Humidity. Travel. Gigs. Seasons. Pets. Children. Disaster. A lot can happen with your electric guitar as you go through the days and years. Repairing your guitar can cost anywhere from $50 to upwards of $500, which isn’t very helpful, is it? You won’t be surprised to know that if something happens to your guitar it is most likely fixable, but the costs to repair will vary wildly based on:
- Where you live
- The type of repair necessary
- The skills of the luthier or guitar repair technician you hire for the repair
The reality is many electric guitar issues are easy fixes. For example, it’s not completely uncommon for a solder joint to come loose on your output jack, volume or tone pots, pickup selector switch, or even your pickups. Or maybe you dropped your guitar and a tuner broke. That’s also an easy fix.
But if you have one of the more egregious issues that can arise on a guitar such as a broken headstock or the necessity for a refret job then that changes things. And it also changes the price.
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Table of Contents
How much to fix a guitar’s headstock?
Let’s start with one of the more extreme repair examples. Let’s say your headstock snapped off at the nut as is not uncommon on Gibson Les Paul style guitars thanks to their scarf joints. I’ve even received a new Les Paul style guitar that had a crack in the neck due to shipping damage.
You’re not going to like this, but this type of repair is going to likely cost you at the bare minimum $300 and likely more. It’s a time consuming process and requires a skilled luthier. It might even be a better idea for you to simply buy a brand new neck for your guitar instead of getting it repaired, but this obviously depends on how attached you are to the guitar and its value.
How much does a complete refret fret job cost?
This is another expensive repair where it might not be worth it for your particular instrument. But if it is be prepared to pay no less than $300. It’s possible in your location this might cost a little less, but it’s also possible it will cost closer to $400 or $500.
A complete refret is another time consuming process that requires a skilled luthier. They have to heat a fret, remove it, heat the next fret, remove it, and so on until all of your old frets are removed. Then they have to clean up all the fret slots and likely sand the fretboard. Then measure and cut all of the new frets from a spool of fretwire that they have to radius to your particular fretboard. Finally they can install the new frets. But it’s not over yet! Once all that’s complete they have to do a complete fret level, crown, and polish.
How much to do a more simple fret job, like a fret level, crown, and polish?
I say simple, but it still requires some skill. That said, doing a fret level, crown, and polish is something you can easily learn to do on your own! It requires a few basic tools, but I’ve done many fret levels. The total time for the whole process is ~2 hours and it’ll cost you upwards of $100, usually closer to $150. And it’s also guitar and fretboard dependent. If your fretboard has binding or anything else unique about it you can expect to pay extra.
Guitar Setup Products I Use
🪛 FretGuru Ultimate Fret End File (I also own the FretGuru sanding beam, fret crowning file, and string gauge)
🏖️ Micromesh fret sanding pads – For polishing the frets to a mirror shine
💂 Fret guards – Lots of different options here, any will be suitable; I personally use blue painter’s tape to tape off the fretboard
Watch the following videos as well. First, “How To Fix Sharp Frets” will teach you how to, well, fix sharp frets! Btw, fixing sharp frets will cost around $100, but this depends on where you take it. If you’re already getting a fret polish or a fret level then this will likely be included. But if you have a guitar with a bunch of sharp frets and that’s the service you require expect to pay around $100.
Next, this guitar setup 101 video about how to set intonation is a must as well:
Those two videos will save you thousands of dollars over a lifetime of not needing to take your guitar in for basic fret jobs.
How much does intonating my guitar cost?
Checking and setting the intonation is a part of any respectable guitar technician’s basic setup. And a basic setup cost varies widely by location, but generally it’s under $100 at the time of this writing. What a basic setup would include is: restring, check neck relief (straightness of your neck), check and set intonation, and polishing your guitar. Generally this does not include a fret polish, but some guitar stores will include that as well.
How much does a fret polish cost?
As I just mentioned, it may be included in the cost of a basic setup, but it’s unlikely. To do a thorough fret polish takes 30-60 minutes and will cost you $50-100.
I highly suggest you learn to polish your own frets. It really makes your guitar play a lot better and the cost for the tools is less than $50. Really all you need is some blue painter’s tape to tape off your fretboard wood (you can also buy metal fretboard guards), micromesh sanding pads, patience and time. Watch the “how to fix sharp frets” video above for a lesson on how to polish your frets.
How much to cut and install a new nut on my guitar?
If you have a premade nut and you just want it install (I recommend GraphTech, they’re only $15 and they’re great) then your cost to install will be around $50. But if you need a nut cut from a blank and installed it will be around $100.
This is another service you can learn to do with basic tools and some time on YouTube. The most difficult part of the process is actually removing the nut on your guitar since they are often glued in or have poly finish keeping them in place.
How much does it cost to install new guitar pickups?
Pickup installation is an easy thing to learn and will cost you about $20 in tools. But if you take it to a luthier or guitar repair technician it’ll usually cost you ~$50 for the first pickup, with the second an extra $25 or so. And this also might depend on the guitar. Likely you will need to pay for a new set of strings as well since access to the pickups depends on your guitar.
What about other electronics like volume and tone pots?
Depending on who you’re hiring for the job, if they’re already replacing the pickups replacing your pots might be included or an extra $20 or so. But if you only want your pots replaced expected to pay $50+.
How much does a basic electric guitar setup cost?
This depends on if it’s a hard tail, tremolo, or floating bridge (Floyd Rose). Floyd rose will be the most time consuming, and therefore expensive.
What does a basic setup usually entail?
- Tighten all hardware
- Adjust truss rod if necessary
- Set intonation if necessary
- Fix simple fret issues like sharp or sprouted frets
- Clean and polish fretboard
- Possibly polish the frets as well
- Clean the guitar body, neck, and headstock (and tuners)
- Clean electronics (and/or spray with Deoxit if any of the pots are scratchy)
It sounds like a lot, but a basic setup takes more technicians about an hour and costs around $100.
Should you take your guitar to Guitar Center to get repaired?
A common question but without an easy answer. Your local Guitar Center should have a skilled guitar repair technician or luthier on staff. It’s impossible for me to say if yours does so I highly suggest reading the Google reviews of whichever shop you’re taking your guitar to.
Final Thoughts On Guitar Repair Costs
It’s no fun when your guitar needs a repair, but it is inevitable. Ideally you will learn to do the basics and leave only the more extensive and difficult repairs to a professional. Personally, I find it really fun repairing guitars and I think you will too if you give it a try. Worst comes to worst you have to end up taking the guitar to a shop for the repair anyway, but likely you’ll learn something useful along the way.
If you have any guitar repair questions leave a comment below and I will answer it as well as update this article.