How Much Does It Cost To Refret a Guitar?

Once you buy a guitar, you will need to do guitar maintenance on a regular basis. Even the hardiest parts of a guitar get worn out after a while. 

If you notice that some notes no longer make a sound, or produce a buzzing sound when playing, it means that your frets need replacements. When this happens, you will need to refret the guitar. 

Bad frets significantly affect the playability of a guitar. If you have a guitar recording coming up and need to re-fret the guitar, this article will enlighten you on the cost of re-fretting a guitar and if it is worth it.

How Much Does It Cost To Refret a Guitar? (Quick Answer)

If your guitar needs a refret, set aside about $300- $500. The price of refretting a guitar varies depending on the type of guitar. Some guitars cost as low as $200 to refret while high-end guitar models may cost up to $500 or more. 

There are different types of frets and they cost differently. Frets cost between $9 and $20. Much of the cost of refretting a guitar falls to the labor. And yes, it is easier to have your guitar refretting done by an expert instead of doing it yourself.

What Determines the Cost Of Refreting a Guitar?

There is no fixed price for refretting a guitar. Each guitar has a different price, ranging between $200 -$500. There are a few factors that add up to the differences in price, this includes:

Type Of Guitar

Guitars are designed differently along the fretboard and when refretting, some guitars require more work than others. For instance, if your guitar has binding along the fingerboard, it requires more labor when refretting, which could add to the total cost.

Fretboard Wood

The fretboard wood requires a unique amount of attention when refretting a guitar, depending on the type of wood. Rosewood is easier to refret and costs less than Maplewood. Maplewood requires higher expertise to refret so as not to make any damage to the wood during the refreting process.

Neck Binding

If your guitar is bound on the neck, the cost of refretting goes up. The binding on the neck in some guitars covers the fret edges. When the bindings get in the way of refretting, the guitar technician has to remove the bindings and do a fresh binding after refretting your guitar.

Labor Costs

If you have enough experience and skill to refret your guitar, then you do not have to incur the cost of labor. However, refreting a guitar is a complex process, and you may need to work with a guitar technician.

Guitar technicians charge different rates based on their expertise and skill. Pro guitar technicians are more expensive compared to intermediate guitar technicians. Having a reliable professional refret your guitar is worth the cost because you do not have to worry the guitar getting damaged during refretting.

Why Are Vintage Guitars Expensive To Refret?

If you have a vintage guitar that you want to revive by refreting, it could cost you more than a modern guitar. Vintage guitars need a high level of skills to refret. Pro technicians are expensive and this adds to the cost of refretting.

Do You Need To Refret a Guitar Often?

You may never have to refret your guitar if you change your guitar every few years. You can play the guitar for over a decade without performing a refret. Refretting a guitar is not a routine and is done only when needed.

The length of time it takes to refret a guitar is also determined by the guitar type, how often you play the guitar, as well as your style of playing. If you alternate between several guitars, your guitars might take decades to require a fret job.

Is It Worth Refret a Guitar?

Guitar refrets are worthwhile, especially if you own a vintage guitar. Performing a refret on a vintage guitar is much less than buying a new guitar.

If you weigh the value of your guitar and the cost of refretting, some guitars are not worth refretting. After all, why refret a $180 guitar when it will cost less to buy a new one?

If you have a deep sentiment towards your guitar, it is also worth refretting.


Is It Hard To Do a Guitar Refret?

Refretting of a guitar is delicate and needs extreme care. It is possible to do a refret on your own if you have acquired skills in the procedure, but you might go wrong the first few times.

How Often Should the Fretboard Be Maintained?

The fretboard should not be forgotten as it could crack and wear out. You should polish your frets at least two times a year to maintain them.

Is It Safe To Clean the Fretboard With Water?

Water can damage the fretboard. However, there is no harm in using lightly dumped clothes to clean the fretboard.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the cost of refretting a guitar with stainless steel frets?

According to the experienced luthier Nick Scout from Scout Guitars, the cost for refretting a guitar can range from around $330 if you opt for nickel frets, to approximately $550 if you prefer stainless steel frets. However, it’s important to note that this price isn’t just for the refret. It also includes creating and installing a new nut, as well as a full setup of your guitar. That means, by the end of this service, you’ll have a completely refurbished instrument with 21 finely tuned frets that’s ready to be played to its full potential.

Is the refretting of a guitar a simple process?

While some might argue that you can undertake this task on your own, it’s important to stress that refretting a guitar is neither simple nor quick. Yes, it is definitely possible for you to do it yourself, but without the right skill set and experience, it’s likely to be quite a challenge. This intricate task requires a sturdy hand and an eagle eye, hence it is generally recommended to hand this job over to a seasoned professional to ensure the best results and maintain the integrity of your guitar.

How often does a guitar need refretting?

Although refretting might seem like a massive undertaking, the good news is that it’s not something you need to worry about frequently. On average, a guitar would need a fret dressing, which includes leveling, crowning, and polishing, every 3 to 4 years. As for a full refret, you would only have to go through that process about once every 20 years. However, you should keep in mind that these time frames are averages and actual requirements might vary based on how often and vigorously you play your guitar. In fact, real guitar enthusiasts might wear them out more quickly!

Does refretting a guitar reduce its value?

With regular play, wear and tear on frets are quite unavoidable and dressing or replacing them is simply part of maintaining the instrument. Therefore, contrary to what some might believe, professional refretting conducted by a qualified and experienced technician or luthier will not devalue your treasured instrument, especially if it’s a vintage piece. In actuality, with well-executed craftsmanship, refretting could even help preserve the value of your guitar by enhancing its playability and musicality over time.


I'm Johnny, the guy behind Guitar Manifesto. I've been playing guitar since my teens and now that I'm in my 40s, I'm all about sharing what I've learned to help you become a better guitarist.

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