NAMM REVIEW ISSUE
NAMM REVIEW ISSUE
NAMM REVIEW ISSUE
THE NEWS MAGAZINE FOR MUSIC PRODUC TS RETAILERS
NAMM REVIEW ISSUE February 2020 Volume 37, No. 2
COMING FULL CIRCLE NAMM ATTENDANCE CONTINUES ITS ASCENT, INCREASING TO 115,888 REGISTRANTS (continued on page 38)
Watch our video coverage of NAMM 2020 at msr.io/ctv2020recap
FAN TASTIC FORTY MORE PRODUCTS HIGHLIGHTED AT THE NAMM SHOW LAST MONTH (continued on page 24)
Watch it online at msr.io/ctv-namm.
Specials Now Thru
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TASCAM strives to provide our authorized dealers with ways to increase sell-through. And when we do, a program is offered to ensure dealer margins are not compromised. TASCAM will co-op a portion of the promo price reduction. Contact your sales rep or email email@example.com for details.
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NAMM Names New Board Members
NAMM welcomed eight new board members to the organization’s board of directors. Each board member will serve a three-year term and provide oversight, input, and direction to the organization. The new board members are Helen Culleton, DiGiCo UK Ltd.; Saul Friedgood, Eastman Music Co.; John Hopkins, Sweetwater; Abby Kaplan, Shure Inc.; Tim Spicer, Spicer’s Music, LLC; Chris Tso, Full Compass Systems, Ltd.; David Via, Zoom North America; and Shawna L to r: NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond, Chris Tso, Hellen Culleton, Saul Friedgood, Abby Kaplan, John Hopkins, Wingerberg, Antonio Tim Spicer, David Via, Shawna Wingerberg and Chris Martin, NAMM chairman. Violins and Ukes. “We are grateful to these eight respected, established professionals The meeting also celebrated the service, the leadership and the for stepping up to serve the global industry and NAMM’s membermany contributions of the outgoing members of the board, includship,” said Chris Martin, chair of the NAMM Board of Directors, and ing Bryan Bradley, Group One, Ltd.; Philip Cajka, Audio-Technica chairman/CEO of C.F. Martin & Co. “Each represents an important U.S. Inc.; Lauren Haas Amanfoh, Royalton Music Center, Inc.; Alun sector of NAMM membership, and with that, brings a unique marHughes, British Band Instrument Company Ltd.; Scott Mandeville, ket perspective to the board. We look forward to working with them to Tim’s Music; Eric Matzat, Palen Music Center, Inc.; and Chris Syllead the industry forward.” laba, Jordan Kitt’s Music.
Sweetwater Surpasses $800M in Annual Sales Sweetwater’s total sales in 2019 were $805 million, up 11 percent from $725 million in 2018, which represents a record. Sweetwater’s annual total sales increases have ranged from 11 percent to 28 percent every year since 2010. The company sold more than 147,000 guitars in 2019, up from 128,000 in 2018 and 107,000 in 2017. There was significant growth across all product categories, with the biggest increases being in pro audio, synthesizers, drums, guitars and microphones. Employment growth continued with the addition of a record 113 new sales engineers in 2019, as well as 27 employees in its marketing department and 19 in the IT Department. “Sweetwater has become an employer of choice, not just in northeast Indiana, but across the country,” said senior vice president of human resources Jeff McDonald. “We are proud of the culture we’ve created that fosters innovation and inclusivity, allowing us to attract the best and brightest to Fort Wayne, (Ind.), and Sweetwater.” More students took lessons at the Sweetwater Academy last year than the previous year, clocking more than 30,000 lessons with the Academy’s 38 instructors. In 2018 there were 850 active students. That number jumped to 923 in 2019. Construction continued on the nearly 480,000-square-foot warehouse being built on the company’s 163-acre campus located on U.S. Highway 30 in Fort Wayne. It will become operational this month. Crews will break ground on the addition of a 65,000-square-foot event center this summer. “We are proud of our continued growth and are excited to see what 2020 brings. Our success over the past four decades is the result of our passion for serving customers and an unwavering commitment to always do the right thing,” said Sweetwater founder and CEO Chuck Surack. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
VOLUME 37 NO. 2
Features 34 Five Minutes With
Ethan Kaplan, general manager Fender Digital and Max Gutnik, vice president, Fender Electric Guitars and Basses and Amplifiers, discuss the company’s American Ultra Series, Fender Play and much more.
36 MI Spy
In part one of our two-part feature, MI Spy visits the Windy City looking for a 12-string guitar.
On the Cover 24 Fantastic 40
Forty more products highlighted at The NAMM Show last month.
38 Coming Full Circle
NAMM attendance continues its ascent, increasing to 115,888 registrants.
Buzz 3 Latest 12 People 16 Products 4
40 In the Trenches
A data breach/hack is one of the worst things a retailer may have to deal with. Allen McBroom offers plenty of thoughts on the subject.
42 Shine a Light
Customer service is a big component of California’s Allegro Music ideal, which according to general manager Clarence Berry, is “service, sales and family.”
The quality of interaction with customers, specifically the “first contact” aspect of communication, is something retailers can often improve upon, states Dan Vedda.
46 Under the Hood
When starting a new company, manufacturers have to prove they are different from the competition. For ASBA drums founder Guillaume Pornet, he needed to also decide about reviving a once-popular brand.
54 The Final Note
Whenever interviewing Dale Krevens, vice president, Tech 21 USA Inc., there are so many great facts to be learned. How about the best advice she received? “As a youngster, I was notorious for not ‘applying myself,’ according to my teachers. So, my dad said, “If you’re going to do something, do it 150 percent.” It stuck.
CLOSED DYNAMIC HEADPHONE
Monitoring. Editing. Mixing. In the Studio. At Home. On the Road.
Discover the NDH 20 â€“ the first Neumann headphone: NDH20.neumann.com
Hindsight Is 2020 As much as one might think The NAMM Show will stay the same year over year, each trade show is unique. At first glance, you might think last month’s show was similar to the 2019 edition. A registration increase of 587 people compared to 2019 is great for the industry, although it would be hard to notice this on the show floor. During last year’s show, the halls were absolutely packed the first three days of the show, and the same could be said this year. And the evening events were great as always. As is the case every year, the first thing I noticed at The NAMM Show this year was the amount of work NAMM employees must do to get it set up. I have difficulty helping to set up our Testa Communications booth, so how much work does NAMM have to put in to get this show ready? I can’t imagine the answer, so I have to applaud NAMM for its efforts. Anecdotally, there was one major difference compared to last year: the vibe at The NAMM Show. I thought last month’s show was a true celebration of the industry. Gone were all the naysayers there to express their concerns about the economy, security at the show, competition from Amazon, the perceived “death of the electric guitar” and other matters. There weren’t even negatives flung by manufacturers toward their competitors. In fact, I had several conversations with manufacturers that privately told me how good it is for MI if their competitors are strong. The spirits were especially high at the Drum Workshop booth, where founder Don Lombardi was
absolutely glowing when talking about the birthday gift he received from his son, DW CEO Chris Lombardi; namely, obtaining the Slingerland brand from Gibson. I’m fascinated by what the future holds for Slingerland. In my discussions with retailers, the sentiment this year was often, “I had a great year in 2019, and I am here to learn to make sure 2020 is just as good or better.” In fact, San Diego Music Studio’s Robin Sassi and Kimberly Deverell called 2019 a “phenomenal year.” And on the manufacturer side, the recurring message was, “Booth traffic was great, and I hope this leads to a great year in 2020.” It’s hard to express in words how great it was to see people in high spirits. I thought show morale was fantastic, and the main focus was on getting even better as a retailer and manufacturer, which, in addition to seeing new gear, is the primary reason to attend The NAMM Show. Isn’t this the way it always should be? Of course, but we all know it will not be. Either way, we definitely should enjoy the industry’s success right now. It was the first time I ever remember going to The NAMM Show where there wasn’t some “sidebar” that attendees were worried about. It was truly refreshing. It is a golden era for MI, and I for one hope it never stops. If you attended the show, you may very well have seen it or felt it. If you didn’t, know that the industry is in good hands — yours.
February 2020 Volume 37, No. 2
THE NEXT WAVE OF INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE THINKING INTO THE IEM WORLD BRIAN BERK Editor firstname.lastname@example.org ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor email@example.com AMANDA MULLEN Assistant Editor firstname.lastname@example.org DONOVAN BANKHEAD ROBERT CHRISTIE KIMBERLY DEVERELL JEFF KYLE JR. MICHELLE LOEB
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Editorial and Sales Office: The Music & Sound Retailer, 25 Willowdale Avenue, Port Washington, New York 11050-3779. Phone: (516) 767-2500 • Fax: (516) 767-9335 • MSREDITOR@TESTA.COM. Editorial contributions should be addressed to The Editor, The Music & Sound Retailer, 25 Willowdale Avenue, Port Washington, New York 11050-3779. Unsolicited manuscripts will be treated with care and must be accompanied by return postage. Sound & Communications • DJ Times • Sound & Communications Blue Book The Music & Sound Retailer • The DJ Expo • IT/AV Report The Retailer Report • Convention TV @ NAMM • InfoCommTV News VTTV Studios The Music & Sound Retailer (ISSN 0894-1238) (USPS 0941-238) is published 12 times a year for $18 (US), by Retailer Publishing, Inc., 25 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050-3779. TM and © 2020 Jerry Harvey Audio LLC. All Rights Reserved
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Hal Leonard to Distribute Levy’s and TASCAM
Levy’s, a manufacturer of guitar straps, gig bags and music accessories, added Hal Leonard as a distribution partner in the United States. Founded in 1973, the Levy’s brand is known for creating guitar straps, gig bags, accessories and straps for various other instruments. In 2018, Levy’s was acquired by Gator Co. In addition to being the largest publisher of music education materials, songbooks and sheet music, Hal Leonard is also a distributor of musical instruments, gear and accessories with a diverse lineup of products “Hal Leonard’s growth in the distribution space is impressive. Levy’s has the diversity of product to meet the needs of every musician and personality, and our partnership with Hal Leonard will enhance our customer engagement. We share the same markets and customer-first values. They understand our customers and how to connect with them, especially through their complementary distributed lines and books. We look forward to collaborating in serving our customers’ needs,” said Crystal Morris, CEO of Gator Co. Added Brad Smith, Hal Leonard’s vice president of MI Products: “Levy’s delivers a quality product that has wide appeal with prices, style and function. We’re excited to work with their awesome team and start offering this type of product to our
KHS Names Wang CEO
L to r: Jen Tabor, Levy’s brand director; Peter Carlson, Hal Leonard sales manager — MI Division; Brad Smith, Hal Leonard’s vice president of MI Division; Kent Davis, Gator Co./Levy’s U.S. key accounts manager; and David Jahnke, Hal Leonard’s senior vice president of national sales.
expansive dealer network.” Hal Leonard will also distribute select TASCAM MI products and accessories in the U.S. The agreement expands TASCAM’s footprint into new retail outlets and markets across the U.S. The agreement includes handheld recorders and devices, Portastudio products, audio interfaces, mixers, headphones and accessories. “We are thrilled to collaborate with an esteemed company such as Hal Leonard,” said Paul Youngblood, director of product marketing for TASCAM U.S. “This announcement represents a win-win-win for TASCAM, Hal Leonard and MI and education retailers across the U.S.” “At the request of our dealers, we are glad to finally offer TASCAM products” said Brad Smith, vice president of Hal Leonard’s MI Division. “TASCAM brings legacy experience to their new series of products and have created a lucrative opportunity for indie dealers. It’s a great time to partner with them.”
KHS Group appointed Andy Wang to the position of CEO. Wang takes the reigns of the company from retiring CEO Karl Leong after a successful, tenured decade leading KHS Group global operations. Wang has been a part of the KHS music instrument family for more than 18 years since joining the company in 2001. After initially proving himself as a leader in supervisory and management roles, he became special assistant to KHS Group chairman Wu Hsieh in 2004. In the ensuing years, he demonstrated vision and leadership as vice president for KHS Musical Center Co. (a subsidiary of the KHS Group for music retailing), vice president of the Global Marketing Division, and most recently as chief financial officer of the KHS Group globally. “We are honored to have such an incredibly experienced, talented and passionate leader,” stated Jerry Goldenson, president of KHS America. “His deep commitment to the important role of our industry in making music possible is undeniable.” KHS was established in 1930 and stands for Kong-Hsue-Sheh, which translates to “Contribution to School and Society.” The name expresses the organization’s commitment to enhancing human quality of life and culture. Wang will lead KHS Group to new growth and innovation through its core values of integrity, ingenuity and respect, while continuing the company’s mission of enriching lives through music performance and education by providing high-quality musical instruments and services designed to support musicians, educators, KHS global distributions and retail partners, stated the company.
Guitar Center Teams with WMC and WMW
Guitar Center partnered with the 2020 Winter Music Conference (WMC) and Miami Music Week (MMW), as the official music instrument retailer of the worldrenowned electronic music conference and event series. The 35th Annual Winter Music Conference returns this March 16 to 19 to Miami’s Faena District Resort, and Guitar Center will be bringing its signature pop-up store to Miami (at the Faena Forum), allowing guests to review, demo and purchase the latest DJ equipment and products from brands such as Pioneer, Roland, Korg, Native Instruments, Denon and several others. Guitar Center will also partner with the 10th Annual Miami Music Week’s new Oasis at the Miami Generator just steps away from the main hub of WMC. The MMW Oasis is a five-day industry retreat taking place from March 16 to 20, hosting exclusive pool parties, label showcases, an artist gifting and media lounge, workshops, yoga, daytime barbecues and more. The MMW Oasis will be open to WMC badge holders and by invitation only. “We’re excited to partner with both the Winter Music Conference and Miami Music Week for the first time this year,” said Jeannine Davis D’Addario, Guitar Center’s chief marketing and communications officer. “As a premier omnichannel resource for the latest gear for electronic music artists, we are thrilled to debut the industry’s top DJ music production equipment and software all week to music producers, artists and fans at the country’s leading electronic music industry conference.” FEBRUARY 2020
The Perfect Combination of Innovation & Tradition True grand piano action with full-length keys and hammers Recreates three legendary concert grand pianos Dual Headphone Jacks, Duet Mode, 1/4â€? Line Outputs and much more
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z z u B Manhasset Stands is an employee-owned (ESOP) business, where every employee-owner is committed to continuing the “tradition of exceptional quality” that the company is known for. “It is very satisfying to everyone at Manhasset to see its music stands in use on stages in countries around the world. Manhasset promises that there will be a number of surprises coming in 2020,” concluded the company. “Please stay tuned.”
Manhasset Specialty Celebrates 85 Years
Manhasset Specialty Co., manufacturer of music stands and accessories, is celebrating 85 years. The company dates back to 1935, when inventor/musician Otto Lagervall set out to develop a better music stand. He succeeded in developing the first Manhasset music stands. His first music stands were produced using high-quality materials and workmanship, a tradition that still continues today, stated the company. When the company was founded, Lagervall lived in Manhasset, N.Y., adopting the name of that city for his new company. During the 1940s, Lagervall moved the company to Yakima, Wash., where the company continues to operate today. “Uncle Otto was always looking for ways to make products better. In addition to Manhasset Stands, he started other companies like Yakima Rooftop Carriers and developed several other product innovations still in use today,” said Steve Lagervall, nephew of Otto Lagervall. Added Dan Roberts, president and general manager of Manhasset Stands, “Over the years, the company has introduced many new music stand designs and new accessory products that have become great sellers. Numerous production improvements have been made to the company’s manufacturing processes, allowing the company to continue producing excellent quality products here in the U.S.A. We are constantly searching for new material improvements and new processes that will help make our great quality music stands even more durable and dependable. As a result, our efforts made it possible for the company to offer a lifetime warranty on our music stands.”
Alpha Distribution Acquires Amptweaker
Alpha Distribution is acquiring the Amptweaker pedal brand, which was founded by James Brown and his wife Phyllis. Brown recently accepted a position to join the EVH Amplifier division of Fender Music Instruments Corp. as principle analog design engineer. “In the spring of 2019, I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, which is hereditary, incurable and requires expensive ongoing treatments, and this strained the limits of our health insurance. Shortly afterwards, I was approached by Fender with this new opportunity and it’s been nothing short of a blessing,” said Brown. “I met Jack Thompson, owner of Alpha Distribution at Winter NAMM 2019 regarding possible distribution. I decided to approach Jack about taking over Amptweaker realizing that he and his team shared the same enthusiasm about working with players to create innovative musical tools.” Brown continued, “I collaborated with Jack and his design team on some upcoming new versions that will help kick off their next generation of Amptweaker pedal designs, and I’m excited to see what other cool ideas they come up with next.” “Working with James has been exceptional,” added Thompson. “From the moment I played through the pedals, I knew this was a company I wanted to be associated with. We look forward to building on the legacy that James created and working with the players worldwide that compose the Amptweaker family.”
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Gooseneck Task Lamps & Accessories
Made in Hamburg, MI USA www.littlite.com email@example.com
Peterson Strobe Tuners announced a major firmware update (v.1.0.25) for its StroboStomp HD tuning pedal. This firmware update adds a Remote Preset Selection feature and allows users of the StroboStomp HD a quick way to access all their tuning presets without having to reach down to access the on-board buttons in order to navigate through their collection of presets. When the Remote Preset Selection feature is activated, by simply pressing and holding the stomp switch users can now pull any open string, or even “thump” their connected instrument, to advance to the next tuning preset. The Remote Preset Selection option is a signal-driven feature that requires an input trigger to advance through a user’s preset list. Users must be connected to the StroboStomp HD to use this feature. It does not matter where the StroboStomp HD is located in the signal chain to use this feature. Triggering the tuner by pulling a string or “thumping” your instrument will advance the preset selection by one setting. Additionally, if an end user has a dedicated color assigned to the preset, this will continue to serve as a preset identifier. “We take our user feedback seriously, and the request to streamline preset access on the StroboStomp HD was a hot topic almost immediately after its launch,” said Patrick Bovenizer, vice president of Peterson. “We knew this was a priority for our customers and this method felt like the most natural solution.” CORRECTION: In the December issue of the Music & Sound Retailer on page 26, we had the wrong photo of the Tech 21 GED-2112 Geddy Lee. We apologize for the error. FEBRUARY 2020
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A Changing of the Guard at MIRC
MIRC (Musical Instrument Reclamation Corp.) owner Monte Richards has decided to retire after 27 successful years. Accompanying the news of his retirement came the announcement of the formation of a new ownership group to lead the company through its next phase of expansion, including CEO Jason Gano, a 30-year MI veteran who has worked for manufacturers such as St. Louis Music, Korg, Marshall and Cordoba Music Group. “I’m excited for the future of the company I created and I cannot wait to see the company grow in new areas Richard Bennett (left) and Jason Gano under their leadership,” said Richards. Added Gano: “This is such a unique business model. Our talented team is the best at sourcing, repairing and restoring instruments, and we can supply retailers with quality used instruments to support their business and their customers. We provide educational programs, including The Music Retail Show podcast, to help retailers grow and manage their businesses.” Another member of the new ownership is 27-year industry veteran Richard Bennett. Bennett has been with MIRC for 19 years and now becomes the company’s president, running day-to-day operations. “With this purchase it is a new adventure in helping store owners get quality, profitable product they can sustain their business on,” he said. “We are excited for what the future holds for us all.”
KMC Takes on sE
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sE Electronics, the family-owned, vertically integrated manufacturer of hand-built microphones and accessories, and the inventor of the Reflexion Filter, appointed KMC Music, distributor of musical instruments, pro audio products and accessories, to serve as its exclusive distribution partner in North, Latin and South America. “KMC shares the same commitment to exceptional sales and customer service support that we do. Their sales professionals, product trainers, direct marketers and customer service team members are going to play a pivotal role in taking us to an entirely new level of success. We are excited to combine our resources into a single sales and marketing team that will bring new benefits to the dealers and customers we both serve,” said sE Electronics general manager Ling Zou. “Since its founding in 2000 by Siwei Zou, sE Electronics has grown into a world-renowned company led by a team of dedicated designers and engineers, and one of the few microphone manufacturers that operates their own factory,” added KMC Music president Mark Terry. “Blending vision, art and engineering into a line of hand-crafted microphones and Reflexion Filters, sE Electronics has become the gold standard for consumers and professionals who want to work with the very best. We are proud to serve as their distributor.”
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QRS Widgets - Application Specific Functions That Utilize the I/O - Programmable & Assignable
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Cloud & Social Ecosystem for Analytics, Sharing, Archiving & More
QRS Music Technologies, Inc.
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Bach to Rock
Pioneer DJ named industry veteran Drew Bach to its product planning team. Bach, who has extensive experience as a working DJ, has served Gibson, Apple, Guillemot and other brands. He joined Pioneer DJ in August, and now operates from Pioneer DJ’s Torrance, Calif., office, reporting to Lars Schlichting, director of product planning, artist relations at Pioneer DJ Americas Inc. “Drew has an innate understanding of the art and business of DJing, and his experience and expertise — as well as his deep connection and passion for this community — will inform our product planning, programs and organization,” Schlichting said. “I am very pleased to have Drew join our team, and I’m delighted to see his ideas and the impact he’s already making at Pioneer DJ.” “I’ve dreamed of joining Pioneer DJ since day one of my career,” said Bach. “No other company has so consistently driven how DJs create and perform, from bedrooms to festival stages. I can’t wait to bring my experience to the team and be part of the creation of tools DJs depend on to realize their own dreams.” Echoing this sentiment, John Powell, president of Pioneer DJ Americas Inc., added, “Pioneer DJ is committed to empowering the broadest community of DJs and venue operators with tools enabling creative expression in ways we have not yet seen or heard. To accomplish this, we need the best team possible and we’ve taken another step toward achieving that with the addition of Drew Bach to Pioneer DJ.”
HARMAN Professional Solutions appointed Brian Divine as president of the Professional Solutions division. Divine is responsible for overseeing the division’s worldwide operations, strategy, product roadmap and performance across all 11 brands. Divine’s elevation to the role is the culmination of a nearly 20-year career. In his 15 combined years at HARMAN Professional, Divine worked closely with distributors and customers in nearly all of the entertainment and enterprise vertical markets the division serves in roles overseeing customer service, sales, engineering, marketing and product management. Divine was most recently senior vice president for products and customer solutions in the Professional Solutions division and vice president of product and program management, respectively. “I am honored to accept this role, and do so with great humility and awareness of the awesome responsibility of carrying forward HARMAN’s iconic brands that were built over the course of, in some cases, nine decades,” said Divine. “The pro industry is in my DNA as my career was built though dedication to HARMAN Professional Solutions and its employees, channel partners and customers.”
Meet Me in St. Louis
St. Louis Music named John Richardson its national sales manager. “I am excited for this opportunity to be a part of the team at SLM. Knowing the quality of service SLM has provided over many years, I am truly honored for the chance to continue and advance the tradition with such a great group of people,” said Richardson. Richardson took over for Richard Grossman, who retired at the end of John Richardson December after more than 30 years of service to the music industry. Richardson has extensive experience in the industry as an educator, retailer and most recently as the brand manager for Jupiter Band Instruments at KHS America. “We are delighted John is joining our management team,” said Chris Meikle, senior vice president, sales, marketing and product at SLM. “John brings an abundance of expertise and knowledge and a genuine passion for the music industry. His addition to the team benefits all of us, especially our Kelli Jennings customers as we continue to grow and offer new products and services.” SLM also named Kelli Jennings as inside sales manager. In her new role, she builds relationships with new and existing customers, developing sales strategies across SLM’s family of brands, FEBRUARY 2020
JAM Taps Tsaptsinos
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international partners in creating exciting, profitable programs for our resellers and our distributors,” said Tsaptsinos. Before joining KMC in 2012, Tsaptsinos was vice president of sales at Samson Technologies from 2007 to 20012. Before this, he served as director of sales at Casio from 2003 to 2007. He first broke into retail in 1998 as a Guitar Center store manager.
JAM U.S. Music Group promoted industry veteran James Tsaptsinos to the position of vice president of global sales. According to JAM U.S. Music Group President Mark Terry, Tsaptsinos will continue to serve as vice president of sales for KMC Music. He will be assisted in his new position by Willem van Keulen, who joins the company as European sales manager, based in Hengelo, The Netherlands. “Thanks to the commitment and support of JAM and our senior leadership team, we are strategically positioned to grow its global footprint in 2020 and beyond. I look forward to working closely with our U.S. and
In Memoriam: Bob Saunders
Bob Saunders passed away on Sunday Jan. 5 at the age of 78. Saunders began working in the accounting department for Kaman Corp. He was asked by the company’s founder, Charlie Kaman, to work with his son Bill for the Kaman Music Corp. After Bill retired, Saunders took over as CEO and president of Kaman Music and ran the company for more than a decade. During Saunders’ time as president, the company acquired the Latin Percussion brand, which was a complementary product to the guitars it was manufacturing, and oversaw the acquisition of Musicorp.
managing inside sales staff and much more. “I’m looking forward to researching, developing and implementing sales-enablement tools to empower our inside sales representatives to be able to offer exceptional white-glove customer outreach and support across the U.S. I’m excited about being a part of a growing organization dedicated to supporting music-making throughout the U.S.,” said Jennings. “We’re thrilled to have Kelli join the SLM family,” said Meikle. “Kelli brings a focus and expertise to inside sales that we believe our customers will very much appreciate.”
Play, Hear, & Stream Your Talent to the World
Wireless Guitar to Amp, In-Ear Monitor, and USB System
Vocopro’s Play, Hear, & Record is an innovative way for a guitarist to play, monitor, and record or stream their talent from guitar to computer via USB receiver with built-in audio interface, while listening via in-ear monitor, and sending signal to the guitar ampliier, wirelessly and eeortlessly! • Tap-and-Sync™ allows users to change AND sync frequency to ALL receivers within 200 ft. range • Built-in rechargeable battery with 6 hours of run time on each charge. (3.7v Li-ion 650 mAh) • Operates in super low latency 900 MHz, away from TV, radio, and Wi-Fi interference.
HR- x 1 IE-9 x 1
w w w . v o c o p r o . c o m
Note From Zach
ADVERTORIAL • FEBRUARY 2020 • NAMM.ORG
2020 Retail Resolutions 2020 marks a new year, new decade and new normal. It also means an opportunity to look at your business with clear, 2020 vision. Are you ready? To give you a jump-start, we’ve rounded up a handful of New Year’s resolutions. Think of these ideas and best practices as your business roadmap, so you don’t look back with 2020 hindsight at what could’ve been.
Re-examine your policies. For instance, do you have a strict no-makeup-lesson policy in your education program? In the age of Uber and on-demand everything, will that policy alienate customers? Again, fight friction, even when it’s tough.
Seek out and eliminate friction. Online retail giants have amplified consumer expectations in everything from checkout and returns to shipping and reorders. Identify any and all points of friction in your customer experience, and work toward eradicating them. And whenever possible, involve staff in creating—and owning—the solutions.
Hey, Alexa, focus on voice search. These days, nearly 30 percent of all internet searches are done without a screen. That impacts how your customers find you. Are you preparing your search engine optimization for voice search?
Consider new music education opportunities. Spotify and streaming have spawned an age of niche musical tastes. You might host a rock camp in your lesson program, but what about students of musical theater or the blues? More and more, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Embrace tough conversations with staff. Don’t hold back on discussing touchy topics with your team, such as pay ceilings and promotions. Short-term discomfort will often create clarity, dispel common myths and even get employees aspiring to positions within your company that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Optimize Instagram. One in 10 Instagram users now shop using the platform, according to Hootsuite’s stats. If you’re not already, make sure you’re harnessing the full power of Instagram to increase sales. Optimize your business profile with a strong bio and link to your website—or a particular product. Likewise, consider experimenting with Instagram ads within your feed or in your Stories.
Think content. Content (creation) is king. Musicians now think in terms of music and video. Does your product mix and lesson program reflect this shift? Also, chances are you have expertise in a particular area, be it repairs, an instrument or a brand. Is there a marketing opportunity to present your insight via a company podcast or video series? Mobile first. On Black Friday 2019, mobile orders surged by 35 percent, according to Salesforce—and it’s a trend that’s unlikely to abate. If you’re thinking about redesigning your website, think beyond just mobile-friendly. Successful websites are now mobile-first, as opposed to built for desktop and re-engineered for mobile later. This is a big project, of course, but figure it into your long-term planning. Also, pick up more ideas to transform your business at Summer NAMM. This year’s show will be held in Nashville at Music City Center from July 9–11. See you then!
Zach Phillips NAMM DIRECTOR OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
New ideas are only a tap away.
NAMM| U Online is your one-stop resource NAMM for for retail how-to, digital training, strategies. retail how-to, training, tips tips and and strategies. Sales • Marketing • Management • Finance • Lessons • Websites namm.org/nammu
Register and book your hotel starting April 2020! namm.org/summer
12/12/19 9:59 AM
z z u B Head of the Class
Strong as Oak
The Ludwig Classic Oak series drums offer high sensitivity, wide dynamic tuning range, and hybrid shells that blend an “aggressive attack” along with dark tones and quick, even decay, stated the company. The shell consists of a five-ply construction; three plies of North American Maple inner core with inner and outer plies of American Red Oak. The shells are 6.5mm thick with dual 45-degree bearing edges. The Classic Oak Series is available in seven standard wrap-tite finishes and two new lacquer finishes: Smoke and Tennessee Whiskey. They can also be custom configured via the Ludwig Order Guide. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Conn-Selmer, conn-selmer.com
Graph Tech Bass Ratio machine heads are designed with balancedgear tuning technology. They’re the world’s first bass machine heads to use a double-envelope gear design with a hardened steel gear to ensure smooth consistency on the higher ratios, stated the company. For example, from low B to C on a 6-string, smalldiameter post, the gear ratios are 48:1, 36:1, 30:1, 20:1, 18:1 and 16:1. One full rotation of any Bass Ratio key results in approximately one full tone pitch change. The Bass Ratio product line is comprised of seven sets of machine heads, allowing for customization based on number of strings (four-, five- or six-string bass) and tactile preference, including both Y-style and classic clover leaf chrome buttons. MSRP: Ranging from $99.99 to $199.95 per set Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Graph Tech, graphtech.com
Sax That Takes It to the Max Yamaha launched the YBS-480 Intermediate Baritone Saxophone, the company’s first new baritone saxophone in 35 years. The YBS480 features a redesigned bore and neck modeled after the 62 Professional model Yamaha saxophones, which improve the intonation of the horn. Yamaha also added the ability
to use a detachable peg so that the larger baritone saxophone is accessible to players of all sizes. MSRP: $8,555 Ship Date: Summer Contact: Yamaha, usa.yamaha.com 16
z z u B
Back in Blackstar
The Blackstar Sonnet Series comprises the Sonnet 60 and Sonnet 120. The Sonnet line faithfully amplifies the natural response of an acoustic instrument, capturing every nuance of its tone and the playerâ€™s performance, stated the company. Each model has two independent channels, microphone and instrument, with their own EQ and reverb level settings and a host of player-friendly features such as XLR and USB outputs. The addition of Bluetooth audio playback makes them ideal for solo performers or duos. These
amps are powerful, light and compact, with an adjustable tilt-back stand. The Sonnet 60 and Sonnet 120 are available in classic, sleek black covering with black grille and control panel or stunning cream covering with copper grill and matching control panel. MSRP: Sonnet 60: $399.99; Sonnet 120: $579.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Blackstar, blackstaramps.com/uk/ranges/sonnet
Just Like Animals
Fishman introduced Signature six-, seven- and eight-string pickup sets for guitarist Javier Reyes, driving force behind the critically acclaimed progressive metal band Animals as Leaders (AAL) and others. The pickups reflect Reyesâ€™ desire for warmer passive tones, smooth musical top end and organic dynamics. Like all Fishman Fluence pickups, the Javier Reyes signature set is multi-voice and free from the hum, noise and frustrating inductance issues. Available sounds for the bridge pickup are: Voice 1: thick low end, low midrange growl and aggressive upper-mids, able to create a huge wall of sound while still retaining note-to-note separation; Voice 2: searing lead tone with organic treble and harmonics; and Voice 3: clear, open single coil tone. Sounds for the neck pickup include: Voice 1: fat, bubbly neck pickup tone, round and smooth top end, potent individual notes; Voice 2: Fluence-exclusive neck tone, warm and lively lows and low-mids, taking on an almost hollow-body jazz-box character; and Voice 3: clear, open singlecoil tone. MSRP: $350.58 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Fishman, fishman.com MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
S IX S T RING S
YAMAHA IS HELPING VETERANS RECOVER FROM PTSD Some veterans return from war carrying psychological burdens that prevent them from living normal lives. Itâ€™s why Yamaha partnered with Guitars for Vets (G4V) after discovering that playing a guitar helps ease the symptoms of PTSD. We supply over 700 guitars annually to G4V, and this year weâ€™re celebrating the opening of their 100th chapter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The power of music to transform lives is truly amazing, and Yamaha is proud to play a part in it. Read more at: hub.Yamaha.com/Music-To-The-Rescue
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Yorkville Sound introduced the Synergy SA221S. This dual 21-inch subwoofer is the perfect low-end companion to the Synergy Array series, Yorkvilleâ€™s largest and most powerful point-source system to date, stated the company. The cabinet can be orientated vertically or stacked horizontally depending on the setup requirements. The SA221S can be used to supplement Kristin Goold Synergy Series systems consisting of SA153 tops and SA315S subs. It extends the frequency response of the system down to 30Hz with usable output to 25Hz without sacrificing transient or musical definition. Alternately, the SA221S can be crossed over directly to the SA153 top. The SA221S is voiced for all live and DJ music and really excels where high output and deep bass extension is a must. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Yorkville Sound, yorkville.com
Back in Black
Godin Guitars launched the A12 Black HG guitar as part of its electric lineup. The A12 Black HG brings excellent 12-string sound and playability to the table, along with a look that is classy yet unapologetic, stated the company. The lightweight, two-chambered body makes this guitar easy to perform with, while the Richlite fretboard helps players move around the neck effortlessly, added the manufacturer. Custom Godin onboard electronics give total control to shape overall sound as desired and, like the rest of the acclaimed A-Series, the A12 Black HG is virtually feedbackfree, stated Godin. This new model includes a Chambered Silver Leaf Maple body with Canadian Basswood Wings, a Solid Cedar top, a Richlite bridge and a Maple neck. The A12 Black comes in a lustrous high-gloss finish. MAP: $1,195 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Godin Guitars, godinguitars.com
Light as a Feather
Gator Cases launched its Lightweight Tote Bag Series, designed to fit LED-style PAR Lights. The series features three Lightweight Tote Bags that hold up to four LED-style PAR lights ranging in different sizes and available with and without wheels. The adjustable hook-and-loop, Velcro-padded dividers provide the ability to customize the fit for each PAR can. LED lights stay secure and nestled in the soft-lined, padded interior to prevent scratching, while the dual-zipper design allows the entire top of the bag to be opened for easy loading and unloading. Secure wrap reinforced dual handles and straps distribute weight and reduce wear on the bag while the luggage-style passthrough slip affixed to the rear of the bag allows for a stacking with the G-LIGHTBAG-1610W wheeled version. Additionally, a large exterior compartment is included for storing cables and accessories. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Gator Cases, gatorcases.com
z z u B Definitely No Façade
TAMA released its smallest-ever complete kit, the Club-JAM Flyer. The 14-inch-by-10-inch bass drum anchors the setup, resting atop a bass drum lifter for proper positioning. The kit also includes a snare drum, floor tom and rack tom, which enables this kit to cover a wide array of music styles. According to the company, it fundamentally alters the concept of the ultra-compact drum kit in that the size doesn’t require compromising on sound. Club-JAM Flyer allows the player to utilize full drum strokes without being overpowering, making this a great, full-featured solution for any coffee shop or busker set, stated the company. The solid wood hoops provide a striking visual complement to the classic appearance of this new kit. MSRP: $633.32 Street Price: $379.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Tama, tama.com
ProX introduced its Decorative Façade Scrims. They are universal and designed to fit the aluminum ProX façades with 30-inch-by-48-inch panels. The design cover scrim gives a façade a unique design and a smooth and finished appearance, stated the company. Depending on the occasion, end users can add lighting inside to instantly create stunning visual effects. The stretchable Lycra fabric consists of 90-percent polyester and 10-percent Spandex, allowing it to conform to edges, fitting “like a glove” on a façade table, while giving setups a sleek and professional look, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: ProX, proxdirect.com
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Something to Relish
Relish unveiled Trinity by Relish, a fusion of tradition, innovation and infinite tonal possibilities, stated the company. With its first solid-body model, produced in close cooperation with PT Cort in Surabaya, Indonesia, the company is aiming to make its patented instant Pickup Swapping System available and more affordable for the global guitarist community. Available in three metallic finishes, Trinity by Relish sports a comfortable and lightweight basswood body with two open slots from the back
for instant pickup access. A modern “C”-shape Canadian Maple neck with a smooth satin finish and 24 medium-jumbo stainless-steel frets ensures fantastic playability, stated the company. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Relish, relish.swiss/trinity-by-relish
McCART Y 594S RECREATING VINTAGE
Designed to capture the heart of the core McCarty family of instruments and stay true to the unique spirit of the S2 Series, these new solidbody electrics deliver vintage-inspired appointments with the precision of PRS’s modern manufacturing techniques and trusted craftsmanship.
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
S2 McCarty 594 Thinline
S2 McCarty 594
S2 McCarty 594 Singlecut
Hal Leonard released Volume 7 in its “The Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology” series, with new books for soprano, mezzosoprano/belter, tenor and baritone/bass. Like all the volumes in “The Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology” series, songs appear in original keys only, and in the authentic show versions. The song selections feature many recent Broadway musicals, including: “Anastasia,” “The Band’s Visit,” “Be More Chill,” “Come from Away,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Frozen the Broadway Musical,” “Hamilton,” “Matilda the Musical,” “Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812,” “Pretty Woman,” “Tootsie,” “Waitress” and others. Besides songs from newer shows, it also presents attractive songs from older shows that have never appeared in the series. A section titled “About the Shows and Songs” presents key facts about each musical, as well as a plot synopsis, including a description of where the featured song comes in the story. MSRP: $24.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Hal Leonard, halleonard.com
© 2020 PRS Guitars / Photos by Marc Quigley
By Brian Berk
Last month, we highlighted 30 products being featured at The NAMM Show. Here are 40 more, making it a total of 70 products you can stock at your store.
No Kidding Around Hal Leonard partnered with Little Kids Rock to release the “Modern Band Method” series. By fusing genres like rock, pop, Latin and rap with traditional music education, the “Modern Band Method” gives teachers — at schools or private studios — the opportunity to build music programs that are as diverse as the kids they serve in their communities. Following this curriculum, these first books provide a guided lesson plan for the absolute beginner and anyone new to modern band with full audio tracks, video lessons and popular songs from today’s biggest artists. The series features books for guitar, keyboard, bass and drums as well as a teacher’s manual. These books are the first part of a planned full sequential curriculum for K-12. Each book includes lessons to teach students about technique, reading music, composing a song, writing lyrics, soloing, improvising and more, and each book features more instrument-specific topics. Features full band versions of songs like “Hello” (Adele), “Imagine” (John Lennon), “Under Pressure” (Queen featuring David Bowie) and “See You Again” (Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth). Hal Leonard, halleonard.com
Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation of Amps Traynor Amplifiers is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the classic YCV40 tube amp with its YCV4050. As the year 2000 approached, the world braced itself for an impending Y2K disaster. People stocked their bunkers with canned goods and corporations did everything they could to make sure their digital data was backed up and safe as possible from the dreaded numeric change. Meanwhile in Canada, amplifier manufacturer Traynor kept on doing what they do best; designing tube amps. The YCV40 was released in 2000 and went on to become the longest-running guitar amp series in the company’s 56-year history. Throughout its history, the YCV series have been issued in black, blue and wine red. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, the YCV4050 is finished in emerald green leatherette with an oatmeal grill and chicken-beak knobs. Yorkville Sound, yorkville.com
On the Promark Promark Drumsticks launched SPYR, a new mallet line. Designed in collaboration with percussionists, designers and educators Kevin Shah and Tony Nuñez, the SPYR series is a comprehensive, foundational offering for high school and college-level band directors seeking to outfit either their marching corps or concert percussion section (or both) with quality implements, stated the company. With the launch of SPYR, Promark has created a color-coded hardness scale to make it easy for percussionists to quickly select the appropriate mallet from their bag. The color-coded scale will be present both on the packaging, as well as the product itself. The updated backer card and label artwork will communicate the color-coded hardness scale (very soft to very hard) and how it applies to the mallet, illustrating the optimal range of the instrument it was designed for. Included in the SPYR series is six wrapped marimba mallets, two unwrapped marimba mallets, four vibraphone mallets and twelve xylophone/bell mallets. D’Addario, daddario.com
Take Good Care Music Nomad Equipment Care’s F-ONE Unfinished Fretboard Care Kit contains one F-ONE fretboard oil, fretboard brush and a 2 ‘n 1 fretboard cloth. It contains everything an end user needs to clean and condition an unfinished fretboard, stated the company. It is formulated using a complex mixture of ultra-refined tree and seed oils to clean, condition and protect a fingerboard. F-ONE oil does not contain any lemon oil extracts, waxes, petroleum distillates, silicone or water. The 2 ‘n 1 microfiber fretboard cloth features one side that is soft for gentle applying and cleaning with F-ONE oil, while the other side is designed with small scrubbers woven into the fabric to penetrate and lift dirt and grime buildup off the fretboard. The specially designed fretboard brush is the perfect tool for precision cleaning and conditioning around the frets and deeper wood pores. Music Nomad Equipment Care, musicnomadcare.com
Cherry on Top Seagull Guitars introduced the S6 Classic Black A/E acoustic guitar as part of its S6 Series lineup. The S6 Classic Black A/E will surely reel end users in with its intense black Semi-Gloss top and Blackwashed back and sides, stated the company. Strum it for a sound that will "resonate to the core," thanks to its vibrant Solid Cedar top and Wild Cherry body. Plug it in to experience another level of outstanding tone via the onboard Fishman Sonitone preamp system, as it amplifies the already naturally crisp and dynamic sound of this new S6 model. Other features include a Silver Leaf Maple neck, Rosewood fretboard, 25.5inch scale, 1.72-inch nut width, and optional Gig bag or Deluxe Tric case. Godin Guitars, godinguitars.com
California Dreaming MXL Microphones debuted a California-inspired restyling of some of its best-selling studio condenser microphones at NAMM. Drawing inspiration from classic west-coast ephemera, the Greetings From California series features retro color combi-nations and detailing that harken back to traditional beach and surf culture. For a limited time, alternate versions of the MXL 770 will be offered in Sky Blue and Vintage White, the MXL 990 in Coral and Surf Green, and the MXL Tempo, a USB-powered condenser microphone, in Surf Green. MXL Microphones, mxlmics.com
Make Your Présence Felt Conn-Selmer introduced its Présence professional Bb and A clarinets and its PROLOGUE Stepup Bb clarinet. Now available in traditional or Evolution Series, the Selmer Présence Bb and A clarinets were completely designed with the player in mind. The keywork is positioned for optimal comfort and mechanical precision. Extensive work on position and size of tone holes give the Présence exceptional intonation. The Présence also comes with long-lasting Valentino synthetic pads. The Présence is available with nickel or sterling-silver keys, and with or without the left-hand Eb key. The Présence comes with one 65.5mm barrel and are ideal for educational playing, concert settings and solo work. Light and easy to play, the Prologue clarinet offers immediate comfort, stated the company. With ergonomic keywork specially designed for clarinetists of all levels, the Prologue enables a natural and rapid adaptation to the instrument. Ease of response and emission is ensured through its specifically designed bore, as well as enormous flexibility across all registers of the instrument to secure homogeneity of sound from top to bottom. Conn-Selmer, conn-selmer.com
Thunderstruck OWC’s ThunderBay 4 mini is intended to deliver speed and versatility users rely on to manage workflows without limitations. It features four drive bays that users can transform SSDs and HDDs into a pro-grade solution in a compact design. Use mixed drives independently or matched drives as a RAID with the included OWC-proprietary SoftRAID setup and management software. It’s big on performance, yet it’s the length of a pencil and weighs about three pounds with SSDs installed, stated the company. The ThunderBay 4 mini allows end users to expand production capabilities in creative platforms, edit large images, manage massive photo and audio libraries, store drone videos, or use it as a transport drive. Additionally, the ThunderBay 4 mini allows users to daisychain up to five additional ThunderBay 4 mini solutions to create massive storage capacities. OWC, owcdigital.com
Piano Man (and Woman) Alfred Music, in partnership with Faber Music, released two piano songbooks: “Birdy: The Piano Songbook” and “Josh Cohen: Radiohead for Solo Piano.” “Birdy: The Piano Songbook” is the artist-approved songbook from award-winning English singer-songwriter Birdy. Specially curated by the artist herself, the book includes an introduction from her alongside accurate transcriptions of her most popular songs, many in print for the first time. Since bewitching the nation at the age of 14 with her cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” Birdy has released three albums, toured the world, performed at the Paralympics Opening Ceremony, been nominated for a Brit Award (for British Female Solo Artist), written songs for the hit movies “The Fault in Our Stars” and “The Hunger Games,” and sung on Mumford & Sons’ Grammywinning song “Learn Me Right.” Meanwhile, “Josh Cohen: Radiohead for Solo Piano” offers some of Radiohead’s best-loved songs, arranged for intermediate piano solo (with lyrics) by pianist Josh Cohen. These exclusive transcriptions were made popular by Cohen’s YouTube channel, and the book includes a playing guide and introduction from the arranger. Alfred Music, alfred.com
Power to the People Gator Cases released the Guitar Pedal Power Supply Series, offering a power bank solution for pedalboards (GTR-PWR-5 and GTR-PWR-8). The GTR-PWR-5 guitar pedal power supply by Gator delivers five quiet isolated outputs rated at 120mA each for powering effects pedals, tuners and other accessories (600 mA Max Output). It also provides eight quiet isolated outputs rated for powering effects pedals, tuners and other accessories (2x4~9V DC @ 120mA, 3x9/12V @ 120mA, 1x9/18V DC @ 250mA, 1x9/12V DC @ 250mA, 1x12V AC @ 500mA (1600 mA Max Output). The power supply boasts a heavy-duty metal enclosure to keep pedals powered in any situation, along with vented slots to allow for heat dissipation. When traveling internationally, simply select between 115/230 volts for mains power input voltage to ensure safe operation with the particular wall outlet. The power switch with LED indicator light makes powering down a rig a snap, saving end users from having to unplug the power cable from hard-to-reach areas when finished, stated the company. Gator Cases, gatorcases.com
Express Yourself HeadRush introduced its Expression Pedal for use with the HeadRush Gigboard, Looperboard or Pedalboard. The HeadRush Expression Pedal has been finely tuned to work perfectly with any HeadRush unit, so that users will enjoy a confident and precise range of control of assigned expression FX, stated the company. For HeadRush Gigboard users, connecting the HeadRush Expression Pedal preserves the advantage of the compact form factor of the Headrush Gigboard while providing the same convenience of the HeadRush Pedalboard’s built-in expression pedal. The HeadRush Expression Pedal’s built-in toe switch specifically enables Gigboard users to quickly and easily enable/bypass two virtual expression FX blocks without skipping a beat. For HeadRush Looperboard users, connecting the HeadRush Expression Pedal enables users to have control over up to four FX parameters of Looperboard’s built-in FX, as well as control over looper track volume and panning. For HeadRush Pedalboard users, connecting the HeadRush Expression Pedal enables users to have a second expression pedal working simultaneously with Pedalboard’s built-in expression pedal, so that users can have control of up to eight FX parameters at the same time. HeadRush, inmusicbrands.com
Taking Flight Flight Ukuleles has added four new models of ukuleles to its Princess Series, a series of instruments intended to be high end without an inflated price tag. Princess Series ukuleles feature solid tops made of premium tone woods, Worth strings, active sound-hole pickup and quality gig bags. Additions to the line are the Antonia model, a mahogany ukulele with a pearl rosette; the thin-body Leia, made of cedar and acacia; and the Sophia and Diana, models that combine spruce or cedar soundboards with walnut back and sides, a gloss finish, and slotted headstocks with golden machine heads. Additionally, Flight released its Flight Soundwave Pickup, a new technology that places control of the preamp and various effects at the fingertips of the player, whether the ukulele is plugged into an amplifier or not. Flight offers the Soundwave Pickup on the Sophia and Diana from the Princess Series. Flight Ukuleles, distributed by Hal Leonard, halleonard.com
Might as Well Jump EVH announced the 5150III 50S 6L6 Head and 5150III 50S 212ST Cabinet. The EVH 5150III 50S 6L6 Head is the perfect amp for players who want Ed Van Halen’s touring tone, arena volume and performance in a compact package, stated the company. Three channels of road-tested sound work for any playing style — crisp cleans, chunky overdrive, tight distortion and searing leads — while newly added independent dual-concentric controls allow for gain and volume-level matching. Tweaked to meet Ed’s touring requirements, this 50-watt head delivers a full spectrum of tone. Channel one powers clear, clean tone; channel two features increased gain for greater sustain and is re-voiced for improved lowmid frequency definition; channel three also has improved range for the “low” control and “oozes” with increased liquid gain, stated the company. Channels one and two each have dual concentric gain/volume controls, with shared EQ (low, mid, high). Channel three has its own gain, volume and EQ (low, mid, high) controls. The 5150III 50S 6L6 Head has seven JJ ECC83 preamp tubes, a pair of Shuguang 6L6 power tubes, switchable output impedance (four, eight and 16 ohms) and an adjustable bias control. EVH, evhgear.com
Fine Art Ibanez announced a line of acoustic guitars designed specifically to meet the needs of the growing number of fingerstyle players. The Artwood Fingerstyle series consists of four guitars: two grand concerts, a dreadnought and a grand concert baritone. All of the guitars feature a solid Spruce top, five-piece Pau Ferro/Mahogany neck and either Pau Ferro or Okoume back and sides. What makes these models particularly unique is an innovative two-pickup system, stated the company. The guitars have a typical under-saddle pickup but also employ a special block-contact pickup at the neck joint. This block-contact pickup accomplishes two things; it greatly enhances the bass response of the electronics and also enriches the intensity of percussive hits to the guitar’s body. In order to maximize the utility of both pickups, Artwood Fingerstyle guitars feature stereo outputs. Models in the line are the ACFS580CE, ACFS380BT (Baritone), AWFS300CE and ACFS300CE. Ibanez, ibanez.com
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
TOUCH, AMBIANCE AND PERCUSSION IT’S IN YOUR HANDS TO ADD A NEW DIMENSION OF SOUND FOR ALL TO HEAR. Introducing the groundbreaking new PowerTap Earth and PowerTap Infinity. Both pickup systems feature our new Tap body sensor, that when combined with either a Matrix Infinity (PowerTap Infinity) or Rare Earth (PowerTap Earth) pickup, open up a new palette of sounds, interaction, and expression for players of all styles.
To Learn More Visit Fishman.com/tap
POWER TAP BODY SENSOR The innovative Tap body sensor literally adds a new dimension to the sounds captured and emanating from the pickup system. Layers of touch, depth, ambience, and of course percussion, are all right there… without the concerns of feedback and other unwanted artifacts that have plagued earlier-type systems.
Harmonica Heritage HOHNER Musikinstrumente GmbH debuted the Sonny Terry Heritage Edition Harmonica, posthumously commemorating one of the most influential artists in the blues harmonica scene. The harmonica, a Marine Band 1896 with custom-engraved cover plate and an orange/black lacquered pear-wood comb, is specially made with a 10-hole diatonic in the key of C, paying homage to the original instruments upon which Terry created his unique style. The harmonica is packaged in a vintage cardboard box. For fans, collectors and players alike, the box also contains a signature stamp, which is a replica of the stamp that blind musician Sonny Terry used to sign autographs. The instrument is handcrafted in Trossingen, Germany, where the original Marine Band 1896 that Sonny Terry played was made. Hohner, hohner.de
Power to the Pickups Fishman introduced the PowerTap Earth and PowerTap Infinity pickup systems. Both are designed to empower acoustic guitarists to add excitement to their performances and expand their playing technique with new percussive elements and tactile dynamics. The key to Fishman PowerTap tone is the new Tap body sensor that, when combined with either a Matrix Infinity (PowerTap Infinity) or Rare Earth (PowerTap Earth) pickup, opens up a new palette of sounds, interaction and color for players of all styles, stated the company. Tap body sensor adds a new dimension to the sounds captured and emanating from the pickup system. Layers of touch and depth, ambience and of course percussion are all right there… without the concerns of feedback and other unwanted artifacts that have plagued earlier systems. The PowerTap Infinity pickup system combines the performance and tone of the Fishman Matrix Infinity undersaddle pickup system with the new Tap body sensor, while the PowerTap Earth pickup system combines the easy installation, superior performance and warm, transparent sound of the popular Fishman Rare Earth humbucker with the new Tap body sensor, added the manufacturer. Fishman, fishman.com
Be Vocal DPA Microphones’ 2028 Vocal Microphone is ideally suited for live stage performances, broadcast and pro AV applications. It needs no or little EQ to sound just like the listener is standing next to the singer. This allows an artist to hone-in on their vocals as if not using a microphone, which puts less strain on the voice, stated the company. In addition, the transparency of the 2028 allows engineers to spend their time shaping the sound experience rather than covering up issues caused by artifacts. The 2028 has been cohesively designed to provide the same sound as the brand’s flagship handheld mic, the 4018 VL. It has also been optimized for the unique challenges of the live stage. The 2028 features a fixed-position capsule, as well as a specially designed shock-mount and pop filter. It exhibits a supercardioid polar pattern with the famous DPA uniform off-axis response. This gives the microphone a high gain before feedback and makes it easier to handle bleed from other instruments in close proximity, picking up sound in a natural way. DPA microphones, dpamicrophones.com
Revenge of the Synth KORG’s ARP 2600 is a 100-percent faithful recreation of the three-oscillator semi-modular instrument that became a cornerstone of the synth world in 1970, with some added key modern features to bring it into the 21st century. It is designed to stand as a bridge between the individual elements of modular synthesis and the immediacy of a production/performance instrument. Included are an ample supply of oscillators, envelopes, a filter and amplifier. Also present is much of the versatility of a vintage modular system, including a ring modulation, lag and voltage processors; an envelope follower; audio preamp; a clockable switch; noise source; a sample and hold module; signal inverters; an auxiliary mixer; and a set of parallelwired/ multi jacks. This limited-edition release adds a 128-note sequencer, USB and DIN-style MIDI connections, XLR audio outputs and an arpeggiator. KORG, korgusa.com
Through Thick and Thin PRS Guitars added the S2 McCarty 594, S2 McCarty 594 Singlecut and S2 McCarty 594 Thinline to its S2 Series lineup. Designed to capture the heart of the McCarty family of instruments and stay true to the unique spirit of the S2 Series, these new solid-body electrics deliver vintage-inspired appointments with the precision of PRS’s modern manufacturing techniques and trusted craftsmanship. These guitars also represent the first time a McCarty model has been offered outside of the PRS Private Stock and Core lines. The S2 McCarty 594 family can seamlessly master authentic humbucking tones and nuanced, sweet single-coil sounds, thanks to their 58/15 “S” pickups and dual volume and push/pull tone controls. This tonal setup is backed by modern construction, so these guitars play in tune, stay in tune and are intonated the entire length of the neck. Each of the S2 McCarty 594 instruments feature 22-fret mahogany necks with bound rosewood fretboards, as well as the PRS zinc two-piece bridge and vintage-style tuners. Both maple-top versions, double- and single-cut, sport a Pattern Vintage neck shape. The S2 McCarty 594 Thinline features a thinner, one-piece, all-mahogany body and a Pattern Thin neck shape. PRS, prsguitars.com
Kramer vs. Kramer Gibson Brands announced that Kramer, known as the “Made to Rock Hard” guitar brand, is back with several new collections. These include Kramer’s Original Collection, featuring the Icon, Baretta, Pacer, Focus and SM-1. The Modern Collection offers the Assault, Striker, Nite-V, Bass and more. Early artist collaborations for Kramer include the Tracii Guns “Gunstar Voyager,” the Charlie Parra “Vanguard” and the Dave Sabo “Snake-Baretta” with much more to come. Gibson Brands, gibson.com
Touch and Go Numark launched DJ2GO2 Touch, the successor to its DJ2GO2. DJ2GO2 Touch is a portable, pocket-sized DJ controller with the ability to scratch with capacitive touch jog wheels. With a built-in sound card and Serato DJ Lite compatibility, it fits in front of any laptop and gives the DJ the ability to perform hot cues, looping and sampler effects. DJ2GO2 Touch also features futureproof music-streaming capability with TIDAL and SoundCloud as part of Serato DJ Lite. Numark, numark.com
Ain’t It Sweet? Washburn introduced a Michael Sweet acoustic guitar (MSJ40SCE) that features a large jumbo body that delivers a big, booming and powerful tone that’s based on the vintage Washburn J40 guitar. The new Michael Sweet acoustic model really stands out with its solid bearclaw spruce top that adds a touch of the exotic to the instrument, stated the company. It also features integrated Barcus Berry active electronics, as well as a transparent black finish that lends an accent to the figured woods used to make the guitar. Michael Sweet is a singer and guitarist best known for being the co-founder, writer, lead guitarist, lead singer and frontman for Stryper, one of the most popular, multi-platinum crossover Christian metal bands of all time, with more than 10 million albums sold. He was also the singer and guitarist for Boston from 2007 to 2011. Washburn, washburn.com
S W I S S P R E M I U M G U I TA R S
S W I S S P R E M I U M G U I TA R S
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
Total Eclipse of the Heart KMC Music introduced a line of Dream Eclipse half-lathed cymbals, offering drummers and percussionists two unique and versatile sounds from each cymbal, expanding the range of tones and sounds of any drum set. The Eclipse 15 Hi-Hat, Eclipse 17 Crash, Eclipse 19 Crash, Eclipse 21 Ride and Eclipse 23 Ride are completely handmade, created by firing the cymbals in an oven and hand hammering before immersion in a saltwater bath. After the metal is soaked, it returns to the oven and is re-fired before being treated with a Bliss-style lathe on the outer edges. This process gives the cymbal two unique and versatile sound worlds, articulate and clear when played on or around the raw un-lathed bell and center, with the outer edges adding a beautiful wash and a world of complex overtones, stated the company. KMC Music, kmcmusic.com
A ‘Cut’ Above the Rest Taylor Guitars expanded its Builder’s Edition collection. Crafted by master guitar designer Andy Powers, these new enhanced “director’s cut” models showcase Powers’ emphasis on elevating the sound, playing comfort and visual appeal of each instrument, incorporating Taylor’s V-Class bracing, unique ergonomic features and fresh aesthetic details. The models include the Builder’s Edition 816ce, Builder’s Edition 912ce, Builder’s Edition 652ce (12-string) and Builder’s Edition 324ce — with each revealing a distinctive sound and feel. The Builder’s Edition concept was originally developed to celebrate the debut of Taylor’s V-Class bracing architecture in 2018, marrying its sonic virtues with equally envelope-pushing improvements in playing comfort. Taylor Guitars, taylorguitars.com
A Suite Product TASCAM introduced the Model 12 Integrated Production Suite. It is a multitrack recording mixer for audio and multimedia creators featuring an integrated 12-track multitrack recorder, USB audio interface, 10-input mixer, MIDI connectivity, click output and DAW controller. Combining the feel and interface of analog recording and mixing with the efficient workflow and pristine quality associated with digital production, the compact Model 12 is perfect for desktop-style audio and multimedia production, small-format live performances as well as podcasting and live streaming, stated the company. Applications include music production, multimedia production, remix/EDM creation, songwriting and live performance where a solo artist plays along with tracks and/or beats. The Model 12’s internal 12-track multitrack recorder records WAV files (up to 48kHz/24-bit) directly to SD, SDHC and SDXC cards (up to 512 GB capacity). TASCAM, tascam.com
Enjoy the Silence Yamaha introduced the SLB300SK Silent Bass, the next generation of electric upright basses that allows the performer to control their sound from the instrument itself with the press of a button. The original design of the Silent Bass gives musicians a true ergonomic feel by including all the touch points of an acoustic upright bass, stated the company. Studio Response Technology (SRT) allows the new SLB300SK to model an acoustic bass played through different high-end acoustic microphones, ranging from the clear, crisp sound of a dynamic microphone, to the well-balanced rich timbre and warm low-frequency emphasis of classic and vintage vacuum-tube microphones, added the manufacturer. The SLB300SK can be broken down into an easily transportable “subway-friendly” instrument that can be packed into a TSA case without fear of being damaged en route. It also allows players to take their acoustic sound to places where they may have feared to bring an expensive, classic acoustic instrument, such as an outdoor gig on a hot humid day. Yamaha, usa.yamaha.com
Be a Pro König & Meyer unveiled the 18820 Omega Pro keyboard stand. With foldable legs, a flat and compact travel size, and practical carrying strap, it’s a keyboard player’s ideal traveling companion, stated the company. As with all Omega models, the two support arms adjust individually to accommodate varying sizes of keyboards, and height adjustment is easy with two spring-loaded locking screws on the base tubes. The compact steel tubing construction and the large round floor protectors give this attractive keyboard table exceptional stability. Additional stackers can also be added for a second and third keyboard, and a range of tablet and laptop holders, sheet music holders and microphone arms can also be mounted on the keyboard stand. The tablestyle stand design goes with keyboard benches 14080, 14081, 14085 and 14086. Connolly Music Co., connollymusic.com
Premier Product Following the success of Bob Weir’s Deluxe Series signature model in 2019, D’Angelico Guitars introduced the Premier Bob Weir Bedford, featuring The Grateful Dead legend’s concept of a “tonal powerhouse.” Its electronics configuration is comprised of two Seymour Duncan-designed P-90s with a SC-101 single-coil nestled in the middle. A standard five-way blade makes tone control easy, while an added blender pot blends the neck and bridge pickups (or all three pickups in the notch positions), resulting in a remarkable variety of tones, stated the company. A six-point tremolo offers total control over waves of vibrato. Available only in Matte Stone. D’Angelico Guitars, dangelicoguitars.com
Room and Board Just the Right Tweaks Amptweaker released the TightMetal Pro II. It adds several mods, while retaining the tight metal tones that made the original TightMetal a metal guitar distortion standard, stated the company. Features include a new all-analog speaker simulator with both XLR and headphone outputs. This speaker simulator doesn’t suffer from the typical latency of digital processors, but provides that instant “chunk” that TightMetal users expect from this pedal, added the manufacturer. There are three different speaker cabinets to choose from via the sidemounted switch, and a ground lift switch for the XLR. Amptweaker, amptweaker.com
Ain’t Life Grand? C.F. Martin debuted the GPC-16E Grand Performance Cutaway and the D-16E Dreadnought. Both models are crafted with satin-finished mahogany back and sides for a big sound, punchy midrange and bright treble response. Both include a Sitka spruce gloss top for balanced tone and projection along with a 000-body depth and high-performance neck taper for comfort and ease of playability. Each model comes stage-ready with Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics and Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan 2.0 strings. C.F. Martin, martinguitar.com
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
Building on the success of its angled PFX pedalboard line in 2018, MONO launched the Pedalboard Carbon range, which features 100-percent carbon fiber. The Pedalboard Carbon range is the answer to musicians looking for the sleekest canvas to arrange their stompboxes, stated the company. It features custom-designed anodized aluminum handles for an absolutely firm grip, along with rubber protectors to keep bumps and scratches away. Eagle eyes will also spot the unique weave and glossy finish on this rock-solid board. Every pedalboard will ship with its matching MONO M80 Accessory Case. MONO, monocreators.com
The Main EVENT DAS Audio introduced the EVENT-26A and EVENT-115A, which incorporate high-tech design, groundbreaking engineering and quality transducers to provide great sound at the simplest way possible, offering an exceptional power-to-size ratio, stated the company. The EVENT-26A is a two-way, symmetrical, ultra-compact, lightweight (36 pounds), self-powered line array in a double 6.5-inch “v-shaped” configuration that provides uniform 100-degree horizontal coverage. The EVENT-115A is a wooden cabinet (birch plywood) compact self-powered front-loaded bass-reflex subwoofer that uses a single 15-inch low-frequency transducer specifically designed for use with the EVENT-26A and compatible rigging hardware to be flown. It is powered by a Class D amplifier with 1,200-watt peak and it incorporates a 15FW4 transducer designed to provide long-excursion and minimize distortion. In addition, the new subwoofer includes an LCD screen with the DAScontrol interface that simplifies preset selection. DAS Audio, dasaudio.com
Mix It Up Pioneer’s DJM-V10 is a six-channel mixer, built to enable the most creative DJs to craft original soundscapes, stated the company. DJs can route audio to one of four built-in FX and up to two pieces of external equipment or assemble a custom setup by plugging in FX units, guitar pedals and more. It also allows DJs to route the audio back to the original channel or mix it straight into the master output. DJs can also choose to return it to a separate channel and tweak it further with the filter. And end users can use selected smartphone apps in their performances by connecting a device via MULTI I/O. The DJM-V10 is Serato DVS-ready (Serato DJ Club Kit license required, available separately; Serato DJ Pro compatibility is coming soon) and TRAKTOR DVS-ready (requires TRAKTOR PRO 3, available separately). Pioneer, pioneerdj.com
So Long, Surges Radial Power is a line of clean surge suppressors from Radial Engineering. Consisting of two models, the new Radial Power clean surge suppressors give musicians, engineers, producers, studio owners, commercial facilities and anyone working with valuable electronic equipment peace-of-mind protection from power surges that can damage or destroy music equipment instantaneously. The line consists of two rack-mountable models: A basic version with 11 outlets (eight on rear panel, three on front), and a version with nine outlets (eight on rear panel, one on front) that features LED lighting to illuminate rack equipment mounted below in a variety of colors and intensities. Unlike competitive products that utilize low-quality MOV’s (Metal Oxide Varistor) for surge protection, both Radial Power units are built using a MOV made in the USA. A high-rejection RF interference filter is used to keep high frequencies and AM radio signals out of the power line, preventing contamination of audio signals. Additionally, both Radial Power models include a USB charging port for convenience in keeping mobile devices and accessories charged during recording sessions or performances. Radial Engineering, radialeng.com
Get in Synth Orba by Artiphon is a portable synthesizer, looper and MIDI controller that fits in the palm of a hand. Its minimalist design looks like the hybrid between a gaming controller and a bowl of miso soup, and its feathertouch sensitivity translates gestures from fingers and hand movements directly into music. Eight touchpads respond to even the slightest touch, detecting a variety of gestures like tapping, sliding and vibrato. Additionally, motion sensors let players wave, tilt and shake to add more sounds and effects. Orba’s built-in looper lets players create songs in seconds using multiple sounds and playing modes (Drum, Bass, Chord and Lead). It can be played standalone with its onboard synth and speaker, and also connects wirelessly to mobile devices and computers via USB and Bluetooth MIDI. Orba works with iOS, Mac, Windows and Android, and is compatible with all major recording software including GarageBand, Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools and FL Studio. Artiphon, artiphon.com
The Grand Piano The newest members of the Casio’s CELVIANO Grand Hybrid family, the GP-310 and GP-510 are equipped with full-length Austrian Spruce piano keys, using the same materials and processes as those in C. Bechstein grand pianos. They also offer an enhanced touch response algorithm that allows for an even more accurate response. Players will feel enhanced controllability with a softer touch, enabling flawless expression of the most subtle of performances, stated the company. The models enhance the sound of these sought-after instruments with longer, more natural decay, ensuring each sustained note tells as complete a story as the player intends, noted the manufacturer. And with a newly enhanced six-speaker Grand Acoustic System, the new models are designed to reproduce deeper, richer bass tones while enhancing the clarity of midrange and treble frequencies. When the volume is adjusted, each speaker is automatically optimized to strike a perfect balance expected from a meticulously maintained grand piano. Other notable features include a newly enhanced harpsichord tone, equalization options and an improved Concert Play mode. Casio, casiomusicgear.com
Midnight Cowboy Celestion debuted the Midnight 60 loudspeaker. It continues Celestion’s tradition of delivering rich, classic British tone in innovative new ways, featuring the moving parts that were derived from the V-Type design, but with a different magnet assembly that has the effect of shifting the tonal balance to give a sonic character more reminiscent of a Celestion’s vintage G12L speaker, stated the company. Cleans are well-balanced with just enough top end to make the high frequencies sparkle. Overdriven, this speaker brings searing rock tones, with plenty of low-end warmth and mid-band character. Available in 8Ω or 16Ω, this pressed-steel-frame, ceramic-magnet guitar speaker offers 60-watt power handling and an output sensitivity of 96dB. Celestion, celestion.com
YOUR SOUND IN COLOR
Feeling Giddy About Geddy Tech 21 introduced a desktop/amp, the Geddy Lee Signature SansAmp, the DI-2112. It offers a new format designed to be equally at home on a studio desktop as well as an amp-top. Each signature SansAmp offers Geddy’s core sound and the versatility for many different styles. The Drive pre-amp section is based upon the versatile SansAmp RPM, for a wide range of sonic possibilities. The Deep pre-amp section offers thick, meaty tones. Saturation goes from clean in lower settings to increased harmonics and tube-like compression in higher settings. End users can use either section independently or blend them externally direct to a mixing board as well as to two amplifiers. It features dual all-analog SansAmp circuits, Drive for gain and overdrive, Blend to adjust the ratio of SansAmp tube amp emulation and the direct signal, sweepable semi-parametric EQ, and a Tight switch that adds definition to notes in cleaner settings and makes distorted tones snappier. It runs on 18V DC for increased headroom and clarity, via power supply or two 9V alkaline batteries (not included). Tech 21, tech21nyc.com
Break on Through to the Other Side IK Multimedia presented Sunset Sound Studio Reverb, a T-RackS module processor that brings the reverbs and sounds of the studios in the iconic Sunset Sound recording facility in Los Angeles to musicians everywhere, stated the company. Sunset Sound Studio Reverb is the first convolution reverb for IK’s industry-standard T-RackS 5 mixing and mastering software workstation. IK worked in collaboration with studio owner Paul Camarata to give recording engineers “all access” to the sound and vibe of the studios in this landmark facility, where a who’s who of music has been recorded for 60 years, including the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Prince, Aretha Franklin and more. Each room of Sunset Sound’s three studios was recorded using its custom console and Sunset’s mic collection to capture not just the acoustics but also the unique vibe of the space. IK recreated them using a powerful new dynamic convolution engine, and the result is a faithful studio-quality reverb that offers the same iconic sound as countless hit records, complemented by an array of flexible control options for further tone shaping. IK Multimedia, ikmultimedia.com
Pedal to the Metal Electro-Harmonix’s EHX-2020 Tuner Pedal is designed to provide a compact, convenient tuning solution for musicians with tight pedalboards. It features true bypass; large, color LED display; an ultracompact footprint; a tuning range of B0 (30.87Hz) to B7 (3951.07Hz); calibration from 436Hz~445Hz; three flat tuning modes (♭, ♭♭, ♭♭♭); and a nine-volt PSU. Electro-Harmonix, ehx.com
MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
PLAYING PINK COLORTONE™
COLORTONE™ DRUMHEADS FEATURE SKYNDEEP® IMAGING TECHNOLOGY FOR STUNNING VISUAL APPEAL WITH POWERFUL PROJECTION, TONE AND DURABILITY. AVAILABLE IN EIGHT COLORS.
FI V E M INUTE S W ITH
ETHAN KAPLAN AND MAX GUTNIK General Manager, Fender Digital
Vice President, Fender Electric Guitars and Basses and Amplifiers
By Brian Berk If you visited Fender Musical Instrument Corp.’s booth at The NAMM Show last month, you know it was once again a can’t-miss destination. Due to tight publishing deadlines, this interview took place before The NAMM Show, so we didn’t get to chat with Fender about how things went in Anaheim. However, we did get to chat about many things with both Ethan Kaplan, general manager of Fender Digital and Max Gutnik, vice president, Fender Electric Guitars and Basses and Amplifiers. Kaplan discussed many of Fender’s new ventures that go far beyond musical instruments, and Gutnik talked about recent product launches. Let’s start with Kaplan.
The Music & Sound Retailer: Ethan, let’s first start with your background. When and why did you join Fender? Ethan Kaplan: I’ve been working in the music business since I was a teenager. My first “job” per se, but unpaid, was running REM’s fan-club site, before they had an official one. Since then, I’ve had stints at newspapers (The Orange County Register), record labels (Warner Bros. Records), concert promoters (Live Nation) and now Fender. At all these companies, I was the person who came in and helped move the business into the digital realm, which is what I was brought into Fender to do. I came here four years ago, and since then, we have launched four digital products. Two of them are subscription-based and continue to evolve and innovate in the digital space. The Retailer: Tell us about Fender Songs, why it is cool and how it is complementar y to Fender Play. Kaplan: Fender Songs started with one piece of technology and one piece of data. Technology-wise, we acquired an algorithm five years ago that, given any audio file, could determine the chords that are in the song within six seconds. The data shows that people are now spending up to 32 hours a week on average listening to streaming music, a business that now has nearly 500 million users. Fender Songs combines these two things: an app that sits on top of streaming music and gives the user chords and lyrics for almost anything in their library. While Fender Play teaches you how to play guitar, Fender Songs gives you infinite possibilities of songs to play. The Retailer: It really seems like Fender is tr ying to go beyond just being a product manufacturer and instead provide an immersive experience for consumers. Can you tell us if this is the goal and how this plan has worked? 34
Kaplan: Fender is an institution as a company, and since the first guitar left Fullerton, Calif., nearly 75 years ago, we’ve been at the forefront of innovation in musical instruments. Our limiting factor as a business isn’t the quality of what we make or its accessibility, it’s the fact that it’s a hard instrument to learn, and 90 percent of people who start will quit in the first 90 days to a year. This, coupled with the fact that those picking up the instrument for the first time are younger and more diverse than ever before, leads us on the path to digital products to compliment the journey. It has worked. Fender’s grown as a company year over year, the guitar is healthier than ever and our digital businesses are robust, with Fender Play just crossing 110,000 active paying users. Our apps have been downloaded nearly 7 million times, and all of this was built within the last four years. FEBRUARY 2020
The Retailer: It was quite a 2019 for Fender. Can you tell us about some of the biggest accomplishments you achieved last year? Kaplan: 2019 was tremendous for Fender and Fender’s digital division. Fender Play grew substantially, now with over 110,000 paid users. We’ve expanded the product, including our new Practice Mode functionality, which helps users get even more into the songs they are learning, and Streaks, which rewards players the more they practice. We have a growing community around Fender Play, as well, where people share progress, participate in live lessons every week and encourage each other. We launched Fender Songs, which has chords and lyrics for over 1.5 million tracks and is growing by the day. Our other digital products, Tune and Tone, continue to evolve with the needs of players. In addition, we expanded our Mod Shop offerings on Fender.com, which lets players chose from over 70,000 combinations of finishes and features from five of our guitar and bass models. The most important thing we accomplished in 2019 was listening to the needs of players and responding quickly. We generate billions of pieces of data from our digital products every year, and this data, along with talking to our users, helps us shape the roadmap for products to come.
indistinguishable tonally from their tube counterparts, at less than half the weight. We’ve also added an attenuator and direct outs with two amazing-sounding cabinet Impulse responses for silent stage performance and recording in the studio without compromise. Both Ultra and Tone Master are great examples of combining Fender’s traditional platforms and form factors with modern approaches to propel players to new levels of creativity and performance. One thing you won’t see is Fender getting comfortable or resting on its laurels. Our goal is to always advance the state of the art, putting musicians first and pushing the boundaries in pursuit of great tone, great instruments and great music.
The Retailer: Let’s switch back to products and bring Max in. Max, you had a huge product launch in late 2019 with the American Ultra Series (see January’s Under the Hood feature.) Can you tell us more about American Ultra and why it is cool? Gutnik: American Ultra is the most recent example of the continued evolution of Fender’s classic instruments in a way that remains true to Leo Fender’s original creation, yet advances the instrument to better serve the modern player. Subtle but impactful changes, such as the new “Modern D” neck shape, rolled fretboard edges, tapered neck heel, deeper body contours, new noiseless pickup designs and a host of new colors, improve the playing experience and remove performance impediments while preserving the sprit and iconography of the original designs. Players will immediately notice how comfortable and accessible these instruments are to play, how adaptable Ultra’s versatile tone pallet is for all genres of music, and will hopefully be inspired to create, play and perform in new and interesting ways. The Retailer: One more question: What have been some of the best-selling recent product launches in terms of sales at the MI channel and why have they been successful? Gutnik: The Tone Master Twin & Deluxe Reverb amplifiers, which Fender brought to market in July 2019, are doing very well. The Tone Master amplifiers look and function just like our traditional vintage amplifiers on the front, but under the hood, they have the most advanced modeling and effects processing we have ever created to perfectly replicate the tone, response and feel of the original amps. The result is a Tone Master Twin and Deluxe that are MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
John Packer Musical Instruments www.jpmusicalinstruments.com
M I SPY
TWELVE STRINGS IN THE SECOND CITY, PART 1 I was on a beach in an undisclosed location, enjoying the shade of an umbrella and a glass of my signature adult beverage (shaded by its own little umbrella), when the call came in. “We need you back in Chicago,” was the assignment. Yes, I had been there and done that. But, as the Chief explained, there is still so much more to the vibrant music scene of Chicago than what I’ve sleuthed out so far. When the Chief is right, he’s right. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods that sprawls into an even broader community of history, heritage and persistent passion for making music. The Chicagoland area has been home to many of music’s premiere creators and performers. It’s where they cut their teeth, polished their chops and introduced the world to a steady stream of uniquely inventive sounds and styles. From the distinctive forms of early blues music that greatly influenced the development of rock and roll, to jazz, R&B, gospel, soul, and house music, this diverse and fertile metro region has been a major center for music-making for nearly 100 years. Thousands are employed in live performance, recording arts, music education, trade retail and related services throughout the greater Chicagoland area. From the theater orchestra pits and commercial jingle houses, to its television and film scoring studios, to the hopping club scene and healthy festival and livemusic market, the region’s robust music industry thrives on a steady stream of polished performers of every flavor. And the instruments, services and lessons they need are bread-and-butter business for the many music stores that serve the metro area. Clearly, I could conduct a dozen missions in
Chicago and still only scratch the surface of its music scene. So, I packed a few disguises and blew my broad shoulders back to the Windy City. But, upon arriving at my Chicago safehouse, my MI Spy sense started tingling. Something seemed … off. The single strand of hair I had placed across the keyhole to the safehouse door had been displaced. Bizarrely, I also detected the distinct scent of lemon in the hallway. My gut told me some rival spy — perhaps an especially lemony-fresh-smelling one — had been tracking me on my last trip to Chicago in an attempt to expose my secret shopping, and now the safehouse had been compromised. Then I noticed a clue peeking out from under the doormat: Someone had left behind a calling card. It was blank except for a stylized drawing of an eye. Call me paranoid, but as I held that card and looked at the strange eye drawn on it, I felt like I was being watched. Alarming stuff to be sure, but I would not let it distract me from the purpose of my trip. So I abandoned the safehouse for the time being, retrieved my MI Spy mobile from the garage and changed into my disguise in the back seat. My mission: Conduct recon of select music stores, of both the national chain and local variety, to determine their breadth of selection, depth of product knowledge and expertise, pricing and value, and level of customer service. My cover story: I am a guitar teacher who often strums along with my six-string students on my 12-string. Enough students and their parents have asked for suggestions on 12-string guitars that I decided to scope out some brands, models, prices and neighborhood dealers to best inform my recommendations. Although this cover story would require stating upfront that I wouldn’t be buying anything today, I thought it would be an especially effective way to appraise each store’s commitment to customer service. (Yes, this is an especially sneaky approach, but what do you expect from a covert agent!?) Would they recognize or care about the opportunity to best serve and cultivate an influencer of their customer base? How enthused might they be about helping, however indirectly, to nurture the students in their community? Spoiler alert: The results were mixed and a little surprising. Read on. FEBRUARY 2020
Sam Ash Music 1305 W. Dundee Road Buffalo Grove, IL 60089 847.253.3151 This national chain has two stores in Chicagoland. On this mission, I trekked to the one serving the northwestern suburbs. Situated in a strip mall on a major high-traffic road, this store is a well-located and a good-sized outlet with a broad selection across instrument and equipment categories. It offers lessons ranging from voice, guitar, bass and drums to select brass, reed and stringed orchestral instruments, and the curriculum even includes some pro-audio and DJ lessons. The store also provides instrument rental, maintenance and repair services. I got a “hello” to welcome me right when I stepped in the door, but it came with no questions about my interest or offers to help or direct me. Though there were a handful of other customers about, the store didn’t feel exceptionally crowded or busy during my visit. After a quick self-guided orientation cruise around the sales floor, I made my own way back to the enclosed acoustic guitar room, separated from the rest of the shop for climate and humidity control. The room is among the largest I’ve seen in a music store, with instruments hung three to four high along most of the four walls, and several floor-standing racks with another half dozen or more instruments on each. The instruments on the floor stands, and those hung lower on the first couple rows on the walls, are easily accessible to customers. Any of the guitars hung higher on the walls would require staff assistance to bring down for a hands-on experience. There was one staffer in the room when I arrived who was engaged with another customer who appeared ready to buy. Impressed with the quantity, I turned my attention to the variety and quality of the store’s offering, as well as its upkeep and the ease of arrangement for the customer. I started to scope out where to find the 12-strings, and MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
was greeted within a few moments by the staffer who was helping the other customer. He was very friendly, introducing himself as the manager of that department, and offering his assistance. Once I explained the purpose of my visit, he pointed out several guitars in a lower price range, which was totally appropriate, and mentioned
a coupon discount on one of the brands that was available on this day only. He then excused himself to take his other customer out front to finalize their purchase. I then spent nearly an hour on my own touching up the tuning and playing a half dozen of the 12-string brands offered. They ranged in price from a $269
Epiphone D212 to an $899 Taylor 150E, with most of the selection in the $400 to $600 neighborhood, including Ibanez, Takamine and Breedlove models. The $400 Ibanez was a three-quarters size, a thoughtful offering well-suited for my imaginary kid-sized students. All but the entry-level Epiphone (continued on page 52)
NAMM ATTENDANCE CONTINUES ITS ASCENT, INCREASING TO 115,888 REGISTRANTS By Brian Berk, Amanda Mullen and Anthony Vargas
As always, The NAMM Show had plenty of great sights and sounds. Photos courtesy of Getty Images for NAMM.
Although Anaheim, Calif., temperatures rarely surpassed the low 60s, attendees came out in droves to visit The NAMM Show, taking place from Jan. 16 to 19. A total of 115,888 people registered for the show, an increase of 587, or about 0.5 percent compared to last year. Exhibitors the Music & Sound Retailer spoke to seemed especially pleased by booth traffic. “This year’s NAMM Show was an excellent one for Gig Gear. We were able to schedule more meetings and do more business than we had at any of the previous years when we exhibited,” Danny Shatzkes, founder and CEO of Gig Gear, told the Retailer. “Being a small company, at past shows it was more about making sure we were there and just establishing some brand recognition while trying to turn leads into dealers. This year, we came in with strategies to do more actual business at the show, attract and sign up new dealers and attain new distribution internationally. We were able to achieve all three goals. The foot traffic was great, the atmosphere was electric and people seemed very positive about the coming year. We’re already looking forward to the 2021 NAMM Show.” For those who attended, NAMM made sure there was plenty to see, hear and do. This year’s keynote event was the “Breakfast of Champions” of Jan. 16 at the Anaheim Hilton California Ballroom, a standing-room-only event so busy it forced some attendees to congregate next to water coolers. NAMM president and CEO Joe Lamond began by looking back at the decade of the 2010s. “What a decade we just had,” he said. “The last 10 years brought us the iPad, Alexa, Uber, Tesla and Instagram. It brought us Spotify streaming and Netflix binge watching. Nearly 20 percent of the marriages last year started on a dating site. And you might not believe it based on the headlines, but it was the most peaceful decade in history and extreme poverty hit all-time lows.” Looking at the 2020s, Lamond describe the current timeframe as an “in-between period.” “We are at the actual definition of a crossroads,” he relayed. “I think it is fair to say we are at a crossroads in the industry as well. … [Perhaps], some of you are at a crossroads as well. … What do I mean when I am talking about a crossroads? Why do I think it is important to talk about here?” NAMM’s president and CEO explained that all segments of MI come together at the show, and we need to focus on the entire ecosystem of the business. “For some of you, that might mean needing to diversify. For some, it might mean making very tough decisions. Should you abandon one segment for a more profitable one? Either way, we can’t forget that as we are changing, the world around us is changing. “I would even say the crossroads is a movement,” continued Lamond. “Think of it as a good thing. A celebration of diversity in this industry. Maybe you run a full-line retail location and you moonlight at a club or doing sound at a church. … Each of you are surrounded by a love of music and share an essential
place in this industry. … What are you willing to give up to get what you want at the crossroads?” Music makers are also at a crossroads, explained Lamond. Live performances now account for three-quarters of a musician’s income, compared to just 30 percent as recently as the 1990s, he stated. “The North American concert market increased by 35 percent in the last five years. Artists are now making a living on the road, replacing their lost recording revenue. The concert/ festival business is at an all-time high. It is making for an exciting growth story in our industry. You could say we are coming full circle,” asserted Lamond. When NAMM was founded in 1901, live music was the foundation of the industry. “Live music was the only music [then],” said Lamond. “Here we are, 120 years later, and live music is back [as the primary form of revenue]. … It is my hope you take the next four days at The NAMM Show and explore your business. I urge you to treat this show as your crossroads of opportunity.” Via his on-stage guests, Lamond focused on the live music experience and how it can grow MI retailers’ businesses. Stepping on stage first was Bryan Bradley, president of Group One Ltd. Bradley picked up on the theme of the return of live music, noting houses of worship and live concerts can be sources of growth for MI retailers. “I think there is pressure for every school, church and professional organization to have a more professional presentation,” said Bradley. “My kid’s school had ‘Mary Poppins’ this year. They rented a harness to carry a 17-year-old girl across the stage. The school wanted that experience. It has a sound system that is good enough for a basketball game, but it is certainly not going to handle ‘Mary Poppins.’ So, they rent all the gear. They don’t need to rent gear from a huge organization. If I am a retailer, as long as I have the expertise, I can have a rental business. A school might own two wireless mics but needs 17 for a performance. You can provide that [as a retailer]. “It is a great auxiliary business that is becoming more and more important,” noted Bradley. “What will also help retail is it puts the focus back on the player. With MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
Whitney Brown Grisaffi and Joe Lamond
Bryan Bradley and Lamond
technology and recording, it used to be everyone could make a goodsounding record. You can’t do that anymore. I think music will swing away from non-players to great players.” Following Bradley was Ted Brown Music president Whitney Brown Grisaffi, which was founded in 1931 and operates six stores in Washington State. Grisaffi explained that approximately six years ago, Ted Brown Music was at a crossroads and needed an opportunity to grow. “We were already doing installs in [school] gymnasiums and churches,” she said. “But [we saw growth] in courthouses, the entire school and hotels.” Ted Brown Music hired “the right person with plenty of connections” and obtained a significant job at a major company’s call center in Washington state. Grisaffi did acknowledge with such a job, you need to be patient with a company’s timeline. “They will say, ‘You can’t finish that room. We are changing the plan.’ She added Ted Brown Music was required by Washington law to have an electrical license and have someone on staff with expertise in this field. “We took a leap of faith,” said Grisaffi. “We hired people, trained them and got them certifications they needed. You need to pay for the education.” Grisaffi stressed that though an install business for an MI retailer can be lucrative, hiring the right people is crucial. “We hired really smart people; ones that are smarter than me, and they are really motivated to get the job done,” she said. Grisaffi added that another robust revenue stream for MI retailers can be service contracts that assist schools and churches as needed. This is a good source of recurring revenue and is also good for a school or house of worship as these locations would either need to get trained themselves or simply have Ted Brown Music handle it. Often, this is a no-brainer for these locations. “The more service we can provide our customers, the more successful we can be,” concluded Grisaffi. “There are a lot of rules and regulations, but it can be done. We started with two people. We now have a department of eight. … We know we are going to have good growth in 2020 (continued on page 50) 39
I N T H E T RENCHE S
THE DREADED DATA HACK By Allen McBroom One frosty morning in December, my business partner stopped to put gas in the company van, and he ran into an unexpected snag. His credit card was refused at the pump, and no amount of re-tries could convince the pump that it should stop being obstinate and just take his word for it that the card was OK. Checking the card info later on the interwebs revealed that his card no longer existed. Just like an unpleasant magic act, his card number had gone *poof* and vanished. A follow-up call to the card company revealed that the cause of the problem was that one of our vendors (they refused to say which one) had suffered a data breach, our card info was compromised, and to protect us (Yay for being protected!) they had killed his card and mailed him a new one, which would arrive in seven to 10 days (Boo for being without a company card for a week or more!) We were not actually without a card, because we have multiple 40
company cards, so we just moved one of the other cards into his use until the other one arrives, like a knight in shining plastic, to restore our vendor buying power. Of course, there’s still a lot on inconvenience on our end. The temporary moment of no-card freakout aside, we also have that card on file with some vendors, so now we’ll place orders, and then have to see which orders get a return call for a new number, and those orders will be delayed until the new info gets into place. Any way you slice it, it’s a hassle. No vendor has given us a courtesy call so far to let us know how serious the breach was, or if it impacted us, so we may never know who interrupted our preChristmas sales flow with this unwelcome event. All of our in-store efforts at data security don’t protect us from breaches in other locations. Vendors, and anyone else to whom we give our card number, can suffer a breach that negatively influences us. Despite data security being a hot topic with high-level management, and despite assurances from information technology departments that the networks
and servers are secure, the reality is that things may not be as secure as we are being led to believe. One of my best friends worked as a white-hat hacker for several years. Yes, this job exists, and it’s even legal. A white-hat hacking company is employed by a business to test the integrity of its data security. A hacker gets paid by the customer (i.e., Target) to try and break into the company servers, and if successful, they leave a calling card, a small file that basically says the modern equivalent of “Kilroy Was Here.” This proves to the customer that the hacker got in. The hacker then writes a report that outlines for the customer how they got in, and the steps the IT guys need to take to keep him (and others) out. I asked my friend how often they were successful in getting in. Without pause, he said, “100 percent of the time.” He then explained that part of his contract required him to penetrate the same servers three months after delivering the report,
and almost all of those penetrations were successful. It seems some IT departments may not be fixing the known vulnerabilities that are exposed in the hacker’s report. While we could spend the rest of our week speculating as to the whys of these puzzling failures to implement corrective action, it would serve no practical purpose, so instead let’s look at what we can do to keep ourselves safe from the laxity of others. Have multiple credit cards. They can even be on the same account with the same card company, since my card still works fine even after my partner’s card died an early death. You don’t have to pass those extra cards out to your manager or someone else, but make sure they are activated and held somewhere safe. If your card goes *poof* unexpectedly, you can switch to another card and carry on with only minor inconveniences. Never use a personal card for business reasons, if you can avoid it. Your personal card probably has your social security number tied to it somewhere, and if it gets compromised, your personal identity risk could soar. Your business card probably has only your business employer ID number (EIN) tied to it, and that’s much safer to have out there than a card with your personal data attached. A little closer to home, make FEBRUARY 2020
it as difficult as possible for a hacker to use a password from one compromised site to access other sites that haven’t been compromised. The simplest way to do that is to never re-use a password. Yes, that sounds inconvenient, but there’s a way to do it that makes it a lot easier than it sounds. It’s pretty easy to use a new password for each online account. Remembering that password is the hard part, so don’t try to remember it. Instead, record that password in a file of some sort (i.e., Excel, Open Office, etc.), and encrypt the file. Use a tremendously long password to encrypt the file. I’d define “tremendously long” as 20 characters or more, with a mix of letters and numbers. Instead of writing down that password, just remember it. It will be the only password you have to remember. (I can hear you, so stop it. You’re muttering “Stupid dunderhead, I’ll never remember a 20-plus character password, so stop spouting off about bogus stuff nobody can do.” OK, maybe you used some word other than “dunderhead,” but I figure the sentiment is the same). There’s an easy way to remember a 20-character password, and here it is: Use an acronym of some song or poem you have memorized. For example, let’s say you know the “Star Spangled Banner” by heart. You can now make your encryption password this: OSCYSBTDELWSPWHATTLG. That’s the acronym of the first 20 words of that song. To add a seemingly random number let’s use the year the song was written, 1814. Now the password is 18OSCYSBTDELWSPWHATTLG14. If you want more security, add some random ascii characters or punctuation. The chance of anyone (or any machine) coming up with that easy-to-remember combination through random attempts is probably close to zilch. But, because you know one date and can sing that in your head, you can always open your encrypted file and easily retrieve or change a password. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
I wouldn’t use that exact password now that it’s in print, but there are hundreds of songs and poems you know by heart. “Charge of the Light Brigade,” “Happy Birthday To You” and “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow” spring to mind. Come up with one you can remember, add some
easy numbers and you’re ready for better peace of mind. Honestly, if someone wants your data badly enough, they’ll probably get it, but the harder you make it to get, the more likely it is they’ll give up and try to hack someone else. Happy trails…
(Disclaimer: I am not a data security expert. The ideas and methods described above are from my personal experience, and I make no warranty on anything I said here. These things have worked for me, but if you plan to adopt some of these ideas, run them by your own data security professional in advance.)
SHINE A LIGHT
Charlotte Jansky and Clarence Berry
Bay Area Beauty By Michelle Loeb It has been 58 years since Allegro Music first came onto the Bay Area music scene. Charlotte and Joe Jansky decided to move their family out of Wisconsin and into a new town where they could raise their children and start a business. Settling in Fremont, Calif., the pair opened a small store. Joe would go door to door, recruiting customers with accordion lessons and Allegro Music’s product offerings grew to include such categories as band instruments and guitars, which were just becoming popular at the time. By 1967, the business had grown into a new location inside the Fremont Hub Mall, but things took a tragic turn that same year, as Joe died of a heart attack. Charlotte was left as both the sole owner of Allegro Music and a single mother to four children. Despite those hardships, and the rarity of a female business owner in the music industry (or any other at the time), Charlotte persevered. “The business was pretty well established by the time Joe passed away in 1967, and I had great people working for me, so I was able to maintain those relationships and keep the business going,” she explained. “I was too naïve at the time to believe that a woman couldn’t do it.” Charlotte takes pride in surrounding herself with good people, letting them utilize their expertise while she operates behind the scenes. “I like to stand back and be more of a hidden figure,” she explained. “I don’t even have ‘owner’ on my business card.” Charlotte’s first trusted associate was a former band and orchestra rep named Ellis Day, who approached her to work at the store following the death of her husband. “Joe had a high regard for his character and reputation, and he had a very good back42
ground,” said Charlotte, who credits Day with many of the ideas and programs that still exist at Allegro Music today, including the store’s rent-to-own program. Today, that role belongs to Clarence Berry, who first came to Allegro Music in the 1970s and served as a sales manager for many years before taking Day’s role as general manager six years ago. During that time, he has seen the industry, the community and the store itself go through a host of changes. It’s this ability to adapt that he cites as a large part of Allegro’s long-term success. “Charlotte is very careful and powerful about change. She often tells me that the secret to our success is that we keep adapting to our customers,” said Berry, who noted that when he first began working at the store in 1979, Allegro Music sold organs, pianos and even vinyl records. “We carried Hammond, Wurlitzer and Baldwin. Eventually, those came and went,” Berry recalled. “We still sell sheet music, and we carry a larger selection of that than anyone else around here. We also have a database of songs where we can print out one on the spot. It’s not a big money maker, but it’s great for customer service.” Customer service is a big component of the Allegro Music ideal, which, according to Berry, is “service, sales and family.” Every Allegro Music 3115 Walnut Ave. customer is greeted Fremont, CA 94538 when they walk into (510) 793-3500 the 5,000-square-foot www.allegromusic.net Mon.-Thur. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. store, which Allegro Fri. 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Music moved into in Sat. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. 1982, and the interior Sun. Noon -5 p.m. Clarence Berry, General Manager of the store is painted Charlotte Jansky, Owner in light colors to feel FEBRUARY 2020
inviting and homey for all who enter. “The store has a very light feeling to it, and our customers say they are very comfortable here,” said Berry. “They trust us and they love to come here.” In addition to various areas selling keyboards, PAs, band instruments, sheet music and guitars, the store is lined with glass rooms where customers can try out instruments. To maintain a community feel, customers cannot only see inside those rooms but also hear them. “It’s a music store, not a library. So, it’s a cacophony of sound. Our customers make it lively,” said Berry. The store currently operates with a staff of 10, as well as 24 teachers who teach approximately 700 students per week. In addition, the store is active with the local schools and families, helping to fund the Fremont Afterschool Program that was a response to band program budget cuts, as well as repairing donated instruments to give to children who can’t afford their own. Allegro Music’s fully staffed band-and-orchestra repair department is something that Berry has really focused on over the last six years, along with the rental program. “I think we have the best band-and-orchestra repair shop in the Bay Area,” said Berry. “People come from all over to see us and get their repairs done.” Through programs and services like these, as well as participation in community events, memorable TV commercials and a robust social media presence, Allegro Music has remained a key part of the music-making community not only in Fremont but in the entire Bay Area, servicing an area that houses upwards of 300,000 people. Through it all, the one constant that has held everything together has been the steady leadership of Charlotte Jansky. “Charlotte is the rock of Allegro,” said Berry. “She doesn’t think of herself as a woman business owner. She just thinks of herself as a business owner, and that’s how it should be. I get more upset when people just assume I’m the owner because I’m MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
a man, even though she is a professional-looking woman, but Charlotte cares more about the customers and she enables those around her to run their departments and do their jobs. It’s like a family here,” he concluded, “and it has been a great way to spend my life to work here.”
V E D D AT O R I A L
By Dan Vedda There’s a problem I noticed during the 2019 holiday season that troubles me. It wasn’t predatory pricing or online sales. It wasn’t tariffs or product availability issues. Nor was it consumer behavior, at least in the sense of customers being negative or overly demanding. More alarming, it was a longstanding problem within our industry rather than a broad pattern in the overall economy, and as times have changed, I think it has become a bigger problem with a chilling effect on our chances of success. I’m talking about the quality of our interaction with customers. For the sake of our conversation here, I’m primarily focused on the “first contact” aspect of communication, but the principles apply to ongoing relationships and service after the sale as well. The way we grow our business and the market itself has everything to do with that initial phone, digital or in-person interaction. Those are the people reaching out for help, and the very fact that we are in contact with them tells us that they have opted to turn to a human rather than just thumbing around their phone for an answer. Perhaps they tried that first and are confused. Perhaps they use the internet for research but prefer to complete the process IRL (in real life, that is). You may even field a call from someone who hails from the Dark Ages and thinks Amazon is just a river. Yet every day — every day — I hear from someone who has contacted a person in our industry prior to their conversation with me. And in all but a few of those instances, the person thanks me profusely for taking the time to answer their questions. Granted, some of their gratitude may stem from their experience in other industries, but most of the time the person references a specific interaction with another MI source 44
TO SERVE AND PROTECT and their dissatisfaction with the help they received. The dismaying part is that these people are not more satisfied with my service because I have more knowledge or expertise compared to their prior experience. Rather, they are more satisfied with my attitude and willingness to answer their questions. As far as I’m concerned, this is a cancer in our industry. There have always been stores that blow off customers because of age, gender, ethnicity and genre snobbery. But increasingly, the problem is that some MI stores just don’t seem willing to help anyone who isn’t waving money. I know this approach is tempting given the state of retail, but it’s as much a mistake as assuming a shabbily dressed individual is unable to purchase a big-ticket item. Of course, we all know that there are customers who will burn huge amounts of time just to hear themselves talk. I have one “regular” who will regale me interminably about the guitars he
has purchased through eBay (not from us) over the years. Often someone on staff has to go in the back and call the store on their cell so I “have to take the call,” just to cut off the conversation. But the vast majority of the people I talk to simply need information and advice, and I think of the time spent as seeding the market. Most of us in the trenches problem solve for the student, the hobbyist and particularly the newbie. I’m sad to say there is a portion of our industry that doesn’t feel these customers are worth their time. But more than ever, I’m hearing about stores that are supposedly serving this portion of the market that still make those consumers feel backward and embarrassed. Some store owners even ask me how I manage to find so many female/adult/pre-K customers and students when they “don’t have many” in their market. Folks, they’re out there; perhaps there’s an attitudinal moat around those stores keeping
those customers away. Here’s how it should work: The first contact for new and existing customers on the phone, on social media, email and in person should be selected not for product knowledge but empathy. I’m not suggesting you simply put a happy-talk bobblehead out front, but rather someone who is bright and efficient and willing to go the distance for a customer. Their ability to make a customer feel welcome and at ease — and efficiently route technical questions to the right person when needed — is the key to market growth. Even a relatively inexperienced staff member can make the customer feel like they called a friendly, helpful store, and if that staffer gets them the answer — or gets them to the person who can provide it — you’ll get compliments on the great people you’ve hired. That initial contact may be ongoing, too. Perhaps you have someone on staff who is the Sheldon Cooper of guitar, brilliant FEBRUARY 2020
asks for someone other than me by name, because they’ve established a rapport with them. Some don’t even know I am the owner, and that’s just fine. We all feel the pressure of online sales, market competition
but abrasive to the less brilliant. Your empathetic person should be a buffer between them and the customer, at least initially. Incoming phone calls and emails are not a nuisance item to be left to the newest staffer, but a pipeline to new business. While there inevitably will be calls that are a waste, a diminishing number of people walk into a store without some armchair inquiries. Handle these poorly, and you could lose a lifetime of sales, over and over again. For this reason, your best, most personable people should be the first contact. Less experienced staff can learn by example, and you’ll institute a culture of service from top to bottom in your organization. It is sometimes months before I let a staff member answer our phone, and there have been a few over the years who never have gotten the privilege. (And yes, I treat it as a privilege.) Nothing makes me happier than when a customer
and internal business strains. But rather than let it bleed into our customer contacts, we need to put on our game face and take care of the people who need us. I truly believe it’s the best path to success in our industry.
If you have a comment, feel free to share it on the Veddatorial Facebook page, and as always, post an inquiry if there’s another topic you’d like to see covered here. (Please post to the page rather than DM, so others can see the dialogue).
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U N DER T H E HOOD
By Brian Berk
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When a person decides to form a new company, many questions must be answered. How am I different from competitors? How do I know the product will sell well? Should I just sell the product locally or go global? These are just a few questions an entrepreneur might ask. For ASBA drums founder Guillaume Pornet, he needed to also decide about reviving a once-popular brand. Founded in 1927, ASBA was a big name in jazz, international variety, and the pop and rock scenes with The Beatles, Albert Heath, Elvin Jones, Tom Jones, Jack DeJohnette and Mitch Mitchell all trusting its products on stage. Pornet decided to relaunch the brand in 2016, thanks to the friendly cooperation of a descendant of the founding family. ASBA now has the objective to bring French excellence to the world via high-quality and innovative instruments manufactured in France, in keeping with the brandâ€™s historical values. This dream was realized last month when ASBA officially entered the international stage as an exhibitor at The NAMM Show. Beyond France, ASBA has already opened a showroom in London and Pornet is now planning to open showrooms in the United States as well. Why did Pornet choose 2020 as the official time to launch the brand worldwide? â€œOpening up internationally is a natural step for us because we are already receiving requests from all over the world, and the ASBA brand was already sold around the world FEBRUARY 2020
before its closure in 1983,” he told the Music & Sound Retailer. “We also believe that the excellence of French musical instruments has a place in the expectations of drummers all over the world. Moreover, the ASBA Caroline pedal was sold under the Ludwig license for many years. Elvin Johns was an in-house drummer for a time, Tom Jones played on ASBA congas and Mitch Mitchell used a Caroline pedal. Between ASBA and the USA, it’s a great love story! For us, The NAMM Show is THE major, unmissable, global meeting place for manufacturers, which is why we have chosen this event [to launch worldwide].” At NAMM, ASBA didn’t just show off one product. Instead, the company came prepared with two premium models, Rive Gauche and Revelation, which the company states feature high-quality maple or mahogany shells, reinforcement rings and up to six finishes available per model (stained-waxed or wrap). Each model is available in several configurations.And then there is ASBA’s mid-range offering, the Simone, offering six-ply premium American maple and bearing edges beveled at 45 degrees, finished without varnish or wrap. It is stained-waxed only to reveal the richness, subtlety and expressiveness of maple. Two configurations of Simone are available. ASBA also has released the ASBADABOOM drum set, a limited-edition production of just 27 copies (referencing the company’s original year of creation, 1927) and signed by the world-renowned fashion designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac. ASBA is also backed by two pending patents: StickEasy, a pedagogical tool developed in collaboration with drum instructors, and the Top Lug system, which the company calls a “new and groundbreaking technical process for tuning drumheads allowing the drummer to customize his settings at will, thus creating his/her own musical MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
signature easily.” Armed with new products and pending patents, it’s easy to say there are many ways ASBA can differentiate itself from the competition. When asked about it, Pornet pointed to a unique sound specific to the company’s manufacturing process as its main differentiator: “The quality of finish, innovations and the
‘French touch. ASBA is a legendary brand; a symbol of French finesse and panache,” he stated. Having desirable products are a fantastic start. But MI retailers also want to know how their working relationship with the manufacturer will be. Here are Pornet’s thoughts of this topic: “We are of course looking for commercial partnerships, but
we also want to take advantage of The NAMM Show to share experiences, find synergies and listen to the feelings of drummers from all over the world. We wish to work with retailers in partnership to create a network of true ambassadors of the brand, a relationship of trust and business that is built over time.”
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COMING FULL CIRCLE
PRO X ..........................................41
(continued from cover) [regarding installs]. That is our [competitive] edge.” Inventor and businessman Noel Lee, founder and CEO of cable company Monster Inc., was then invited to the stage by Lamond. Lee, who founded Monster in 1979, was asked what he has done when he reached a crossroads during his 40-plus years in business. “A crossroads is a decision. And you have to make the right decision,” Lee answered. “When at a crossroads, you need to ask yourself, Am I doing it right? Do I have the right skills? Do I have the money to go down one road as opposed to another road? We have all made bad decisions that affect our lives. You have to have the right people. You have to have the desire to make it work. Any decision at a crossroads is not an easy decision.” The Breakfast of Champions wrapped up with the presentation of the 2020 Music for Life award, this year given to “I’m Yours” singer Jason Mraz. “This is someone who has tirelessly advocated for music and arts education,” said Lamond. “He is a two-time Grammy winner, singer/songwriter and ambassador for music making everywhere he goes.” The 42-year-old Mraz recalled his childhood when he had a piano in his house. “I knew I could sing to it or add a rhythm to it,” said Mraz. “At a very young age, I was creative. “I was very fortunate to have music at my local school growing up in Virginia,” he continued. “That’s why I advocate so hard. Music and arts are often the first thing [to be cut from a school’s budget].”
PRS GUITARS ............................23
Slow Down to Speed Up
ADAM HALL ..............................47 AIRTURN ....................................51 ALFRED PUBLISHING .............17 AMAHI UKULELES ..................31 CASIO..........................................9 CE DISTRIBUTION ...................25 CHAUVET LIGHTING...............20 CHAUVET LIGHTING...............21 FENDER ......................................7 FISHMAN ...................................27 FLIGHT UKULELE ....................16 G7TH, THE CAPO COMPANY ....45 IK MULTIMEDIA .......................22 JERRY HARVEY AUDIO ...........6 JMAZ LIGHTING .......................12 JOHN PACKER ...........................35 LEE OSKAR PRODUCTIONS ...51 LITTLITE ....................................10 LYON & HEALY .........................29 MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY ...............................3 NAMM .....................................14-15 NEUMANN .................................5 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS..................................43
RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE .......37 QRS MUSIC TECHNOLOGIES ...11 RCF .......................................... C-III REMO ..........................................33 TASCAM ..................................C-II VOCOPRO ...................................13 YAMAHA ................................18-19 YORKVILLE ........................... C-IV While every care is taken to ensure that these listings are accurate and complete, The Music & Sound Retailer does not accept responsibility for omissions or errors.
The Friday Jan. 17 Breakfast Session was headlined by Ann Handley, chief content officer for MarketingProfs and bestselling author of “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content” and “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.” Handley’s energetic keynote, titled “Transformative Marketing: Strategies for the Next Decade,” centered largely on tips for understanding your audience so that you can create curated marketing content that will win them over with a personal touch.
Handley began by framing her presentation with some personal experience: She recounted for the audience her recent efforts to win the favor of a wild rabbit that had appeared in her backyard (complete with cell phone video of their interactions). Throughout her speech, Handley likened her efforts to win over the rabbit to the efforts of companies attempting to convert potential clients via digital marketing. She explained that rabbits are hardwired to be mistrustful of humans in much the same Cesar Rojas, Los Lobos
The Music & Sound Retailer editor Brian Berk with Bernie Williams.
Gibson CEO J.C. Curleigh
Guitarist Jared James Nichols
way as humans are hardwired to be mistrustful of marketing. In this sense, making friends with such a naturally skittish creature presented Handley with a classic “marketing challenge.” Her goal was to guide the rabbit through a version of the “marketing funnel” (awareness > consideration > conversion > loyalty > advocacy). First, Handley went the obvious route and tried to feed the rabbit a carrot, but the rabbit wasn’t interested. She then tried celery, which also failed to capture its attention. She then spammed the rabbit with a huge pile of different vegetables, which only served to spook the rabbit and cause it to disappear for days. Clearly, she explained, her marketing approach to the rabbit needed to be reconsidered. As can be the case with human customers, attempting to win the rabbit over in the most obvious ways didn’t yield the expected results, and spamming it with everything under the sun only made things worse. At this point, Handley introduced her central idea: The best FEBRUARY 2020
marketers often have to “slow down to speed up.” By “slow down,” Handley meant that marketers should be more strategic and deliberate in their marketing rather than trying a whole bunch of things to see what sticks. Handley offered three key “slow down to speed up” points to keep in mind: 1) question what we think about our buyers; 2) slow down the experience; and 3) lose the marketing voice. Throughout her keynote, Handley attempted to dissuade the audience from pursuing some common, but ineffective, marketing techniques. She cautioned against marketing strategies that emphasize interruption (the “we’ll be right back after these messages” approach) and especially warned against bombarding potential customers with a lot of marketing content all at once. Simply cranking out more marketing content, she explained, will only contribute to the ever-growing influx of content people are bombarded with every day via their phones, email and social media, and without a deliberate marketing strategy, your content will fail to break through the noise. Handley encouraged the audience to think of its marketing in terms of a “trust x affinity” equation, emphasizing that a business can’t be successful if it doesn’t have both the trust and affinity of its target audience. According to Handley, instead of leading with “Can I have your attention?,” marketers should approach winning over new customers by asking “How can I earn your trust?” Instead of designing your marketing in terms of “What do we have to sell?,” the better approach would be to ask “What does our customer need that only we can provide?” She added that customers always have these questions in mind when deciding who to do business with: “Do I trust them?” and “Do I like them?” She encouraged marketers to have “pathological empathy” with their target audiences in order to understand their potential customers at a much deeper level. Rather than thinking purely in terms of material needs, Handley suggested that marketers consider what unites their target audience and what compels them emotionally. Successfully identifying the
emotional core of your audience, embodying that truth in your marketing, and doing so consistently over time will build trust and affinity and forge a lasting connection between your brand and its customers. In addition to these big-picture ideas, Handley also offered some practical marketing advice. According to Handley, email is an underrated marketing tool because it’s the only digital space where people, not algorithms, are in control. She suggested that marketers focus on the “letter” aspect of email newsletters, not just the content and distribution strategy. Her tips included making the newsletter come from a real person instead of “donotreply,” encouraging responses and feedback from email recipients, and writing newsletters in a more personalized voice that emphasizes person-to-person communication. She also stressed that, when it comes to creating all types of marketing content, from email to video, being relatable and human is always better than being cold and businesslike (in other words, “lose the marketing voice.”) Handley ended her keynote by demonstrating how she applied these principles to her attempt to make friends with the rabbit in her backyard. After dismissing her preconceived notions about what she thought the rabbit wanted, Handley conducted some deep research on the rabbit, learned about its species’ particular love of leafy greens and grasses (not carrots), and used that knowledge to great success. Before long, the rabbit was literally eating out of her hand — another customer successfully converted!
Be an Icon
Running an independent music store is no small feat, particularly during a time when big-box stores and chains seem to be taking over the market. Fortunately, there are ways to keep small businesses — including music stores — relevant, despite all the disruption. This is what Scott McKain, professional speaker and author, covered during his Saturdaymorning breakfast session at The NAMM Show. Entitled “How to Build an Iconic Business,” the Jan. 18 hourlong forum delved into
how small businesses can use customer service to their advantage, as well as what principles they should adhere to when trying to make a sale. McKain’s knowledge of drawing in business and maintaining customers began at an early age, as his family owned a local grocery store when he was growing up. The speaker opened the session by recounting his time working there, as well as the moment he realized everything was about to change: when a larger supermarket moved into the same area. McKain and his family were certain the new business would drive their customers to shop at this “new retail experience” instead of at their small, family-owned store. This was when McKain first became so fascinated by customer service. Specifically, he wanted to know why some consumers still chose to do business at their independently owned store over the larger, newer chain.
“Why are some customers incredibly loyal to you and others wouldn’t shop with you if they had to?” McKain asked. “Why are some customers kind of loyal — they buy from you, they buy elsewhere? Why do customers make the choices they make? Why do they do the things they do?” McKain received his answer when one gentleman informed him that he shopped at their grocery store because he felt the people there liked him. It’s a strange enough reason to offer, but it highlights the type of connection consumers are looking for when they frequent a business. “In that instant, I began to understand something you already know,” McKain said, “and that is the connection that you make with your customers that transcends transaction. The relationship you build is the foundation of any iconic organization, regardless of the size, regardless of what you do.” McKain brought
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that sentiment back to the audience because, when it comes down to it, building connections is at the center of every iconic business, including music retail. He also shared his own experience as a speaker and a writer before outlining the five main principles he believes every business owner should adhere to in order to make themselves stand out. The first principle is to “play offense,” McKain explained. “In other words, know your competition but don’t concentrate on them. Play your own game.” He emphasized that business owners often spend so much time focusing on what their competition is doing that they lose sight of what’s working for them. “Every moment that we are defending ourselves against competitive pressures wastes a moment we could be innovating to make them irrelevant.” The second principle can be conceived as controversial, but McKain told retailers to “stop selling and start creating ultimate customer experiences.” He suggested focusing on fostering connections instead, saying, “When
we focus on experiences and not pressure tactics, we end up closing more sales. And how do we do that? We connect through story.” And to demonstrate how much more effective storytelling is when making a sale, he cited the example of a dental website that told the story of a young woman whose husband was in the military overseas. Instead of showcasing images of their product — teeth — like all of their competitors, this dental facility used an anecdote about a wife wanting to give her husband “a smile he’ll never forget” to win over consumers. “Who do you connect with?” McKain asked. “The dentist who wants to show you product, so to speak, over and over again, just like everybody else? Or the one that used a compelling narrative so that you understand the emotion that goes along with doing business?” The third factor when it comes to creating an iconic business is that “there must be congruency between promise and performance.” McKain urged business owners to ensure that
performance is up to par with the things they promise in order to attain business because customers “want the promise to be relative to the performance.” Part of the issue here, the speaker explained, is that the people making these promises aren’t always the individuals delivering the performance. That’s why ensuring that staff members are all on the same page is crucial to delivering a good experience to customers. This is especially important when an organization has numerous departments. McKain’s solution for ensuring this congruence is a simple one, but it can help retailers stand out: “You know what customers want? They don’t want you to underpromise and overdeliver. Customers want you to do what you said you would do when you said you would do it.” The fourth principle is one some might find surprising, but McKain told the crowd, “Iconic organizations aren’t afraid to go negative.” Given that most businesses want to be viewed in a positive light, this can seem counterproductive, but the speaker pointed out that businesses need
to know what’s wrong in order to come up with solutions. “Iconic organizations don’t just placate the customer; they solve the problem that created it,” he said. “That happens when you’re willing to go a little bit negative. If you think about it, all disruption starts with dissatisfaction. There’s a point where people are dissatisfied about how we’re doing business. If we can eliminate that, we eliminate the challenge of disruption.” Finally, McKain’s last principle for running an iconic business is one that’s important to maintaining relationships in any facet of life, but especially in business: reciprocal respect. McKain defined this as the ability to “demonstrate to others respect that we hope to get in return.” These others include employees, customers, and potential customers — anyone who can affect a retailer’s bottom line. “Have you ever noticed there’s an interesting correlation between the Glassdoor and LinkedIn lists about the best places to work and the studies about the best customer experience?” he asked. “Because when you take care of your people, they take care of you.”
Watch our video coverage of NAMM 2020 at msr.io/ctv2020recap MI SPY
(continued from page 37) included onboard electronics. It was also interesting to find a Michael Kelly-brand Triad 10E model 10-string guitar priced at $380, both a unique instrument and an uncommon retail store offering. Most of the guitar tags showed prices discounted in a range from 25 percent to 41 percent. Many of the guitars I played were in relatively good tune, though all needed at least a little exercise. A couple of them had apparently called the store home for quite a while, and were equipped with rough, scaly strings screeching for retirement. There was also one that couldn’t really be played because the price tag was attached in a way that it ran through the strings. I have to imagine that it would be at least a full-time job for a single tech to routinely cycle through this amount of stock to keep it in tip-top sampling shape. During my reconnaissance, four other customers cruised the room, choosing and playing at least one or two guitars from the 52
large selection. No staff appeared to serve their interest or invite a purchase, and all went on their way. I chatted easily with one fellow, his wife and their pre-school son. This potential customer expertly strummed a couple of guitars, while his son declared that he was going to be a guitar hero just like his dad. It was heartwarming to see how the spirit of music-making lives on. And what a great (missed) opportunity for a sharp merchandiser to grease the skids for the starter instruments and music lessons the kid would surely need. With the exception of a different staff member cutting through the room on his way to the “back of house” and cheerfully offering me a clip-on tuner as he passed, no other customer attention was paid in the room until nearly an hour after I’d first arrived. Finally, the department manager I’d first spoke with also passed through the room on his way to get something for another customer out front and asked if I had any questions. I told
him that I did, and he said he’d be right back after retrieving what he needed for his other customer. I waited another 10 minutes. When he finally reappeared, I noted to him that all but one of the models I was looking at came with built-in electronics and wondered aloud about any quality differences. His response suggested that there’s no difference, though he mentioned that Taylor has branded its ES2 system (Expression System 2) and he noted that it was “just a fancy way of saying” that their acoustic guitars also came with pickups and EQ. In overall defense of the staff’s inattention, the store traffic did build a bit during my stay, and the crew felt thin. Their priority was serving customers at the cash register. I clearly wasn’t buying anything today, although what attention I did get was quite friendly and earnest and seemed mostly informed. However, I saw several potential sales opportunities walk in and out. And although the
family I chatted with left without any attention from the staff that I saw, I didn’t doubt one bit that the child would surely someday become a guitar hero! I left the store and headed back to my MI Spy mobile, but quickly stopped in my tracks as I noticed a small white rectangle tucked under the windshield wiper. It was another calling card with the same creepy eye on it! I had been followed! And insultingly enough, my pursuers were clearly taunting me by leaving these cards for me to find. But the mission must go on. And since I couldn’t risk the possibility that the MI Spy mobile had been bugged, I decided to catch a bus (technically, two buses) to my next destination. Guitar Center
Guitar Center 2375 S. Arlington Heights Rd Arlington Heights, IL 60005 847.439.4600 Only seven miles south from the Sam Ash store, Guitar Center’s Arlington Heights location
also serves Chicago’s northwest suburban area. There are 13 Guitar Center stores in the entire state of Illinois, 10 of which are in the Chicagoland region. In addition to new, used and vintage instruments, this particular shop offers a broad range of maintenance and repair services, and a long list of the voice and instrument lessons you would expect, plus lessons in music production and songwriting. This standalone store is located at the intersection of an alwaysbusy major expressway and a primary arterial road. It is a goodsized store laid out in distinct sections. When I entered, I saw only a single staffer far back in the central section busy with something that precluded their noticing me. My brief walk around to scope the layout revealed two additional staffers in other sections who were equally preoccupied. While I wasn’t trying to either attract or avoid attention, I’m not sure that anyone even noticed that I was there. Clearly my MI Spy training has paid off. I made my way into the store’s enclosed acoustic guitar room to check out my target merchandise. It was a good-sized and well-appointed room with wood
walls that was warmly lit, and it had dozens of fine instruments hung two-high along the walls along with a row of floor stands. I was especially impressed with the 12-string selection: An even dozen guitars (how appropriate!) were displayed in a clearly marked section just inside the door, hung right at “grab me” level and lined up in order of price. The selection ranged from an entry-level Mitchell marked down $100 to $249, to a Taylor 250CE at $1,599. I spent the next hour (uninterrupted) playing 11 of the 12 guitars — all but the markeddown Mitchell. Six of the 12 hit right at the $300, $400 and $500 price points, including Ibanez, Takamine, D’Angelico and Guild models. Special mention goes to the $399 Ibanez Artwood threequarters solid top, perfectly sized for the younger student. Though it lacked onboard electronics, it had a good tone for the size and price point, and that nice relief-bevel feature where your strumming arm crooks around the guitar body. The $499 Guild F-2512E Jumbo also deserves a shout out for being quite impressive in action and tone at this price.
All in all, I thought this shop offered a full and solid selection, targeted primarily to entry- to mid-level customers. The guitars were well displayed and in generally good tune and string condition. The store is also quite market competitive on pricing. GC even offered the same Taylor 150E I saw at Sam Ash at the same $899 price, but the deal here also included a case or gig bag. Two other customers came and went through the room during my hourlong recon, also receiving no obvious attention from staff. I finally went looking for help with my questions and happened upon a friendly and responsive fellow who followed me back into the room. I explained my interest in 12-strings, and asked questions to get a sense of what he’d recommend to students and their parents about considerations like cutaway versus full-body tone, three-quarter-sized options, electronics, string weight and setup cost. He checked with a store guitar technician to confirm the store’s $65 setup cost for 12-strings, although it was unclear whether this price included the cost of strings. I left Guitar Center eager to continue my mission, but as
I stepped through the front doors, I was confronted with a white van with an image of an eye painted on its side was parked right in the parking lot! Panicking, I leapt behind some nearby shrubber y and took a moment to assess the situation. Fortunately, there appeared to be no one inside the van, and no suspicious characters were wandering the parking lot. I had evaded my pursuers for now, but whoever was behind the eye was obviously tracking my ever y move. I would have to put the mission on hold for the time being. So I stealth-crawled out from the bushes, ducked and rolled my way behind some parked cars, and hopped a bus back in the direction of the safehouse. My hunt for 12-string guitars would have to wait. But don’t fret! Your MI Spy will be back with the conclusion of this report in the March issue.
industr y? Krevens: Same as what everyone else says. The passion. With few exceptions, it is very unusual to have so many buds who are also competitors. It’s very rewarding because we’re making products that stimulate and inspire players to play their best. It’s so satisfying and gratifying to receive so much positive feedback. I don’t think that would happen if we made toothpaste.
The Retailer: What technology could change MI down the road? Krevens: Not a clue. But what I wish for the most is doing a complete overhaul and developing a system of distribution where artists actually get paid what they are due. Seems everyone makes money except for the artists. Getting $0.0009 for a download is just plain criminal.
It really is a helluva town. So much to do, so many places to go. There’s never a dull moment unless you choose it.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT MONTH
Editor’s note: The end of this story regarding the white van is meant for comedic purposes and did not actually happen at the Illinois Guitar Center location.
THE FINAL NOTE
(continued from page 54) NAMM Show? Krevens: The Spinal Tap concert. It was fun and brilliant at the same time.
The Retailer: If you had to select three people, past or present, to have dinner with, who would they be and what would you ask them? Krevens: Amelia Earhart: So, what really happened out there? Warren Buffett: What stocks should I buy now? Cary Grant: Will you marry me? The Retailer: Tell us about your most memorable experience with an MI retailer (without naming them). Krevens: Catching a dealer gray marketing and violating other rules of conduct. Even though they did substantial business with us, it felt good to give them the boot. The Retailer: What is the best thing about the MI MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER
The Retailer: Who do you admire most outside of the music industry and why? Krevens: Jean Paul Gaultier. Fashion is still a huge passion of mine. As a teen, I fancied myself on becoming a famous designer, but once I had a taste of the actual business, I was mortified. Talk about dog-eat-dog. So, I checked out. But I still love the art itself. Gaultier has consistently impressed me and makes me drool.
The Retailer: If you weren’t in the music industr y, what would you be doing and why? Krevens: Making shower curtains. Seriously. The selection is mind-bogglingly bad. I’ve actually made my own a few times. I have plenty of designs in my head, just no time to make them. The Retailer: Tell us about your hometown and why you enjoy living there. Krevens: New York City!
The Retailer: What are your most prized possession(s) and why? Krevens: A stunning diamond ring I bought when I was broke. My dad, being the co-signer on my credit card, received a notice of nonpayment. He covered it and set up a schedule [for me] to pay him back. In my stocking that Christmas, there was my credit card cut up into pieces. That was followed by the ring itself. I was off the hook for the balance! So, it has an extra special place in my heart. The Retailer: What’s your favorite book and why? Krevens: “Goodnight Moon.” I think I read it to my daughter 1,000 times when she was little. 53
THE FINAL NOTE
Vice President, Tech 21 USA Inc. By Brian Berk
The Music & Sound Retailer: Who was your greatest influence or mentor and why? Dale Krevens: I have to go with my parents. I really lucked out in that department. Both were very loving and supportive, and great role models. My mom was quirky, creative, fun, fiercely independent and exceptionally strong in the face of adversity. My dad was a jack-of-alltrades and master at every one of them. He too was creative and fun. He was also very intelligent, a perfectionist and naturally talented in the arts. He could sing, play drums and paint. I didn’t get that gene… The Retailer: What was the best advice you ever received? Krevens: As a youngster, I was notorious for not “applying myself,” according to my teachers. So, my dad said, “If you’re going to do something, do it 150 percent.” It stuck. On the flip side, the worst advice I ever received was, “Dale, you have to learn how to eat sh#t and like it.” Uh, no, don’t think so. Tech 21 president Andrew Barta and Dale Krevens
The Retailer: What was your first experience with a musical instrument? Krevens: A flutophone in elementary school. I learned to play “Moon River.” I tried violin, only because it was the smallest non-wind instrument to carry. But I was terrible. Really terrible. I took up drums when I was 10 because my brother was in a band that had a female drummer. I thought that was the coolest. After two years, I switched to piano. But it just wasn’t for me. So, I threw in the towel and got a sewing machine. The Retailer: What instrument do you most enjoy playing? Krevens: If I still played, it would be the drums. I think the real reason I gave it up was because I felt as though my teacher thought I wasn’t good enough. In retrospect, I think he had a chip on his shoulder and resented having to teach instead of making it as a rock star. But I was 10 and didn’t have the confidence or the insight to try a different teacher. The Retailer: Tell us something about yourself that others do not know or would be surprised to learn. Krevens: I never went to college. I learned everything on the fly. My career path was like a pinball machine. I was a hair stylist and salon manager, bartender, waiter, fashion designer, seamstress, ad space salesperson, bookkeeper, advertising account executive and marketing executive. I couldn’t decide on a particular career, which is partly why I didn’t go to college. Too many things appealed to me, so I kept jumping around. The upside is that it gave me a lot of diverse experiences and skills. Then I met Andrew Barta (inventor of SansAmp and president of Tech 21) in 1986. Andrew completely changed the direction of my life, and I couldn’t be happier. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how lucky I am. The Retailer: What’s your favorite activity to do when you’re not at work? Krevens: Hang at the beach! Unfortunately, it’s not a year-round activity in New York City. I do go out quite a bit to music venues, in general for my own interests, and also to support our artists when they’re in town. The Retailer: What is the best concert you’ve ever been to? 54
Krevens: Rammstein at Jones Beach two summers ago. It was spectacularly spectacular. The wardrobe, set designs and pyro were all killer. But, more importantly, the music was invigorating. I don’t see them as industrial metal, as that’s not really my genre. I think it’s misleading because they’re so musical.
The Retailer: If you could see any musician, alive or deceased, play a concert for one night, who would it be and why? Krevens: Satchmo. I saw him at Jones Beach when I was really little and don’t remember it. I do remember my mom making me go up to him after the show for his autograph, which I did. The autograph was on a salt water taffy box! Unfortunately, it went MIA over the years. He had such an enormous personality and was an amazing player. Truly one of a kind. The Retailer: What musician are you hoping to see play in the near future? Krevens: I’m planning a trip to France so I can see Rammstein again. The Retailer: What song was most memorable for you throughout your childhood, and what do you remember about it the most? Krevens: Music was always playing in my house. A lot of big-band stuff like Duke Ellington and Count Basie. But most memorable would have to be “Mr. Sandman.” My mom used to play it every night to get me to go to sleep. The Retailer: What are your favorite songs on your smartphone/iPod? Krevens: I have nothing on my phone except for U2, which came with the phone and cannot be deleted. I still buy CDs because the artists get more money. I happen to like a very broad range of genres, but the artists I listen to most are King’s X, KXM, Rammstein, YYNOT, The Winery Dogs, The Struts, Seal and Phoebe Snow. The Retailer: What’s the most fun thing you saw/did at a (continued on page 53) FEBRUARY 2020
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In the February issue of the Music & Sound Retailer, we provide an in-depth review of The NAMM Show, offer 40 more products debuted at the s...
Published on Feb 18, 2020
In the February issue of the Music & Sound Retailer, we provide an in-depth review of The NAMM Show, offer 40 more products debuted at the s...