Music & Sound Retailer September 2017, Vol 34 No 9

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By Anthony Vargas

The holiday season is fast approaching, and visions of stampeding streams of spendthrift shoppers are dancing in store owners’ heads. But, if you want to really capitalize on those crowds of customers, your store will need to stock up on the kind of gear that tops their wish lists. To that end, the Music & Sound Retailer presents our annual Holiday Sales Guide, which is packed with products that will make great gifts for the musicians in our lives. (continued on page 32)


The Music & Sound Retailer presents its 12th annual Independent Retailer Roundtable. By Brian Berk What is the biggest concern for independent retailers today? We dig right into that question with this year’s Independent Retailer Roundtable, featuring Jim DeStafney, owner of Pensacola, Fla.-based Blues Angel Music; Bryan Loy, owner of Franklin, N.C.-based Paradise Music; Allen McBroom, partner at Starkville, Miss.-based Backstage Music; and Gordy Wilcher, owner of Owensboro, Ky.-based Owensboro Music Center, all of whom belong to the iMSO information sharing retail group. Each sat down to talk to us in rocking chairs at Nashville’s Music City Center during Summer NAMM in July. Our Retailer Roundtable had so much good information to provide about this question that it spanned a majority of the interview. We also get into the value of the Summer NAMM show and more.

The Music & Sound Retailer: What are the biggest challenges you’re facing right now as MI retailers? DeStafney: I think everyone’s concern is the intrusion of the internet on what seems like an exponential basis. Every day you read a newspaper or turn on the TV, it’s “This retail store is going (continued on page 26)

We Take Full

Responsibility — For Music Education Advocacy — We believe every child deserves music education and the opportunity to play an instrument. That’s why Yamaha advocates for music and arts education at local school boards, state capitols and in Washington D.C. And, since learning music improves test scores, builds self-confidence and fosters future success, music education leads to a brighter future for our children.


Yamaha Unveils New Digital Piano Product Category Yamaha has introduced its Clavinova CSP-150 and CSP-170 digital pianos, instruments that can scan audio songs in the user’s music library on a smart tablet, analyze the chord structure and produce a piano score taught via interactive “Stream Lights” above each key. Clavinova CSP series represents an entirely new product category from Yamaha. The new series is designed to complement the company’s Clavinova CLP and CVP series digital pianos. According to Yamaha, these new instruments effectively “gamify” the piano experience, using game-like elements to inspire users to play their favorite songs with original artist recordings and perform increasingly complex arrangements, without any fear of failure or boring practice. The CSP is the first Clavinova where most of the features are accessed through a tablet device, using an app called Smart Pianist. “For the first time, music lovers who were previously content with passively listening to their favorite songs can now play the music of their lives, and jam along with their favorite artists, providing inspiring accompaniment the first time they sit down at the CSP,” said Dane Madsen, marketing manager for digital pianos at Yamaha. “Music lovers who have always wanted to learn to play the piano can now fulfill what for many is a lifelong dream.” At the center of this innovation is the app’s unique Audio-to-Score function, which analyzes iTunes music files that already reside on an iPad (Android support coming spring 2018), then generates a piano accompaniment and a chart of chord symbols for those songs. This is displayed on the device placed in front of the user and tethered to the CSP via direct connectors for both iOS and Android devices hidden behind the music rack. As the selected song plays, Stream Lights — a

ladder of four cascading LED lights above each key — illuminate in rhythmic sync with the song’s tempo, beginning with the light farthest from the key. The key should finally be struck as the closest light turns on. This gives the player advance notice of which note to play next — not to mention the engaging fun factor reminiscent of bandsimulator video games, such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Only with the CSP, the notes the player learns are real, on a high-quality digital piano, stated Yamaha. Perhaps most important is this new approach to piano learning removes a long-standing obstacle to engagement, added Yamaha. “With conventional lessons, the student practices music that he or she may or may not like, along with tedious scales, and all with limited feedback. This is daunting and uninspiring to many, and the end result is that students quickly lose interest and abandon the instrument. The CSP, on the other hand, appeals to a new generation of casual players who want to learn the songs they already own and love, using the smart device they already own and love. As they become more and more inspired, confident and proficient, they may even take the experience to the ultimate level: formal lessons from a piano teacher.”

D’Angelico Hits the Beach

D’Angelico Guitars for the first time sponsored the World Surf League’s Vans U.S. Open of Surfing from July 29 to Aug. 6 in Huntington Beach, Calif. D’Angelico presented a display of guitars on the beach alongside a number of other brands, including Vans, and provided guitars for the onsite House of Vans: Guitar Lessons with Jared and Jonathan of The Mattson 2. In addition, D’Angelico hosted a guitar and surfboard giveaway at its booth and online at Event attendees had the opportunity to participate in an onsite scavenger hunt and open mic. Upon completing a certain number of list items participants were entered to win an Excel Series guitar of their choice and a custom D’Angelico-branded surfboard. The D’Angelico booth featured a performance and signing from professional surfer Conner Coffin. Winners of the Surf and BMX competitions were awarded “medal” guitars alongside their placement medals — gold-, silver- and bronzefinished guitars commemorating their 2017 victory. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER



32 VOLUME 34 NO.9

Features ON THE COVER The Greatest Gift of All: MSR’s Holiday Sales Guide

Yes, the holiday season will already be upon us soon. Get ready to “shop ’til you drop” for the hottest products to come out this upcoming season as the Music & Sound Retailer brings back its annual Holiday Sales Guide.

ON THE COVER Negativity is the Enemy: The 12th Annual Independent Retailer Roundtable

We met with four retailers at Summer NAMM to talk about their biggest MI concerns, what value the show provides and much more. Make sure not to miss what they said.


Columns 24 Summer NAMM in Photos

We take a look back at some of the images that made July’s Summer NAMM in Nashville a truly memorable event.


36 The Music & Sound Independent Retailer 38 Five Minutes With

Mario Biferali, vice president of sales for Godin Guitars, explains how music saved his life, why the electric guitar isn’t even close to being dead and much more in this month’s interview.

42 MI Spy

MI Spy makes the “long” trip from Philadelphia last month to the Jersey Shore this month. In this truly tough assignment heading to beach towns in the summer, MI Spy found a winner after enjoying some much needed R&R.

46 Confessions of a Retailer

Although nobody over the age of 30 perhaps knows what it means, “Keep it 100” is a hot phrase today, according to Donovan Bankhead, which means the 100-percent-real, unfiltered, sometimesbrutal truth. Bankhead provides the “brutal truth” regarding the state of competition in the MI market today.

50 Shine a Light

We get it “straight” from Strait Music, a mainstay in the Austin, Texas, scene for half a century. Learn why this family run business is so successful.

52 Retailer Rebel

Like Allen McBroom, Gabriel O’Brien believes the Summer NAMM Show is not to be missed. NAMM University educational sessions are just one of the reasons why.

55 Veddatorial

Social media and advertising are omnipresent, but Dan Vedda explains why word of mouth is still crucial.

62 Under the Hood

We take an in-depth look at Bittree’s ProStudio PS4825F patchbay and what separates it from competitor products.


48 In the Trenches

Think July’s Summer NAMM was expensive to attend? Find out how Allen McBroom attended on a shoestring budget and why the show is something you can’t miss.

23 4

Buzz 3 Latest 18 People 20 Products SEPTEMBER 2017


Reverb has become our fastest growing sales channel for both new and used guitars, basses, amps, and effects.

The incredible inc community of Reverb buyers have become a reliable resource of repeat business for us and there is no better place to sell gear or interact with that customer base online. Simply put, Reverb is our #1 go-to for selling used gear at top dollar with exceptional results.

Brian Douglas Co-Owner, Cream City Music



MI Retail Is Far from Dead We’ve heard about it a lot lately. “Amazon will take over the world.” “Retail is dead.” There’s no question the internet is today’s top competitor to MI retail stores, as opposed to the store down the street or the chain retailer. If you were involved in another area of retail — grocery store retail comes immediately to mind — you’d probably be scared to death of what Amazon could do. Its merger with Whole Foods Market is a game-changer, and those in grocery retail must adapt immediately. But MI is not grocery, and I believe it is far from dead. The only thing dead from a MI retail perspective is competing on pricing alone. Like a cowboy, competing on price alone has rode off into the sunset, never to be seen again. I believe what Summer NAMM Breakfast Session speakers said about creating an excellent customer service experience first makes a ton of sense. In a recent interview with Yahoo!, Shark Tank investor Daymond John said much the same thing. “Retail is challenging now, no matter what,” John said. “You have to over-provide for the customer. … [R]etail is going to have to create a lifestyle.” Providing a lot more light on this subject are the retailers the Music & Sound Retailer interviewed for this month’s Independent Retailer Roundtable, “Negativity Is the Enemy.” “Retail is not dead. We’re not all going to sit in our houses all our lives and buy everything on our phones,” Blues Angel Music owner Jim DeStafney told us. “There will be people who do that, but they will be the minority.” “The store has to provide an experience, not a warehouse for goods. If it’s just about pricing, we can’t compete. We can create this wonderful place to go to, where you can experience joy, try out instruments and interact with people with like desires. That’s going to determine the successful store of the future,” he added. Fortunately, MI retailers sell a cool product and can certainly provide this experience customers are seeking.

When consumers purchase on the internet, there’s no salesperson to offer them a coffee or a bottled water. Nobody asks what their favorite song or music genre is. And the internet definitely doesn’t ask how the customer’s family is doing. In addition, there’s the entire setup problem. What happens when a customer finds a cheaper instrument on Amazon, receives it in the mail and quickly discovers it’s not set up so they can play it? Uh oh … As Owensboro Music Center owner Gordy Wilcher mentioned in the Independent Retailer Roundtable, this can provide big opportunities for MI retailers to add to their rental business bottom line. Not everything is good news for MI retailers, however. As the Independent Roundtable retailers suggest, no matter what side of the aisle you are currently on, today’s political climate is having a major effect on consumers, which is certainly a new problem you face. Because unlike other retail venues, where customers are looking merely for sustenance (such as buying food, milk or water, necessities no matter the political environment), customers at MI stores seek an escape from reality, and have often found solace inside your walls. Unfortunately, this has recently changed, according to our retail panel. “One big thing I’d like to see changed are 24-hour news channels,” Wilcher said. “I don’t care what side of the fence you’re on [politically]. People are coming in and saying, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen.’” “When you cross the threshold of a music store, you need to enter a cultural oasis,” said Allen McBroom, partner at Backstage Music and columnist for the Retailer. “Why do we play music in the first place? Because it brings us joy. That’s how we all got started. We thought we were going to be the next Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen. In our minds, when we picked up the guitar, that’s who we were. Now, everywhere you go, this negativity is being shoved down your throat. … When you walk into a music store, it should be sunshine on a cloudy day.”

September 15, 2017 Volume 34, No. 9

BRIAN BERK Editor ANTHONY VARGAS Associate Editor MATT VAN DYKE Assistant Editor



ROBERT L. IRAGGI Advertising Director

JANICE PUPELIS Art Director STEVE THORAKOS Production Manager CIRCULATION FRED GUMM Digital Art Director

RICKY PIMENTEL Art/Production Assistant



ROBIN HAZAN Operations Manager VINCENT P. TESTA President/Publisher

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’s Vnewsletter • 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. Periodicals postage paid at Port Washington, N.Y. and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Music & Sound Retailer, PO BOX 1767, LOWELL MA 01853-1767




Presidio Brass Joins KHS

KHS America announced brass quintet Presidio Brass as the newest member of the KHS America Academic Alliance, performing exclusively on XO Professional Brass Instruments. “We are really excited to work with an ensemble that brings youthful excitement and a high level of passion to their performances and educational outreach,” said Rick DeJonge, KHS America artist and educator relations manager. “The group sounds fantastic on their XO horns and will be a natural draw for the next generation of student musicians.” “Continued dedication to music education is extremely important to us,” added Presidio Brass trumpeter Steve O’Connor. “The type of support that KHS offers to help school band programs provide a quality musical experience to their students was a huge draw. They always just seem to do the right thing and truly understand how to make a difference.”

Music Helps Audio-Motor Interactions

Playing any musical instrument throughout life may help improve the connection between the brain’s hearing area and the motor zone, according to new research from Universitat Jaume I in Spain. Musical training produces an increase in audio-motor interactions in the right hemisphere at rest, the study revealed. “This indicates that when a musician trains and spends many years learning to play a musical instrument, there are more effective connections between the auditory and motor systems, which are the regions mainly involved in playing an instrument,” said María-Ángeles Palomar-García, researcher at the university. In addition, the research discovered an adaptation in musicians’ brain areas responsible for controlling hand movement. Hence, participants with musical training had reduced connectivity between the motor regions that control both hands, but may have greater autonomy between their hands.


D’Addario Names Brooklyn Battle of the Bands Partner

D’Addario partnered with AFROPUNK for this year’s Brooklyn Battle of the Bands, where emerging artists competed for the chance to play at the AFROPUNK Festival at Brooklyn’s Commodore Barry Park. While giving bands the opportunity to perform on one of Brooklyn’s biggest stages, Battle of the Bands has also been integral in kickstarting bands’ careers. Brooklyn Battle of the Bands took place at the Knitting Factory from July 26-29, with the final round on August 11. The winners played at the AFROPUNK Festival on August 26-27. “This partnership [with D’Addario] is more than just a sponsorship. Our top 16 are the best in our community and D’Addario strings, Evans drumheads and Promark drumsticks are the best in the world. Together, we are able to help young bands realize their dreams, and support musicianship, innovation, diversity and ideas,” said Jocelyn Cooper, partner, AFROPUNK. D’Addario supplied strings and gear to finalists, semi-finalists and the grand-prize winner. Prize packages included NYXL strings, D’Addario accessories, custom Evans drumheads and more. Plus, D’Addario staff participated on the contest’s panel of judges. “D’Addario is a strong believer in the power of music and supporting musicians both locally and around the world. AFROPUNK brings a fresh voice to the performance community, and we’re proud to be a part of the initiative that broke incredible bands like Tang and the Bangas and Unlocking the Truth,” said Jeffrey Kaye, director of artist relations, D’Addario.



2018 She Rocks Awards to Rock Anaheim During NAMM

The Women’s International Music Network (The WiMN) announced that the 2018 She Rocks Awards will take place at the new House of Blues Anaheim on Jan. 26 during the NAMM Show. “We are so excited to bring the She Rocks Awards to the new House of Blues Anaheim,” said The WiMN founder Laura B. Whitmore. “It’s conveniently located a block from the convention center area, and this brandnew facility is gorgeous. We look forward to elevating this event to a new level of production.” Now in its sixth year, the She Rocks Awards honors trailblazing women from all areas of the music and audio industries. Past honorees include multi-platinum artist Colbie Caillat, legendary percussionist Sheila E., icons Chaka Khan and Ronnie Spector, Experience Hendrix CEO Janie Hendrix, rock guitarist and singer/ songwriter Lita Ford, NAMM Executive Director Mary Luehrsen, and Grammy Award-winning bass player and singer/songwriter Esperanza Spalding. Past awards events have included stellar performances by The Bangles, Karmin, Mindi Abair, Orianthi, Nita Strauss and many others. “From a morning meeting at the Marriott just a few short years ago to now being one of the most popular events during the NAMM Show, we are proud and grateful for the work of Laura Whitmore and her dedicated team to honor the contribution of women in the music and sound industry,” said NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond. Tickets for the 2018 She Rocks Awards go on sale Oct. 1.

Casio Honors Music Leadership

Casio during Summer NAMM presented its Leadership in Music Education Award to Chiho Feindler, senior director of programs and Policy for the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. Feindler and the Save The Music Foundation were recognized for establishing the Keys + Kids grant program, which provides qualifying schools with piano grants to bolster their music, drama and community programs. “We are thrilled to honor Chiho and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation with Casio’s Leadership in Music Education Award,” said Stephen Schmidt, vice president of Casio’s Electronic Musical Instruments Division. “We looked at a number of very worthy possibilities for this award, but felt that what Chiho and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation were doing continued the rich heritage of fostering creativity by keeping music and the arts alive in schools across the nation in a very consistent way.” The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring music programs in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education. The Foundation provides grants of instruments and equipment to public schools nationwide to advocate for music education in schools. Feindler, in working with the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, has always focused on the more challenged school districts, and also promotes keyboards as part of the foundation for music learning.




Music & Arts Opens New Jersey Location

Bethesda, Md. Today, we are proud to serve communities across the entire U.S. with his same level of dedication to students, parents and music educators.” School Services District Manager Brian Yatauro noted, “We are excited to continue to offer the best in music education, resources, rentals, lessons and repairs to the Ocean County community.” Music & Arts comprises more than 150 retail stores, more than 120 educational representatives and over 350 affiliate locations. In addition to carrying an assortment of brands, most locations offer repairs and university trained, background-checked lesson instructors.

Dean Markley Teams with Musopia

Music & Arts has opened a new location in Toms River, N.J., intended to greatly expand its lesson space and service capabilities to better serve the residents of Toms River and surrounding towns in the Manchester Township, Seaside Park and Seaside Heights areas. Located in the Toms River Shopping Center at 1 Route 37 W. #9, the store also serves school music programs throughout the Ocean County area. “Since day one, services such as rentals, repairs and lessons have been an important part of our retail experience,” said Music & Arts President Steve Zapf. “Sixty-five years ago, our company founder, Benjamin O’Brien, opened the first Music & Arts in a small house in

All packages of Dean Markley strings now contain a promo code entitling customers to one month of free VIP access to FourChords, a platform intended to help players learn their favorite songs quickly. “We are happy to team up with Musopia and provide aspiring musicians a way to learn, improve and master guitar playing in a fun and easy environment,” said Lori McCallian, CEO of Dean Markley. Based in Helsinki, Finland, Musopia saw the opportunity to reach a wider audience by teaming up with Dean Markley in the U.S., according to a news release. FourChords offers a proven instruction method that gets first-timers playing popular tunes on guitar right away. The platform has simplified chords for more than 1,500 songs, and teaches beginners strum patterns and tempo control.

Doubleday Makes Majestic Move

Joseph Doubleday, the first vibraphonist accepted to the Jazz Studies program at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City, has joined Majestic Percussion. Doubleday has been co-leading the Felix Peikli & Joe Doubleday’s Showtime Band, which focuses on pre-bebop and swing-era music with instrumentation reminiscent of Benny Goodman’s small groups. “I am always seeking new ways of engaging and entertaining the audience with an emphasis on artistic clarity and self-expression, and Majestic Vibraphones and Marimbas are my instruments of cloud-based system choice to help me on this search,” said Doubleday. • POS & Website In addition to being a band (Integrated Inventory) leader, Doubleday has toured with Chris Potter’s Underground • Rent to Own Orchestra, played at The Vil• Reverb Integration lage Vanguard with The Kenny • Product Data Integration Barron Quintet, been a member (Alfred & D’Addario) of the Ralph Peterson Fo’tet, recorded for rap superstar Mac • Class Management Miller and was recently featured • Service/Repairs Tracking in a duo setting with Stefon Harris on his upcoming Mack Avenue record. Now includes “We are thrilled to have Joe marketing tools! Doubleday representing Majestic • (801) 893-3680 Percussion as a performing artist,” said Jeff Mulvihill, Majestic Percussion product manager. “I think that "Our year-over-year sales increased by 35% after switching to Rain Retail" we have only seen the beginning of ~Jeremy Chapman, Owner, The Acoustic Shoppe the exciting work that this young artist is capable of.”

Point of Sale + Website + Rentals





Guitar Center Debuts Destination Drum Shop Guitar Center launched the Destination Drum Shop initiative, an assortment of high-end acoustic drum kits, cymbals, electronic drum kits, snare drums, accessories and more, intended to allow musicians to experience the best selection of gear under one roof. Destination Drum Shop, introduced July 22, features ready-toplay gear from manufacturers such as DW, Gretsch, Ludwig, Mapex, Pearl, Roland, Sabian, Sonor, Tama, Yamaha, Zildjian and more in 10 locations nationwide. “The new offering is a veritable treasure trove for drum and percussion enthusiasts, featuring a large selection of high-end and limited products, including modern and classic styles, all of which are available for drummers of all skill levels to play and ultimately find the perfect setup for their unique sound. The selection of gear is the largest assortment of drum inventory in-store from Guitar Center to date that will allow drummers to experience the best brands hands-on,” Guitar Center stated in a news release. “Destination Drum Shop further underscores Guitar Center’s ongoing commitment to the drum and percussion market


and provides our customers with hands-on access to some of the most comprehensive selection of drum and percussion products to date,” said Glenn Noyes, director of merchandise at Guitar Center. “For drum and percussion

musicians to have all of the best products from top manufacturers under one roof is truly a ‘kid in a candy shop’ experience for our customers.” Destination Drum Shops are currently in the following loca-

tions, with more to be added in the next year: San Antonio, Arlington and Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Ga.; Chicago; Hallandale, Fla.; Hollywood, La Mesa and San Jose, Calif.; and Union Square in New York City.

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e Note From Jo


MM.ORG 2017 • NA

NAMM 2018: The Crossroads Do you ever feel like the world you understood so well—the world in which you built your business, found your niche, and successfully served your customers—has been switched with something so alien that it might be out of a sci-fi movie? Well, you are not alone my friend. I suspect there are many people feeling the same way; all seeking answers as to what comes next and discovering how to build the next iteration of their future. As I’ve said before, change only becomes profitable when one adapts to it. And that’s exactly what a trip to The NAMM Show allows us all to do. This gathering of the industry tribes mixes the ingredients of success for your business and your life. Not only will you be introduced to the latest innovative products that will drive the industry in the new year, but you will also have access to the best industry education, tailored to your specific needs. And the memorable experiences that naturally occur at our industry’s family reunion, set against the backdrop of some of the greatest musical moments, will spark your passion and energize your greater purpose of bringing music to the world. The NAMM Campus will be larger this year, as a result of our Crossroads 2.0 plan that brings together the full spectrum of music, sound and event technology. The goal is to give you a full 360 vantage point of the state of play as well as the clues and tools to chart your future. The trade show floor is organized to maximize your time, with product segments closer together, more common areas to network and additional food options. We’ve also incorporated

the tools and technology to reduce the sound of product demos, resulting in a better experience for all. As always, education is the cornerstone of The NAMM Show. You will want to zero in on the topics most important to your success. However, leave some time for exploration. With AES at NAMM, there will be more audio and recording sessions than ever. Also new for 2018, ESTA (Entertainment Services and Technology Association) will bring expertise and training in lighting, event technology and staging—an area many of our retail members are growing in as they seek to add value to their communities to attract more customers. In my opinion, The NAMM Show brings every one of us back to the heartbeat of it all—our love and passion for music and the connections we’ve made along the way. The hotel lobby bars, Grand Plaza concerts, the Annual Tribute, exhibitor events and receptions, TEC Awards, Parnelli Awards, Night of Worship concert, and the SheRocks Awards are just a few of the experiences that make The NAMM Show a memorable milestone every year. Thank you for your continued trust, support and friendship. Please be assured our team is dedicated to helping make The NAMM Show a successful event for all. See you there!

Joe Lamond NAMM PRESIDENT AND CEO The NAMM Show has it all. The crossroads enable us as business owners, buyers, sales and support staff to see where the market is growing and evolving and how we can participate at every level. We take the time to meet with our current suppliers to see what they have in the works and are always looking for new business models and providers, so that we can be part of the latest things that are happening in the industry. Ryan West • West Music, Coralville, IA

As part of our ongoing growth, it was a natural move for Roland to decide to exhibit in the new ACC North Hall. We’re thrilled to be the first exhibitor to sign on for this exciting new space, which will provide an even bigger footprint for Roland, BOSS, and V-MODA, and give attendees a more immersive, hands-on experience. We look forward to our new convention home in January. Jay Wanamaker, Roland Corporation President and CEO, North America

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The new, two-level ACC North Hall will add 200,000 sq. ft. of multi-use space, and the campus will be organized by product communities, each with centralized lounges, making it easier to navigate and schedule meetings.

The Hilton will transform into a higher-learning complex, showcasing education tracks across live sound, event technology, studio and stage and the Arena will feature product demos and training.

Enjoy live music across the Grand Plaza, the new ACC North Hall outdoor festival area and lobby bars, as well as award shows, networking and special events that provide an experience only The NAMM Show can offer.


On-Stage on Target in Europe

On-Stage, the musical accessories division of TMP, announced that its partnership with international distributor JHS is up and running, giving customers throughout the UK, as well as the Republic of Ireland and Benelux, immediate access to the entire line of On-Stage accessories and electronics. “Our products are on the ground in Europe and available for immediate delivery,” said Tammo Hinzmann, On-Stage international accounts manager. “We’ve always had a presence on the continent. But working exclusively with JHS is a real game-changer. Their market access and logistical expertise mean a much faster, more efficient and satisfying client experience.” Finalized just this past March, On-Stage’s collaboration with JHS is already yielding positive results, as Benelux retailers and third-party distributors benefit from the products, as well as from cleaner, quicker and more profitable access. “We are delighted to add On-Stage to our roster of well respected, distributed brands,” said Dennis Drumm, JHS managing director.

Music Go Round Heading North of the Border Music Go Round is now registered to franchise in Canada. With nearly 35 franchised stores in the U.S., the brand is seeking prospective franchise owners in Canada to further develop its North American footprint. Music Go Round operates under Winmark Corp., which also franchises the following secondhand retailers: Plato’s Closet, Once Upon A Child, Style Encore and Play It Again Sports. The success of Music Go Round’s sister brands throughout Canada, as well as interest from consumers and prospective franchisees alike, were driving factors in the brand’s decision to expand into the country. Music Go Round is registered to franchise throughout all Canadian provinces, but will primarily be targeting British Columbia, Ontario and Saskatchewan for expansion. In particular, the franchise has its focus set on Toronto for the brand’s initial stores due to strong consumer demand in the market and close proximity to the Winmark corporate

office in Minneapolis. “Expansion into Canada is a natural next step for the brand. We receive emails nearly every day from Canadian consumers interested in purchasing product from Music Go Round. It’s been unfortunate that we have not been able to service them locally thus far, so we are excited to finally be able to answer their requests with some positive momentum,” said Steve Murphy, president of franchising at Winmark.

Amazon Makes Major Changes to Refund Policy Amazon Marketplace sellers who ship products themselves, as opposed to using Amazon’s facilities, will have their items “automatically authorized” for return, beginning Oct. 2. According to CNBC, this means a buyer will no longer need to contact the seller before sending an item back, and the merchant won’t have the opportunity to communicate with the customer. In Addition, Amazon said it will introduce “returnless refunds,” a feature it explained is “highly requested by sellers.” This feature entails a refund without taking back an item that may be expensive to ship and hard to resell. Amazon is making every effort to provide the same experience for customers regardless of whether the products they buy come from Amazon or a third-party merchant, reported CNBC. The email that Amazon sent, which was posted on an online forum, reads the following in full: Dear Seller, Amazon is simplifying the returns process on items fulfilled by sellers. Starting Oct. 2, returns of items that you fulfill and that fall within the Amazon returns policy will be automatically authorized. Customers will be able to print a prepaid return shipping label via the Online Return Center instantly. We are also introducing “returnless refunds,” a feature that is highly requested by sellers. If you so choose, you will now be able to set rules and automatically issue a refund without requiring an item to be shipped back 16

to you. Sellers have requested this because, in many cases, it allows you to save on both return shipping and processing costs. We hope these changes will reduce the effort required to manage your returns and decrease your customer Return Dissatisfaction Rate, thereby improving your ratings. Additionally, you will have full visibility into the end-to-end return process through shipment tracking information located on the Manage Returns page in Seller Central. Below are a few key details: 1. You are required to have a return address on file. If you want to specify a separate return address, please update your information in Seller Central ( ration/global-return-address/index.html). If you have not specified a return address by October 2, your business address will be used as the return address. 2. You are required to issue a refund within two business days of receipt of a return. If you do not take action regarding the refund request, Amazon may refund the customer on your behalf and charge the amount to your seller account. 3. You might be responsible for the cost of return shipping in accordance with Amazon’s policies. 4. Certain items are not eligible for prepaid return shipping. You can request exemptions for specific items in your inventory after August 31. 5. You can appeal return disputes directly to Amazon. To learn more, visit the Prepaid returns for seller fulfilled orders help page: SEPTEMBER 2017


Peavey Introduces Peavey Days at Guitar Center Peavey Electronics on Aug. 5 kicked off Peavey Days at select Guitar Center stores across the nation, which will offer customers exclusive prizes, hands-on training from Peavey factory reps, and hot deals on Peavey gear. “Peavey Days go way beyond doorbusters by offering customers exclusive pricing on all Peavey products, plus giveaways that include gear, T-shirts and more, all event long. Whether a customer stops by their nearest participating Guitar Center in the morning or in the evening, they’ll be able to take advantage of a special 20-percentoff discount on Peavey gear. In addition, each participating store will have an in-store drawing where one lucky customer will have their Peavey purchase reimbursed by the manufacturer,” stated Peavey. This event offers Peavey specialists the opportunity to interact with customers in person, providing them hands-on training with

new equipment at select stores. In addition, Peavey artists will make appearances to demo products, giving customers the chance to learn about many products, including the recently introduced Dark Matter DM and audiophile-quality RBN series of powered PA speakers. Participating locations include Atlanta; Central Chicago; Hallandale, Fla.; Houston and North Houston; New York City; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; Raleigh, N.C.; San Jose; and Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Hal Leonard Teams with Boston Pops

Hal Leonard is teaming up with The Boston Pops Orchestra to create a publishing partnership to produce a new series of Boston Pops arrangements. The Boston Pops Concert Library will feature arrangements by revered orchestral arrangers of holiday, patriotic and entertainment classics, heard in Boston Pops concerts and recordings. Each edition will be professionally produced with engraved scores and parts, and will also include program notes by Pops conductor, Keith Lockhart. “The Boston Pops library is arguably America’s richest treasure trove of popular symphonic music, brilliantly created and nurtured over many decades by Arthur Fielder, John Williams and Lockhart,” said Paul Lavender, Hal Leonard vice president of instrumental publications. “Hal Leonard is delighted to make this music available for other orchestras, conductors and their audiences, throughout the world.” The first Boston Pops releases will be available this summer.



R E I N V E N T I N G C R A F T S M A N S H I P F O R T H E 2 1 S T C E N T U R Y.


In Memoriam

Crocker Retires

Emily Crocker, the long-time Hal Leonard vice president of choral publications, has announced her retirement. As a manager, she oversaw the department’s expansion with the acquisition of Shawnee Press along with many distribution agreements with companies, including Boosey & Hawkes and Fred Bock Music. Crocker cultivated publishing relationships with some of the most popular choral writers of the last three decades, including Mark Brymer, Rollo Dilworth, Roger Emerson, Mac Huff, John Jacobson, Ed Lojeski, Joseph Martin and Kirby Shaw. She also led the department through new projects, including Essential Elements and Voices in Concert choral curriculums, the annual Joy of Singing workshops, Music Express classroom magazine and the development of Disney Learning interactive songbooks. Despite retirement, Crocker will continue composing and consulting for Hal Leonard. “Hal Leonard acquired Jensen Publications in 1989 and brought over several employees, including Emily, who was already a well-known choral composer and arranger,” recounted Keith Mardak, CEO of Hal Leonard. “She quickly stepped up to lead the department and expand our choral offerings to schools, churches and professional groups.” “We are thankful to Emily for the years of service, leadership, innovation and, most importantly, the beautiful music she brought to our choral division. We wish her all the best in her welldeserved retirement,” added Jeff Schroedl, executive vice president at Hal Leonard.


You’ve Got to Have Hartman

Shure Inc. appointed Ahren Hartman as vice president of quality. He is responsible for all of the company’s quality activities, including Corporate and Supplier Quality, Product Conformance and Lab Services, Global Compliance, and Quality Systems. In addition, Hartman will direct quality functions in Shure’s Juarez and Suzhou manufacturing plants. Hartman has been with Shure for more than 25 years. During his tenure, he led the team responsible for the development of Axient, Shure’s wireless system designed for demanding global RF environments. In addition, he has contributed to the development of UHF-R, SLX and PGX wireless systems; PSM 600, PSM 200 and PSM 300 personal monitor systems; and the KSE1500 Electrostatic Earphone System. “As our company’s markets and users continue to evolve, we must expand our view of quality while building on the strong foundation of product reliability that is indicative of the Shure brand,” said Chris Schyvinck, Shure President and CEO. “I am certain that Ahren will uphold our quality standards and sharpen our focus even further, moving our quality systems forward and greatly impacting our approach to quality performance.” Hartman also continues to be a key member of the Shure team working with the Federal Communications Commission on wireless spectrum legislation issues.

Glen Shaffer

Glen Shaffer, guitar instructor at Showtime Music, passed away on July 23. He was 38. “Glen was such an extraordinary person,” wrote Showtime Music owner Harry Gillum on Facebook. “This is truly a great loss to Showtime Music and to our entire community as a whole. Glen will be profoundly missed by everyone whose life he touched. He brought music into so many lives with lessons, entertaining and playing in bands all over. Music was his life, and now heaven has gained yet another wonderful musician. Our prayers to his family, and all that had special meaning in his life.”

Michael Heuser

Michael Heuser passed away on July 14. He and Roland and BOSS founder Ikutaro Kakehashi worked on product ideas, as well as the goal of creating a branch of Roland in Switzerland. Heuser headed the efforts as president of Roland Switzerland and was active in supporting and guiding the music industry, contributing to several programs and initiatives, including the Global Economic Summit.

Bill Collings

Collings Guitar founder Bill Collings passed away in July. He was 68. His guitars were widely admired, with Joni Mitchell, Keith Richards and Lyle Lovett among those who played the company’s instruments. “We lost our dear friend and mentor Bill Collings [July 14]. He was the amazingly creative force behind Collings Guitars for over 40 years,” the company stated. “Through his unique and innate understanding of how things work, and how to make things work better, he set the bar in our industry and touched many lives in the process. His skill and incredible sense of design were not just limited to working with wood but were also obvious in his passion for building hot rods. To Bill, the design and execution of elegant form and function were what mattered most.” SEPTEMBER 2017


‘Apple’ of Guitar Center’s Eye

launched Whole Foods’ first national advertising campaigns. D’Addario has also served in a number of marketing and communications leadership roles at Stanford University, The Walt Disney Co., PepsiCo Inc. and Coors Brewing Co.

Guitar Center named Jeannine D’Addario senior vice president and chief customer officer for the Guitar Center brands. According to Guitar Center, D’Addario’s appointment is the result of an extensive search by its management, who selected D’Addario “for her wealth of marketing, innovation and retail experience.” In her new role, D’Addario will oversee Guitar Center’s strategic marketing, brand vision and customer brand experience. D’Addario will report to Guitar Center CEO Ron Japinga. Most recently, she served as the interim chief marketing and culinary officer at Applebee’s, where she was responsible for rebuilding its overarching marketing strategy. Prior to that, she served as senior vice president — chief marketing and communications officer at Whole Foods Market, where she led brand positioning, digital marketing and retail marketing and

Magic Man

ChamSys Ltd. named Aziz Adilkhodjaev the company’s international business development manager. In his new role, he will be responsible for expanding and strengthening the international distribution network of the brand, as well as improving international customer support and training to enhance the user experience. “With his detailed knowledge in the field of lighting control, Aziz will assist in taking the MagicQ MQ500 and MagicQ software to a new level, and his expertise in international distribution will also help ChamSys to expand into new markets,” said Chris Kennedy, ChamSys managing director. ChamSys was acquired earlier this year by Chauvet & Sons LLC. MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

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Instant Classic Back to Backbeat

Over view: Alfred Music’s Paul Wertico’s Turn the Beat Around: A Drummer’s Guide to Playing “Backbeats” on 1 & 3 Specifics: Alfred Music has released Paul Wertico’s Turn the Beat Around: A Drummer’s Guide to Playing “Backbeats” on 1 & 3. It breaks decades-old routine by examining backbeats in a whole new light, asking the questions: “Why are backbeats always played on beats two and four?” and “What about playing them on beats one and three?” By delving into this inquiry, Paul Wertico provides drummers with innovative ways of expanding groove vocabulary, solidifying time, and mastering coordination and limb independence. Wertico has even coined a new word for these types of reversed beats — frontbeats. Hailed as “One of the most versatile and musical drummers in music today,” Paul Wertico gained worldwide recognition as a member of the Pat Metheny Group from 1983 to 2001. He also won seven Grammy Awards for “Best Jazz Fusion Performance,” “Best Contemporary Jazz Performance” and “Best Rock Instrumental Performance,” and earned several gold records. MSRP: $19.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Alfred Music, 800.292.6122,


Change Your Tune

Over view: Peterson Strobe Tuners’ StroboClip HD Specifics: Peterson Strobe Tuners’ StroboClip HD clipon tuner will clip on to any stringed, woodwind or brass instrument. It includes Peterson’s tuning resolution of .01 cent (1/1000 of a semitone). The updated LCD technology of the StroboClip HD provides nearly twice the screen pixel resolution of its predecessor, providing smooth tuning action while still maintaining its real-time response, which allows users to instantly view even the smallest changes in pitch of their instrument. The high-resolution display conveys the tuning accuracy of the StroboClip HD’s tuning algorithms. The StroboClip HD has a “stealth” matteblack design and is constructed of high-impact material for reliability on the road. It provides users with more than 20 hours of consistent tuning time using a single CR2032 battery. The clip allows quick attachment to a variety of locations on any instrument. Fifty Sweetened Tuning presets are included. Street Price: $59.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: Peterson Electro-Musical Products, 708.388.3311,

Over view: Remo’s Classic Fit Drumheads Specifics: Remo’s Classic Fit Drumheads are for oversized drums made prior to the mid ’60s. The Classic Fit batter drumheads have a slightly narrower flesh hoop and step design, yet maintain a standard outside diameter that does not interfere with the counter hoop. They are available with Ambassador Coated, Clear or Fiberskyn film in 12-inch, 13inch, 14-inch, 16-inch and 18-inch sizes. They are also available in Snare Side Ambassador Hazy in 13-inch and 14-inch sizes. MSRP: Ambassador Coated/Ambassador Clear: $33.10-$51.30; Fiberskyn: $41.50-$59.80; Ambassador Hazy: $31.40-$33.10 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Remo, 661.294.5600,

Keynote Speaker

Over view: Galaxy Audio’s TQ8 PA Specifics: Galaxy Audio’s TQ8 packs 150 watts of highperformance audio into a lightweight, portable package with versatile mixing, wireless options and extended battery life. With a powerful eight-inch woofer and a wide-dispersion, high-frequency horn with a one-inch compression driver, the TQ8 offers professional-level audio performance with plenty of level and clarity. Two wired mic/ line inputs complement a versatile music system with an SD card slot, USB connector, left/right audio connections and Bluetooth compatibility for use with a phone or iPod source. One or two optional wireless mic receivers work with Galaxy’s handheld or bodypack wireless microphones and expand the TQ8’s applications while eliminating mic cable issues. The TQ8 allows users to mix and control all of these sources with individual and master volume and three-band equalization. A voice priority feature (with on/off switch) automatically “ducks” the music source when someone speaks into any microphone. MAP: $249.99-$349.99 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Galaxy Audio, 316.263.2852,


XS Wireless 1

Raise Your Voice. XS Wireless 1 is an easy-to-use, all-in-one wireless series that allows singers, presenters and instrumentalists to operate up to 10 systems simultaneously. Designed with ease of use in mind, this analog UHF series features a sleek receiver with built-in antennas and streamlined interface that includes one-button scanning and synchronization functions.


Spruce It Up

Over view: Uhland Guitars’ Uhland QR 175 Semi-Acoustic Specifics: Uhland Guitars’ Uhland QR 175 integrates an internal spruce soundboard into a semi-acoustic guitar. About the size of a Les Paul, the QR 175 has more acoustic sound than larger semi-acoustic guitars. The bridge does not sit on the top of the instrument, but passes through the top of the instrument and sits on the internal spruce soundboard, which makes for a much larger acoustic sound. An internal soundboard separates the acoustic sound-producing qualities of an instrument from the other functions of the exterior of the instrument. The top of the guitar is built much heavier because the tone-producing quality of the instrument is not dependent on its resonance. Because the pickups are mounted to the top of the guitar, it has a solid electric sound with great sustain, as well. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Uhland Guitars, 512.820.7655,

Pack It Up, Pack It In

Over view: Alvarez Guitars’ Accessory Packs Specifics: Alvarez Guitars has unveiled two new accessory packs: the Artist Accessory Pack and the Masterworks Accessory Pack. Each is presented in full-color, compact packaging and features a spectrum of tools that will aid any player in their day-to-day guitar needs. The Artist Accessory Pack comes complete with an Alvarez-branded tuner, capo and polishing cloth. The Masterworks Accessory Pack features an Alvarezbranded aluminum folding stand, tuner, capo and polishing cloth. MSRP: Artist Accessory Pack: $40; Masterworks Accessory Pack: $70 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Alvarez Guitars, 314.727.1191,

Pedal to the Metal

Over view: MONO’s Pedalboards and Accessory Cases Specifics: MONO has released its full range of pedalboards, along with an updated line of accessory cases. New pedalboards include the Lite (14"x5.25"x1.25"; no angle of elevation), which is lightweight for easy transit and can mount common compact power supply units; the Lite+ (18"x5.25"x1.25"), which has all the benefits of the Lite with additional space; the Small (18"x12.5"x3.5"), which has double the size of the Lite+, accommodates any power solution, including AC, and features a front cable opening and a mix of openings for flexible cable management; the Medium (24"x14.5"x3.5"), with a vertical cable outlet in the center of the board and two front openings; and the Large (32"x16"x3.5"), with two vertical cable outlets in the center of the board and two front openings. Updated accessory cases include Club 2.0, which fits MONO Pedalboard Small and PT Classic Jr and Classic 2 (18"x12.5"x3.5"); Tour 2.0, which fits MONO Pedalboard Medium and PT Novo 24 (24"x14.5"x3.5"); Pro 2.0, which fits MONO Pedalboard Large and PT Classic Pro (32"x16"x3.5"); and Tick 2.0, which fits MONO Pedalboard Lite and PT Nano (14"x7"x3.5"). MAP: Pedalboards: $109.99-$269.99; Accessory Cases: $89.99-$199.99 Ship Date: Now Contact: MONO, 415.329.3633,


Bird’s-Eye View

Over view: Peavey’s HP2 Guitar Specifics: Peavey’s HP2 Guitar features a carved top and offset, asymmetrical body design that offers comfort, balance and increased ease of play. Maple was chosen for the top and basswood for the back; solid basswood construction is also available. Cream, or black-edge, binding accents the body. The HP2 also features a bird’s-eye maple neck and fingerboard. Dual graphite reinforcement bars and an easyaccess, adjustable-steel torsion rod provide additional strength, as does the bolt-on construction with contoured neck heel. The oil-finished fingerboard is cut from the same piece of wood as the single-piece neck, keeping the color and grain patterns consistent. The stress-relieved lamination also adds increased stability. The HP2 has a 25.5-inch scale length, 22 jumbo frets and 15-inch fingerboard radius. The 10-degree tilt-back headstock features Schaller tuning machines with pearloid or cream buttons. Made in the U.S. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Peavey Electronics, 877.732.8391, SEPTEMBER 2017


Earn a Black Belt

Over view: TKL’s Black Belt Soft Cases Specifics: TKL has developed new models of its Black Belt line of soft cases for “parlor” (¾ and ½) student-size guitars and ukuleles. Black Belt cases are priced to fit every budget and feature a host of TKL exclusives, including a rugged T-Cord 600 exterior, Cushion-Soft lining, Cellulair protective padding, Providence Forge zippers and a Comfort-Grip Series I handle. Available models include #4675 (traditional ¾-size guitar case), #4650 (traditional ½-size guitar case), #4649-S (traditional soprano uke case), #4649-C (traditional concert uke case), #4649-T (traditional tenor uke case) and #4649-B (traditional baritone uke case). In addition to these parlor guitar and ukulele models, the Black Belt series offers cases for all types of acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitars, resonator guitars, lap steel guitars, banjos and mandolins, plus many string, wind and percussion instruments. MSRP: Contact company Ship Date: Contact company Contact: TKL Products Corp., 804.749.8300,


Take a Stand

Overview: Manhasset Specialty Company’s Noteworthy music stands Specifics: Manhasset Specialty Company’s Noteworthy Music Stands are heavy-duty, elegantly designed, laser-cut desks. Noteworthy music stands come in 13 unique designs and are made in

the U.S. They are covered by a lifetime warranty. MSRP: $289.95 Ship Date: Contact company Contact: Manhasset Specialty Company, 509.248.3810,


Jason Davis, Getty Images


here were plenty of sights and sounds during Summer NAMM in Nashville, which took place in July. Here is a look at just some of the sights.

Adderly Surack, daughter of Sweetwater Founder Chuck Surack, gets “eaten” by the Gator Cases mascot.


Andrew Papiccio and Alan Cabasso of Floyd Rose Marketing.

Yoshi Ikegami, president of BOSS Corp., stands next to the company’s 40th Anniversary Compact Pedals.

James Ferguson, owner of Uhland Guitars.

Famous guitarist Joe Bonamassa rocks out.

A drummer attempts to advance during the World’s Fastest Drummer contest.


Jason Davis, Getty Images

Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, daughter of Monaco’s Prince Albert II and granddaughter of Grace Kelly.

Jason Davis, Getty Images

Dave Findley of Westco Educational Products and Dan Roberts of Manhasset Specialty Co.

Jason Davis, Getty Images

Charley Pride performs on the final day of Summer NAMM.



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(continued from the cover)

under.” You can talk about [the threat] of new stores coming into our geographical area. Well, we have new stores coming into our geographical area online every day. Very frequently, I see my customers on Facebook open up a box from an online retailer and then they bring it into your store and say, “What do you think of my new guitar?” The youngest generation are much more likely to buy online. The challenge of getting customers into your stores to buy products is increasing. McBroom: For me, it’s the paradigm of capturing a market

Left to right: Allen McBroom, Jim DeStafney, Gordy Wilcher and Bryan Loy.


Guaranteed for life





that’s completely a new thing. It’s not that it’s changed. It’s not that it’s shifted. It’s a whole new animal. In the past, if you were in a certain-sized town, it could only hold X number of music stores. You knew about how many stores you’d have to compete with, and about how big they’d be. Nobody’s going to open up a Guitar Center-level store in a 20,000person town. Today, my competition is not the brick-and-mortar stores within driving distance like it was 20 years ago. Today, a store can actually go out and purchase market share by getting together a team of whiz kids, assembling fantastic software and building a great website. My concern is, where is the next internet goliath going to pop up? As shipping becomes more streamlined and accurate, it could be a single store in Nebraska in a town of 500, for example, and some whiz kid starts a new website and has the intestinal fortitude to convince manufacturers to drop ship for him. He has no stock or inventory. He is just selling it and never handles the product. This is where I believe we will go to someday. All [the whiz kid] needs to do is get the manufacturers to go along with it. I have to buy on speculation. I have hope people will be as interested in a product as I am. This guy doesn’t have these concerns. If it doesn’t sell a product, he’s lost nothing. I think that’s going to be the next iteration of the internet platform. Wilcher: Both Jim and Allen have hit on points that really concern me as well. To expand on Jim’s comment, I’ve seen our students come in with bags from other music retailers. I ask the parents about it in a positive way, and they say, “I didn’t know you sell guitars.” I’ve been here 43 years and have 200 guitars hanging in my store. It’s pretty hard not to see we sell guitars. But on the flip side, we have built up an unbelievable repair business, especially after Christmas, when people buy instruments online and have no idea how to set them up. We had a lady call [recently] and ask about buying a banjo. “What’s your cheapest banjo?” “About $200.” “Oh, I can buy one for $100 on Amazon.” I said, “OK.” So she comes into the

store after buying it on Amazon and asks us how she can make it play. My repair guy said, “We can do it for you.” She said, “How much?” “He said, “$100.” He remembered the woman. He said, “You would have had that free if you went through us.” Allen’s right regarding the web. There’s no loyalty, even with long-time customers, and millennials want everything now. Showrooming is another concern. People come in and play every guitar you

have for two hours. They come back and you ask what happened and they say, “Oh, I bought one online.” One big thing I’d like to see changed are 24-hour news channels. I don’t care what side of the fence you’re on [politically]. People are coming in and saying, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” We had the slowest holiday season [last year] we’ve had in 25 years. DeStafney: The three days I

spent in Nashville are three of the most relaxing days I’ve had, because I have not turned on a TV; I haven’t looked at the news on my phone. It’s a big stress factor. Wilcher: I have an employee who was saying at the show, “Look at what Donald Trump has done.” I told her to put her phone away. She said “[political coverage] is just so negative.” I said, “It’s because everyone talks about it so negatively.” Like Jim, I turn the TV off.

Mark Malone, Sales Rep

Years at Alfred Music: Twenty-one Instruments: Trombone, baritone, tuba Best Perk of Working at Alfred Music: Working with musicians and print Favorite Genre to Play: Brass music Favorite Artist: Donald Fagen First Concert Experience: John Denver, 1975

Since 1994, Alfred’s Adult All-In-One Course for the piano has been a nationwide phenomenon, bringing the joy of making music to a worldwide classroom! One book covers all the essentials—lesson, theory, and technique—everything you need to start playing piano now! With recognizable melodies to aid learning, and on a variety of platforms, this is still one of the best-selling books on the planet! So simple even a trombone player could understand it (if that were even possible)!

Loy: I haven’t watched the news in 15 years. Political unrest, the hatred that’s being spewed out now. It doesn’t matter what your political viewpoints are. It’s that people are almost ready to attack anyone in this country who doesn’t agree with their viewpoints. That creates a sense of negativity. Many of us read an article about the electric guitar being dead (“Why My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Washington Post, June 22). I’ve heard this for 30 years. We’ve got competition from the internet. Before that, it was catalogs that were killing us. Before that, it was the guy down the road who had a bigger store than us. There’s

“When you walk into a music store, it should be sunshine on a cloudy day. We should be separate from the maelstrom that exists outside.”

Ukulele Defined.


— Allen McBroom

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always been competition in retail. It’s worse now. The media has created “fake news” because it makes them money. They whip people in a frenzy, and money locks down. McBroom: Sensationalism has always been a hotter product to sell than mundane reality. I hesitate to call it fake news. Instead, I prefer engineered reality. A news network shapes a lump of clay its readership finds attractive. That’s one of the challenges we have as retailers. When you cross the threshold of a music store, you need to enter a cultural oasis. Why do we play music in the first place? Because it brings us joy. That’s how we all got started. We thought we were going to be the next Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen. In our minds, when we picked up the guitar, that’s who we were. Now, everywhere you go, this negativity is being shoved down your throat. It doesn’t matter if you are watching Fox News or MSNBC. It’s a negative message. When you walk into a music store, it should be sunshine on a cloudy day. We should be separate from the maelstrom that exists outside our thresholds. That’s something the internet cannot give you. The internet can sell you the cheapest thing for the cheapest price. Or, they can sell you expensive things for the cheapest price. But it can’t hand you a cup of coffee, it can’t call you by name and it can’t ask “Dude, how’s your wife?” What we have to defend ourselves with is our humanity. DeStafney: The two keynote speakers at the [Summer] NAMM sessions were precisely focused on that. The store has to provide an experience, not a warehouse for goods. If it’s just about pricing, we can’t compete. We can create this wonderful place to go to where you can experience joy, try out instruments and interact with people with like desires. That’s going to determine the successful store of the future. Loy: It doesn’t need to be about beautiful, leather couches. It’s the attitude of the people who work there.

The Retailer: So, what are you doing to position yourselves as an experience provider instead of a product retailer? Wilcher: We pretty much have to reinvent ourselves every day. I ask myself every day what we are going to do to make a difference. We recently won a fabulous thing called Xtreme Business Makeover. It was $70,000 in advertising and signage. It allowed us to change all of our graphics on the front windows to look like a big-city location. Honestly, in the 43 years I’ve been doing it, it hasn’t been an experience at my store. I haven’t had to do that until the last few years. DeStafney: Two things are critical. One is community involvement and giving to the community. We established a non-profit organization a few years ago. My wife made 28


it her mission to create this, and we’ve had a lot of people contribute to it. We’ve been able to get instruments in the hands of kids and adults who can’t afford them. What we’re finding is we have people who love us because of it. They will not shop anywhere else. We had someone go on Facebook and give us a one-star review. The woman said three years ago, one of Blues Angel’s guitar teachers told my daughter she was wasting her time as a violinist and should do something else. This happened three years ago, but she just posted it. I tried to explain to her, we didn’t know that teacher said that and the teacher is no longer with us. I said I was really sorry for what happened to her daughter. The defense from our customers was a wave of support. There were several responses regarding that we gave to the community: Jim would never dream of one of his teachers talking to your daughter that way and that she should have said something three years ago to [DeStafney], and he would have handled it on the spot. That connection to the community is huge. The other thing is events and activities. I lean toward free activities. We just tried a free group harmonica lesson for the first time. Forty-five people signed up. They got a free harmonica, a free one-hour lesson and some handouts. We do the same thing with ukuleles every Saturday. I get 40 to 65 people on Saturday mornings at 9:30. My parking lot is full. Those people line up after to buy ukuleles and accessories. Retail is not dead. We’re not all going to sit in our houses all our lives and buy everything on our phones. There will be people who do that, but they will be the minority. Loy: Getting back to what Allen was talking about, I thought I was the next Jimi Hendrix. I wasn’t and had to try something else. But anyway, we have to build dreams. If we don’t, customers will find someone else who will. McBroom: Every person who walks through our doors

“We pretty much have to reinvent ourselves every day. I ask myself every day what we are going to do to make a difference.” — Gordy Wilcher

is looking for something. Some people know what they’re looking for. But I think a large percentage of people who walk through our doors only have a vague idea what they are looking for. Some don’t know if they want acoustic or electric. Some don’t know if they want to play an instrument at all. Look on TV. Look at the movies. When you see musicians playing, are they ever sobbing in



their beer while they are playing? No! They are happy. They emanate happiness. What separates us from the internet is we can ask, “What brought you in today?” They often start out a little reluctant, but then they open up. I get the chance to tell a story and help them find the right instrument. We’re a happy purchase. We’re selling happiness. People don’t come to us because they want to be sad. They come to us because they want to be happy. We have to build the next generation and the generation after that of musicians, not just for financial well-being, but for the well being of the places we live. You don’t hear about riots breaking out when 30 musi-

“Retail is not dead. We’re not all going to sit in our houses all our lives and buy everything on our phones.” — Jim DeStafney

cians get together. Music is a healer and a unifier. Wilcher: We all are iMSO members. Our initial mission statement was, “Anybody can sell an instrument. We’re creating musicians.” The intent of the group was to do that. We are doing events with ukuleles, and on Thursday nights, we have artists play. I’m going to copy what these guys are doing (laughs). McBroom: It’s funny you say that. People often ask us when we will have a “spring cleaning” event. That’s an idea I stole from Gordy. Loy: That is a great idea that costs you absolutely nothing. McBroom: Just doughnuts and coffee. Wilcher: We didn’t even have doughnuts and coffee (everyone laughs).

The Retailer: By coming to Summer NAMM, you are taking three or four days out of your busy schedules. Are you finding a lot of value coming to Nashville? How is it helping you? Loy: One idea properly implemented will reimburse you for any time and expense. But if you went home with only one good idea, I’d say it was a “slow” show. There are a lot of good ideas [at Summer NAMM]. Even just talking to people on the food lines and waiting to get onto the show floor can be really valuable. I’ve found there are ideas that other people have made a killing on that I’ve never even considered. DeStafney: That’s a great point. I’ve been coming to NAMM Shows for 20 years. What has determined the value of the show has shifted dramatically from product to knowledge. The great value for me was Doug Stephens, who talked [during the July 13 NAMM Breakfast Session] about what defines a great retail experience today and in the future. He talked about a great process called journey mapping (see “Smashville,” Aug. 15 issue, cover). [NAMM President and CEO] Joe Lamond asked me after the event what I thought about the session. I said if I take home the one point about journey mapping, and implement that by analyzing the processes in my store, that would more than pay for the trip to NAMM. The mistake I’ve made in the past is to take too much information back and try to implement it all. It’s overload, so I’m taking this journey mapping idea and will have journey mapping sessions. McBroom: The most valuable thing for me at the NAMM Show is the Idea Center. If you’re not sure you’re on the right track or want to get started on something, they will have one or two sessions on whatever that topic is with knowledgeable people, and it’s free. [Retailers] literally 30


“We have to build dreams. If we don’t, customers will find someone else who will.” — Bryan Loy

Manufacturer of





4X S W









Wilcher: So many of our customers say, “I’d love to go to that NAMM Show. Is there any way we can go to the NAMM Show?” DeStafney: I just want to say [in closing] that we all appreciate what the Music & Sound Retailer does for the independent [retailer]. You’ve supported us, and the fact that you let us humble retailers be heard in your magazine is fantastic. Thanks so much for that.


come here and tell you how to compete with them. Find another industry that will do that. I can’t think of one. The Breakfast Sessions are No. 2. The right way to approach a NAMM Show is to bring several people and everybody goes different ways. When the day is over, sit down and talk to each other [other employees from your store] and debrief. Ask each other what they saw. If you come to the NAMM Show without a plan of attack, you are wasting your time. You are here for you. And use the NAMM app and put your schedule in it. Use the tools they give you. And do not be afraid to walk up to retail “deity.” They are very accessible. DeStafney: I have a funny story. I remember being at a NAMM U session a few years ago — I believe it was in Anaheim — and there was a session about how to compete with Sweetwater and other online goliaths. I sat down with my headphones on and looked over and there was [Sweetwater Founder] Chuck Surack sitting there, taking notes about how retailers should compete with him. That shows the dedication he has as a retailer. McBroom: Battling the internet is something we have to do. One thing we have to do is raise our stock value in our communities. Jim is excellent at this and is great at having events. But if you are a one-man or two-man operation and don’t have the people or pocketbook to spend on these events, one thing you can do is hop on a plane or rent a car and come to NAMM and take photographs and videos and post them to your Facebook page. Don’t put them all out there in one day. Spread it out over a month. Reinforce to the people who follow you on Facebook, or whatever social media venue you choose, that you’re a big deal. You went to the NAMM Show. “I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the industry and I’m the go-to guy. Here’s a picture of me with whomever. That great new product? I saw it first.” For us, that’s one of the greatest values of NAMM. It raises our stock. Very few stores [where I am] in northern Mississippi show up here. I refuse to miss it.








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(continued from cover)

Flyod Rose

Martin Guitars

Elixir Strings

Shubb Capos


Floyd Rose’s FR-360 Pro Series Wireless Sport Earbuds

Martin Guitar’s Model America 1

Real American Martin Guitar’s Model America 1 is a limited-edition, made-in-the-USA dreadnought based on Martin’s D-18. This guitar features all U.S.-sourced woods, including sycamore back and sides, a cherry neck, and a black walnut fingerboard, headplate and bridge, as well as an Adirondack spruce top and bracing. The tuning gears are also made in the U.S. by Sperzel.

Super Pro

Floyd Rose’s FR-360 Pro Series Wireless Sport Earbuds with In-Line Microphone are handcrafted and deliver world-class sound combined with state-ofthe-art, high-fidelity technology and luxury design. It delivers true balanced highs and lows for superior audiophile sound, plus clarity and comfort. The Contact: Martin Guitar, 610.759.2837, FR-360’s driver offers a full 20-20,000Hz frequency range for warm and articulate recreation of sound. It features an anti-tangle cable with builtin microphone and volume control. ™ Cushioned earbuds offer comfort A by Revelle and deliver isolation from outside New Design in Violin Cases FINALLY, STRONG DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN HEAVY. noise without adding bulk. Each Lightweight Superior Suspension Ultra Durable Warranty pair of FR-360 earbuds includes a deluxe carrying case and power bank charger. Available in black or white. The MSRP is $169.95.

Revelle•u•tionary CrossTECH

Contact: Floyd Rose, 732.919.6200,

Pack Mentality Elixir Strings’ 3 Packs feature the company’s best-selling acoustic and electric strings. They come packed in a display box for convenient secondary placement. The 3 Packs are promoted to consumers as two sets, plus one bonus set. Elixir Strings is offering 3 Packs for acoustic and electric guitars in a variety of metals, coatings and gauges.

At just

5lbs. CrossTECH technology provides the strength and protection of a traditional hard case.


Contact: Elixir Strings, 800.367.5533, SEPTEMBER 2017

Shubb Capos’ EC-1

Electro-Harmonix’s Dual Expression Pedal

Elixir Strings’ 3 Packs

Capo Craft Shubb Capos’ EC-1 is available in limited quantities. This hand-engraved capo includes a handcrafted wooden gift box. It is the ideal gift for a guitarist who has everything, and has a flair for the flamboyant. Free shipping is included within the U.S. The MSRP is $150. Shipping now. Contact: Shubb Capos, 707.843.4068,

Time to Dual Electro-Harmonix’s Dual Expression Pedal features a dual-output design that gives hands-free control of two functions or devices from a single source. Each expression output has independent range and reverse, plus a polarity switch for maximum compatibility with a wide range of gear. Two TRS cables are included. Contact: Electro-Harmonix, 718.937.8300,



DigiTech BOSS’ Solderless Pedalboard Cable Kit




Gruv Gear Gruv Gear’s QUIVR

DigiTech’s SDRUM Pedal

PreSonus’ Quantum

Let’s Get Personal

By the Board

DigiTech’s SDRUM Pedal is a musician’s own personal drummer, always ready to learn a new song. Users can think of a groove, grab their guitar, scratch out a bar or two, and SDRUM’s BeatScratch technology will build a full drum accompaniment based on what they played. They’ll get a verse and chorus automatically, making it simple to perform complete songs using the footswitch to control playback. They can even add a bridge part, change kits or try out countless pattern variations that never stray from their basic groove. The heart of the SDRUM is DigiTech’s beat and pitch detection technology that recognizes high and low strings as the player strums, and assigns kick and snare hits to those strings. SDRUM allows the player to further customize these grooves with five kits, three intensity levels per groove, and swing and straight selections, as well as hi-hat and ride variations. They can also tap in a rhythm using the kick and snare pads. The SDRUM features separate outs for amp and full-range mixer connections. Up to 36 songs can be stored and recalled. Shipping now.

BOSS’ Solderless Pedalboard Cable Kit is a solution for custom pedalboard wiring. The kit is designed to save pedalboard space without sacrificing tone. These do-it-yourself kits allow players to configure their pedalboards to suit their individual needs. The customizable system requires only the tightening of a single ground screw on each connector, with no cable stripping required. Compact bi-directional ¼-inch plugs are engineered to allow straight or right-angle connections, enabling pedals to be placed as close as one centimeter apart. The low-capacitance, studio-grade cable is manufactured using oxygen-free copper and braided shielding for quiet operation with lasting durability. The extra-pliable cable allows for clean cable management and a tidier-looking pedal board. In addition, premium 24-karat gold-plated contacts ensure high-quality, precise sound. Individual kits are available with a variety of cable lengths and connectors. A 2.5-millimiter screwdriver tool is included with the six-foot, 12-foot and 24-foot kits. Two-foot kit: $19.99; six-foot kit: $49.99; 12-foot kit: $89.99; 24-foot kit: $149.99; pack of 100 bulk connectors: $500; 150-foot cable spools: $300.

Contact: KMC Music, 855.417.8677,


Contact: BOSS, 323.890.3700,


Quantum Leap PreSonus’ Quantum 26x32 Thunderbolt 2 low-latency audio interface is a solution for a wide variety of recording environments. The 26x32-channel Quantum is PreSonus’ fastest and best-sounding audio/MIDI interface, taking advantage of the high-speed Thunderbolt 2 bus and a nofrills, direct-to-DAW (no DSP added) signal path to achieve extremely low latency. It features 24-bit, 192-kilohertz converters with 120 decibels of dynamic range and recallable XMAX microphone preamps. For more input and output channels, users may stack up to four Quantum interfaces via Thunderbolt to create a monster 96x96 system. Using the included Studio One Artist DAW or UC Surface control software, users can remote-control the preamps and many other features. To top it off, Quantum owners get the Studio Magic plug-in suite free and can upgrade to Studio One Professional for 50-percent off. Contact: PreSonus, 225.216.7887,

Dance the Night Away Casio’s LK-265 portable keyboard features 400 high-quality tones, 150 built-in rhythms and Casio’s Key Lighting System, which illuminates keys to indicate which notes to play. In addition, the LK-265 comes equipped with Casio’s new Dance Music Mode, which divides the piano keyboard into different instrument sections like drums, bass and more, and also features a direct connection to the Chordana Play app, which allows users to download their favorite songs via MIDI file. Contact: Casio, 800.836.8580,

Hit the Bull’s-Eye Gruv Gear’s QUIVR is a drum stick bag that features quick-draw pockets on its left panel that pop out up to six sticks for speedy access while playing, while the right panel keeps a drum key within reach and a larger drop-in pocket to accommodate mallets, brushes, bundle sticks and more. QUIVR also folds into a sleek standalone bag that can be worn cross-sling, or over the shoulder, and tethers to the Gruv Gear Club or Stadium Bag to create a flip-out, free-standing holster for up to six pairs of sticks. Contact: Gruv Gear, 714.253.4788, MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Casio’s LK-265

(continued on page 54)

Spicer’s Spices Up Make Music Alabama

Spicer’s Music celebrated Make Music Alabama on Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. in the Gay Street Municipal Parking Lot in Auburn, Ala. The retailer, who won two NAMM Top 100 Dealer Awards in July, had a goal to have more than 1,500 musicians playing together at one time. This year, Spicer’s Music was joined by Ken Block and Drew Copeland of Sister Hazel, who played its hit, “All For You.”

Musical Innovations Goes to Camp

Grandma’s Music & Sound Closes

Albuquerque, N.M.-based Grandma’s Music & Sound announced on Facebook on July 28 that it would close its doors “for good” after 34 years in business. A final clearance began July 29, and the store was officially closed as of Aug. 1. According to Grandma’s, it attempted to open a smaller location across the street from its storefront. “We poured our hearts into it, but the risks and commitments are too high in the new retail environment,” the retailer wrote on Facebook. “We love the Albuquerque music scene, Grandma’s and everyone that made it happen the last 34 years,” Grandma’s added. “Thank you. With deep appreciation — Micky, Ryan and Patty.” The MI retailer received an outpouring of support from the community, with more than 500 comments in just a couple of days. Many reminisced about experiences in the store and expressed sadness it will be closing. Grandma’s Music & Sound also received many Music & Sound Awards from the Retailer throughout the years.

Musical Innovations hosted its Start Right String Camps from July 31 to Aug. 4 and Start Right Band Camp from Aug. 7 to 11. The fee for both camps was $75, and they took place in Greenville, S.C. Owner Tracy E. Leenman promoted the retailer’s Start Right Band Camp on WYFFTV. “Starter camps are really important because it’s for parents and students who — if the students are starting bands or strings this fall — parents tend to be apprehensive about what instrument they will play or if they will like the instrument,” Leenman said during the interview. “This [camp] will give them the opportunity to try the instruments … and we work with them to try to make them succeed. We also have a string camp that gives [campers] a whole week to get started, put it together and take care of [the instrument], and that also avoids maintenance problems and accidents when they start band.” Leenman also brought trombones to the TV set, which she demonstrated during the broadcast.

Riding the Wave

Korg partnered with Detroit independent Third Wave Music to co-host Korg Waves, an interactive synth event. Korg provided multiple minilogues, its Volca line, a microKORG to honor its 15th anniversary, plus more. Attendees were given the opportunity to demo a wide variety of gear, converse with product specialists and enjoy local performances, including Rebecca Goldberg and Nardo, Detroit artists who focused their sets mainly around the Korg minilogue, monologue and Volcas. “It was great to see musicians and synth enthusiasts alike, from all over the country, join at Third Wave Music to demo our gear,” said Evan Smith, inside sales representative for Korg USA. “I’ve worked with Third Wave as its sales rep for some time now and was fortunate enough to come down and share in the experience. I’m honored they asked Korg to be a part of this event.”

36 36


Campbell Music Donates to B.C. Wildfire Efforts

Three Doors Down

Kamloops, B.C.-based Campbell Music donated $1 per sale of in-stock strings and 100 percent of the profit from the sale of any Riversong-branded product to the Canadian Red Cross in support of British Columbia wildfire victims. “Our Riversong dealer in Fort Mac, Campbell’s Music, knows all too well what it is like to have to be evacuated by the threat of wildfire, and they have made an amazing offer to help support the people of B.C. in our time of need,” said Riversong’s Mike Miltimore.

Washington Music Center Hosts Pat Martino

Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center (WMC) hosted a master class with jazz guitarist Pat Martino. WMC’s Sean Robinson presented the following email to the Music & Sound Retailer about the event: “For the past 10 years at Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center, I’ve had the pleasure of arranging and hosting top-notch workshops, clinics and master classes taught by some of the finest musicians in the world. Our goal was to add more to the Washington Music Center shopping expe-

rience for our customers who have been with us for over 50 years and, of course, gain new customers as well. On June 24, I was proud to host a master class with jazz guitarist Pat Martino, co-sponsored by GHS Strings. This was his second class at the store. His first was in 2011. Martino was in town performing at the legendary Blues Alley Jazz Club in Washington, D.C., with his Pat Martino Organ Trio. His was billed as an advanced skill-level class, with a focus on broadening the way a guitarist approaches his or her instrument. An eight-page booklet distributed to the students at the beginning, “Martino Fundementals — A Broader Interpretation of the Guitar,” illustrated his approach to the guitar using formulas, transformations and geometric tables that resemble more of a university-level calculus course than your average guitar method book. He used this booklet throughout the two-hour class, along with pre-recorded chord changes and melodies for demonstration purposes. Private teachers and school instructors were encouraged to help promote the class by offering group rates for them and their students. This advanced-grade presentation did not dissuade young high school students in attendance; they were up to the challenge. Most attendees knew the Pat Martino story. Martino, now 72, who had been considered a jazz guitar legend since the mid-60s, suffered a lifethreatening brain aneurysm in 1976. The resulting surgery left him with no memory of his career or even his guitar. By going back and listening to recordings of his own performances, he was able to teach himself to play again. He didn’t just return to his old form, but actually surpassed himself. Now, he is not only considered one of the top jazz musicians, he is also one of the top educators of the guitar.” MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

Instrumental Music Center (IMC) has leased a storefront three doors down from the Speedway and Kolb locations in Tucson, Ariz., adding an additional 1,400 square feet. The build-out for the new space started in November 2016, with the facility becoming fully operational just recently. The space’s six repair benches were custom built to the specifications and requirements of each repair person. The brass bench is very large to accommodate tubas and sousaphones. The woodwind benches have been designed for optimal height and ease of access to parts. The Repair Shop manager, James Gunn, is centrally located to provide any needed advice or feedback. With the expansion, the company’s string repair department is now three times larger, taking the space of the previous brass and woodwind repair areas. “This has given us the opportunity to customize and upgrade the shop to the most modern level available. We’ve also been able to upgrade organization of parts and tools to make our shop more efficient and safe,” said Michael Faltin, co-owner of IMC. IMC also recently purchased a $10,000 ultrasonic cleaner for brass repairs and now has an expanded shipping and receiving area. “In 1999, when we opened the store, UPS would drop off one or two boxes per day. Now, we are getting pallets of musical instruments and accessories almost daily. We have secured several state contracts, making it easier for schools to place orders with IMC, increasing our business even more.” said Leslie Faltin, co-owner of IMC. “In 2016, we were struggling to move that amount of inventory with such a small space. So, we decided to move and upgrade the receiving department to give staff a more efficient and comfortable work space. The timing is perfect, as our business is up about 20 percent this year.” IMC also hosted its third-annual Instrument Play Date on Aug. 6 from noon to 5 p.m. All of the musical instruments that are common to school band and orchestras were available to try, and Instrumental Music Center brought in local musicians to assist people in making a “representative sound” on whichever instruments they found interesting. This event was free and open to the public. Instrumental Music Center offered a free music stand, free lesson and free music folder with any instrument rental that day. “Many beginning band and orchestra students are asked to pick which instrument they will play in school, without trying it first,” said Leslie Faltin. “This is an amazing opportunity for aspiring musicians to find the instrument that best fits them.” 3737



By Brian Berk So much for talk of the electric guitar being dead. Québec, Canada-based Godin Guitars, which counts Guitar Center, Sam Ash, Sweetwater, The Music Zoo, Cream City Music and Musician’s Friend among its U.S. dealers, is having one of its best years ever, led by its eponymous and Seagull brands, as well as Simon & Patrick, Art & Lutherie, La Patrie, Norman, Tric Case and Acoustic Solutions. To learn much more about what’s going on at the company, we spent five minutes with Mario Biferali, Godin Guitars’ vice president of sales, to learn how music “saved him,” what separates Godin from its competitors and much more. Enjoy.

The Music & Sound Retailer: Discuss how you first became involved in music and what you enjoy most about the industr y. Mario Biferali: Like a lot of people, I started playing guitar as a kid. I heard “Highway Star” from Deep Purple and immediately asked my dad for a guitar. I was nine or 10 at the time. I was lucky enough to attend a fine arts high school. That really saved me. I wasn’t a jock. I wasn’t a cool kid. I was just this kid who loved to play guitar. At the fine arts school, I finally fit in. I became much more interested in music, and the teachers were amazing. After high school, I went to college for music, and in my early 20s I toured across Canada with my band. We got signed to a record deal, but nothing really big happened [regarding achieving fame] beyond Canada. When the tours stopped, I started teaching guitar at a local music store and noticed reps would come in selling products. That was when I realized there was this completely other side of the music industry. The way I got to Godin Guitars is that at the music store 38


where I worked, I started teaching Simon Godin. Simon would always come in for his lessons with these amazing Godin guitars. One day, when his dad, [Godin Guitars Founder] Robert [Godin] came in to the store to pick up Simon, I asked him for a job. What I like most about this industry is that everyone is passionate about what they do, so you immediately have something in common with whomever you meet.

The Retailer: When did you join the company? Tell us about your work experience. Biferali: It’s going to be 20 years next May that I began working for Godin Guitars. I started in customer service and really enjoyed it. I took every opportunity that became available. I remember I was only here two months and they were attending the Summer NAMM Show. I overheard Robert questioning if he needed another guy to attend the show and I said, “I’ll do it.” One of the first calls I received in customer service was from Metallica’s management. They wanted to buy Multiacs. I said to myself, “Oh my god! I love this place.” The company was growing quickly. There were a lot of opportunities, but nobody was going to tell you to do a particular job. You just had to roll up your sleeves and do it. I got involved in artist relations, I started doing product trainings, travelling with the sales reps. Whatever needed to be done, I was up for it. I would bring guitars home on the weekends. I really wanted to understand what they did and how they functioned. I would use them on my gigs and recording sessions. I knew the instruments really well, and that really helped me when I was talking with retailers. I really love guitars, and I think Robert noticed I loved them and was really passionate about them. After a while, I was managing key accounts, as well as the sales reps, and four or five years ago, I was promoted to vice president of sales. The Retailer: What is the best part about your job? Tell us about your job and who/ MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

what you are responsible for. Biferali: The people we work with at the office are great. We’re friends. We literally hang out outside of work hours. We have days that are very hard, and we have days that are a breeze. Every day is different, and you need to really know how to switch gears quickly.

I am responsible for anything that is sales related in North America. I work closely with Simon Godin, who handles marketing, as well as with our sales manager, Carl Langevin. There are production meetings, forecasts, key accounts to visit, and making sure I am available for whatever might pop

up during the day, like checking out new prototypes, which is always lots of fun. The other thing I really like about my job is that there is always something new. We don’t rest on our laurels. Everyone is involved in one way or another, whether it’s choosing a style of pick guard or color for


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a new guitar, or even which picture we like better for our website. It’s very creative. So to answer your question, the people and the creativity are what I like best about my job.

The Retailer: What differentiates Godin from competitor manufacturers? Biferali: We make guitars right here in Canada, as well as in the U.S. We’re very proud of that. We are constantly trying to push the envelope. We question ourselves every single day. How can we be better? I believe we make guitars that are solutions for musicians. For example, our Godin Multiacs can be used in any live situation. Plug them in and go! Whether it’s a club or arena, the Multiacs are designed to be virtually feedback-free, and musicians appreciate that. The Retailer: Tell us about your approach when it comes to the brick-and-mortar channel. How dedicated you are to this channel compared to the internet? Biferali: We’re very dedicated to the brick-and-mortar channel. The most important thing we do is support retailers by simply being present and supportive. We work with our retailers. I have retailers telling me pretty much every month, “I see your reps more than any other company.” We are in the stores. We’re training. We’re making sure the guitars are looking the way they should. We’re hosting factory tours and we’re listening to our customers. We are not just phoning it in. We’re very big on training, and it really works. I was in a music store the other day, and one of the sales guys was ready to provide me with a full pitch on Seagull Guitars, the benefit of the tapered head stock, the doublefunction truss rod, etc. It was amazing to see and hear.



Also, supporting our dealers can mean different things to different retailers. We offer exclusive limited-run guitars and special-edition models that you won’t always see online. We offer in-store performances led by finger-style virtuosos Doyle Dykes, Peppino D’Agostino, as well as other Godin endorsers, and we promote these non-stop. We use social media to highlight dealers and special events to drive store traffic. And lastly, we’ve been working on in-store sales contests that the dealers can really get behind.

The Retailer: Do you have any advice for retailers when selling your products? Biferali: I really think that hearing is believing. One of my biggest recommendations is to hand the guitar to the customer. I’ve been in stores where the salesperson was “ripping” away on a guitar and the customer got intimidated and never picked it up. Once people have the guitar in their hands, they will feel and hear the difference. Also, I would suggest to not make it about price point. Instead of asking “What to do want to spend?” or “What’s your budget?” It should be about qualifying the customer. Will you be recording? Playing live? Do you just want something to strum around the house? Something for the beach? It has to be about what fits their needs. People will spend the money, if it fits their needs. I feel that meeting customers’ needs leads to building trust and repeat sales. I have found it really works. Sometimes, you will sell the $3,000 guitar, and sometimes, you will sell the $299 guitar. But either way, the customer will be back because they know you have their best interest at heart and you can be trusted. You have to think long-term. The Retailer: There was a lot of talk at Summer NAMM about a June article in the Washington Post alleging the electric guitar is “dead.” Overall, what is the state of the guitar industr y today in North America? Biferali: I had some issues with that article (“Why My Guitar Gently Weeps,” June 22). GoMUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

din Guitars is having a great year because we are fulfilling a need. Our electric guitars are doing extremely well. It’s a great time [to be in MI], if you don’t rest on your laurels. If you’re listening to the end user, and what customers want, it’s truly a great time. For sure, there are ups and downs, but we can’t sit around and whine. All three of my kids play music. It’s our job as parents to expose our kids to music. I see 14-year-old kids riding around the neighborhood on $2,000 scooters. Why not get your kid a $500 guitar and $500 amp instead? The problem I have with the article is it mixes business with passion. You need to separate the commerce side from the hobby or passion side of it. Guitars are sold every day. It doesn’t mean that if you’re not selling $20,000 guitars all day long that the electric guitar is dead. The article clearly states that there are more builders than ever. Maybe things are just spread out a little more. And, as we all know, there are tons of used guitars sold on sites like Letgo, Craigslist, etc. … so I wonder if they took that into consideration. The article also mentions that there are no more guitar heroes. I feel this is also completely untrue. There are tons of guitar heroes out there, including John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, Tosin Abasi, John Petrucci, Derek Trucks to name a few. My 15-year-old is a huge Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance fan. (The guitar players from Avenged Sevenfold.) I might not know them as well, but I know my kid is learning every song from that band, and those guys are his heroes. Also, YouTube has created lots of guitar heroes. They’re just not the same guys we grew up with, that’s all.

Seagull in 2018 that we’re really excited about.

The Retailer: What can we expect from Godin in the future? Biferali: We’re always exploring the world of different stringed instruments. Recently, we’ve introduced a modern version of the Cavaquinho, an oud, as well as a tres. We will also be introducing a Doyle Dykes signature Godin that we’ve been working on for over a year. The Retailer: Anything you’d like to add? Biferali: It’s always nice talk-

ing to you Brian. Thank you for this interview opportunity. One thing I’d like to add is that we need to encourage our kids to play music and discover the arts. I think all manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure we are supporting music, (many already do, and it’s great) no matter if it’s through donations, school programs or scholarships. In fact, that’s why we created the Seagull Merlin Dulcimer guitar. We go to schools and promote music making. If we can just get one out of every 10 kids to pick up an instrument, not only will it help the industry, it will be an amazing gift for that kid.

The Retailer: Please tell us about cool new products you have released recently/at Summer NAMM. Biferali: We have some new electric Godin guitars from the Custom Shop. We wanted to build a handful of supercharged stunners and we did! We were very pleased with the response we got at NAMM. Our new Passion Series bass also got a lot of attention at the show, as did the Art & Lutherie acoustics. We also have some new things in the works for 41


HEADING TO THE JERSEY SHORE (SANS SNOOKI) The Jersey Shore is known for many things, including beautiful beaches and, of course, that reality show that ran on MTV for six seasons. The 141-mile stretch of land is also well known for its music history, including being Bruce Springsteen’s hometown, as well as some legendary music hangouts. My mission was simply to find the best place to shop for a solid, beginner acoustic guitar, spending $500 or less. Since I have recently spied on the hip towns of Red Bank and Asbury Park, I prepared to look at competing music stores in other shore towns. Disguised as a middle-aged guitarist helping a friend to get started with a new guitar, I practiced a couple of acoustic licks sure to impress and headed out to learn what the stores had to offer.


Ocean County Music 619 Arnold Ave. Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742 732.899.8282

Arnold Avenue is a main artery in the town of Point Pleasant with a nice mix of main-street stores frequented by both the year-round residents andvacationers. Ocean County Music is conveniently located on a busy stretch of the street between the free parking on the main street and a large public parking lot. This music store looks sizable from the street and, while it was spacious, everything is in one large room. There were small PA systems, some drums and amps, but the stock seemed limited. I easily located the acoustic-guitar wall and was happy to see a nice assortment of body styles (steel string and nylon) and prices, but all the instruments were from one manufacturer. I browsed for a while, but was not acknowledged by the only sales person sitting just a few feet away. So, for a few minutes, the only customer (me) was not recognized by the only sales person, who was about 15 feet away. He was so quiet and motionless, I remember thinking that he would make a good spy. Eventually, our eyes met and it felt awkward. I introduced myself as someone shopping for a beginner guitar for a friend and was happy to get some good information about beginner guitars. Before we got too deep into the sales process, I asked, “Do you have any beginner guitars from other manufacturers?” I thought it was a reasonable question, and I didn’t mean it to diminish the guitars on the wall, but I think he took it that way, and our conversation went cold. Instead of an answer, I was told how great Washburn guitars are. I understood his position, so I was happy to move on. I generated some conversation, complimenting several of the guitars, including a nice Washburn Parlor guitar around $300 and a big-sounding Washburn Cumberland at around $500. I was feeling like we were back on track. Ocean County Music was offering a great price on a Washburn Comfort Series WCG25SCE electric acoustic with a built-in Fishman tuner/preamp system. I asked some questions that I thought would be important for a beginner, but was frustrated that our conversation always returned to pricing. To his credit, the salesperson was trying to show me the best deals, but he didn’t ask any of the important questions about how the guitar would be used or show interest in musical styles, nor did he offer any benefits that features or body styles might have for a beginner. When I asked about support and setup, I was told that they tune every guitar they sell. SEPTEMBER 2017

Clarizio Music Studio 2428 Bridge Ave #101 Point Pleasant, NJ 08742 732.295.6644

Just a few miles south and just west of the sleepy beach town of Bay Head, N.J., I found Clarizio Music Studio in a small strip of stores. Clarizio is two stores side-byside, with one devoted to guitar sales and the other for lessons and music supplies. Both spaces are easily accessible from the parking lot. I didn’t have to do much spying here at all, since one of the owners met me as I came through the door and was happy to share information about the store and their stock of guitars. Clarizio sells mostly acoustic guitars, and while the space is limited, they have done a great job of displaying a good selection of instruments. The store was spotless and well organized. Stepping into the guitar sales area, I found lots of interesting guitars, many ideal for a beginner at an assortment of price points. The owner offered some suggestions for guitars that would be good for a beginner, invited me to try them out and stayed within earshot. Her recommendations for beginners were right on, starting at the high end with a Seagull S6 QIT at $500 that played and sounded great. I tried several lower-priced options, including a Fender Squier SA 55 acoustic and a Recording King ROH-05 “dirty thirties” model, both under $200. I realized, as we spoke, that the owner’s personal experience helping students to buy their first guitars and upgrade from lesser models made her a real expert on both guitar models and guitar students, young and old. Something that stood out at this store was that all the guitars I tried, even the ones at lower price points, played well. I asked about guitar setup and the owner told me that they have a professional guitar tech that works out of their store. She also said that they encourage everyone who buys a guitar to spend an additional $60 to have the tech set up the guitar for them. For a beginner, this can mean that they don’t have to “fight” with their guitar to make it play. As I made a move for the door, the owner made sure I had her and her husband’s name and handed me a business card so I could call if I had any questions. The store seemed to really care about its students and the instruments it was selling. Even with limited space, they managed to maintain a welcoming and well functioning environment to find and buy a beginner instrument.


Guitar Center 2323 Route 66 Ocean Township, NJ 07712 732.493.0614

Located between the rock-music mecca of Asbury Park and the Garden State Parkway is Guitar Center’s Ocean, N.J., store. It’s a big store, but if you drive down Route 66 too quickly you might miss it. The store is buried as one of the end units of the somewhat scattered Seaview Mall. As a result, there is always plenty of parking. After being greeted by a salesperson stationed at the door, I wandered among a few lonely rock and rollers noodling on electric guitars. The instruments in this store are well organized in departments around the central sales counters. The acoustic guitars, however, are not out on the floor, but on display in a humidity-controlled room of their own, where you can’t hear much, if anything, from the young electric rockers or djembe drum enthusiasts. Several benches are available along with a nice lineup of amplification for the acoustic/ electrics, including a Bose L1 system and several Fishman acoustic amps. As I entered the acoustic room, I had noted a well organized (but unmanned) repair bench just outside the door. Inside, I found a boatload of acoustics, with the majority of them being right in my price range. There was a lot to try out. One problem: no sales person. I went out on the floor and entered the room again, making sure I was seen. Then, I killed about 10 minutes trying out a nice Mahogany Taylor GS Mini Acoustic with a $499 price tag, thinking that it would be ideal for a young or small player. Still, no sales person. Sadly, I could spy no more here without help because the guitars were hung three-high up the wall, and most of the guitars in my price range were out of reach in the top row. I fought off my spy nature to remain “under the radar” and made myself known to the only salesperson in sight. He agreed to help me. I was relieved that the Guitar Center salesperson was knowledgeable about guitars, since I could have easily picked a drum tech off the floor. He provided his personal preferences for a beginner instruments in our price range, including an Ibanez Artwood AW54CE acoustic/ electric for $299 and a Breedlove Discovery Dreadnought that was on sale at $249. There were many other Yamaha, Fender and Ibanez options and, while the salesperson claimed that all the guitars are carefully set up before they are displayed, I found a few to be rough to play. I was happy when he indicated that if something was really off, that they would take care of it. He was clearly anxious to get back to the floor, so we parted ways. 43

Freehold Music Center — Drums & Guitars 3681 Route 9 North Freehold, NJ 07728 732.462.6860

Just a few minutes inland from the hustle and bustle of the Jersey Shore traffic is Freehold Music Center. Well known in the area for its piano sales, the store now has two locations: one for piano sales and one for musical instruments. I found the Drums & Guitars store in a tired-looking mall on Route 9. Parking was easy, and the store was spacious but bare bones. Teaching rooms were at the back of the store with gear set out along several long aisles. There were no slick displays and nothing particularly stood out in the store as new, must-check-this-out gear. Fortunately for my mission, the guitars were the most organized and plentiful items in the store. I found a good selection of acoustic guitars in our price range with, surprisingly, quite a few set up for left-handed players. Some drum thrones and guitar stands were scattered along the aisle to provide a place to sit while trying out guitars. No frills here, but quite a few guitars, and that’s what I was after. I spent about 15 minutes browsing and making mental notes about guitars that I thought would be good for a beginner. Ultimately, the store manager asked if I needed help. I explained my need for a beginner guitar and the price range, and he immediately recommended a Yamaha FG830 at $300 that played well and had a deep, rich tone. A similar Alvarez AD70CE with spruce top and rosewood back and sides sounded good, as well, and for $400 included LR Baggs StagePro electronics. The manager was able to both demonstrate the guitars and talk knowledgeably about his stock. More importantly, he brought me directly to what I thought were the best instruments in our price range. All the instruments I tried played well and, as is my practice, I did my “spy thing” and surreptitiously did a visual check of the action on several other guitars while we were talking. They all looked good. I noted a guitar work area on the sales counter and confirmed my assumption that all the setup and adjustment work was done there by the manager. While it took some time to get the sales process started, the manager was friendly and helpful. I thought he did a great job of showing me around, and he was the only salesperson to mention a warranty. I did get the sense that he might be the only person working in this large store, as we were interrupted once by someone with questions about scheduling lessons. He handled it well, but had to traverse the store to answer their question. I couldn’t help but imagine what would happen on a busy day there. As I headed out, he offered me a business card and headed off to attend to another customer.

The Sale

With my spying for the day done, here is what I found: Guitar Center’s location in Ocean was well organized and presented a good selection of guitars in my price range. The acoustic guitars were also in a good place to try them out, away from the typical noise of the sales floor. Once I tracked down a sales person, I got some personal attention and advice, but I had to lead most of the conversation. They offered lots of choices, but beginners could be on their own here. At Ocean County Music in Point Pleasant, I also had to lead the conversation, and my dealings with the sales person were awkward. Plus, with only one acoustic guitar manufacturer’s instruments to offer, the choices were limited. It wasn’t clear if they were interested in setting up a guitar, or if they even could. Freehold Music Center offered a great selection, but the surroundings were a bit rough. I wasn’t engaged right away, but had a good experience once the conversation started. However, if you hit this store when it’s busy, it’s likely to be noisy and have limited sales help. Clarizio Music Studio in Point Pleasant is my choice for the best retail experience on this mission, and where I would buy my acoustic guitar from. Well acquainted with first-time guitar buyers, the salesperson was pleasant, offered sound advice and had an excellent selection of guitars in my price range. I felt no pressure, but the salesperson was available throughout my visit. The store is clearly proud of its resident guitar tech, and all the guitars I tried played well, regardless of the price. This spy left feeling that this store really cared about finding the right guitar for its customers.




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KEEP IT By Donovan Bankhead

Keep it 100. That’s what the cool kids say nowadays when they are saying something that is 100-percent real, unfiltered, sometimes brutal, truth. If you haven’t read the first two installments in this series, it’s worth checking them out before going further. You can find them by visiting the issue archives at or my author page at I have heard from so many of you that have read the first two articles in this series, and we have really struck a nerve here. Apparently, I am not alone in my struggles, and as the old saying goes, misery loves company! I told those who have reached out to me that this series has probably been the easiest thing I’ve ever written. However, it has also been the hardest to allow to be made public. Dealing with your struggles and failures in a public setting, where your peers (and competitors) can see your fears and flaws, is a daunting task. But by bringing these issues out into the open, you find they aren’t that scary and they can be dealt with. However, like all monsters, it’s best to engage them one at a time so that you aren’t fighting the entire horde. In the previous articles, I talked about why we do what we do. I laid bare how I had lost my passion, despite the outward signs of success, and what I was doing to get myself (and by extension, my company) back on track. Today, we will dive into another one of my negative obsessions: COMPETITION. Don’t get me wrong, being competitive as a retailer is a strength. However, I’m reminded by something a previous employee once told me: “Oftentimes, your greatest strength is also your biggest weakness.” Boy, was she right. For my entire career in the music industry, I’ve been the underdog. Never as large, smart, organized or well-capitalized as my local competition. However, I’m quick to adapt, and I believe Pablo Picasso said it best: “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” So, I would analyze my competition, and adapt what they were doing that was working for my business. A little of this isn’t a bad thing. It’s a quick way to get up to par. However, it can quickly become an obsession, one in which you are more focused on your competition then 46

you are on your customers — a fatal flaw. Doing this also robs you of building your creative muscles. Many people think they aren’t creative, but this is a farce. All humans are creative. It’s just that some have invested more time developing that skill than others. I didn’t realize how out of bounds my obsession with competitors had gotten until something scrolled across my Facebook timeline. A customer, who was a band director for one of our largest and most successful programs, posted a meme that read: “If you continuously compete with others, you become bitter. But if you continuously compete with yourself, you become better.” At first, I did what most of us do. I smiled in acknowledgement of this simple truth, liked his post and kept scrolling. As I was scrolling, those words kept resonating in my head. I went back and read it again. There is a lot of truth in this phrase. I saved the picture and made it the wallpaper for the lock screen on my phone. (I do this for things that I want to continue ruminating on.) Over the next several weeks, I started analyzing my thoughts and behaviors through this lens. I found I had certainly built up a well of bitterness inside. Bitterness with myself. Bitterness with my business. Bitterness with my coworkers. Certainly, bitterness with my competition. And the biggest revelation, bitterness with customers! It was clear I needed to change my thinking, pronto. I started by purposefully, intentionally, changing my internal dialogue about my competitors. It was my obsession with them that dragged me down this rabbit hole, so starting there seemed logical. I started by respecting what they had accomplished. Sure, they have a different philosophy on how and why they run their businesses, but they had all done a very good job, and I should respect that. Our differences are what make us unique, so that each of us would naturally appeal to the many different types of customers. In staff meetings, I would no longer trash the competition. I would acknowledge their successes, but stay focused on the things we believe. When employees would bash them, I would advise them that we have to respect what they have done and move forward. Now, I look at the new things our competitors do and I’m in awe of their creativity and execution. Their successes inspire me. While every business needs an enemy to rally against, it need not be your competition. There are larger, more worthwhile, things that deserve your focus. Don’t get me wrong. This is a conscious choice I’m making. My instinct is still to get bitter. (We are, after all, keepin’ it 100.) Now, I’ve never had a hard time appreciating my customers. But it was hard to appreciate and respect my competitor’s customers, especially when they might have chosen the competitor over me. Rather than assume they made a mistake (“Surely, they don’t know what they are missing,” I would think), I had to respect that the competitor was reaching them and meeting their needs in a way that I wasn’t, in a way that they preferred. You just can’t win ’em all. With coworkers, I would often feel that they just weren’t doing enough. That their lack of commitment was why we didn’t always win. In reality, I had failed to lead and inspire them in the way in which they deserved. I hired good people, but I wasn’t doing what I needed to do to develop them and push them to be the best they can be. To “keep it 100,” this is an area I’m still working on. It’s an area that you will never be done improving. You can never do enough to inspire, lead, motivate and teach your people. You need to appreciate the gifts and efforts that your coworkers give to your business, while at the same time leading them to new levels of achievement and creativity. Finally, I had to forgive myself. When you have as many shortcomings as I do, it’s easy to get down on yourself. I was doing the best that I could do at the time. But once you know better, you need to do better. That’s where I’m at today. So take a look at yourself and see if any of these things are present inside of you and your business. And if they are, choose today to start viewing your competition, your people, your customers and yourself in a new light. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Reach out to me: But remember, keep it 100. SEPTEMBER 2017


Making Summer NAMM


In talking with other small music store owners, someone will usually ask “Do you go to NAMM?” The answer frequently includes some variation of “No, it costs too much to go,” or “No, I don’t need any new lines,” or “It’s just too far to go.” If those answers sound like what you’d say if you were asked the same question, maybe you’ve overlooked some affordable options for making the show. Before we go any further, let’s establish one precept: If you are a store owner, you (or your designee) should attend Summer NAMM. Between the Idea Center sessions, seeing new products, the tech sessions and the breakfast sessions, you’ll leave the show with the latest and greatest information in the MI world. And, if you’re not there, that same info will still be presented and it will be absorbed by everyone else you’re competing with for MI retail traffic. Basically, you can’t afford to not go. So, how can a small store operator attend Summer NAMM without breaking the bank? The admission badge is free for NAMM members, so let’s look at the expenses, and see what can be done to lower the cost. I should probably mention that everything that follows assumes you’re going to NAMM to conduct business and find ways to make more money. As long as that’s your focus, and you understand the word “frugal,” you can probably get there and back for less than you think. Two of us went to Summer NAMM this year, arrived Wednesday afternoon and left Saturday afternoon. We flew there and back. 48

Total cost, including air fare and lodging, was $773. If the trip had been for only one person, the cost would have been more like $665. Generally speaking, the biggest expenses for attending the NAMM show are transportation there and back, lodging, meals and in-town transportation. Let’s talk about some cost-effective ways to address these four areas. Transportation there and back: If you are within driving distance, calculate the cost of driving to the show. That’s going to be the transport baseline. Any way we can reduce that number is good, and may make a non-driving option a better choice. Going to Nashville for us is a six-hour drive, but this year we looked further, and found Contour Air. We flew Contour for $68 per person roundtrip. That’s not a misprint. That number includes taxes, fees, a checked bag, a carry-on bag and a small lap bag. The trade-off is the reservation fee is not refundable. If you want a refundable seat, the cost is much higher, but still less than regular commercial airlines. Another airline with really low rates is Boutique Air. If neither of these fly near your town, Google “airlines like Boutique” and see what you can find. Look for cities they service within an hour or so of where you live. You can drive, park and fly from there. If you have to take a regular commercial airline, book your flight as early as possible, and try alternate airports and cities for your route. A slight change of destination and/or departure may save a lot of airfare. Lodging: Nashville hotel rooms were ranging from $125 per night (lower-end digs) to $400 per night (digs we can’t afford). We ended up staying a couple of miles from the Music City Center at an Airbnb home for $110 per night. Fabulous accommodations, a great host and lots of amenities. Our host was a pro songwriter, and the home was a showplace, so we think we did well. Airbnb listings change often, so check the site daily until you find what you want. The farther you are from downtown, the less the rooms tend to cost, but Uber rates (more on that later) may be higher. A similar operation is HomeAway. Some iMSO (Independent Music Store Owners) members rent an entire house for the show for big savings over multiple hotel rooms. Meals: OK, this is where you can really trim costs if you’re OK with the frugality approach. Each morning at NAMM events, there’s a breakfast session. NAMM is known for laying out a fabulous breakfast each morning. Eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, fresh fruit, pastries, lots of juice and coffee are the norm. It’s always good, and there’s always plenty. I eat a hearty meal at the breakfast session and then skip lunch. I keep Nutri-Grain bars in my shoulder bag if I get hungry during the day, but usually breakfast carries me through. I also put a plastic water bottle in my bag, and I refill it at the water fountain. (Remember the part about being frugal?) In the evenings, there are always parties, dinners and other gatherings where you can eat or snack, and, frequently, enjoy an adult beverage or three while there. Talk to your reps, get an invitation to the shindig, and go. In-town transportation: In Nashville, we used Uber to get anywhere we wanted to go. Our Uber to Summer NAMM was $6 and change each way (that covers up to four people). Lyft also operates in Nashville, and while I haven’t used Lyft, I’m told they are very similar in concept and cost to Uber. Download the app for the service you want, put in your PayPal info, and you’re done. Now you have Uber fees, but no parking fees, no gas expense or wear and tear, and you don’t have to drive in city traffic. Uber drivers also have great tips on where to go if you want to eat out at night. If you enjoy adult beverages, you can enjoy those, and Uber is your on-call designated driver. Frugality doesn’t mean skimping, it means making informed choices about where to (continued on page 61) SEPTEMBER 2017

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STRAIT SHOOTING By Michelle Loeb Clint Strait is the first third-generation member of his family to join the ranks at Strait Music Co., a mainstay of the Austin music scene for 50 years. Serving as vice president since 2006, Strait has served as vice president. He works alongside his father, Robert Strait, president of Strait Music, who, according to Clint, “is still here every day, but he’s not as focused on the day-to-day operations as he once was.” Robert Strait himself took over from his father, store founder Dan Strait, in 1982. Though Strait Music may run in the family blood, it was never assumed that Clint would follow in his father’s footsteps. “I was actually never nudged in that direction; my father always let me navigate those waters myself,” said Clint Strait. “I don’t have a background of playing music, but music has always been a huge part of my life, and growing up in the live-music capital of the world, I have been exposed and seen some amazing shows in my days.” Clint Strait came to the business on his own through a love of music and of the contribution his store has made to the community over the years — a contribution that first began in 1963, when Dan Strait moved his family from Houston to Austin, where he had the opportunity to open a Baldwin piano franchise. “I believe the original incarnation of Strait Music had one grand piano, one upright piano, one organ, a repair tech, my grandfather and a bookkeeper,” Clint Strait said. Called Strait Piano and Organ, it was the only piano store in town at the time, but it wasn’t long before the product offerings expanded massively, as Strait Piano and Organ was incorporated and became Strait Music in 1967. To this day, the store continues to offer a full line of products, including pro audio, recording gear, keyboards, drums, pianos, guitars, amps, and a band and orchestra department that Strait said has grown to become “a very significant part of our model now.” Growing from one product line to many has hardly made Strait Music a jack of all trades, master of none. In fact, Strait proudly noted that the store services every item they sell. There are currently 14 50

Clint Strait (center) is flanked by NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond and Paige’s Music owner Mark Goff.

repair technicians on staff to handle that daunting task, along with a seven-member office staff, a cadre of salespeople and others currently employed at what has become a 50-person operation spread across two retail locations. “The original location we leased was a small space in a shopping center. It was our only one, and the parking was terrible,” recalled Clint Strait. The company still does lease a 10,000-square-foot space that acts as their second store, but they took the plunge and purchased what is now their flagship location — a 24,000-square-foot former movie theater inside the Lakehills Plaza shopping center — in 2001. Though they may have grown exponentially in terms of staff size and ground covered, Strait aims to keep the business feeling as small-town local and family-friendly as possible. “My grandfather had a motto, calling this ‘a place where customers become friends,’ and we still live by that today,” said Clint Strait, who maintains an active presence for the store in the local community. Strait Music sponsors local events such as Unplugged at the Grove, “which showcases some of our biggest and best local Austin musicians,” Clint Strait explained. “We are also involved with many local music charities like the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, which provides affordable health care to Austin musicians in need and Kids in a New SEPTEMBER 2017

Clint Strait considers patience to be the No. 1 virtue he has developed in his years working at Strait Music. “Early on, I realized everything can’t be fixed and sometimes knee-jerk reactions are the wrong

ones,” he said. “Being a successful business owner, you need to be thoughtful when making decisions, consider all options and surround yourself with people that are not ‘yes’ people, but the kinds of people that you can have

constructive conflict with in which to come to the best decisions possible. So, I’d say the biggest lesson learned is patience. “And make no mistake,” Clint Strait concluded, “I am still actively learning that one.”

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Groove, which provides lessons and instruments to kids in the foster-care system.” It also has a branch of the Austin School of Music operating at each store location in order to offer lessons and support for customers of all ages who frequent the store. Clint Strait knows how lucky he is to be able to continue the family business — where his uncle also works, running the piano department — because the business had almost been wiped out in two devastating floods in 1981 and 1991. The former, in particular, was quite memorable as the catastrophic Memorial Day flood of 1981 submerged the piano department in seven feet of water. “Pianos floated off down the street,” the store recalls on its website, “but through help from our vendors and a lot of good, loyal customers, the business stayed afloat.” Recognizing the perseverance that went into not only growing the store from a single location selling a single product to a multistore operation, but also overcoming the enormously trying times that almost destroyed the whole operation, it’s no wonder that MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER


1 OF ,000 PE * / AK 2, PO 000 W W ER AT TS 2 FO x 1 R "H DE F D TA R ILE IV D ERS HI GH S UN W IF ITH OR BE M D M- IS OP PE TIM RS IZE ION LD D DS S WA Y P T ST VE EC EM GU HN S ID E OL DY OG NX ® Y IN 4- TEG CH R AN AT NE ED LM IXE R B ST LUE ER TO EO OT AU H ® DI O ST RE 2 AM FO -PIE IN R CE G CO C MP OL U AC M TT N RA NS PO RT Mon. – Fri. 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Sat. 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Clint Strait, Vice President






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YOU WHAT YOU By Gabriel O’Brien In several past columns, I’ve written about various aspects of the Summer NAMM Show, and why I think it’s still a viable avenue by which to learn about new products and ways to improve our stores. In every one of these columns, I’ve mentioned the NAMM University Idea Center, and I’ve talked briefly about why I think attending Idea Center sessions is paramount to the future success of independent MI retail stores. However, there’s one topic I haven’t touched on in relation to NAMM and getting involved. When I attend the Top 100 Dealer Awards, like I did in July, I see so many people walk across the stage who regularly participate in NAMM activities. As I’ve gotten to know many of these folks over these last years, I’ve discovered one constant: They all love being involved in NAMM in one way or another — and there are many ways to do so. When people in the industry talk to me about NAMM, the conversation often quickly becomes, “Is there really a reason to go? I get offered all the same specials in my store anyway.” My answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” The NAMM U Idea Center, if you can find no other reason — and there are plenty — is a great reason to attend NAMM shows. I’ve learned so much from attending and participating in Idea Center sessions. I’ve done solo sessions on search engine optimization (SEO) and using to sell inventory. I’ve been on several panels about web design, among other things, and have been a frequent Best In Show panelist. 52

My experience with NAMM is tied directly to NAMM U, so it’s been a big part of both the organization and the show for me from day one. The very first NAMM Show I attended, I was asked to participate in one of Joe Lamond’s Breakfast Sessions. I was nervous and had no idea what to expect. I’m pretty sure I did terribly, but I’ve been asked to participate in every show since, and have done so at every show I’ve attended. Each experience with NAMM U has had very positive outcomes in a number of ways. Some of the individual Idea Center sessions I’ve spoken at have resulted in great conversations, often long after the sessions have ended. At Summer NAMM, I spent more than an hour discussing Reverb with several attendees, and had a great exchange with them. I probably learned as much from them as they did from me. One of them was a sales associate for a small independent store who’d begun using the platform as an experiment to generate additional revenue for his store. He was having difficulty getting other sales associates to engage in participating by selling and monitoring the platform. When he revealed that his position was commission-based, I encouraged him to simply own the responsibility for what he’d started, which would grow a revenue stream for his store, give him a bigger paycheck and make him invaluable to his employer. He hadn’t thought of it that way. The opportunity to use what I’ve learned to help find a solution, or even just send someone down a path closer to being where they want to go, is immensely gratifying, and so I take every opportunity to talk to anyone who wants to talk to me. In talking to new people, and forming those relationships, I’ve directly benefitted from the opportunities NAMM provides to communicate with my industry peers. So many people I’ve met through NAMM have done, and continue to do, the same thing for me, and the relationships I’ve been able to build as a result have been life changing. Because I’ve been lucky enough to meet great people, it’s my responsibility to give back by getting involved. Because I’ve benefitted so much from Idea Center sessions, that’s an area I choose to focus on. But maybe public speaking isn’t for you. There are lots of other ways to be involved with NAMM. NAMM is always looking for great content for the education part of its website. Maybe you have some thoughts or ideas you’d like to share in a short article, a bullet-pointed set of tips or a quick video clip. NAMM loves these things, and I’ve always found the staff there to be immensely helpful in finding topics, as well as editing my meandering grammatically acrobatic copy (I can’t let my the Music & Sound Retailer editors have all the fun!). But maybe you don’t like being on camera, and don’t fancy yourself much of a writer. That’s OK, the NAMM Foundation can always use your financial support. The NAMM Foundation is dedicated to funding programs to benefit musicians via donations and NAMM’s various trade association activities. The foundation supports music-advocacy projects that are dedicated to supporting music-education programs and raising awareness about the importance of arts education in our schools, something I greatly value because I work in a store that rents band instruments and because my wife is a vocal music teacher for a local school system. When school systems are hit with budget cuts, arts funding is often one of the first things to go. Validating the importance of that funding and pushing back against the impulse to cut music-education programs greatly benefits our industry, especially for those of us in the band and orchestra side of the business. And that’s just one of the NAMM Foundation’s areas of focus. They also fund research to support the physical and psychological benefits of playing music, as well as education programs designed to introduce music making to everyone from children, to the elderly, to wounded warriors returning from combat. The one thing I’ve learned more than anything else from these last five years in this industry is that you will get from this industry as much as you put into it. By working together to improve the industry for everyone, be it sharing information with other independent retailers in a NAMM U session, sharing your knowledge via online articles or industry groups, or giving to organizations like the NAMM Foundation that help make sure there will be new generations of musicians to support our stores, there are many ways to give a little back so that we may continue to reap the benefits of this organization for years to come. How do you get involved with NAMM or the other industry groups you are involved in? How do you give back? Write to me at SEPTEMBER AUGUST 2017 2017



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(continued from page 35)

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Yamaha’s PSR-EW300

Loog Guitars’ Loog Mini

Small Wonder Loog Guitars’ Loog Mini is designed for kids ages three and up. It’s about the same size as a ukulele, but plays and sounds like a guitar because it uses classical guitar strings and standard guitar tuning. Like all Loog guitars, it comes with an instructional app designed to get kids playing songs on day one. First introduced in May through a crowdfunding campaign, the Loog Mini became the best-selling guitar ever on Kickstarter. The Loog Mini is available in a wide color palette. Available through Hal Leonard, the exclusive distributor for Loog guitars in North America, it carries a street price of $79. Contact: Loog Guitars, 800.554.0626,

Like Mic Audio-Technica’s AT2020USBi cardioid condenser USB microphone combines high-resolution audio with increased connectivity options. It allows recordists and podcasters to operate on the go without sacrificing sound quality. Modeled after the AT2020, this digital output mic features an A/D converter with a 24-bit/96-kilohertz sampling rate, and comes with both USB and Lightning cables for connection to computers and iOS devices. The AT2020USBi is also equipped with a microphone-gain control that lets users adjust the input level directly on the microphone. The included tripod desk stand provides quick, easy and secure setup on any flat surface. Contact: Audio-Technica, 877.885.8764,

Out of This World Rock’N’Rolla’s UFO Portable Vinyl Entertainment Unit features a three-speed vinyl turntable and a sleek, rounded look that’s simultaneously futuristic and retro. The player's rechargeable four-hour lithium battery allows a great degree of portability. Users can record and back up their vinyl directly to a memory stick to easily turn their vinyl records to digital files. The UFO is compatible with Bluetooth, USB, SD, iOS, Android and MP3. Its durable motor provides accurate playing speed, and it features four input options to connect to digital devices. Available in black, white and red. Ship date is set for late 2017. Contact: Rock’N’Rolla, 805.445.6464,

Starter Up Yamaha’s PSR-EW300 is a starter keyboard with 76 keys for the more serious piano beginner. With USB to HOST audio and MIDI connectivity, it allows users to expand the capabilities of an instrument by interfacing with creative or educational apps on an iOS device or computer. Onboard lesson functions, including the new Touch Tutor, help to supplement regular piano lessons. Users can plug in a portable music player to the Aux Input and use the melody suppressor to soften the lead vocal, so they can sing and play along with their favorite tunes. Contact: Yamaha, 714.522.9950, (continued on page 58)




WORD OF MOUTH IS STILL IMPORTANT By Dan Vedda You can read a thousand articles — from content-lite bullet points to detailed, long reads — about advertising in this always-on, socially intense, tech-enabled world we shamble through. Yet the target of all advertising is people, and I believe we need to think about the “people” part of this equation more. As stooped and screen-faced as many folks are today, we’re still nowhere near becoming one with the machine (sorry, Ray Kurzweil). Of course, we need to be aware of new advertising channels. Certainly, we need to use the ones that reach our target audience and present us in engaging ways. Obviously, those channels have changed dramatically in the last 15 years. Print isn’t dead, but it only serves a very specific splinter of the population. All of the old-school advertising tactics — from broadcast media to ads in school programs or calendars — aren’t what they once were. Online and social media advertising can be a huge boon, but it can also be the proverbial pig with lipstick. (No matter how “modern” an advertising concept is, if it doesn’t reach your target — or costs too much per customer acquired — it’s a waste.) Here’s another point to consider: In general, people hate advertising. The more obvious or intrusive the ad, the more they hate it. I just saw an ad (ironically) touting a way to “make your mobile ad blossom into a fullscreen video.” Guys, I would not just hate you and your product, I’d actively tell people how much I hate you. Hijacking a person’s feed is not endearing. So instead of applying that lipstick, let’s look back at what has often been called “the best advertising,” and even better, doesn’t seem like advertising: word of mouth. If that seems old-fashioned, don’t be fooled. It’s a thing, even in our social media age, and if anything, it’s more powerful, immediate and pervasive than ever before. There’s even a Word of Mouth Marketing Association. If you want to dive deep, there are resources, but we’ll cover some basics here. We all know the “organic” version of this: people will talk. Whether they talk about a great deal they got, a good (or bad) shopping experience, or just mention where they were and what they were doing, they communicate with, and often influence, their peers. Whether it’s mom talking at the pool, people on a lunch break or MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

friends at a party, word gets around. This is still one of the most powerful endorsements for your business. Satisfied customers offering uncompensated kudos are far more believable than any ad, and you get the bonus benefit that they usually share these opinions with their demographically similar friends. Targeted advertising, in the most natural way. Today, people still talk, but they also post. Blogs, videos, chats, Facebook posts, texts … it seems like an endless spiral of information. So how do we tap into that stream with the authenticity of organic word of mouth and avoid the appearance of advertising? It seems deceptively simple: The first step is to ask an obviously satisfied customer to share their opinion. Suggest that they do whatever is natural for them. They can tell their friends, post a review on Yelp or other sites, or like/follow the store on Facebook. Some will gladly do so. Others may not — everyone isn’t comfortable overtly endorsing a business. But I guarantee you’ll get more than if you didn’t ask. Once you’re in the habit of doing this, you may find that one of these happy customers is a blogger, a constant Instagram poster, or someone who likes to be influential on Yelp or other review sites. You may be able to engage them more deeply and recruit them to try out products, mention your promotions or attend events at your store. This is word of mouth on the next level, where the business is actively helping to curate the discussion through more influential tastemakers. It’s important to stress, though, that this next level should be built on an enthusiastic relationship with a customer. Compensated bloggers can sometimes cheapen your message because they don’t understand it at the level a fully engaged consumer does. Sure, there are compensated posters, and huge companies can afford to hire them for their reach. Realistically though, you’re not going to get access to the Kardashian feed, so strive for authenticity over number of followers. For what we do, it’s a better fit anyway. Without these additional voices spreading your message, you exist in a bubble. I know that there is a set of customers that trust me, and a subset that will respond to my message and mobilize. But I could talk to a hundred additional people and not move a single one. My reach only goes so far. But if some of the people that respond to me are influencers themselves, the reach grows dramatically. Depending on the type of message, that influencer could be a teacher, younger staff member, a parent, a local professional musician or a member of a city council (among others). But each influencer has a circle they can mobilize, and likely some of that circle can influence others still … and it grows exponentially. Sure, some of these connections will be responding to a tweet, post or chat rather than face to face. But the call to action is driven by personal connection. We’re more likely to react to something a friend (as in, someone we actually know, not a digital friend) posts because we truly know them and consider them authentic. This is even more crucial in light of the high level of suspicion now applied to unfamiliar sources. Posts from friends of friends or sponsored posts are easily dismissed as feed clutter. Sure, some gullible souls might believe anything they read. Is that really your target customer? The first tier is up to you. Talk to your customers, staff, faculty and local business peers. Your staff and faculty are your best influencers, because they understand the store. They should already be posting on their — not just the store’s — social media. But while there’s certainly a benefit to their social media support, remind them that the people they can make eye contact with are the cream of the crop when it comes to influence. We’re still human, and we respond best to humans in the real world. Try it. For some, it will be almost nostalgic; for others, a revelation. 55


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Ad Index


Gator Cases


ADAM HALL...............................51


ALFRED PUBLISHING..............27 AMAHI UKULELES...................19 AUDIX..........................................45


BITTREE......................................59 BOURNS PRO AUDIO................61

Hal Leonard

CASIO...........................................25 CELESTION.................................49 CHAUVET LIGHTING................47


CONNOLLY MUSIC COMPANY................................32


Gator Cases’ GTSA Electric Guitar Case LED Edition

D'ADDARIO.................................17 D'ANGELICO GUITARS........ C-III GALAXY AUDIO........................3


GATOR CASES............................35 GEORGE L'S................................30 GODIN GUITARS........................9 KALA BRAND MUSIC CO........28 KANILE'A 'UKELELE................34 KYSER MUSICAL PRODUCTS...............................26 LEE OSKAR PRODUCTIONS....60 LOOG GUITARS.........................7

3Dio’s FS Series

MANHASSET SPECIALTY COMPANY................................6 MUSIC & ARTS CENTER..........53 NAMM..................................... 14-15 ODYSSEY INNOVATIVE DESIGNS...................................33 PETERSON ELECTRO-MUSICAL PRODUCTS...............................30 PRO X...........................................31 RAIN RETAIL SOFTWARE........12 RAPCO/HORIZON......................28 RAT...............................................44 REVERB.COM.............................5 ROLAND.................................. C-IV SENNHEISER..............................21 SHURE.........................................11 TECH 21.......................................29 THE CAVANAUGH COMPANY................................41 TMP / THE MUSIC PEOPLE!.....39 TRUSST........................................10 U.S. BAND & ORCHESTRA SUPPLIES.................................23 VOCOPRO....................................13 WD MUSIC PRODUCTS............8 WESTCO EDUCATIONAL PRODUCTS...............................61 YAMAHA.....................................C-II 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.


Frequent Flyer Gator Cases’ GTSA Electric Guitar Case LED Edition provides military-grade durability and protection for your guitar so you can have peace of mind while traveling. The heavy-duty, military-grade polyethylene exterior is impact-resistant, while the plush EBS interior shields the guitar from scratches and dents. The LED feature of this electric guitar case illuminates the storage compartments in the interior of the case as soon as the lid is opened. These locking hardshell cases are TSA-approved with a MAP of $159.99. Contact: Gator Cases, 813.221.4191,

Play by Ear 3Dio’s FS Series stereo binaural microphones feature a design that simulates how human ears hear sound. They contain microphone capsules inside the two prosthetic ears, so that when listening to the microphone through headphones, the experience mimics the way humans hear the natural world. The shape of the prosthetic ear manipulates the sounds and mimics a real human ear. It allows the listener to use spatial cues to localize sounds originating from above and below, in front and behind, and to the left and right of the microphone using only two channels. The FS Series transports the listener to the space where the recording took place. Contact: 3Dio,

Rock the Ashba Morley’s DJ Ashba Skeleton Wah is a switchless, optical wah pedal set to DJ Ashba’s preferred settings. It is equipped with an internal wah level trimpot, “TrueTone Bypass” buffer circuit, coldrolled steel housing, cool blue LED indication and a quick-clip battery door. It can be powered by a nine-volt battery or Morley nine-volt adapter. Also, the entire pedal glows in the dark. The street price for the pedal is set at $145. Contact: Morley, 847.639.4646,

This Is Spinal Tap Hal Leonard’s Spinal Tap: The Big Black Book offers fans the opportunity to dive deep into a cherished moment in time when all that mattered was a filthy power-chord progression, ceaseless lyrical innuendo, and grubby long hair shampooed by the gods of metal and conditioned by the angels of mercy. Inside this collectible, you’ll find removable Spinal Tap memorabilia, including promo posters, the Stonehenge Napkin, ticket stubs and a “Smell the Glove” album cover, a scratch-n-sniff card that captures the sights, sounds and smells of a hardworking rock band on the road, iconic photographs of the band and rockumentarian Marti DiBergi, and tracklists from every epic Spinal Tap record. MSRP for Spinal Tap: The Big Black Book is listed at $40. Contact: Hal Leonard, 973.337.5034, SEPTEMBER 2017

Morley’s DJ Ashba Skeleton Wah Yamaha’s A Series

RCF’s ART 7 Series MK4 Speakers Hal Leonard’s Spinal Tap: The Big Black Book

Work of ART RCF has added next-generation MK4 versions to its ART 7 Series of two-way active speakers. These new models incorporate FiRPHASE technology DSP processing, providing more transparency, clarity and linearity of sound reproduction. The ART 7 Series now offers seven cabinets, including eight-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch and 15-inch active two-way cabinets — all with a one-inch high-frequency compression driver. The series has been taken one step further with higher-performance cabinets, including a 12-inch model with two-inch high-frequency compression driver, as well as 15-inch models with three-inch and four-inch highfrequency compression drivers. The larger drivers on the nextgeneration models allow RCF to lower the crossover points down to 650 hertz (650 hertz for the four-inch and 900 hertz for the three-inch). This allows for better vocal reproduction, better impulse response, fast decay and superior efficiency. All cabinets are equipped with a new generation of Class-D amplification, along with newly designed, high-powered woofers and compression drivers.

Enhancement, a process that uses precise control of temperature, humidity and pressure to alter the structure of wood at a sub-cellular level, transforming it into the same material as would be found on a guitar that has been played for many years. Benefits of this include increased resonance, greater midrange and high-frequency responsiveness, and bass sustain. The A5’s new preamp features Studio Response Technology, which models the characteristics of vintage large- and small-diaphragm condenser microphones and the ambience of a professional studio environment. The low-profile controls include Master Volume, Treble, Bass/Acoustic Feedback Reduction and Mic Blend/Mic Selection. Yamaha has also updated the A1 and A3 model guitars. Contact: Yamaha, 714.522.9950,

Contact: RCF, 732.902.6100,

From A Series to Z Yamaha has made enhancements to its A Series acoustic-electric guitars. Chief among these innovations is the debut of the flagship A5 model, which is based on the 2015 limited-run A6 model, that will be crafted in Japan. The A5 is available with a solid mahogany or rosewood body and features scalloped bracing for increased projection and enhanced bass, as well as a vintage natural finish, a new neck finish and a bound headstock with vintage-style tuners. The A5 comes with a hardshell case. The model's solid Sitka spruce top benefits from Acoustic Resonance MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER


beyerdynamic’s TG V50

Reunion Blues


Tech 21


Tech 21’s Q\Strip

Reunion Blues’ RB Continental Voyager Series

Fantastic Voyager Reunion Blues’ RB Continental Voyager Series guitar cases feature a refined shock-absorbing and impact-resistant Flexoskeleton that maintains maximum protection while reducing weight and bulk. Updated custom exterior fabrics feature a durable, water-resistant Black Heather texture. The interior bracing system has been redesigned with an adjustable neck block, as well as userconfigurable protector pads at the endpin. The RB Continental Voyager Series is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. Contact: Reunion Blues, 800.950.1095,

cuts through on stage or in a mix, be it acoustic/electric guitar, bass, fiddle, etc. High-pass filter cuts unmusical rumble when going direct; low-pass filter rolls off undesirable frequencies, and, in conjunction with the EQ section, can also recreate different speaker cabinet curves so users can go direct with their favorite distortion/effects pedals. High-input impedance accommodates piezos and handles low-impedance sources equally well. It also features an XLR with -20-decibel pad, ¼-inch output with switchable +10-decibel boost. The Q\Strip is operable via phantom, nine-volt battery or optional power supply. Contact: Tech 21, 973.777.6996,

Q Score Tech 21’s Q\Strip features 100-percent analog MOSFET circuitry, which provides warmth, girth and larger-than-life tones for which vintage consoles are revered. It offers a multi-instrument, multi-application preamp in compact DI format for live gigs, tracking in the studio or into a DAW. There are four bands of professional-audio-quality equalization, two parametric mid bands, plus high and low shelving filters for more control over how an instrument

Very Vocal beyerdynamic’s TG V50 professional vocal microphone combines sleek design and rugged construction that is perfect for the stage or the rehearsal room. The mic features balanced sound that is both powerful and natural, a wide pick-up range thanks to its cardioid polar pattern, and high feedback rejection. Simply plug in the TG V50, activate the high-pass filter and it’s ready to go. An alternative option, the TG V50(s), features a switch embedded in the grip that can be locked and that doesn’t emit any “clicking” sound. Contact: beyerdynamic, 631.293.3200,


Hottest line on the market Top quality Photo ©Michael Weintrob

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Perfect for musicians of all kinds, genres and levels Available from KMC Music

CHAUVET DJ’s Vivid video panel system lets DJs set up their own video displays. Vivid 4 is a modular video panel that displays content without the need for bulky media servers. Users can create video displays with these lightweight video panels that feature black body LEDs that accurately reproduce high-contrast videos. Vivid 4 makes a perfect DJ façade and seamlessly integrates with Serato for displaying music videos to generate added gig excitement. Multiple magnets and positioning pins make setup tool-free and effortless. Vivid Drive 23N is a video driver with numerous input/output options for any Novastar video panel. The video panel system's built-in video scaler allows video content to be resized quickly and easily. The Vivid Drive 23N has an onboard digital display with all settings, including transitions, content, scale, aspect ratio, picture-in-picture and more. Contact: CHAUVET DJ, 954.577.4455, SEPTEMBER 2017


CHAUVET DJ’s Vivid Video Panel System


(continued from page 62) “Our TT audio jacks are fullframe jacks, and offer more durability and stability than plastic molded jacks and casted jacks,” explained Baron. “Our full-frame jack eliminates ‘Memory’ that can physically alter the springs and other internal jack components on a permanent basis. Our jacks are built to military specifications and must function no matter how harsh the conditions. The result is a less than 0.0001% failure rate. “This meticulous attention to quality extends to the PS4825F’s connectors and components,” he added. “Professional-grade shunts with gold-plated spring contacts resist surface corrosion and maintain their connection for years of trouble-free service. Solid-gold switching contacts are welded and electrically bonded to the spring leaves, providing superior durability and higher electrical current ratings than competing solutions’ pressed-on foil approach. XL designation strips provide ample space for three lines of print, enabling easy labelling and quick identification.” Since Bittree anticipates that the PS4825F will be a gamechanger in the home studio market, the company plans to be aggressive in its promotion of the product. Bittree also plans to offer incentives to new dealers in an effort to expand its dealer network. “We are currently offering new dealers free shipping MUSIC & SOUND RETAILER

on six patchbays or more, and a baker’s dozen with free shipping,” said Baron. “We have a ton of marketing material, and are very interested in partnering with our dealers and participating in co-op marketing opportunities online and in print. Drop shipping is available at no extra charge.” Bittree has also been ramping up its social media presence over the past year, and hopes its growing online following will lead to more public awareness of the PS4825F and the greater ProStudio line. “Our social media has been working overtime,” said Baron. “We started our Facebook page and Instagram page in November, and both are on the verge of passing 20,000 followers. We love giving our dealers shout-outs and running fun promotions to generate sales for them.” “We also have dedicated customer service specialists assigned to each dealer, who are available for any questions that may come up before, during or after the sale,” he concluded. “We love to talk with our dealers on a regular basis.” The PS4825F carries an MSRP of $625 and is available now. The ProStudio line comes with a five-year, front-to-back warranty. Bittree plans to add a one-rackunit, internally programmable patchbay to the ProStudio line in the future. For more information on the ProStudio line, go to

(continued from page 48) spend your money. We ate very well in Nashville, had fantastic accommodations, enjoyed air-conditioned rides everywhere we went and our logistics stress level was way down versus previous years. There are ways to trim the expenses even further, such as staying with friends or family while in the area, but I imagine that would cut into time at the show, and missing time at the show is what you can’t afford. To truly see everything Summer NAMM in Nashville has to offer would take 12 days, but since you only have three, spend every moment you can on the floor or at vendor night events. (I’m not making up the 12 days. I could spend three days just at the Idea Center, three days at the tech sessions, three days making appointments and three days walking around the show floor). So, the one other thing you’ll want to budget is your time. Look at the Idea Center schedule first, pick the sessions that will benefit you, put them on the schedule in your NAMM phone app. Then, schedule vendor appointments with the people you know you want to see or need to see. Schedule your special/night events. Check the tech sessions to see what new tricks you can learn. The rest of the time is for seeing industry friends, discovering new money-making ideas and products, and cruising the floor. You can afford to go to NAMM. It just takes a little creativity and planning. So, go. Write the next show on your calendar, start checking odd little airlines for flights, browse the Airbnb pages and make a budget. Chances are, you really can afford to go to NAMM. Happy trails.

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By Anthony Vargas In today’s music products landscape, there’s no shortage of available accessories for the home recording enthusiast. However, there still exists a technology and price gap between consumer-grade recording products and professional-grade studio equipment. But, with the launch of the new ProStudio 4825F Patchbay from Bittree, that gap is looking narrower than ever before. “For decades, we have manufactured the world’s best, most reliable patchbays that were out of financial reach of most of the MI market,” said Ari Baron, general manager at Bittree. “We wanted to offer our patching solutions at a more affordable price, without sacrificing the quality and precision of our legendary bays. The most efficient way to do this was to offer the same internal components as our 969 Front Programmable Patchbay, at a lighter density. The PS4825F is essentially half of a 96-point traditional TT patchbay.” The PS4825F is the first entry in Bittree’s new ProStudio line of audio patchbays. It is intended for desktop applica62

tions in temporary or fixed installations, and its small form factor (12.5"x7"x2.5" at 5lbs.) allows it to fit most home studio setups. The PS4825F is designed to fit portable 500 Series racks, as well as to fit comfortably underneath a desktop monitor. It also offers the foundation a hobbyist would need to create a professional-quality recording studio in his or her home. “The PS4825F mates perfectly with any professional equipment with DB-25 connectors, or DB-25-to-XLR or TRS connectors,” said Baron. “Most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) have DB-25 inputs and outputs, making connectivity a cinch. A great microphone, an XLR cable, a microphone preamp, a compressor, EQ and some sound treatment to tune your room is all that’s needed to start recording and mixing music in a professional-sounding way. The PS4825F ties it all together. “Think of our patchbay as the central nervous system of the studio,” he added. “The PS4825F integrates, connects and coordinates all sonic activity within its space. Without it, you move around the studio like a jellyfish.” A patchbay can add tremendous flexibility to any do-it-yourself recording setup by streamlining connections and allowing for easier experimentation with signal flow. Adding a patchbay also makes studio hardware much more accessible for on-the-fly adjustments to connections and patching. “You’ll never have to climb under or behind your desk again,” said Baron. “Our ProStudio patchbays provide engineers quick accessibility to any of their equipment in their studio and workflow. They can quickly add compressors and EQs to the tracking signal chain, or rapidly change a studio from tracking, to mixing, to mastering. They can patch around any problems in their signal flow to keep the session going, then troubleshoot the problem later without disrupting the workflow. All studio equipment inputs and outputs become centrally located.” What sets the PS4825F apart from other patchbays is the professional quality of its audio jacks and connections, which are more suited for long-term use and offer more protection for sensitive system components than those found on most consumer-grade patchbays. (continued on page 61) SEPTEMBER 2017








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