Hi everybody
Are there any Brits out there than could say anything about Touchstone Tonewoods in Reigate? I'm thinking of buing some tonewood and other material from them, and wondered how they are as regards quality, reliability, speed of delivery etc?
Any info would be welcome

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Touchstone I believe are run by Stentor. They are very good for violin family. If however you are looking for guitar wood/parts may I suggest that you contact David Dyke at D J Dyke Luthiers Supplies, The Hall, Horebeech Lane, Horam, Near Heathfield, East Sussex, TN21 0HR.Telephone: 01435 812315.
He's an extremely knowledgeable and accommodating chap and he will be quite happy to cut to a list rather than supplying standardised parts. I've used his services for over 30 years now, if that's any recommendation.He has a website:
Alternatively, you could try Timberline at
You need to ask for Bob Smith; the company are principally hardwood suppliers, but Bob is the instrument making specialist and will try very hard to match your requirements. He can provide a wider range of woods than David although I've noticed that David is expanding his range of late, and if you can email him a photo of something you would like to use he will try to match it. If you are making fiddles however ,stick with Touchstone. Hope that's useful to you.
Dave Y
Many thanks for the great tips, I've been searching for months all over Europe trying to source tonewoods, at last I think I've found people who understand what I'm talking about.
Here in Germany (I'm an ex-pat Brit who could be biased, but I've been living here for over 25 years and speak perfect German, so maybe I'm not), nobody here seems to know what I'm on about, no wonder their guitar-building industry went down the tube (for the most part anyway)
I've also spent a small fortune ordering tools from StewMac and LMII, as I havn't managed to sorce anyone in Europe for most of the stuff (There's a guy in Bavaria who has some of the StewMac stuff, but with a "European price adjustment", just as cheap to order them directly.
Sometimes I wish I was back in Yorkshire again, maybe I'll move back one day :-)
Thanks again mate
Best G.
You're welcome. Incidentally, there's a firm in Southend called Tonetech.
They have recently started supplying a few tools which look amazingly similar to StewMac items, but under their own brandname. They are a bit limited as yet but with a bit of encouragement they might expand their range. They do cost a bit more thsn StewMac, but with the savings on trans-Atlantic postage and duty, they work out cheaper. If you have any other specific interests, just ask. I've built up quite a comprehensive address list suppliers.


Dave Y
Thanks for the tip on Tonetech. I see they're in Manchester too, hmmm. We'll be visiting my old mum in Huddersfield in May, and we're driving over in a seven-seat VW Bus, borrowed from a mate of mine.It has lots of room in the back for luthier materials :-) Manchester isn't far away on the M62. I'm sure I could order the stuff beforehand, and pick it all up in Manchester personally, then I'll save the shipping costs to Germany :-)
Best G.
I have used Franz Dotzuer (now run by his son, Gerhard, I believe) in Erlangen. If you email me I can get his full address. He has good wood at good prices and lots of other supplies as well.

Charlie Hoffman
I'm in Yorkshire myself, and have the same trouble getting good lutherie tools. The options often seem to be either paying for import from Stewmac (paying transatlantic shipping, and risking customs duties) or making them yourself. I have made an assortment of files, fret rockers, fret guards, fret pullers, radius gauges etc. all guiltily copied from Frank Ford and Dan Erlewine.

If anyone knows a good UK source for tools I just can't hand make (like Fret crowning files) please let me know!

Totally agree Barry! It's long past time that StewMac set up a European outlet and took advantage of the huge demand over here (or had franchises to offer). We wouldn't mind paying a bit more than the US prices if the postal costs and duties were avoided. Incidentally, if you can wait 2-4 weeks use US mail rather than DHL. Paying duties seems to be be more hit and miss with the good old GPO whereas DHL hit you every time via their Delhi? centre.( I pay online now as I can't afford a translator!)

With fret crowning files I haven't seen a better deal than StewMac, even with shipping. Which leads me to point out that the various companies providing lutherie tools in Europe could do with a major shakeup. We always end up paying through the nose for the privilege of dealing with a few small firms who can charge what they like because they don't have too much to worry about. An aggresively priced StewMac outlet would wipe out the competition and probably help to make lutherie a far more affordable, hence attractive pastime/career.

Dave Y
Totally agree with you, it'd be a dream to be able to buy from StewMac directly in Europe.
You mentioned using normal post instead of DHL express: Right at the beginning I did that too, till one time I ordered some sanding blocks: I waited..and waited...and waited. After 8 weeks had gone by I phoned StewMac, and they were great: they sent the order off again, this time express (at their cost), it was there in 3 days.
2 weeks later (the package had been 10 weeks on the road by now :-)), the first one turned up, repaired with sellotape from at least 3 different post services, and with stickers on it from air New Zealand, Air India etc. I guess it'd been round the world twice.
I had to collect it, pay the duty, and then send it back to StewMac at my cost, although they transfered all the costs (including the customs duty and MwSt) back to my visa card. Their service is brilliant, things I order in Germany often take longer to arrive than an order from StewMac.
One thing I've noticed: the shipping costs for DHL express are often cheaper than snailmail! Maybe the costs are different to Germany.
As regards the customs duty, in Germany they always get you. The only difference is: with DHL, you have to pay the courier directly by delivery, but with snailmail you get a card in the post, and have to go to the customs office and pick it up yourself (after paying duty and MwSt of course)
I find it outrageous that they charge import duty and sales tax on the total amount, I mean the order plus the shipping costs. So I'm paying import customs duty (3,2%) and MwSt (VAT) at 19% (!) on the shipping costs too!
High time that StewMac opened a branch in Europe

That's a bit heavy, Graham. In the UK we just get hit,when they remember, with 17.5% VAT. Perhaps you should get orders sent to your mum and pick them up when you are over here.
I agree with you that Stew Mac shipping department are brilliant. They've just re-sent an order which never arrived, no questions asked, express delivery and full refund of postage offered if the original article turns up. That's customer service!
However we are still in desperate need of a StewMac outpost. We already have a UK Allparts which I would recommend to all UK luthiers, though only if you get a trade account with them. So come on, StewMac, bite the bullet and go multinational !

Dave Y


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