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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. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    That sounds about right. I had a tele refretted with stainless steel and it cost me a little more than $400 Canadian.
    Not long ago I had a neck made for another guitar with stainless steel frets. It cost me $300 and I thought what a great deal. When I got it back the walnut strip in the back of the neck had terrible gaps. After a couple days the frets all started to pop out. I sent it back and luckily had no problem getting a refund.
    I'd walk away from $150 quote for a SS fret job.
     
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  2. golfnut

    golfnut Friend of Leo's

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    The guy that built my defective neck had about 8 guitars in his shop that I played around with that he built. They were fantastic which is why I trusted him to build me a neck. Unfortunately the neck was terrible.
     
  3. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    $150-200 was ok for an unbound removable neck not that long ago. But today it's low. Just assess if he's experienced.
    Prices today are way more than they should be often.
     
  4. Boreas

    Boreas Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    It could also be a COVID price. Perhaps these luthiers are doing their best to keep their employees working. That may involve taking a loss for a while.
     
  5. cfreddy813

    cfreddy813 TDPRI Member Vendor Member

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    How are you defining a fret job? Replacing fret, or fret dress (level, crown and polish)?
     
  6. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

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    Full refretting. I specify I want all 21 of the frets replaced with stainless.

    I'm going to drive to the shops tomorrow and get references, but I'd like to go to the smaller shop if his work checks out. I know times are hard around here, and the larger shop has enough business to say they wouldn't get to it before next month.
     
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  7. Sea Devil

    Sea Devil Friend of Leo's

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    Verify that he does good work. You should do that no matter what he's charging. But a good price alone is no reason to suspect that the work will be sub-par.
     
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  8. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    150 is cheap, but not ridiculously so.
    The price probably doesn't include a new nut.
    I do it in about 2.5 hours, taking my time.
    I bet somebody more experienced does it faster.
     
  9. telepraise

    telepraise Tele-Afflicted

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    $35 for fret cutters + $100 for diamond crowning file. :eek:
     
  10. cfreddy813

    cfreddy813 TDPRI Member Vendor Member

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    A refret should take twice as long as fret dressing. Removing the frets, and prepping for new frets is not trival. Plus, even new frets will need to be dressed. Add-on that they SS, whew! 6-8 hour billable hours for me.
     
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  11. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Sounds like a 3 hour job to me on a Fender style neck, barring any issues. Assuming it's someone with a shop and setup/ready etc.
     
  12. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    My first fret job, in the late 90's was $100 on my Les Paul. It was done by one of the big shot guys in the Chicago area who was also certified to do warranty work on various brands. He did a top shelf job by all accounts and the ends were perfect.

    At the time, it was a lot of dough. At inflation that would be $160 today, but alas prices have more than doubled on that type of work.

    So, although it might seem cheap, and some jobs are quicker than others it's still pretty hefty to expect $400 and not even get a plek job on top of it. At that cost, IMO, skip your local guy and send your guitar to the fanciest places around so at least you'll have a receipt that looks nice if/when you sell the guitar.

    Why pay someone who isn't well known what the most reputed places in the business charge? I've sent a bunch of emails around town and always get $300++ extra from the places I've never heard of so at that point I'd just go with Joe Glaser.


    IMO, that price you were quoted makes perfect sense, represents a good payment and good value to you. I'd give it a shot.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2021
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  13. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    Only if you don't have a method. For SS most guys use medium-rated cutters you can get for $25 for the nipping, a bench grinder and the rest of the job is the same but just takes a bit more time.
     
  14. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

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    A new twist in the journey... The first place I went to, the violin luthier, sent me to the second place I went to. I called just to tell him I'd be bringing him the guitar later today, but asked to have a few pictures of previous fret jobs. He admitted it had been a while since he'd done one, and wouldnt feel comfortable doing mine after giving it some thought. I really appericiated his honesty and it looks like I'll be taking it to the second shop later today.
     
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  15. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'm not saying don't ask for some sort of assurance that he does good work, (already knowing that he is established and has a good rep).

    But something I read often is complaints that a tech is not friendly, a tech is too busy to talk, a tech is slow to answer emails about when the job will be done, a tech is grumpy, short, won't give free advice, doesn't answer the phone etc etc etc.

    Most of these professionals get paid to fix guitars, and make no money chatting with customers who want free advice or reassurance.

    At some point we need to let a reputable shop fix the damn guitar, instead of asking for reassurance that our baby will be cared for real nice.

    Is this guitar a family heirloom?
    A valuable vintage collectible?

    Or, do you ask the auto mechanic to show you cars they fixed?
    Can you ask the customers who you learned the shop has a good rep from?

    It's just borderline unreasonable to expect the mechanic to comfort the customer on top of doing good work for not a lot of money.
    Something to think about.
     
  16. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

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    Oh for sure, I understand your point entirely. I just got back from dropping it off at a shop and spoke to the tech, not necessarily gaining gaining skill but rather seeking advice. I got the warm and fuzzy from that and went about my way.
     
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  17. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wouldn't necessarily interpret that as "honesty". Some businesspeople enjoy the luxury of choosing their customers.
     
  18. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

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    Tomato potato, it came across as honesty. If it wasn't I don't really mind, he was polite in denying my business.
     
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  19. afireinside

    afireinside TDPRI Member

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    Crazy cheap. I use Koontz the best in Michigan/Detroit area. He was $150 for level/crown complete setup on my 2011 legacy and it plays like nothing i have ever touched. His full fret replacement was $400 regular nickel
     
  20. SackvilleDan

    SackvilleDan Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    In my neck of the woods, that's a $350-$400 job. Regular refrets with nickel steel wire were $10 a fret 15 years ago up here.

    There's an old saying, "you pay peanuts, you get monkeys", so I'd be a little leery, but if his references check out then it sounds like a great deal and you should take it!
     
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