Fret Arbor Press System

  • 41 Reviews
  • Write a review

Fret Arbor Press System

Item # 4481
In stock, ready to ship!

List Price $189.45
Your Price $174.29

Scroll to Top

Fret Arbor Press System

About This Item

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.

Customer Reviews

  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Average
  • Fair
  • Poor
Write a review
  • 4.05 average rating from 41 reviews
Sort by

Save the chase

(Customer's Reviews)

After reading other reviews on here about the press I was reluctant to invest.
Since most of the complaints are cosmetic and not functional, and most all of the poor reviews where from 2011 I took the chance that things have been worked out. Over all I'd say they have been. Once I cleaned up the press of the machining oil and made a base for it, I found a few sharp edges and filed them lightly. No real issue with paint as described.

My first fret job took about 45 minutes (less dressing) on a brand new fretboard, uninstalled.
Several weeks later after completing the guitar I'm working on I go to set it up, and the fretboard is perfect. Not a single buzz anywhere. I've never experienced this as a builder hammering frets. This has fully eliminated the chase the buzz from fret to fret. Well worth the money if this is the out come.
Not to mention the frets are shinny and flawless, not a single mark. What a time saver.


GREAT tool but be ready for some setup out of the box

(Customer's Reviews)

I just completed a fret job using the Stew Mac Fret Press. It actually works great and I definitely get better seated frets than with just a fret hammer but YMMV. The press itself comes with the fret caul and 6 different radius brass inserts. It also comes with a table for routing unmounted fretboards and a cork lined neck cradle for use with bolt-on necks. I have a jig that I made but it is too tall for the press with the caul installed so I had to make another one to support the neck cradle at the extreme ends of the neck. All in all it's a decent outfit but the quality overall is pretty rough. It needs some cleanup and whatnot out of the box to remove the packing grease and machining slag, and also to smooth out some of the roughly machined edges. As others have said the paint chips pretty easily but that's no big deal. I took the whole thing apart, cleaned and setup and back together in about 30 minutes. Afterwards everything works as designed and the only thing I am not happy with is the hold down screw for the press. As Dan shows in his demo video this is used to lock the press in the down position for gluing etc. Well the screw does not grab the rail hard enough to hold it under pressure and even after I tried various "fixes" I never did get it to work like I want. the only other thing is it's kind of shallow but there is plenty of room for 6 strings. I think if you had something like an 8 string you might be a little challenged for space, plus you would need to make your own wider inserts. At the end of the day I am very happy to have this tool. It works well and helps me do a nice job of getting the frets seated properly. It's very easy to use and it builds up those arm muscles too! BTW the self-centering caul is pure genius and it would be a major PITA if it didn't have this feature. So there you go my fret wielding brethren. I recommend this as a highly useful tool that will make your life a little easier and it doesn't cast a truck load of $$. Have fun and God bless! -Frank


Quicker fret installations, cheap arbor press

(Customer's Reviews)

After fretting with a hammer for quite awhile, I was not as impressed with the "precision" in which the arbor operates.

It isn't anymore or less accurate than propely weidled hammer.

However, it does save time by pressing and gluing into place simultaneously!

The arbor is really cheaply made, so I deducted a point.

Even after cleaning, lubing and dressing the threads, I have to use a tool to tighten the nut that holds the press in place for gluing.

Showing 3 of 41 Read more reviews >>

StewMac PDF Catalog, page 9 See Fret Arbor Press System
on page 9 of our StewMac Catalog PDF

12MB File

View with Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 or higher.
Download Adobe Acrobat free from Adobe.