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Old October 5th, 2007, 06:23 AM   #1 (permalink)
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how much should fret dressing cost?

my guitar has some fret wear on the first 3 frets and i wan't to get it fixed, so how much should this run me? i don't want to pay too much.


thanks in advance

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Old October 5th, 2007, 10:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I got a fret level for $2.50 per fret. Don't know if that's good or bad, but I really trust this luthier and at this point he does such a better job than I could.
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Old October 5th, 2007, 04:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by happy_dude2341 View Post
my guitar has some fret wear on the first 3 frets and i wan't to get it fixed, so how much should this run me? i don't want to pay too much.


thanks in advance
So, according to doster it should run about $52.50 (2.50x21)?

The problem with wear on the first 3 frets is that you either have to replace the frets (if the wear is excessive and the other frets are good) or if the wear is minimal you need to have the other frets leveled to match the height of the first three frets and then dress them all. The nut slots would probably have to be cut a tiny bit deeper too unless you want higher action.

That means to do it "right" it can actually be a pretty extensive job since you have to level every fret, dress them, and then polish them out. If it's a maple fretboard you have to mask it off so as to avoid any scratches with the file or sandpaper. The person doing it also needs to have specialized tools (files, polish, sandpaper, radiused sanding block, etc) which all cost money, the skills to do it without screwing up your guitar, and a place to do business.

In other words it typically isn't "cheap" to get it done.

I live in the same neck of the woods as you (Portland) and the last time I took my guitar in for a fret level / setup at the 12th fret, I think it ran about $110. Keep in mind that it was on a NEW neck and guitar with the nut fitted with slots cut so the leveling and other work was very minimal.

At that point I said 'screw-it' and bought my own tools to do it myself...and I've never looked back. There's plenty of info online (and on this forum) about how to do a fret level and it really isn't THAT difficult if your fretwear isn't too bad.

Paying "too much" all depends on your level of skill (if you can DIY then taking it anywhere costs too much), the value of your guitar (a $100 fret level on a $50 guitar probably isn't a wise investment), and your income (if you've got money to burn send it somewhere that has a PLEK for the ultimate in setups).
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Old October 5th, 2007, 10:37 PM   #4 (permalink)

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Last time I checked was about 5 years ago, and the best local shop was charging $50 for that job. The price has probably gone up some, but I'd expect it to be $75 or less.

If there's lots of meat on the frets, the remaining 18 can certainly be ground down to where the first 3 are at, and then all of them re-crowned.

DIY is a great way to go if you trust yourself with the job. But consider how many times you're likely to do this as the tools alone will run you around the same cost as the first job. Throw in some aggravation factor and the fact that you will probably screw up your first attempt, and maybe it's cheaper to let someone else do it.
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Old October 5th, 2007, 11:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Nah, take all those factors all into account and screw it. Do it yourself. If forty to ninety bucks for a crowning file, plus the cost of a safe-edged file for dressing the end shape doesn't scare you, you can make it pay. Of course it takes practice on a few guineapigs before you do it on a valuable instrument. It's not rocket science, go for it. Go slowly, but go for it.

I use a #4 Stanley plane (a nice chunk of really flat cast iron) and spray adhesive to stick 400 grit paper and a fat Sharpie marker and have at it. Then you'll need to restore the crown with an expensive file that's only good for the type of wire you're working on (medium, jumbo, etc.). Then smooth out all the scratches from the files and polish the frets without undoing what you did by leveling them. And it's a mess since it turns the fingerboard black unless you mask it off (ask me how I know that). SO if you enjoy DIY and plan on doing it on a lot of necks, don't be discouraged by the facts.
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Old October 8th, 2007, 11:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by eryque View Post
Last time I checked was about 5 years ago, and the best local shop was charging $50 for that job. The price has probably gone up some, but I'd expect it to be $75 or less.

If there's lots of meat on the frets, the remaining 18 can certainly be ground down to where the first 3 are at, and then all of them re-crowned.

DIY is a great way to go if you trust yourself with the job. But consider how many times you're likely to do this as the tools alone will run you around the same cost as the first job. Throw in some aggravation factor and the fact that you will probably screw up your first attempt, and maybe it's cheaper to let someone else do it.
Very well said. That is good advice. It's actually quite a bit of work if you do it right. I can spend hours doing one. It sure is nice when it's done.
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