Fret Arbor Press System

  • 37 Reviews
  • Write a review

A fretting factory on your workbench! Our veteran fretting experts developed this unique system for speed and accuracy.

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Fret Arbor Press System

Item # 4481
In stock, ready to ship!

$183.83 $169.12

Total: $0.00
Quantity: 20


Fret press: arbor press for guitar fretting

Dan Erlewine demos our arbor press, which is specially adapted for fretting stringed instruments.

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A fretting factory on your workbench! Our veteran fretting experts developed this unique system for speed and accuracy.

You won't find a more thoughtfully designed and efficient arbor-based system! It's far more versatile than generic tool catalog arbors. It can fret an entire unglued fingerboard, a bolt-on neck, and most of an attached neck, quickly and consistently.

Why press frets? Faster and more consistent than hammering (and a lot quieter!), arbor-press fretting is preferred by many guitarmakers. Pressed-in frets have fewer loose ends and more uniform heights, because there's none of the recoil produced by hammer blows.

The complete system includes:

  • Heavy-duty cast steel arbor press
  • Self-leveling pressing caul
  • Five radiused/grooved brass inserts for the caul
  • Table with fence attachment
  • Hardwood neck support
  • Instructions

Designed and refined by StewMac fretting experts. Four interchangeable 2-1/2" grooved brass inserts match standard fretwire radii (7.25", 9.5", 12" and 16"), and a special 6"-radius insert holds down the fret ends when you're using glue. Additional insert radii are available separately. The arbor has an adjustable steel pinion for firm pressure.

Built-in lever return spring. The pressing caul won't fall down and dent your work—makes fretting much easier and less cumbersome. A StewMac exclusive, this is the first half-ton arbor press to feature this innovative spring recoil.

Pinion locking screw. Locks the caul down for clamping a glued-in fret (a handy feature suggested by luthier Bryan Galloup).

Versatile table attachment. The system now includes our 24-3/8" x 3" table attachment with fence, for fretting unglued fingerboards. Adjustment screws move and rotate the table forward and back, to center the fingerboard and precisely align the frets beneath the pressing caul. A thumbscrew locks the table to the arbor.

Faster fretting for production work. The table fence has a retractable indexing pin that works with the notches in our Dual Fret Scale Templates. Attach a slotted unglued fingerboard to a matching template with double-stick tape, and the pin aligns each fret directly beneath the pressing caul. A real time-saver!

Fret glued-on fingerboards, too. Simply remove the table and use the contoured 12" x 2-3/4" x 1" cork-lined hardwood neck support included with the system. (Tip: it's also a handy lower clamping caul for gluing a fingerboard on a neck.)

Already using our Fret Press Caul in your drill press? The Fret Arbor Press with Table is available separately—save money and upgrade your shop.

Product Instructions

Stewart-MacDonald Fret Arbor Press

Setup instructions and useful tips for getting the most out of our Fret Arbor Press System.

Ratings & Reviews

Fret Arbor Press System

  • Based on 37 Reviews
Displaying 2 of 4 1 2 3 4
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Fret Arbor Press System

By Gusty from Ro
(Customer's Reviews) Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I am not very happy with this press. It is very crowded, limits my possibilities, i need to use hammer, where the press is not useful. Quite expensive.

Finished hammering

By CliffE from UK
(Customer's Reviews) Sunday, April 29, 2012

Such a simple idea but this works perfectly. It is very easy to set up but really needs a very thick plywood base to enable the use of table. Not a difficulty but you will want to play with your new StewMac 'toy' straightaway, won't you? The DHL shipping to the UK is fantastic, relatively cheap for this sort of weight, and parcels can take just three business days from ordering.


By Leo M Whitebird from Mpls Mnn
(Customer's Reviews) Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A must have tool for anyone building or doing fret repair,esp. on older instruments with fragile finishes and glue joints.

Perfect fretwork

By Liuteria Balladori from Livraga - LO - Italy
(Customer's Reviews) Friday, February 24, 2012

This press is not only a time saving tool, il helps you to make an absolutely PERFECT fretting!

not completely satisfied

By lycker from cagliari, Sardinia, Italy
(Customer's Reviews) Monday, January 16, 2012

Chinese quality. not worthy of stewmac tool

Everyone needs one!

By CA Guitarworks from UK
(Customer's Reviews) Sunday, January 08, 2012

A must have bit of kit for the workshop. Quick and easy. Saves all the hastle of hammering in frets.

easy work

By LOVE THIS from Miami Fla USA
(Customer's Reviews) Friday, November 18, 2011

makes job alot easy then hammering this is a great system THANKS STEWART

My best jig yet from Stew Mac

By Rick Eagan from San Antonio, Tx
(Customer's Reviews) Saturday, October 15, 2011

I am not particularly fond of hammering in frets and needed a jig that would be reliable, fast and foolproof when installing frets. I read all the reviews on the fret arbor press and the pros and cons are as noted. They were very helpful in making a "positive" decision to purchase it. The 4 1/4 inch long threaded rod is actually a metric rod and not inches. It is 8mm x 1.25. I went to Fastenal to get the rod. As with any jig, there is a bit of problem solving, setup and time invested to ensure it works properly and as advertised.

See the photo of the press setup on my work bench. I used the setup suggested in the instructions provided. The press is totally worth the investment.

Very Poorly Made

By John Mitchell from Port Ludlow, Washington
(Customer's Reviews) Thursday, September 22, 2011

It will do the job intended. However what you have to do is take it apart an de-burr the rack and pinion gear set. There are missing part to mine. The pressure adhesive label was in the bottom of the box

I understand made in China, I have vast experience with doing business there. So the Cosmoline dripping from the parts was to be expected.

I have a some what larger arbor press, that I replaced the Stew mac one with. And have ste the other aside for what I don't know.
A Lesson learned.
unhappy in Seattle

Never Fret Again

By Bill from Puyallup from Puyallup WA
(Customer's Reviews) Sunday, September 04, 2011

I used to hammer my frets dealing with frustration and heartache with each blow of the hammer. Now after purchasing the fret press my fretting jobs are nothing to fret over.

This machine makes fretting easier and more reliable. I purchased the arbor press only as I already had the arbor bit with a 20 inch radii. I used it to fret prior to gluing to neck. The price is a steal for such a great machine. If you do a lot of fret work, this machine is highly recommended

Displaying 2 of 4
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Shown on page 9 of our latest catalog.