Refret and value decrease
I recently acquired a 1963 Precision that's 100% original, down to the pots and pickguard screws. It sounds just like it should, but it's obviously been around the block a few times and shows some significant wear, especially on the (original) frets. I'm considering getting a refret done, but I'm wondering how much it will decrease the resale value? I'm a player and I intend to gig it for the rest of my life, but if hard times come along down the road I'd like to have it as a financial security blanket.
I have a '65 and didn't think twice about refretting it because its a player. Mine has been refinished however, so not nearly as original as yours. That being said, I understand the desire to keep it original, but it sounds like your a player, not a collector. I would refret it with original size frets by a reputable luthier. You'll have a great playing bass, with a minimal hit to its resale value. Just my two cents.
I have a 64 refinished jazz and its a player. It has its original frets but will require a refret inside the next couple of years. I will not hesitate in getting it done. Having a great bass in storage hoping for increased financial return is not my thing. Great basses deserve to be played--go play them and enjoy!
I know that all the "original solder joint" purists will tell me I'm WRONG... go ahead...
But I think that frets, (like strings) and also pots and jacks are just stuff that wears out eventually, and replacing them with same-manufacturer components should not be a detriment to the value of a bass. Anyone turn down buying a vintage car because it didn't have the factory tires?
And I don't know ANYONE who's so much of a cork-sniffing purist to demand to see proof of origionality on the STRINGS... you know, the part that actually creates the sound?
I refretted my all original '66P. It played much better after the refret which was my primary consideration.
I'm not an expert when it comes to evaluating vintage instruments but, for me, a refret would not diminish the value at all. As M.R. Ogle pointed out, frets are consumables. To me, a refret just indicates that the bass plays so well that somebody wore out a set of frets enjoying it!
The way I look at is that if it's a gigging bass, then it's a tool. If you need to replace worn parts so that it can continue to work for you, then there's no question.
...No, it can't be played...ever...
Unless you are selling it to an obsessive collector, this is a non-issue. That is a great gigging instrument that should be played and enjoyed without resale worries.
I have a double bass made by either Juzek or Wilfer in the late 1940's- I've replaced the fingerboard, tuning gears, nut, saddle, bridge, soundpost, endpin, endpin cable; add to that- a restoration involving the shortening of the lower ribs.. the bass plays and sounds better than ever and is now worth much more to a real player if I ever decide to sell it.
I understand where the collectors are coming from, but I... how do they say it now...ROFL whenever I encounter that attitude toward "vintage" instruments.
Enjoy that great instrument and get an expert re-fret!
Well, if you bought it and paid extra for 100% originality, then it would obviously decrease in value.
If you bought it for a good price and intend to play it then it would likely not hit on the value too much.
If you do have to sell it down the road, if the refret is done well, it'll still age and might not be noticeable as a refret in a few years without some scrutiny.
However as has been pointed out, it DOES depend somewhat on who you are selling to.
I used to work for a store, and it seemed to me that whenever the owner was BUYING a guitar, refrets were pretty damaging, but when he went to sell them, the fact that the instrument was playable because it had been refretted seemed to make up for the loss in his book, LOL!
People don't think twice about replacing any number of things on upright basses worth 4 times what any vintage Fender would sell for.
Certainly less of an issue on a rosewood board than a maple one. The maple boards were finished, and a refret on them usually means a new coat of lacquer on the board. So two things get changed when you refret a maple board. On a rosewood board, only the frets are replaced. And since they do wear out, it's an entirely reasonable thing to do. For a "player" it's essential. For a collector it may be an entirely different matter. I mean the "holy grail" of vintage collectors is a totally original instrument in unplayed condition. Or a well played instrument that belonged to a notable player - with iron-clad authentication of the instrument and the player.
Since the OP states "it's been around the block a couple of times", why not? As long as it's done with the correct wire (no giga jumbo stainless steel ones). But maybe you can keep the original frets, and will a new crowning job do the trick?
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