We got so busy, we were holding customer guitars for months at a time as they were waiting for their turn on the refret bench. This wasn’t fair to the customers or to us. The customers had to live without their favorite guitar for these months and we had to store it and be responsible for that storage. It was not a good situation for any of us or for any shop. Some of the bigger shops in Nashville have wait times of 6 months or more. We’ve heard of other shops that hold necks and guitars for up to a year. It’s crazy. So we implemented a reservation system like some other successful refret service shops. Now when we receive your neck or guitar by the expected reservation date we can turn it around to you in 1 to 2 weeks. And most often it is 1 week. A delay may happen if we need to order a part or if we don’t get your neck or guitar by the reservation date. Reservations are great for all and generate lots of smiles. So get your reservation as soon as you can.
We apply your deposit to the invoice so you don’t lose any money. If you fail to get the refret we typically do not issue refunds unless there is an exceptional reason, because the period of time we could have used for another customer is now gone. But we do understand things sometimes happen beyond your control and we may issue a refund. Just keep in communication with us. It keeps everyone honest and prevents false reservations, just like in vacation hotels.
It’s very simple, we are a small shop in business for over 12 years and have much lower overhead expenses than Nashville, other areas and retail shops. We know what the value of a refret really is in terms of materials and labor and price it accordingly for our customer base and the economy in general. In the end we give a fair price and excellent work that is guaranteed.
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 top edge of the fret board as well as to offer the most “real estate” and comfort when playing and bending notes.
Often when refretting especially with larger fret wire the nut will need replacing. When it does unless specified in the order 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 if it is bone or one of the above types unless requested otherwise.
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 70.00 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 70.00 charge is applied for fabrication and fitting.
Customer asks us if we Plek their necks or guitars and we do not and here is why. Plek’s are production machines that were designed for unskilled labor and volume. We are intentionally a small shop and hand level our fret work and we are very good at it. A Plek machine is expensive and meant for larger volume shops that do not have the skill on staff or time to fret level properly. The lack of skilled labor justifies the expense if the volume is high enough. They do a good job when programmed and operated correctly but they are not a substitute for a knowledgeable Luthier.
Sorry we will not.
Re-radiusing can be troublesome and we don’t do it. If you examine the radius of a given neck like a 9.5, when you flatten say for a 12″ radius there is a good probability of sanding the position markers off. You can overlay two arcs in a CAD program to determine the amount that will be removed. But real world never is the same as design measurements. Anyway markers are only .050 thick to begin with before the initial factory radius then they end up around .030. Once you start sanding you may go right through them. It can be fixed by installing new markers but the cost of the whole process can exceed the cost of a new neck from Warmoth and others. .Fret board thickness, side markers, finishing are other items to be addressed also. Sometimes it is successful but it’s not worth the gamble or trouble for us and not worth the money for the customer if issues arise.
Compound radius done properly requires a machine to do it. We have such a machine and use it for our own 10-16 radius necks but will not use it on a customer neck because if anything goes wrong or setup is incorrect for some reason it will destroy the neck. A compound radius done by hand is at best only an approximation of what a compound should be. So if your friend or local luthier tells you he can do it with a couple of sanding blocks, it’s up to you.
I always advise customers to just buy another neck with the desired radius. It will only cost a little more and will be what it should be. Sell the other neck to recover some cost if need be,.
We used to make necks but have become so busy with refrets we are focusing on that for the time being. Point being we have a lot of background and experience in neck design and construction.
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 required for the machine 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.
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 and the sugars are hard. 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 and at times troublesome with large chips.
The chip out is repaired as with any refret but because of the nature of the torrified wood the repairs are visible.
To counteract these problems, we have developed our own techniques and modified certain tools to a point where this chipping is minimized but not eliminated. Often there is no trouble. 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.
Our tools, adhesives and procedures are proprietary. We have spent years and much time and money developing all of these to do the best stainless refrets. Stainless is different than alloy, it behaves differently and has different metallurgical properties which dictate the tools, adhesives and procedures used in its use.
We have put our building necks and bodies on hold since the beginning of the pandemic. We have had a large increase in our refret business since then and do not have the time for building as it is more time consuming and less profitable. We enjoy building and may re-enter it one day but for now our business has led us into re-fretting exclusively.
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.
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.