Let’s talk about maple necks and Stainless steel refret. Fenders come up most often because they are obviously the most prevalent. One of the questions many fear is that they may have to pay for a fret board refinish on a maple neck. And because refrets are expensive the average guitar player tends to shy away from the process, fearing they will end up spending more than they can afford. The truth is more often than not, and I’d say 90% of the time, the neck will not need refinishing.
Frets remove from Maple fairly easily with not much chip out. Major chip out can occur on ebony and hard rosewood. Some rosewood is not so hard but I’m off topic. As long as the finish is in good shape to begin with or the finish is worn off and you want to keep it that way and there are no structural problems, it will not require a refinish. There are a couple of things that can call for a refinish. If the neck has a twist in it or a back bow that string tension cannot remove, then these defects need to be corrected by sanding out. In that case it also could require new dots. These are the extreme cases and apply to all necks, not just maple. Even if large divots are worn in the fret board there will be a fret surface under the existing fret for installation of a new fret. This does not require major fret board leveling or refinishing.
Most maple necks will require a light sanding to remove the burrs after removing the frets and to flatten the surface of the fret slot in preparation for the new fret. But this is so light it does not remove the finish. It does dull it. So the next step is to buff it on a buffing wheel to put the gloss back in it. Buffing can be done before or after installing new frets.
Here are some pictures of a Japanese 3 hole Fender Strat maple neck I just refretted with 6100 stainless steel fret wire. You can see some chipping in the finish that has probably been there a long time. This is a very good neck and has a lot of forward bow built into it. As you can see there was no refinish required. Cost wise this was no different from an Ebony or Rosewood neck.
When you contact me about a refret I will ask that you send me some pictures of it and I can tell from that and our conversation whether it will need to be refinished. As I mentioned, 90% of the time it will not. However you may want it refinished and if that is the case we can do that too!