The Cost of Refretting A Guitar & When You Should Do It

Refretting a guitar is a process that guitarists may encounter at some point in their musical journey. Over time, frets wear down and become damaged, affecting the playability and sound of the instrument.

This article will discuss the cost of refretting a guitar and provide valuable insights into the process. Whether you’re a musician looking to rejuvenate your beloved instrument or a guitar technician seeking to expand your services, this article will equip you with the information you need.

Understanding Frets and Refretting

Before going into how much it can cost to refret a guitar, let’s understand the basics. The upcoming sections will discuss what frets are for and the signs you might need to get new frets.

What are Frets?

Frets are the raised metal wires embedded in the fingerboard or fretboard of a guitar, and when a guitarist presses their fingers on them, they change the length of the vibrating string, producing different pitches. 

For example, when you play solos on higher frets, you’ll get higher pitches due to the shorter string lengths and faster vibrations.

Over time, as you play across the fretboard, the constant contact between the strings and frets causes wear and tear, leading to issues such as buzzing, intonation problems, decreased playability, and other problems you’ll read about next.

When is Refretting Necessary?

There are several signs that indicate your guitar may require a refret job. Here are some of them:

  • Visible divots or dents on the frets
  • Discomfort while playing
  • Change in sound quality
  • A different feel in your hands
  • Fret buzzing
  • Uneven frets
  • Frets coming off or missing
  • Markings on the edge of the neck
  • Tarnished frets
  • Sharp edges on the frets

If you notice any of these signs, it may be time to consider re-fretting your guitar to restore its sound and playability.

However, not all of these indicate you need entirely new frets on your guitar; rather, you might benefit from getting your frets releveled and evened out instead. Be sure to take your guitar to a technician for a professional opinion on what your guitar requires!

The Cost of Refretting a Guitar

Now that we understand some of the signs you might need to get your guitar re-fretted let’s delve into some of the numbers.

The average cost for a standard electric or acoustic guitar refret job typically ranges from $200 to $500. This varies based on many factors, including the types of materials used – for example, nickel-silver frets may be on the lower end, whereas stainless steel frets will drive the price higher.

Not only that, frets that are made from stainless steel can take extra work due to being harder to fit; however, they are also more durable, so going this route may be worthwhile to you.

It’s also important to obtain quotes from reputable repair shops to compare prices and services offered. In the next section, you will learn about the aspects that can contribute to the cost of getting new frets on your guitar.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Refretting

Several factors contribute to the overall price of refretting a guitar. Understanding these will help you estimate the expenses involved and make an informed decision.

Type of Guitar

The type of guitar plays a significant role in determining the cost of a refret. High-end and custom guitars, especially with fretboard binding, may require specialized materials, techniques, and skills, which can increase the overall price.

Number of Frets

The number of frets being replaced also affects the price. The more frets that need attention, the more time and labor will be required, resulting in a higher price.

Materials Used

The choice of fret wire material is one of the most significant factors that will affect how much a refretting job costs. As mentioned before, higher-quality materials like stainless steel tend to be more expensive but offer increased durability and improved playability.


The location of the guitar repair shop can certainly influence the cost of refretting. Repair shops in larger cities or areas with higher demand often charge higher rates compared to those in smaller towns.

Labor Costs

The price of labor, including the expertise and reputation of the luthier or guitar repair professional, contributes to the overall expense. Labor costs can vary quite a bit, so it’s essential to research and compare quotes from multiple repair shops.

Additional Services

Some guitar repair shops offer additional services that can add to the bill of getting your guitar refretted. These services may include fretboard leveling, re-crowning, and binding. Discuss with the technician which services are necessary for your guitar to avoid any unexpected charges.

DIY vs. Professional Refretting

While some guitarists may consider performing a refret themselves due to its cost, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons. 

Refretting is a multi-step process that requires specific tools, skills, and a great deal of experience. For those without prior experience or the necessary tools, it’s generally recommended to seek professional assistance.

Even if you don’t necessarily need new frets entirely, the same advice goes for dealing with filing frets, fret sprout, and other issues related to frets.

Attempting fretwork on your own without proper knowledge can lead to irreversible damage to your guitar’s fretboard.

The Refretting Process

Refretting a guitar involves several intricate steps, making it a time-consuming and meticulous process. While the exact steps may vary depending on the guitar and the technician’s approach, here is a general overview of the process:

  • Removal of Old Frets & Nut: The old frets and the nut are carefully removed using specialized tools to avoid damaging the fretboard.
  • Fret Slot Preparation: The fret slots are cleaned and leveled to ensure a proper fit for the new fret wire.
  • Fret Wire Selection: The appropriate fret wire is selected based on the guitar’s specifications and the player’s preferences.
  • Fret Installation: The new fret wire is carefully installed into the cleaned fret slots, ensuring a secure and precise fit.
  • Fret Leveling and Crowning: The newly installed frets are leveled to ensure a consistent playing surface. They are then crowned to provide a smooth and rounded profile.
  • Fret Polishing: The frets are polished to remove any burrs or imperfections, ensuring a comfortable playing experience.
  • Setup and Adjustment: The guitar will receive a setup to optimize playability, including adjusting the truss rod, string height, and intonation.

Here’s a great video giving you an inside look at what it takes to refret a guitar:

The Benefits of Refretting

If you’re set on getting your guitar refretted, it can offer numerous benefits that justify the investment. Here are some advantages of refretting:

  • Improved Playability: A well-executed refret ensures smooth string action, allowing for easier fretting and improved overall playability.
  • Enhanced Intonation: Worn frets can cause intonation issues, making notes sound out of tune. Refretting restores proper intonation across the fretboard.
  • Elimination of Buzzing and Dead Notes: Worn frets can result in buzzing or dead notes, compromising the quality of your playing. Refretting resolves these issues, allowing for clean and clear tones.
  • Extended Lifespan: Refretting your guitar can significantly extend its lifespan, ensuring you can continue playing and enjoying your instrument for years to come.
  • Increased Resale Value: Refretting, when done professionally, can increase the resale value of your guitar. Potential buyers appreciate a well-maintained instrument with excellent playability.


If you see some of the signs mentioned earlier, refretting a guitar may be a necessary investment to maintain and enhance the playability of your instrument. 

While the cost of refretting can vary depending on various factors, it is crucial to prioritize quality and expertise when choosing a repair shop.

A well-executed refret can breathe new life into your guitar, providing improved playability, better intonation, and increased longevity.

By understanding the process and considering the benefits, you can make an informed decision and give your guitar the care it deserves!

Once you get new frets, take steps to take care of them. Check out my guide to cleaning your guitar frets so they stay in great shape and feel good to play on!