Pricing & Services
FOR DETAILS OF THESE AND ADDITIONAL
LUTHIER SERVICES, SCROLL DOWN
• $45 Basic setup (+ strings)
• $70 Deluxe Setup (+ strings)
(supply your own if you’d like).
-with glossy maple fretboard: add $25
-with Floyd Rose Tremolo: add $25
•with nickel wire: $320
• Nubone: $40
• Nubone: $40
•Two pots: $35
•3-way Toggle: $40
•5-way toggle: $50
Tele mod to a Strat
(bridge and neck pups only)
•with push-pull: $55
•with Callaham blender pot: $60
•Coil tap: $60
•Treble Bleed mod: $40
Archtop/Semi -hollow guitars
(ES-175, 335, 125, 135, 150, etc)
•Min. bench fee added to order: $50
•Resolder ground to tail piece: $50
• P-bass: $90
•Complete Rewire: $50/hr
•S-1 switch replaced: $60
All electronics pricing is for labor only.
Pickups can be brought in, but all
other switches, jacks, pots, caps and
circuit wire must be bought here at
Straight Frets. All electronics jobs include
having pots sprayed with contact cleaner.
My basic setup includes cleaning and conditioning the fretboard with steel wool, polishing the tops of the frets to a glossy shine, wiping the body down with guitar cleaner, tightening the tuners, adjusting the truss rod, and setting the action & intonation. Recommended if you’re about to go into the studio or about to sell the axe on Craigslist. It takes a little more than an hour and can usually be done while you wait.
DELUXE SETUP (normal wait time)
The focus here is making a guitar look, feel, and sound new again. I take the time to remove the hardware and buff the body, neck, and head with cotton wheel buffers and Menzerna compounds. I also use my metal polishing station to polish the visible metal parts, then clean and lightly oil the threads of the bridge hardware on Gibson style bridges. I also take a little more time polishing the frets, insuring they are chrome-like all the way down to the board. This looks very nice when the light hits your neck at an angle and you see your frets shine in the corners. Action, truss rod, and intonation adjustments with a Peterson strobe tuner are also included. This setup is done within a week or less and costs $70, due to the extra time and materials involved.
SADDLES and NUTS
Straight Frets offers five different saddle and nut materials,
Iboney is what is used as Straight Frets’ preferred bone material. It is cow bone soaked in a ivory treated liquid of some sort. It has some of the most magical acoustical properties of any material I’ve found. The final shape is cut from blanks to fit your instrument with tolerances up to one thousandth of an inch, and has an antique white color. I have installed this material into countless concert classical guitars, Les Pauls, and steel string acoustics for well over 14 years with incredibly satisfied customers. Click here for more info on Iboney.
Carbon fiber is a material that has become more fashionable for luthiers in both the steel string and classical worlds in recent years. Lighter than aluminum yet stronger than steel, it’s favored for reducing the weight of bracing while adding rigidity to the top. It is charcoal black in color and possesses great acoustical qualities. We’ve been quite amazed how certain older Gibson acoustics came alive with a large shim under the saddle, in addition to having classical guitars boosted in projection with solid carbon nuts and saddles.
Woolley Mammoth Tusk Ivory is harder to come by, but has the warm, bell like tone of ivory, but also has interesting grain patterns similar to the overlapping rings of a Spirograph from the 1970’s. Being that it’s at least 15,000 years old, it’s probably the oldest component of any guitar.
Buzz Feiten nuts have a slight fingerboard overhang to solve the age-old problem of lower fret positions being sharp. There’s a few different Gibson Les Pauls getting retrofitted on my Before and After pages. They are also good for Fender Stratocaster style guitars. Made of solid bone and guaranteed to make you guitar audibly more in tune. Click here for more information about Buzz Feiten.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR PICKUP INSTALL
I prefer to install the Fishman Matrix Ellipse Blend system into both nylon and steel string guitars. These retail for $220 but I sell them to my customers for $180. I have them in my personal instruments and can give you a demo of how wonderful they sound. They utilize a control base that borders the top inner rim of the sound hole, essentially being invisible when being played and eliminating the need for a huge hole to be cut into the side. The unit uses both an under-the-saddle transducer and a gooseneck microphone that hovers visibly in the center of the guitar’s acoustic chamber. The blend slider allows you to control how much of each you’d like, giving you a very real acoustic sound.
The installation requires an input jack to be installed in the butt of the guitar, in addition to the transducer to be properly fitted under the saddle, a 9-volt battery pack (Velcro canvas pouch) to be stuck to the heel of the guitar, and the aforementioned control base to be mounted to the rim of the sound hole. If the latter requires a custom shim made to create a level mounting surface, $25 is added to the cost of the installation.
I carefully remove the frets after heating them slightly. I prefer to take as little wood as possible off of the board when prepping it for frets. I clean the slot thoroughly with specialty tools and a vacuum. I then measure the depth and width of each slot to insure a proper fit of the new frets. Client’s fret choice needs to be made here at the shop if possible. I have a sample 21-fret neck with different sized wire every three frets. Frets are then over radiused to insure proper grip of the tang on the walls of the slot. Frets are glued in while either being hammered or pressed into the neck. Clamping cauls are used to help hold even pressure while the glue dries. Frets are then leveled with string pressure factored in, then crowned and finally the ends are gently rounded. Each fret is then polished in five stages to a chrome-like luster. The fingerboard is cleaned and conditioned with oil.
LEVELING, RECROWNING, AND DRESSING FRETS:
Given that there is enough meat to the fret, frets can leveled and recrowned (rounded) a few times before a refret is needed. This process involves leveling the frets with specialty tools that are accurate to 1/10,000th of an inch. The diamond crowning files are then used to create a smooth and uniform cut across the back and front side of the fret, yet never touching the fretboard or the extreme tops of frets. The ends of frets are rounded to give a smooth feel, yet allow maximum playing surface. Frets are then buffed shiny smooth, and the board cleaned & oiled.
The Plek machine is a highly sophisticated CNC fret crowning machine that takes into account the distance between every fret and every string at every unfretted note with the string tension on, while removing very small amounts of fret material. This aspect of string tension is also what makes our hand fret leveling process very accurate. The Plek service, which is outsourced, can also cut the proper width and depth slots into a bone blank. The luthier skills needed to complete the job (shaping/polishing the nut, rounding the fret ends, and setting the action & intonation) are done here at Straight Frets. Please click the link below to read more about this service.
Read more about Plek.
All wiring is done with the highest quality CTS pots with tolerances of less than 10%. We also use braided cloth wiring, Switchcraft jacks, and the Callaham blender pot, which exchanges the 2nd tone knob for an alternate 5-way pickup selection, allowing the player to have 2 additional sounds: the Tele mod (bridge and neck pickups only), in addition to all three pups at once.
Any of the potentiometer, switch, or pickup replacements costs reflect a direct fit replacement. Any special modifications to the guitar or pickups are discussed prior to any operation. We never assume an agreement.
The SwitchCraft jacks and Callaham blender pots we use are cryogenically treated. This process takes steel and holds it at a temperature of -300 degrees Fahrenheit for a 24 hour period, then allows the metal to rise back to room temperature over another 24 hours. This modifies the molecular structure of metal to a more uniform grain alignment, increasing its strength, hardness, and acoustical qualities. Used by NASA, NASCAR, on US military circuit boards, and of course, at Straight Frets electronics department. Please call or email us with any electronics questions you might have. When mulitple electronics jobs are combined, the bill reflects a 10% reduction of labor costs.
Regluing bridges involves heating the surface to allow for glue to be softened. Bridge spatulas are used to cleanly remove the bridge. Micro chisels and sand paper are then employed to allow for a clean bond held with specialty clamps and cauls intended just for this job. We like to wait at least 2-3 days of drying time.
SHELL DOT INLAYS
A common addition to handmade concert classical guitars, shell dots help dress up the edge of a fretboard much nicer than white-out or a piece of tape. Brad point bits are used to precisely drill the holes without chipping any surrounding finish. Once glued in, Straight Frets diamond leveling files (as sold in the eBay store) are used to file the tops of the shell uniformly into the existing finish, which is then buffed to a uniform gloss. The end result are dots that look as if they were installed before the neck was finished. Dots are carefully selected for uniform color, and placed to shine from the player’s perspective at the 5th and 7th frets, or with the addition of the 9th fret.
CARBON FIBER & BONE SHIMS
Carbon fiber shims are quite possibly the best thing since sliced bread. It comes in three thicknesses: .010”, .020”, .030”, the latter being the thickness of a credit card. We glue these on to the bottom of nuts or saddles, but can also custom cut them for you unglued if you’d like to experiment with stacking them. On occasion we have to glue two pieces together, which of course doubles the cost. On older Martin and Gibson acoustics, especially those with adjustable height screws on the sides, we strongly suggest a chuck of carbon to fill that void between the saddle and the soundboard. You won’t believe your ears!
Bone shims come in .020” thickness and are a great alternative to carbon at the nut if your guitar has a lighter colored neck. It can also be used for saddle shimming and like the carbon, can be left unglued for you to experiment with different heights and strings.
POLISHING (buckle rash removal & hardware detailing):
Although buffing is part of my deluxe setup, extreme cases like the PRS with buckle rash on my Before and After pages require a separate charge of $45 an hour. Time is calculated on my shop stopwatch timer, so that accurate assessment of the charge is given. The PRS took an hour and 20 minutes ($60). Time can be taken to remove tuners and other hardware, polish them separately, level the finish with 500, 1000, 1500, and then 2000 grit wet and dry paper, then buff the finish to a like-new luster. High speed cotton wheel buffers are utilized to bring out the original shine and luster of faded nitrocellulose, French polished, and lacquer finishes. Menzerna polishing compounds (as used by Fender and Gibson Custom Shops) achieve consistent results with electric and acoustic guitars alike. All of this reflects my years of detailing cars as a teenager in addition to appreciating a well-maintained instrument.
ADDITIONAL LUTHIER SERVICES