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Comprehensive Refretting Guide?

Kashmir Oceania

Silver Supporting Member
Are there any comprehensive refretting guides? All the ones I’ve read online leave me with a few questions. I want to work up to refretting my two main guitars as they could use it so I bought a few inexpensive necks to practice on; one maple, one ebony, and two rosewood.

I bought all the tools I need to refret a neck, I just need a good method to get going. A few questions I have are; Do I use heat or not when removing the fret? If so, how much? Will I need to refinish a maple neck? Do I need to use a metal fretboard protector or is tape fine when crowning?

What if the old slot is larger than the new fret tang width? I plan on using Jescar fretwire which only has a .02 fret tang width but most fretwire I see is .023 tang width.

What is the best glue to use to glue a fret in or is the unnecessary? Where do I put the glue, on the side of the slot or before I insert the fret?

Will I need to clean the slots with a scraper before fretting? What angle do I bevel the ends at? In general I have found the least amount of information on finishing the fret ends so don't know what to do so much.

Finally, when refretting the maple neck will I need to refinish it as well? This was a long read and like a game of twenty questions but I really don't want to screw up refretting a neck. Any help would by much appreciated!


Silver Supporting Member
Best book I have found.

However, I had read all the books, watched all the vids I could find, bought the the tools, but it wasn't until I took a week long class with Bob Smakula, (world class send generation repairman) & got some hands-on experience under the tutelage of a pro that I actually started to "get" fretwork. I have been back to Bob's workshops several more times. If you can possibly watch a pro do it in person, and get them to help you through it, the process really opens up. Maybe take a class, or offer to sweep floors in exchange for a few lessons.

It is not rocket science but it is pretty deep stuff to do learn to do really well.


Definitely buy the stew mac book. It has a ton of good stuff in it. Watch as many videos as you can find on the subject and take notes. Take a lot of notes. There are many ways to refret, and no two people do it the same way. Time and patience is key, and practice makes perfect. If I were in your shoes, just starting out, I would refret every neck I could find aside from your main guitars. Take notes on every refret, every step of the way. And like 9fingers said, watching a pro do it and getting in there and getting your hands on it is the best way to learn. And don't touch those necks you really want to refret until your confident enough in your skills that you can do it well and to your liking.


If you prefer a visual tutor I found the guy in the linked video a huge help. There are 22 parts to the series but it is a very comprehensive and helpful guide and well worth the time.


I have a few guitars I will not refret myself (after having done several of them). I want it done well.. not just good enough. Why? Here is what I have learned.

Refretting may not be complicated but not is NOT for the impatient (that would be me)

You should have the right tools. I am not saying go nuts at stewmac but if you are impatient like me hand crowning frets with a small triangle file is going to hurt.

Books and vids are great until you start to have problems. Refretting a maple neck and you find there is a hump that needs to be planed down? Fret slots that are too wide, too narrow, or not deep enough?

Not trying to scare you at all. I am the first person to say" you will never know until you try it" but get a couple of 20$ necks from Craigslist first. I have a wonderful 76 Ibanez Silver series that I have retired after too many botched refrets (by yours truely).

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