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Fret Arbor Press System

Fret Arbor Press System

Fret Arbor Press System

Fret Arbor Press System

Item # 4481
In stock, ready to ship!

List Price $251.70
Your Price $231.56

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Fret Arbor Press only, with table

Fret Arbor Press only, with table

Item # 4480
In stock, ready to ship!

$147.97

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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 #4481 Fret Arbor Press System includes:
  • Heavy-duty cast steel arbor press
  • Self-leveling Fret Press Caul
  • Five radiused/grooved brass inserts for the caul
  • Table with fence attachment
  • Hardwood neck support
  • Instructions
    #4480 Fret Arbor Press Only includes:
  • Heavy-duty cast steel arbor press
  • Table with fence attachment

Note, the Fret Press Only option does not include the Fret Press Caul attachment, and is intended for those who already have the caul (commonly used in a drill press).

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 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.)



CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 65 WARNING
WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.


Video

Instructions

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

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4.0
  • 4.13 average rating from 77 reviews
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5.0

Looks Good

By

Verified Buyer




I haven’t used this press but it will be way better than my hammer...stay tuned!

4.0

Pretty good; Definitely useful

By

Verified Buyer


I read all the reviews and decided to pull the trigger anyway at the sale price. I’m glad I did. I agree with the comments about the rough machining, inverted springs, sloppy paint job, etc.—it was a bit Chinese/Harbour Freight kind of ugly. (For example, the front plate was indeed upside down) But, for me at least, the amount of extra setup/cleanup/rejiggering work I had to do more than paid off in the result, which was a tight, efficient, quiet fretting job that needed minimal leveling afterwards.
Upshot: if you’re particular about manufacturing details and finishes, this machine may not be for you. But if you can get it at the sale price and you’re willing to mess around with it for an hour or two out of the box, this will do the intended job well. Lack of coherent instructions added maybe 15 minutes of “which threaded rod goes where...” kinda stuff, but if you’re building guitars, you oughtta be able to figure it out.
I just find myself wondering why Stew Mac wouldn’t put a little extra elbow grease into it, charge a little more, and make it something you’d be proud to have up on your bench. Just sayin.

Response from StewMac


Hi James,

Thank you for sharing your honest feedback with us, we genuinely appreciate that. We are sorry to hear that the Fret Arbor Press System did not work for you as expected. Your comments have been passed along to our Product Development team for their consideration. In the meantime, we have sent you an email with a few options for you to consider. Just reply to that message when you get a chance and our customer service team will take care of everything. We look forward to hearing back from you and can't thank you enough for this helpful feedback.

4.0

So Long Hammer!

By

Verified Buyer


The QC comments by others are not unwarranted. Yeah, its greasy out of the box and needs to be cleaned. Yeah, the setup instructions are incomplete, but the way I figure it, if I can't get my tools setup, I probably have no business building guitars.

In my case, I was missing a screw, and the small plastic clamp plate was drilled out of plumb too. It's frustrating, and of course I wish it worked perfectly out of the box, but a quick trip to Home Depot to get a new screw, and a minute drilling out the plate and it was good to go. I also got a longer threaded rod to accommodate my thicker workbench since the included one was too short (M8x1.25 BTW).

As usual, StewMac customer service was great. They offered to send me a complete new fence assembly. When I declined, they gave me a store credit anyways, which more than covered the cost of my Home Depot run.

As for the tool--what can I say? It's a lever. It applies a force. Looking forward to using this for better fretwork, for pushing in tuner bushings, and for pushing magnets into pickup flatwork to make my own bobbins.

5.0

Excellent Fret Arbor Press

By

Verified Buyer


I was a bit apprehensive having read some of the earlier reviews regarding quality issues. However, I decided to purchase it with the expectation of having to perform some corrective work to make it work properly. It would appear that StewMac have addressed all of the quality problems as mine came out of the box in perfect condition. It just needed a slight wipe over to clean off some oil in a few places.
This is a very solid & substantial piece of equipment which I'm sure will last forever & makes fretting jobs quick & easy. This is going to save me quite a lot of time in the future.
It is an excellent press & I'm so glad I made the decision to get it.

5.0

ALWAYS GREAT QUALITY

By

Verified Buyer


HAVE NOT USED IT YET BUT EXCITED TO DO SO THIS NEXT WEEK

5.0

Press

By

Verified Buyer


press for pressing fret wire into slots

5.0

Excellent

By

Verified Buyer


Excellent quality as always with anything I have purchased from stewmac

5.0

Quick and effortless!

By

Verified Buyer


I am starting up a guitar shop and gathering tools up. Having a bit of wrist issues, this helps me out a ton!

1.0

Sub standard product lacking any level of quality

By

Verified Buyer


I was taken back by the extreme poor quality and high level of defects in this product. After receiving the Fret Arbor Press and struggling to follow the incomplete and confusing instructions, I was taken back by the overall poor quality. Machined surfaces are unlevel, paint runs are all over the part, rust is coming through very thin and obviously unstruck sub plating, there are large chips chips and material voids in the casting, severa holes severely off center and poorly located. I could go on, but suffice it to say, I wish I had read the other reviews first. I usually defend the higher price I pay for Stewart McDonald tools by knowing that have purchased something that is going to be of high quality, accurate and long lasting. That is certainly not the case with this item. It is a cheap Chinese import that will require a substantial amount of rework just to get it to the adequate level if that is even possible. Very disappointing!

Response from StewMac


Hi Charles,

I know that we already sent you a merchandise return label so that you can send the Fret Arbor Press System back free of charge for a refund, but we also wanted to thank you for sharing this excellent feedback with us and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. I've placed your comments with our Quality Assurance and Product Development Teams in hopes they can address those issues as quickly as possible -- customer comments like yours have been the catalyst to many changes to our products.

3.0

Disappointing, but functional I guess. Feels like a hacked-together solution

By

Verified Buyer


My experience and opinion is sadly similar to "Christopher from Fort Mill, SC"'s review. This tool doesn't live up to StewMac's reputation -- it feels like harbor freight quality at the Stewmac premium-quality price. The press arrived filthy (grease and machining chips) requiring a disassembly & cleaning before being put to service. The individual brass cauls are nicely machined, but the rest of the set has a sort of hacked-together feel to it; a striking contrast. The wooden neck rest is used for bolt-on necks. The plastic bare-fretboard tray is held in place with a clamp but feels like an afterthought as it cant be used on a benchtop unless the user makes some sort of stand/bracket to elevate and make room for the clamp screw, or bolt the whole thing to plywood and let the clamp hang off the end of your bench while you work. (you can see this in Dan E.'s demo youtube video) Further, I don't think the press can reach upper frets on most assembled set neck guitars (too shallow), so keep your hammer. That said, it has worked well on new builds but I've needed to change my procedure to fret the neck assy. before gluing to the body -- not my preference. I purchased this tool on sale for $206. I would not buy again in hindsight; too many shortcomings.

Response from StewMac


Hi Jon,

Thank you for sharing this excellent feedback with us, we genuinely appreciate that. We are sorry to hear that the Fret Arbor Press did not work for you as expected. If any of our products fail to meet your expectations, you are welcome to send it back for a refund, exchange, or store credit. If you can, give us a call at 1-800-848-2273 so that we can further assist you. We look forward to hearing from you.

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