Refret or dress: When do you do it?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by rickreyn, Oct 21, 2001.

  1. rickreyn


    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I've got some wear on the frets of my second-hand Cirrus. My luthier friend says it would be better to refret because he suspects that the factory frets are softer than the typical 18% nickel. I think the guitar is no more than 18 months old and probably the frets have not been dressed to this point. Should I follow his advice and refret now and avoid future dresses, or fret dress and prolong the expense. The Cirrus appears to be a keeper.
  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Saint Louis, MO USA
    Hey Rick,

    I think the answer to your question depends on you.

    First of all, I can't imagine that the frets are in too bad of shape if the bass is only 18 months old. I suppose 3-4 hours a day of aggressive playing/slapping could do it, but I have seen very played 60s-era Fenders with the original frets.

    But, as for re-dressing:

    If you are an ultra-low action, light touch, light strings, compression type player you can probably get away with redressing. And, if you are this type of player, the redressing should last you a decent while as you won't wear the frets with your style.

    Over the past few years, I have worked really hard to develop into this style of player. (I feel you get much better tone like this) I have a G&L L2500 that I have played pretty much everyday for more than a year, and there is literally no fret wear on it. I even slap the bass very lightly. My slap technique doesn't seem to wear the bass. (Although I slap infrequently)

    If you are a heavy-handed, high-action, dig-in, aggressive style player, I would go ahead and refret. You probably want the jumbo frets anyway.

    Since you are content on refretting if needed, maybe you should try to redress the frets yourself. Try it as an experiment. The dressing files are available through

    It isn't that hard. You just need a VERY GOOD metal straight edge. Just pick out the fret that is in the worst shape and dress it out until it is acceptable, then dress every other fret until the straight edge reveals that there are no high frets on the board. If you goof it up, you were all set to drop the cash for a refret anyway.

    FYI, my bud just got his strat refretted, $135 for the refret and a setup including new strings.

    Also, redressing is time consuming. Don't be surprised if the redress is not significantly less expensive than the refrett. Remember, the fret wire itself only cost a few bucks.