The Workbench

Dilemma: refret or new neck? (Fender maple)


I trust you guys....

I know, I know. Only I can answer the question. But it's a tough question. I'd like some insight from others who have made this same decision...

My #1, a '93 Am.Std. Tele, maple neck. If the house were burning down, I'd go back in for her. The frets are only 3 years old, but the divets in 1st position and a ding on the 12th (the guitar fell over once), require a level and crown that would take too much fret off for me. I like medium jumbos, and I love jumbos. Don't want anything smaller, and the frets on there WOULD be smaller by a noticeable bit, according to repair guy.

I love the neck. I love it more than my MIM neck (which is excellent as well), and my Squier neck (which is still pretty darned good.) A re-fret is quoted at $500. I'm sure that's not high, but... when I can get a new MIM neck for $200.... TWO of them, actually! Thing is, I don't want a new neck. I don't even want this one planed to look new (which they said "might have to be done, because the 90s fender poly chips off)... I want the guitar to look old together.... I wouldn't want the finish touched.

If money were no object, I'd refret it. But money IS an object. Oh, I can come up with the $500, or I could put that neck on the backburner, spend $200 on a new MIM, and then use the remaining money for what I had in mind: some luthier tools so I can start doing my own work (first acquisition will be a set of nut slotting files).

Part of me says go ahead with the refret, but specify stainless steel, at least that way I'll get alot more wear out of them.... not sure how many sizes SS frets come in...

Of course I could go ahead with the level & crown, and pray the frets don't shrink too much.... $125 I could be putting towards a new neck or a $500 refret tho...

Please share your experiences and thoughts on the matter.


Re-fretting a Fender maple neck is something everyone should experience at least once. The lack of binding makes it look deceptively simple, and it's only after you start that you realize that they sprayed the poly on after the frets were installed. It's not nearly as simple as it looks.

I have a Fender Strat that I have re-fretted three or four times, about once a decade so far. Each time, after I replace the frets and repair the poly, it feels like a different neck. Still great, but not the same.

In your position, I'd buy the replacement neck and stick the original neck in a closet pending a financial windfall of some sort that would allow the re-fret.


$500 refret? That better include refinishing...your basement.


I should have specified: planing and refinishing (which I do NOT want done) is figured into the $500. BUT... he sounded like the planing would be REQUIRED because "those 90s Fender maple necks, the poly likes to chip when you pull the frets".. which I have read about... but I get the feeling maybe he's not comfortable doing it WITHOUT planing.... not sure, I didn't get into that with him... I could call him back and ask for a price withOUT refinishing, but now I'm questioning his confidence/skill level to do it that way?


Aren't you in NJ?

Maybe ask Curt for his opinion (and cost) re: a refret.



Aren't you in NJ?

Maybe ask Curt for his opinion (and cost) re: a refret.


– geoguy

Holy crap!!! I embarrassed to admit I never thought of Curt!!! OF COURSE!!!!

What an idiot I am...

I think because, when I come here, my mind is "Gretsch", not "Fender" lol

I'll definitely contact Curt.


Well crap, it seems his contact page isn't working, I get a 500 server error. I'll try messaging him directly from GDP...


Alright! Got ahold of Curt... he's swamped for 3-4 weeks, but I told him I'd wait. I feel MUCH better having Curt do it.

I still feel like an IDIOT for not thinking of him in the first place.


He's the go to guy -- let us know what happens. Although I don't follow the Fender scene anymore there are so many options now, custom stuff you can get about whatever you want.


And it's really cool that you only have to mail him the neck.


maple or not, $500 is an expensive refret. You can get two nice, finished and fretted replacement necks for that.


in the future, i'd use some pure nickel strings on that neck..(flats!!! haha) no matter what you decide about new neck or re-re-fret...

frets toast, after 3 year refret?



If I liked the neck I'd move heaven and earth to get it playable. One thing I've never done is stainless frets, that's a whole nother set of tools. I've always wanted to try stainless though. Good luck on it, I'm sure Curt will do a super job.


The real issue here is the alloy on newer manufactured frets, older alloys were harder and lasted MUCH longer. Rant over...


honestly, we've never had more choices into fret size and material as we have, silver, stainless steel etc etc...whatever you think you need!

same with strings..every material & size permutation available

just choose your match carefully



Yank the first four frets and replace them. No problem.


Sometimes all you need is a good level, dress and polish.

I’m not the one charging $500.00 but typically a new neck with frets needs a full setup including the level. The Warmouth necks that some customers have brought it have untouched frets and they need about two hours on the bench.


Well, I am considering moving "up" from medium jumbos (6130, apparently) to something a little bigger like 6150s, so I'm guessing a new nut would be in order too. Whatever it takes. This is my #1, been with me 25 years, it's unplayable now, I just want it back in my hands again.

And no refinishing of the fretboard necessary. Firstly, it's already been refretted once, so I imagine most of the poly chipping is done already. And I don't want a shiny new neck, I want it the way it is... just with new frets.


If you really love the neck, it makes the most sense to just deal with the fret issues. You will be in good hands with Curt.


It's in Curt's hands right now


Got my #1 back!!!! Woohoo!!!! Curt did a great job on the refret, leaving the neck as "reliced" as it was (it's a '92)... fret ends feel great, plays great! Went with Jescar 47104s in stainless steel. Should last a LOOOONG time....

Also, Curt is a very cool dude.


Excellent! Curt's the man!


That looks great!

Also, Curt is a very cool dude.

Ha! We knew that!

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