you soon to discuss any remaining issues.

Many thanks -

Peter Ledermann / Soundsmith    

Peter, if you could also contact me regarding my long-standing RA, that would be much appreciated.


Dave Garretson  RA15265

I too think SS deserves his sacred cow status. He more frequently than not goes the extra mile when it comes to his business practices. He once repaired a Blackbird for me for free, nada, nothing! Turn around time was a weekish.
Return time for you was a long 8 months and that’s a long time for most. However, waiting forever is also not a good way to insure a timely return. If you are too busy with your life to contact the repair guy for a year (8 months according to PL) then you have little to complain about when you don’t have said cartridge back when you want it.
The customer does hold some responsibility especially when dealing with an artisan such as Peter. Sure, give him some time to do his thing but you need to follow up IMHO. As far as price is concerned, I think his top of the line retip is north of $350.00 last time I checked and $450 while expensive is within the ballpark when dealing with these type of products. It sounds like Peter did some extra work gratis and that you selected that price point for repair.

Surely you must see you are responsible for at least part of what you are complaining about.

Mr retipper,  I tip my hat to you sir for taking care of your own...I have walked in those have my sympathy and respect.
@rviloria pretty passive aggressive to vent on A-Gon about your experience with SS. You don't like all of the responses you are receiving so then you jump ship on a thread you started...smh...
Your words are muchly appreciated; I lost my brother a year ago to an orphan cancer, my first wife to cancer.....and my son not so long ago. wife has cancer, and one other close family member to care for......Your thoughts are appreciated. No one knows what its like till you have to care for, watch with grim detail, and become mostly helpless to ease the suffering and passing of those few who are close to you.

Personally, I plan on driving off a cliff when the time comes. But I will get caught up with cartridge repair work before I do, for those who are now reading this and worried.

Peter Ledermann / Soundsmith

Witness 1

Unreliable for the defense
Unreliable for the prosecution
Unworthy receiver of events
unaware of the miracle
of an arrangement of atoms infinite
observing itself
Unwitting witness
God’s small window on the world
in each of us

Witness 2

Small room. Nice.
tubing dripping
red poison
and clear
premedication for my wife
to not vomit up the world
I count the pills
keep track of time
tell her only 7 more times
just count backwards from 8
but nothing I have as a witness
helps the defense
the sentence has been predetermined
If I had not
witnessed this
then it would not be so vivid red this time around

Witness 3

You think you are a voice
the eyes and ears of God
But it is not your agenda you are tracing
it is just the agenda of someone who is empty
and filled themselves with power
If you would know God’s will
then find yourself some hill
and spend an entire day
interrogating a daffodil
not mowing the innocent down
(only March has the right
to torture
the snowdrops

Witness 4

I pray for peace both without
and within
The feeling of loneliness is measured
as the distance from God
Where is the voice
the real witness of time
beauty and cleverness
to distill it down to something that can be whispered
in my ear
if I can put down my agenda
long enough to be your witness
even for just for one moment each day
Gift enough against all that above and those
who do not witness your grace
Peter Ledermann 12-15-15
Unfortunately I had a bad service experience too.  It took over 6 months to get my Soundsmith cartridge retipped.  I called frequently and emailed often and eventually got it done.  It sounds great, but I think they should let you know they are really backed up when you send your cartridge in to set your expectations.  It seems Peter is the only one who can do a lot of these, and is schedule is too busy for him to devote the adequate time to repair the cartridges.  I would definitely recommend a backup cartridge if you send one in for repair.
Thank you for that post - I would very much like to have your RA# to see what happened. It is NOT typical or usual. Soundsmith (unlike ALL other cartridge companies) values its customers and rebuilds all our own designs for 20% or LESS. Our designs can be rebuilt many, many times. They get priority - 2-6 weeks.

It may have been that your cartridge was placed in regular rotation for non-Soundsmith designs by one of my staff in receiving -  by accident - which has happened on occasion. Even so - that seems along time, even for a non Soundsmith design, unless it had special issues. Please feel free to Email me the details - -

I will be more than glad to investigate.

Peter Ledermann / Soundsmith  

This is direct from the Soundsmith website. 

"Q: How long does it take to get the work done?

A: That depends on the number of customers who sent in work ahead of yours. Our services are in high demand world-wide. Repair queue is typically in the 6-12 week range. Each and every customer gets the full measure of my 40 plus years of experience and skills."

Common sense tells me that one should call Peter first to get a real-time estimate for how long the repair will take. It states the queue is typically between 6-12 weeks but this all depends on the number of customers already in the queue. Clearly, this could stretch beyond 12 weeks especially when the guy is taking care of his ailing family. 
I think Soundsmith is great. I've had my Grado Statement 1 retipped by Peter twice and just recently he repaired a Benz cartridge that had a bent cantilever. Considering the retip from Grado is a $1,000.00 I think $450.00 is very reasonable. Also, his retip uses a better stylus than Grado and the Benz I had done. They even sound better. I can wait 14 weeks and a little longer. They've always turned around my cartridges in that time period. So sorry for your losses Peter I have gone through cancer with my partner and my sister. Luckily they have both survived and are cancer free so far. They and I have been very blessed. Keep up the good work! Sometimes things just happen and I'm sorry the person who started this session had a difficult experience.

I was told right up front 16 weeks.  I am OK with it and I know my Benz ref s will be as good as new when I receive it.  Hang in there Peter,  my thoughts are with you and your family.
Thank you Peter for taking your time to answer this thread--your explanation of your family and the medical conditions brought tears to my eyes--I am a pensioner with tests regularly for the Conditions that may come up.May I wish for your time of need to be short and the outcomes with dignity you would so be deserving.

Who like myself that has always been welcomed into your Rooms at the Shows can forget the affable and friendly manner you always accord with style and warmth

Stay strong and brave

Des Williams
    Unless someone has experienced what Peter has and is going through they have no idea . I've been there , I know the pain , reading this has placed me back in that room , waiting , praying for something that never came . The final breath of a loved one, the exhaustion, the numbness , crying until there are no tears to cry ........
    Peter thank you for sharing and answering , I am so sorry that you or anyone has to go through this . As far as a wait for a cartridge , in these circumstances please be forgiving . Someday , we will all be there . Someday you too will understand .
Peter, met you at the New York audio show in 2014 while you were demoing the excellent Straingauge cartridge in the VPI turntable. You were a gentleman as a bunch of us listened to some great music. Best wishes.
I have used van den Hul quite a few times and he does excellent work. But that was when Stanalog was the van den Hul rep. I don't know who is know.
You got what you deserved waiting that long to follow up and exaggerating about the length of time destroys your credibility.  Peter is dripping with class and you sir, have none.
I appreciate folks coming to my defense; we are still in business because of you. The reality is that I have 15 employees to manage that I have personally trained in manufacturing, in classic service and classic audio sales, administration, shipping, and phone assistance. We get well over 200 Emails with questions (related to our business, or general audio questions) and many phone calls of the same, each day. It is a lot to manage, and occasionally, mistakes happen. We appreciate the courtesy of most all our customers who understand this IS an artisan business, and not like Amazon - who has spoiled us all (including me).

There are other artisan folks like my good friend Frank Schroeder, who has had very long wait times for his tone arms (1-2 years in the past). Most folks understood these kind of lead times for hand-made items. Frank has since changed some of his business model by having a few designs made by others. I am proud to say that after knowing him for 10 years, he has now trusted Soundsmith to make a unique arm design for him -  the Alto, which will be available this year. Some of the few artisans that are left in this industry are trying to accommodate the rebirth and resurgence in vinyl as best as we can, without compromising on quality and service. 

Peter Ledermann / Soundsmith
I just sent 2 cartridges to Andy because of the long wait at soundsmith. Both came back with defects. Worst of it was his attitude in the whole mess. Next time I will definitely use soundsmith. 
Analogluvr can you elaborate on your recent experience with Andy Kim. I have used before in the past with no problem and was contemplating using again soon. If there are problems with his service it would be good to know beforehand. Thanks. 
Also want to add that I have used soundsmith and got great results and also spoke to Peter personally who is a real nice guy who takes time out of his busy day to answer lots of stupid questions from people like me. Thanks Peter for your great service. 
In the custom musical instrument industry people can wait years for a product from. master craftsman like Peter.  I hope he is able to pass on his amazing knowledge and skill to someone before he retires.   
On a completely other note, I have heard some new studies in cancer research that seem to indicate our gut flora is responsible for our immune system and fighting cancers.   I recently started taking a serious pro biotic called bio k.   My best to Peter's family.  
Keep fighting the good fight, Peter and my best to you and your family.  It's been a few years since we've had the opportunity to catch up and I always value our time spent together.

Our strengths as artisans can also be construed by some as a weakness.  In this day of "click to add to shopping cart", we're all accustomed to instant gratification.  Amazon Prime ... want it in 24 hours?  Click here.

And yet, the reason why people gravitate to the Soundsmiths, Schroeders, Galibiers and the like, is exactly because of a desire to go well beyond the "shopping cart experience".

Since I manufacture on a smaller scale than you do, it's simpler for me to involve my customers in the creative process of their new Galibier - to keep them informed of the progress of their new baby.  The challenges of education the customer are similar, but I have the benefit of doing it at a smaller volume level

Thom @ Galibier Design
Dear Tom - TOO many years...I don't do many shows anymore.....but hope our paths cross soon. ~ peter
As a theoretical potential customer I am not interested in hearing about Peter's life circumstances, even less so on the open forum. There are friends and professionals for this kind of interaction.