If your like me you keep your guitars a long time. For many a reasons maybe sentimental or you just like the way it plays. What ever the reason, if you play it a lot. Your going to want to know Is it worth it to refret a guitar? That’s what I want to dive in to and find out the facts about fret replacement.
So if your that guitar player that has played there way to flat frets congratulations! This means you’ve been playing your guitar but now you probability are wondering Is it worth it to refret a guitar? Yes it is worth it for these reasons alone: Your guitar has sentimental value. Your guitar is a vintage model. You can not replace your guitar with a new one. Your guitar costs more than $300. This is the only guitar you will ever own.
If your the guitar player that has many reasons to keep your guitar forever. Then take a look at what the actual pros and cons are to replacing the frets on your guitar and see if it is worth a refret.
What’s the Average Cost of a Refret?
A lot of guitar players don’t really know what it costs to refret a guitar. Because that is the farthest from your mind until. The blinders come off your eyes and you see that your frets are warn out. And its at that moment you pause and wonder how much does it cost to replace the frets?
I have read in a lot of guitar forums that people have been quoted almost $700 to refret there guitar. That is Ludacris. After researching and calling around. Here are the averages in the industry to refret your guitar. $200 -$400 dollars. With $400 being on the high side. The most common quote was $250 dollars.
Now that you know the price maybe your in shock. Like I was that it was so expensive. Now your probably wondering Is it worth it to refret a guitar?
Why Such a Big Difference in the Cost of the Refret?
The actual cost of the frets are not that expensive. But the amount of labor and quality craftsmanship is intense. This is part of the reason a refret is so expensive. Other factors that come in to play when it comes to the price. Are things like the kind of guitar. Is it a vintage guitar? Which if it Is a Vintage guitar it is going to cost more to refret. As it should, It is going to take a lot of TLC to get the job done properly.
Then the next consideration in cost is the fretboard. What kind of fretboard are you dealing with. A maple neck is going to cost more than a Rosewood neck. As it takes more time to work with the wood. Other variables are set necks vs a removable neck. All change the cost of the refret.
Even the cost of the fret wire. Different materials used for the fret wire will affect the total cost. Which is an additional cost. That will be added into the estimate. Given to you by the guitar shop or luthier.
So you can see why there is such a big differences in the price. When replacing the frets. But it all makes sense that this is a labor intense repair. In which all the different years, makes and models of guitars. The Materials and how they are put together, all play a huge part of the cost of the repairs.
Related Article: Top 5 Budget Electric Guitars.
Is it Worth Replacing the Frets?
Is it worth replacing the frets? Well that depends on a lot of things. Number one is what kind of guitar do you have? If it is an expensive guitar, then the cost of the refret just became a little more worth it. Verses if your entire guitar didn’t cost $400 you probably wouldn’t want to spend the money. You could spend that $400 dollars on another guitar.
Although maybe your guitar play great and you love the feel of the neck. Then you might want to consider a refret. Again weighing the cost over the playability. Another reason you may consider replacing the frets is if your guitar holds a special fond memory for you. Say your grandad bought you your first guitar. Well you may have sentimental reasons to keep on playing it.
Related Article: How to Know if Your Guitar Will Fit Properly in the Case.
How Do You Know When You Need to Replace the Frets?
First off the metal wire running through the fretboard is what we call a fret. When you push the strings against the fret to create the tone. This metal string wears on the fret wire. If you look closely at your frets you will see indentations where the fret is warn from the string pushed against the fret. This is normal and every guitar will get warn frets. Unless it is sitting in a corner and your not playing it. You too will get warn frets. This will take years of playing for your frets to wear down.
What happens when there is extreme wear to the frets? You will get buzzing from a string. There are other reasons that can cause buzzing. So if you hear buzzing don’t jump the gun, and think you need to replace the frets. First take the guitar to a guitar shop or luthier. A professional to see what the cause is. Maybe the truss rod just needs to be adjusted.
Cost of a Refret VS Cost of a New Neck
Would it be more cost effective to replace the neck? Or go ahead and replace the frets. Well we already know that the most you should spend on a refret is $400 dollars and that is at the high end of the cost scale. So how much does a guitar neck cost? You can get a bolt on neck for $55.00 dollars at the time of this article.
Pro Tip – Nothing Determines the playability of your guitar more than having a straight neck with level frets. The effort needed in the setup process will take some time. Or you could get a bolt on neck and cut down the amount of time it’s going to take to get up and playing again. Check out the variety of necks at The Fret Wire Now.
The first thing I want to know is what am I paying $400 bucks for? So let’s break it down and see what is included. This may vary per shop. But to get an idea of what is going to happen when you fork over your guitar and money. Look at this guitar shops menu.
A Fret Dressing and Set Up – Polish the frets, Adjust the truss rod, set string height and intonation. This will improve your overall playability. All the hardware is cleaned and lubed and the entire guitar is polished. This is done to illuminate string buzz, and fret pitting. And is recommended for guitars that have not been serviced in over a year.
Related Article: How to adjust the string height on a guitar.
Restring – Should be done at least every 6 months. Clean and polish the whole guitar. Replace the strings with new. Adjust the string height and intonation.
Refret – What’s included? Level fretboard, replacement of all frets. Fret level and recrown. Replace nut if needed for new frets. Polish the frets, Adjust the truss rod, set string height and intonation. This will improve your overall playability. All the hardware is cleaned and lubed and the entire guitar is polished. (Fret wire is additional cost). source
Even the cost of restringing and tuning your guitar can get costly. I recommend learning it yourself. It’s not that hard to do. And once you have replaced the strings it gets easier each time. I know it can be scary at first. But look at this guide on how to replace guitar strings.
Because there is a big difference in the cost of a complete refret. Then I would recommend calling two or three different guitar repair shops. To get a solid idea of the cost of repairs in your area. And be specific on what kind of guitar you have what fretboard wood you have. When you are getting the estimate also find out how long it is going to take. This will vary but the luthier may be back logged with repairs. And you may not want to leave your guitar at the shop, for an extended period of time.
Cost of a Refret VS Cost of a New Guitar
A refret could be well worth it if you have an expensive guitar. But if your guitar is less than $400 and the frets are warn out. Then maybe it is better that you spend that money on a new guitar. You can get a descent guitar for that amount. Take a look at some really good electric guitars for playing the blues and then also What is a good electric guitar for Adults. Both have some really good guitars that won’t break your wallet.
Most often it is after years of playing the same guitar you will need a refret. Mine was after 30 years of playing my Strat. What are the symptoms of needing new frets? You will notice divots and uneven fret wires. There is usually buzzing of the strings when the frets are warn. But sometimes there are other repairs or adjustments that a luthier can do to correct the buzzing.
What is the cost of replacing the frets? The range is between $200-$400 dollars. Is it Worth it to refret a Guitar? This is a personal choice. One that only you knowing the facts of how much it will cost. And how much do you love playing your guitar. All these factors will help you decide if in deed it is worth replacing the frets on your guitar. Or the other two options is replacing the neck on the guitar. Then lastly just simply replace the guitar for a newer model. This is always the fun choice!