Has anything changed with Grado cartridge re-tipping? No more Needle Doctor....

Hi everyone.....

I think I am starting to get a little inner-groove distortion on my Statement Sonata2. After some listening today I'll confirm. If so, I will want to re-tip/replace to a Sonata3 but maybe more likely a Master3.

I loved Needle Doctor that would send your new cartridge and give you one-two weeks to send back your old cartridge. It allowed for a faster, easier swap being able to instantly replace......minimal readjusting....or worse if you substitute in a different cartridge in the time it takes to get a replacement back!

Grado and Needle Doctor even allowed you to upgrade or downgrade in the line as your budget allowed.

So, Needle Doctor closed up their business....and an online search doesn't even bring up re-tip prices or mentions. I looked through Music Direct, Elusive Disc, Upscale Audio and other websites and finding no information on price or procedure for re-tip.

I will probably call Grado tomorrow....but does anyone have any recent experience?

Anyone know a dealer that does what Needle Doctor used to?

I have a local Grado dealer in Cincinnati that I would love to support, but last time they did a Grado re-tip for me (admittedly 15+ years ago)...they took 2-3 months (!) to get my cartridge back....which even back then should have been no more than a couple weeks tops.

Inner groove is tracking. Stylus wear would be evident all across the record. What does it look like under magnification?  

If you just want a re-tip why not Soundmsith?
I have thought also about the Soundsmith re-tip......though I preferred the Needle Doctor type of immediate swap if it is somehow available.

Under magnification? Do I have a tool to do this???
The needle clinic is an excellent source for retipping. I sent a ZU Denon mc cartridge to them for retipping and suspension collapse and received it back within 7 business days and the price was very reasonable and less than Soundsmith. Soundsmith seems to have long lead times and you could be without cartridge for some time if you go that route.  
Why don’t you email to the Grado Labs in NYC ???
Why do you even think about third-party re-tipping if you can service your cartridge with Grado Labs (original manufacturer) ?
My fifth paragraph mentions that I will probably call Grado tomorrow.
But today being Sunday.....was hoping someone knew of a Grado dealer that had a Grado replacement procedure like Needle Doctor had.

The third-party retipping are other people’s suggestions.

Also.....there seems to be a lack of pricing/availability of retipping on any of the websites....Music Direct, Elusive, LP Gear etc.

Oh....and I did write to MusicDirect yesterday, because I thought they would be the most likely candidate to take over for Needle Doctor. But no response yet.
You have to call Grado and they will tell you who is the official dealer in your area if they can’t accept your cartridge from you directly. A third-party re-tipping is nonesence (especially for Grado MI). 
I am pretty sure that Grado will take an exchange towards a new cartridge like the Needle Doctor!
The important point here.....
...Needle Doctor would send you the new cartridge.....then give you some 7-14 days to return your old one!

No one else I found does this.
This is from Grado!
We have an exchange program that allows you to trade in your old wood cartridge and buy a new, current version cartridge at a substantial discount. We even allow you to move up to a different wood cartridge at discounted prices if you would like to. The upgrade prices for the current v3 cartridges are…

Opus3 - $180
Platinum3 - $265
Sonata3 - $400
Master3 - $670
Reference3 - $1000

Here is a link to these cartridges on both the Grado Labs site and the eCommerce site.



Each cartridge is available in high output and low output as well as 2 channel or mono. Please keep your old cartridge as you would have to send it to us as part of the upgrade.

There are 2 ways to proceed, either is fine with us, it’s what you are most comfortable with.

Option 1: you would proceed to the 4OurEars.net website and purchase your new cartridge. Please specify in the notes that this is the first step of an upgrade. When making the purchase you will select which version you want. You will pay the full purchase price at this time, within 4 weeks of purchase we ask that you return you old cartridge to us at the address below. Please include a copy of the invoice from your new purchase and note that this is the return against the purchase. We will credit the purchase the discounted amount.

Option 2: you can return your old cartridge. Please include a note saying this is to begin an upgrade and let us know which cartridge you will be purchasing. We will create a discount code that you will use when purchasing your new cartridge.

Please be sure to include your contact information on all correspondence. All items should be shipped to...

Attn: Rich Grado
1365 N Railroad Ave #119
Staten Island, NY 10306

Thanks! That was exactly what I was looking for!
Would have loved to just find this on Grado or 4ourears website.

Like I mentioned, I love being able to make an instant swap of the cartridges...

Did you just replace yours? What did you go with?
Meantime, you probably don’t really “need” to service or upgrade your present Grado. But we all know how that goes.
No I have not. I use the older Grados ( TLZ , MCZ) and I replace the stylus every few years! BTW, some other cartridge manufactures like Dynavector have the same kind of deal!
When My inner track on albums starts to get inner groove distortion (distorted on peaks or sounding a bit hazy/compressed), I know I am about due.

I had some 30+ years ago waited too long in recognizing and replacing stylus/cartridges and damaged some records......

This is part of why I love Grado’s trade up plan......it can be moderately affordable and quick enough to get a replacement when noticed....rather than my own tendency to milk it for another 2-6 months.
I had an MCZ years ago....replaced with TLZ before the wood cartridges. Wish I had kept the TLZ for spare or comparison. I also saw while looking for retip info that it is easier to get a MCZ/TLZ/XTZ stylus now!

Turns out some 8 years ago I started picking up a couple Harman Kardon auto lift (no worry if busy/out of the room) turntables (T45/T60) for my living room and my attic and ended up back with a Silver and a Black in those anyway.

Tried an Ortofon OM10 in the HKs and have an Ortofon Bronze for a spare for main VPI for change of sound, but they sound too mechanical...even through my warmest el-34 tube amp (which gets too warm with the Sonata).

I do have a Dynavector 20x2M (just wasn’t ready to swap that in yet....it prefers my Counterpoint SA-3000 preamp to the Counterpoint SA-2000/SimAudio LP110 I just set up about 30 days ago....and want to play with for a while.

I do wonder if Dynavector can swap retip (they should be able to at least retip) the somewhat rare Medium Output version I have without forcing me to choose the H or L.

My friend just traded in his Dynavector for a new one. I don't know the model but it was a $2000.00 cartridge and was done at a dealer. The new one was $500.00 off the price with trade in. These manufactures do not retip they just replace and probably throw the old cartridge away. The markup on cartridges is a lot more than you and me might know!
The XTZ is great, this is what I have for everyday use for a while on DA-401 
Markup on cartridges are usually 100% based on the Shures, Pickering, ADC and Ortofon I sold in the 70’s and 80’s. 
Trade-up plan is excellent, much better than re-tip.
And they have a reason not to re-tip/rebuild old cartridges, a new one instead of old is much better (if the price is ok for the owner).

Second the trade up to the masters;  simply call Grado in Brooklyn

1-718) 435-5340

Well, with the above information, I can just order online when necessary.

Yeah, thinking I will spend the extra and upgrade to the 1.0 mV Master3 this time from my Sonata2.