How to Refret a Bound Neck

Written by eric linkenhoker
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How to Refret a Bound Neck
Protect guitar binding when refretting a bound neck (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Some guitar repairmen say that neck binding must be removed before replacing frets. Fortunately, refretting does not require removing the binding. However, refretting a bound guitar neck requires more care than an unbound neck. The way the fret grooves are cleaned out changes and the binding must be masked for protection. A little extra preparation makes refretting a bound guitar neck possible without removing the binding.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Flush cutting end nippers
  • Razor knife
  • Ruler
  • Fret wire
  • Hammer
  • Small, flat wood block
  • Masking tape
  • Fine file

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  1. 1

    Remove the strings and lay the guitar on a flat surface. Place a mat or towel under the guitar to protect the finish.

  2. 2

    Remove the old frets. Clamp the frets with flush cutting end nippers and pull straight up from the to pull the frets free of their grooves.

  3. 3

    Clean the fret groove with a razor knife. Be careful to work from the binding to the centre of the neck to avoid damage.

  4. 4

    Measure the fret grooves and cut fret wire sections 1/2 inch longer than each groove. Cut the bottom of each fret, know as the tang, away from the edge of each fret at a 45-degree angle, slanting away from the fret ends. The tang will be shorter than the fret and fit in the grooves.

  5. 5

    Place the frets in the grooves and tap them in with a hammer. Place a wood block on top of the frets to apply the pressure from the hammer across the frets and avoid damaging the fretboard.

  6. 6

    Remove the overhang of the frets flush to the guitar binding with flush cutting end nippers.

  7. 7

    Mask the binding with tape. The tape will protect the binding while filing the tops of the frets.

  8. 8

    File the fret ends at a 45 degree angle with a fine file. Replace any tape that gets filed to protect the binding.

Tips and warnings

  • Some guitars have binding with ridges that sit flush with the fret. Sand these ridges off to make refretting easier.
  • Do not attempt a refret without the right tools. The guitar will be damaged. Take the guitar to a professional for any doubts.

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