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Thread: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

  1. #26

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    I wouldn't pay $200 for a fret "dress".
    Plex machine, or no Plex machine.
    And I can afford it.

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  3. #27
    Lurkist dhergert's Avatar
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    Jul 2012
    Blue Zone, California
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    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    $300 for fret dressing and a nut is high. I'd be curious what the charge would be for fret dressing by hand rather than with the PLEK machine.

    When I had my mandolin re-fretted with Gold Evo frets and fitted with a new nut (2 years ago) by a nationally known builder, it was around $400.

    My wife and I had the same builder refret her guitar and my banjo with Gold Evo this year, without new nuts, costing about $350 each.

    I say "about" in both of these cases because we tipped generously... This builder's work, including his fretwork, has been nothing short of amazing and we really appreciate his talents.

    Fret dressing is a lot less work and a lot less material expense than re-fretting with Gold Evo.
    -- Don

    "It is a lot more fun to make music than it is to argue about it."

    2002 Gibson F-9
    2016 MK LFSTB
    1975 Suzuki taterbug
    (plus a large assortment of banjos, dobros, guitars, basses and other noisemakers)
    [About how I tune my mandolins]
    [7/29/2019 -- New Arrival!!!]

  4. #28

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    Gosh, I guess I need to charge more. Kidding aside, of all the tasks involved in building mando's, nuts and frets are my least favorite part (well, maybe next to finishing). Getting the string spacing just right on a mandolin nut is challenging for my older eyes and fingers. And getting the slot depths just right is a lot more critical on mandolin with its high tension, doubled strings. A few thousandths makes a big difference. But, while a Plek machine maybe helpful for a guitar, especially electrics with their slinky strings and low action, it's totally unnecessary for a mandolins. The neck is quite short and they're set up with very little relief. A good, experienced luthier can do just as well by feel (IMO). I think the biggest issue here is semantics. If they are plekking the instrument, it's not a "dressing" but a leveling- which automatically involves recrowning, sanding and polishing the frets. I hope the instrument comes back playing fantastically.

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  6. #29
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    St. Paul, MN

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    That is about the going rate here in the Twin Cities from the major repair places. And that's not including a PLEK machine. There is one in town, but I don't know their repair prices.

    Some of it is supply and demand. Here (and probably where the OP lives) there are a few, but not a whole ton of choices for repair. Other parts of the country probably have more choices so prices can be lower. And/or the cost of living is such they can charge less and still make a living.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 2018 Eastman MDO-305

  7. #30

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    We indeed don’t know about the other little issues, if the fingerboard needs work, it’s refret time. I just think that a pleck job is just as much a benefit to the shop as it is to the customer. The extra expense is sold to the customer to pay for the machine. It may very well be worth it to the customer’s piece of mind to take the pleck over an unknown luthier’s work. I’m sure it does a better job than many luthier’s can. I’m sure it does a better job than I can.

    As far as a nut, I took my almost done mandolin in to Gryphon for them to cut a nut and set the bridge. None other than Frank Ford sent me packing with a, it isn’t that hard, isn’t that critical, just eyeball it, statement. It ain’t pretty, but it works just fine.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  8. #31

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    The price for not inconveniencing the builder is apparently about $100, from your description of the issues. The shop seems to be reasonable in its price given that it has plenty of work in their queue. If they lower their prices, the queue would probably be longer and if they raised them to shorten the queue, they wouldn't make any friends that way.

    It may not be the best price anywhere, but you have choices.
    Last edited by Bill McCall; Oct-26-2019 at 4:12pm.
    Play it like you mean it.

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  9. #32
    Registered User
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    Dec 2008
    Greer, SC

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    I got a complete refret job with evo for $150 in WNC. Must be those big city prices.

  10. #33
    Registered User
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    Aug 2013

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    I agree with Brick. I know nothing about PLEX, but I'm old enough to remember when computerized wheel balancer first were used extensively. I had a set of tires installed on my car and the salesman told me how accurate the computer balance was. cost $7 as opposed to$1 for bubble balance. I told him that a certain mechanic in his business had bubble balanced the last set, I had it to 100 mph with no vibration and I wasn't planning on going faster. Since that time I have watched computer balance many times, never done one but I bet I could do a perfect job first time. The man doing a bubble balance MUST know what he is doing, the man with a computer just has to be there, so the tire seller doesn't have to hire more expensive tech. on train them, so consumer pays for machine to save seller money.

  11. #34
    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    KC MO

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoplumb View Post the tire seller doesn't have to hire more expensive tech. on train them, so consumer pays for machine to save seller money.
    The thought did cross my mind that with the Plek machine doing most of the fret jobs, the repair folks might not be on top of their game if asked to manually work on frets.
    Doug Brock
    Eastman MD315, Eastman MDA315, 2019 Silverangel Econo A
    Pisgah Wonder open back banjo, cheap old German fiddle, Martin HD28, Martin D18GE, CA Guitars Bluegrass Performer

  12. #35

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    Good comparison, Mandoplumb. And, as usual, once the price goes up it never comes back down....

    (rant beginning....) In addition, what about all the things we "need to have" that didn't even exist 30 years ago? Cell phones, internet, cable tv with 900 channels, bottled water, Starbucks, etc......

    The above represents hundreds of dollars a month, probably closer to a grand, that I spend trying to keep my household happy.......sometimes I feel like I'm trying to keep up with that hamster on his wheel......and why?

    35 years ago, single, had a used car, a couple guitars that I played about 10 hours a day, no tv, I had a wall mount kitchen phone with "message service" which had a base rate of $7.90 a month and 10 cents per call (many days I didn't even make ONE call...)

    I didn't know what I was missing. I had fun. (end of rant)

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  14. #36

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    It is hard not to fall into the trap of old fogyism. Very early on, I took a dislike to Facebook, for multiple reasons since born out in reality. Calling e contact friends cheapens the meaning. People ask me how I keep up contact with friends and I reply I play music with some, share coffee with others, pick up a phone sometimes. This approach severely limits my friends in this day and age. A few qualitative relationships to me is far better than having the knowledge someone had a hard time at the airport yesterday, or dined on the beach in Puerto Vallerta.

    Robotics is here to stay. Time will tell if we are better off in the end. Lots of people were happy being employed in factories at a wage that enabled them to raise a family. If I were to give advice to the young, it would be to own the robots. Many fine mandolins are built using them, but notice how little marketing touts this fact.
    I love owning a one man shop mandolin. It pleases the romantic in me. There is no intrinsic reason. Perhaps it’s the human connection. But I heard an interview with Tom Ellis, and I believe he was up to five CNC machines. So far, an Ellis was the best mandolin I have ever played.

    So what do I really want. I have not a clue. Confusing times we are living in.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  15. #37

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    Here’s a vid on Plek machines (there is a bit of Gopro camera work too)

    And these are actually cool machines, maybe Christmas, the year after next:

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  17. #38
    Registered User slimt's Avatar
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    Nov 2015

    Default Re: $200 to dress mandolin frets? Ouch!

    whats the hourly rate? 50 ish a hour plus materials. thats not to bad..

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