• TGP is giving away a Strat, Tele, and Jazzmaster. Click Here for full details.
    Click Here to upgrade your account and enter today!

Guitar as a consumable?

moehuh

Member
Messages
353
I didn’t mention that I do have a guitar fourth guitar (An es-335) that I’ve had since 2004 where the frets look brand new still... I’ve played a crazy number of hours on it... I have no idea why its frets last so much longer for me.

TBH, the idea that I’d regularly go through frets so quickly is a “worst case scenario”. But that scenario happened with my nocaster, so it just got me speculating - what if it happened to my cheaper / backup instruments? Hence the thread.
Same scenario with my two favorite guitars, namely a Callaham Tele and a LsL Strat. Got them both exactly 2y ago, both around 10y old now (pretty much unplayed when I bought them), similar fret size, similar string gauge. Both got very similar playing time, the Tele was used more live and at rehearsals, the Strat much more at home and practicing. The Tele has significantly more playing wear on the frets, whereas the Strat looks almost new.

I think there are two reasons for this. At home you play more relaxed, press less into the fretboard than you do at a show, where there is excitement and more movement with the guitar. On the other hand, each guitar feels different and thus you play different. My Tele is an absolute dynamic beast, it has crazy headroom and probably my best sounding guitar I have. I can dig in and the guitar just gives back. The Strat feels more relaxed and easy playing and is just sweet sounding. I do the occasional SRV-blues abuse, but overall, I play differently than on the Tele.

It's an interesting topic, been asking this very question myself too. I would for sure refret the guitars you love and trade the others if you think you get a similar replacement
 

germs

Member
Messages
5,800
my .02:

when i was playing 3-5 nights a week, i considered all of my gear "consumables" - guitars especially.

it was much more economical for me to purchase a mid-range instrument ($500-800 once or twice a year), get it set up for my tastes, and wear it slap out over the next 6-12 months than it was for me to try and keep up required maintenance on 2-3 "pro" level instruments - including re-frets and hardware failures etc. you ever worn a trem system out? i have!

not to mention all the collateral damage/abuse a live guitar takes - load in/out, bumps and bruises in the trailer, stage accidents/antics, spilled liquids, sweat...it all takes a toll.

point is - when a guitar reached the end of it's useable lifespan for me, i could flip it for a little cash to the next guy and put that towards whatever and move on.
 

ExpatZ

Member
Messages
44
Just refret it.
SS like everyone says.
But only if you like the guitar, if it is a meh guitar go find one that isn't and refret that one.
I have a '91 RG570 I just had refretted in SS for €435 from a local guy who did me some great work.
The guitar was bought from ebay for about half that, but the neck is perfect and the body solid and it already played really well. Refretting has it playing better than an off the rack new guitar because the setup is part of refretting. And that's the other side: you can buy a new one and then still have to pay for a full setup (unless you got the chops yourself) or you can get yours playing better than a new one.

Disclaimer: I am NOT talking about high end guitars like Tyler, my long lost Dann Huff was in a league of its own like most in its class. They will ALWAYS play better.

And once you've tried it once you'll know one way or the other for yourself if it is worth it.
I think so, I like to keep the ones that played well.
The others I usually just give away.
 
Last edited:

Bill Rock

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
48
Seems like you got very few answers to your actual question. Reading through these I started wondering if I had clicked a link to a Tele board... o_O

This being TGP, I was looking for way more responses like mine - you need MORE guitars!!! Plain and simple!!!

Years ago when I had 1 Les Paul and played it all the time, I had to get it re-fretted. It was never the same, never played as well. Finally got rid of it a few years ago...good luck with yours on your favorite guitar!

I would trade or sell your other guitars that “get no love” for one or more you will play and rotate.

I am sure you take good care of your guitars and change the strings regularly - I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in not enjoying the task of string changing, but I dislike playing dead strings more! - but having more guitars to play really helps! My suggestion is find another Tele or similar style guitar you really like so you can play both and use them interchangeably; that will help on many fronts. I am not a Tele guy but have a nice Custom Shop one that had Josefina pickups - I hated them as they were super ice-picky - and I just changed them out for Suhr Classic T pups. A world of difference and now the guitar sounds great! It always played great...I am pretty sure I will have a Bigsby put on as well. Point is, get another one you like, maybe just a bit different than your Nocaster, and you will have a spare, and maybe something a little different to boot!
And get something else you want to play. I always find playing a different guitar pulls something different out in my style, a little different bend, a different chord progression. Like from your Tele to your 335...
I don’t know what style music you play but my guess would be country - just from the Tele and the 335. But these days folks play lots of different guitars in almost any style of music. I see folks playing Les Pauls in Country bands these days, but PRS’ are pretty common in all styles. Try one of those!
It’s nice to have a supportive wife too, but you don’t sound like you have terminal GAS, like many of us here on TGP! So the right answer is almost always - buy more guitars!:dude

All the best!
 

ragnar

Member
Messages
105
It sounds like you're trying to convince yourself to do what you already think you should do.

Like you said, refretting a beloved guitar makes sense, but pouring $500 into a $500 guitar that you're not attached to doesn't.

So just sell the $500 backup guitar for $400, and buy a newer one for $500, and put the $400 you save towards your retirement next guitar.
 

TheCount0212

Member
Messages
907
I think you should consider refretting with SS frets. It'll cost more, but they'll last much longer.
Yes I'm doing that with my nocaster, actually.

But with stainless steel , the question is, is it worth spending $600 refretting a $700 guitar? With an expensive guitar like my nocaster, I feel like it is worth it, but with a budget guitar, is it worth doing that work, or better to just get a different instrument?
IF you love the guitar, play it, and would never sell it, it doesn't matter what it's worth.
 

zeg1

Member
Messages
2
Honestly : dozens of YouTube tutorials (especially from crimson guitars)
Like $150 worth of equipment, pair of fret cutters/remove r, triangle file, fret leveling file
A cheap practice neck.. do a complete refret one or twice until you re comfortable with
And you ll refret/level all your guitars for practically nothing
It’s really no rocket science !!
 

VintagePlayerStrat

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,427
Chuck Berry didn't even keep a main guitar, I believe. He just bought new ones on the road (avoiding even carrying one for a day if he could) wrote them off, and had someone sell them as Berry used. :)
 
Messages
3,670
Cheap guitars aren't usually worth significant upgrades and maintenance. IMO/IME/YMMV. Sure, a pickup swap on a Squier Tele is easily reversible but a refret is not. That investment is lost. Sure, there might be an exception where there is some cheap guitar you can't live without. Even then, significant modifications can transform it into a different animal. I know people who re-fretted guitars (as an example) and it did not sound or feel the same when it came back. So my 'policy' is to buy instruments I intend to keep for years which won't just wind up in a landfill when things fail. And which I feel don't need much/anything in the way of upgrades or work to begin with. Treat them well and they will last many years. BTW some strings eat through frets faster than others.
Cheap guitars have cheap components. If the cheap guitar plays well, sounds good, & is well put together, why not upgrade it? Buy something with better to start with.

A good tech should be able to do a re-fret without changing the tone.

SS frets don't play the same (as well) as nickel silver frets.
Just sayin'
Yeah, they're slicker & make playing easier. You want more fight, go up a gauge or 2. To much highs, turn the highs down on the amp or get an EQ pedal. Hell, use nickle strings. Quit wasting wood & or giving the next guy a problematic guitar.

$600 was a guesstimate on my behalf in terms of what I might look at for repair costs on one of my less expensive guitars down the road. Part of that is also thinking that my less expensive guitars have a bit of lacquer on the frets from the Maple fretboard, so it is probable that the necks might need refinish/touch up.

Without that concern, $500, though,

I just went through the price listing for fret work in all the local shops... (again, Canadian pricing)

Shop 1. $350 for refret and setup, $50 up charge for maple boards, $100 up charge for stainless steel - so all in, it’ll be $500 + strings and tax. Their website’s price list is also 8 years old, so might not be accurate anymore...

Shop 2 $380 for the refret (they mention up charges for maple and stainless, but don’t list how much), but do charge an additional $75 for a setup, and obviously strings & tax are extra... so close to $500 before knowing their “upcharges”. I’d guess $600 isn’t far off.

Shop 3: $350 for the refret, no upcharge for maple unless it turns out a refinish or touch up to the lawyer is needed (again, prices will vary on that), $75 for the setup, and again, by the time strings and sales tax are there, I’m looking at $500 with the potential for it to cost even more.

All the same ballpark prices...

I live in the most expensive province in a more expensive country - some things (especially labor costs) are just higher because cost of living is higher... It is what it is.
Like others here have said, a setup has to be included in the price of the re-fret. Those techs are ripping you off. Strings can be bought in bulk.

If you're playing 3/5 days a week, you need better guitars. Get something with SS frets. Get 2. Don't buy cheap guitars for gigging!
 

jujube

Member
Messages
1,947
As a teacher and guitarist who also plays a lot I suggest thinking about your technique, too. I pick rather heavy and bend a lot (with 10 to 13 strings, dependig on the guitar), but I don't wear out frets. It's because I only use exactly as much pressure on the frets as I need.
This is a result of a lot of training, and it makes a difference. Saves me A LOT of money when I read this tread.
And better tone, better intonation, btw.
Exactly what I was thinking. Never thought anyone would need a refret in such a short time.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,311
It's why I don't spend more than $ 200 on a guitar.
I don't understand these comments. Many if not most $4,000 Custom Shop guitars come with nickel silver frets too. Not many guitars are even offered witjh SS fret stock.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,311
As a teacher and guitarist who also plays a lot I suggest thinking about your technique, too. I pick rather heavy and bend a lot (with 10 to 13 strings, dependig on the guitar), but I don't wear out frets. It's because I only use exactly as much pressure on the frets as I need.
This is a result of a lot of training, and it makes a difference. Saves me A LOT of money when I read this tread.
And better tone, better intonation, btw.
I was thinking about this too, but a lot of bloos players seem to think that really digging in is part of the performance. I play with a light touch, but I have no soul to speak of.

Also, when you're singing and playing, focusing on your voice, even if you're a seasoned guitarist, I think you tend to grip the guitar harder, and that's where a lot of the wear from the lower frets comes from.
 

xmd5a

Member
Messages
2,311
This is one of the reasons I bought all the tools and got trained to do all my own work. I knew I was going to own a lot of instruments, whether they were mass-produced instruments I bought, or instruments I built from scratch. I knew I was going to need to be self-reliant so I could handle any and every situation on my own. Even if the guitar proves itself to be a lost cause or absolutely worthless beyond salvage, I don't go into any job expecting that to be the case.
I agree with this sentiment, I learned to do it, but I needed some practice guitars that I could screw up, and I had to make a special soft-edged file. I didn't really get the rhythm down until the fifth fret job, and I don't think a lot guitarists can be expected to make that sort of investment.
 

Hari Seldon

Member
Messages
2,460
Also, when you're singing and playing, focusing on your voice, even if you're a seasoned guitarist, I think you tend to grip the guitar harder, and that's where a lot of the wear from the lower frets comes from.
Depends on how you do it.
Singing and playing is a matter of how good you are at both parts. If you grip harder when singing at that same time, you're not really good at playing, because singing has nothing to do with it.
Imagine singing badly when playing guitar at the same time.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,574
I don't "love" any of em. But the ones I really play get worn out frets. And if I really play em then it makes sense to keep really playing em. Cost of fret work is part of the cost. Like tires and oil changes. And strings. And I am comfortable with stainless so I figure I'll get that first chunk of wear, pay to have em refretted with stainless and then play. If I don't refret, dump the guitar with shot frets and get a new one, I am still going to be looking at a refret investment down the road. Stainless lets me break the cycle.

The last guitar I had refretted was worth about $100 more than the refret cost. And the next guitar I have refretted will have replacement cost that is about the same as the refret cost. It is part of the deal.
 

Bill Rock

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
48
OP commented on guitars being affected by humidity and salt; while on a cruise.
I have somewhat caustic fingers/oils and I tend to wear strings relatively quickly. That could impact the lifespan of frets too, not just how hard you bear down or play. And if he plays lots of different places, differing humidity and air quality, that along with the finger “oils”, would shorten fret lifespan.
Again - more guitars!!!
:)
 

skydog

Member
Messages
12,323
Just sayin'
Yeah, they're slicker & make playing easier. You want more fight, go up a gauge or 2. To much highs, turn the highs down on the amp or get an EQ pedal. Hell, use nickle strings. Quit wasting wood & or giving the next guy a problematic guitar.
What's that mean (to you) to append “Just sayin'” to your post? I know what I think it means, but I'd like to hear your belief.
 




Trending Topics

Top