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How Much Does It Cost to Refret an Acoustic Guitar

Refretting an acoustic guitar can cost around $150-$300 depending on the complexity of the job and the experience of the luthier. Refretting an acoustic guitar involves replacing the worn-out frets with new ones, ensuring better playability and tone.

The cost can vary depending on various factors such as the type of guitar, the number of frets, and the quality of materials used. It is recommended to consult a professional luthier to get an accurate estimate for your specific guitar.

We will explore the average cost of refretting an acoustic guitar and discuss the factors that affect the final price. Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, understanding the cost of refretting can help you plan your budget and ensure optimal performance for your instrument.

Table of Contents

Understanding The Variables

The cost of refretting an acoustic guitar can vary depending on several factors. Understanding these variables will give you a better understanding of the potential costs involved.

Materials Used For The Refretting Process

The choice of materials used during the refretting process can significantly impact the cost. Higher quality fret wires, such as stainless steel or gold-plated options, are typically more expensive than traditional nickel-silver frets. The type of wood used for the fretboard may also influence the cost. Some materials require more time and precision to work with, which can affect the overall price.

Complexity Of The Guitar Neck

The complexity of the guitar neck is another factor to consider. A guitar with a more intricate neck design, multiple binding layers, or an unusually shaped headstock may require extra time and effort to refret. This added complexity can increase the cost of the refretting process.

Level Of Experience And Reputation Of The Luthier

The level of experience and reputation of the luthier performing the refretting also plays a role in determining the cost. Highly skilled and experienced luthiers with a prestigious reputation may charge more for their services. However, their expertise can ensure a high-quality refret that enhances the playability and longevity of your acoustic guitar.

Geographic Location And Local Market Conditions

Geographic location and local market conditions can influence the cost of refretting. Prices can vary depending on the chosen location. For example, urban areas with a high demand for luthier services may have higher prices compared to rural areas with fewer luthiers available. Consider exploring local market conditions to find the best balance between cost and quality.

Different Types Of Fretwire

Brief Introduction To Different Fretwire Materials

Different types of fretwire materials are available for acoustic guitars, each with its own unique characteristics and advantages. The choice of fretwire material can significantly impact the playability, tone, and longevity of your guitar. Understanding the different types of fretwire will help you make an informed decision when it comes to refretting your acoustic guitar.

Pros And Cons Of Each Type

There are several commonly used types of fretwire materials, each with its own set of pros and cons.
  • Nickel Silver: Nickel silver fretwire is one of the most popular choices due to its durability and bright tone. It is resistant to wear and tear, making it a suitable option for those who frequently play their guitars. However, nickel silver fretwire can be more expensive compared to other materials.
  • Stainless Steel: Stainless steel fretwire is highly durable and provides excellent resistance to corrosion, making it a preferred choice for players who have acidic sweat or live in humid climates. It offers a bright and crisp tone, but it can be more difficult to work with during the installation process.
  • Gold EVO: Gold EVO fretwire is a newer material that combines the durability of stainless steel with the warmth of nickel silver. It offers a smooth playing experience and a unique aesthetic appeal. However, it tends to be more expensive than other options.
  • Brass: Brass fretwire provides a warm and mellow tone with a smooth feel under the fingers. It is relatively soft, which can make it susceptible to wear and indentations from frequent playing. Brass fretwire is often chosen for vintage-style guitars due to its nostalgic appeal.

How Fretwire Choice Affects Cost

The choice of fretwire material can have a direct impact on the cost of refretting an acoustic guitar. Materials like stainless steel and gold EVO are generally more expensive than nickel silver or brass. Additionally, the installation process for certain materials may require more time and precision, which can affect the labor costs involved. It’s important to consider your playing style, budget, and desired tone when selecting a fretwire material for your acoustic guitar. Discussing your options with a professional guitar technician can help you make the best decision for your instrument and your needs.

Additional Materials Needed

Glues And Adhesives

When it comes to refretting an acoustic guitar, additional materials are often required to ensure a successful and professional-looking result. One of the essential materials you will need is glues and adhesives. These are crucial for bonding the frets securely onto the fingerboard, ensuring a stable and long-lasting repair.

There are different types of adhesives available in the market, but the most commonly used ones for refretting guitars are cyanoacrylate glue (CA glue) and adhesive epoxy resin. CA glue, often referred to as super glue, is known for its quick setting time and strong bonding properties. It is ideal for gluing down loose frets or fixing minor chips and cracks on the fingerboard.

On the other hand, adhesive epoxy resin provides a more durable bond and is recommended for major repairs or when replacing the entire set of frets. Epoxy resin takes a longer time to cure but offers excellent strength and stability once fully hardened. It is essential to choose the right adhesive based on the extent of the repair and the specific needs of your acoustic guitar.

Tools Required For The Refretting Process

Refretting an acoustic guitar requires a set of specialized tools to ensure precision and accuracy throughout the process. Here are the essential tools required for the refretting process:

  • Fret Tang Nippers – A tool used to cut the fret tang, ensuring a proper fit and alignment.
  • Fret Puller – Used to remove the existing frets from the fingerboard without damaging the wood.
  • Fretting Hammer – A specialized hammer designed for pressing the new frets into place.
  • Fret Crowning File – Used to shape and round the frets, ensuring smooth playability.
  • Fret End File – Used to smooth and bevel the ends of the frets for a comfortable playing experience.
  • Fret Rocker – A straight edge tool used to detect any high or low spots on the fingerboard.
  • Radius Sanding Block – Used to match the curvature of the fingerboard and frets.
  • Fret Soldering Iron – Optional but useful for leveling uneven frets by melting the solder into low spots.

These tools are essential for achieving professional results during the refretting process. It is crucial to use each tool correctly and with care to avoid any damage to your acoustic guitar.

Miscellaneous Supplies And Consumables

Aside from adhesives and tools, there are several miscellaneous supplies and consumables that you will need for a successful refretting project. These supplies ensure smooth workflow and protect your guitar throughout the process. Some of the essential miscellaneous supplies and consumables include:

  • Masking Tape – Used to protect the fingerboard while working on the guitar.
  • Sanding Paper – Used for leveling and smoothing the fingerboard before applying the new frets.
  • Steel Wool or Abrasive Pad – Used to polish the frets after installation.
  • Mineral Spirits – Used for cleaning and removing any excess glue or adhesive.
  • Fretboard Conditioner – Applied after the refretting process to keep the fingerboard moisturized and prevent drying out.

These supplies ensure a clean and professional-looking refretting job while taking care of your acoustic guitar’s overall condition. Having these items readily available will save you time and make the process more efficient.

Hourly Rates Of Luthiers

When it comes to refretting an acoustic guitar, it’s essential to find a skilled luthier who can do the job with precision and expertise. Most luthiers charge an hourly rate to perform guitar repairs, including refretting. However, the hourly rates can vary depending on various factors such as location, experience, reputation, and demand for their services.

Average Hourly Rates In Different Regions

The hourly rates of luthiers can vary significantly across different regions. Here’s a breakdown of the average hourly rates you can expect in various parts of the world:

Region Average Hourly Rate
North America $40 – $100
Europe €30 – €80
Australia AUD 50 – AUD 120
Asia $20 – $60

Factors That Influence The Hourly Rate

The hourly rate charged by luthiers for refretting an acoustic guitar is influenced by several factors. These factors can include:

  • Experience and skill level of the luthier: Highly experienced and renowned luthiers may charge a higher hourly rate due to their expertise and reputation in the industry.
  • Geographical location: Hourly rates can vary significantly depending on the region or country. Areas with a higher cost of living tend to have higher hourly rates.
  • Demand for services: Luthiers who have a high demand for their services may charge more due to their limited availability.
  • Additional services: If the luthier provides additional services along with refretting, such as setup adjustments or installing new hardware, they may charge a higher hourly rate to account for the extra work involved.

Quality Vs. Cost Considerations

When it comes to refretting an acoustic guitar, it’s crucial to consider the balance between quality and cost. While it may be tempting to choose the luthier with the lowest hourly rate, it’s important to ensure that the quality of their work is not compromised.

Opting for a more experienced luthier with a higher hourly rate can result in superior craftsmanship and ensure that your guitar receives the attention and care it deserves. It’s worth considering the long-term investment of your instrument and the potential impact on its playability and tone.

However, this does not mean that you should always opt for the most expensive option. It’s essential to research and read reviews to find a luthier who strikes a balance between reasonable hourly rates and a reputation for exceptional work.

Remember that the hourly rate is just one aspect to consider while choosing a luthier for guitar refretting. It’s crucial to evaluate their experience, reputation, and portfolio of previous work before making a decision.

Complexity Of The Refretting Process

Refretting an acoustic guitar is a complex process that involves replacing the frets, which are the metal strips on the guitar’s neck. This task requires precision and careful craftsmanship, as it directly impacts the playability and sound quality of the instrument. The complexity of the refretting process can vary depending on several factors, which in turn affect the cost of the service.

Factors That Make The Process More Complex

Several factors can contribute to the complexity of the refretting process:

  1. Level of wear and tear: The condition of the frets and the fingerboard plays a significant role in determining the complexity of the refretting job. If the frets are heavily worn, uneven, or damaged, the process becomes more challenging and time-consuming.
  2. Customization requirements: Some guitarists may have specific customization requests that can add complexity to the refretting process. This could include installing larger or smaller frets, changing the fret material, or altering the fretboard radius to suit the player’s preferences.
  3. Repairing structural issues: In some cases, a refretting job may also involve addressing underlying structural issues. This can include fixing a warped or twisted neck, repairing cracks or separations in the fingerboard, or replacing worn-out nut or saddle. These additional repairs require extra time and expertise.
  4. Unique guitar designs: Certain acoustic guitars have unique neck designs or features that complicate the refretting process. For example, guitars with bound fingerboards or intricate inlay work require meticulous work to ensure the integrity of the instrument’s aesthetics and functionality.

Impact Of Complexity On Labor Costs

The complexity of the refretting process directly influences the labor costs associated with the service. As the complexity increases, more time, precision, and skill are required to complete the job successfully. This means that the labor charges are likely to be higher for a complex refretting job compared to a relatively straightforward one.

Different guitar technicians may have different rates depending on their expertise and experience. It’s important to research and choose a qualified professional who can handle the complexity of the refretting process effectively while providing the best value for your investment.

Examples Of Complex Refretting Scenarios And Their Costs

Here are a few examples of complex refretting scenarios, along with their potential costs:

Scenario Complexity Factors Potential Cost Range
Guitar with severely worn frets Extensive fret-leveling and dressing required $200 – $400
Guitar with a twisted neck Correcting neck twist and refretting $300 – $600
Guitar with intricate inlay work Precision work to avoid damage to the inlay $250 – $500

Please note that these cost ranges are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as location and the specific expertise and reputation of the guitar technician. It’s always recommended to consult with a professional and obtain a customized quote based on your specific requirements and the condition of your guitar.

Guitar Set-up And Maintenance

When it comes to taking care of your acoustic guitar, regular maintenance is crucial to keep it in top playing condition. One important aspect of guitar maintenance is the refretting process. Refretting involves replacing worn-out or damaged frets, ensuring smooth playability and optimal sound quality. However, getting your guitar refretted is just the beginning. A proper set-up after refretting is equally important to maximize the benefits of the fretwork and ensure a comfortable playing experience.

Importance Of A Proper Set-up After Refretting

A proper set-up after refretting is essential to achieve the desired playability and tone. When frets are replaced, the neck relief, action, and intonation of the guitar can be affected. A set-up involves adjustments to the truss rod, saddle height, and intonation to optimize these factors. It ensures that the strings are at the right distance from the fretboard, allowing for smooth and accurate fretting. Additionally, a well-executed set-up ensures that the guitar reaches its full potential, delivering a balanced tone and optimal sustain.

Cost Implications Of A Thorough Set-up

While the cost of refretting an acoustic guitar varies depending on factors such as the type of fret material and the complexity of the job, it is crucial to consider the cost implications of a thorough set-up after refretting. Although it adds an additional cost, investing in a proper set-up is well worth it. An experienced technician can make precise adjustments that complement the new fretwork, resulting in improved playability, tonal clarity, and overall performance of your instrument. Ultimately, a thorough set-up enhances your playing experience and ensures that your refretted guitar delivers its maximum potential.

Long-term Maintenance Tips For Frets

To prolong the life of your refretted acoustic guitar and maintain optimal performance, it is important to follow a few long-term maintenance tips for your frets:

  1. Clean your frets regularly using a soft cloth or string cleaner to remove any dirt or residue that accumulates during play.
  2. Ensure proper humidity levels to prevent frets from expanding or contracting excessively. Use a humidifier or dehumidifier if the guitar is subjected to extreme moisture or dryness.
  3. Inspect the frets periodically for signs of wear, such as grooves or indentations. If necessary, consider scheduling a re-crowning or leveling to maintain optimal fret height and playability.
  4. Use a suitable lubricant on the nut and saddle to minimize friction and optimize tuning stability.
  5. Regularly adjust the truss rod if needed, to maintain the correct amount of relief in the neck.

By following these long-term maintenance tips, you can ensure that your refretted acoustic guitar remains in excellent playing condition for years to come.

Repairing And Dressing The Fretboard

The fretboard of an acoustic guitar not only affects the playability and sound of the instrument but also plays a crucial role in its overall aesthetics. Over time, the fretboard may develop wear and tear, affecting the feel and tone of the guitar. In such cases, repairing and dressing the fretboard becomes necessary. In this section, we will explore the process of assessing existing damage to the fretboard, the cost of repairing and dressing it, as well as the relationship between fretboard maintenance and refretting costs.

Assessing Existing Damage To The Fretboard

Before diving into the details of repairing and dressing the fretboard, it is crucial to first assess the existing damage. This step is essential to determine the extent of repairs needed and the associated costs. Here are some common types of fretboard damage to look out for:

  • Worn or flattened frets
  • Indentations or divots caused by string pressure or playing style
  • Cracks or splits in the wood
  • Unevenness or lifting of the frets
  • Warping or bowing of the fretboard

Cost Of Repairing And Dressing The Fretboard

The cost of repairing and dressing the fretboard can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the severity of damage, the type of wood used in the fretboard, and the expertise of the guitar technician or luthier performing the repairs. On average, the cost can range from $100 to $300.

Here’s a breakdown of potential costs associated with repairing and dressing the fretboard:

Repair Approximate Cost
Fret Leveling and Recrowning $50 – $150
Fretboard Cleaning and Conditioning $20 – $50
Repairing Fretboard Cracks or Splits $50 – $100
Replacing Damaged Frets $50 – $100

Relationship Between Fretboard Maintenance And Refretting Costs

Maintaining the fretboard regularly can significantly impact the frequency and cost of refretting. Proper care and maintenance, such as cleaning and conditioning the fretboard, can help prolong the lifespan of the frets and prevent damage. Regularly checking for signs of wear and addressing them promptly can save you from the need for a costly refret in the future. By investing in routine maintenance and addressing minor issues as they arise, you can potentially mitigate the need for a full refret, thus saving both time and money in the long run.

Transportation And Insurance

When it comes to refretting an acoustic guitar, one of the crucial aspects to consider is the transportation of your precious instrument. Whether you choose to send your guitar to a luthier or take it to a local shop yourself, ensuring its safety during transit is of utmost importance. In this section, we will delve into the shipping costs if the guitar is sent to a luthier and highlight the importance of insurance to safeguard your instrument throughout the journey.

Shipping Costs If The Guitar Is Sent To A Luthier

If you decide to entrust your acoustic guitar to a skilled luthier for refretting, shipping becomes a key consideration. The cost of shipping can vary depending on the distance between your location and the luthier’s workshop. Additionally, the shipping method you choose will also impact the overall cost. Let’s take a look at some common shipping options along with their estimated costs:

Shipping Method Estimated Cost
Standard Ground Shipping $30 – $50
Express Shipping $50 – $100
Overnight Shipping $100 – $250

It’s important to note that these estimated costs may vary depending on the shipping carrier, your location, and any additional services you opt for, such as package tracking or insurance coverage.

Importance Of Insurance During Transit

The journey your acoustic guitar takes from your location to the luthier’s workshop involves several potential risks, including mishandling, accidental damage, or even theft. That’s why it’s essential to prioritize insurance coverage to protect your prized instrument.

By obtaining insurance, you gain peace of mind knowing that if an unfortunate event occurs during transit, you won’t be left bearing the financial burden alone. Insurance provides a safety net, compensating you for the repair or replacement costs in case of any unforeseen damage or loss.

Common Insurance Options And Their Costs

When it comes to insuring your acoustic guitar during transit, there are various options available, each with its own associated costs. Let’s explore some common insurance options along with their estimated costs:

  1. All-Risk Insurance: This comprehensive coverage protects your guitar against all potential risks, including damage during shipping, accidental drops, and theft. Estimated cost: $20 – $50 per $1000 value of the instrument.
  2. Named Perils Insurance: This type of coverage is more specific and only protects your instrument against specific perils listed in the policy, such as fire, flood, or theft. Estimated cost: $15 – $30 per $1000 value of the instrument.
  3. Third-Party Shipping Insurance: Some shipping carriers offer their own insurance options that you can add to your shipment. The cost can vary depending on the carrier and the declared value of your guitar.

Remember, these estimated costs are a general guideline and may vary based on factors such as the value of your guitar and the insurance provider you choose. It’s crucial to thoroughly research and compare different insurance options to find the best fit for your needs.

How Much Does It Cost to Refret an Acoustic Guitar


Frequently Asked Questions For How Much Does It Cost To Refret An Acoustic Guitar

How Much Does A Refret Cost On An Acoustic?

The cost of a refret on an acoustic guitar can vary depending on various factors, such as the condition of the instrument and the expertise of the technician. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $400 for a refret on an acoustic guitar.

How Much Does A Full Refret Cost?

A full refret typically costs around $200 to $400.

When Should I Refret My Acoustic Guitar?

Refret your acoustic guitar when the frets are worn down, causing buzzing or choking of notes, or when they are too high, making it difficult to play. Additionally, if your guitar has intonation issues or the frets are uneven, a refret may be necessary.

Does Refretting A Guitar Damage It?

Refretting a guitar can potentially damage it, but it depends on factors like the expertise of the person doing the job. It’s essential to have the work done by a skilled professional to minimize the risk of damage.


The cost of refretting an acoustic guitar can vary depending on various factors such as the level of damage, the type of materials used, and the expertise of the luthier. It is essential to consider the quality of workmanship rather than solely focusing on the cost.

Investing in the proper maintenance and repair of your guitar ensures its longevity and optimal performance. So, consult a professional luthier to determine the best solution for your guitar. (49 words)

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