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Thread: Stew-mac prices

  1. #1
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    Default Stew-mac prices

    I see that Stew-mac's prices on several common items such as bone and wood have gone through the roof.

    Although they were never the cheapest place around, their prices for things such as bone and ebony bridge blanks are now nothing less than ludicrous.

    I'm wondering if they are on their way to pricing themselves out of business. So if anybody is considering purchasing any tools or jigs that they cannot get anywhere else, this might be a good time to pick them up. I get the feeling that they might not be around much longer.

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    I'm thinking the same thing, in a way. They seem to be playing "chicken" with the market. Kind of what seems to have happened with Duluth Trading. Raise prices, cut out the best values for your customers, don't respond to customer inquiries, and try to look like you're serving the working man type, even (Stew Mac), at least, trying to capitalize on the fact that a lot of folks are at home and might want to dive into luthiery. It appears the business has been bought by people that have little idea of who their main long term customer base has been and could be.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    9 bucks + for an unbleached saddle blank [$8 if you buy a dozen], $7 and change for a bleached one. LMI sells either one for $4.37, and they used to be the most expensive game in town.

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Since I have no valid data, no access to StewMac files at all, I have no idea about StewMac's taxable profit, expenses &c. Hence, I'm reluctant to judge their prices.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    You might wanna try eBay for (Chinese) bone nut and saddle blanks. Sure, it takes forever, but if you order in quantities of 10, the price is about 80 cents each with free shipping. About 5 years ago, I ordered about $40 dollars worth in various sizes and I still have a bunch left. So far my customers haven't been able to tell the difference between American cow bone and Pac-rim cow bone.......

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    If you are a dedicated dumpster diver / bottom feeder, you can usually find the same product in larger sizes at some of the pet supply places for even cheaper prices.

    I believe there was a thread a couple of years ago where someone found a knife making supply place that had the best prices anywhere for bone blanks.

    I usually go to one of the big gem shows or gun shows every couple of years for nut supplies. There are always a few folks who bring along a big trunk full of raw mammoth ivory tusks or sections pulled up from the permafrost in Alaska that they sell to jewelers, knife makers, and gunsmiths. I'll buy a PBR tall boy sized section for about $350. I take that back to the shop, saw it all into blanks, sell off enough to cover my cost on ebay, and the rest is free material for the next 50+ instruments.

    I find it more cost effective to worry about $450 vs $45 tuners or $85 vs $1000 cases than $8 vs $5 nut blanks, but I do understand your concerns.....

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  9. #7
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Actually, I almost never buy bone from Stew-mac. I have other sources who sell at much lower prices.
    My point was that Stew-mac's prices on many items have gone sky high.
    It makes me wonder how much longer they'll be able to stay in business.
    So, if any of you needs a tool or jig that can't be found anywhere else, it might be a good time to pick it up. They may not be around next year.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    No way; business is booming for those guys. I know them personally, including several of the big dogs; we just talked a couple of days ago (some new Condino tools are coming down the pipeline!).

    The new expansions are finished, they have a new mill in another location to process wood. Rather than convenience, they have worked out an efficient industrial process flow. The Waverly shop is consolidated there, et cetera...

    Imagine if your or my business got a massive injection of capital and people who had tremendous business experience come in and hep you take the business from a few guys that like to muck around with instruments and maintain it enough to keep them happy and modestly employed to running it like you want to become the best in the nation. It may be different than the old model and there are some new faces, but they are still guitar nerds at heart and they have a solid plan for it to succeed well beyond our imagination.

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    LMI plus free
    shipping
    Mike Marrs

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    LMI has changed from free shipping for all orders to free shipping on orders over $50.

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    philadelphialuthiertools is my new go to, at least for tools and nut and saddle blanks.
    Richard Hutchings

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    It makes me wonder how much longer they'll be able to stay in business.
    So, if any of you needs a tool or jig that can't be found anywhere else, it might be a good time to pick it up. They may not be around next year.
    Pray tell o’keyboard warrier.

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Stew Mac has ALWAYS been good to me since I started messing with this stuff in 1982. While I don't need to buy much anymore, I'll still be a loyal customer. I've never once had a problem with them. Even when they've shipped me the wrong item, I always got a ' keep it, we'll send you a replacement asap ' ..... That's how I got a TON of .090 celluloid binding when I ordered .060. Guess what that freebie is worth now !! Everybody has had to raise prices in the last few years. Yes S.M . is and always was a bit pricey, but sometimes price should not be the top concern. I can pick up the phone and usually have a great , informative conversation with Dan E. or Don M. for NO CHARGE, and they both have taught me a LOT just through these conversations ! I hope they are both still there however, I haven't called there in some time. Like Mr. Condino stated, Stew Mac ( thankfully ) isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    If you are a dedicated dumpster diver / bottom feeder, you can usually find the same product in larger sizes at some of the pet supply places for even cheaper prices.

    I believe there was a thread a couple of years ago where someone found a knife making supply place that had the best prices anywhere for bone blanks.

    I was the one that posted the thread about bone that I’d bought in Otto, NC. It was at Culpepper&co. near Franklin, NC. I bought enough bone knife scales for $20.00 to last me the rest of my life.
    Last edited by MikeEdgerton; Aug-11-2020 at 9:11pm. Reason: Fixed quote syntax

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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Kelley View Post
    I was the one that posted the thread about bone that I’d bought in Otto, NC. It was at Culpepper&co. near Franklin, NC. I bought enough bone knife scales for $20.00 to last me the rest of my life.
    These guys?

    https://www.knifehandles.com/culpepper-and-company

    Specifically this page?

    https://www.knifehandles.com/smooth-...ne/undyed-bone

    Abalone and some other stuff too.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  24. #16
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Thanks Skip; I thought it was you but didn't want to name drop unless I was sure. Those prices and selection that Mike linked are fantastic!

    Thanks to the new supplier, now we can get into endless debates about the tone of camel bone vs winterbottom!

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  26. #17
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandoborg View Post
    Stew Mac has ALWAYS been good to me since I started messing with this stuff in 1982. While I don't need to buy much anymore, I'll still be a loyal customer. I've never once had a problem with them. Even when they've shipped me the wrong item, I always got a ' keep it, we'll send you a replacement asap ' ..... That's how I got a TON of .090 celluloid binding when I ordered .060. Guess what that freebie is worth now !! Everybody has had to raise prices in the last few years. Yes S.M . is and always was a bit pricey, but sometimes price should not be the top concern. I can pick up the phone and usually have a great , informative conversation with Dan E. or Don M. for NO CHARGE, and they both have taught me a LOT just through these conversations ! I hope they are both still there however, I haven't called there in some time. Like Mr. Condino stated, Stew Mac ( thankfully ) isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
    Sometimes price is not the most important factor. If we want the business there when we need them for a special item, service or advice, we have to support them even when we could get something a little cheaper elsewhere. This is true of local hardware stores, various specific interest shops, maybe even our local luthier. I am not saying it makes sense to throw money away, but all things in reasonable measure.

    Stew Mac may be expensive, and maybe some of their tools are not really necessary, but it is awfully nice to have them around for those things nobody else carries. I am saving up for one such item right now. I wish them success for years to come.
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    I recently bought some Golden Age Loar style F-5 tuners-one set broke-everything I did was drilled right and a worm+shaft got bent also one of their cheap little exacto knives that busted down in the rod that holds the blade-I emailed them and explained and they promptly replied and sent out replacements, I've never had a problem but admit I'm a tinkerer not no luthier of much skill so don't get stuff too often.

    My Dad uses them quite a bit and was just crying the blues on how much some stuff was costing? I told him, you want or need you pay the price. I believe if they/ve just put on some new wings and such they will be in business for a long time, right now its tough all over and prices tend to go up.

    Now Peterson Strobo-clip people never got back to me on a faulty tuner! Never dropped it, it just stopped working!

    Thanks for that link Mike-I need to find some real thick M.O.P. for my Uberti Top Break grip, when I bought it, it was a custom order, took over two years but the handle is simulated pearl that actually looks like the real deal, they couldn't send real M.O.P from Italy from some reason, looks like they have a selection! I'll check later. But may leave mine as is?

  29. #19

    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    In the days before the internet, catalog sales offered a way to get greater selection. Often advertising in the back of the guitar magazines, one would send for a free catalog. StewMac was a part of that era, along with some others, as well as early vintage guitar dealer listings. Unlike some of the catalogs, StewMac never was a wholesale source for parts. Their "quantity" discounts never amounted to much savings. AllParts, on the other hand, would give half-price to anyone who "claimed" to be a store or repairman -- with no hassle.

    Same with guitar amp tubes, when Groove Tube was pioneering "matched pairs" and matched quads" and rating tubes according to perceived inherent distortion -- and charging boutique prices (before there was a "boutique!") -- a shrewd fellow could order similar tubes from Elmira Tube Supply for about $1.98 each, which was dirt cheap even 30 years ago -- and we're talking made in the USA tubes!

    Same as today, you just have to shop around. Today, gratification is almost instant, back then we had to wait a little longer.........

    StewMac will always hold a fond memory for assisting my early interest in guitar repair -- but they were never cheap!

  30. #20
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Quote Originally Posted by j. condino View Post
    ...now we can get into endless debates about the tone of camel bone vs winterbottom!
    That one has been beat to death over the years, as a matter of fact here is the link to every thread with the word winterbottom in it!

    Alright, I made myself laugh.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  32. #21
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Alright, I made myself laugh.
    Heh heh heh
    THE WORLD IS A BETTER PLACE JUST FOR YOUR SMILE!

  33. #22
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    These guys?

    https://www.knifehandles.com/culpepper-and-company

    Specifically this page?

    https://www.knifehandles.com/smooth-...ne/undyed-bone

    Abalone and some other stuff too.
    Yep, that’s the place.

  34. #23
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    thanks for the links, wow, that place has so much cool stuff, and I need bone blanks as I type.

    may be a crazy thought, but has anyone used dyed bone say for guitar nuts/saddles? might be a neat thing with color going on?

    d

  35. #24

    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    I read on another forum that Stew Mac was recently bought out by some big company. Perhaps the new corporate heads are trying to recoup some money. I'm not ashamed to admit I own a few of their tools and they are top notch. One other thing that impresses me is I've read of people having trouble with Wavery guitar tuners, sometimes quite old ones, and when contacted, SM replaced them free of charge. I wonder is that'll stop happening now?

  36. #25
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    Default Re: Stew-mac prices

    I've been building my first instrument and am planning to build more in the future. I have found that SM seems a little expensive, but I recognize they have specialty stuff. Some Jigs I know I can make myself, but other stuff will be worth spending the money. Their boatload of attachments for a Dremel tool are all pretty awesome and I'll probably have to get some more of them. The router base in particular!

    I did notice their ebony prices were a little higher than most. The radiused/slotted fingerboard I bought was nearly $40!... the cost of convenience!

    I have found that hunting around can save some dollars though. I recently bought bone nut blanks from Amazon for less than I would have at either SM or LMI. At about 1.30 each its not as inexpensive as some of you guys have mentioned, but it was a savings. Now I have enough for many instruments. I also found Grover Tuners on International Violin for a good deal less than SM. Originally I planned to get the A style Grover 309's from SM because even after shipping cost (total just under $100), it was less than LMI or other locations. On a whim I checked International Violin and found A style Grover Deluxe for just under $80 after shipping. They should arrive today. So, to my understanding I am getting better tuning machines for about $20 less. ... Not Dumpster diving by any means, but deffo a savings.

    I am not doing any inlay on this instrument because I am not equipped for it, but I'll check the link above for my next instrument!
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