Guitar Refret Cost: Everything You Need To Know

Refretting a guitar is a difficult task, and while you may be able to handle it yourself, it is preferable to hire a professional. You may need to refret your guitar after playing it for a time. While it isn’t the most popular practice, it is something you will eventually need to do.

Refretting less expensive guitars may not be a smart option, since the entire process might expense more than just the instrument itself.

In this quick tutorial, we’ll go through the expense of refretting a guitar, when to do it and whether it’s even necessary. We’ll also give you some money-saving choices to consider. That said, the very first question that comes to mind is how much it costs to refret a guitar.

Particularly if it is a more costly one, refretting a guitar costs anywhere from $200 to $400. and it’s well worth it if you plan on playing it. A thorough refret, based on our experience, may cost anywhere from $180 to $500. depending on a variety of circumstances.

It does, however, need a significant amount of tools and experience, and it can occasionally spend you more than the instrument is worth. Sometimes, fret dressing, which costs between $60 and $100, is the best option.

refret a guitar

The Cost Of Refretting A Guitar

When it comes to refretting, several factors might influence the cost. As you may be aware, each guitar is unique, and several variants are depending on the brand, model, and other factors. The type of guitar, or more particularly its neck, is the first factor that may influence the price. Bolt-on and set-in necks often cost different amounts.

In addition, the type of wood you use may influence the amount you spend. Rosewood necks are significantly less expensive than maple necks, and bolt-on necks are less expensive. Furthermore, if you don’t have binding on your guitar, the price will be much lower.

As a result guitars with rosewood fretboards. such as the Stratocaster. are the cheapest. This may differ from store to shop. But just to get a sense of what will happen after you hand up your instrument and money. Take a look at the menu for this guitar store.

ES-335 fingerboard after refret
ES-335 fingerboard after refret. (Image credit: “ES-335 New Frets” by Roadside Guitars on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

And if your guitar neck has the binding on it it will only increase the price. And each part of the guitar or neck can further affect the price. The higher the price goes, the more costly and delicate the instrument is. You might be wondering why this is so, and why refretting is so costly.

First and foremost, you’ll note that I didn’t specify fret prices. The reason behind this is that a set of frets for the guitar can be purchased for approximately $10. However, the procedure can be complicated and time-consuming.

Needless to add, frets must be replaced without causing damage to the instrument. The overall cost of refretting a guitar is determined by the instrument’s quality, condition, and what you’re searching for.

Is It Worth It To Refret A Guitar?

Yes, as well as no. If you have a valuable instrument, refretting it is unquestionably worthwhile. Vintage instruments may cost tens of thousands of dollars, and adding a few hundred to that is only part of the upkeep.

If you possess a vintage Les Paul or a 1950s Strat, you’ll want to keep it in the greatest possible shape, and you’ll need to invest in it if you want to keep it playable.

Les Paul guitars
Three classic Les Paul guitars.

But what if you don’t have your new instrument and instead have your old one? Here is where you may run into difficulties. It is, nevertheless, acceptable if you adore your guitar and wish to repair it.

You should consider if it is worth fixing and whether you can afford it. If you answered yes, you should go ahead and do it. If you need to refret your first guitar, for example, it might not be worth the money. Unless you want to. In principle, though, the instrument is worth far less than the cost of refretting.

As previously said, the price ranges from $200 and $400, and if you already own a $1 50 guitar, it may not be worth the money. It’s worth it just for these reasons: your guitar is emotional. It’s a vintage guitar you’ve got there.

You can’t buy a new guitar to replace your old one. Your instrument is valued at over $300. This is the only guitar you’ll ever have. This is a matter of personal preference. One where you are the only one who knows how much it will cost.

How much do you enjoy playing the guitar? All of these considerations will assist you in determining whether or not it is worthwhile to replace the frets on your guitar. The other two choices are to replace the guitar’s neck. Finally, just replace the guitar with a newer one. This is always the most enjoyable option!

How Do You Know If Your Guitar Needs New Frets?

To begin with, a fret is a metal wire that runs through the fretboard. When you make a tone by pressing the strings against the fret. The fret wire is worn by this metal string. Indentations, where the fret is worn by the string, pulled against it may be seen if you look closely at your frets.

This is typical, and every guitar will experience warn frets at some point. Unless it’s tucked away in a corner and you’re not using it. You. too will be plagued by anxiety. It will take years of playing to wear down your frets.

You will press the string against the fret whenever you play the guitar. Each time you do this, a dent will appear on the fret. This isn’t something you’ll notice after a few months of playing, of course. However, dings in frets will become more visible after a few years, especially if you don’t use vibrato.

Worn Frets
The frets on the bass side are getting grooves, while the treble side is wearing. (Image credit: “Worn frets” by Tim Patterson on Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

When you play with vibrato, you may assist your frets to wear out naturally and evenly, which will not give you any difficulties. Therefore, first and foremost, examine your frets to determine whether they are worn out.

However, this isn’t the main problem, and you might not need to refret the instrument even if there are visible changes. Simply play your guitar to see whether it requires new frets. If any notes aren’t sharp, or if they’re losing sustain, or if there’s any other issue with notes, you should address it.

This, however, does not necessitate fret replacement. Take your guitar to a local business and have them file down the frets and make them even. They may frequently solve the problem using the current frets instead of replacing them completely.

It’s probably time if you feel the buzz on one or more notes, or if the dents become quite visible. You can use a fret file to round out the notched frets, but you’ll probably require a refret at some time.

How Often Should You Refret Your Guitar?

For the average musician, it will be decades before he or she needs fretwork. However, it is dependent on your playing style, the amount of time you spend playing the guitar, the instrument’s quality, and other factors. Many guitarists use the same guitar for decades without refretting it. yet this is not the most frequent practice.

Guitar frets

If you own many guitars and use them all regularly, there’s a good chance you won’t need to refret them anytime soon. Your playing style, or how forcefully you hit the frets, will also be a factor. Frets will wear down faster with a lot of bending and vibration, but refretting time will still be measured in decades.

Naturally, if you play for six or twelve hours every day. If your instrument hasn’t been refretted in a while, you should consider it.

How Long Does It Take To Refret A Guitar?

Your luthier’s availability is determined by his or her workload. Even if they don’t have anything else to do, the response isn’t certain. Consider the guitar’s kind, for example. The technique will be considerably easier if you have a Strat with a rosewood fretboard. and you will spend less time doing it.

A luthier holding a guitar.
A luthier holding a guitar to inspect before refretting it.

A maple neck, or another wood with binding, on the other hand, may take longer. Furthermore, if the neck cannot be removed, the procedure will be made more difficult and time-consuming. Even in the worst-case situation, they can complete the task within a few hours.

The procedure is straightforward: remove old frets, replace them, cut the excess, bevel, and dress as needed. These are, however, highly complicated processes, and it’s simple to make a mistake at any moment.

Refretting isn’t as simple as changing the strings on your guitar, and it’s not something a newbie should do. It’s conceivable, but there’s a good chance the guitar’s neck and finish will be permanently damaged.

Luthiers have a lot of expertise in changing frets and don’t need to learn anything new. You will be without a guitar for at least a week in most cases. As you might expect, luthiers have other clients and responsibilities, so they’ll have to schedule a time to refret your instrument. However, if you’re leaving your instrument at a store, two or three days is generally the best-case scenario.

Can I Refret A Guitar By Myself?

So, do you think you could refret a guitar on your own? Yes, why not? In the same manner that you could fix your automobile if it broke down. This, however, is not something I would encourage.

Refretting a guitar is more difficult than changing strings, and you’ll need the right equipment for the job. Furthermore, several things may go wrong, and doing it alone especially if this is your only instrument, maybe a poor decision. Of course, if you have many guitars and want to have some fun with the cheapest one. go for it.

Simply remove the old frets, replace them, trim the extra pieces, and level the frets. That’s the end of it However, each procedure has a lot of stages, and you have to perform it all without harming the fretboard.

To minimize buzzing and sound issues, you should also make sure that each fret is the same size and precisely positioned. While it may appear to be costly, keep in mind that this isn’t something you’ll be doing regularly.

It could be worth it to delegate the task to someone with greater experience Even if you have to pay $200 every ten years.

This video tackles fretwork, from removing old frets to polishing up the new ones.

Conclusion

Unless you don’t want to do a refret, there’s no harm in having it done at some point. Refretting guitars have several advantages: you don’t have to worry about the sound of a new neck, and you get to pick the fret size and material that you want.

If you want to keep your guitar but don’t want to replace the neck or the body, refretting is a great option. Fret wires themselves aren’t expensive, but you’ll pay a lot for expert labor and the detailed work that’s necessary, as well as a lot of tools if you’re doing it yourself.

Having a professional handle the task will guarantee that it is completed swiftly and effectively, with the least amount of danger of making a mistake. Usually, you’ll need a refret after years of playing the same guitar.

You may need to replace the frets on your guitar at some point. People replace frets because their guitar’s strings start buzzing and it loses its ability to sustain and sharpen each note.

The frets on your guitar will wear out over time, depending on how much time you spend playing and your skill. You will need to replace them. The cost of frets is therefore no longer a concern because they are quite affordable.

The biggest issue, though, is the job you’ll have to perform. You’ll need to remove each fret, replace it with a new one. and cut away the excess, all while making sure that each fret is precisely positioned and that the tone isn’t affected.

About Maggie Holding

Hello! My name is Maggie and I am a proud Editor/Author for PlayTheTunes. Coming From South Carolina, USA, my whole life I've sang and played the guitar and flute! I love music with a passion, and am ecstatic to help others in their own music journey!