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Changing the neck on your guitar is possible. Even changing only the fretboard on your guitar neck is possible. It’s not easy and cheap, but it can be done with a starting price of $300. 

It’s not something everyone can do, like changing pickups or electronics, but a skilled luthier shouldn’t have a problem replacing let’s say a rosewood fingerboard from your Gibson Les Paul guitar. 

I’ve had guitarist friends who have done it in the past. For example, one friend had an Ibanez guitar with a “tree of life” inlay on the fretboard. Throughout the years he started really disliking the way it looks, so he decided to change it. 

And make a 22 frets board, as opposed to the 24 fret that was originally on. He went through it, hired a local luthier, and he made it happen. He was very satisfied with the result. 

With this fix, he kept the guitar that means a lot to him, and adopted it the way he likes. So yes it’s possible to do such things with your guitar neck. But also some other things, you maybe didn’t know it can be done. 

In this article, I will cover everything you wanted to know about replacing your neck or fretboard on your guitar. How much it cost, and some other interesting things regarding your guitar neck upgrades. Here are the topics I will cover in this article;

  1. Can You Change The Fretboard On A Guitar?
  2. Is It Easy To Change A Fretboard?
  3. The Cost Of Removing The Fretboard
  4. Removing The Fretboard On Acoustic Guitar.
  5. Can You Change Inlays In Your Fretboard?
  6. Can You Put A 22 Fret Neck On A 21 Fret Guitar?
  7. Using Neck Plates
  8. Conclusion

Can You Change The Fretboard On A Guitar?

Changing the fretboard on a guitar is definitely possible by a luthier. Though it’s not a simple task and needs to be done with precision. A regular person without experience will have difficulty.

If the guitar neck has binding, and thick poly finishes, it will be harder to replace the neck and fretboard. 

Regardless, it’s actually quite common to replace a guitar neck or fretboard. You could do it as a repair or if you would like to change the styles (inlays). Even more common if the guitar has a sentimental value and you would like to keep it.

Related article: Guitar Neck Binding: Benefits, Downsides & Refreting Guide

PRS Se Custom 22

Changing only the neck or fretboard is definitely possible. It’s just whether or not it’s worth the cost.

The Cost Of Replacing Guitar Fretboard

Replacing a guitar fretboard can cost you from $300 to several thousand depending on the guitar and fretboard or neck that you want. 

If you have for example an expensive vintage Martin acoustic guitar, and you want the Brazilian rosewood to be a wood choice for the fretboard, with some expensive inlay style and material, it will cost you several thousand dollars. 

But in most cases, it’s not that extreme, from my experience, and the people who did it, the cost was between 300$-500$. Those were normal guitars Ibanez and Gibsons, in the 1500$ price range.

For me, this is the price range where it’s ok to do such repair or upgrade to your guitar. It makes no sense to replace the fretboard on a 400$ Epiphone unless you’re really fond of this guitar and it has sentimental value to you. 

Upgrading most of the things on your guitar, it’s like a car upgrade. It’s your personal thing, and don’t expect if you change your fretboard for 300$ on your 1000$ guitar, that this is all of the sudden 1300$ guitar. No, on the second market, it will still be 1000$ guitar.

Quick Guide To Replacing Fretboard

As I said, it’s not something you would normally do by yourself. But I will run you through the process of doing it in case you decide to give it a try, on some old cheap acoustic guitar that you have no use for anymore. 

Here’s the high level steps to replacing a fretboard. (So you at least know what happens during the process).

  1. Prepare and place a  heating blanket that you’ll place on your fretboard to soften the glue that holds the fretboard to the neck.
  2. Gently work a spatula between the pieces until the fretboard pops off. 
  3. Sand the surface of the neck to ensure its smooth for a new fretboard
  4. Glue the fretboard onto the neck and trim it to fit. 
  5. Place the new frets onto the fretboard.

Can You Change Inlays In Your Fretboard?

Inlays in your fretboard can be changed. It’s a pretty common thing when you want to upgrade looks on your guitar. And it is not that expensive. 

For example, if you have a Les Paul style guitar that has dot inlays, and you don’t like them you can replace them with trapezoid shaped ones, which will make your guitar look much closer to the original.

Something a luthier can do for you, and it won’t cost you a fortune. For a simple change like that, you will pay between 100$-150$.

There are many inlay modifications you can do. If you don’t like white plastic dots, you can replace them with abalone ones. Many shapes and materials are available on the market today.

Once I did it on my guitar. I had a Hohner acoustic guitar in turquoise green color. The guitar had plastic dot inlays. I took it to my luthier and he put rectangular shaped ones instead, and they were from green abalone. 

It was a perfect match. It made the guitar look much cooler. It was a 150$ guitar that I put 150$ inlays in. No, it was not a 300$ guitar after, it was still 150$ guitar, but for me, the change in the look was worth it. 

Related Article: Guitar Inlays: Impact To Tone, Changing & Playing Without It

Can You Put A 22 Fret Neck On A 21 Fret Guitar?

You could put a 22 fret neck on a 21 fret guitar if they are bolt-on necks  (such as Fender guitars) and vice versa.

The frets do not mean anything when it comes to the 21/22 fret guitar. The tones were there and always will be. Frets only show you where to push the string to get a certain tone of a certain height. 

The issue is that the frets will ‘work’ only for certain predefined lengths (scales). 22 fretters just have the last fret overhang so it doesn’t move the bridge or mess with scale length or intonation at all.

But the more complex answer would be; if the length between the nut and the bridge with the new, 22 fret neck, won’t change (or the change will be small enough so that you are able to set the octaves with adjusting the bridge), then yes, you can. 

If the length will change significantly, and yes, even one fret change will be significant, then no, do not do that. Or yes, you can, but be ready that the guitar might sound a bit off.

In most cases on Fender guitars, necks on Stratocaster guitars are interchangeable. And there are a lot of aftermarket replacement necks if you want to experiment with them. But you have to know your measurements. Not all will work, or fit. 

Using Neck Plates

You will find them on guitars that use screws to connect the neck to the body, and it is exclusive for these models. So they are only on bolt-on necks, set-in necks don’t have them. 

Typically, Fender guitars have them, and others that are imitating Fender, or are in the style of Fender bolt-on guitars. From cheap Squier to high-end Suhr or Tom Anderson guitars. The neck plate will hold the screws in one place, and it will prevent the screw from damaging the neck.

There are many neck plates on the market, if you’re in the process of building a guitar for yourself, or you just want an upgrade on your existing one, there are many to choose from. 

The only thing you need to worry about is the dimensions, materials used, and the number of screws. 

You should get the same size as it’s on your guitar, and you can experiment with the design as much as you like. It is a nice way to upgrade your guitar or replace the damaged neck plate.

When talking about Fender neck plates, which are most common, they are interchangeable. You can put a new blank neck plate on your MIM Fender guitar if you don’t like the “F” plates that come with the newer Player MIM Strats. I don’t see the point, but you can do it easily. 

I personally have done it many times. Once I took on a project to transform my regular telecaster guitar into a country-style one. I put a different pickguard on it, engraved faceplate, and neck plate, so it would fit my liking. 

Another time I bought a pretty rough-up Fender USA on a second-hand market. It didn’t have the original plate on it. So I went to the Fender dealer, both to replace the original one and just replace it. As simple as that. 


Like, most things on guitar, fretboards, necks, or neck plates are replaceable. Sometimes it’s not worth it, sometimes it’s necessary. Maybe sometimes you want to upgrade your guitar. And if it will make your guitar more desirable to play for you, then it’s worth It.  

People are often afraid to do things on their guitars just because they want to keep them original, and that’s fine. But there are times when all of us get a little tired of our instruments. So spice it up with a new neck, or a new fretboard with new inlays can do the trick.

I’ve done many modifications to my guitars. And no it’s not always paid off, money-wise. But it always paid off with the joy of playing the guitar, the plays and looks and sound just the way you want. 

Ifandi S.

About Ifandi S.

Ifandi started Strumming Bars to answer all the questions of a guitarist. As a self-learned guitarist, he remembered how frustrating it was to not find answers to his many questions in the journey. With Strumming Bars, that's no longer the case!

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