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Home : Fretting supplies : Pressing : Fret Arbor Press System

Fret Arbor Press System

Read 38 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

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  Item# Description In stock Price Quantity
4481 Fret Arbor Press System
  • Heavy-duty cast steel arbor press
  • Self-leveling pressing caul
  • Five radiused/grooved brass inserts for the caul
  • Table/fence attachment
  • Hardwood neck support
  • Instructions

5-7 days

4480 Arbor Press only, with table
  • Heavy-duty cast steel arbor press
  • Table/fence attachment
  • Instructions

5-7 days

Selected currency  


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Fret Press Inserts
StewMac Wide Fretwire
Fret Press Caul
Neck Support Caul
Dual Fret Scale Templates

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 arbor press with table is available separately—save money and upgrade your shop.

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 Ratings and reviews
Fret Arbor Press System
Fret Arbor Press System
4 out of 5 stars
Based on 38 ratings Write a Review
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Displaying 1 – 10 1  2  3  4 >
5 2-07-2014
Great features tailor for luthiers.

The day I received my press I did two fret jobs. The first one by hammering in he frets which took about 30 mins to get everything seated. And one with the press which seated all the frets the first time and in less than five minutes. (Minus dressing of course). That alone makes it worth it's weight in gold. The amount of time saved is tremendous!!! The press is built just fine I don't understand people's complaints of paint chipping or the packing grease, ect. Sure it takes a few minutes to set it up, but so does every other tool you purchase. The Spring return is a great feature as well as the lock feature for gluing frets. If some of these guys would get back to work instead of writing reviews about how much a tool disappointed them they'd see how useful this fret press is!!!

John, Bluesman Vintage Guitars  Nashville tn Read my reviews (2)
5 1-06-2014
Must have tool

@ 4seasonspickups we use one and we are very happy with it after the 1nd time you use it you've made your money back.

4 seasons pickups  Netherlands Read my reviews (11)
3 1-04-2014
Beats Doing it by hand.

After doing regret jobs by hand I found this a good tool after you get it sep up properly and learn how to use it. Easier on the hands than the vice grip system and faster.

BᎠRᎩNG ᏥCᎨN  San Antonio, Texas Read my reviews (2)
2 10-17-2013
Poorly Made

Save your money, Buy the cauls and use a drill press, or real arbor press. The press included is basically a cheapo special...... Not what you would expect for such an expensive price.

Retro Guitars  Hilliard, Ohio Read my reviews (3)
2 5-22-2013
Disappointing quality for an Essential tool

I consider the Fret Press an essential tool and at 168 USD a long term investment, so this is an in depth review. I used the older “grey” unit in my own home shop and high end production shop to happily fret several hundred instruments with it. I bought this to replace my personal unit I traded away some years ago. As other reviewers have pointed out, there are fit and finish issues with the current units. I contacted Stew-Mac before the purchase and asked if my unit could be inspected to insure there were no issues. It was even noted on my invoice. However I still encountered uneven feet that needed filing to rest flat on a bench and an arbor recess clogged with garbage I needed to scrape clear to insert the caul. Whatever inspection was done clearly made no attempt to actually test the unit. This is on top of grease and a poor chipping paint job On the design, I don’t care for the spring return. This seems like more upsell bells & whistles. I had no problem with the non-return design. The spring return is tricky to setup and must be adjusted if you change between necks that sit at a different height in reference to the tool. This wastes time. Worst of all, the spring return changes the feel of the arbor. It’s difficult to gauge how much force you’re applying at the bottom of the travel when the spring starts working. Finally I resent being forced to purchase the table with fence. To each his own, however I subscribe to the practice of installing frets last after the fretboard is glued to the neck and all shaping is done. If anyone wants the table, you can have it for the cost of shipping. My conclusion. If you’re work is limited to bolt on necks, I would seriously recommend using the arbor cauls with a drill press and saving your money.

Midnight Luthiery  USA Read my reviews (6)
4 4-14-2013
Its Pretty Good

I had a hard time getting to set high enough for set neck guitars. It would work great for bolt ons. Some of the parts on the one i got were stuck so bad that when i went to lossen the nuts to adjust it, they bent and wanted to strip out. I just use the cauls on my drill press, seems to work better that way

TisDale Custom Guitars  Renton, WA, USA Read my reviews (52)
Customer supplied image for review
3 3-24-2013
Not the Quality I Expected

I have to say, this is my first disappointment when purchasing from StewMac. I don’t know if this makes any difference but in the pictures and videos the lock-down screw is shown in the bottom hole but mine is in the top hole. Every single nut on the unit was loose and needed to be tightened. I was not able to install the fret press caul on the first attempt. When the Ram was tapped and threaded for the set screw it left a larger bur on the inside that prevented the press caul from going in far enough. I had to drill it out and then I was able to install the press caul. Not a huge deal but I would think standard QC would make sure the caul would fit prior to boxing it up for shipment. My other beef is with the fretboard table. The directions say “to retract the pin out of the way, simply back out the Allen screw on the other side of the fence.” Well there is no allen screw. The pin is a solid piece which is held in place by a machine screw threaded into the back of the plastic fence. The screw head is just barely large enough to hold the pin in place. I’m not using the fret scale templates so I don’t need the pin but this is very hokey at best. Just not the quality I would have expected from StewMac. All this being said however, I used it to install frets on a tenor ukulele neck and it did seat the frets much better than when I was using the press caul in my drill press. I have a guitar repair vise coming this week and I’m hoping the quality is much better on it.

Dominator  Roseville, CA
Customer supplied image for review
4 3-20-2013

The quality is good enough. This tool will not solve all of your challenges. Be aware of back bow and be prepared to deal with it.

Fleer  Imperial, Mo. Read my reviews (29)
5 3-02-2013
Fretting made easy...

This is so much better than pounding frets with a hammer. Some initial setup is required and making a 1 1/2" base made it very portable. This does require a little thought and inventiveness. If you can't do this, I'm not sure one should be fretting at all. Other reviewers complaints were paint chipping...mine isn't chipping and I don't care if it did. Made in China...yes, it is. I priced USA made and it was over $400, without the StewMac mods and accesories. The StewMac metal label had to be stuck back on and it's still there. One does have to clean cosmoline off the ram, removing the front plate to do so, and then adjust, and reassemble. This is not hard for someone that builds guitars. I highly recomend this unit but don't expect to lift it out of the box and throw ebony into its jaws. Learn to set up and use it just like you did with your table saw and spray equipment. Hugs....

Nymphadora  West of Phoenix, AZ
2 8-12-2012
Disappointed: crude workmanship, not up to Stew-Mac standards, not what I expected

Before I go any further, I suggest you read the review left on 3-15-2011 by Smokie in IL; that review pretty much nails my overall opinion of this Arbor Press.

I would add that I had high expectations- not only based on all my previous purchases with Stew-Mac, but also based on my experiences with an older Stew-Mac Arbor Press at a repair shop I worked at in the past. I am now on my own, slowly building up my own supply of specialty tools. This current Stew-Mac Arbor Press is a newer/updated version with a few nice additions, such as the spring-loaded arm and fretboard table attachment. However, the overall build quality it not even close to the older Stew-Mac press. Again- read Smokie's review for more detail. This is my first, and hopefully only, disappointing Stew-Mac experience.


Joe B.  New York, NY
StewMac responds

Joe B.,
We're sorry you were disappointed with the Arbor Press. We offer a 100% guarantee; if any item fails to meet your expectations, you may return it, unaltered, for a refund or exchange.

Displaying 1 – 10 1  2  3  4 > /\ Top of Reviews

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