How Much Does It Cost To Refret A Guitar? Is It Worth It?

How Much Does It Cost To Refret A Guitar

Guitars have frets made out of metal. Over time, due to continuous friction with the strings, the frets wear off. If you play your guitar regularly, you may have to refret your guitar by removing the old frets and replacing them. But how much does it cost to refret a Guitar? And is it worth the money? 

Refretting a guitar costs somewhere between $150 to $300, depending on some factors. The fret material, tools needed, and skill of the luthier or guitar technician matter too. Spending this money on refretting is worth it only if you plan to play the guitar for a long time and it is an expensive one. 

If you have a cheap guitar, refretting isn’t a good idea as the procedure costs a significant amount of money. This can sometimes even cross the price of a cheap imported guitar. You shouldn’t invest in such a repairing procedure if the cost is more than the price of the instrument itself! 

 What Are Frets And Refretting?

Frets are the elevated metal wires on the guitar’s neck. When you play the guitar, the strings are pressed against the frets when you play the guitar, which naturally wear down over time. Wear appears as dents or flattened frets, which can cause string buzzing, intonation issues, and playability issues, particularly when string bending.  

Fret wear is a regular part of a guitar’s existence. However, some guitars will wear down faster than others. Playing with a capo, using steel strings, or just strong string pressure will result in worn frets more quickly. 

The process of replacing the frets is known as refretting. It can include several time-consuming processes to complete the entire operation. 

 Why Refretting Is Necessary

Frets are a crucial part of any kind of guitar. Regular guitar players tend to wear the frets off due to continuous friction and pressure with the strings.  

A fret is made of a metal wire which runs all over the fretboard. The strings wear out this wire. You can see the wear if you look closely at your frets under a bright light.  

Sometimes, fret wires get dented if the guitar falls flatly on the ground. This sudden pressure from the strings can create a dent in the fret. You can even feel the dent when you bend the strings on that fret. In case of these accidents, fret replacement is necessary.  

However, over continuous playing sessions, frets deteriorate. If the notes you are playing are unclear or the strings are buzzing as you play, you should be concerned about the frets.  

After a lengthy playing period, the frets will flatten, resulting in poor intonation. If you don’t use a lot of bends and vibrato, the frets may become notched by the strings, causing dents to form as well. 

This does not, however, demand the replacement of frets. Take your guitar to a local guitar shop and have the frets filed down and evened out. They may be able to remedy the problem using the current frets rather than replacing them entirely. You can also go to any guitar center to fix fret issues.  

Fret wear and dents are expected on any guitar. But heavy-handed players will notice them more frequently. Minor fret wear can be remedied by fret dressing or replacing only the afflicted frets. 

 Average Cost Of Refretting

Many guitar players are unaware of the cost of refretting an instrument. Because that is the furthest thing from your mind until your blinders take off your eyes, and you notice that your worries have faded. And it is at this point, you halt and ask how much it costs to replace the frets! 

The entire cost of refretting a guitar is measured by the quality of the instrument, its condition, and what you are seeking. Some of the most affordable refrets will cost roughly $150 to $200. However, this will only cover the basics like re-crowning and a new wire set. 

The type of neck and wood material also impacts the overall refret cost. And in this case, the most affordable option is an ebony or rosewood board with a bolt-on neck and no binding.  

Refretting a vintage guitar will cost a lot of money. But it will be quite playable if done correctly by a skilled luthier. Along with refretting, other services like truss rod adjustment and intonation fixing will be done as well. All of these services make the guitar playable and tuned. 

The cost of fret wire is merely about $10 to $20. But the labor is the most expensive part. If you have a cheap guitar, it doesn’t make sense to invest in a refret when you can obtain a new instrument or just a new neck for the same money. 

 Which Type Of Refretting Costs More?

You can either go with Nickel frets or Stainless steel frets. Mind you that, installing stainless steel frets can cost you more than nickel counterparts. The luthier or the guitar shop may charge you more for that kind of installation.  

It’s not because the stainless steel costs more or something, but because it takes more labor to work with. In contrast, nickel fret wires are easier to bend and file. Both types of fret wires can be found under $20, but the main cost is labor. The tools to initiate this procedure are not inexpensive either. 

If you own an acoustic guitar, the cost of refretting might be less. It doesn’t require the same kind of finesse electric guitars will need. The process will take about $150 on average to refret a guitar. Stainless steel frets will cost about $50 more. 

 Can I Refret My Own Guitar? How Much Will It Cost?

Yes, why not! It’s just like the way you fix your bike when it’s broken. But it is not a job that we will recommend a newbie to do. This job needs appropriate tools and skills. If you lack specific skills, you can end up damaging the neck or body of your guitar. 

Numerous things can go wrong while refretting. And if this is your only instrument, doing it yourself may be a horrible decision. But if you have multiple guitars and want to refret the inexpensive one for fun, go ahead.  

If you plan to do it yourself to save some bucks, note that the job is very tedious. And refretting a guitar requires some tools which you will have to buy. That should be considered as well. So, after considering every factor of cost, it’s just more sensible to get the refretting done by an expert. It’s efficient too! 

 Cost of Tools Needed To Refret A Guitar

When undertaking the task yourself, you will need some specialized tools to refret your guitar. The whole set of tools might cost you somewhere between $80 to $160. We won’t go to the nitty-gritty details of the process but will give you an overview of this specific job. 

First of all, let’s talk about the average price of the tools we’ll be needing to refret a guitar. These are: 

  • Fret wires ($7 – $12) 
  • Fret cutter ($9 – $40) 
  • Painter’s tape ($6 – $15) 
  • Fret Hammer ($18 – $35) 
  • Sticky Sandpaper ($25) 
  • Sanding Bar ($2 – $7) 
  • Fret leveler (also works as beveling the corners) 
  • Rounding file ($10 – $25) 

These tools come into use when you are in for refretting a guitar. Note that you can use some more tools to polish your craft further. But these are the most essential tools for refretting a guitar.   

Is The Refretting Cost Worth It?

Both yes and no. If you have a valuable guitar, refretting is, without a doubt, desirable. Vintage instruments can cost big bucks, and a few hundred dollars on top of that is only a tiny fraction of the care. 

However, if you have an old and cheap one, you should decide whether it is worth repairing and whether you can afford to do so. If you said yes, then you should go ahead and do it. For example, it might not be worth the money to refret your first guitar. Unless, of course, you wish to!  

Having your guitar refretted is one of the few guitar-related purchases that will make you want to play it more.  

Guitar players frequently delude themselves into believing that a new pedal, a new amp, or even a new instrument can rekindle our passion for performing. It’s possible.  

However, a guitar with new, clean, and level frets enhances the playing experience far more than a new overdrive pedal ever could! 

How Much Time Does Refretting Take?

The time needed to refret a guitar depends on various factors. And the first one is the availability of a luthier. Even if you find a guitar tech to get the job done, their answer is not always yes.  

The first thing they notice is the guitar’s type. For example, if you have a Strat guitar made of Rosewood fretboard, the refretting process will be more straightforward and less time-consuming. On the other hand, for guitars made of maple neck or other binding woods, the same process will take longer and will also be challenging. 

Like changing the strings, refretting isn’t an easy job to do. A simple mistake will destroy your guitar. So a newbie should never even try this.  

Though luthiers are well-versed in adjusting frets and do not need to learn anything new, they have some restrictions. In most circumstances, you will be without your guitar for a week at least. If you’re leaving your instrument at a guitar store, 2-3 days is usually the best-case scenario. 

How Often Should You Refret Guitar?

For an average guitar player, the guitar’s frets should last for at least 10 years. The answer depends on some factors, though.  

Your frets’ longevity vastly depends on the type of guitar player you are. Playing style has a vital role in determining the health of the frets.  

If you play an acoustic guitar, the frets are more likely to get dents or scuffs rather than flat on the whole surface. The reason behind this is that acoustic guitar players mostly play chords. And chords put pressure on certain parts of a fret. Over a long time, this pressure creates dents on the frets.  

Acoustic guitar players don’t use vibrato or bend in their playing style, which could even out the fret.  

If you play an electric guitar or use a professional guitar setup, the frets will be worn out sooner than an acoustic guitar. But these won’t get dents anytime more quickly. Instead, frets of an electric guitar tend to get flattened out due to vibratos and bends on the strings.  

A fret job doesn’t necessarily mean replacing the frets. If your guitar’s fret is worn out a little bit, the guitar tech will file down the other frets to match the flattened fret’s height. Refretting a guitar takes a tremendous toll on the neck and the fretboard. So the guitar techs try to avoid it as long as possible.  

If you have multiple guitars, you don’t have to change the frets anytime soon. The playing time gets divided, and a single instrument doesn’t have to get all the strain! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does refretting damage a guitar? 

This depends on the person who is re-fretting your guitar. A lousy job can destroy your little friends that you cherish so much. That’s why we suggest you get the job done by a professional one.  

But always keep in mind that a professional luthier can also refret your guitar only for a limited number of times. 

What type of fret wires should I use? 

If your guitar had nickel frets before and you are looking for a refret, our suggestion would be to use stainless steel frets. They will last for a lifetime without needing to be replaced.  

Although stainless frets will damage your strings faster, it’s better to change the strings rather than refretting. 

Should I go with high frets or low frets? 

Jumbo frets have more area, and it’s more likely to stay in shape. If you are a rock or metal player, guitars with jumbo frets will be suitable for your type of music. However, for Country music or Blues, narrower frets tend to be more fruitful.  

Final Words

Guitar refretting is a vital part of guitar repairing service. Although it’s not always necessary, there are times when the only way to keep the instrument playing smoothly is a complete refret. But how much does it cost to refret a Guitar? And is it worth the money? 

Refretting is costly and needs expert hands to do the job perfectly. You can refret your guitar by yourself to save money. But the time and effort it takes to do it precisely are not worth the risk. That’s especially true if you have expensive guitars or vintage guitars in your collection that need refretting.  

Our suggestion would be to go to a professional luthier and spend money. If done right, the refretting will surely be worth it! 

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