StewMac Alternatives for all the "not designed by Erlewine" stuff?

Messages
190
Yes, Stewart MacDonald has everything you need. Yes, these tools pay for themselves when you do enough repair jobs. Yes, buying cheap tools will only hurt me in the end.

But I cannot shake the feeling that even a small portion of the profit of these tools is the markup due to the name. For example, I have a digital caliper I bought at Menards for $15. These are the same calipers that StewMac throws in with their $600 shop kit. They are just different casings, but I bet you they work the exact same. I know there are tools that are made by StewMac that you cannot get anywhere else due to Dan Erlewine and friends designing them. But what about the smaller stuff? What tools from StewMac have alternatives that work just as well for less?
 

Rob Taft

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,518
Odd first post, if you know anything about tools you know the tools that are general purpose can be bought pretty much anywhere. Me, I don't buy cheaply made tools. If it isn't guitar specific I look for the best I can afford from the usual places that sell good quality tools. That said, I do shop at StewMac or LMI, and I'm happy with both of these companies.
 
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Trebor Renkluaf

I was hit by a parked car, what's your excuse?
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,579
My favorite is the bridge jack. In one of his books Dan recommended using a bicycle tire wrench to do this. I bought a set of three for like five or six bucks, glued a small piece of leather on one and it works great. Then along come the StewMac bridge jack for a measly $43.75. Sheesh, don't insult my intelligence. I love StewMac and try to support them, but at the same time I look for alternatives in the real world. Often times they re-brand stuff and sell it at a substantial mark up.
 
Messages
15,910
Some folks think they're the only place to buy a tool for luthiery.
I was talking to the local luthier about how I couldn't find 500K Ohm linear taper pots with solid 6mm shafts & he said Stew-Mac has everything. No, they don't!
It made me lose a little confidence in the guy.

One I see people buying from S-M is shielding tape. You can get it cheaper elsewhere.
I don't get those rulers meant for measuring action. Any good steel machinist's rule would do the job.
 
Messages
190
Some folks think they're the only place to buy a tool for luthiery.
I was talking to the local luthier about how I couldn't find 500K Ohm linear taper pots with solid 6mm shafts & he said Stew-Mac has everything. No, they don't!
It made me lose a little confidence in the guy.

One I see people buying from S-M is shielding tape. You can get it cheaper elsewhere.
I don't get those rulers meant for measuring action. Any good steel machinist's rule would do the job.
Plus, you can get your pots from Mouser for like $4 a piece. They don't have the paper-in-oil caps everyone takes to, but they provide you with most any other electronics part for much less than most places will charge.
 
Messages
15,910
Paper in Oil is snake oil anyway.
Yes, I bought some pots from Mouser, the bushing wouldn't fit the holes, LOL!

No, I didn't ream the hole. I finally broke down & bought from Ibanez.
$36 for two 500K Ohm linear taper 6mm solid shaft pots ($12 of which was the FedEx fee)

Digi-Key is good for electronic parts also.
 
Messages
190
Paper in Oil is snake oil anyway.
Yes, I bought some pots from Mouser, the bushing wouldn't fit the holes, LOL!

No, I didn't ream the hole. I finally broke down & bought from Ibanez.
$36 for two 500K Ohm linear taper 6mm solid shaft pots ($12 of which was the FedEx fee)

Digi-Key is good for electronic parts also.
I found that Digi-Key has too many products that require a minimum purchase. And next time you have a look through Mouser, check the data sheet provided with each item. They'll give the exact dimensions for each item. And SAE is easy to convert to Metric with the power of the Internet.
 
Messages
15,910
In that case there was only one M/N taper solid shaft 6mm pot, so I just ordered one to see if it would fit. Yes, I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I thought I'd just get a M/N taper to replace the A/C taper.
I can't remember why I couldn't see what I needed on the datasheet.
Ibanez is using bespoke pots, which really gets my goat, but what can you do?

They've also engineered the new bridges so you can't use after-market parts, even the vibrato arm is a one-off thing you can't easily replace.

Add:

looking at the datasheet now & wondering why the heck I didn't notice the 3/8" bushing, which I know wouldn't fit in a Metric-sized hole.

http://www.mouser.com/ds/2/54/PDB181-GTR-1013660.pdf
 
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KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,245
In a half-assed defense of StewMac and their ilk, sometimes it's easier to buy everything from one place, at least with small stuff, even if everything in the order isn't the best deal, and especially if you subscribe to their "StewMax" program that gets you free shipping for a year. You start ordering from too many places, and your shipping charges can get out of hand quick, particularly since some vendors like to use shipping/handling charges to buffer their profit margins in an attempt to make their parts pricing look competitive.
 
Messages
15,910
You start ordering from too many places, and your shipping charges can get out of hand quick, particularly since some vendors like to use shipping/handling charges to buffer their profit margins in an attempt to make their parts pricing look competitive.
Yep, I order from MarkerTek because of their free shipping. Sometimes the part is cheaper from RedCo, but then the shipping kills that.
 

Jon C

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
17,347
If you have an old style hardware store nearby go in and completely browse everything they have. Usually lots of, use this to do that, stuff.

Also, learn to make your own tools, jigs and fixtures.
I'd have to buy some tools to make my tools, jigs & fixtures. ;):cool:
 

KGWagner

Member
Messages
3,245
... I don't know why but I and others in the trade a long time call it a scale.
Because waaaaay back in the oooolden days, when the air was clean and sex was dirty, engineers were often their own draftsmen and the rulers they used had several scales on them. There'd be the standard 1" = 1", then there were 2:1, 5:1, 10:1 (or whatever) scales on it so when you were drawing, you could scale things up or down to fit on a sheet of paper.
 

Jack Daniels

Member
Messages
1,975
My favorite is the bridge jack. In one of his books Dan recommended using a bicycle tire wrench to do this. I bought a set of three for like five or six bucks, glued a small piece of leather on one and it works great. Then along come the StewMac bridge jack for a measly $43.75. Sheesh, don't insult my intelligence. I love StewMac and try to support them, but at the same time I look for alternatives in the real world. Often times they re-brand stuff and sell it at a substantial mark up.
Brilliant! I’ve been looking for a used one for several years. I’m going to go order a tire spoon tonight. Thanks.
 

Panzer917

Member
Messages
324
In mild defense of some of Stew Macs tools such as the digital caliper. Comparing it to my inexpensive non name one, S.Ms has a couple differences. There's has two notches for measuring fret heights.
Both are small but usable changes, worth the up charge...probably not, but I really could have used one of them recently.

As others have pointed out, sometimes convenience outweighs the time spent looking elsewhere.
 
Messages
17,700
My favorite is the bridge jack. In one of his books Dan recommended using a bicycle tire wrench to do this. I bought a set of three for like five or six bucks, glued a small piece of leather on one and it works great. Then along come the StewMac bridge jack for a measly $43.75. Sheesh, don't insult my intelligence. I love StewMac and try to support them, but at the same time I look for alternatives in the real world. Often times they re-brand stuff and sell it at a substantial mark up.
what about the $15 bent up wire hanger sold as a tool for placing pots in a semi hollow...
 

Mayo5

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,402
Relatively good timing for this thread. Looking at nut files and files for bridge pin string slots at various places all seem to be extremely expensive. (100$+) I've looked at Stewmac, LMII, and amplified parts.
Is there any other alternative that I'm missing?
 

GA20T

Member
Messages
4,455
Relatively good timing for this thread. Looking at nut files and files for bridge pin string slots at various places all seem to be extremely expensive. (100$+) I've looked at Stewmac, LMII, and amplified parts.
Is there any other alternative that I'm missing?
I like to make every tool I can—a big part of the fun—but in terms of nut slotting files, the gauged, purpose-designed type are really the cat's meow for quick, easy, professional results. That would be the one thing I'd be happy to drop a hundred bills for again if I lost everything. I have the Japanese Uo-Chikyu/Hiroshima files and they've been great, but the S. Mac type with handles would be a little more comfortable to work with I would think. Here's another source for price shopping: http://www.japarts.ca/

As for ramping string slots, I've bought several sized needle file sets over the years, really cheap, and they usually include a rectangular file with a convex cutting edge and smooth faces (small set is .049" and the larger one .060". I've further shaped a few of those on the bench grinder and they work well, if a little slow. I also use the side of sharp drill bits (w/ drill) at times. This requires some attention and a steady hand.
 
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Mayo5

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,402
I like to make every tool I can—a big part of the fun—but in terms of nut slotting files, the gauged, purpose-designed type are really the cat's meow for quick, easy, professional results. That would be the one thing I'd be happy to drop a hundred bills for again if I lost everything. I have the Japanese Uo-Chikyu/Hiroshima files and they've been great, but the S. Mac type with handles would be a little more comfortable to work with I would think. Here's another source for price shopping: http://www.japarts.ca/

As for ramping string slots, I've bought several sized needle file sets over the years, really cheap, and they usually include a rectangular file with a convex cutting edge and smooth faces (small set is .049" and the larger one .060". I've further shaped a few of those on the bench grinder and they work well, if a little slow. I also use the side of sharp drill bits (w/ drill) at times. This requires some attention and a steady hand.
Thanks, I will research these and the alternatives. I'm slowly working my confidence up to doing a full re-build/neck reset on a vintage Gibson B45 12 String.
 




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