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Thread: Refret for Gibson F9

  1. #1
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Refret for Gibson F9

    Hey all,

    My Gibson F9 is in need of a refret at least to the 7th fret. I'm looking to get this done quickly and locally as I use this mandolin for gigs and have a bunch lined up which I need my Gibson for. Fortunately, I have about a 2 week window before the next gig I have that requires the Gibson - so I'm trying to get this done now asap.

    I have a quote for $450 with a 7 to 10 day turnaround for a full refret. I'm not entirely sure it needs a full refret, but I'm not familiar enough with this aspect of repair to really know.

    The price seems high to me. I think it should be closer to $300 max, but I don't really know too much here.

    Any advise? I'm in San Diego if that helps.

    Thanks
    Bruno

  2. #2
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Bruno, I've never been there but I've been told that there is repair person in the Lake Elsinore area that many of the pros take their nicer fretted instruments to -- Chuck Block (yes, Ron Block's father)... My understanding is that he's listed and has a web presence.

    I'm a big proponent of wider Evo Gold if you're interested in a full fret-job, but for a partial I'd stay with the standard nickel silver thin frets.

    P.S. IF you're wanting very fast and are willing to drive up into the San Bernardino area to deliver and pickup, Pete Roehling does a nice job with nickle silver. His turn around time for us has usually been a couple of days.
    Last edited by dhergert; Aug-14-2019 at 4:05pm.
    -- Don

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Maybe pricing is regional, but here in the Piedmont of NC, $450 ain't no part of nuthin...

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    I've been charging $300 + set-up costs for a full refret for 15 years. For a partial refret, I charge $18-$20 per fret plus any necessary set-up cost. I strive for precision work when I re-fret an instrument. My shop is in Tennessee, where the cost of living is lower than California. It's time for me to raise my prices. Although some others are still charging less, there are many who now charge more.

    A quick turn-around is an important consideration for a working musician. You might want to take that into account.

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  8. #5
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    $450 for a full refret seems about par for urban areas on the Left Coast. Some top luthiers charge a bit more, especially for bound fingerboards.

    I try to go with a partial refret whenever possible -- the first seven or eight frets are usually the only ones really necessary. I trust my luthiers to tell when when that is viable, and I can usually get away with a partial several times before a full refret is required.
    Just one guy's opinion
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  10. #6
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Thanks for the feedback all.

    I don't think my mando really needs a full refret personally based on the wear - but the wear at least on the first 7th is significant (I play a lot and for a while this was my only nice mandolin).

    Regardless, I'm not a fan of jumbo frets - I have big fingers and feel the larger free just gets in the way (though it is great when you are doing a lot of sliding - so I guess to each their own). I'm going to stick with the standard wire similar to what's on there now.

    I appreciate the feedback so far - and whatever comes next

    Thanks yall!!

  11. #7
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Was the quote you received given over the phone or was it from an in-hand evaluation of the mandolin? If it is a request over the phone, there's a good chance it will be on the higher end of the repairman's range since there are plenty of unknowns.
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  12. #8
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    You guys need to keep those prices quiet. My guy charges me about half that. I don't want him to get any ideas.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  14. #9
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    I guess your guy must live on beans and rice. He's making an hourly wage that is less than that of a carpenter's helper around here. In some places it would be close to minimum wage.

    The average fret job takes me 5 to 8 hours, depending on a lot of factors. That does not include the time it takes to level a wavy or warped fingerboard, and it doesn't include adjusting or shimming the nut and various other set-up procedures.

    Unless there are loose, uneven, or "dished" frets on mbruno's mandolin [and I do see those problems on modern Gibsons from time to time], a partial refret should be possible. If his current repairman does not want to do that, it would be worthwhile for him to consult another repairman.
    Last edited by rcc56; Aug-15-2019 at 12:12am.

  15. #10
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    My guy has been a successful luthier for many decades. I was down at his place last week dropping off two guitars. Scott Chinery used to bring him his stuff as they lived close. He is all over Youtube speaking to large groups of people about the guitars he's been involved with over the years. There are Facebook groups about him that he isn't even involved with because he isn't a computer guy. He pretty much has a cult following. To be honest the time it takes you to do a fret job means nothing, that's the time it takes you. If it took him that long he wouldn't be doing them. I've known this guy for 20 years and that was pretty much a joke on my part as he knows he's cheaper. He gets the jobs, he gets them done and he makes his money. Last week there was a pre-war Martin D-28 on his bench and I've been there when there were Loar's in that shop. He's also a decent musician playing with a regional Bluegrass band.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

  16. #11
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    You guys need to keep those prices quiet. My guy charges me about half that. I don't want him to get any ideas.
    Lucky you!
    Just one guy's opinion
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  18. #12

    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    The guy that runs Steel Guitars of North County in Oceanside is happy to loose money every month. He is a retired veterinarian who had four practices. He just loves steel guitars. Everyone has different financial situations due to various reasons. I've known a violin maker whose wife was a surgeon.
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  19. #13
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    I'll take a picture of the mandolin to share with you all to get some feedback. The quote was based on my description that the first 7 frets for sure need to be redone - so he has not seen it yet.

    Thanks for the feedback!!

  20. #14

    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    The guy that runs Steel Guitars of North County in Oceanside is happy to loose money every month. He is a retired veterinarian who had four practices. He just loves steel guitars.
    Last time I checked, steel guitars don't have frets...............

  21. #15
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Get another quote. Find someone who will do a partial refret. Not everyone will. A full one is not always necessary. Seems like someone close could do it. I would want someone experienced with mandolins more than anything. You can't borrow a Mandolin while yours gets worked on?

  22. #16

    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    I paid $550 for 12 frets , crown, set up.
    A bit high..., yup, and i knew it, but....the work was perfect on my fern. Perfect.
    The repairman is excellent. I had zero concern that my fern would be damaged, or anything other than right. Boulder isnt a low budget town, nor are the repair shop’s clientele or instruments. I have no problem paying someone well for careful, mindful, skilled work.

    Frankly, i was grateful for such care with a reasonably pricey mando, which i love.

    I get it, in part, about means.

    Happy to spend more to keep my mando up, no issues, no ooops.

    I have had these on other repairs, and , it was , imho, money wasted. My guitar came back with chisel mars near the bridge,re glued pick guard later peeled.

    For me, while i dont wish to pay needlessly more, a savings on a mediocre job is no savings at all.

    Otoh, you may simply get a super job for less.

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  24. #17
    Registered User jim simpson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    I'm lucky to have a skilled luthier friend nearby who has done 2 refrets for me, the most recent with
    evo gold. I never ask how much and am always surprised by his reasonable charge, so much so that I tip.
    Cabin Fever String Band, Bill Gorby and the Musical Mercenaries

  25. #18
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    This is what the frets look like. Everything before the ~8th fret seems alright to me.

    1st - 5th fret
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    4th - 7th fret
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    8th - 15th fret
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    15th and below
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  26. #19
    Registered User Tom Haywood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    If it looks in person like it does in the photos, then I recommend a full refret. It looks like substantial wear through fret #9, with some slight wear through fret #13. Filing everything down to get the divots out of the upper frets and then level everything "perfectly" might likely waste a lot of material from the new frets. To me, that would be a waste of money. Of course, it may look different in person.
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  27. #20

    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    I'm with Tom on this one, it looks like you need the whole first octave, not 7 or 8. You don't mention how many years of use that wear represents, but as much as you're using this instrument, you want this refret job to last a long time. I also second the motion to go with EVO gold, 4x the lifespan of nickel/silver and no more expensive to install. The wear on your frets looks like you're a hard hitter so I'd go with 0.080" bead, which most everyone is using now- it's not jumbo wire. There's really not much difference in fingering until you get up past the octave fret where they're close together (and I have to work hard to get good clean notes up there no matter the fret gauge).

  28. #21
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Thanks yall. I really appreciate the feedback. It's about 5 years of regular playing/ gigging with it. Probably about time for the fix up Haha.

  29. #22
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    2. I had refretted also needed fingerboard leveling, so all the frets had to be replaced
    even though the higher ones were un worn..
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  30. #23
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Yesterday I dropped off a couple of Martins at Mass Street Music for some work and while there asked about the cost to refret a mandolin with Gold EVO. Turns out they don't do gold EVO, but can do stainless steel. Refret with stainless would be $600 plus $95 for a new nut to go with the higher frets. That's a lot higher price than I was expecting! I should have asked if it would be less with regular material frets, but when I do a refret it will be with EVO or stainless. I like Mass Street but I will definitely shop around when it comes time for a refret.
    Doug Brock
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    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Recently, my luthier , Tommy Haywood (Atlanta area), leveled my radius fret board for me, which included a refret and intonation set-up. He does excellent high quality work and is very attentive to detail. He charged me a very reasonable fee for the 12 hours he dedicated to the job. Turn around time was a little over two weeks. I'm glad he took the time that it takes to do the job.

  32. #25

    Default Re: Refret for Gibson F9

    Looks to me like you need the first 10 done. The rest I'd "let go for now".
    I wouldn't pay for "the whole thing".

    As for Steve/Denver's paying $550 for 12 frets... yipes... well, pay what you want, what can I say...?

    But I wouldn't pay about $50 "a fret". No way.
    $15-20 each, and that's it.

    OP:
    All the more reason to have "a backup instrument", so you can send off the good one for a good job at a decent price...

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