Can A Hobbyist Refret A Guitar Properly?

Discussion in 'Restoration & Repair' started by seckin, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. seckin

    seckin New Member

    May 25, 2018
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    I bought a Ibanez PGM3 from ebay and found that the frets are worn out. I need to have it refretted. I thought maybe I can do it? Is it possible? There are many youtube videos but I can't be sure which one I should trust. I was also thinking that maybe I should use stainless steel so that I don't need to refret it anymore. Which resource is the best? I am mostly worried about the levelling part actually, pulling the frets and them placing the new ones seems relatively easier.
  2. Cagey

    Cagey New Member

    Feb 5, 2016
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    Southeast Michigan
    Sorry this is late in coming, but hopefully it'll still help.

    Everybody has to start somewhere - even the most seasoned pro had a 1st fret job - so to answer your question directly, yes, you could do it. However, most guys don't pick on a guitar they like for that first go-round. There's some order of operation and a lotta details to keep track of, as well as some skills that need to be developed that are just going to be a bit raw the first time(s) you do it, so typically you find a guitar that you (or someone) doesn't care about, or that can't be made any worse. That way, there's nowhere to go but up <grin>

    You also need a number of tools, few of which are inexpensive since they're specialized and the supply/demand curve is out of whack. Tool manufacturers don't get to enjoy the economies of scale typical for hand tools, so you could easily spend more than the cost of a professional refret getting all you need to return good results. That means you kinda want to have in mind to do a number of fret jobs to amortize them out.

    If that still sounds like a direction you'd like to go, then I'd recommend buying the book "Fretwork Step-by-Step" By Erick Coleman with Dan Erlewine. It'll cost you $38, but think of it as a raffle ticket. If you win, you become a fret guy. If you don't, well, you've contributed to Erick and Dan's retirement and saved yourself a lotta time, money, and heartache <grin>

    That'll give you a good idea of the tools you need and the work that needs to be done, as well as how to do it. After that, you can watch YouTube videos until you can't stand it anymore to see how everybody else has developed their ways of doing things, and it'll all make much more sense.

    If you do decide to pursue doing your own fret work, I would highly recommend you buy tools suitable for working stainless steel frets. They cost more, because SS is very hard and requires tools that can deal with that, but those that can are also able to deal with the relatively soft nickel-silver fretwire the less enlightened still use. The opposite is not true - tools for nickel silver may well end up in the shop's circular file as they get ruined very quickly.

    All that said, whether you do it or have it done, get the stainless frets. It's almost all I install any more. Far superior to the nickel-silver stuff, and once installed may well be the last set the neck ever sees.

    Good luck!
    Glen K. Peterson likes this.
  3. rgraf

    rgraf New Member

    Nov 19, 2015
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    From my limited experience, Ibanez generally has pretty high frets. Are the frets worn to the point that they can't be be leveled and crowned? If they are just pitted at the first few frets, then a level and crown would be an option, unless you want the height of the originals. Saves a lot of time and money, and you'll need to level and crown whether you refret or not.

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