Guitar Fretwork by R Guitars

This is our specialty. Having completed his apprenticeship at Fretworks in 2007, Steve has done over 500+ complete refrets, with a focus on vintage instruments.  Vintage Martin, Gibson, Fender, Gretsch and Rickenbacker guitars and basses all require a delicate touch, and extreme precision.  Refrets are billed at a flat rate of $680add $100 for vintage instruments (pre 1990), 7 strings, fanned frets, and necks with binding. We offer a Lifetime Warranty on the final setup. Standard turnaround time is for fretwork depends on the guitar, and can take 5 to 7 days.

R Guitars does a fret level on every single guitar that we setup (up to 0.003″) followed by a recrown/polish with two successively fine jewelry polishing wheels to bring your frets back to a mirror shine. For most guitars, this works great. However, some guitars have frets that are so stubbornly high they need to be pressed and glued in place before leveling to ensure accurate results. If this is the case, a full fret level is in order.  Most instruments can go through 2 or 3 full fret level/recrowns before needing a refret.

View our Fretwork Services & Pricing (PDF)


Re-Freting Process & Options

  1. The frets are removed, and the guitar is jigged using the Erlewine Neck Jig. We are the only shop in town using this jig, just google it if you would like to get an idea of its capabilities. In the jig, the fingerboard is shaped to perfection using hand planes, scrapers, and radius sanding beams.
  2. At this point, the radius of the fingerboard can be changed from a cylinder shape (same radius throughout) to a cone shape. This is called a compound radius. Rounder in the low register and gradually flattening out in the high register, the effects of a compound radius are profound. Chords are easier to grab and hold, due to the rounder low register, and lead guitar (especially bending) is facilitated across a flatter high register.
  3. The new frets (available in many vintage, medium and jumbo sizes) can be work hardened before they are cut to size. Through an annealing process, the fret wire is rendered harder and more durable. Work hardened frets will last longer, and show less wear after years of daily abuse.
  4. Once the fret wire is selected, it is bent to match the fingerboard radius and cut to size. The frets are then glued in place with hide glue, leveled and dressed.
  • Rosewood or Ebony fingerboard without binding – 6 to 8 hrs
  • Rosewood or Ebony fingerboard with binding – 7 to 9 hrs
  • Maple fingerboard, unlacquered – 6 to 8 hrs
  • Maple fingerboard, lacquered – 8 to 10 hrs
  • Compound Radius – Add 1 hr to estimate
  • Work Hardened Fret wire or Stainless steel – Add 1 hr to estimate
  • Re-lacquer fretboard – Add 1 hr to estimate
  • Final restring/set-up is included in estimate