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Quoted $150 by a local luthier for a complete fret job

Discussion in 'Tele-Technical' started by itskohler, Jan 18, 2021.

  1. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

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    Thanks everyone for the responses, Im really hoping he's just hard up for work and that's why it seems less than what I'd have thought. There are still a few other shops I want quotes from before getting the work done, but damn it's hard not to just drop it with him.
     
  2. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    Since a refret is likely to last many, many years- I'd fine the best luthier/tech I could and pay premium $ to get the best job done. The price he's quoting tells me he's probably not familiar with doing SS frets. Playing a guitar with scratchy frets and sharp fret ends is not worth it. I've seen close up pictures of fretwork that are shockingly crude. FWIW, I charge $350 for a job with polished frets and bullet fret ends (probably should charge more) and I won't touch stainless steel. EVO gold is a good alternative.
     
  3. Riff Robin

    Riff Robin TDPRI Member

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    Its 350 to 400 in the Philly area. Let me know who the guy is so i can use him!! I do a LOT of refrets as i cannot handle guitars where 'frets not included' is the norm.
     
  4. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I wouldn't do it for that. Find out if the luthier is doing it him/herself or if they are farming parts of it out. Is the price the same for maple vs. rosewood? Vintage vs. current? Solid price or an open estimate?

    Good work takes time and skill. I had a luthier in Central New York - renowned for violin work - perform a fret job on my 77 HD-28 because the frets were poorly seated from the factory. They weren't worn, but I didn't like the frets standing off of the fingerboard. Poor Martin quality back then. He charged me $150 (in 1982 - probably $600 today) and I received the instrument back weeks later with new frets that still were not seated - basically just shinier! He did a nice job, but did not address my problem. He refused to re-do it and ultimately I had to pay him to get the guitar back. My only experience with a renowned luthier.

    EDIT: Well, I'll take that back - my most recent experience was with an extremely popular and renowned US luthier who tends to specialize in vintage Fenders. I needed to refret a difficult 74 Thinline maple neck. The "complete" quote was just north of $700 and he was farming it out to an experienced employee! BUT, this included shipping the entire guitar both ways so that a complete setup could be performed, including fashioning a new nut and basic setup. I ended up doing the job myself. It was a mother, but I am very happy with the results, which included leveling and refinishing the fingerboard.

    The moral of the story: Not all fret job quotes are the same. A new nut will almost always be required. That often amounts to $100 - depending on the luthier. Does the job include a set-up? This will also be required after a refret. Will leveling of the fingerboard be included if necessary? Refinishing/overspraying of the fretboard included, if necessary? GET IT ALL IN WRITING before you drop off or ship out the guitar.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
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  5. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    Unless i have missed something here are we talking about a 1 piece maple or rosewood board ?
    some luthiers won't even take a maple refret on so much work into that
    The fella might be very good at the job and needs the money hard times are effecting everyone
    he could also be undercutting the opposition just to get the work
    i would take the chance
     
  6. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    If he is a reputable repair guy (and no reason to thinks he's not), he won't be offended if you ask him for a reference, someone who he's done fret work for in the past.

    I've worked for myself quite a bit, and no one with any sense ever put up a fight if my prices were too low, even when I knew they were.

    No matter what my price was, high, low, or average, the customer always got the same deal - the best work that I could provide :).

    .
     
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  7. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I'd talk to him him about his quote. State your concerns. While you like to save money, it seems too cheap, and you want to be sure he won't get over his head with your prized guitar.

    Ask to see his work.

    If he's really a good violin LUTHIER, the guy may have some serious skills, and tackling a fret job might be something he could easily do, even though he doesn't do a lot of it.


    Either he'll allay your concerns, or he won't. I might encourage him to raise his price a bit. Or, if he realizes, but is hesitant since he already quoted it, perhaps settle on a range, like $150 - $xxx, to be determined at the end.

    Depending entirely on how I felt on talking with him, I might feel it would be worth the extra uncertainty, to develop a potentially long term relationship with a skilled, honest guy.
     
  8. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I have no idea, since I've not had that done yet on any of my guitars.
    The bigger part of the equation you should be looking at though, is how well his work is respected. Check out as many reviews as you can.
    Just as more expensive doesn't always mean better, cheap doesn't always mean bad.
     
  9. Fenderdad1950

    Fenderdad1950 Tele-Afflicted

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    I hope the old saying 'You get what you pay for' doesn't apply here.
     
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  10. teletail

    teletail Friend of Leo's

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    Don't hire a plumber to fix an electrical problem. Sounds like he's hurting for money and taking any jobs he can get.

    I'd go with someone that works on guitars.
     
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  11. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Poster Extraordinaire

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    If he does a good job, I'd consider a 50 percent tip. That might replace the tools he ruined in installing SS frets.
     
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  12. arlum

    arlum Tele-Holic Platinum Supporter

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    That just seems to good to be true. I'd be concerned.
     
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  13. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

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    Was able to get ahold of another larger guitar shop in town, and they quoted me the same price. This shop is a little better well known and (of course) the employees like their luthier and say they're the best. Maybe that's just the going rate around here.

    As a kicker, the only other guitar shop here is run by a guy with ties to the Nashville music scene. When I asked him he said to "Take it down to Nashville and let a guy there work on it" then told me what he paid to have new frets put on his $4k Taylor.
     
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  14. adjason

    adjason Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Yeah I would have to know and talk to several other clients who had similar work and were happy before I would consider it....has he done dozens of refrets???
     
  15. blue17

    blue17 Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, once before I knew any better when I took a guitar down to my preferred luthier for a nickel refret ($300, for a maple board and handmade bone nut for what it's worth), I asked how much stainless would go for. If i remember correctly, he said about $600 specifically because he'd likely ruin 2-3 tools in the process and because it's so much harder to work with.

    I'd certainly check with some references or something. I can live with scratches I leave on my own guitars, but when someone else does it is a whole different story.
     
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  16. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Good for you!! Not to belabor the point, but make sure you get a detailed shop estimate stating what is included and what is not.
     
  17. Jonzilla

    Jonzilla Tele-Meister

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    I had a good (for real) local luthier recently quote me $10 per fret and I believe he said $50 for level, crown, and polish. This was on an old 70's D-18 and that was just his standard rate.
     
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  18. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Man, that's really cheap... Yeah, good for you!

    I'd still consider the solo guy. I've had so-so results handing the guitar to store staff, and having limited to zero interaction with the guy doing the work. "Ooohhh, I thought you meant...."
     
  19. blue17

    blue17 Tele-Meister

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    Definitely a consideration. Nothing worse than getting your guitar back, something being wrong, having to explain it to the guy at the desk, and hoping the store is good enough at Telephone to fix the problem the second time around.
     
  20. moosie

    moosie Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Good example of the need for communication. I have never heard a quote that separated the fret replacement from the level and crown, or from the setup at the end. Some break out the nut, but a new nut is usually part of the deal, too. The only options I find are usually binding (yes or no), stainless (yes or no), and any special work needed on the board itself, especially a refin. Usually something like a compounding on a rosewood neck won't be quoted separately.

    I do my own work now, but the prices I'd expect to see here in Connecticut is $250-$300 for the refret, level/crown, new bone nut, and full setup. Often $100 upcharge for stainless, which I feel is too much, but there it is.
     
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