Lets face the facts. Refretting a guitar is the equivalent of open heart surgery to a guitar. You are going in and detaching it’s organs that partially protrude from the borders of it’s body. Ugh, yes, that’s a fair comparison though not quite as life altering or threatening. Finishes are both hard and soft and their reaction to the ‘procedure’ varies accordingly. They can chip and crack and splinter. As with a good surgeon, a good luthier will minimize or eliminate the propensity for the finish to do that but there is no guarantee there will not be a few small scars. It is the nature of the operation.
We have done many stainless refrets and we have developed techniques to eliminate the finish problems or minimize them to the best of our ability. When they do occur, we patch them as appropriate. It is the nature of the business and the process and an educated customer is the best customer.
Compound radius necks are made on a machine. Typically the machine is a swinging arm with pivots at 16″ on one end and 10″ on the other. We have a machine like that here. It is for all practical reasons impossible to put a linear compound radius on a neck, sanding and shaping it by hand. The expense of doing that would be astronomical and pointless.
When refretting a compound radius it is like refretting any other neck, with the caveat that one must have the experience to level a compound neck properly by hand. It is done with a leveling bar and an accurate eye for detail. On extremely worn necks it may not be possible to level it and it may call for being radiused to a 12, 14, or 16 inch radius. Those are the rare exceptions but you should be aware of it.
Why not put the neck on the machine and re-radius it there? Because the machine is aggressive and has a large potential to ruin the neck, and there is no turning back to undo it. Next, the setup time to go from different compound radiuses is prohibitive in terms of cost of labor. You could easily purchase a new neck for the time involved in doing that.
We have refretted many compound radius necks with stainless steel frets and have very happy customers. We have the knowledge and skill to do it properly it is not something new to us.
When a guitar is refretted, careful attention must be given to the ends of the frets so there are no sharp corners and the frets feel smooth to the skin with no snagging. We pay particular attention to fret ends so there are no problems playing your guitar. We follow industry standards. We do not ball shape fret ends or apply any particular manufacturer’s shape to them. Frets are shaped to fit the radius of the edge of the fret board as well as to offer the most “real estate” and comfort when playing and bending notes.
Necks made from torrified or roasted wood as the marketing people call it are prone to chipping. This is because the wood has absolutely no moisture in it. As the name implies, it is roasted like peanuts until bone dry. The result is a crispy crunchy piece of wood. When old frets are extracted, the barbs on the fret tang pull up on the surface of the fret board, chipping it out when they are removed. This is normal with all fret board types but with roasted wood it is particularly brittle.
To counteract these problems, we have developed our techniques and modified certain tools to a point where this chipping is minimized. Often it is completely eliminated. It can still occur so please be aware of that, but you would not want to have a refret done by anyone who is not confident or familiar in working with roasted wood.
Often when refretting especially with larger fret wire the nut will need replacing. When it does at our discretion we will use a nut made from either Nubone© or Tusq© which is the same material, a nut made from Graphite impregnated with Teflon for its low friction characteristics or in some cases bone. The decision is made at the time of refretting and based on a number of factors such as availability, premade fit, color and aesthetics of the guitar. In most but not all cases there is no additional charge for a nut, it is included as part of the refret. If the guitar does not need a new nut we DO NOT replace the existing one unless requested.
If a particular nut is requested and we do not stock it then a charge will be applied to the refret to obtain that nut. If a synthetic nut has to be custom made from a slab of material then a 40.00 charge will be applied to the price of the refret to cover fabrication and fitting of the nut. When a bone nut is specifically requested an additional 60.00 charge is applied for fabrication and fitting.
We are more efficient and do not have the overhead of a retail shop so we can offer a fair price. If you go to the site of the biggest online reseller of Fender necks, you will see roasted maple necks for over $1,000. That is absurd. I got an email from them as I was writing this post that a ’59 roasted maple neck can be had for the fantastic price of $1100.00! People will pay it, so hats off to the biggest distributor on the web. They are paying for a brand name. A retail shop has to pay salaries to employees and in addition they have to provide a retail location and all the expenses that go with it. We are a small family business and operate from our home, so our expenses are lower. It is just the two of us. We do all the CAD, CAM, CNC, and web programming, database for accounting, networking, mechanical and electronics mods. My wife Bette is the bookkeeper and she works for free! We do our own in-house tooling design for our necks and bodies. This all saves money for internal operations of a small business and that savings is passed along to you in comparatively lower prices. With that said, many retail shops that offer refrets charge astronomical prices because they can. Nashville is a good example. Business is often what the market will bear. Other retail shops with lower prices use service as a loss leader to get customers in, then attempt to upsell them on their products.
We tie our pricing to the economy, working people and the time it takes to do a refret or build a neck for a reasonable return. Our prices may go up but we try to keep them as low as possible.
It can range from 3 to 6 weeks. It varies with the ebb and flow of orders and repair work I have. We try to keep it at 3-4 weeks and for the most part have been able to do that. If we get backlogged we will stop taking orders until we catch up. Give us a call or send an email and we can give you an idea of where we’re at.
It is guaranteed for life to the original purchaser. If the wood, truss rod, glue joints, dots, or side markers ever fail, return the neck to me and I will either repair it or give you a new one. I do not guarantee fret, fretboard or finish wear. These happen with use and are expected. The stainless steel frets we provide will last a long, long time. Let me know when you wear them out! If the neck is finished with Tru-Oil it will wear a bit over time and you should occasionally touch it up. I do not cover abuse like broken head stocks or jammed and stripped truss rod nuts. There is no reason, other than from misuse or neglect, that any of these two would ever happen with a responsible owner.
Working musicians! People that are out there actually doing it! Aperio necks and bodies are as good as any you will find anywhere. They are priced reasonably for working musicians and are for those that simply need great instruments to play. They have excellent tone and build characteristics. The truss rods adjust the neck easily and they are dual acting to the degree necessary with the minimum of wood removal, unlike others with masses of steel embedded in the neck. If you are looking for wall art or a guitar you are afraid to scratch, then Aperio may not be for you. If you play hard we are it! Do what Joe Bonamassa does and take your ’59 Gibson out on tour and play it!
We will make most anything that is within our capabilities. I’ve made everything from Hookah tables to wooden boats and obviously guitars. The question to ask yourself is “can I afford it”?
I get requests quite often, but many people think they can get a $5000 custom guitar for $400 if they shop around and that is just not reality. If you are serious, I must have a phone call with you to talk it over. I cannot respond to emails requesting full blown project estimates. Custom work is just too involved. Deposits are required on custom work of any type. This is because estimates and quotes take time, and the design and build is expensive and time consuming for one off projects.