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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Fret dress/recrown vs total refret?

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by bigben55, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    I do my own setups, electronics, etc, but don't do fretwork or nuts. I don't have the tools and the infrequency I'd use them doesn't justify the cost to buy them. I am fairly certain my #1 for 20 years(a 1993 G&L) needs some work. I get some buzzing when I play the open G and low E but not at any fretted notes, so I probably need a new nut. And my frets have wear spots/divots on the 1st 5 frets, and some flat wear up the neck where I bend strings a lot(see pic).

    Total fret job is pretty pricey. Fret dress/recrown+New nut is too. But I don't want to pay for that if I really need a total fret job.

    Advice? Thx 1528638927906.jpg
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  2. Ricky D.

    Ricky D. Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 22, 2006
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Replacing the nut should cure that open-string buzzing you mentioned.

    I have to say those frets look badly worn. You could justify anything with wear that bad. But, you are not buzzing on fretted notes, so you can put it off if you want to.

    If it was mine, I would do a level & crown first, then the nut. Cheaper to have a pro do the nut if you only need the one. Tools won't cost much for the L&C, cheaper you buy what you need and DIY the work. You could make that guitar play like the best guitar ever.
  3. stormin1155

    stormin1155 Tele-Meister

    Sep 26, 2010
    Fret wear is gradual, and often the player doesn't notice that tone and playability is slowly degrading. My customers are almost always amazed at how much better their guitar plays and sounds after a level/recrown or re-fret, even if they thought it was OK before.

    Your frets appear to have plenty of material for a level/recrown, and it looks like it needs it. Part of that process would be to determine if your nut will still be usable or if it needs to be replaced.
  4. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    So, if a tech does a level and crown, do they file all the frets down to the lowest of the low spots and then recrown them? Is there some type of "spot treatment?" They can't "build up/fill in" wear spots, can they?

    I seriously know next to nothing about fretwork. Filing fret sprout is the extent of what fretwork I've done. Regardless, this is my #1, I've had it for 20 years. This one, and my good acoustic, are the only ones I'd pay that kind of money to refret.
  5. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Meister

    Feb 27, 2017
    Palmetto, Florida
    If twenty years of playing only produced that much wear, I'd spring for a level and crown and enjoy it for another twenty years. A full refret will cost you about twice as much
  6. pictacado

    pictacado Tele-Meister

    Oct 17, 2013
    "spot treatment" I believe would be a partial refret + level & crown.

    Here is a thread with plenty of info about Fret Leveling if you decide you want to do it yourself.
  7. tessting1two

    tessting1two Tele-Meister

    Apr 13, 2014
    Southern California
    I'm just gonna say it: those frets are too far gone for leveling. Further, a partial refret only makes sense if a) the fingerboard is dead straight & level or b) financial considerations make it prohibitive (including the affect on the value of vintage instruments).

    If you can swing it financially I think you'll get the most out of a full refret. Now that the guitar is old enough for the neck to have moved/released moisture/relieved its stresses and all that good stuff, your luthier will be able to properly level the fingerboard after which the guitar should play better than ever. And I would seriously consider stainless steel frets if for no other reason than it would be the last set of frets you'll ever need.
  8. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 17, 2003
    Lubbock, TX
    Bigben, from what I can see those frets have plenty of material for a level and dress. Find the lowest point of wear. Does your finger drag the board when fretting properly.....close to the fret and with as little pressure as possible? If not and if you are comfortable with that fret height, the level and dress is suggested....with a full set up following.
    drf64 and boredguy6060 like this.
  9. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    Thx guys. Half here say new frets, half say level and crown. I sent that pic to the 2 techs in town I trust, one said refret the other said level and crown. I'm gonna take it to both for closer evaluation.

    I'd rather do the level and crown. For years, this was the only guitar I played. Had a cheapo backup I rarely played. I now have 2 other electrics and play all 3 equally. But I only have one acoustic, an Alvarez Yairi I LOVE and have owned since 1995. It's my only acoustic. Has smaller frets, that are just as bad if not worse. It probably needs the total refret worse.
  10. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

    May 9, 2008
    1. Take guitar to a repairman that can do a good refret.
    2. Get his advice.
    3. Take his advice.
  11. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Those will level and crown easy -- you don't need a refret.
    If you are frugal and patient you can collect the DIY tools for under $20.
    Then re-cut the nut slots as the frets will be lower than now, you don't need to replace the nut. Nut slot welder-tip-file-kit is $5 or so -- you don't need higher duty tools unless you are doing nuts several times a day.

    If you have a couple of guitars that need attention you can go DIY and the learning will apply to both guitars.

    Remember that you can always attempt the level and crown yourself and then worst case you screw it up and just take it to the guy that tells you to refret.

  12. schmee

    schmee Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2003
    I'd probably refret that. Like you say it costs $ either way. often though, those grooves are mostly on the lower 5 frets or so. I have refretted just those frets, or up to maybe 8 before and leveled with good results.
    If you just level, after leveling those grooves you will be a lot closer to the board. It will work, wont last as long, and be more like a Gibson Fretless Wonder. Find a tech who will refret partially, then you'll have the best of both worlds without the $. (if the upper frets dont have grooves or big wear)
  13. stratclub

    stratclub Tele-Meister

    Mar 15, 2018
    When you remove the string, how deep are the divots in the wood? If they are deep then the frets would have to come out to level and refinish the fingerboard. Also, from your pic, the neck looks like it or the bridge is poorly aligned.

    Definitely show it to both Luthiers in person because it is pretty tough for a Luthier to make a judgment call over the phone.

    Another option for the nut is for it to be shimmed and then re filing the string slots.
    boredguy6060 likes this.
  14. beagle

    beagle Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 20, 2010
    My Strat reached a similar level of wear a few years ago (with vintage frets), my tech guy said he'd level and crown it and we'd see how it felt. If it wasn't good, he'd refret it and forget the cost of the levelling. It was fine after the leveling, so we were both happy.
  15. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    Divots in the wood? The wood looks and feels fine. Where would divots in the wood be?

  16. cgharrison

    cgharrison TDPRI Member

    Aug 14, 2008
    Los Angeles
    Buy the tools and learn! Same/less money than paying someone else, not too difficult if you research beforehand and are careful, and then you’ll have the tools and skills forever. I did this, and now I level and crown every guitar I get. It’s pretty fast, and so satisfying - especially when you think of the $ you’re saving!
  17. 5ofeight

    5ofeight Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Oct 17, 2016
    Going by that picture your guitar is indeed in need of a fret level, crown and polish, no need to throw a lot of money at the tools needed to do the job, most of my stuff has come from used or car boot sales and I dont think I have spent more that £100 in total.. Geez man, that's a meal out with the Mrs, or a game pass for the kids..
  18. Fenderflame

    Fenderflame Tele-Holic

    Aug 2, 2013
    Mid Sussex, UK
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
  19. stratclub

    stratclub Tele-Meister

    Mar 15, 2018
    Like here:


    Your board might be just fine. If there are divots, they would be pretty obvious with the strings off.

    A very extreme example for educational purposes:

  20. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    Yeah, no wood divots at all anywhere
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