In February 2015 we shipped an order of 10 Aperio neck shims to Jamie Arnett at 21 N Shafer St, Athens, OH 45701. There was something familiar about that address and we looked into it. The shipping and billing address was actually Stewart MacDonald’s. Hmm. Excitement!
Was Jamie ordering them for himself at Stew Mac’s place of business on a credit card registered to Stew Mac’s address? That was the pretense. We thought at the time that our product had caught the attention of a big player in the guitar business who might have wanted to do business with a smaller American business. We shipped the order with an enclosed letter to Jamie offering to produce shims for Stew Mac in bulk. We never got a reply. They were simply intending to engineer their own but obviously needed ours to help them do it. According to Eric Coleman from Stew Mac, they used our shims, all 10 of them, for market research purposes, engineered a shim, and one year later offered them for sale. How very corporate of them.
We recognize that our neck shims are superior in every way to Stew Mac’s shims because we actually build and repair guitars as the primary means of our business. We are more than happy to discuss the merits of our design – Start here if you are interested.
In fact, Eric Coleman told us that Dan Erlewine had been “touting a .040 shim for years”. We found that quite surprising since that number doesn’t just come out of a hat. We do not read Erlewine’s publications, but if he did tout a .040 shim, we believe it is just a verification of our own shim design, as he is a well known and respected luthier.
We don’t object to Stew Mac making their own shims. We just believe they were unethical in how they went about it. Needless to say, Stew Mac is viewed by some as an established player that takes ideas from others, some useless, some valuable, re-creates them and due to the size of their company markets heavily to capture the market without regard to who invented or created the product. It’s all legal, it’s capitalism. They are well known for their high pricing, perhaps gouging is a better word. But hey, business is business right? We at Aperio actually design and build high end Fender style necks so I guess we are guilty too, but we are a small business. And we do make all our products in the USA.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Thanks Stew Mac, and give Jamie a pat on the back. We’re looking forward to seeing our future products in your next catalog! 😉