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No. 113




Life begins at 30 When Tascam introduced the Portastudio in 1979, no-one foresaw the revolution that was being sparked






















Introducing the latest member of the Marshall family – the Class5. A tonally rich 5 Watt all-valve combo that exclusively features true class A circuitry from input to output, plus an abundance of pure Marshall tone, feel and response. Conceived in the wake of numerous requests from both professional stadium fillers and bedroom widdlers alike, this compact yet punchy 1x10" amp is the answer to your low wattage, big tone prayers! Ideal for use at home, the studio, rehearsal or small gig, the Class5 is all-valve Marshall tone at its best – pure, audacious and inspiring!

To find out more about the Class5 contact: Marshall Amplification plc Denbigh Road, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK1 1DQ or visit the official Marshall website:



SECTOR SPOTLIGHT • TRAD 37 Believe it or not, there is nothing more dynamic in MI at the moment than the humble ukulele – we take a look at it and its cousins



It was 30 years ago this year that Tascam introduced the Portastudio to the world. Since creating the market, the company has confounded competitors by remaining the vanguard. We find out how

SECTOR SPOTLIGHT • HI TECH 28 NEWS 6 Oyster buys MB titles, Peavey offers free membership, JHS licensing award, G&L goes to Go To

DRUM NEWS 12 All the hot happenings for the tub-thumping community


Computers are where it is at these days, in the pro studios and the bedrooms. We examine the boxes that turn analog into virtual

RETAIL MI Pro’s unique collection of news and interviews concerning the business and work being done on MI’s front line

PLASA 14 Numbers down, but optimism up

MUSIC CHINA 17 UK exhibiters gear up for October’s big Asia show

BPM 21


The DJ’s answer to PLASA?

SELECTRON 32 Clive Norris bares his soul


Barretta talks tiers

BARNES & MULLINS 46 New management, new products




MBF and LMN join forces to adopt a musician, Korg product release, Vintage clinics, Chappells recitals, NAMM University

Gig Gear in Hertford enjoys the middle market

FRONT LINE 55 How training can help the pizza business

Wind up in Wales






miPRO OCTOBER 2009 3


Working smart


Working under the radar is, by its very definition, working smart.

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here’s a lot to be said for keeping under the radar, but it’s something a lot of us find pretty hard to do for some reason. In this month’s issue we talk to a couple of companies that have made something of an art out of keeping quiet. Strings & Things (page 34) distributes some of the biggest names in the industry, but it’s the names that we tend to think of, rather than the distributor. The article in this issue looks at the Picato string and accessory manufacturing operation in Wales – and very impressive it is, too, but this article could well be the first many people have heard of it. Likewise, Morico (page 43) is the distributor of arguably the most prestigious drumkit manufacturer in the world, DW, and hired a high profile sales director in the shape of Paul Barretta. The fact that this was a year ago, but it is only now that the flag is being waved, underlines the case that it is the work in the field that counts. In similar vein, PLASA’s managing director, Matthew Griffiths, described how this year’s PLASA Show (report, page 14) saw some of the biggest companies in the audio and lighting businesses being forced by the pressures of the recession to limit the amount of space they booked for their stands at Earls Court. The result, he felt, was not that less business was done, nor even that less product was showcased, but rather that these companies thought more carefully about how to use the space they had. There was an efficiency and a style in the image projected that made for more productive dealings. The fact is, when working in limited space and with limited time, our business – particularly and especially in an industry such as MI – boils down to the relationships we develop day to day. These conversations and deals that go on at trade shows or on the shop floor are not registered in sales reports target setting, but without them, there wouldn’t be many sales at all. Working under the radar is, by its very definition, working smart and while one would hope to be proud of the company one works for, when representing a brand we should put that brand before the company. Thinking like this and considering the number of brands dealers represent on a daily basis should encourage us take even more care in developing our relationships with our retailer customers.


Andy Barrett



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Oyster acquires its pearls Butterworth bows out as former MB titles now in the hands of Acoustic and Bass Guitar magazines’ publisher HERALDING A significant realignment in the consumer MI magazine market, Oyster House Media, publisher of the Bass Guitar and Acoustic magazines, has purchased Guitar Buyer and Drummer magazines from Graham Butterworth’s Davenport Publishing. “We are very excited about the acquisition of these two leading titles as it strengthens our portfolio considerably and affords us a superb cross-section of magazines dedicated to every genre and musical discipline,” said Oyster House’s publisher and managing director, Hugo Mongomery-Swan. “Negotiations with Davenport Publishing began back at the time of LIMS this June and since then we have moved swiftly and without complication to conclude a deal that both parties are very happy with.” Former owner of the titles and MI industry veteran Graham Butterworth added: “I am delighted to have concluded the sale with Oyster House. The

company is a genuine family concern with great vision and passion for the subjects and markets these titles cover. “Since I have gained an insight into their business development plan, I can say that the future looks very exciting indeed for the new Oyster portfolio. It’s good news for the industry that an independent publisher is making such great strides in these challenging times.” The move strengthens Oyster House’s position in the MI market and follows a major expansion at its Devon headquarters and the successful transition of Acoustic and Bass Guitar to monthly publication. Montgomery-Swan says the acquisition will give Oyster considerably greater bargaining strength within the news trade and offer a better deal for advertisers. The two former Davenport titles will remain based in Cambridgeshire for the time being and no staff changes are planned. OYSTER HOUSE: 01884 266100

Duran Audio hires Lindsay-Johnson Lewis and Taylor also bolster sales team with focus on Axys DURAN AUDIO has announced the addition of Max Lindsay-Johnson, Steffan Lewis and Andrew Taylor to its sales and marketing team. Lindsay-Johnson joins Duran as international sales manager following his recent, short-lived post at Studiomasters. He will be based in the company's new R&D and production facility in Zaltbommel, Netherlands. Duran’s Steffan Lewis, who has been with the company since 2002, now takes on the role of technical sales for the PA/AV market while Andrew Taylor joins the company to focus on technical sales for theatre and touring. Taylor joins Duran Audio UK from Stage Electrics where

6 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

LINDSAY-JOHNSON: Based in the Netherlands he was an audio project manager. He will be working in close association with Chris Full, Duran Audio’s theatre and touring consultant, to grow the Axys brand. DURAN AUDIO: 029 2076 3423

JHS wins licensing award Spongebob musical instruments recognised for original project JOHN HORNBY Skewes & Co has scooped a prestigious award for its Spongebob Squarepants Real Musical Instruments from the Licensing Source Book Awards in a ceremony held on September 10th at the Lancaster London Hotel in Lancaster Gate, London. The award was presented in the Innovation category and has been taken by the Garforth supplier of general MI as vindication for its imagination in looking for ways to encourage young people to take up musical instruments. “The important word in the Spongebob range is ‘real’,” said a delighted Dennis Drumm. "These are not toys, they are real musical instruments that we are putting in the hands of the youngest prospective musicians in the UK – and around the world. JHS’ leap of faith in creating the category

and acquiring the worldwide rights to license SpongeBob SquarePants Real Musical Instruments is turning in to a massive success for JHS, domestically and in a growing number of export markets, including Canada, France, Germany – even Australia and New Zealand, are going nuts for The Sponge." The judging for the product award categories, for which 4,500 products were entered, was conducted by a panel of retail buyers including those from Amazon, Tesco, Bhs, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Mothercare,, Tammy, Hamleys, Waterstones and WHSmith. The judges assessed each

product entry against the criteria of the excellence of design, innovation and originality; consumer targeting and quality of manufacture and packaging. JHS: 0113 286 5381



Peavey brings indies to the MIA MI and audio giant resolves to boost trade association’s small dealer membership and its own sales targets PEAVEY HAS Announced an incentive scheme to bring smaller retailers into the MIA. Under the terms of the scheme, the company will reward qualifying dealers by paying for a year's subscription to the association. The company says

Clive Roberts, MD of Peavey Europe. “Industry-wide promotions such as Learn To Play and Weekend Warriors, which help drive customers into music shops, can only be run by a trade association. The same applies to finance schemes like Take It

“We believe a strong MIA is important for the future of the industry.” Clive Roberts, MD, Peavey the promotion is ‘independent and sales-target based’. Peavey admits it is hoping its scheme will boost turnover, but stresses that it is eyeing longerterm benefits for MI as a whole. “We believe a strong MIA – where retailers have at least as loud a voice as suppliers – is important for the long-term future of the MI industry,” said

Away. So we're doing our bit to encourage more retailers to become members and make the MIA stronger and more representative, so it can continue to promote music-making.” Paul McManus, CEO of the MIA, welcomed Peavey's move, while stressing that it was an independent scheme, run with permission of, but not under the

auspices of, the association. “Peavey has long been a prominent supporter of the industry – sponsoring the main stage and hosting the exhibitor party at the LIMS show, for example – and we applaud this latest initiative,” he said. “The MIA naturally welcomes any move that increases our membership and allows us to undertake more promotions that get people playing an instrument. But just as importantly, we're sure that every retailer who joins the association as a result of Peavey's initiative will see tangible rewards." Peavey said that details of the scheme, which came into operation on September 1st, will be explained to dealers by Peavey representatives as part of their normal call cycle. PEAVEY: 01536 461234

Go To bags G&L US guitar brand joins UK Breedlove distributor G&L GUITARS, the final incarnation of the legendary Leo Fender and George Fullerton guitar partnership, has been signed for UK distribution by Go To Guitars. The brand, managed by leading US Audio firm BBE since Leo Fender’s death in 1991, has flourished in the USA and some other territories, but is regarded as never having achieved its full potential in the UK. Go To’s MD, Tony Owens, believes that will change – along with the fortunes of BBE’s effects pedals, which Go To will also be distributing here. “We’ve been fans of both brands for a long time and were introduced at Musikmesse in Frankfurt to BBE executives Joe Allrich and Rob Rizzo by Musik Wien, who also distributes our Fairclough Guitars in Germany,” Owens told MI Pro. “Both of these lines are extremely successful in Europe and indeed the world. We have retailers who have no idea that George Fullerton, who designed the famous Fender guitars, and Leo Fender were the designers and founders of G&L.

“G&L has a number of patents that do not appear on any other guitars, including magnetic field pickups, which are louder, but have much less background noise than other pickups, the saddle lock bridge, which vastly improves sustain, the dual fulcrum tremolo, Tri-Tone circuitry, PTB tone controls and their own unique way of inserting truss rods that again is a major improver of sustain.” The Tribute series, which is made in the Far East, has the same patented parts and features the same pickups used on the USA guitars – made in the Fullerton California Custom Shop and shipped to the production lines overseas. “As with all our products, BBE effects and G&L guitars will be supplied on a level playing field. We ensure that everyone buys at the same price, whether big or small, all retailers are treated the same.” GO TO GUITARS: 01925 444696


ROBERTS: Doing his bit

Blackstar sets sights on United States UK amp firm establishes standalone US operation through former ESP man BLACKSTAR AMPLIFICATION has appointed Loren Molinare to head its latest venture – the formation of Blackstar USA. Blackstar USA has been launched to supplement Blackstar’s existing US distribution via Guitar Center, the amp maker’s sales and marketing director, Paul Hayhoe, told MI Pro. “Loren is a seasoned industry professional,” commented Hayhoe. “He was with Line 6 for a number of years and has worked with major names like ESP Guitars. He’s been in a couple of highprofile signed bands so he has excellent artist connections.” Hayhoe said the move follows an exceptional period of growth for Blackstar, which now has 100 UK retailers. As a consequence, last week it relocated to a considerably larger facility at the business park where Blackstar is based

MOLINARE: Good connections and the number of UK staff reached 15, following the appointment of a new engineer, new accounts staff and customer service agents. “We doubled our turnover last year,” concluded Hayhoe. “The new Series One is shipping and going down well and we have some new products ready, which we’ll be showing at NAMM.” BLACKSTAR: 01536 312620

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 7


Musical entrepreneurs Yamaha and Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts awards for youth songwriting and marketing winners announced YAMAHA AND THE Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) have announced the six winners of the 2009 Make It Break It (MIBI) awards, acknowledging the UK’s most outstanding young songwriters, with a judging panel headed by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. This year saw new promotional partners EMI publishing, HMV retail and XFM Radio. The winners are: (Age 14 to 16) Alex Cheatle, Cameron Maunder and Kirsty Keatch, and (Age 17 to 19) Joni Fuller, Polly Mackey and Sarah Wood (pictured with sister and co-performer Rachel). The six winners selected by the judges will receive their awards and get to perform live with a session band in front of an audience of invited guests at the 2009 MIBI Ceremony on October 31st in the Paul McCartney auditorium at LIPA.

"I've been involved with MIBI from the very beginning," said broadcaster Mark Radcliffe. "One of the main reasons I'm committed to it is because the songs are taken very seriously. It's not about fashion or the band or the production – it's about the song.” The winners each receive prizes including an all-expenses-paid music academy at LIPA with a host of masterclasses and an A&R meeting with EMI along with a recording session. In addition to the winners’ prizes, the contest also offers the winners’ schools a £500 prize of Yamaha equipment. On top of that, the school with the most applicants will receive an on-site master-class crafted for that school by a LIPA lecturer. YAMAHA: 01908 366700

Reverb in Sheffield fades to a close Yorkshire store closes amid controversy over performance REVERB HAS closed its Sheffield store – one of the six stores the company obtained following the closure of the Sound Control chain in April 2008. The store was closed on September 1st by the Reverb management, owing to its failure to match up to the company's criteria laid out in its business plan. All of the other five Reverb stores remain open. “We are 12 months into the business now and many of the areas we are operating in, stores, website and so on, have all worked as planned,” Reverb's managing director, Andrew Landesberg, told MI Pro on September 3rd. “The Sheffield branch – our smallest branch – simply didn't match our criteria.” He also explained that the last of the payments to the Sound Control administrators, Deloitte & Touche, had been made recently. “We have just cleared the last of our obligations to the Sound Control administrators,” said Landesberg. “This was predominantly the stock that the administrator owned and insisted upon being purchased as part of the deal to take over the stores. “Other than that, we are happy with the way things are going – and like everyone else, we would like things to be

8 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

LANDESBERG: Looking forward better, but the summer is behind us now and we are looking forward to things improving in the busy season that's coming. The indications are positive.” The reasons Landesberg has given for the closure of the store have not been accepted by former management and staff at the store, who claim that the store was working well. Certain formeremployees are now looking at the possibilities of opening a new store in the city to fill the vacuum.

PRS for Music caves to Youtube New licence ends a nine-month dispute, but the majors are only likely winners from the lump sum deal THE PERFORMING Rights Society (PRS) and Youtube have agreed a licence that will allow music videos streamed via the Youtube site (owned by Google) to be seen in the UK for the first time since a dispute began in January. The deal is reported to be backdated to January 2009, when Youtube’s previous licence expired. As a result of the agreement, the PRS statement read: ‘the songwriters, composers and music publisher members that PRS for Music represents will be rewarded when their music is used’. “It is important that those who are creating music – the writers and composers we represent – be rewarded when their works are used,” commented Andrew Shaw, MD of the broadcast and online division at the PRS. “This is an achievement for songwriters, composers and the Youtube community alike and it reinforces the value of our members’ work.” “We are dedicated to establishing and fostering relationships that make Youtube

a place where existing fans and new audiences can discover their favourite content – whatever it might be,” added Patrick Walker, Youtube’s director of video partnerships. Which all sounds very nice, until one discovers that there are more nondisclosure agreements on this one deal than most companies would see in a year. The reason, it would appear, is that the PRS has agreed a single lump sum for the licence, rather than the reduced figure of 0.085p per stream it was hoping for. This means that songwriters and artists will receive less per song stream the more those songs are streamed. The Guardian newspaper revealed that the gagging orders on the negotiators are such that even the board of the PRS do not know the finer details of the deal. The real winners of the deal, then, would appear to be Youtube and the major record labels, which will take the healthiest of the cuts from the single lump sum the PRS has been given.



Focusrite focuses on retail Select group established for pro equipment and reps repositioned in UK and overseas FOCUSRITE HAS been working with select professional equipment retailers to establish a network of UK pro dealers. These stores will be the only outlets in the UK where customers can purchase Focusrite's ISA range, the Red range, the Liquid Channel and the Liquid 4Pre. Since these premium product lines are concentrated on select retailers, participating stores will be able to demonstrate units, loan items to prospective customers, and will always have units in stock available for purchase. Participating stores are: Birmingham Digital Village, Bristol – Digital Village, Edinburgh – Red Dog Music, Herts – Studioxchange, Leeds – AudioCooker Music, Liverpool – Dolphin Music, Liverpool – Studiocare Professional Audio, London Clapham – Digital Village, London Romford – Digital Village, London Soho – HHB Communications, Manchester – PMT, Newcastle Upon Tyne – Sounds Live, Poole – Absolute Music Solutions. In other news, the Focusrite sales team has undergone a reshuffle. UK sales manager Steve Beeston is now looking after northern MI dealer accounts instead

L to R: Neil Johnston, Steve Beeston, Damian Hawley, Nick Venables of those in the south. Neil Johnston continues to maintain his responsibilities in the pro and education sectors, while also looking after the southern MI dealer network. Nick Venables is now sales manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), having previously been in

Essential Pro Tools Avid brings new recording trio of composition, editing and production bundles to market AVID HAS announced the release of a trio of new Pro Tools Essential bundles, under the M-Powered Essential moniker and bundled them with MAudio interfaces, including a library of over 60 virtual instrument sounds. The M-Powered Essential software comes in three configurations: Pro Tools Vocal Studio, Pro Tools Recording Studio and Pro Tools Key Studio. The Pro Tools Vocal Studio will ship with the Producer USB microphone, designed to record vocals and acoustically played instruments, which

10 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

can then be remixed using the Vocal Studio software. Pro Tools Recording Studio includes the Fast Track USB audio interface and is designed to allow music enthusiasts to record, dub, edit, mix and blend digital sound. Pro Tools Key Studio allows the user to record a single keyboard track or create an orchestral recording using the included M-Audio Key Studio USB keyboard. Rob Ruccia, chief engineer of the software’s beta tester Uptown Recording Chicago, commented: “Pro Tools Essential is the best way for entry-level Pro Tools users to begin their path to larger and more feature-packed versions of the software”. Compatible with both Mac and PC, the three bundles will be available from midSeptember at an MSRP of £79. More information can be found on the website. AVID: 01753 655999

charge of the north of the UK. Damian Hawley remains global sales manager. Nick Venables commented: “I enjoyed my time looking after our northern UK dealers and wish them all the success for the future.” FOCUSRITE: 01494 462246

Double dose for Elixir Strings & Things alongside Westside to supply the UK

ELIXIR, THE coated string and cable specialist, a sub-division of WR Gore, has told MI Pro that it has added Strings & Things as an official distributor of its products in the UK. This places Strings & Things alongside Westside Distribution as a co-distributor of the brand and its products. The details for both suppliers are listed as follows. Westside Distribution, Unit C, 139 Lancefield Street, Glasgow G3 8HZ. Strings & Things, Unit 3, 202 - 210 Brighton Road, Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex BN43 6RJ. STRINGS & THINGS: 01273 440442 WESTSIDE: 0141 248 4812



Becky Stanton talks to MI Pro about AVSL Group’s distinguishing features and its retailer relationships... Year Established: 1998 Number of employees: 47 Is business up or down compared to last year? Our core business is up based on like-for-like sales to date, however, it has been noticeably much harder to sustain growth compared to previous years. We have seen a gain in product areas away from our more traditional sales channels. Our range of music products and accessories has produced strong results and we intend to expand our range before the end of this year. Following the successful integration of the product portfolio of BCK Products in 2008, we have added keyboard bags and covers, plus midi keyboards and accessories, to our existing music and PA products. Our stock availability has been a very critical factor in our success over the past 11 years and we feel that this is crucial. We consider our current level of 96 per cent availability on our entire range of 4,700 different items is the minimum acceptable level to ensure that we can offer the service levels demanded. How has the current economic climate affected business? We realised in the middle of last year that the economy was about to become difficult in terms of growth, so we planned to get stock levels to our ideal in

all areas and organise our buying currency requirements to absorb any future exchange rate issues. Clearly there is less money to be spent and budgets have been trimmed, but if you offer what your market needs and offer the right level of service both pre and post sales then you will be able to trade at good levels. We have not altered our plans in terms of long-term objectives and have added new members

What are your criteria for selecting new products? We put a lot of store in simply listening to the customers. Thankfully, MI retailers tend to be a vociferous bunch and most of the product suggestions come directly from them. We also have new product meetings on a weekly basis, which give us the opportunity to put these product ideas and suggestions to the sales, purchasing, technical and

“For all our customers, big or small, our level of service is exactly the same and has a significant influence in ensuring relationships are mutually happy.” Becky Stanton, AVSL Group to our team, who have brought additional expertise and helped us get a better feel for the MI market. What are your bestselling lines, and why do you think they perform so well? We sell a lot of different product groups but our sound, light and music ranges generate excellent turnover. In fact, our products for the MI retailer, following the new additions, stands at almost 1,000 lines, including a full range of percussion instruments and a new range of guitars. Our main goal is to offer the retailer a viable alternative to their current suppliers and a sensible margin on a good quality range.

marketing staff. Those that survive are added to the range. What distinguishes you from the competition? Our business ethos is a very simple one: give the customers what they want. Although we are relatively new to the MI trade, we offer a service that we feel cannot be matched in our sector. Our feedback from the customers is that they have been crying out for an alternative. Our technical support is excellent and our customer services team will resolve any queries within the time our customers expect. These things are easy to say, but our


customers would vote with their feet if we weren’t delivering. Another key difference between us and some of our competitors is that we operate on a strictly trade-only basis from a bonded warehouse with no trade counter or cash sales facility. We also deliver on all orders received before 2pm. How do you maintain a good relationship with retailers? For all of our customers, big or small, our level of service is exactly the same and has a significant influence in ensuring that the relationships we have built with our customers are mutually happy. We are good at listening and reacting. Our website provides all our dealers with a method to access all the products and services we have 24 hours a day, seven days a week and our account customers have full access to all the website functions. Our technical helpline is available to answer all queries and acts as a support service to retailers who may not be familiar with all of our products features and technical requirements.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the industry today? Clearly supplier pricing and the effect of internet-based sales have made running a retail outlet a very difficult proposition; the downturn in the economy has compounded the problems faced by retailers with hefty overheads to pay. We own our brands and as a result are able to control the route to market of all of the products that we offer. We have a pricing policy that we enforce within our customer base and we do react in the event of this being abused and we believe we do not suffer to the extent our competition has. We cannot afford to have our prices compromised by any reseller and we police the issue tenaciously. What are your aims for the next 12 months? Firstly our brands need to mature within the market place and we will be much more proactive in promoting them. The second objective is very simple: to continue to invest in new product and to help increase our market share, we will recruit further staff in order to add expertise and bolster our growing team.

CONTACT DETAILS Address: Container Base, Barton Dock Road, Manchester M41 7BQ Phone: 0845 270 2411 Web: Contacts: Becky Stanton

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 11


Xtreme clinics Simon Edgoose to head up Yamaha UK pro music division seminars for users and prospective customers of its electronic drumkits YAMAHA MUSIC UK has announced the dates of the DTXtreme III training seminars for owners and prospective owners. The in-depth, one day sessions will be held at Yamaha's Milton Keynes headquarters between November 17th and 19th at a cost of £120. Led by session drummer Simon Edgoose, one of the UK’s leading exponents of all things DTX, the sessions have been created following requests from users and carefully designed to ensure players are reaching the maximum capability of the instrument. All aspects of the

DTXtreme III will be covered, specifically its brand new brain, its sampling capability and voice editing technology. Yamaha's drum product manager, Gavin Thomas, commented: “These sessions will prove invaluable to DTXtreme III owners and also those people thinking about buying a kit. The creative and technological capability of the instrument is so huge that many people don't really get to the heart of the power of the system. It’s a great opportunity for players to get under the skin of the kit and improve their skills and sounds.”

“I'm very much looking forward to sharing my experience and knowledge of the DTXtreme III through these events,” added Edgoose. “The DTX can be used in a huge variety of situations and my aim is that following the sessions, delegates will have new knowledge and really begin to push their creativity to new levels.” For more information and booking details please visit the Yamaha training website ( or contact Angie Wells on 01908 369293. YAMAHA: 01908 366700

Hull in Warwickshire World’s leading drum facilitator offers clinic and seminar for circle community ARTHUR HULL, the world’s best known ‘rhythm evangelist’ and responsible for much of the growth in drum circle activity around the world in communities, schools and organisations, will hold a drum facilitators’ forum in Warwick on October 20th. The forum will take place from 11am to 3:30pm and offers facilitators the chance to meet and gain an insight into the growing profession of drum circle facilitation. The forum will also be giving advice to those interested in organising their own drum circle, as well as a chance to see the latest Remo percussion products (Hull is a Remo endorser) and get some exclusive deals on the day.

HULL: Innovator Entrance for the event is free, but with limited places; those interested in participating should contact Kandy Hobden at EMD (Remo’s distributor in the UK) at the number below or by email at EMD: 01293 862612

Sabian practises with Jojo SABIAN HAS launched a new practice pad, the Jojo Mayer Edition 14-inch snare, in a pack that also includes a set of Vic Firth Jojo Mayer signature sticks. The pack will retail at £83. Both pad and sticks are the same as those used used on Mayer’s instructional DVD, Secret Weapons for the Modern

Drummer, which Sabian hopes will help boost sales. The practice pad is a tensionable drumhead with a hard rebound underlay, rubber feet and a metal snare hoop. The black or white pad is also available separately for a retail price of £73. WESTSIDE: 0141 248 4812

Schulman in the Pink MARK SCHULMAN is currently on tour with Pink and a longawaited DVD from is due for release, with the rather unsnappy title of A Day in the Recording Studio: A do-ityourself guide to recording great drum tracks for drummers and all musicians. Schulman will also be holding several meet and greet dates and a drum clinic while in the UK. October 19th: Drum clinic at Rhythm Base (Glasgow) October 24th: Meet and greet at Manchester Drum Centre (Manchester)

SCHULMAN: New DVD November 1st: Meet and greet at The Drum Shop (Newcastle) More dates are expected to be added in due course. Those einterested should keep an eye on the news at




All quiet on the

western front? Possibly, but that can be seen as a positive just as easily as a negative. With DJ evolving in one direction and PLASA in another, the show is developing a very clear direction and identity these days and with the recession forcing an economy of scale, PLASA and its exhibitors are thinking smarter, too…


t’s easy to get blasé about annual events, particularly ones that you attend every year. It’s impossible not to start comparing it with previous years and then, after time, looking back to some rose-tinted wonder era that we would do well to go back to. PLASA is no exception and while it’s easy to comment upon the slightly compacted show floor this year with large sections walled off or the fact that DJ really isn’t what the show is about any more, it remains that the Pro Light And Sound Association’s annual bash is a world leader and arguably the best trade show this little island has to offer the audio (and to a lessening degree) MI industries. In the end – and one can genuinely use the recession disclaimer on this one, as the audio business in particular has been hit squarely in the wallet over the past couple of years – it was a quieter show this year. The 300-plus exhibitors showing

their wares and services to a tad over 11,500 visitors is missing a hefty slice from the 400-plus stands and 13,500 visitors of last year, but the way the show has evolved means that this is far from being any sort of hammer blow to the future of the event. Jen Barrett, a marketing officer with PLASA Events, was never going to play down the show, but there was real enthusiasm in her unofficial report to MI Pro. “We are absolutely delighted that the show had such a good dynamic this year,” she said. “Both exhibitors and visitors came ready and willing to do business and while figures might have been down, the feedback we have received from across the show floor has been incredibly positive.” Her words were echoed by PLASA’s MD, Matthew Griffiths, who added an extra assurance to his point of view. “I’m genuinely encouraged by the way the

show went this year and I think it will result in noticeable growth next year – and this isn’t just bullshit because of who I work for. I genuinely believe this.” Griffiths made the point that, because of the economic climate, exhibitors came in a very business focused frame of mind and the visitors came because they needed to be there. He was willing to put his neck out and say that there was very possibly more business done this year than last. “Yes, we are a show organiser and that hooks us into certain mind-sets regarding floor space and visitor numbers,” he explained. “But we are also a trade association and for me and my members, the real buzz comes from doing a deal.” Griffiths sees every aspect of this year’s show in terms of opportunity – which is refreshing. While the DJ sector slowly (very slowly, in fact) withdraws from being central to the show and, linked to that,

other stalwarts in the club installation market rub their chins in a questioning sort of way about the necessity of being at the show, it is the markets where light and sound meet in the most complementary of manners, namely theatre and touring, where the new identity of the PLASA Show is emerging. “The DJ element is not what it once was at the show, but that’s as much down to the way the business has developed, as well as the way PLASA has developed,” said Griffiths. “There were DJ products at the show and we are still very aware of the DJ market. We might be looking to address this in other ways, maybe through the PLASA Focus – but we are certainly not saying we don’t want to know DJ.” It was pointed out last year that the show is increasingly corporate and companies such as Shure Distribution UK continue to use PLASA as a meeting place for its suppliers as well as for its

PLASA’s MD, Matthew Griffiths, felt that economic constraints led to stand design being more compact and more stylish this year – he could well be right 14 miPRO OCTOBER 2009


EVENT: PLASA Show VENUE: Earls Court 1 and 2 DATE: September 13th to 16th EXHIBITORS: 310 VISITORS: 11,518 (pre-audited figure) VERDICT: Noticeably smaller than recent years, but the level of activity and business done seemed unaltered – which is impressive by anyone’s standards. Generally, visitors seemed very happy with what was on offer, while exhibitors, keen to do the deal, were even more happy with the quality of the visitors. That equates to a good show.

customers. This is a trend that will continue and grow. “Quiet and colourful,” was how one MI visitor described it. When asked to define the word ‘quiet’ he referred to the reduced floor space, but then added: “But actually quiet, you know – there are lots of people here, but you can hold a conversation without shouting.” A point very much still worth making – PLASA is possibly the only show in the audio and MI world’s where the venue’s noise police actually succeed. Makes sense, really, with just about every stand capable of producing organ dissolving sound pressure levels. “It’s true that it was once difficult to even hear yourself think at the show and we decided a few years ago to stamp out that sort of excessive noise, but the exhibitors took that idea on board wholesale and evolved it. Since the first effort, we haven’t been actively clamping down on sound levels – the exhibitors

realise that they want to do business and this is the best way to do it.” Another element of the show’s evolution, Griffiths believes, has been forced upon the exhibitors again this year. “Next year – and I haven’t spoken to the team about this yet – but I see more of the efficiencies of this year happening. The bigger companies, because of financial constraints, were forced to think about their stands this year and they made them more compact, more efficient and, I think, a good deal more stylish. “Many companies will see this as the way to go. You have to admit, it adds up. It makes sense to do as much or more business while spending less. This is why I think the show will grow next year. There are plenty of negative people out there, but a lot of positive thinking, too. The 2010 show will be all about that – positive and efficient.” PLASA: 01323 524120

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MUSIC CHINA • SHOW PREVIEW FACT FILE EVENT: Music China VENUE: Shanghai New International Expo Centre DATE: October 13th to 16th EXHIBITORS: 1,100 (over 1,400 including Prolight + Sound Shanghai)

Bullish in China’s shop The adage for thoughtless or clumsy destructive activity is fast developing a new meaning: growing your business in China. After seven years of testing the water, British companies are now fixing Music China (and Prolight + Sound Shanghai) as a must-attend event for those that want to maintain their Asia Pacific markets. The door to the domestic Chinese market is creaking ever wider, too…


s the US and the UK stagger, bewildered, from the global recession of their own making, the Chinese economy is already getting back up to speed and starting, once again, to set the pace for the rest of the Asia Pacific market. The shenanigans of the predominantly western banks, it seems, caused a brief slow-down in the Far East from the initial impact, but rather hastily, the area has shrugged off its more costly connections and has gone back to business as usual. Whether the West will catch up again is open to argument, but of relatively little interest to the Chinese. There are still markets enough to exploit while the West gets its shop back in order. The upside of this, as has been repeatedly touched on in Music China previews and reports over the past seven years, is that those sensible enough to have a foot in the door in the area also stand to benefit from the burgeoning market in terms of regional diversification. If the exhibitor attendance (and preregistration visitor figures) are anything to go by (and previous shows would indicate

that they are) then China’s MI market is flat on a year ago, with a tad over 1,100 exhibitors covering five exhibition halls. Add to this Prolight + Sound Shanghai’s increase of some 16 per cent to 358 exhibitors from 15 countries (compared to 305 from ten last year) and the picture is quite easy to focus on. Among the big boys keen to flag up their activity prior to the show, Music China’s organiser has told us that Roland will be going big on its V-drums this year, Korg will be making much of its Nano series of controllers, Line 6 will be pushing the new Spider IV amps, Taylor (celebrating 35 years in the business) will be making much of its upgraded Solidbody Classic electrics and Steinway will be presenting no fewer than two new models, the Sapphire and Aquamarine pianos, adding to its Crown Jewel series. Providing a little more regional interest for the UK (which will have 20-odd companies and brands represented – not a record, but indicative of the climb-back since the high tidemark of 24 companies in 2006) is a variety of market sectors, featuring both show virgins and veterans.

Those sensible enough to have a foot in the door in the area stand to benefit from the burgeoning market in terms of diversification.

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 17


STAND-BY-STAND Where you will find the UK exhibitors at Music China Scalerail E1 C25 Music Sales E2 C32 Trinity Guildhall E2 D37 Faber Music E2 D39 ABRSM E2 D43 Music Publishers Association E2 D45 Ariel Music E2 D45 Edition HH E2 D45 Emerson Edition E2 D45 Must E2 D45 Phoenix Music E2 D45 Wild Woods Music E2 D45 Mel Bay Music E2 D47 Zone New Media E2 D49 Howarth of London E3 A28 Denis Wick E3 B29 Fusion Products E5 D30 Hiwatt Amplification E5 D45 JMI Amplification E5 D45 Tanglewood/EMC E5 D49 G7th Capo/IBC Trading E6 D32 Ashdown/Hayden/Lodestone TBC

The publishing market has been pretty quick to get involved and (presumably), with the grip on intellectual rights being tightened year-on-year in all aspects of business in the region, the publishers are increasingly happy to get their products out there. ABRSM will be showcasing several new Chinese language publications, following a trial exam session in Shanghai that is being held as MI Pro goes to press. This trial (open to very specific categories of Chinese citizens and generally to nonChinese) will spark the release of Music Theory in Practice (Grades 1 to 5), sample Theory of Music test papers (Grades 1 to 8) and two volumes of sample aural tests (Grades 1 to 8) in Chinese. Another old hand at the Shanghai game is Faber Music – one of those companies that views Music China as an essential event in the trade calendar. Faber sees the show as the perfect location to maintain its relationships with Asia Pacific customers, most notably India and Australia. “About two-thirds of our work at any trade show is maintenance of relationships,” explains Faber’s Phillip Littlemore. “But we love to find new customers and there is also the work being done with publishers in the region for Chinese versions of our products. Music China has become indispensable for us because a lot of the regional distributors simply don’t go to Frankfurt or NAMM.” Littlemore goes on to explain that, for added marketing clout, Faber will be combining its stand with Trinity for a bigger presence this year. Among the show first-timers is Mel Bay Limited, the UK branch of the US

18 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

publishing giant, and the recognisable figure of Chris Statham. “It’s our first time out there and we’re hoping to open up a new territory for the business. The country seems to be sorting itself out domestically, so we’re looking for publishers and distributors that can get our products accepted out there, as well as any other potential markets in the Asia Pacific region.

are at every major show. We are always looking for new customers and with Music China you have the added benefit of the domestic market. There isn’t really any distribution network for China, but there are groups of retailers in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong that buy in groups or consortiums. This market is beginning to open up now – we started selling to them last year.”

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“I’m very optimistic, I have to say. We are already wording a couple of agreements and I think we will see an awful lot happening out there for Mel Bay and its third-party products.” Another veteran of Music China is Tanglewood, which has been at every Music China show at the New Shanghai Expo Centre. The company met its Australian distributor at the show a few years back, with the market becoming one of its biggest in the intervening time. “You just never know when something like that is going to rear its head,” points out Tanglewood’s Tony Flatt. “That’s why we

Tanglewood will be introducing a few new products at the show in the shape of new ukuleles, the new Discovery by Tanglewood brand of starter guitars and the Evolution Exotic range, which takes Tanglewood models and spruces (sorry) them up with more unusual woods. The ukuleles comprise the allmahogany TU 1, the solid spruce topped, bubinga bodied and mahogany-necked TU 2 and the starter TU 6. The TU 6 targets the younger market and is finished in a variety of colours. The Discovery packs are acoustic starter models that offer three alternatives to

those wishing to take up the guitar, with a ¾-sized classical guitar (the DBT 34), a dreadnought (the DBT DLX D) and a folk guitar (the DBT SF CE). All of them have spruce tops with mahogany back and sides and a mahogany neck. Finally, the Evolution Exotic is a super folk cutaway with a spruce top and very attractive flame maple back and sides and a maple neck. These guitars take the keenly priced Evolution series into new territory, offering a classier look at an equally keen price. Ashdown Engineering (aka Hayden and Lodestone) will be back at the show again this year, only this time with a dedicated stand, away from the UK entourage and together with its Far Eastern manufacturer, which has recently become its distributor for the area, Wuhan Eleca. “We use the show to meet up with distributors we don’t get to meet elsewhere,” said the amp and guitar company’s sales director, Chris Bates. “We tend to see our Russian and Australian customers – even the Polish one on occasions, but now we see that the domestic market is opening up. We are looking to further that. We’ve been dealing with China for a few years now, so this is something we want to continue. Which all points towards one quite significant development: the years of ‘toedipping’ are over. China has proved its strength by all but shrugging off the chilly economic climate in the rest of the world and it is that climate, again, that is pushing western businesses to open up the door for its products to sell in the largest potential market in the world. The chance everybody has been waiting for looks to be upon us at last.

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BPM • SHOW PREVIEW Event: BPM Venue: NEC, Birmingham Date: October 3rd to 4th, 2009

Here comes the remix A new venue, a bunch of big name stars and a growing number of visitors make BPM one of the biggest and best up-andcoming shows in the UK. Rob Power finds out what’s playing on the wheels of steel…


ince its launch in 2007, the DJ show BPM has gone from strength to strength with the sort of ease many events would struggle with. Aimed squarely at the DJ market, a sector of the industry that has been somewhat overlooked of late with all the guitarbased indie boy posturing that’s gone on for the last few years. It’s a vibrant and increasingly important calendar date for those people who are more at home on decks than with a plectrum. This year sees show organiser Marked Events ringing in the changes in a bid to keep the constantly growing visitor number moving in the right direction. “This is the third year for the show,” explains Marked Events MD Eddie Short. “We started in 2007 at Donington Park. We did two shows at Donington and this year is the first one at NEC. We just felt that we had grown as much as we could at Donington. It was the ideal place to start, but we felt like we needed a little bit more space and also we wanted to move somewhere a bit more accessible and high profile. The NEC has better transport links, with a railway station and airport as well as good road links, so it makes a lot of sense.

“The first show was really well received. Basically, the history of the event is that it is run by a small team including me and the other director, Mark. We have both been involved in the DJ side of the industry previously and we felt that other shows such as PLASA had moved away from the DJ side of the sound and lighting industry. There seemed to be a gap in the market

We felt that was about as far as we could go at Donington and in order to get the numbers up even more we needed to move somewhere a little bit more central and high profile.” With an already impressive reaction to BPM, it is clearly catering towards the needs of a section of the market that feels a little unloved at the moment. With a

“There seems to be a cycle where the cool thing to do is either get a pair of decks or a guitar and now it seems to be swinging back to the DJ side of things”. Eddie Short, Marked Events for somebody to seriously take on a show of that nature. At the end of 2006 all this came to a head and we decided to go for it and put on an event in 2007. “The first show was really well supported by a lot of companies within the industry, and we had just over 2,000 visitors, which was a very good start. The following year, we got a few other companies involved that were wary early on and built the visitor figure up to 2,500.

background in the DJ industry, Short has been able to get inside the mind of the average DJ consumer and give them a show to be proud of. “My personal background is that I set up a magazine for mobile DJs called Pro Mobile magazine, which we still have and tie in with the show,” he explains.”I definitely think things are very strong in the market at the moment. If anything it feels like it is coming back round to DJ.

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 21


Of course, spinning the decks is where it’s all at “There seems to be a cycle where the cool thing to do is either get a pair of decks or a guitar and it seems to be swinging back to the DJ side of things. “We’re getting a lot of interest in the show and the great thing about it is that it’s aimed at everybody from a teenager

trade, so end users can buy tickets to come along and we offer trade passes to installers and retailers as well – although they’re looked after a little differently.” Alongside the obligatory exhibitor stands from a range of names including

“The heart of the event is the exhibition of equipment, but we also have a good programme of seminars, workshops and panels that offer plenty of educational content for visitors.” Eddie Short, Marked Events who wants to become a DJ one day through to venue owners, equipment installers, everybody. It’s a broad spectrum of exhibitors and visitors – we deliberately set this show up to cater for end users and

the likes of Allen & Heath, Numark and Pioneer, there will be performances from a wide variety of both big names and emerging talent. Seminars and regular panels mean there will be plenty to learn

No doubt there will be dancing too... from industry vets and those a bit wet behind the ears are sure to come away with both valuable knowledge and a long list of new products to buy. On the marketing side of things, Marked Events has been making the most of the current trend in social networking and is working on bringing a wide audience to BPM. “We’ve tried as much as we can to raise the profile of the show,” adds Short. “We’ve done a lot with email, social networking sites and have advertising on Facebook, as well. The heart of the event is the exhibition of equipment, but we also have a good programme of seminars, workshops and panels that offer plenty of educational content for visitors. “We’ve not quite got all the panelists confirmed yet, but we can say that there are going to be some really good people at the event who will enable visitors to

learn about everything from Djing to promotion to music production to getting tracks signed.” Finally, a whole new area gives both DJs and those who want to be stood on the podium in years to come a chance to strut their stuff. “An important part of the show is the performance space, which we call the Arena. This year it’s going to be silent, so when visitors arrive they are given a set of headphones and can switch between two different performance spaces. “There’s a DJ set-up for up-and-coming acts that will be playing throughout the day, and a main stage where bigger acts will be on and visitors can simply choose which stream of audio they want to listen to. That allows us to get the Arena right smack bang in the middle of the show and make it a really exciting event.” WWW.VISITBPM.CO.UK

Last year’s event was a success, but 2009’s event is set to be even bigger

22 miPRO OCTOBER 2009



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The pearl in the crown As the Portastudio celebrates 30 years since it sparked the home recording revolution, its corporate inventor, Tascam, still maintains its presence at the forefront of the market. Gary Cooper takes a peep in the workings…


anaging the great leaps forward that technology occasionally delivers is one of the hardest tasks that can face a manufacturer. It’s often the time when a fresh-faced upstart can sneak into the market and steal your crown. But occasionally, a company does it so seamlessly that it’s easy to overlook just what it is it’s achieved. Take Tascam, for example. In 1979, when the Portastudio was launched to an astonished MI world, analog recording wasn’t just king, it was the only way you could record. And it stayed that way, though losing ground steadily, until the new millennium, when digital finally triumphed, for all but a few die-hard analog fans. To have entered that transition as the most successful recording equipment brand

24 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

in MI and to have come out of it in exactly the same position with a fully digital line-up is extremely impressive. But perhaps even more impressive is that Tascam has fought a war on a second

realm of dedicated hardware and onto the laptop. For a lot of top-end home and professional recording that prediction might have been right – but somehow Tascam has managed to make a range of products so

Tascam has managed to make a range of products so intuitive to use, so affordable and liked, that musicians still buy and use them in preference to using a computer. front, too. With the almost ubiquitous use of computers among music makers today, many had predicted that recording would follow so many other pursuits out of the

intuitive to use, so affordable and liked, that musicians still buy and use them, in preference to doing whatever it is their particular Tascam does on a computer.

The product that most people immediately associate with Tascam is the Portstudio, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. While the market may not be quite what it once was when home recording began to boom in the 1980s, it is still a phenomenally popular seller and Tascam has gone on to develop other markets, too – notably the hugely popular guitar trainer sector and what has been the surprise hit of the past few years – the digital stereo recorder. Not only has the technology changed. Tascam UK itself has changed a lot since MI Pro last spoke with it, five years ago. During that time, Tony Gravel, who has now clocked up an impressive 22 years with the company, has become responsible


for Teac (the parent corporation’s) Tacsam operation in the UK, as part of a reorganisation which saw the relocation of several Teac operations to Germany, so it’s him we turn to for an overview of where Tascam UK is today. We begin by asking about the current state of Tascam’s UK market and where Gravel sees sales opportunities for his many retail customers. THE PRODUCT THAT KEEPS ON GOING “The first thing to say is that the market for the Portastudio is still very buoyant. Though it’s smaller than back in the heady days of 1979, the product itself is still every bit as relevant to the end-user as it was. In terms of the bang per buck it offers and the appealing ease of use, it’s still a very relevant product and the DP-004, our entry level unit, sells in phenomenal numbers. Importantly, it is also bringing a lot of smaller stores back to Tascam.” This aspect of Tascam today – its desire to work with and appeal to smaller stores – is something Tony Gravel returns to several times in our interview. Where once recording gear might have seemed the natural territory of high-tech stores, Tascam’s genius has been to make its products easy to use for those who still don’t feel entirely comfortable with computers, or don’t find them convenient or sufficiently portable. Happily, these are just the sort of customers who are more likely to patronise smaller shops, anyway – particularly ‘empty nesters’ returning to music making after a break and now with disposable cash and fond memories of the early days of multitracking. “If you look at the DP-004, it doesn’t cost much more than a USB interface, it runs on SD cards, it works with either electric or acoustic guitars, having two microphones built-in – it has been a shot in the arm for us and it has helped show how relevant the concept still is today.” Another product that is making serious waves is the stereo recorder. Gravel admits that this one caught many by surprise and that Tascam may have been late to market with its take on the concept, but it now has a full range. Though at first sight not a lot more than a very capable alternative to a field cassette or MD recorder, these are finding countless applications, not least with bands who want to record rehearsals and gigs and instantly share copies among the players. Then, of course, there are Tascam’s hugely successful guitar and voice trainers like the GT-R1 guitar trainer. Sales of these are, he says, “phenomenal”. “That said, USB interfaces are also selling tremendously well and have been for years now – the US-122L and US-144 are in an award-winnng range, which has become a staple in a lot of music stores – both bigger shops and smaller

independents. They are about to be replaced in the next few months, incidentally – three new interfaces are on the way, which will be launched at the AES in New York and will be available before Christmas.” In fact, Tascam is currently on a launch crusade because, in addition to the new USB interfaces, a new Portastudio is on the way, too, also destined to help boost retailers’ Christmas period sales. But even a host of well-timed new products isn’t a lot of use if retailers can’t sell them and a make a profit and this area is one where Gravel has some particularly interesting revelations – not least about ways in which he and his team have been working with eBay to counter excessive discounting. “Because we are a subsidiary of Teac, Tokyo, as is Teac Europe, it’s in our interests and within our capabilities, to work closely with our European colleagues to make sure there’s a level playing field. Where you have different distributors in different countries, it can sometimes be a bit of a bun fight, but we have to make sure that we’re not treading on one another’s toes and we can work very closely together and help the dealers in that way. “This has real benefits when, for example, Gary Maguire and Alex Farrell, our UK ASMs, go into shops, because they can show retail prices advertised, they can show the price we are selling to them and they can show that the retailer can make a margin. Slowly and surely that is a battle we are winning and it’s a result of the amount of time that we have spent on this. VERIFIED BY TASCAM “As for other areas where we have been trying to help, eBay runs something called the VERO programme, which stands for the Verified Rights Owner programme, and we have signed up to that. As to how it works, if an eBay seller has used the Tascam name, Tascam is our name and the rights belong to Teac Tokyo. So if someone is selling Tascam products and they are using our images from the web, or if they are using copy from our website and selling products too cheaply, or even if they aren’t a registered dealer, we can take action. “I was made aware of the VERO programme a while ago and it takes a lot of very time-consuming legwork. Basically, it allows you to log an offending item, following which eBay will look into it and if it agrees it conflicts with your rights, it will be removed. Some months ago, we came across a seller who was offering virtually every product we had. He said he was

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 25


selling bankrupt stock, but he wasn’t and in the end I managed to get the whole account closed down. It turned out he was bringing it in from a store in America. “It’s a very effective programme and it does seem to work, but it is time consuming to operate. I do think the majority of retailers are appreciative of the efforts we’ve taken to help them in this way. That said, you do still get the odd one. Just recently one said to me ‘Right – what is your company going to invest in us this year?’ I thought, well, apart from spending thousands on product R&D, manufacturing, shipping that product to you, spending money on making the consumer aware of it, providing service and backup, so you can put it on your website, discount it and wait for the cash to roll in? Well, not a lot really!” THE INDEPENDENT APPROACH Gravel is keen to stress how much importance Tascam UK places on smaller independent retailers and he feels the company has a lot to offer them. “We are being approached by more and more independents these days – and the buying groups, too – and we make it very easy for them. It’s almost on a ‘one to go, one to show basis’, with very generous discounts, so that retailers can have one out on demonstration. And we don’t hold dealers to stocking one of everything – it’s down to what is relevant to the catchment area of that individual shop.” One problem Tascam does experience among smaller dealers is that some don’t realise they are being courted by what they perceive as a giant concern. “I had a case of that recently, in Cornwall,” Gravel says. “I went to see a retailer and he had just assumed he couldn’t get the line. It’s not until you talk to them about the products they can easily sell, like

26 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

the DP-004 or the DR-07, that they see there’s real potential there. We try to make it easy for them to get a representation of Tascam in their stores.” In as much as some retailers need leading to the realisation of Tascam products’ potential, so do the end-users. It’s when you actually play around with a GTR-1 that the metaphorical light bulb starts to shine your head and all the things you could do with one become apparent. “Yes, for products like the guitar trainers, you’ve got to have them in the guitar area

help them get to their goal as a player that bit quicker and they will find the money for it somehow.” Beyond solely MI stores, Tascam UK has recently launched a dedicated sales and support service for the professional AV sector in the UK, headed by Gary Maguire, and it’s worth remembering that for all its success in the MI field, the company still has a huge amount of business in the professional arena – in some areas of which the transition to digital is only now taking place.

shows you how much emphasis Teac is putting on this market – from pro audio through to MI.” And if even that isn’t quite sufficient to get the sales juices flowing, Tascam has yet another appetiser on the horizon. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Portastudio, the fourth quarter of this year will see a promotion to celebrate the birth of this iconic product and point of sale material is on the way for retailers, which they will be able to get from their Tascam ASMs.

Left to right: Tascam area sales manager Alex Farrell; pro AV man, Gary Maguire; UK divisional manager Tony Gravel of a shop, not in a glass cabinet. If you put those in the guitar section so people can try them, they’ll sell and we’ll do all we can to help: our reps will help you secure them; we know they will get soiled, so we do a rotation system; we offer discounts on the demo models – this is something I’ve done since day one. You’ve got to have the kit out so people can play with them and the dealers that have taken us up on this have done really well with them. “A lot of the people who’ll be drawn to the gear are oblivious to the recession. They see a new bit of kit that’s going to

“As far as Tascam is concerned, we are embracing solid state, using SD and Compact Flash with products from rackmounted install products to handheld Portastudios, right up to networkable hard drives and all sorts of alternatives to MDs and CDs. We see this continuing. Teac Corporation has built a whole lot more resources into Tascam this year and we’re seeing the benefits of that now in the new products that are coming along. “In the next half fiscal year we’ve got 28 new products on our road map - which means before the end of March. That

“I keep coming back to how encouraging it is to see the number of small retailers coming on board,” says Tony Gravel. “We have a tremendous amount to offer them and I’d hate them to miss out because they imagine they were too small to interest us. Call the office, let us come out and talk with you about what might work for you and your particular business in your area. We are doing everything we can to work with and support retailers and we are certainly not prejudiced against the smaller independents and specialists.” TASCAM: 08451 302511


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Home cooking The availability of affordable recording equipment has led to an explosion in home recording and a lot of tough competition in the marketplace. Rob Power takes a look at what’s flicking consumers’ switches at the moment…


few years ago, the idea of being able to record, mix and master a complete record without ever having to leave the confines of a reasonably sized bedroom seemed ludicrous. With the advent of affordable home computing, however, even those on the smallest of budgets can afford a couple of decent microphones, a computer and an interface to link them together. In ever increasing numbers, musicians are

M-AUDIO As the starting point for anyone looking to record in Pro Tools, M-Audio’s Mbox systems are a huge selling success that have come to epitomise the ease with which one can buy a simple set-up that won’t break the bank and begin recording straight away. The Digidesign USB range, which includes the vast amount of the Mbox family, gives users – depending on budget

In ever increasing numbers, musicians are realising that running a simple home studio set-up is more than enough to bring dreams of superstardom to life. realising a simple home studio set-up is more than enough to bring dreams of superstardom to life. Of course, more home recording means increased demand for mics, cables, all the miscellany of the recording studio, as well as the interafaces and programs that make the whole thing work. Hard disk recorders also allow for quick and easy recording. With this in mind, now is the time to take a look at what’s on the market and pricking up the ears of the home recording masses…

28 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

– the choice of one, two or eight inputs, and comes with ProTools 8 LE, alongside a huge amount of bundled software. It couldn’t be simpler to operate and ProTools itself, having become the industry standard, is a user-friendly interface that allows musicians to get really stuck into recording without resorting to pulling hair out or throwing things across the room. The Mbox range aside, M-Audio is also home to a number of FireWire interfaces that allow for high definition sound, which

are reasonably priced and capable of turning any bedroom into a top-notch studio. The Profire 610, for example, works with most major recording software and features 6x10 simultaneous analog/digital I/O, making it ideal for mobile recording. Suitable for Mac or PC users, the idea is to provide a transparent interface that will allow for honest recordings without having to make any compromises in sound quality. TASCAM Tascam is a name that’ll be familiar to many musicians whose first exposure to home recording was a Portastudio. That word, of course, has become generic now – the Hoover of the MI business – and the mighty Portastudio has been with us for 30 years (see cover feature, page 24). Years ahead of the market then, Tascam has not failed to move with the times and still remains a big player in this area of the market. Bringing itself bang up to date with a range of interfaces that includes the recently upgraded US144 and 122, Tascam still has plenty to offer DIY musicians.


US-122mkII and US-144mkII feature a pair of XLR microphone inputs with phantom power for recording condenser mics into a computer. Balanced line inputs and a guitar level in are also provided. MIDI in and out jacks allow for synthesizer and control messages to be passed to the computer, and the unbalanced line outputs connect to studio monitors. The US-144mkII has digital I/O, for a total of four channels and a dedicated headphone level control means you don't need to switch off your monitors when recording on phones. A copy of Steinberg's 48-track Cubase LE4 is included to begin recording right away.

SCV The London-based distie has plenty on offer in this area of the market, from the simplest one-input interface up to a great range of Fostex multi-track recorders. First up is the Centrance AxePort Pro, a USB-powered little unit that allows guitarists to record on the go with the minimum amount of equipment. It features a loud headphone output and software-controlled wet/dry mix that allows for zero latency monitoring at one end of the scale, plugins and effects at the other or a mix of both, and is compatible with both Windows and Mac. Slightly more sophisticated is Fostex’s extensive range of recorders. The MR8HD

A number of affordable and user-friendly options from ART are making plenty of home recordists very happy thanks to the combination of rugged build quality and easily understood features. Portastudios are still an important part of Tascam’s business and the DP-02 Digital 8 Track Portastudio makes the old favourite very contemporary. Dedicated controls for level, pan, effects send and eq means that those familiar with the old tape-based Portastudios will not be dazzled by an unfathomable interface. A 40GB hard drive and a pair of XLR inputs with phantom power, alongside a multieffects processor, stereo reverb, internal metronome (with a bar/beat display for indicating song position), built-in tuner and a dedicated stereo channel, make it a highly usable piece of kit that’s easy to link up to a computer.

30 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

is an eight-channel digital multi-tracker with an awful lot of goodies stored on board. A 40GB hard drive accommodates over 15 hours worth of eight-track digital recording at CD quality, while a straightforward operating system makes it easy to get to grips with. Features such as four-track simultaneous recording, full track bouncing to a new song and a USB port for easy file transfer to PC make it incredibly versatile, while a string of in-built effects and mic simulations mean that users who can’t afford racks of gear can still get excellent results from using what comes pre-packaged. The range includes a 16-track version, as well.

SONIC 8 A number of affordable and incredibly user-friendly options from ART are currently making plenty of home recordists very happy thanks to the combination of rugged build quality and easily understood features that characterise the range. The ART USB Dual Pre packs a lot into a tiny bundle. A two-channel audio interface for Mac or PC, both inputs are XLR or jack with analogue and headphone monitoring and phantom power. The USB Phono Plus is a handy little gadget for DJs looking to take the RIAA output from a deck and convert it into WAV or MP3 files. Again featuring a USB output and Mac and PC compatible, this is a pair of highly useful units. Finally from Sonic 8 is the ART Voce Channel, a discrete Class-A microphone preamp which provides clean quiet gain while maintaining transparency. A powerful dynamics processor controls transients and noise of the most demanding sources, whilst the eq Channel’s semi-parametric eq offers wide tune-ability and can be patched before or after the dynamics processor. Separate insertion jacks allow home users to patch up external signal processing gear immediately after the mic preamp and before the eq and dynamics processor, and there is also the benefit of a wide range of outputs including balanced analog output, 44.1 KHz to 192 KHz AES/EBU, S/PDIF, ADAT and USB. ALESIS Alesis’ I/O packages illustrate how easily one can become self sufficient regarding recording needs.

A well designed brushed aluminium interface, clearly set out in an easy to understand configuration and tough enough to withstand any accidents, the I/O is a lesson in well designed, perfect for use technology. Even the biggest luddite around wouldn’t be intimidated by its easy layout and as it comes bundled with Cubase LE, all that is needed to get going is a computer and, ideally, some talent (or at least a bit of determination). The I/O 2 is, as you might expect, a two-input interface, whilst the I/O26 ramps things up a bit with eight inputs. Both use FireWire, are compatible with PC and Mac and, somewhat unsurprisingly, are big hitters in this area of the market, providing an awful lot of bang for the average buck. YAMAHA With products of note in just about every corner of the market, the world of recording interfaces is yet another area that Yamaha has not only an interest, but a serious top quality offering. First up are the highly portable digital recorders in the Pocketrak series, which lay claim to being the lightest and smallest on the market, allowing users to record pretty much wherever they want. Recording time in excess of 20 hours is undoubtedly an impressive feat, and USB charging means there are no bulky external power supplies straining the extension leads. Also of note is the Audiogram range of interfaces. Simple to use, and compatible with Cubase, the idea is to provide a 'studio in a box' solution for Mac and Windows users. Based on the Yamaha MG series of analog mixing consoles, the Audiogram series has already found itself


popular with educationalists as well as laptop based musos. Finally, the Yamaha N series, which includes the N12 and the N8, features firewire compatible digital mixers that carry mulitrack ausio to the host computer. With Cubase included, this is again a one stop shop for musicians looking for a direct and simple method of digitalising multitrack recording, with Yamaha proud of the fact that it takes 'about five minutes' to set up the system on any Firewire computer. Impressive stuff.

The BR600 is a well designed, incredibly neat and slim-lined eight-track that, like its little brother the BR, packs an awful lot of punch for its relatively small size. With eight simultaneous playback tracks and 64 V-tracks, it also features a versatile guitar and effects processor (which includes vocal effects and a pitch corrector), an on-board drum machine, built in stereo mic and USB connectivity. It’s a stylish little recorder and an impressively powerful one for its size. There are no fewer than five units in the BR series.

ROLAND The Boss BR range of recorders has long been a popular choice and with its various different configurations and simple to operate functionality it’s easy to see why. The Micro BR, only slightly bigger than an iPod, has become an important creative tool for many musicians working in confined spaces. Essentially a compact four track, it has four simultaneous playback tracks alongside 32 virtual tracks and can count MP3 compatibility, onboard multi-effects, built-in rhythm patterns, a tuner, USB connectivity and an SD card slot among its features. A mighty punch for a such a small unit.

LINE 6 There’s plenty on offer from Line 6, a company that was quick to realise the potential of easy-to-use home recording interfaces. Its POD Studio line combines the widely used POD with USB interfaces to give Line 6 fans everything they need to record their masterpieces at home. The three models, the GX, UX1 and UX2, each come bundled with the POD Farm software bundle, giving users access to an awful lot of handy plugins that cover a broad range of options. Each model features a USB hardware interface, amp and effect modeling. and also include Ableton Live Lite eight track recording software and Reason Adapted.

CONTACTS M-AUDIO ..................................................................................01753 655999 TASCAM ..................................................................................01923 438880 SCV LONDON .........................................................................020 8418 1470 SONIC 8 ...................................................................................08701 657456 YAMAHA..................................................................................01908 366700 ALESIS .....................................................................................01252 341400 ROLAND ....................................................................................01792 702701 LINE 6 ......................................................................................01327 302700

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 31


The thoughts of

chairman Clive Clive Norris, Selectron’s MD, retired at the end of August. With 40 years in the trade to back his opinions, he reflects on life, the universe and the MI trade while talking with Gary Cooper…


ne of the pleasures of being a journalist in this industry is the characters it brings you into contact with – and few come more characterful than Selectron’s Clive Norris. Rarely does a major industry event take place without him offering a sharp, incisive (and sometimes controversial) view, usually fortified by background information of the highest calibre.

“You know the one thing I haven’t done?’ he opened with when we met. “I was a pro bass player at 21, session musician – you name it, I’ve done it – but the thing I haven’t done is the boats. Concerts, pit work, TV, radio, sessions, but never the boats.” Like many in the industry, the need to ensure a regular income once his family began to arrive brought Clive Norris in

“I was a pro bass player at 21, session musician – you name it, I’ve done it – but the one exception is boats. Concerts, pit work, TV, radio, sessions but never the boats.” But when the phone rang a few weeks ago, instead of hearing Norris rail against the latest threat of German discounters or counterfeiters of the ESP or EMG lines, with which Selectron has done so well, he had an entirely different kind of point to make – he was retiring at the end of August. For me, the chance to get his views down in print before he began to enjoy a life of leisure was irresistible.

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from a life on the road and, in 1971, using the sales expertise he had gained as an architectural representative, he joined Carlsbro – then riding high as one of the UK’s top amp makers. “It was the first time they’d ever met a southerner, I think,” he laughs. “I did a bomb for them, but so much so that it pissed poor old Stewart off and he thought I was earning too much money,

so he decided to appoint a marketing manager. Which he did. A bloke from Pretty Polly nylons. “After a week or so I was called to a meeting. They said: ‘We don't think this commission scheme is fair. So we’re going to double your hotel expenses, buy you a better car and give you five grand a year and bugger-all commission’. KNOWLEDGE IS PRICELESS “I was sitting there writing something down and he thought I was making notes. I was actually writing my resignation which, when he’d finished talking, I duly handed to him.” Six weeks later, Norris received a call from said marketing man, saying he’d quit the job with Carlsbro, unable to take the rough and tumble from retailers. “You see, that’s what happens when an outsider comes in with all his marketing qualifications. This is a speciality sales job and you need to know what you’re talking about.” That lesson behind him, Norris then went freelance, selling the Dutch-made Novanex amp range across the UK. After that he was poached by Davoli, then LEM and, when Italy ran into political and


financial problems, he moved sideways into MI retail, managing a shop in Gillingham: Medway Organs. Retail proved as amenable to Norris’s fluent patter as repping had been and in 1976 he was offered the chance to buy out the rock n roll side of the shop, which he duly did. “I did extremely well with that, until Maggie shut the dockyard, at which point the entire area collapsed. I didn't go broke; I liquidated the business, went selling Everest double glazing for about six months (I hated it) and then I was head-hunted by John Weatherly, who wanted to open a proper distribution company, which he did, called Rhino.” Rhino was what they call in the theatre ‘a qualified success’. Norris puts it down to the company spending £2 for every £1 it earned, but either way it was closed in 1987. “Across the road from us was PM Tubes, who we were buying tubes from and repackaging, so I went there, told them what was happening and the lines I could bring and that was the birth of Selectron.” That breadth of experience, coupled with Norris’ eye for a good line and ability to sell the proverbial ice to the equally proverbial Eskimo, ensured Selectron’s success. But it did more than that. It gave Norris a 360degree view of the industry, which has led to some very forthright opinions about where we have been and where we might be going. THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRY But why is he retiring? Is it a reflection of the state of the industry? “Possibly. I haven’t actually made my mind up about that yet. There’s a lot going on that makes it very difficult to remain an ethical salesman. For example, people trying to force discount levels that are unsustainable in the UK, but work in Germany.” The problems caused by German discounters have been a major issue with Norris for years. Indeed, his was one of the loudest and most persistent voices before shifting exchange rates took at least some of the heat out of the conflict. But recently, Norris says, he has heard some rumours that the situation might be due to change for the better. “According to what I have recently been told, there’s a chance that a Minimum Advertised Price’ policy could be on the way from the EU. Also, there could be clearly defined territories for distributors. I’ve no documentary evidence for this, but it’s what I’ve heard. “Then again, whether it would make any difference is hard to say, because the Germans will probably ignore it anyway. Look at the terms of trading of... (he names a major German web discounter). The terms on his website are all illegal – every single one. But has anybody sued him? Has anybody tried to stop him?” “I’ve run a successful retail business and can see both sides very clearly, which is why it’s always been my ethic that if the dealer’s making good money he wants

to sell your products. Cheaper and cheaper product is not the way to go. There’s some idiot I’ve heard about down on the Kent coast at the moment, who is buying in 12 and a half quid Strats, saying people haven’t got any money. That’s so wrong – it’s untrue. Our top-end sales with ESP have never been better.” How does he see the state of the industry generally, as he gets ready to bow out? “I think the 80/20 rule is becoming more obvious. In many respects the business has become more professional, but there’s too much product chasing too little business and it’s less fun now.” That professionalism extends across the business, of course. Not only are the best retailers better at their jobs today, but so are the best distributors. Candidly, Norris admits that when Sound Control collapsed, it cost Selectron 55p, because he simply avoided supplying them. He reels off a list of collapsed chains and business, with whom he simply avoided doing business with in the past, because he didn’t believe the hype. Does that mean he is sceptical about chains in principle? “Yes. I have seen the chains and central buying thing fail so many times over here. It just doesn’t work. What sells in Bolton doesn’t necessarily sell in Leeds. “The bottom line is if you treat your dealer right, make sure he makes a profit and deal with any problems efficiently, you’ll do well. Of course, you need the right product to do that.’ WORDS OF WISDOM So, has he got any distilled words of wisdom that he can dispense about the trade? “Well, I think the big corporations should get their heads around what a customer actually is,” Norris replies. “He is not merely a number in a computer, he’s a living, breathing human being. But at the end of the day, the big corporations are only looking after number one and that is wrong. Number one priority should always be your dealer and his customer. “Then there are stores – and some quite big ones – that are not computerised and have no web presence. A while ago I said to one of them I’d make a new sign for his door: ‘No website – closing in two years’. Some of them are still refusing to take the internet on board. “The other thing the industry needs to do is get its head out of the ‘cheaper is better’ idea. That is so wrong. ‘We can make less money more quickly than you’. There’s too much cheap product.” Is he looking forward to retirement? “Oh yes. It’s bittersweet but it’s like looking forward to the school holidays where you haven’t got to go back, or get a bloody job at the end of them. What sums me up is the saying I heard the other week: ‘inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the fuck happened’ But I’ve got lots of things I want to do – including nothing. I’m still playing bass and playing pretty well and I’ll keep on doing that.” With Clive Norris departed, Peter Watson (PM’s MD) also becomes MD of Selectron, Joanne Smith takes over as sales manager and Norris will continue to act as a director and consultant for the company. “I’ll still go into the office. I’ll still be problem solving for them.” Controversial, frequently outspoken, but always on the side of the retailers and the angels (not necessarily always the same things), Clive Norris will be much missed as one of the MI industry’s great characters. SELECTRON: 01634 840500

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 33


In all but name It’s quite likely that, while you have heard of (and very likely stock) strings and accessories from the Picato family, you are unaware of the extent of product made here on British soil. Andy Barrett delves deep into the Rhondda…


ooking around British manufacturing (as MI Pro did in August this year) it is all too easy to miss the smaller players of the MI sector, but we were intrigued by a phone call from Strings & Things’ Pete Lunney that pointed out that we had overlooked a pretty big player in the strings and accessories market – namely the Picato operation in the Rhondda Valley in Wales.

Since then, Strings & Things has been adding string and accessory brands, building up to the current modest-butimpressive set-up. Considering the work that Strings & Things does in the UK with the megabrands Ernie Ball, Music Man, Dunlop and Hercules, it is fascinating to see the obvious affection that Lunney holds for the small, anonymous Welsh factory.

“We have developed this business with the same people for over 20 years. We work for each other in the same way a family business would” Pete Lunney There was nothing to do but get along there and see what was going on. It turns out that there has been a string manufacturing business in the Rhondda for decades, initially under the moniker of GMS, a company that was bought from the liquidator by Strings & Things in 1984, merged with Nashville Music Strings (in which the company already had an interest) and then moved to its current industrial premises (from a Victorian gas showroom, no less) a year later.

“We don’t make a big song and dance of it publicly, but in terms of string making, you’ll find us everywhere – you’d be surprised.” As, indeed, I was. Lunney, having joined the UK supplier at around the time the company was moving Picato to its present location, found himself moving to Wales to manage the manufacturing business in 1987 – a position he held for the next 11 years. In that time he oversaw the development of a bewildering amount of string products,

bought up names such as Concertiste nylon strings and Klondyke straps and established accessory brands that have become the staple of many a retailer. Arguably the most impressive of Picato’s developments over the years, however, is the rather niche area of double bass strings and the Innovation brand. Quietly, with the absence of any fuss, this string brand has grown to be something of a cult obsession among jazz and rockabilly players, particularly in the States, but with significant (and still growing) sales throughout the rest of the world, too. It started in 1994, when Lionel Davis, a jazz bassist with a background in R&D engineering, came to Picato with the idea of creating a bass string with the reliability of steel core strings, but the preferred tonal qualities of gut. Together with Tony Roberts, Picato’s master string maker and Lunney’s successor as the factory manager, and later (as Davis became increasingly reclusive), Michael Moore, a jazz bassist of unimpeachable pedigree, the team came up with a non-metallic core and a winding process that fitted the bill. Aimed at the jazz player, the strings immediately began to impress players on

Pete Lunney at home in the Welsh office

Finishing off an Innovation string 34 miPRO OCTOBER 2009


both sides of the Atlantic and with added input from the then assistant principle of the National Orchestra of Wales, Norman Mason, adaptations were established making sets that worked just as well for bowed (or arco) playing. Two sets were developed initially, the 140H for the predominantly pizzicato jazz players, with a brighter, edgier sound, and the 140B for orchestral bassists, predominantly playing arco. Which might very well have been the end of the story, but as is so often the case with valuable innovations (pun unavoidable), the most unexpected markets are attracted. “I’d never really paid much attention to rockabilly music, let alone considered what the market was like,” explains Lunney, “but once these players got hold of Innovation strings, they just loved them. It opened up a whole new area for sales and that led to the strings coming to the attention of the psychobilly players. I have to admit, I don’t think I’d even heard of it before, but when I started to check it out online and search through some of the forums, I saw that psychobilly is simply huge.” The result of the rockabilly injection was a series of strings (five basic sets, no less) aimed squarely at the market and including silver windings to further brighten the sound, making the strings ideal for the ‘slapping’ technique adopted by many of the players. As MI Pro goes to press, Strings & Things will be launching a new set, desinged to directly target the psychobilly ‘slap’ market. With the rockabilly strings having turned full circle and attracted a lot of jazz players, who knows where the psychobilly strings might lead. While most definitely a success story in every sense of the phrase, Innovation strings is but one corner of the Picato factory, overseen by Roberts (and ably assisted by Gaynor Stone and Jayne Rosser) with Lunney (now general manager of the entire Strings & Things operation) occasionally making the trip up from Shoreham to keep in touch with goings on. “Innovation is a really important brand, of course,” explains Lunney, “but I suppose

the big thing for us is classical guitar strings and the OEM work we do. It’s not something we can talk about, but if I could, you’d find that we supply strings to lots of ‘name’ brands, as well as for retailers that want their own brand name on the packets.” “We are quite unique in that we can do what the big manufacturers can’t,” adds Stone. “We have real expertise in making strings for bowed instruments and classical guitars. Our competitors will often pass customers on to us with orders that they simply can’t handle. If we have the measurements and the details, we can usually do it.” The company’s own Concertiste range of nylon guitar, violin and cello strings adds further to this steady turnover. Beside the string business, the ‘Things’ aspect of the company is also covered at the Picato factory, with a small team working on cutting, sewing and printing the leather for the Klondyke range of straps and there is a healthy trade for the Big Boy woven straps, as well. Lunney takes it upon himself to consider and research this area of business to find the best way to keep the design elements of this most fashion-led of markets up-to-date. “There’s always something new to consider, although in such a competitive market, it’s very difficult to come up with something original,” he says. “You’ll have an idea and then see that someone else is already doing it. I think we do all right, though.” Strings & Things is a company that has gone from strength to strength over its 30-plus year history and all of it without a great song and dance about what it is up to, preferring, as with any good supplier, to let its products do the talking. One could use the term ‘old school’ if that phrase hadn’t become so unfairly interpreted as a negative thing in recent years. The Piacato operation, very much a British manufacturing case study, in many ways epitomises the attitude of the greater company. “This is a family business,” says Lunney of the Rhondda factory. “Although there is no family name attached to it, the fact that we have developed this business with pretty much the same people for over 20 years means that we have a team here

Above and below: The leather department Below: Quality control

that works for each other in the way any family business would.” And Lunney’s affection for the business has obviously grown from this. With much of its work in the realm of OEM and the remainder distributed into the world through the Strings & Things sales and marketing machine, there is no real need for the company to make a great fuss about the industrial unit in Treorchy – although the value of the story to UK manufacturing in MI stands up to the greatest scrutiny. With certain supplies coming from France and Argentina, the bulk of materials are also from the UK. “I try to keep it in the UK wherever possible,” says Lunney. Rather like keeping it in the family. STRINGS & THINGS: 01273 440442

Now available from Gem

For more information contact your Gem account manager for more information or visit

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 35





Bully for uke

Despite consistent growth over the past ten years, it is still hard for many to think of the folk and traditional instrument market as being dynamic, but Andy Barrett discovers that while the corduroy remains the same, the song indeed has no ending…


t might sound a bit tautological, but the folk market appears to be maturing. I say that with my tongue somewhat in my cheek, of course, considering the vibrant nature of the folk scene at the moment, with no end of youngsters appearing on stages at a growing number of folk festivals through the year. What I mean is that the toe-dipping epitomised by surges in the entry-level market is now growing into enquiries after higher-priced, better quality instruments. This is good news for the retailer. Entrylevel instruments sell well, but margin tends to be squeezed, whereas the £250 to £400 price point often achieves the optimum ratio of unit sales to acceptable margin. While it might be difficult for some dealers to find the relevance of traditional instrument sales, one thing seems to be certain: if you do, you’re going to find an exciting and various market with almost unlimited stocking options. As with the overview MI Pro ran a year ago or so, the boom element is very much the ukulele – given yet another shot in the arm this year by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain playing the BBC Proms at the Albert Hall and having some 2,000 uke players in the audience, instruments in hand, playing along with a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. But whether it is mandolins, ukuleles, banjos, or even low whistles, fiddles and

bodhrans, there are a lot of people out there not only wiling to give playing a shot, but also to take it a step further to get their hands on some quality kit. And that’s where you come in… GREMLIN Say ‘folk’, think ‘Gremlin’ – certainly in the UK. Even the company’s guitars have a distinct ‘duelling banjos’ aura about them. The Sussex-based company has really carved out an impressive chunk of the folk market on these islands and can be used as a good gauge as to trends and swings in the folk industry. With many of its staff and management playing the folk circuit, there really isn’t much that Gremlin misses. A nice side effect of this is that the company supplies a good deal of very unusual instruments that many of us don’t even know about, let alone sell. New in the warehouse this year this year is the Portuguese Fado guitar and a pear-shaped Uke with F-holes. Other oddities that are proving to be favourites include the Gu Zheng, Er Hu, Xaphoon, the Cuatro de Puerto Rico and Bombarde. Gremlin is working on a new professorial range of ukes made in its factory in the Far East and a mid-priced range of mandolins, octave mandolas and bouzoukis. The ukes should be in stock by Christmas and the mandolin instruments at the start of 2010.

Left to right: Sutherland’s Alan Townsend, Kala’s Mike Upton and Joe Brown all worked together to make Joe Brown ukes

The company says it always tries to buy within the UK wherever possible and this year it has brought in the excellent hand-made mandolins, octave mandolas, bouzoukis and citterns from Tom Buchannan. Due to the success of the Ashbury Tenor guitar at £199, Gremlin’s own general manager, Chris Rudd, has designed a vintage-style all-solid rosecherry (similar to

mahogany) bodied tenor guitar at £349 – these should also be in before Christmas. Gremlin reports that the new Scarlatti melodeons and concertinas are selling very well. It has four models: the Nero (D/G), Rosso (B/C), Wooden (D/G) and a threerow (A/D/G). They are all Chinese made, but with Italian reeds, so players get competitively priced melodeons that are, Gremlin assures us: ‘far better than

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 37


anything else on the market with a higher price tag’. The whistle market is still as strong as ever for Gremlin, with the top selling brands Chieftain, Kerry, Dixon, Susato, Clarke, Waltons and Howard making it real onestop-shop for the instruments. Dixon has just brought out a new inter-changeable Irish flute/whistle combo, which is perfect for the smaller handed players. OZARK Stentor’s Ozark brand has plenty to offer more trad players with its quality range of fretted traditional instruments, including (launched at LIMS this year) a new tenor guitar. This small-bodied cutaway 3372C electro-acoustic (£365) is proving popular with many players for its bigger, richer sound, thanks to a solid spruce top with an oval sound hole. This is an impressive instrument for the price, with the attention to design one has come to expect from this range. It has a rosewood fingerboard and is fitted with an Artec transducer, four-band eq unit and endpin jack preamp. The scale length is a comfortable 580mm. With its attractive sunburst finish, this guitar looks

38 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

as good as it sounds An impressive list of players has picked up – and stuck with – Ozark. XTC’s Andy Partridge recently bought a Deluxe 3135 parlour guitar: “It felt really good in my hands, with an easy friendly feel to the fretboard and, best of all, kept a sweet tuning right up to the octave, a basic essential that is sadly missing in a lot of acoustic guitars ten times the cost.” The Ozark 3135 retails at £300. Ozark mandolins, banjos and bouzoukis also lay claim to excellent quality and value. The instruments range from models such as the 2250 Army/Navy Special with a solid mahogany top (£162) up to the 2255 F model (played by Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention, no less) with solid spruce top and solid maple back and sides (£405). Mahalo ukuleles are, Stentor tells us, greatly in demand and the UK supplier stocks every type from soprano and concert to tenor and baritone, with prices from just £37.50. Mahalos even come in LP and TC shapes in different colours and in electric and acoustic versions, starting at £32.50.


KALA Sutherland carries a wide range of traditional stringed instruments. It has its own Countryman range of bluegrass acoustic guitars, resonator guitars, mandolins, bouzoukis, mandolas, banjos and banjo ukes. And even the Crafter guitar brand has a bowl-back mandolin with an active preamp. The instrument that’s made a huge difference to Sutherland’s turnover this year, however, is the ukulele. It realised the potential of the instrument three years ago and now has a thriving division of uke brands, namely Kala, Makala, Lanikai, Eleuke solid body electrics and (on the accessory side) the string brand Aquila Nylgut. Sutherland wants to be recognised as the complete ukulele company, even down to accessories. The company tells us that at least one container of Kala instruments is brought into the UK every month. The bulk of these are low cost Makalas, which are popular with schools, but the emphasis is shifting monthly towards the more expensive Kala models. It has recently released a range of

slim-bodied Travel instruments, the Joe Brown signature series in either koa or mahogany and the U-bass bass ukulele – a baritone uke sized instrument with polyurethane strings tuned to bass guitar tuning. The Joe Brown ukes are of particular interest, having been brought about as the result of talks between Sutherland’s Alan Townsend and Joe Brown, co-ordinating with Kala to produce a wide-ranging series of the diminutive instrument. All of the features – woods, fingerboard and side position marks, purfling, action, choice of tuners – were decided by Brown, with him preferring the uke to be simple rather than fancy and he felt very strongly that the product must be ‘quality’. Kala analysed a vintage ukulele, identical to the one that Joe has used throughout the years, to reproduce the lightly braced, ultra thin top. There are two ranges: one all solid mahogany and the other with solid spruce top and solid koa back and sides. Each range consists of a full set of soprano, concert, tenor and baritone sizes and each instrument has a unique serial number.

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 39


SAVANNAH This comprehensive line of mandolins, available in the UK through Westside, spreads itself nicely across the entry-level mid-priced markets. The range opens with the Lynchburg ‘A’ style mando. This sub-£80 model is a good starting point for those wishing to have a go without having to fork out more than a good night out. Next is the Oval Hole model with an extended, 24fret fingerboard (£90) and the Madison, much similar to the Lynchburg, but with a pickup and preamp. Things start to get serious for Savannah with the £149.99 Lousville model (in a range of finishes), which has a solid spruce top, solid maple back and sides and Gotoh machines. Topping off the range is the F model. It’s a similar spec to the Louisville, but with an extended fingerboard and a lightweight hardcase. Westside also has the intriguing resonator Nickel Silver Bell mando from Recording King, with a brass body and a flame maple neck and the Loar 1920s-style Homage mando, with premium spruce top, highly flamed maple back and sides, ebony

fingerboard and bridge, Grover machines and lots of mother of pearl and abalone. This one tops the scale with a penny change from 600 quid. PARIS SWING This is a really attractive collection of half a dozen mandolins, all clocking in at the mid-£400 price range. They each have a ‘Gypsy Jazz’ flavour, solid sitka spruce tops and triple A grade flamed maple back, sides and neck. There are three models: the Parisian, the Nuage (inspired by Django Reinhardt) and the Samois. All of them come in either a vintage sunburst or natural blonde finish. RECORDING KING Aside form the resonator mando mentioned earlier (and an equally unusual resonator ukulele) Recording King really comes into its own in the world of the banjo. With a nod to the mid-priced market, courtesy of the £350 Songster five-string and a classic, open-backed California model (at £539.99), the rejuvenated US brand then jumps up to

£800 and above with the Professional and Soloist models (starting at £799.99). All of these instruments have a three-ply maple rim, Mastertone-style flange and tone ring, dual co-ordinator rods and ebony fingerboard. STAGG If it’s MI, then you can bet your last dollar that Stagg does it – it’s no different with the trad and folk markets. The brand is definitely moving a considerable distance upwards in terms of its entry-level reputation and the BJM30G is a good example of this. Clocking in at a retail price of £235, the six-string guitar-banjo has a mahogany resonator, 30 flat-type bracket hooks, an 11-inch Remo head and a nato neck. The Stagg banjo range also includes five-string G, and left-handed G models. On the mando front (also available in a leftie version) the M20LH is an entry-level Blugrass mandolin with a basswood top, back and sides, nato neck and open gear nickel machines – all for £79. No one is missing out on the uke market these days, of course and Stagg is no exception. The US40S soprano retails at £48 and has a solid mahogany top, back, sides, and neck, nato headstock and rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The Stagg uke range starts at £20 and rises to £140, including electro-soprano, concert models, a tenor and baritone models. ASHTON Ashton’s entry-level ranges include plenty of items to fill this category, flagging up the ‘summer campfire singalong’ for its ukulele – which is a valid selling point. Easy to transport and as easy as a guitar to learn the basics, the uke is perfect impromptu accompaniment. Its Hawaiianstyle ukes come in seven different colours (with matching bag) and have sturdy geared machines. A mere 19 quid will buy your punters one. Ashton has a couple of mandolins, too, namely the MDN100 and the MDE100 (£139 and £149 respectively). These little strummers have a grade A spruce top, sapele back and sides, maple neck and rosewood fingerboard and bridge and chrome geared machines. The MDE model is an electro version. Both ship with case. ACOUSTICA Acoustica has been around for more years

than many might care to imagine, but it was not until the company acquired the long established UK supplier, JL Music, that it came to the notice of many more high street retail companies. Acoustica has some pretty prestigious import lines such as Eastman mandolins, a good example of which is the MD504LA A style, oval hole, lacquered antique mandolin that is modelled after the classic instruments of the 1920s. This fully handcarved solid mandolin is crafted with an aged spruce top and maple back and sides. The maple neck is finished with a solid ebony fingerboard and an ebony fronted headstock. Fittings are nickel-plated. There are also hand crafted guitars by Czech Republic makers BSG and Tribal Planet gigbags to name but a few in the Acoustica catalogue. Acoustica’s catalogue is further strengthened by the inclusion of own-brand good profit margin lines Tonewood and Heartwood which include five-string and Irish tenor banjos, mandolins, tenor guitars, ukulele banjos and a whole host of hard-to-find quality traditional musical instruments. We are reliably informed that there is a team of sales agents covering the country, so there is bound to be one near to you. TANGLEWOOD Tanglewood has been slowly but surely compiling a full line of folk and traditional instruments, working in conjunction with designer Steve Noon, one of Britain’s banjo and mandolin experts. Two ranges, Union and Cove Creek, have been designed to meet all features and price points, highlighting, the company says: ‘both value for money and professional hardware and cosmetics’. These new lines are now all in stock, ready to grace showrooms nationwide. Starting off with the entry-level Union series, the raft of ukuleles include the TU6, a soprano instrument with guitar style machineheads in an array of gloss finish colours. The range climbs up to the £99.95 TU1, a cutaway soprano electro. The Cove Creek uke is the TU2 solid spruce topped instrument with figured bubinga back and sides and a hi-gloss finish and a hardshell case, retailing at £119.95. Tanglewood also has half a dozen mandolins, three in each series, ranging from £159.95 to £339.95, meaning that there is a little something for everyone.

CONTACTS GREMLIN ...............................................................................01903 203044 STENTOR ................................................................................01737 240226 SUTHERLAND .....................................................................029 2088 7333 WESTSIDE (SAVANNAH, PARIS SWING, RECORDING KING) ...0141 248 4812 EMD (STAGG) ..........................................................................01293 862612 MUSIC FORCE (ASHTON) ......................................................01780 781630 ACOUSTICA ............................................................................01274 855432 TANGLEWOOD .........................................................................01937 841122 40 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

Just a few of our Leading Brands...

Blueridge have taken America by storm with their authentic vintage style guitars, and now we have made them available in the UK. This range, renowned for spectacular value for money, continues to receive excellent reviews in all the best known guitar press, including Guitar & Bass, Guitarist, Guitar Buyer, Acoustic Magazine... For the Gypsy in your soul! These beautiful guitars pay homage to the Selmer and Maccaferri guitars of the early 20th century. They have solid tops, are a joy to play, and look and sound like the real thing, right down to the excellent reproduction of the original tailpiece. More to the point, they are very affordably priced.

The best selling aluminium whistles in the UK. Renowned for their clear sound, they appeal to whistle players of all standards. Though ideal for beginners, they are professional instruments and are used on stage by many leading players.

The Kentucky mandolins are the pinnacle of affordable bluegrass instruments, and offer exceptional quality at excellent prices. These mandolins are a very welcome addition to our growing section of great quality bluegrass instruments, which includes mandolins, banjos, dobros, guitars and more.

News: SK120 Rated ‘Exceptional’ in Acoustic Magazine. “A wonderful little amp designed by people who understand what musicians need”. Also Guitar & Bass have just awarded the SK60 a massive 82%. We distribute these ShireKing Acoustic Amps along with Headway’s very popular pickups for acoustic instruments, including the Snake 3 and SA1 pickups, and the ‘Band’ violin and cello pickups.

A competitively priced range of student squeezeboxes, including Piano Accordions from 12 to 120 Bass, B/C, D/G and Cajun one-row melodeons, and Anglo and English concertinas, all ideal for beginners.

The leading brand of resonator guitars, with a long US heritage, available in the UK exclusively from Gremlin Music. Saga Music, have applied the same dedication to quality to these guitars as they have to the Gitane and Blueridge guitars, and the results are spectacular.

A professional quality range of Acoustic Guitars, Mandolins, Banjos & Fiddles, Basses, cases, electrics and more. This is the largest range of mandolin family instruments, banjos and ukuleles in the UK, and the Ashbury name is associated with high quality and excellent value.

As well as being the first point of call for all the hard to find traditional musical instruments your customers are asking you for, Gremlin Music is a one stop shop for any musical instrument retailer. We can supply a massive range of acoustic musical instruments, spares, accessories, strings, books and DVDs. Become a Gremlin Dealer and give your customers a better choice! We pride ourselves on the personal touch - you can always reach us by phone during working hours, and we’ll always send your order as fast as possible, no matter what the size. If you’re a dealer, you can browse our website for prices (retail and wholesale), contact us by email, and place orders online! We’ve been in the business for over 25 years, and can offer you an experienced, friendly and professional service.

Tel: +44 (0) 1903 203044 (9.30 - 5.30 Mon - Fri) | Unit A, Easting Close, Worthing, West Sussex, BN14 8HQ


Education, education, education Morico is one of those lucky suppliers that has a world renowned brand on its books in the shape of DW. But that’s not to say that dealers can’t learn anything else from the drum distributor, Paul Barretta tells Gary Cooper…


hile some MI firms like nothing better than climbing onto the roof to shout their latest news to the world, others seem to take an altogether more laid–back approach. Take, for example, Morico – distributor of some of the most prestigious products in the drum world – including DW and its associated family of brands. You might suppose that, having been joined by the former managing director of one of the major UK pro audio distributors, it would have gone in for some serious flag waving. That wasn’t what happened almost a year ago, when Paul Barretta, previously MD of Shuttlesound, joined as sales director. “It hasn’t actually been a secret that I joined Morico, but we didn’t make a big fuss about it,” Barretta says. “I’d been

talking with Kevin and Geoff since LIMS 08, having taken a year out of the business for family reasons after leaving Shuttlesound and then deciding I was ready to come back in.

talking at the show and something just clicked between us. “They were at a point where they were making some changes to the way their company operated, so I joined them,

You might suppose that, having been joined by the former MD of one of the major UK pro audio distributors, Morico would have gone in for some serious flag waving. “I’ve been playing drums for over 30 years and have been using DW pedals and hardware as a gigging drummer for the past ten years – always very impressed with their quality and reliability. We got

aiming to bring my experience from the pro audio side of the industry and what I know about MI, combining that with my knowledge of drummers and what they and dealers want.

“Initially, I sat down with Geoff and Kevin to see what their business plans were and fairly quickly started suggesting some changes to the business model, which they were very receptive to and which I’m pleased to say are bearing fruit. “What I found when I went out on the road during that first year was that it was quite unstructured. There was no dealer plan, no dealer programmes and discounts to customers were also unstructured. One of the first changes I’ve brought in is a tiered structure. A dealer can now choose his discount from three levels. This means that even those that want to put just a toe in the water with a few pedals and some hardware can still get a discount from us. The more drum-orientated shops that have the potential to buy larger

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miPRO OCTOBER 2009 43


volumes of gear can get a much higher level of discount, of course. “The upshot of this is that with recommended prices and street prices being very consistent, it means the small guy as well as the big guy can make very good margins.” Being able to hold price levels against the tide of discounts is a nice trick – but it isn’t always in the gift of distributors, as Barretta agrees. “It’s our dealers that are holding the price levels for us,” he says. “I’d like to think common sense has finally begun to prevail in this industry. We are in business to make money – we’re not charity cases. We’re the only industry I can think of where we beat ourselves up to be the cheapest, then moan that there’s no

“One thing that I’ve always placed a lot of emphasis on is education. Educate people about the product and give them the confidence to sell a high cost item. So what we are going to set up at Morico is lots of workshops, lots of education sessions where we can bring dealers and their drum sales guys to central locations, or in store if that’s better, where we can really give these guys the knowledge they need to be able to say ‘yes, it’s 50 per cent more expensive, but this is the reason why; this is what you’re getting for your money’.” And the response from DW retailers to the change appears to have been positive. “Yes, they are delighted with the tier structures, in fact. Any dealer can now

“The upshot is that, with prices being very consistent, it means the small guy, as well as the big guys, can make very good margins.” Paul Barretta, Morico margin in the products that we’re selling. I can’t think of any other industry that does that – but it is changing. “It’s partly from having the confidence you get from selling the class of product, like DW, where you can say ‘yes, it is expensive but it’s that expensive, because it’s the best’. Dealers that have been working with Morico certainly understand those factors and realise that there’s a good margin opportunity there. It may take them longer to sell a DW pedal over a competitor’s brand, because they have to go through the features and benefits to explain why it’s better and worth the extra, but it’s worth doing because they’re earning more money from selling it.” Which is good in theory, but calls for some quality selling on the part of staff. Barretta believes Morico is able to help.

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approach us and choose what level of discount they want to be on and that’s about putting the choice back with the dealers. I want to get it to the position where we have good partners in the field that have a good cross-section representation of all the brands that we carry, so that I can recommend where end-user customers can go.” It’s not only DW at Morico, of course. “We do the PDP range of drums, which is selling very, very well – helped by some great reviews recently. Then there’s Gon Bops, where the Alex Acuna cajon also just received a great review. We’ve got 3drumsticks, which is great for younger players on tight budgets – again, with a superb margin for the dealers. “Outside the DW family, we’ve got TRX cymbals, which again have had a fantastic

review recently. These are hand-crafted, direct from Turkey.” Of course, the cymbal business has been the graveyard for so many brands that haven’t come from one of the Big Four. No-one who knows anything about them doubts that plenty of other companies are capable of making great cymbals, but it is never easy to turn the head of a player who believes he can only use Brand Y because of a lifetime’s exposure to their intense marketing. “It’s a difficult area.’ Barretta agrees. “If I had a magic wand, I would say put a blindfold on, take a drumstick, then choose your cymbal. Buy it for its sound. Buy it for how it sounds to you – then be surprised when you see what the ink stamp on it is. In some cases you’ll be very surprised. “But again, that comes down to education. Even if a young drummer is tied into competitive brands, it’s important that he knows there’s a plethora of things out there that are as good, if not better. “The other brand we have that really deserves a mention is Baskey. This is an independent company producing Ruggluggs and Matmarkers. Basically, the idea being that every time you set your drum kit up, every stand, every tripod leg, every bass drum spur is going to exactly the same position, so you get a very fast and perfect set-up every time. Baskey is starting to sell very well through the shops – a lot of people are getting into the concept.” A recent MI market analysis that MI Pro caught sight of suggested that the drum sector had been largely untouched by the recession. At the time (based on our own retailer and distributor feedback) we were sceptical. Morico’s experience seems to fall somewhere in between. “I wouldn’t say this sector has escaped. Some of our retailers have suffered quite badly, in fact. Where dealers have a good

educational side to the business, that has really helped them through the tough times, because they have 100 to 200 guys coming through the shop for lessons. But for the guys that haven’t got that side to their business – some of them have found it very tough. So no, don’t think drums stores have weathered the storm any better than anyone else. “Having said that, the word on the street is that things are starting to pick up. What’s most important is that when the consumer has money in his pocket and he wants to buy something, he is able to buy it there and then and take it home. He doesn’t want to have to place an order and wait. The retailers that are doing well are those that have good stocks, because they’re the ones that will win that sale every time. “I understand the risk from the retailer’s point of view, but that’s where our tier structure comes into play, because they are getting good discounts and because it’s to do with a stocking commitment. “We can almost guarantee the end user that if he goes into a Morico dealer, he will find what he’s looking for. “Morico wants to grow. We want more dealers and we want to get across to them that they can do good business with our brands. There’s stability there now and seven days a week the mobile is on. If dealers ring us, we’ll visit or talk it through. There are margin opportunities right across all the brands and in my opinion as a drummer, they’re the best brands in the industry. Come and talk to us. We can put serious money in your till.” MORICO: 01992 461089


All change What with new ownership and an impressive new addition to its lines, this has been a hectic time for Barnes & Mullins. Rob Power finds out how things are going as the dust is settling at this most distinguished of distributors…


o say it’s been a busy few months for Barnes & Mullins would, to be frank, be a huge understatement. A management buyout, alongside the addition of Line 6 to its ever-impressive portfolio and a huge number of new products, has meant that the Shropshirebased distributor has had its work cut out for it, in what has proved to be a colourful 2009 so far. As one of the biggest distributors in the country and with a huge number of products and coverage across almost the entirety of retailers, Barnes & Mullins is in an undeniably enviable position. “We deal with pretty much every store in the country, with probably 99 per cent coverage,” says marketing manager Alex Mew. “This is because we are a very general distribution company and sell pretty much everything anyone could ever need to run a music store. It means that we deal with an awful lot of people, from small independent stores, which are the core business, through to chains. We still don’t deal with catalogue stores and supermarkets – we’ve made a big point in the past of staying true to independent music stores and we’ve held that viewpoint.” There was an important change at the top of the Barnes & Mullins tree in July

46 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

when Bruce Perrin and Brian Cleary undertook a management buyout that saw the pair installed as joint managing directors of the venerable firm. “Just this year, Bruce and Brian bought the company, managing a near 100 per cent buyout.” Although the buyout signals an obvious change in leadership and a change in direction in the way the company is managed, so far things have remained remarkably steady.

known amplifier manufacturers around. “We’ve taken on the partnership distribution with Line 6,” Mew confirms. “The company approached us a little while ago, saying that it wanted to be able to reach more customers and deal with the ones it already had more effectively. Being the big brand that it is, Line 6 didn’t have the physical means to service everybody as it wanted to. “It has kept hold of a certain number of its largest dealers, so it can work with

“Now customers can get hold of Line 6 amplifiers where perhaps they couldn’t before. This gives retailers a chance to build new relationships.” Alex Mew, Barnes & Mullins “Things are carrying on as they were. It’s very early days since the buyout, but I’m not aware of anything major that’s going to change,” adds Mew. “What’s important is that we all concentrate on what’s best for the company.” The second big piece of news to hit Barnes & Mullins this year was at the beginning of August, when a new deal was struck with Line 6, arguably one of the biggest and certainly among the best-

them to get displays and promotions correct. Unlike any other big amp brand that I’m aware of, however – because we can now sell to anybody else – any shop in the country can now stock Line 6. There will be no minimum quantities on orders or anything like that. “There are no special prices for anybody. It’s straightforward – people want to buy Line 6 amps and previously, stores would rarely see Line 6 reps.We’ve changed that.

“It’s going very well so far. We’ve sold a lot of product, both to stores that have stocked Line 6 before and to those that haven’t. Online pricing on Line 6 is very keen, as with all big brands. However, customers can now get hold of Line 6 amplifiers where perhaps they couldn’t before, as they are more widely available. This gives retailers a chance to build a relationship with new customers, so there are many positives here. It’s good for Barnes & Mullins as well – it’s a brilliant brand and we’re very pleased with it.” BAGS OF BONUS BRANDS Line 6 aside, there are still plenty of other brands keeping Barnes & Mullins busy, one of which is French guitar brand Lag. “Over the last six months we’ve set up a number of Lag master dealers. These are specialist stores that will stock specialist handmade Lag guitars, built in France by Michel Lag and his team. What we’re doing here is providing people with a chance to try these really very posh guitars and the stores that have signed up are benefiting from having some great stuff in their store, with good margins on the product. “There will be a significant marketing campaign concentrating on the Master series in the very near future, which will


Bruce Perrin (left) and Brian Cleary (right) are the joint managing directors at Barnes & Mullins focus on listing the dealers and drive interest in the brand.” A Charles Hedger Cradle Of Filth signature model due for the end of the year indicates another new development for Lag, which will be swiftly followed up with a signature model for Phil Campbell of Motörhead, as well. Faith is another guitar brand in the company’s stable that has proved a consistent seller and it’s rapidly gained a loyal following. “Faith was started by Barnes & Mullins with the desire to make genuinely good, high-quality, solidtopped guitars,” Mew comments. “Working with Patrick James Eggle, Faith is selling better and better. The Faith Venus has done particularly well and has become its own guitar with its own reputation.” SIGNATURE STYLE The marketing for Faith is moving forward a pce, too. “We’ve launched the Faith Signature series, which was initially a limited run of 30 and featured Patrick’s signature inlaid into the headstock. They are hand-made in the Czech Republic and are of very high quality. In the next couple of months we’re going to release another signature series, which will be similar, although not limited edition. They will be still made in the Czech Republic, but will retail at around £1,500.” Thanks to its Beatles connections, Höfner remains one of the best known brands on the planet, but its bowed strings are

Alex Mew sees B&M’s strength in its variety – nopw added to through Line 6

proving of particular interest to Barnes & Mullins in the student area of the market: “Höfner make its instruments in Germany and with The Alfred Stingl brand it has used a number of its top luthiers to set up a factory just outside Beijing where they make these products, so they are built the German way. The range covers every size you would need as a student in affordable packs. The quality control is extremely high.” HI TIME FOR VIOLINS Also well worth a look, especially at this back-to-school time of year, is Hidersine. “This is another owned brand and is the most popular rosin in the world. Its bowed instruments are built in a small workshop just outside of Shanghai, which is a workshop in the traditional sense and not a factory. Iit produces a small range of entry level to mid-range instruments, particularly violins. The Piacenza violins and cellos are now offered with fine tune pegs fitted, which have had a lot of press recently and are a huge innovation in this particular area of the market.” With so much happening over such a small period of time, there can be no doubt that Barnes & Mullins is a distributor very much on the move. A well established name in the British MI industry, its recent changes and acquisition are sure to only cement further the company’s sterling reputation amongst UK dealers. BARNES & MULLINS: 01691 652449

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 47

MIA NEWS an update from your industry trade association

Time to Take it Away The Arts Council’s interest-free credit scheme for the musical instrument industry hits its second anniversary. MIA CEO Paul McManus takes a look back and forward…


aving just passed its second anniversary in MI, now seems a good time to update everyone on the Take it Away scheme. The Arts Council’s interest-free loan scheme launched in 2007 and many of you reading will have come across it either as a retailer offering Take it Away through your store, or as a customer. During its two years, over 26,000 customers have made use of a Take it Away loan for the purchase of almost £18m worth of instruments and accessories. The impact that this has had on our industry, particularly in these ‘credit crunch’ times, should definitely not be underestimated. As one of the participating retailers comments: “It’s a very easy-to-use, simple to understand scheme for both staff and customers, which has given our business a real bottom-line boost.” With over half of all those customers reporting that they would not have been able to buy their instrument without Take it Away and three-quarters saying it

48 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

enabled them to buy a more expensive instrument than they’d planned, it’s helping to drive new customers straight into our shops and make a purchase they might otherwise not have made. “Take it Away doesn’t seem to have been negatively impacted by the recession,” says Mary-Alice Stack, development manager for Take it Away. “In fact, take up has continued to rise, which is great news for retailers and musicians who are able to take advantage of the scheme”. There have been a number of changes to the scheme recently, which can only help to strengthen its position in the MI trade. A move to new banking partner Moneyway has seen increased investment in new online systems to make the scheme more attractive to retailers and customers. David Nield, Moneyway’s head of asset finance and lending, explains: “Our significant investment, particularly in our online system, should show suppliers, retailers and customers that we have a desire and capacity to support the industry into the future. Moneyway is part

of the Secure Trust Bank, which has 50 years’ experience in retail banking. This means that we are not dependent on funding from the money markets that has seen other lenders withdraw from the consumer market. In addition to the Take it Away scheme we offer consumer loan products via music retailers and we are looking to grow our relationship with retailers and suppliers alike.” The new partnership between Arts Council England and Moneyway for the delivery of Take it Away will strengthen the scheme’s position within the industry and help enable more people to continue to benefit. These are exciting times for Take it Away and I hope you will all continue to see the benefits our industry is reaping from this very welcome investment. You’ll see more of Stack and Nield at the MIA Awards in October, where Moneyway will be sponsoring the Best Large Supplier category. Or you can contact Music Finance directly. MONEYWAY: 0845 111 7109 MIA: 01372 750600

Mary-Alice Stack and David Nield overseeing a recession proof scheme



NEED NEW STAFF? Put your company at the forefront of the market and attract the best candidates from professionals already working within the MI industry! For print and web recruitment positions please contact or telephone 01992 535647

SIMON FRASER-CLARK Laney/Headstock Marketing Manager

Every day’s a busy one, but Friday’s are a special chip day for Laney/Headstock marketing manager Simon Fraser-Clark. MI Pro finds out how he fills his hours at the office...


y alarm goes off at 6:15 am but I press snooze until 6:30 or so. Once I’m up, I get ready as quickly as possible, as by this time the four ladies of the household – my wife and our three daughters – are now up and the bedlam that is the school run is starting. Packed lunch in hand, kisses from daughters and wife obtained, I set off for work. The office is a 45-minute drive away, which I find very useful as it gives me time to go through the things I have to do during the day and make a mental tick list. Similarly, on the way home the drive gives me enough time to wind down a little and prepare for home life. I arrive at the office at about 8:15 (M5 depending) and get a coffee from the machine, plug my laptop into the server, pick up my emails and sort out my desk and diary for the day. Once I’ve dealt with the flurry of the immediate issues presented by email I can get down to a few more strategic tasks within the department. Since the marketing department deals with marketing support requests on a global scale for Laney products and on a UK scale for Headstock’s brands, which are Laney, Ibanez, Tama and Ritter, there is always a constant stream of requests for materials and info that needs to be satisfied. I spend the next couple of hours organising what materials need to go to which magazines, checking where we are with trade shows and clinics, reading our brands’ product reviews and talking to our

design team about ideas for marketing materials and adverts, and looking after the work flow through the department. After a coffee I pop down into the sales office and chat to sales managers and product specialists to get information as to what’s going on in the market. Lunchtime is usually a sandwich in the company canteen, but if it’s Friday then it’s a special day – chip Friday! As a marketing manager and a player, one of my important roles is to act as an interface between the R&D department and the sales environment. So in the afternoon I might spend a bit of time in the R&D department discussing ongoing projects, looking at market opportunities, trends and the like and generally making a bit of noise. During the afternoon I’ll put a call in to our A&R manager, who is normally out on the road seeing bands and artists and see how his day is going. I leave the office around at around five in order to make it home to eat with the family and take care of the domestic side of life. Then hopefully I find some time to disappear into my little music bolthole and do a bit of playing. Finally, I like to spend some quality time with my wife before heading up to bed. One of the most appealing aspects to my job is the fact that no two days are the same. We are a dynamic company that’s been around for 42 years. We’re serious about what we do, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

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NEWS Korg’s second global launch, Vintage clinics, Chappell recitals

NAMM University now online, Yamaha DTXtreme clinics

Pizza profits climb when the MI sales assistant gets trained up

INDIE PROFILE Gemma Kilby pops into town to see MI Pro’s local store

Charities combine to ‘adopt a musician’ Musicians Benevolent Fund and Live Music Now call to the public for the chance for younger musicians to perform to the elderly and infirm, who might otherwise never experience live music again THE MUSIC charities Live Music Now (LMN) and the Musicians Benevolent Fund (MBF) have come up with a scheme to further their work to enhance the lives of young and old musicians with an appeal to the public to adopt a musician. The scheme is timed to coincide with the Government’s Older People’s Day, Full of Life initiative, on October 1st and will lead into celebrations of St Cecilia (the patron saint of music) on November 18th. Public donations will allow LMN and the MBF to ‘adopt’ gifted young performers to play for older people, including talented retired musicians who thought they would never experience live music again. Both charities hope that the initiative will enhance the lives of thousands of older people living in restricted circumstances. Involvement in live music brings proven benefits to health and wellbeing together with sheer enjoyment for people in care settings. LMN is a charity that arranges for young people to perform to the disadvantaged and the MBF supports retired or infirm musicians, while the MBF has supported LMN’s work for some years now. The charities combined in this latest initiative, which simultaenously benefits musicians and those who would find it impossible to enjoy live music for whatever reason. The LMN’s ambassador, the actor, writer and director, Simon Callow said: “Musicians who work for Live Music Now must be not only hugely talented, but also have powerful gifts of direct communication. Performing for the smart audiences at the Royal Opera House or the Festival Hall is one thing, but making their way to people who can no longer get out and about and who may be failing in their focus is quite another. “It’s deeply moving that so many of them are eager to do this. The fact is that they find it moving and re-charging,

50 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

Simon Callow (centre) at one of the Live Music Now performance sessions especially when they’re playing for retired musicians, people for whom music and performance have been a driving force and are now cut off from the joy and inspiration of live music. In my view, this is one of the finest initiatives in classical music for a long time.” David Sulkin, chief executive of the MBF, said: “The Musicians Benevolent Fund has been supporting LMN for many years and is completely behind what the organisation aims to achieve – the benevolent work that has such high value for older professionals and helping talented young musicians get to grips with the role of music in social settings. The Adopt-a-Musician initiative will no doubt have a profound effect on both young and older musicians.”

LMN will stage many activities around Older People’s Day, which will highlight the benefits of live music. There will be a special commemoration on November 18th at St Paul’s Cathedral and The Guildhall with the MBF to celebrate St Cecilia’s Day. It costs £400 to ‘adopt-a-musician’ and to send outstanding, specially trained performers to play in a day centre, residential home, hospice or other settings for older, inform or special needs people. All donations are welcome. Richard McLaughlin, an accomplished professional composer, pianist, organist, harpsichordist and a Musicians Benevolent Fund beneficiary, who lives at Compton Lodge Residential Home in London said: “How marvellous it was to be among

musicians again and to be able to ‘breathe’ music once more. The visitors did a good job. The event was full of fun.” Alison Lee, the proprietor of the Woodlands Residential Home in Surrey, who recently hosted an LMN performance for residents, said: “I have never, in all the 30 years of running care homes, seen my residents, so quiet, so entranced, so still and so emotional. “It gave the residents a chance to have some professional music-making which many thought was something they would not experience again in their lifetime.” Contributions can be given via both charities’ Just Giving pages at www.justgiving/adopt-a-musician and www.justgiving/adoptamusician. MBF: 020 7239 9100

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Korg announces raft of new products Hi tech and amp products released to market in September KORG HAS launched no fewer than five new products under the Korg and Vox brands in its second globally co-ordinated launch on the weekend of September 12th. First up is the Korg Micro Sampler (pictured), the latest in the Micro series of products. The Micro Sampler is a fullfeatured sampler and loop sequencer with internal effects – all with an intuitive interface that's designed for realtime performance. Second is the Japanese manufacture’s answer to a direct competitor in the shape of the Wavedrum, touted as ‘a dynamic percussion synthesizer’. The Wavedrum is a hand-played percussion unit with a pressure sensor and

piezo pickup for translating the subtle nuances of how the head and rim are played. This means that individual playing styles will produce different sounds, depending upon how the head and rim are played and how pressure is applied pressure to the head, among other techniques. The Korg SV-1 is a stage ‘vintage’ piano that offers the biggest compendium of electromechanical, transistorised, tapedriven, analog and early digital keyboards ever available in a single instrument. From Vox, the V845 wah-wah pedal is a new version of the famous Vox original. Based on the specifications of the pedal developed by Vox in the 60s, the V845 wah offers guitarists

that same tone in a new sturdy but affordable design. Adding to the imaginative Amplug range, Vox has now introduced an acoustic version of the headphone amp. The Amplug Acoustic plugs into any electric guitar, but provides modelled acoustic guitar sounds. Two distinct sounds are available using the fat/bright switch and a blend function combines the acoustic tone with the original signal for just the right mix. Following a similar unified launch from Korg earlier in the year, as well as similar launches from other Japanese manufacturers, this sort of activity is likely to be a common event in future. KORG UK: 01908 857100

JHS holds guitar clinics Classic lunch Gav Coulson to share product knowledge and give performances PRODUCT DEMONSTRATOR and artist liaison manager for JHS, Gav Coulson, is to present a series of guitar clinics at venues and dealers across the UK. The clinics will involve product knowledge with question and answer sessions, as well as performances. Most of the JHS electric guitar related products are to be covered, such as Fret King, Vintage, Italia, Danelectro, Kustom and Dunlop. Appearances at the Leeds, Middlesborough and Merseyside guitar shows are confirmed as well as the regular onbooth demos at Music Live. JHS dealers such as Bridlington’s Street Music, Ware’s Play Something and Mansons in Exeter will be hosting the guitar clinics, which are set to take place between September and November. Further appearances are in the process of being

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Chappel of Bond Street and Yamaha reintroduce piano recital series in store

confirmed for Sheehans in Leicester and various Digital Village stores. Dealers interested in having Coulson host a guitar clinic at their store should call JHS, although flexibility will be called for in suggesting and accepting the dates that are available. JHS: 0113 286 5381 Coulson will be hosting the clinics on the following dates. SEPTEMBER 13TH: Leeds/Bradford Guitar Show SEPTEMBER 24TH: Birds Music Show, Bexhill On Sea OCTOBER 15TH: Street Music, Bridlington OCTOBER 18TH: Middlesborough Guitar Show OCTOBER 24TH & 25TH: Mansons Guitar Show, Exeter OCTOBER 29TH: Guitar and Son, Stafford NOVEMBER 9TH: Stompbox, Northwood NOVEMBER 19TH: Intersound, Dursley NOVEMBER 21ST: Playsomething, Ware NOVEMBER 29TH: Merseyside Guitar Show

Chappells’ impressive premises YAMAHA HAS announced that its seventh series of recitals at its Chappells retail outlet in Soho, London will include students from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, as well as the usual London conservatoires. The lunchtime showcases will feature pianists from across the country as a result of the Yamaha Artist Services Europe and Soho’s Chappells. The recitals are free to enter and can be found in the Piano Hall at Chappells, 152-160 Wardour Street from 1pm on the following dates.

October 8th: Aizhana Nurkenova (RAM) – Bach, Rachmaninov, Liszt October 22nd: Jonathan Wilson (GSMD) – Haydn, Granados, Ravel November 5th: Johannes Mnich (TCM) – Beethoven, Liszt, Prokofiev November 19th: Olga Paliy (RNCM) – Bach, Tanayev, Mendelssohn December 3rd: Sylvia Jen (RSAMD) – Scarlatti, Beethoven, Chopin, Vine It is advisable to book seats in advance by calling the Chappells store. CHAPPELL: 020 7432 4422 YAMAHA: 01908 366700


NAMM Breakfast online International association uploads trade show education sessions on to new website feature, making hours of seminar information available NAMM, the trade association of the international music industry, has announced that it has launched some of the popular NAMM University material online, offering a full and varied library of videos, articles and interviews that supplement the live Breakfast Sessions and Idea Centre sessions at both the January and July NAMM trade shows. Members visiting the association’s website can learn about key business topics including finance, lesson programmes, retail ideas, sales and technology. All course content is provided by NAMM members and experts, including Alan Friedman, George Hines, Pete Gamber, Nick Rail and Kevin Cranley. “Complementing what we’ve been able to do with the NAMM University at the trade shows, NAMM continues to help its members during these difficult times by bringing them these

valuable learning opportunities at no cost – right to their computer screens to access any time they want,” said Ken Wilson, director of professional development, NAMM. The NAMM U Online library will continue to grow as new modules are developed later this year and into 2010. NAMM members can also leave comments and discuss the ideas they’ve learned, creating more interactive content for site visitors. NAMM’s Breakfast Sessions are scheduled every morning of the NAMM trade shows before the show floor opens. These are in-

depth discussions featuring industry insiders sharing thoughts, ideas and strategies for doing business in today’s market. The Idea Centre sessions are short, focused ‘How to’ presentations that take place on the show floor every 30 minutes during the events. They are hosted by industry experts and designed to allow visitors to drop by and explore best practices without taking too much time away from the business of the day. The online content can be found at the address below. NAMM.ORG/NAMMU

Xtreme drum clinics Yamaha UK pro music division announces Simon Edgoose-led seminars for users and prospective customers of ‘all things DTX’ YAMAHA MUSIC UK has announced the dates of the DTXtreme III training seminars for owners and prospective owners. The in-depth, one day sessions will be held at Yamaha's Milton Keynes headquarters between November 17th and 19th at a cost of £120. Steered by session drummer Simon Edgoose, one of the UK's leading exponents of all things DTX, the sessions have been created following requests from users and carefully designed to ensure players are reaching the maximum capability of the instrument. All aspects of the DTXtreme III will be covered, specifically its brand new brain, its sampling capability and voice editing technology. Places are still available for the clinics and further details can be found at the Yamaha training website ( Interested parties should contact Angie Wells of at the Yamaha Music UK headquarters number below.

The seminars will cover voice editing, sound stacking, performance mode, sampling, controller assignments and an introduction to Cubase. YAMAHA: 01908 369293

The DTXtreme III – a lot of processes to be learnt

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 53


GIG GEAR HERTFORD Gig Gear is an MI store doing its utmost to succeed. Gemma Kilby goes to the Hertford branch to speak with manager Clint Roberts… Is business up or down compared to this time last year? It’s roughly the same. We’ve entered the back to school period so people are buying the half-size or three-quarter-size pieces now. It’s been a quiet summer, but it seems to picking up again. With the recession and the import rates fluctuating, a lot of pricing has been unsteady and that’s scared people off, but they’re starting to even out now thankfully. We’re trying, as we always do, to be as competitive as we can, but a lot relies on the market and cost prices. How do you market the shop? We have the website and we do a lot of promotional mailshots through that. The Harlow store

54 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

holds a lot of clinics, especially on the drums. There’s the local press and we get posters in the windows. We’ve got a Gig Gear Twitter page and there are RSS feeds on the website, too. How do you compete with the online competition? We’ve aimed to compete in previous years, but this year in particular we’re trying to tie the store and the website together – they’re a lot more linear. We’re trying to pass on whatever savings we can. We use the same pricing in store as online. What do you consider to be your main strengths and weaknesses? We’ve been here for 20 years so we have a very good reputation

and loyal customers. We still get a lot of regulars coming back here, despite the opening of our Harlow superstore three years ago. The Harlow store has let us do more top end gear, such as Gibson. This store has tried to keep it a little more beginner and intermediate and we’re backing it up with good service. A lot of the schools pass parents on to us and we do in-store lessons. How do you ensure a good level of customer service? We try to fulfil customer needs and give friendly advice. Everyone working here is a musician – we’re quite obsessive over the instruments we play, so we have a good knowledge. We have good staff and we make sure everyone gets looked after.

We try and keep loose guitar parts in stock, which is good for customers looking for bits and pieces. The minor details take more work but they help keep that regular custom.

How can the industry do more to support retail? The main thing is the discount structures that companies put in place. Over the past couple of years it’s got better, but there are still firms that do deals for certain shops. However, I think the recession period has changed the way companies look at how they supply smaller retailers. It’s become a fairer market for retailers and online pricing has become more even across the board.

What’s be the one product that you couldn’t live without? Probably the Roland Cubes. The Line 6 Spider series is always a good one for us and Fender as well. They’re the big ones, but the Microcubes really stand out – they’ve been a great seller.

FACTS & FIGURES Address: 5/6 Post Office Walk, Fore Street, Hertford SG14 1DL Phone: 01992 500 976 Owner: Brian Hart, Russell Dodd Established: 1989 Employees: Eight



Training, tantrums and triumph Our undercover reporter finds that there are benefits to studying outside his comfort zone – and not only free pizza...


his month, to the eternal surprise of nearly everyone involved and the monetary gain of one very happy local pizza place, the entire staff of my much-loved emporium of musical delights discovered the benefits of in-house training. And they weren’t entirely pizza related. It had been on the cards for a while. Mutterings in dark corners and the constant rumble of rumour turned into real-life, unalterable fact when the announcement was made that yes, monthly meetings would be taking place

(or at a stretch five) piece rock and roll band. That’s what we all play in, that’s what we know, and that, unfortunately, was beginning to have an effect on the shop. Customers searching for a bit of viola advice or a friendly ear to discuss saxophone purchasing choices were met with at best a bemused smile and frankly the time had come to pull our collective head out of our rock n roll oriented backsides and open our minds to the wider world. It’s scary at first, but let me tell you that it really is very much worth

We’re all, bar none, strictly guitarists. All the different types of player are here. But it limits us when it comes to selling an oboe, for example. and that training would be of prime importance in said meetings. To us mere musos, cowering behind our re-stringing prowess and ability to impress shop newcomers with a bit of the old razzle dazzle, training has rarely been top of the priority list. Trainers, perhaps, but training? Certainly not. The problem in our little slice of MI nirvana lies in the fact that we are all, bar none, strictly guitarists. Acoustic, electric, bass, classical – all the different types of player are ticked off on our staff rota, but of course that somewhat limits us when it comes to selling an oboe, for example. Or, in fact, anything from outside the realms of a working four


the time investment. Right from the first night’s training, which covered PA and classical strings, things have been looking up. Suddenly, we all know what to do when someone asks about the intricacies of the humble violin. We know the tunings, can name the parts – hell, all that’s left is to learn how to play the damn things and then we’re really motoring. The confidence in store, that invaluable feeling that comes with the sure knowledge that you will be able to deal with anyone who walks through the door, has rocketed and all for the price of a few large pizzas and an extra night in the shop every month. Who’d have thought it?

miPRO OCTOBER 2009 55








They say: Built using the same tone circuit as Hammett’s powerful signature MTS head. For: Guitarists Range: Randall Kirk Hammett signature Spec: Two-channel, three-mode, 75-Watt combo with signature clean, rhythm and lead tones, 12” Celestion Seventy 80 speaker, spring reverb, FX loop, footswitch, eq section with contour control for mid scoop. From: Sound Technology 01462 480000

They say: Many fresh features, innovations and updated highlights from its best-selling predecessor. For: Guitarists Range: Line 6 Spider series Spec: Six models in range (five combos, one head):15 (£90.85), 30 (£182.85), 75 (£274.85), 120 (£378.35), 150 (£424.35), HD150 (£378.35). 16 amp models, 20 Smart FX. Combos with three-quarter closed-back cab and Celestion speakers. From: Barnes & Mullins 01691 652449

They say: A classic reborn – the legendary sound of the 1963 Fender Spring Reverb returns as a modern stompbox. For: Guitarists Range: Boss/Fender modelling effects Spec: COSM-based modelling of 63 Fender Spring Reverb combo, Dwell, Tone, and Mix controls, metal construction casing. From: Roland 01792 702701

They say: The second batch of pro-grade features and exceptional sound quality in an ultra-compact chassis. For: Guitarists Range: Four additions to range: analog chorus, compressor/sustainer, slow volume, & transistor fuzz. All with cast-aluminum chassis, top-mounted, no-tools battery compartment with ‘smart screw’ and battery ‘load scope’, mechanical true bypass, three-year warranty. From: Godlyke +1 973 777 7477



They say: The exciting news that more Vintage electrics are now available in – hooray – left hand format. For: Leftie guitarists Range: Vintage electrics Spec: New models include: LV100 Cherry sunburst (£289), LV6MR Icon Boulevard black (£339), LV6 Icon Sunset sunburst (£279), LV6 Vintage white (£259), LVJ96MRJP Icon fretless sunburst (£289). From: JHS 0113 286 5381

They say: An electro-acoustic that is proving popular with many players for its bigger sound. For: Guitarists Range: Ozark tenors Spec: Solid spruce top, oval sound hole, rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlay, adjustable truss rod (access from sound hole), Artec transducer, four-band eq, endpin jack preamp, sunburst finish. From: Stentor 01737 240226

TANGLEWOOD DISCOVERY DELUXE ACOUSTIC PACKS £129.95 They say: Now beginners can start acoustically with one of the best brands around. For: Guitarists Range: Tanglewood star packs Spec: Spruce top, mahogany back & sides, mahogany neck, rosewood bridge & fingerboard, chrome die-cast machineheads, natural gloss finish. Pack contains gigbag, strap, picks and DVD tutor. From: Tanglewood 01937 841122 56 miPRO OCTOBER 2009


DRUMS AND TRADITIONAL • PRODUCTS WORLD RHYTHM PERCUSSION FIBREGLASS DJEMBE PACKS FROM £528.99 They say: Get back to school bargains with our new fibreglass djembe packs. For: Percussionists Range: WRP fibreglass percussion Spec: Fibreglass bodies, natural goatskin heads, both steel tuning lugs and rope-strung heads, available in 12” and 9.5” sizes, cloth finish inspired by West African Bogolan patterns. Drum and case options available. From: World Rhythm Percussion 01242 282191


ROLAND TD-4KX V-DRUMS £1,179 They say: Takes the best of the past and spices it up with new 6.5-inch mesh pads. For: Drummers Range: Roland V-drums Spec: 6.5-inch mesh high toms, PDX-8 floor tom, adjustable tuning & muffling, cable harness and DB-25 connector, TD4 sound module. Kit includes three toms, snare, three cymbals, kick trigger pad, hi-hat pedal. From: Roland 01792 702701

They say: One of the UK's oldest music companies has announced the launch of a brand new range. For: Drummers Range: New Shaw range Spec: Budget range, American hickory, black or white finishes, non-marking wood tips. 2B, 5A, 5B and 7A models (further sizes and matched pairs later in 2009). From: MSC 01562 827666



They say: Aimed specifically at the valuable minority that is the south paw player. For: Leftie banjo players Range: Stagg traditional instruments Spec: All cast metal alloy pot, mahogany body, nato neck, rosewood fingerboard, Remo 11" coated resonant head. From: EMD 01293 862612

STAGG M20LH LEFTIE BLUEGRASS MANDOLIN £79 They say: The left-hander catered for with a fantastic budget instrument. For: Leftie mando players Range: Stagg traditional instruments Spec: Laminated basswood top, back and sides, stained maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. From: EMD 01293 862612

They say: Exudes quality, style and function. For: Alto sax players Range: Fusion gigbags Spec: 30mm high density foam padding with water resistant rip-stop material, music and accessory pockets, rear lumber supports, airvents, padded backpack straps, available in orange & black and lime & black. From: Aria 01483 238725

ROLAND FR-7X V-ACCORDION £4,499 They say: The first instrument of its kind to provide digital modelling in a traditional accordion design. For: Accordionists Range: Roland V-accordions Spec: Fast response and high sensitivity, bellows pressure-sensor circuitry, French, Bayan and Italian classic accordion sounds, 24 orchestral sounds and organ sounds, USB, bellows resistance regulator knob, percussion sounds. From: Roland 01792 702701



NEW PRODUCTS • RECORDING BOSS VE-20 VOCAL PERFORMER £199 They say: Who says stompboxes are just for guitarists? For: Vocalists Range: Boss stomp boxes Spec: Vocal FX incl harmony (up to three-part), double track, dynamics and reverb, realtime pitch correction, phrase looper, phantom power, battery or mains powered. From: Roland 01792 702701


NATIVE INSTRUMENTS KONTAKT 4 £320 They say: The fourth generation adds powerful Authentic Expression Technology and much more. For: Producers, computer musicians Range: NI Kontakt Spec: Authentic Expression Technology sampling for accurate dynamics and vowel morphing controls, sample compression, extended sound library, new database system. From: 2 Twenty 2 0845 299 4222

They say: The ultimate musical companion for bedroom guitarists has arrived. For: Guitarists, musicians Range: New Boss product Spec: Imports and plays Wav and MP3 files, pitch and tempo control, guitar/mic input, custom-tuned speakers, COSM preamp, over 100 effects from Boss GT-10, EZ Tone function, 300 loops, record function. From: Roland 01792 702701

ROLAND SP-404SX SAMPLER £339 They say: An exciting leap forward. For: Producers, musicians, DJs Range: Roland samplers Spec: Built-in mic, battery power, 29 DSP effects, three control knobs, 12 trigger pads, rapid repeat trigger sub pad, pattern sequencer, 1GB SD card included, import from computer, sample assign. From: Roland 01792 702701

PROPELLERHEAD RECORD £229 They say: A whole new take on music recording. For: Producers, computer musicians Range: Propellerhead production software Spec: Unlimited audio tracks, effects bank, mixing gear, builtin virtual Line 6 Pod, virtual console modelled on SSL 4000K, also available as Record Reason Duo Student/Teacher Edition. From: Sound Technology 01462 480000

ROLAND JUNO DI MOBILE SYNTH £549 They say: A traveling musician’s dream. For: Synth players Range: Roland Juno Spec: Over 1,000 instruments, intuitive user interface, battery operation for mobile use, USB memory playback, mic input, vocoder, PC/Mac editor software. From: Roland 01792 702701

ROLAND GW-8 V2 WORKSTATION £689 They say: Lets you edit the styles as well as create your own interactive backing tracks. For: Keyboard players Range: Roland keyboards Spec: 128-voice sound engine, interactive backing styles (focus on world-music genres), style composer, 16-track sequencer, USB memory player, centre cancel feature, note to arranger function. From: Roland 01792 702701 58 miPRO OCTOBER 2009



BOOK OF THE MONTH Author: Jessica Hopper The Girls’ Guide to Rocking Target: Aspiring girl rockers Comment: Make no mistake, for all its admirable bravery in broaching a subject that has never been (surprisingly, in this age of Daisy Rock guitars, The Bangles and the like) attempted before, this is a flawed book. Within a couple of pages the premise is set: a lot of myths that need busting in the rock business have been created and maintained by men (and boys). Fair enough. A few pages later,

Hopper bangs in with the first of her own myths (avoid electric violins unless you are in a jazz-fusion band) and continues through the book in much the same vein. Never mind. For all its nonsensical and inglorious attempts to impart ‘a deeper knowledge’, what Hopper does do is speak to young girls in their own language, cover vast areas of music making, marketing, managing a band and recording techniques. She also runs


Author: Richard Harris (arr) Blues & Ragtime

Artist: Various (Bruce & Wells: ed) More Time Pieces for Cello (1 & 2)

Series: Essential Collection Target: Piano Comment: Targeting intermediate players, this is a handy compilation to get that syncopation, counterpoint and general dexterity up to speed. It’s a broad selection of mostly well-known numbers from the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington and, of course, Scott Joplin – there are a good couple of dozen songs to get your teeth into. FABER: 01279 828989

Series: Time Pieces Target:Cello Comment: Two further collections of arrangements and original compositions for learner cellists. Pieces are laid out chronologically and include some from the new ABRSM cello syllabus (valid from 2010). More Time Pieces now takes the learner from Grade 1 to 7. ABRSM: 020 7636 5400

Artist: Christopher Norton Microswing

Artist: Pam Wedgwood Blues, Rags & Boogies

Target: Beginner piano Comment: Norton returns with more of his original compositions, targeting the learner while being aware that even beginners like to have something to get their teeth into. He also realises that it helps if that something is a little more interesting than the bulk of the fare that’s usually served up to learner pianists. In this wee tome, Norton delivers 20 new tunes aimed at developing the swing technique and style. FABER: 01279 828989

Series: It’s Never Too Late to Play Target: Piano Comment: Another book using blues and rags to up the general learning curve, this time with Pam Wedgwood adding repertoire to her popular It’s Never Too Late tutor aimed at the lapsed player or adult learner. Suitable for those who have been at the keys for around a year, the songs (both classics and newly penned) come with playing notes and a backing/demo CD. FABER: 01279 828989

Artist: Various Cello exam pieces – complete syllabus

60 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

through advice on buying an instrument (be it guitar, bass, keys or drums) and how to get the best sounds from them. Girls are told they can follow their dream and the book is peppered with quotes and anecdotes from successful women in the business. However cringeworthy it might be to old-fart men such as many of us, this book should hit the mark for many young girls. MELIA PUBLISHING: 01483 869839

Series: ABRSM exam repertoire Target: Cello Comment: The complete set of cello repertoire for the ABRSM grade exams from 2010 to 2015 are now available from the Associated Board, covering Grades 1 to 8, with one CD each for Grades 1 to 5 and two each for Grades 6 to 8. These performances bring the pieces to life, providing a reference and inspiration for teachers and students. Each piece is doubled up, playing the pieces as cello with piano accompaniment and as accompaniment only for more intense practice. ABRSM: 020 7636 5400

Artist: Various Spectrum for Violin Series: Spectrum Target: Violin Comment: The Spectrum series has been commissioning new works for a variety of instruments since 1996 and now opens up the world of contemporary music for violinists. This book contains pieces suitable for each of the Grades (1 to 8), offering variety and challenges in playing style, with each piece on the accompanying CD (played by Wood, the compiler, on violin and Thalia Myers, the founder of the series, on piano). A lot for the learner to get his or her teeth into. ABRSM: 020 7636 5400


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MI MARKETPLACE TO ADVERTISE ON THESE PAGES CALL DARRELL CARTER ON 01992 535647 440 DISTRIBUTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01132 589599 A ALLPARTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0870 442 3336 B BILL LEWINGTON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01268 413366 C COVERNOTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0121 327 1977 F FOCUS MERCHANDISE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 020 8245 9035 FCN. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01892 603730 440 DISTRIBUTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0113 258 9599 FUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0113 320 0304 G GHANA GOODS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0117 955 8668 GUITARRAS DE ESPAÑA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0117 973 3214



H HC DISTRIBUTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 00 353 5991 34268 HERGA MUSIC SERVICES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 020 8861 1590 HOT ROX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0115 987 3163 J JAM PERCUSSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0151 494 1492 L LEED REPRESENTATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01243 378050 LEISURETEC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01525 850085 M MADAROZZO™/CBAC LTD. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 020 8816 8368 MARSHALL AMPLIFICATIONS . . . WWW.MARSHALLAMPS.COM MCELLAND/GREMLIN MUSIC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01273 491333 MELBAY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +44 (0)20 8382 8010 MUSIC SHIPPING CO. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01562 827666 O OCARINA WORKSHOP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01536 485963 ORANGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 020 8905 2828 P PIANO LOGISTICS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 020 8561 4321 R ROBERT MORLEY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 020 8318 5838 ROTHWELL AUDIO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01204 366133 S SAXOPHONE UK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01892 662 533 SOAR VALLEY MUSIC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0116 230 4926 STEVE CLINKSCALE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01573 225 885 T TEAC. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 01923 438 880 TOM & WILL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 08450 945 659 V VARSITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0131 557 4310 W WIND PLUS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0116 243 1698

The dock of the Bay Mel Bay has made much of itself over the past three years in the UK – now with a raft of third party catalogues on its books, it is hoping to make a whole lot more…


el Bay Music Limited has always prided itself on being the driving force in music education and instrument instruction and now the company is selling and distributing live and direct in the UK, extending its superior products and efficient customer service to you – the trade customer. Mel Bay Music now offers you its full range of music books, CDs, DVDs, deluxe pocketbooks and manuscript – in short, everything that a dealer can sell for the keen musician! Boasting a UK-based warehouse, Mel Bay can guarantee a fast and effective delivery service (on average, a 48 hour service) to all its UK trade customers. So whether it’s that urgent customer order you need in a hurry or the large stock order, essential for replenishing your shelves, you can count on Mel Bay Music to get it to you on time. The company offers competitive UK retail prices, attractive trading terms and boast over 4,000 lines –

all in stock and available – and customers are reminded to note that Mel Bay also distributes the Waltons & Mallys catalogues and is the exclusive distributor in the UK of the AMA Verlag Musik catalogue, AMPD & Sasha Music catalogues (Australia), very recently it aquired the RGB Arte Visual catalogue and is now pleased to announce the Voggenreiter catalogue as well. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and take advantage of Mel Bay today… Trade benefits from a UK freephone number. 0800 432 0486







To find out more about the JVM Series and other Marshall products contact: Marshall Amplification plc Denbigh Road, Bletchley, Milton Keynes MK11DQ


miPRO OCTOBER 2008 63





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Call Tom Harrison on 01132 589599 or email - GUITAR ACCESSORIES


BRITAIN'S FINEST BOUTIQUE EFFECTS Rothwell effects pedals are truly hand-made here in the uk and built to the highest standards. The cases are hand polished and the electronics carefully assembled by skilled uk workers. The circuit design is innovative and original (we don't do clones, repros or mods) and the sound is the sound of classic rock guitar - pure tone. Our pedals are quickly gaining a reputation for superb quality and are being played on some of the world's biggest stages. The Hellbender (overdrive) and Switchblade (distortion) are currently being heard by thousands of fans on Justin Timberlake's world tour, played by Mike Scott (also Prince's main guitarist), who says "you make truly great, great pedals". Why not join our growing list of uk and international dealers and stock Britain's finest boutique effects pedals.


miPRO OCTOBER 2009 67



Excellence in Music


Office 2.05, Argentums2 Queen Caroline StreetsHammersmith, LONDON W6 9DX 4ELEPHONE.O  sUK Sales Freephone: 0800 432 0486 Fax Number: +44 (0)20 8323 8306sE-mail:



tel: 01536 485 963 fax: 01536 485 051 email:

Making Music in Schools Since 1983 UK made rainbow ocarinas from Ocarina Workshop are easy to play and great fun to teach with. These pocket-sized instruments are popular with kids & well-tuned. Together with 'Play your Ocarina' music books, they are the key to successful music-making in many schools around the country. Make sure school ocarinas are on your counter-top and available when customers request them! Quote ‘MI Pro’ when you order 12 Ocarinas & 12 Books and be amazed at the ocarina’s potential... Trade orders are sent by return: free delivery & no minimum order 68 miPRO OCTOBER 2009





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Grand & Upright Pianos by Elysian, Grotrian-Steinweg, Bechstein, Monington & Weston and other famous makers John Morley Clavichords, Spinets, Harpsichords, Virginals & Celestes

Antique, Modern & New, Rental, Repairs, Sales lists & colour brochures on request.



Robert MORLEY & Co Ltd. Piano & Harpsichord Makers Established 1881


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miPRO OCTOBER 2009 69





TOP 10 BEST SELLERS NASHVILLE ACOUSTIC GUITARS . . . . . . . . . . . . £50.00 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £27.50 trade ex vat NASHVILLE ELECTRIC GUITARS . . . . . . . . . . . . . £99.95 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £54.97 trade ex vat ARK HEAVY DUTY MUSIC STAND. . . . . . . . . . . . . . £18.50 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £10.18 trade ex vat DOLMETSCH DESCANT RECORDER . . . . . . . . . . . . . £6.99 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £3.84 trade ex vat STEINHOFF 108B UPRIGHT PIANO . . . . . . . . . . £1795.00 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £987.25 trade ex vat RAVEN STUDENT TRUMPET OUTFIT . . . . . . . . . £140.00 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £77 trade ex vat NASHVILLE ELECTRO ACOUSTIC BASS . . . . . . . £125.00 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £68.75 trade ex vat STERN VIOLIN OUTFIT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £75.00 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £41.25 trade ex vat MAXTONE BONGOS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £29.95 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £16.47 trade ex vat NASHVILLE 5 STRING BANJO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £99.95 retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . £54.97 trade ex vat

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Adam Hall............................................................13, 54 Anglo Spanish Guitar ................................................5 Aria ...............................................................................5 Ashton........................................................................55 AudioTechnica ..........................................................43 Avid..............................................................................51 AVSL ...........................................................................23 Barnes & Mullins......................................................45 EMD.............................................................................75 Focusrite.....................................................................15 Gem ............................................................................35 Gremlin .......................................................................41 Hardcase.....................................................................13 Headstock .................................................................53 Hot Press...................................................................59 JHS .............................................................................27 Lamba ........................................................................20 Leisuretec .................................................................42 Marshall........................................................................2 Mel Bay.........................................................................9 Music Sales ...............................................................36 Music Shipping .........................................................10 WWW.MI-PRO.CO.UK

Musicguard Insurance.............................................48 Peavey.........................................................................31 Roland ....................................................................OBC S.Johnson ....................................................................3 SCV.............................................................................49 Sound Technology..............................................Cover Stentor.......................................................................38 Strings'n'Things ........................................................16 Sutherland.................................................................39 TEAC.............................................................................4 Trinity Xtras ..............................................................33 Westside................................................................19,47 Yamaha ......................................................................29




PRO THE LAST WORD IN MI MI Pro prides itself on bringing you hard-hitting news and analysis, but, we reckon you’d also enjoy seeing your peers in their more ‘off duty’ moments. So, we’ve expanded CODA to include a permanent pictorial spread of the month’s social highlights. If you have any snaps from an event you’d like us to include, please send them to


OCTOBER 2006 Cover Stars: An education special. MI Pro takes a look at the retail market for the UK’s schools, the aids to learning that were available and there’s an in-depth interview with Music for Youth’s Larry Westland, where he announces his imminent retirement for the first time News: The OFT closes its case investigating Yamaha’s pricing structure, acknowledging that face-to-face sales indeed warranted more generous discounts, Vintage guitars in shop windows, Fender’s Bill Schultz dies, Darrell Carter joins MI Pro Features: PLASA report, Yamaha Expo, the drum market, FCN company profile, starter guitars, PMT profiled, Pam Wedgwood, BEIRG Products: Burns Sonic, Vintage Advance series, Zoom B1 bass multi-FX, Korg Tomeworks AX5G, Yamaha CLP 265 and 296 grand pianos, Yamaha H01 Modus piano Number one singles: Razorlight – America, My Chemical Romance – Welcome to the Black Parade, McFly – Star Girl Number one albums: The Killers – Sam’s Town

72 miPRO OCTOBER 2009

T? HOW DID THEY DO THA (NO PUSSYFOOTING) FRIPP & ENO, 1973 AN ALBUM that was released against the wishes of the Island record company in 1973 to howls of derision from the music press and utter indifference from the buying public might have been expected to fade and sink without a trace. It is, then, a considerable tribute to two of the most innovative exponents of modern music that (No Pussyfooting) sells better now than it did when released. The album, widely considered the first ever ‘ambient’ (or atmospheric) album, features two tracks: The Heavenly Music Corporation (nearly 21 minutes) and Swastika Girls (over 18 minutes), both amorphous and constantly shifting drones and harmonies with Fripp’s savage Les Paul soloing over the top. The album has gone on to influence the work of many popular artists since (most notably Vangelis and U2), but its origins lie in modern classical music of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Terry Riley, a graduate of composition from the University of California and a leading exponent in introducing Indian music to the West, developed a method of tape looping as early as 1957, feeding the

Fripp and Eno defied the critics with (No Pussyfooting), which is still selling today machine’s left wheel, driven from the right machine’s right wheel. Thus the distance of one machine to the next would dicate the length of the delay – up to about six seconds. He crossed the left machine’s left channel output to the right machine’s right channel input,

The album might have been expected to fade and sink without a trace, but it sells better now than when it was released. signal from one tape machine into the next and back again. He used the system at his all-night concerts, when he would initiate the tape machines playing layers of saxophone lines shortly before he took a break to keep the music going in his absence. Eno applied the technique to two Revox stereo reel-to-reel recorders, placing the reel on the left

the right’s right output to the left’s left input and then invited Fripp to his home studio in September 1972. Fripp played a note into the Revoxes, which then played back a few seconds later, but with the obvious tape decay. Thus layers of guitar were piled one on top of the other, with the most recent notes playing loudest and adding to the decay of the earlier notes. Eno would

add modulation and further mangling (particularly on Swastika Girls) with his trusty VCS-3 synthesizer. The result was a soundscape of startling beauty over which Fripp then soloed in conventional manner once the looped tape was played back. All of this can be done with considerable ease using digital delay these days, with Fripp now employing a couple of Eventide delay units that offer minutes of delayed playback, although he did tour extensively with his Revoxes in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Should the appeal of (No Pussyfooting) continue to grow into the future, it should top the charts some time around the year 2100.




THE STARS AND THEIR GUITARS ERIC CLAPTON The first man ever to have a signature Fender is now widely associated with just one guitar, but Clapton’s playing career has seen him bring a number of models into the limelight. Here are the most notable of his axe choices… 1964/65


With the Yardbirds and John Mayall, Clapton played a number of guitars, including a Fender Jazzmaster, a Gretsch 6120 and a Gibson ES-335, but it was his red, 64 Telecaster that first had the crowds hollering: “Give God a solo”. By mid-1965, however, he set up camp exclusively in Gibson’s territory, when he bought his first Les Paul.

Inspired by Buddy Holly and Buddy Guy, Clapton often had his eye on the Fender Stratocaster, but it wasn’t until he saw Stevie Winwood playing one that he made the switch himself. “Steve had so much credibility,” he said later. “I thought, ‘oh, if he can do it, I can do it’.” Clapton dubbed his guitar ‘Brownie’ because of the aged sunburst his guitar had.


1974 to present

Clapton bought his sunburst 1960 Les Paul Standard from a local shop in London and was immediately enamoured by the slim-profiled neck. His first Les Paul was stolen, but he went on to buy an almost identical model from Andy Summers, no less, and continued the bulk of his work with Cream on the single cutaway.

In 1970, Clapton bought six Strats and gave three to his friends, Winwood, Pete Townsend and George Harrison. From the remaining three he began to construct a hybrid 56/57 Strat that was to become his trademark: Blackie. Since Blackie, Clapton has played a variety of Strats, including the Fender Custom Shop limited edition Blackie copy. The original Blackie was sold at auction for Clapton’s Crossroads charity, raising all but $1,000,000.

1967/69 Taken by the even slimmer neck of the Gibson SG, Clapton switched again in 1967 and shortly before Cream’s first appearance in the States, he (and the rest of the band) had his instrument painted by the Dutch psychedelic art collective, The Fool. The 64 SG, along with Ginger Baker’s bass drum head, became inseparable from Cream’s image. During this time, Clapton also started playing the 335 again and a Gibson Firebird.






1960s to present While switching backwards and forwards over the years, there is one brand that Clapton has stuck with throughout – Martin. For many years, he had his 1939 000-42 model by his side and this was the guitar he played on the multi-platinum, MTVinspired Unplugged album. This guitar was also auctioned off for nearly $800,000. Today, Clapton plays a Martin custom 000-ECHF model.


Hammond B3


t's the name that has come to define what an organ should sound like: the Hammond B3. A highly distinctive, widely used and massively versatile instrument, which has been used on countless records spanning rock, pop, gospel and pretty much any other genre you could name, the B3 is without a doubt the definition of an iconic instrument. The solid walnut-housed organ featured two 61-note keyboards and a number of built-in effects including chorus, vibrato, adjustable attack and decay and a number of percussion effects that made it capable of pumping out a vast array of sounds. 18 draw bars and a two octave set of foot pedals and a volume pedal make the B3 an intimidating beast to get to grips with. It is testament to the incredible sounds that can be wrenched from the complicated-


The Hammond B3 organ started off in homes and churches, but was soon commandeered for rock n roll, too looking machine that players kept on returning to it time after time to add its distinctive sound to countless records.

Unveiled in 1954 as an organ for use in homes and churches, the B3 initially found a home amongst gospel, jazz and blues players, as well as in any number of theatres where it was used as the house organ. By the time the sixties rolled around, the B3's distinctive tone – derived from its combination with an external Leslie cabinet speaker – had caught the ears of many players outside of its traditional market, and the organ designed for the Lord was commandeered to play the devil's music. Rock bands such as Deep Purple and Pink Floyd championed the B3, alongside the likes of Santana, Emerson Lake and Palmer, the Grateful Dead and the Spencer Davis Group, leading to its association with gritty, swirling sixties rock and pop that it has never shaken off.


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miPRO OCTOBER 2009 73




PIC OF MONTH ASSOCIATED SANCTIONS We’ve seen these chaps before, only last time on a Beatles-cum-Queenesque poster. This time we see them in action. Yes, it’s the MIA’s very own CEO, Paul McManus sporting his rather fetching blue Rickenbacker bass with his band, The Sanctions. The band plays predominantly charity gigs, but does the odd pub slot, too, playing punk and post-punk hits, as well as a few classic rock numbers thrown in for good measure. But why is it that it is always the smallest bloke in the band who struggles away with the biggest instrument? Answers on a postcard, please…

Richard Webb Company/job title: Intermusic/Chairman Years in the industry? 48 years First single bought? That would be Hound Dog by Elvis Presley.

S SOUNDALIKE MUSE With a new album about to land, expect the world to go Muse mental once again. Larger than life purveyors of all things prog-metal-glam-pop, Muse is one of the biggest bands in the country. Here's how they make their post-apocalyptic noise... Silver custom Matt Bellamy – guitar and vocals – Factory and Fuzz Z.Vex in built with r guita on Mans Kaoss Pad, Korg IV, mmy Wha ech MXR Phase 90, Digit ets, various Diezel heads, Marshall Mode Four cabin Line 6 effects.

Favourite album? Kind of Blue by Miles Davis Currently listening to? Very little!

ing vocals – Chris Wolstenholme – bass and back Harmonix Big ro Elect Jazz, er Fend Rickenbacker 4003, 2x12 cabs. Muff, Ampeg SVT amps, 1x18, 2x10 and

Favourite musician? Andre Previn

lassic Mirage kit, Dominic Howard – drums – Tama Starc ats, Zildjian K Hi-H 14" Dry ial Spec m Custo K an Zildji 19" Dark Crash, Custom 18" Fast crash, Zildjian K Thin an K Custom 22" Zildjian 11" FX Oriental Trash Splash, Zildji China, Tama Trash tal Orien FX 18" an Zildji Medium Ride, Tama Iron me Chro , Chair Roadpro hardware, Tama First -Glide Hi-Hat Lever a Cobr Iron Tama l peda e singl a Cobr graph Series sticks. Stand, Pro Mark Dominic Howard Auto

Which instruments do you play? Piano, organ and guitar Are you currently in a band? No

SUBSCRIPTIONS MI Pro has a monthly circulation of well over 6,000. It is distributed to all MI retailers and industry professionals plus carefully selected pro audio executives and resellers.

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All the news from the British Piano Fair, a look at the sub-£500 acoustic guitar market and the wonderful world of starter packs. Plus all the hot news and chilled comment. EDITORIAL: ANDY BARRETT ADVERTISING: DARRELL CARTER WWW.MI-PRO.CO.UK

Mi Pro October 2009 - Issue 113  
Mi Pro October 2009 - Issue 113  

Musical Instrument Professional. For Everyone in the Music Bussiness.