Why are fret jobs so expenisive?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by tuBass, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    I've been told that a fret job on my bass can run up to $450. I don't understand it. I can buy a new neck for my bass for $210 from Yamaha, and a Moses neck for $585.
    Doesn't it make more since to get a new neck rather than have a fret job?
    Also, Why is it so hard to do a partial fret job? I only have 3 or 4 frets that show any wear on them, but everybody wants to charge me for a full job, and the bass isnt worth that.
  2. Scott French

    Scott French Dude

    May 12, 2004
    Grass Valley, CA
    If it's an inexpensive bass then buying a new neck might be the ticket. Think of cars these days, if something goes really bad on a 5+ year old econo car chances are you could buy a used version of the same car cheaper than making major repairs.

    Fret jobs cost a lot because of the time involved. I'm not sure what situation I could charge $450 for a fretjob (maple board refinish probably), but if you look at the time that goes into yanking the old frets, making the fingerboard right, installing the new frets, leveling, polishing, etc. An 8 hour day @ $30 an hour (and that's low) ends up being $240 before you bring up any materials or possible refinish work. A fret job on an unfinished fingerboard probably wouldn't take a pro that long but I am just trying to show how hours can add up.
  3. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    It's a rosewood neck, so maybe I ought to get another estimate. It's a BBG5S, but I've got EMG pickups in there so it's worth more than a normal EMG. Another option is get another bass and drop my beloved pickups in it.

    One thing I forgot to mention is the neck has a hairline crack in it. It's been glued, and hasn't gotten worse since it appeared, but it means I really don't want to drop a lot of money on this neck.

  4. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Are you sure you need a fret job? The frets might just need to be dressed.
  5. tuBass


    Dec 14, 2002
    Mesquite, Texas
    The frets are pretty flat on the first 3 or 4 frets. It's not buzzing yet though.
  6. There is a school of thought that partial refretting is a preferred route since, as you say, that's all that needs replacing. Unfortunately, this method actually takes me more time per fret for leveling than if I were to simply yank all of them and start over. I am learning the partial refret because it will come in very helpful in certain applications. But as I've learned to do fretjobs, I've been very surprised at just how carved up a fret can look and still be leveled and recrowned successfully.

    Your price was a bit high for what you described - and the brand of pups shouldn't have anything to do with it! :rolleyes:
  7. schuyler


    Aug 5, 2003
    Atlanta, GA
    some individuals have been known to quote inflated prices in order NOT to get a job they may find a pain in the *%^ or which they can't do profitably. You might want to get a couple more quotes, though it will still be somewhat expensive because of the time involved.
  8. FBB Custom

    FBB Custom TalkBass Pro Commercial User

    Jan 26, 2002
    Owner: FBB Bass Works
    It's called "go away pricing". ;)

    I think $450 is too high as well. I would think you could get a level and crown for much less. If the bass is not buzzing then that means that the frets aren't that flat. So, you bring the other frets down a bit and then recrown them all, then polish. It's definately worth getting a pro to do it and if the frets are too flattened then you may need the full refret after all.

    That's what I think of as a "fret job" - leveling, crowning, and polishing. Yanking the frets and replacing them is a "refret", and it is truly a much hairier job. Somewhere in the middle is the "partial refret", but if you do one of those you have to try to match the wire that's already on there. Most people don't keep that many gauges of fretwire on hand and that can be a pain...

    Get a couple more quotes and if you are doing it by phone, ask for a level & crown. They won't mistake it for a refret and you'll get a more reasonable price.
  9. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex Guest

    Jan 21, 2005
    Frederick, MD
    If your neck has a crack in it, wouldn't it be more cost effective to just buy a new neck, since you could get the fretjob, and your neck could break the next day. Just my .02