Guitar Repairs

How Hard Is It To Refret A Guitar?

One of the most common questions guitarists get asked is, “How hard is it to refret a guitar?” The answer may surprise you!

This article will cover the basics of how to refret a guitar, what it may take out of your wallet in the process, and the techniques you may need to make it as easy as possible. It will also discuss some common complaints about refretting guitars.

The first thing to understand is that a refret should never be a replacement for a new guitar. Refretting your guitar will perpetuate the limitations of its construction, like cheap tuners and glued-in hardware, which will make playing it suffer after you do it. It’s also an expensive adventure, because the only way to get perfectly adjusted frets for your playing style is to pay someone else to do it for you.

How Hard Is It To Refret A Guitar?

The refretting process is generally one of two approaches: drilling new fret slots in a new fretboard, or slotting channels into a used fretboard. The first approach is slightly more expensive and time-consuming than slotting a used board, but it will give you the most options as to fret materials and contours. The first option is still less expensive than buying a new guitar, for which you can get a basic model used for the same price as a refret.

What Are The Tools You Need?

The tools you need to do this are basically the same tools you need for winding replacement pickups: A drum sander, a fret file, and some way of cutting slots. There’s also an optional tool out there called the “fret saw,” which is used to cut slots in boards with low wood density. The board would need to be very light, like basswood or poplar, or soft wood that is used for the backs of acoustic guitars.

What Is The Basic Procedure?

The best way to learn is to watch it being done – check out this video:

Why Would You Want Or Need To Do A Refret?

There are a couple of reasons why you would want to do a refret. The first is that your guitar doesn’t have enough fret life left in it. Here’s the rule of thumb: If you need to do a refret, it’s because you’ve overused your frets.

Guitar players use their fretting hand to both press down strings and also pivot around them while they move from one chord position to another. It’s not uncommon for pro players to wear out the first 5 or 6 frets where they pivot their hand around the guitar neck. When that happens, there is nothing you can do but replace those frets.

If you play a lot of lead, or play your guitar a lot harder than the average player, then you will probably wear out your frets faster. You’ll start to see notes “chattering” when you bend them, and also have bad “wolf tones” while picking in more advanced positions. Pro guitarists try to avoid this by using medium-heavy strings, or having their guitar set up to accommodate for heavier strings.

The second reason is that you absolutely need new hardware. If you plan to keep your guitar, and are just doing a refret so you can have a nice, artist-approved guitar that looks new, it’s probably worth it to have the hardware replaced. If you’re doing a refret to make it easier for you play, you should probably play on good gear when you’re playing for yourself, or else just leave it be.

What Does A Guitar Refret Cost?

If you want a refret made with the best materials, there are companies that charge anywhere from $150 to $300 for an all-in-one setup. The total cost will also depend on how big the job is and how many frets need to be replaced.