If you’ve been playing the same guitar for a long time or purchased an older model second hand instrument, the frets may need to be replaced, and when that time comes, you might be wondering how much does it cost to refret a guitar?
In this article, we’ll look at how much it costs to refret a guitar, as well as some other basic information like how to detect when you need a refret and what causes frets to wear out.
How Much Does It Cost to Refret a Guitar?
The average cost of refretting a guitar is between $330 and $550 for nickel frets and $550 for steel frets. A new nut and setup would be included in this price, leaving you with a “fully refretted, totally playable, setup 21 fret guitar.”
On a guitar, there are two methods for doing a refret. Taking it to a professional and doing it yourself. Performing a refret is a difficult task. Labor expenses will make up the majority of the cost of hiring a professional to conduct the project.
If you plan to take it to a professional, though, the task will be completed, and you may return to playing without fear of damaging the fingerboard. Doing it yourself for the first time could cause irreversible damage.
When done by a competent professional, a refret costs between $310 and $500, which usually includes the wire.
There are various varieties of fret wire, and the cost of the job may vary depending on which one you choose. You’ll also need to consider getting a new nut, as your current one will have worn out. With a worn nut, the new taller frets may create an issue. If this is necessary, a skilled technician or luthier will be able to recommend it.
Fret wire is relatively inexpensive, costing between $10 and $25 for a more popular kind. There are a few different sizes and materials, but they all fall into the same category.
The Cost Of Refretting A Guitar
When it comes to refretting, there are numerous factors that can influence the cost. Each guitar is unique, and there are numerous variants depending on the brand, model, and other factors.
The type of guitar, or more particularly the neck, is the first factor that may influence the price. Bolt-on and set-in necks are usually priced differently. Furthermore, the type of wood you use may influence the amount you spend.
And adding binding to your guitar neck will just increase the price. Each portion of the guitar or neck might also have an impact on the pricing. Naturally, if you have a costly old instrument, refretting will cost significantly more.
In general, rosewood necks are less expensive than maple necks, and bolt-on necks are less expensive. Furthermore, if your guitar lacks binding, the cost will be considerably lower. So guitars with rosewood fretboards, such as the Stratocaster, are the cheapest options.
You might wonder why this is the case, and why refretting is so expensive; first of all, you might notice that I never mentioned the price of frets; the more precious and delicate the instrument is, the higher the price will go.
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Refret Service for Guitars
The final cost will be determined by who is doing the work. Some technicians are professional in their approach and charge accordingly. These are the specialists who can perform any task flawlessly. These neighborhood repair services are usually in high demand due to their high quality of work.
Others, on the other hand, are capable of completing the job but lack experience. Their repair charges are a little lower, but they will endeavor to complete the task swiftly to make it worthwhile for them.
The guitar brand or model normally doesn’t matter. The following are some of the services that a luthier will cost for:
- Number of frets
- Binding on the fretboard
- Fingerboard wood type
- Age of the guitar
- Sophisticated set-ups
- Fret material surcharges
We highlighted a few extra charges involved with a refret, but it’s important to know what can be included. Your guitar may require a few extra components that others do not.
This will raise the expense of the job and may even make you reconsider undertaking it. Before the project begins, a knowledgeable luthier will provide you with an estimate, so make sure to ask about all material costs.
Guitar Frets: How Much Do They Cost?
Purchasing fret wire is likely the least expensive part of the project. They come in a variety of sizes and widths, which affects the price. However, fret wire for your guitar costs between $10 and $25 for a set.
Some types, such as stainless steel, are worth a little more, but this isn’t a deal breaker by any means. If you have stainless steel frets installed by a professional, there may be an additional charge. Because stainless steel is a stiffer material, it is more difficult to install.
What Are the Signs That My Guitar Needs New Frets?
Some players are unaware that frets, like strings, are technically consumable elements. They’ll wear down with time, and you’ll run into some really major gameplay concerns as a result.
You’ll notice intonation faults that get worse over time, especially if frets wear unevenly. Intonation refers to how effectively your guitar remains in tune throughout the fretboard. If a fret is worn out in comparison to the others, you’ll have to press down harder to fret a note, which will cause the strings to bend sharply.
Fret buzz, which occurs when the strings partially strike a fret that you aren’t actively playing on, is another issue caused by worn frets.
What Causes Frets to Wear Out?
Fret wear occurs when the guitar is played as intended. The movement of the strings pressing up and rubbing against the frets erodes them over time, removing material and necessitating repairs.
Using stainless steel strings with normal frets, for example, will cause frets to wear out faster since stainless steel is much tougher than nickel.
Blues musicians, as well as those who employ a lot of expressive methods like bends and vibrato, find that their frets wear down faster than rhythm players, who usually play chords rather than single note runs.
When you play with a heavy touch, you’re increasing the friction between the strings and the frets, which accelerates wear.
How Often Should Your Guitar Be Refretted?
That question has no definitive answer. It all comes down to how much wear the frets get, which varies from player to player.
Some players had a death hold on their necks and had to refret every year. Players with a light touch, on the other hand, can easily play for decades.
If you have a large collection of guitars, you won’t need to refret them for decades. You may need to change nuts and saddles every now and again, or if buzzing becomes a problem.
Of course, how often you need to refret is determined by the instrument’s quality, your playing style, if you use a capo frequently, and whether you utilize steel strings on your guitar.
Also, keep in mind that you may be able to refret the guitar multiple times before needing to replace the neck.
Final Thoughts on Refretting a Guitar
While fret replacement isn’t something you should do on a regular basis, it is required when they become worn out. Playing a guitar with worn frets results in a weak tone, poor intonation, and maybe severe damage to the instrument.
Avoid thick or stainless steel strings if you’re concerned about wear, and try to play with a lighter touch. Frets should last up to ten years even with heavy use, so while the job is unavoidable if you keep a guitar for that long, the need to do it may be further away than you think.
FAQS About how much does it cost to refret a guitar?
How often should you Refret a guitar?
After 20-30 years, you should replace your guitar fret bars (refret). A fret dressing, on the other hand, can be done more frequently — every three years or so. Depending on the guitar’s wear and performance.
Is it hard to Refret a guitar?
Complete refretting is about as big a job as you can get in guitar lutherie, but don’t let that put you off. If it’s done incorrectly, you can typically save the project by removing the frets and trying again. It’s a highly valuable ability to have, and it’s a prerequisite for performing flawlessly.
How long does it take to Refret a guitar?
A full refret will take between 6 and 10 hours of total labor, but luthiers typically work on tens of instruments at a time, so your guitar could take up to a week.
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