1. Win a Broadcaster or one of 3 Teles! The annual Supporting Member Giveaway is on. To enter Click Here. To see all the prizes and full details Click Here. To view the thread about the giveaway Click Here.

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

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

  1. PhoenixBill

    PhoenixBill Tele-Meister

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    128
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Crafty, that’s a good point. Guitar work (and a lot of other skilled work) has historically been shrouded in secrecy and only the chosen few are supposedly able to do this stuff. Granted, there are certain repairs that require extremely talented craftsmen, but for normal work (fret jobs for example) this isn’t rocket science. Assuming a decent level of mechanical aptitude, IMO there’s three factors required here. First, there’s a basic knowledge of the job at hand—for example, what’s involved with pulling frets and replacing them? There’s some tricks and tips to make the job go better, but fundamentally this is a simple, straightforward process. Second, there’s the tools involved. Now, if I won the lottery I could go crazy buying all the gizmos from Stew-Mac but we don’t have to. End nippers from Harbor Freight, ground flush to make the fret puller for only a few bucks. Fret leveling beam can be sandpaper glued to a basic 2 foot carpenter level (that’s what twoford uses on his videos). An inexpensive small triangular file for fret crowning. Third, and finally the most important, is the care taken by the worker. Does he/she do the work with the highest level of craftsmanship, taking pride in their work?
     
  2. mightysteve

    mightysteve TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    19
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto
    I've had many guitars refretted. Done right, it often improves the guitar noticeably. Done wrong, e.g. by someone who doesn't know how to level the board without taking off a huge amount of wood, or doesn't have the skill (or time) to seat the frets properly, and the guitar is worse than when you started.

    I couldn't disagree more with crafty. Violin players may not be wealthy, but a good violin costs 10x what a good guitar costs. There might be a couple of luthiers out there who overcharge guitar players, but rarely will you find one with a fancy car or a second home. Nobody becomes a luthier to make big bucks.

    Unless you really don't care much about this guitar, I would pay the $300 or $400 it costs to get it done by someone who knows what they're doing. If you want to save money, skip the stainless.
     
    Boreas likes this.
  3. PhoenixBill

    PhoenixBill Tele-Meister

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    128
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2021
    Location:
    Phoenix
    I do agree with skipping the stainless. Traditional nickel frets last a long time—decades—for most folks, so unless you’re gigging nightly then why bother with stainless? I use nickel for my personal refrets.
     
    Boreas likes this.
  4. brashboy

    brashboy Tele-Meister

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    118
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2017
    Location:
    Florida
    $150. For stainless, which is far more time-consuming than nickel.

    IME, new frets need to be leveled and recrowned, that's just the way it is. Nut may need to be shimmed or cut down or replaced. And so forth...

    How many of these has he done?
     
  5. turfdoc

    turfdoc TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    90
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    Location:
    Texas
    Never confuse a violin repair guy with a luthier. Period.
     
    oldfish and That Cal Webway like this.
  6. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,905
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2010
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Dont even ask for Australian prices.
     
  7. Arfage

    Arfage Tele-Meister

    Age:
    60
    Posts:
    161
    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2019
    Location:
    Alameda Ca
    Look at his work. Guitar repair has gone through the roof in the last ten years., it's frigging crazy. Maybe he just doesn't have a plek he needs you to help pay for, in the way doctors get us to pay for their med school (through ridiculous prices). He might do great work by hand.
     
  8. fendrguitplayr

    fendrguitplayr Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Age:
    69
    Posts:
    14,343
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2006
    Location:
    Greater Boston
    I'd check out his references and work. With many musicians not playing "live" these days, it might be a fair deal.
     
    That Cal Webway likes this.
  9. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

    Posts:
    1,502
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2020
    Location:
    Delaware
    Wow. That's dreadful.
     
    ZackyDog likes this.
  10. Geo

    Geo Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    71
    Posts:
    5,036
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2003
    Location:
    Hendersonville, TN
    Well western KY and if he works out of home then low overhead so at that price could be fine.
    There is a VG guy in my area similar that works from his home and probably semi retired.
    Although he would probably charge more doubt it would be by much.
     
  11. richiek65

    richiek65 Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    4,356
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Location:
    Sydney NSW Australia
    A friend of mine just got his Strat refretted for AU300 including a setup and neck sanding, was a top job too.
     
  12. pippoman

    pippoman Tele-Meister Ad Free Member

    Posts:
    270
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2014
    Location:
    Memphis
    “Honestly, I think many luthiers are used to charging guitarists out the a$$$ for a lot of stuff because most of us are stupid and expect guitar work to be expensive. $400 to install frets of any kind on a Strat of all things is absurd.”

    You’re welcome to opine, but keep in mind I shipped the whole guitar so he could set it up properly with the new frets. Return Shipping and insurance ate up a lot of that. Absurd or not, it was a perfect job, no pleking required and was set to my specs, ready to gig with right outta the box. I only had to tune it.

    I’m gonna send just the neck off my oldest Tele to him this Spring. The frets could be dressed, but stainless just feels so much better. A local friend of mine, a solid pro, had his guitar re-fretted (for the second time) by a reputable local Memphis tech. He hated the results and wished he had done it himself, which I’m surprised he didn’t. After playing his I decided to look elsewhere.

    Aperio now charges $365 for stainless steel refrets and his turn around is fast, stainless is all he does, and he has an extremely good reputation. I’m not affiliated with him in case you’re wondering.

    I’m a professional craftsman myself, have been for over 35 years, and some customers may find my prices “absurd.” They’re welcome to shop around or just leave because I’m usually buried in work and I haven’t the time to squabble.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
  13. Frankentronics

    Frankentronics TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    46
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2020
    Location:
    New York City
    Sounds too good to be true.

    You'll need a new nut with these new frets and a properly cut nut is almost that price.
     
    That Cal Webway likes this.
  14. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Meister

    Age:
    57
    Posts:
    438
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2019
    Location:
    Lalaland
    Violins ain't got no frets!:)
     
  15. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    39
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2020
    Location:
    West KY
    Phew, this thread blew up.

    Ya, I've actually been thinking of doing Ni frets instead of stainless. I have a few different guitars, some played more than others, and I doubt I'd put the mileage on the tele to warrant getting it done again.
    I mean technically a luthier who makes his living doing violins is still a luthier all the same ;)
    I went back to the violin shop to get the gf set up on lessons and get some odds and ends (big supporter of small business). We spoke a bit about his guitar work and he showed me a LP that had a full refret. Looked like he did a fantastic job, but didn't use stainless. If I didn't drop my guitar at another shop he recommended I'd have told him to take my money and do nickel.
     
    Arfage and That Cal Webway like this.
  16. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Posts:
    3,515
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2015
    Location:
    Nashville
    I don't think people know what folks actually get paid to do re-frets....get paid.

    When Gruhn guitar shows they did a "$500" re-fret to a guitar on the floor the guy who did the refret sure didn't pull $150 out of that job alone, he's hourly and low pay. The fella at Joe Glasers working on your prized guitar? Same deal. It works like that at all the places in Nashville and back in Chicago. Hourly employees (low pay, again), sometimes unpaid apprentices, et cetera do these jobs at a lot of reputable shops. The shop is pulling in 2/3rds or more of the cost of the job in many cases.

    Plus 90% of the jobs can be done with a few simple tools, it's very low overhead. And, yes, 4-6 hours max for an experienced guy includes re-fret, level, crown/ends. You don't need fancy stuff for a re-fret.

    It's not rocket science and there's zero accreditation required. And, yes, some of the folks running repair operations have done quite well for themselves and there's nothing wrong with that.

    However, if you skip the middle man, go straight to a one-man operation in theory it should be cheaper.

    Problem is, in 2020, the culture is the opposite and everyone out there says "well if they charge that much I will too" even though the reputation and established track record is nowhere near the same.

    There's a guy around the corner who has a shop, I inquired and his price for a re-fret is the same as Glaser. There's a guy online who runs a shop out his house, his price is the same as Glaser too. At that point, I just use Glaser's shop because they have the best rep however if anyone out there charges a more reasonable price I'll try them in a heartbeat. It should be at max a $200 job. If you get it done in 4 hours that's a $50/hr job, in 6 hours a little less. Either way, that's killer pay for a profession where you never even needed to earn a permit of any kind to do work. And, again, truth is a lot of the guys doing it get paid $10/hr.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2021
    PhoenixBill and itskohler like this.
  17. ParkAmp50

    ParkAmp50 TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    14
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2014
    Location:
    Illinois
    I doubt that a guy who mostly works on violins is the best choice to refret a guitar.
     
    homerayvaughan likes this.
  18. itskohler

    itskohler TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    39
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2020
    Location:
    West KY
    The LP he had to show me yesterday was done exceptionally well. :shrug:
     
    That Cal Webway likes this.
  19. homerayvaughan

    homerayvaughan TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    41
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Location:
    Maine
    If it's a vintage or otherwise hard to replace neck, I'd pass. I'd give him a no name neck for starters to see if he's legit. Cheapest fret job I've had done was over $200 and that was 20 or so years ago, my last SS job was over $500 but it was on a vintage guitar.
     
  20. homerayvaughan

    homerayvaughan TDPRI Member

    Posts:
    41
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Location:
    Maine
    Ask him, why so cheap?
     
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.