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www.mtgazette.co.uk May 2010

£4.95

Gazette

A TIMELESS INSTRUMENT The continued popularity of the mandolin

THE TAYLOR TALES Bob Taylor tells his company’s story

TAKING STOCK: A SELECTION OF THE LATEST PRODUCTS AVAILABLE TO THE MUSIC TRADE

Folk music supermarket

The Brits in Frankfurt

The success story behind the retail phenomenon that is Hobgoblin Music

British exhibitors pass their verdict on the recent Frankfurt Musikmesse show


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CONTENTS

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Gazette

MAY 2010 CONTENTS Editor’s letter  Welcome to the launch issue of Music Trade Gazette!

6

Roundup The latest news from the industry

8

Three minute interview  Simon Fraser-Clark of Laney Amplification

9

Taking stock  Hot products for the international music trade

24

12

The British are coming!  16 MTG asks how valuable is the Frankfurt Musikmesse to British music trade professionals

26

The view from street level 20 How have highstreet music stores handled the recession and what are their hopes for the future? Take it away – music maestro please 24 Philippa Staff of ‘Take it away’ looks at progress made since this unique scheme’s launch in 2007 Thinker, Taylor, luthier, trailblazer  Taylor guitars have come a very long way since those 70s California days. John Prosser catches up with Bob Taylor at Harrods

26 34

Hobgoblin: the first folk supermarket30 From a small stall in a market in Sussex to an international retailer of specialist instruments and books, this is the Hobgoblin story It’s publishing Jim, but not as we know it! David Etheridge takes a leaf from the books of Jawbone Publishing

34

Six of the best  A feast of acoustic guitars

38

A timeless Instrument  Michael Northcott investigates the past, present and future of the mandolin

42

Events  Trade shows, recitals and happenings for the music trade

46

Voice on the highstreet  John Gardonyi of Gardonyi’s, Ealing

50

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42

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EDITOR’S LETTER

Editor’s letter

W

Editor

Louise Hoffman

Gazette

louise@mtgazette.co.uk Associate Editor

John Rogers Prosser john@mtgazette.co.uk

elcome to the first ever issue of Music Trade Gazette! We are so excited to be a part of this thriving industry – an industry of tremendous importance to both the culture and economy

of the UK. Music retailers are, of course, the lifeblood of this sector, enabling music to be appreciated and practiced by generation after generation, and Music Trade Gazette is designed to help you maintain and increase your business success. Packed with interesting and informative features, the magazine will also bring you all the latest news, products, trends and information pertinent to the music trade. In our launch issue, John Prosser reports back from the recent Frankfurt Musikmesse, where he spoke with representatives of some of the British companies who attended. Turn to page 16 to find out about their experiences of this major industry event. Immediately after Frankfurt, the Taylor Guitars ‘roadshow’ came to the UK in the shape of ‘an evening of guitars’ held in Harrods’ music department. Turn to page 26 to find our interview with Bob Taylor, who spoke in detail to an enthralled audience at the event, and brought with him some fantastic guitars to boot! How has the UK high street weathered the recession, and is it actually over? Some well-known west London names discuss recent trading conditions and their hopes for the future (page 20). On page 42, Michael Northcott takes a look at the history of the mandolin and its recent growth in popularity, while on page 30 we discover the recipe for success that has taken Hobgoblin Music from a cottage industry to an international business. Finally, what do you think of the Art Council’s ‘Take it away’ scheme? Surely a great boon to the industry? Find out how it’s progressing on page 24. I very much hope you enjoy this launch issue. Do email, write or call if you have any comments or suggestions regarding the magazine – this is just the start and we really want to improve the magazine continuously. And of course we will always be on the lookout for ‘Voice on the highstreet’ interview candidates (see page 50), so if you would like to be featured on this page please do not hesitate to get in touch. Here’s to the future!

Louise Hoffman louise@mtgazette.co.uk

Editorial Assistants

Sam Guiry sam@mtgazette.co.uk

Nick Aston nick@mtgazette.co.uk Production Editor

Matt Bower copy@mtgazette.co.uk Group Advertisement Manager

Kelly Smith kelly@mtgazette.co.uk Senior Sales Executive

Andrew Wilson andrew@mtgazette.co.uk Sales Executive

Adam Bennett adam@mtgazette.co.uk Accounts

Tina Pitcher accounts@mtgazette.co.uk Customer Services

01206 767 797 customers@mulberrypublications.co.uk Contributing writers:

David Etheridge John Rogers Prosser Michael Northcott Philippa Staff Design

Arthouse Publishing Solutions contact@arthousepublishing.co.uk

Music Trade Gazette

is published monthly by:

Mulberry Publications Ltd

Mulberry Publications Ltd, Wellington House, Butt Rd, Colchester CO3 3DA Tel: 01206 767 797 Fax: 01206 767 532 www.mtgazette.co.uk The editor and publishers do not guarantee the accuracy of statements made by contributors or advertisers, or accept responsibility for any statement that they express in this publication. The opinion of the contributors may not necessarily be the opinion of the publishers. Articles are considered for publication on the basis that they are the author’s original work. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the permission of the publishers.

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pianostreet.com - the website for pianists, piano teachers and students

Thousands of classical piano pieces to download and print

The world renowned Piano Forum - full of valuable information, knowledge, fun and friendship

E-books on piano technique

Recordings of easy/intermediate and famous piano pieces

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ROUNDUP

Best Buy continues to expand in the UK American consumer electronics retailer Best Buy has confirmed that three stores will open in the UK by the end of June. Following the first store’s unveiling at Thurrock in Essex, two further stores will open next month in Southampton’s Hedge Row and at Merry Hill in the West Midlands. All three premises will include dedicated areas allowing customers to experience a wide variety of home theatre and audio products. The American stores are known for stocking a variety of musical instruments, and when asked if the company plans to introduce these to the UK market, a Best Buy spokesperson told us: “We stock a large number of CDs and we have a Club Beats area in store where customers can try out a range of exciting, great value, recreational DJ equipment. While we do not have musical instruments at this stage, we always listen and learn from our customers and our product range is under constant review.” More store openings are planned later in the year, including Aintree and Croydon. Commenting on Best Buy’s store openings, Paul Antoniadis, the CEO of Best Buy branded operations, said: “We’re here to make buying technology simple, exciting and tailored for each of our customers. We plan to keep bringing our customers the best that technology can offer in every part of our stores.”

Future to run the London Music Show Future, the special interest media group and one of the UK’s leading consumer music publishers, will work with the Music Industries Association (MIA) to run the popular London Music Show 2010. With over 22,000 visitors attending in 2009, the London Music Show (formally the London International Music Show) is the UK’s biggest music-making event and will take place from the 8 to 10 October 2010 at the ExCel Centre, London. Future says it will be working with the MIA to build upon the event and create a show that inspires people to want to learn and play musical instruments. The aim is to encourage a broader audience from the existing core market, targeting lapsed musicians as well as a new audience of beginners, and by developing links in education with a special education day on Friday 8 October. Confirmed manufacturers so far include Peavey, Roland, Sound Technology, Korg, Washburn, Mapex and Vox, along with drummers Steve White and Craig Blundell. www.londonmusicshow.com

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Music licensing regime a “disaster” for live music? At the time of going to press, The Publican reports that Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has claimed that the licensing regime has been a “disaster” for live music. The magazine says that a government consultation is currently looking at extending the exemption to 100, but The Publican, through its Listen Up! Initiative, supported by other campaigners, are arguing for this to be extended to 200. Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We support the campaign to extend the exemption from requiring a licence for live music performances to 200 people.The Licensing Act was meant to support the live music industry, but has turned out to be a disaster. “Extending the exemption to 200 people will reduce the burden of bureaucracy on pubs, and provide a much needed boost to the live music industry.”

ONS confirms Easter boost to retail Reacting to the latest retail sales figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said they confirm March’s strong retail sales growth was Easter-driven. British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said: “This confirms the strong retail sales growth seen in March was mainly caused by the distorting effect of Easter. The seasonally adjusted figures actually show growth slowed compared with February. Last year’s very weak performance also helped to flatter the annual comparison. “Our own figures show most of the sales growth was in the week leading up to Easter. While customers are more confident than they were this time last year, the political and economic uncertainty surrounding the election is holding back underlying spending for now.”

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THREE MINUTE   INTERVIEW

ROUNDUP

David Rubin & Partners responds to retention of title allegations David Rubin & Partners, liquidator of Reverb Retail Ltd, has responded to allegations by UK musical instrument and equipment dealers that former Reverb stock offered for sale in an online auction was originally supplied to the store under retention of title conditions. A large number of products from a wide range of brands appeared online for auction by Philip Davies & Sons Group, and it was claimed by the distributors that the products being sold were their property. In a statement issued to Music Trade Gazette, Paul Appleton, managing partner at David Rubin & Partners, said: “The online auction of the company’s stock has been a great success. Following an extensive marketing campaign by my agents, around 650 people registered for the sale. Of those, 398 submitted bids, 85 of whom bought the 444 lots on offer. My agents are continuing to deal with any outstanding retention of title claims in respect of stock withdrawn from the auction following representations from suppliers.”

Audio-Technica announces award for International Guitar Foundation students

Simon Fraser-Clark of Laney Amplification Describe yourself in three words Reliable, calm and reserved

What is your earliest memory? Playing in a sand pit when I was about three years old.

When you were at school, what did you want to be and why? A lumberjack! Monty Python has a lot to answer for! It was the idea of cutting down trees all day that really appealed to me.

What was the first music album you bought?

Audio-Technica is to introduce the ‘Most Improved Student Awards’ at this year’s International Guitar Foundation Summer School, to be held in Cheltenham between 24 July and 6 August. The awards will recognise the efforts of students deemed to have made the most progress during their time on the course, regardless of previous ability or experience. Prizes will be awarded in the categories of electric guitar, acoustic guitar, classical guitar and drums, with the winner in each receiving their choice of Audio-Technica microphones appropriate to their instrument and playing situation, to a value of £500. Harvey Roberts, Audio-Technica senior UK marketing manager, said: “As a longstanding sponsor of IGF, Audio-Technica has a strong relationship with the Foundation. We’re very pleased to be able to offer its most improved summer school students the chance to achieve their perfect sound, whether on stage or in the studio.”

Rush – All the Worlds a Stage. I bought it for my 10th birthday because I liked the picture on the front and it was a double album – I didn’t know the band at all but the music just spoke to me and the music of Rush became the soundtrack of my life!

Yamaha announces ninth Conservatoire series at Chappell’s, London

Eat your greens!

Yamaha Artist Services Europe (London) has announced its ninth and most significant critically-acclaimed Lunchtime Conservatoire Concert Series at Chappell’s in Wardour Street, Soho, to showcase the very best upcoming young piano talent from UK Conservatoires. The ninth series by Yamaha and Chappells presents a national performance platform for the upcoming talent of promising students from the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD), and Trinity College of Music (TCM) in London, as well as the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow. Entry to the recitals is free of charge but booking in advance is highly recommended. The concerts will take place in the Recital Room of Yamaha Artist Services Europe (London), located in the historic Piano Hall at Chappell’s at 152-160 Wardour Street. All recitals commence at 1pm. Seating is limited and places can be reserved in advance by calling 0207 432 4422 or emailing pianos@chappellofbondstreet.co.uk

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

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If you could have dinner with one person, who would you choose and why? I am a keen road cyclist and when I was young I idolised an Australian cyclist called Phil Anderson. I saw him race a few times but never met him, so dinner with Phil Anderson would be great.

What is the best advice you have been given? What is your next goal in life? To carry on being happy in what I do.

Everest Base Camp! Before joining Headstock I spent a lot of time in the high mountains but never managed to get to the Himalayas. I would love to go and experience the atmosphere of the base camp.

What is your favourite quote or saying? All the world is indeed a stage – but I want better lighting – Dave Lee Roth!

What is the most important thing that your job has taught you? To be serious about what I do, but not take myself too seriously!

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ROUNDUP

Esther Rantzen bangs the drum for the ‘ChildLine Rocks’ fundraising campaign

Jamie Mallender joins Fret-King

AND BRIEFLY

John Hornby Skewes & Co Ltd, worldwide trade distributor of the Fret-King range of instruments, has announced that Jamie Mallender has joined its Fret-King endorsee roster. Jamie, a highly respected session bassist, has played for former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin since 2005. Martin was the longest serving vocalist for the heavy metal group before they reformed with original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. Having recently returned from a tour of Scandinavia with the Tony Martin band, Jamie tried out a number of Trev Wilkinson designed Fret-King instruments. The Blue Label Series Perception and new Ventura 80 bass guitars were found to be particularly impressive. Jamie said: “Normally I use nothing but active basses, but Trev has hit exactly the right blend of traditional and modern with these designs, and with no compromise on tone or performance.” He added that the products are “at a price that is within the reach of just about anyone.” In addition to being on the road with Tony Martin and other bands, Jamie also teaches in South Yorkshire and recently released his solo instrumental album Return To Bass. The album has received much critical acclaim.

Students from Birmingham and Derby Yamaha Music Schools hit a high note with ChildLine founder Esther Rantzen recently. The celebrated TV personality and charity campaigner visited Yamaha Music Head Office in Milton Keynes to congratulate and thank Yamaha Music Schools for creating the pioneering national ‘ChildLine Rocks’ fundraising campaign, which is currently offering free music lessons in return for a small donation in aid of ChildLine, the Esther Rantzen with pupils from Yamaha Music School Birmingham free helpline for children provided by the NSPCC. The number of musician supporters and ambassadors backing the scheme continues to grow with The Enemy, Carl Barat, and Reverend and the Makers recently performing a sellout ‘ChildLine Rocks’ gig at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Legendary drummer Steve Gadd is also supporting the campaign on Zildjian’s ‘Mission From Gadd’ European tour. Gary Seeney and Gail Dallali, owners of Birmingham and Derby Yamaha Music Schools, each presented Esther Rantzen with a cheque for £1,000 which they have raised so far. Gary Seeney told us: “These cheques are just the first of many which we hope to raise from free lessons, concerts and various activities by Birmingham Yamaha Music School and our colleagues around the country. Esther was wonderful with our students and took the time to talk to and thank each and every one of them.”

Loss of funding leads to NAYO closure Sadness and frustration have been reported in the music sector at the loss of the National Association of Youth Orchestras (NAYO). The NAYO ceased to operate on 31 March because of financial pressures. NAYO chair George Caird has announced that the organisation, which provided advocacy and support to youth orchestras, as well as organising the festival of British Youth Orchestras and European Youth Music Week, had lost key funding and would no longer be able to operate. One of the longest running music bodies, founded in 1965, Caird expressed his sadness at NAYO’s demise: “An organisation that’s been going for nearly 50 years – you don’t part from it lightly,” he said. “When NAYO started it was one of the very first organisations around to be doing things for young people’s music making. I think it broke a lot of ground before other organisations grew up around it and it became part of a much bigger map.”

Musikmesse award for PRS

Industry chiefs support CALM

Paul Reed Smith Guitars’ 305 model received the Musikmesse International Press Award (MIPA), known as the ‘Grammy’ of the Musical Instrument/ProAudio Industry, for ‘Best Electric Guitar of the Year.’ More than 100 magazines from all over the world voted for the best products of 2009/2010 in more than 40 categories. The award was presented at a special ceremony held during the Musikmesse 2010 international tradeshow in Frankfurt, Germany on 25 March 2010. Paul Reed Smith accepted the award on behalf of PRS Guitars.

Music industry chiefs have backed mental health charity CALM following the creation of a music board designed to reduce suicide among young men. Chaired by Chris Price, the Board will concentrate on raising the awareness of CALM and its activities across the music business, and promoting fundraising and profile-building. Among its supporters are Jim Chancellor (Fiction), Ted Cockle (Island Records), Robert Horsfall (Sound Advice), Mark Jones (Wall of Sound), Andy Parfitt (BBC Radio 1), Richard Russell (XL Recordings), Feargal Sharkey (UK Music) and Alison Wenham (AIM). CALM CEO Jane Powell said: “We’ve got a strong platform on which to build some really exciting initiatives. The next 12 months are going to be crucial in the development of CALM, and the music board will really help us to advance the organisation and help young men.” For more details visit: www.thecalmzone.net

MIA Music Awards 2010 The MIA will hold its annual industry event this year at the Landmark Hotel in London on the 24 November. The awards will again be presented to recognise the best people, products and companies in the industry. “We expect the evening to be a great success and will be announcing the entertainment when we have more details,” said MIA CEO, Paul McManus. For further information about the event, please contact clare@mia.org.uk

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ROUNDUP

American trombonist Mike Zwerin dies

Accomplished American trombonist and writer Mike Zwerin has died, aged 79. Zwerin’s career began at the age of 18 when he was the trombonist in Miles Davis’ Nonet at the Royal Roost club in New York, the city of his birth. The band recorded an album a year later that helped bring jazz into the mainstream, however Zwerin focused on aiding his father’s steel business. Although he played the trombone for a number of SCV London, which distributes a number of large bands in the city, his father’s death in 1960 prompted Zwerin to return to running high profile musical instrument brands, has the business. He still combined this with jazz, however, and by the end of the decade added Turbosound to its portfolio. withdrew from the presidency of the Capitol Steel Corporation. Turbosound has provided audio systems Zwerin had a reputation for a love of high class living and often dressed in extravagant for some of the biggest names in music clothes and wore a fedora. Embracing the Parisian lifestyle, for almost three decades, including Iron he joined the International Herald Tribune as a pop and jazz Maiden, Kings of Leon, Led Zeppelin, Oasis critic and retained this position for more than 30 years. and Pink Floyd. More recently, the company In his later years, Zwerin also contributed towards the has introduced its Aspect and Flex Array Bloomberg news service. Arguably his greatest work was as systems to the live market and club sectors. an author, and in 1985 his book La Tristesse de Saint Louis: Now, the company’s experience and Swing Under the Nazis was published. The book uncovered expertise has been brought to the portable the stories behind the ban of jazz music by Hitler’s regime PA market, in the shape of the Milan range. and its survival, which Zwerin defined as: “A metaphor for The brand joins others at SCV such as freedom.” He also published his autobiography, Close Enough Fostex, Aphex, Audix, Summit and JamHub, for Jazz. and SCV says that the Turbosound Milan range creates “the perfect link to complete the audio signal chain.” From this month, SCV will distribute the Milan products in the UK, as well as the new compact range of portable loudspeakers, which were recently launched at the Frankfurt prolight Small businesses are continuing to avoid the banks, a survey by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed. and sound exhibition. A survey of more than 1,400 FSB members showed that just 18 per cent of SCV’s Andrew Stirling said: “Milan businesses have approached banks for additional credit. Of these, half were successful combines exceptional audio quality and with their applications. With the Government setting new targets for lending to the state versatility with a very advantageous price owned banks, the findings also showed that just over a third of businesses (36 per cent) point, making it ideal for a wide range were unsuccessful with their credit application. Twelve per cent had yet to discover the of portable applications – particularly bank’s decision. for DJs, musicians and live music venues, Of those businesses with existing finance, the FSB’s survey discovered that houses of worship and corporate events.” 16 per cent experienced an increase in the cost during the last two months. Of these Turbosound’s managing director Simon companies, 44 per cent noticed a rise in costs of two to three per cent. However, Blackwood added: “The appointment 12 per cent saw interest rates rise between figures of 10 to 14 per cent, despite of SCV London to handle the base interest rate being at an all time low. Just one per cent of businesses who the retail channel of our responded to the survey reported that their costs of borrowing had decreased. expanding portable sound The FSB has expressed its concern regarding banks and their lending criteria for some product line is the next time and has said that it believes the Small Business Credit Adjudicator announced in step in connecting more the Budget will aid to make sure that small companies are treated fairly and are given a effectively to an even wider Turbosound customer base.” right of appeal against unfair decisions made by large banks.

image: Luciane Maia

SCV to distribute Turbosound’s Portable Sound product ranges

Small businesses reluctant to approach banks for credit, reports FSB survey

Chesney Hawkes kicks off acoustic tour

Young Guns opt for Faith Guitars

Chesney Hawkes has begun his acoustic tour of Britain using Tanglewood’s MasterDesign guitar. Beginning at the Half Moon in Putney, Hawkes chose the mahogany guitar designed in collaboration with Michael Sanden to perform songs including his hit The One and Only. Incorporating some of Sanden’s functional and handcrafted features, MasterDesign models feature personally selected premium grade Solid Sitka Spruce soundboards and are fitted with a B-Band A1 EQ systems with inner sound hole control to provide a clear and rich electro-acoustic performance.

British alternative rock band Young Guns has become the latest in a series of emerging young musicians to use Faith Guitars for their acoustic and unplugged sessions. John and Fraser chose the FECJ Eclipse Jupiter Electro, an FVHG venus HiGloss and an FJCEHG Jupiter HiGloss. Each model features a cutaway and electronics supplied by Shadow’s Nanoflex system. Hailing from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire,Young Guns released their debut album Mirrors last year. The group have supported major acts including Lostprophets, The Used and Taking Back Sunday.

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John Hornby Skewes and Co Ltd announces the appointment of American distributor JHS has appointed Musical Distributors Group, MDG as the exclusive US distributor for the JHS guitar brands Fret-King, Vintage, Encore and Santos Martinez. Previously the brands had been distributed in the US by MIDC Ltd, based in Toronto, Ontario. “We are very excited to be distributing the various JHS brands in the USA,” says MDG president, Steven Savvides. “With their excellent product offering and solid reputation in the market, we look forward to leading their growth in the US.” MDG will be exhibiting FretKing,Vintage and Encore at Summer NAMM 2010, 18 to 20 June, with JHS managing director, Dennis Drumm and designer Trev Wilkinson in attendance.

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TAKING STOCK

ÄÄ Leisuretech

Leisuretec is a distributor of professional and commercial sound, lighting and special effects equipment, and has been serving the industry for 20 years. With thousands of products from more than 70 brands, combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience, Leisuretec offers a useful service to re-sellers, installers and hire companies. Its range spans many market sectors including installed sound, presentation, live entertainment, club and theatre. The Leisuretec Listings Plus 2010 features more about the company and Leisuretec’s product portfolio, and is available in hard copy or online. Information: 01525 850 085 or www.leisuretec.co.uk

ÃÃ Peavey

The 6505 Series of amplifiers from Peavey has long characterised the sound of contemporary metal for artists such as Bullet For My Valentine. With the original 2-channel head and the extra flexibility provided with the 6505 Plus’s totally independent lead channel, the amplifiers also boast distinct biting tones and offer roadworthy reliability. Information: www.peavey-eu.com/support or www.trace-elliot.co.uk/support (point of sale enquiries should be addressed to the Peavey sales team)

ÄÄ Shuttlesound

At the Winter Olympics, Rocky Mountain Production Services, based in Vancouver and Whistler, BC, was tasked with providing some of the audio equipment required, and, more importantly, a roster of capable audio engineers and staff to manage specific production requirements. The entertainment stage featured 12x Electro-Voice XLD281 line array elements with 6x Electro-Voice X-sub (2 x 18-inch) subwoofers, driven by EV Tour Grade Series amplifiers, specifically TG5 and TG7 models. Frontfills, sidefills, and monitors included a variety of EV SXA250 and SXA180 loudspeakers. Information: www.shuttlesound.com

ÄÄ Big Cat Audio

ÅÅD’Addario UK

D’Addario promises to deliver some of the most natural-sounding, long-lasting coated strings available. Through the company’s EXP coated technology, D’Addario says it has perfected the art and science of coated string-making to deliver extended play strings that sound identical to their renowned XLs. The company has improved the corrosion resistance, longevity and durability of plain steel strings through an innovative compound tin-plating process. This exclusive wire provides four times more corrosion resistant tin to dramatically improve the life of the whole set. Information: 0191 300 3000 or www.daddario.co.uk

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With only minimal price increases from previous years, SR Technology’s Jam series combos are now providing even greater value for both music retailer and end user. Acclaimed for their ability to successfully amplify both single and multiple acoustic, electric and vocal sound sources, Jam combos are now the preferred choice of many top players and musicians worldwide. The company hopes the addition of two further models at the Frankfurt show will only further enhance the range’s popularity at the premium quality end of the market. Information: 01406 365 291

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TAKING STOCK

ÅÅMatt Nolan

Custom

ÃÃLaney

The new Laney Linebacker range offers players simple straight ahead tone and effects combinations, which sound great with the minimum amount of fuss. There are three models ranging from five watts up to 35 watts, with 11 amp models per channel plus two effects per channel, plus much more. The range offers a modern day approach to simple straight ahead flexible guitar tone for a player who wants everything to enhance their playing and nothing to get in their way. Information: www.laney.co.uk

Matt Nolan Custom is a new UK brand. A sole trader and solo artisan for 18 months, Matt has built up an international reputation for his unique, handmade cymbals, gongs, symphonic percussion and metal sound sculptures. Already with five Grammy Award winning artists on his books and with very successful shows including at Musikmesse, NAMM and PASIC, Matt sells his “work of art” instruments to drummers and percussionists across the globe. Information: www.mattnolancustom.com or matt@mattnolancustom.com

ÄÄ The Plectrum Box

The Plectrum Box offers new and innovative design from a very familiar shape. The company says its products are the perfect gifts for the guitarist or indeed the musician who has everything. A high quality piece finished in several different woods, featuring one of several iconic guitar designs that are all drawn by hand and then routed into the lid to add that extra dimension. Ideal for storing your capo, tuner, slide etc. Plectrum clocks and coasters complete the set. Information: 07770 404 033 or www.plectrumbox.com

ÃÃ Piano Street

The popular classical piano website Piano Street offers over 3,000 high quality printable piano scores and recordings of classical piano music in addition to its popular 43,000-plus members forum. Gold membership costs $47 (£30) and gives the user unlimited access to the entire online library for a full year. Gold membership is now available for reselling by retailers in the form of value code scratch cards. Information: www.pianostreet.com/resell

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TAKING STOCK

ÃÃ Alesis

Alesis has launched the DM10STUDIO, which is aimed at consumers who need a vast array of sounds and facilities but are on a budget. The six piece, dual zone, dual layer DM10STUDIO boasts 1047 x 24bit uncompressed sounds in 100 kits, USB, third party sound exchange, a drum recorder with editing, 75 real audio songs and 4 x multizone cymbals. Information: 01252 896 000 or www.alesis.com

ÄÄ Steinway

Steinway is renowned for a unique range of grand and upright pianos. The family of Steinway-designed pianos comprises three distinct brands: the Steinway & Sons grand and upright pianos – its benchmark pianos; the Boston series – the discerning mid-range choice; and the Essex series – the perfect entry-level instrument. All members of the Steinway-designed family benefit from the expertise and experience gained from over 150 years of designing and building. The company says there is an instrument to suit every requirement, every ability level and every budget. Information: 0207 487 3391 or www.steinway.com

ÅÅEssex Guitar Services

Essex Guitar Services offers personal care and attention for your musical needs. Ten per cent discount is given on Kent Armstrong and Bare Knuckle Pickups. A free local pick-up and delivery service in the Southend, Essex area is on offer, plus rapid turnaround time and competitive prices. Information: 01702 554 916 or 07717 130 559

ÆÆThe Music Shipping Company

New from Drumplates are Rollerplates – a roll-up rubber drum mat for easy set-up. No spikes, no holes and no tape. The set includes 10 Drumblocks, which are secured to the mat with Velcro to lock your stands in place. The Velcro markings remain in place when the mat is rolled up, so your set-up is remembered, and the mat is wrapped and secured with a Velcro-loop strap. More Drumblocks are available for drummers to add further stands. Rollerplate dimensions: 200cm(6.5ft) x 140cm(4.5ft). Information: 01562 827 666 or www.musicshipping.co.uk

ÄÄ AVSL Group

‘Chord’ is the new music product and accessory brand from AVSL Group.The range features over 500 products including a brand new range of guitars, pedals and amplifiers.The solid body electric guitars come in various styles and colour options with no extra charge for lefties.The range of solid cast effects pedals offers pure analogue sound, while the 15W and 30W twin channel amps have a gutsy, warm tone and real spring reverb.The company says they are affordable and offer good value for money. Information: www.chordmusic.co.uk

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FRANKFURT MUSIKMESSE

H S I ! T I G R N S I I ? E B E L B ESS M A E U M O L K H A I T E CHOW TV MUS R T R U S ABUT JRUANKF F E TH

John Rogers Prosser gets the verdict on

Frankfurt from some of the British companies who exhibited at the recent Musikmesse

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he song is The girl in the other room, performed by Diana Krall. The scene is the Dialog Room at the Frankfurt Messe, and the company is Funktion-One. As a bonus, there is also some German beer. The beer is good, but it is the sound quality that makes the impression: loud, mellifluous, and absolutely pure. Did I mention loud? It has taken me what seems a lifetime to find the location of Funktion-One’s press conference, and what is beginning to seem like days trudging around the Musikmesse, which as veterans will know is the

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size of a small city. But it’s been worth it. Against the far wall of the Dialog Room is a preposterously comprehensive array of loudspeakers. The floor begins to shake as the style of the music changes to something with, er, just a tad more bass. Funktion-One describes itself as an “English inventor and manufacturer of professional loudspeaker systems,” and has provided sound equipment in environments ranging from international stadiums to bars and foyers. “We understand sound to be the most important of

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FRANKFURT MUSIKMESSE

Messe Frank­furt Ex­hi­bi­tion GmbH/ Pietro Sutera

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our senses and, in fact, the root of the structure of the entire universe,” says Funktion-One’s Tony Andrews. “We also pay considerable attention to the emotional effect of not just music, but the sound itself; what you might call its ‘quality’. In a world where everything is ‘dumbing down’ and finesse and subtlety are rapidly disappearing, it is a source of pride to us that we are continually going in the opposite direction,” he adds. Funktion-One has clearly had a good time. Vicky Wallis of audio technologist Allen & Heath agrees: “Frankfurt was a huge success for Allen & Heath and we had a consistently busy stand for the duration of the show with lots of buzz around our new iLive, ZED and Xone products,” she says. Allen & Heath and Audinate announced at Prolight & Sound at the Messe that they are collaborating to introduce Dante networking modules for the iLive digital mixing series. Dante will be incorporated into Allen & Heath’s range of audio networking plug-in cards, which slot into the iDR MixRacks and allow iLive to interface with a variety of common audio interface and networking standards, increasing inventory flexibility and system integration. Faith Guitars, another aspirational British brand under the wing of Barnes and Mullins, enjoyed the Messe. “Frankfurt was a great success,” says Alex Mew, B&M marketing manager. “As far as international trade events go, Frankfurt has long been second to none, so it seemed appropriate for Barnes & Mullins to make this the next step in our Faith Guitars export process. “Having had the last few years to get the Faith instruments established in the UK, our first major international exhibition was Music China in Shanghai in 2006. Thanks to the subsequent four years at that show, a good network of distribution for Faith Guitars was built throughout Asia and Australasia. However in order to make proper impact throughout Europe, Frankfurt was the logical choice. “With 2010 being our first year of exhibiting ‘proper’ at the Messe, we expected a good level of interest, but tried to remain realistic. However, our expectations were massively exceeded thanks to the beginning of some major partnerships with European distribution companies. These developments will undoubtedly bring huge benefits to these new markets in terms of having a new, exciting brand to take to market; but also to the existing and very important UK market. Over the next few years, UK retailers will see the positive impact that having a European-wide promotion and marketing presence will have.”

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FRANKFURT MUSIKMESSE

“So overall, as you can tell, we were delighted with the result from this year’s Musikmesse.... and all this during a time of economic uncertainty across the world. We have already booked for 2011, when we look forward to building new relationships and cementing those with partners met in 2010.” Export business aside, Barnes & Mullins’ management have been attending the Frankfurt show since the beginning, and say it has remained the place to meet with major suppliers. “As much as the Faith export business is exciting and important,” says Mew, “it is just as important to spend the time with the people who supply us with a large number of exclusively distributed brands such as LAG Guitars, Rico Reeds, Thomastik Infeld and Yanagisawa Saxophones. You still can’t beat proper face to face contact, and exhibitions such as Frankfurt are the ideal – and often only achievable – way of catching up, delivering feedback, and developing a greater understanding of the people, brands and companies that make a huge impact on so many people’s lives.” Surely one of the most innovative British companies exhibiting at the Musikmesse is Eigenlabs, a start-up British company, founded by internet entrepreneur John Lambert in 2001. The company manufactures the Eigenharp Tau, which needs to be seen and heard in action to be believed. The story began in a barn on Lambert’s Devon farm, with a small team of designers and programmers – some private finance – and a dream to make the world’s most expressive electronic musical instrument. It was four years before the Eigenharp made its first sound, and eight years before it was unveiled to the world. Eigenlabs now employs 40 people in Exeter and London. The design centre and factory are based in Eigenharp Tau Exeter, while the marketing and musician teams are based in Covent Garden, London. Eigenlabs works with its craftsmen in Devon, and a wide range of significant new technologies in the eight years of UK based subcontractors, including manufacturing its research, resulting in a number of patents being partners. Eigenlabs has developed a number of filed for its core technology, a testimony to the very British spirit of invention at its heart. Says Eigenlabs’ Amy Lucas: “Musikmesse was a great platform for Eigenlabs to debut their Eigenharp instrument range in Europe. During the four-day show, Eigenlabs demoed to over 1,500 people. Reactions to the Eigenharps included comments like ‘I think I’ve seen the future of musical instruments’. The team was exhilarated by the busy stand and it was great to be able to answer questions on the spot. The best way to understand the Eigenharp is to see it, touch it and play it – Musikmesse facilitated this.” Thumbs up then on the Musikmesse and all aboard for next year.

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EMI Music Publishing London with VTC 48 channel console

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5/5/2010 9:41:27 AM 30/4/10 09:08:01


THE HIGHSTREET

THE VIEW FROM STREET LEVEL In the wake of the worst recession in living memory, John Rogers Prosser talks to some pillars of the west London retail music trading community about their hopes and fears

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t’s been the toughest couple of years I can remember,” says Michael White, with a hint of ruefulness, from his Ealing shop Michael White Musical Instruments. Michael White has been trading for 29 years as a woodwind and brass retail outlet and repairer, with one of the largest instrument selections in London. He supplies and repairs instruments for many of the leading professional musicians both in the UK and abroad and he knows only too well just how tough professional musicians are finding the situation. “Freelance musicians are finding it very difficult to get work,” he adds, “and they are not spending their money.” In addition to retail, internet and mail order sales, Michael White is a leading supplier of student

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instruments to colleges and schools and also handles repairs of quality instruments, with an inhouse repair team, including two of the country’s top repairers. The business services the instruments of many top professional players from around the world. He knows the business and he knows what he’s talking about. He also views the incursion of cheaply made foreign instruments available particularly on the internet as a competitive problem for high street British traders. “There are some very cheap Chinese instruments available on the internet,” he says. “We know because they bring them into our shop for repair. There is a great deal of rivalry on the internet and many customers go for the very cheapest prices.” However, all is not doom and gloom for Michael White, who, with his 30-year retail pedigree, has weathered storms before. “I am confident it will pick up,” he says. John Gardonyi opened his music shop, Gardonyi’s, in Ealing and has been trading there for over five years. “When I started the business, everybody told me it was the worst time to open a retail outlet,” he says, “but we’ve grown in sales every year.

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THE HIGHSTREET

2009 was our best year, and sales are ahead of where we were last year,” he adds. While conceding that it has not been as profitable as he had hoped, he remains optimistic about the future and plans to grow his business on the internet. But John Gardonyi is truly a man with a mission. He set out to “create a music shop that does not intimidate; a music shop that sends out a message to all people: we want you to come in, we want you to play and we want you to enjoy yourselves. Far too many times we have come across elitism in music circles that only causes resentment, a lack of confidence, alienation and frustration. We want to work with children and adults, schools and colleges, essentially to encourage anyone, anywhere to enjoy all music of all styles,” he says. “We have a passion for music and our aim is not to help create virtuoso musicians, but to help bring pleasure and fun to everyone through music and to wake everyday inspired – driven to do something we enjoy completely and make a living from it.” Just down the road in Hanwell, Paul Lazarus, proprietor of Plaza Pianos, is about to leave to tune a piano. Plaza Pianos has been trading and consulting on everything piano related for over 36 years and has sold pianos all over the world. Also offering restoration and a rehearsal room service, Paul feels reasonably confident about the future. With a business divided into tuning and retail, Paul says that the tuning aspect of his business supports the shop. But he adds, “It is very slow at the moment.” Paul also restores all kinds of pianos and, when not selling them, is restoring them to

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their former glory. “If I were purely operating as a piano shop, I’d have gone out of business years ago,” he adds. Like John Gardonyi, Paul Lazarus is very conscious of the impact of the business rates and rent on the retail market, but he is confident that as a small business he will weather the storm. Richard Sadler, a director of Ealing Strings, is also optimistic. Ealing Strings has been a feature of the local high street since 1966, with its motto ‘Everything for the violin’. One of the most wellknown music retailers in London, and with a worldwide reputation, Ealing Strings also specialises in bookselling and publishing and boasts one of the largest instrument workshops in Europe. Step inside, as its website says, and “you enter a world steeped in traditions of a craft dating back to Medieval times – the world of Stradivari, and of the Guarneri family.” Ealing Strings specialises in quality instruments, and with its workshop facilities, is able to offer a selection of instruments and bows, ranging from those suitable for the serious student up to and including Cremonese instruments and English and French bows. Richard Sadler concedes that “the past two years have been difficult,” but says that 2010 is going very well and, like John Gardonyi, he is expecting a record year. He says that the reason is partially that the economy is emerging from the recession and cash flow has improved, but adds that because buying a quality violin or viola is not something usually done on the internet, (“it’s not like buying a first edition book”), Ealing Strings has not suffered too badly in competition from

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THE HIGHSTREET

cyberspace, though he acknowledges that the Ealing Strings website and email has been an invaluable asset for communication. At the other end of town at Peter Cook’s Guitar World, trading conditions are seen as challenging. With its motto, ‘The UK’s lowest guitar prices – we hate to be beaten!’, Peter Cook’s Guitar World is known nationally to guitarists of all kinds and is one of the most comprehensively stocked stores in London with a well established internet and mail order business and repair consultancy. Established in 1981 by luthier, Peter Cook, and Trevor Newman, the business originally started instrument repairs in the late 60s due to the paucity of repairers in the west London area. Cook, previously operating from his own workshop, needed larger premises to continue the repairwork, and embarked on a partnership with Trevor, to set up a joint retail outlet and repair service at the “bijou” 69 Station Road, Hanwell, London W7 (the frontroom of two terraced houses). Manager, Paul White, makes the point that instruments are regarded as luxury goods and that the market is very competitive. “It’s not like filling up your car or putting food on the table,” he says. He adds that 2010 has been more challenging than 2009, when significant job losses coming after a booming economy were unusual. Now, it’s a “harsh reality,” he

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says. Paul White also feels that there has not been a major musical movement since Britpop to galvanise customers to buy instruments in large numbers. But he readily acknowledges that whilst some wholesalers have not been as sympathetic as they might have been to the challenges faced by retailers, others, such as Fender, have done everything they could to keep business bubbling in the retail market and excitement in the industry. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Peter Cook’s Guitar World is currently having its website re-designed, making the best of trading conditions and working hard on maintaining its reputation for high standards in customer service. “We’ve always tried to give customers what’s right for them and leave them happy,” says Paul White, “even if it means we don’t necessarily always shift as many boxes as we otherwise might.”

Where to find them on the web www.michaelwhitewind.co.uk www.gardonyis.co.uk www.plazapianos.com www.ealingstrings.info www.petercooks.co.uk

www.mtgazette.co.uk


mtgads.indd 13

5/5/2010 9:41:57 AM


Images courtesy of Patrick Gorman

MUSIC FOR ALL

TAKE IT AWAY MUSIC MAESTRO PLEASE! Philippa Staff, officer for the ‘Take it away’

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scheme, looks at progress made since the unique programme’s launch in 2007 ince its launch in summer 2007, Arts Council England’s ‘Take it away’ scheme has had a huge impact across the music retail sector. Offering interest-free loans of between £100 and £2,000 for the purchase of any kind of musical instrument, it has proved a hit with businesses and customers alike. To date over 36,000 people have bought instruments and accessories using the scheme, worth in excess of £24 million. Sales continue to rise year on year with over £11 million worth of musical equipment sold in the last 12 months, and with 2010/11 sales predicted to top that figure. The idea behind ‘Take it away’ is to try and make sure that the cost of buying a musical instrument

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doesn’t create an obstacle for people wanting to get involved in learning and playing music. The scheme is open to all UK residents over the age of 18, so anyone can apply, including people buying an instrument on behalf of a child or young person. We’re particularly keen to use the scheme to encourage and inspire people that have little or no regular engagement with the arts to start learning a musical instrument for the first time. The success of ‘Take it away’ is largely down to the simplicity of the concept. The government funded scheme, run by the Arts Council, is able to offer interest-free loans to customers by splitting the interest between the retailer selling the instrument and the Arts Council. It’s a great example of the public and private sector working together to get more people engaging with the arts and forms part of the Arts Council’s wider investment strategy for the music sector which will see over £200 million invested in a wide range of

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SUPER KICK

MUSIC FOR ALL

initiatives and organisations over the three years from 2008 to 2010/11. Along with giving people the financial support to start making music, ‘Take it away’ is all about bringing a new wave of customers into music shops. Our network of retailers, currently just under 300 stores, is a real mix of small independent shops and larger retailers with a national reach. Before being accepted onto the scheme, retailers are put through an assessment process to make sure customer service levels and advice are pitched right, especially to customers with no experience of going into music shops. We want to make sure we remove all the barriers that stop people getting involved in making music. Retail benefits It probably won’t come as a surprise to find out that guitars are by far the most popular instrument sold using a ‘Take it away’ loan, although the membership isn’t restricted to general rock and pop outlets. There are plenty of specialist woodwind, brass and even a harp retailer all offering ‘Take it away’. And the spread goes right across England – from Newcastle in the north to Truro in the south west. The Arts Council has worked closely with the Music Industries Association throughout the development of ‘Take it away’, as well as partnering with a number of other organisations each year to help extend the reach and impact of the scheme across the music sector. The scheme has benefitted from an impressive selection of great press and TV coverage over the past couple of years, including a cross-promotion with NME magazine and Oasis, features on BBC Breakfast and Working Lunch, along with a wide range of regional and local exposure. This press coverage adds to the great work our retailers already do in promoting ‘Take it away’ in their stores. Each member retailer is provided with free point of sale marketing material so they can make as many of their customers aware of the scheme as possible. And promoting the scheme is shown to work for retailers, with the last ‘Take it away’ survey showing that over threequarters of member retailers said the scheme had a significant or substantial impact on their business, and around 15 per cent of retailers reporting additional sales of over £50,000 a year. As well as the impact on businesses, the stories of how the scheme has benefitted individuals really brings home how important an initiative like ‘Take it away’ can be. From families trying to provide for musical children, to people buying their partner an unforgettable present for

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their 60th birthday, the scheme is making a difference to people right across the country, and from all walks of life. More than half of all people that have used the scheme say that they wouldn’t have been able to buy the instrument they wanted without ‘Take it away’ helping to spread the cost. ‘Take it away’ is about opening up the possibility of owning a musical instrument to as wide a range of people as possible. Whether you’ve got a 12 year old son who is desperate for his own drum kit or you’re just retired and have the time to pursue the interest in the clarinet that you’ve always dreamed of, then ‘Take it away’ is for you. Get involved If you’re a retailer and interested in getting involved in ‘Take it away’ then get in touch with the team at the Arts Council to register your interest. New intakes are assessed once a year, but you can put yourself forward now in advance of the next application round. To offer the scheme, retailers need to have a valid Consumer Credit Licence in place.

Contact:

Bass Drum Heads Featuring Aquarian’s patented “Floating Muffling System” No other muffling required! Available from your local drum store www.aquariandrumheads.com www.musicshipping.co.uk

takeitaway@artscouncil.org.uk Tel: 0845 300 6200 www.takeitaway.org.uk www.artscouncil.org.uk

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FROM THE USA

THINKER, TAYLOR, LUTHIER, TRAILBLAZER 26

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FROM THE USA

When Bob Taylor and his colleagues arrived in London as part of a whirlwind European tour, they held an audience of guitar enthusiasts enthralled at Harrods’ music department. John Rogers Prosser joined the throng

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e learned as we went along,” says Bob Taylor, president of Taylor Guitars, recalling the early days of his pioneering guitar company, and describing how he and his partner, now CEO of Taylor Guitars, Kurt Listug, loaded up Listug’s Volvo and would drive to Los Angeles, and often further to peddle their wares. “We came home with cheques,” he adds, smiling. He doesn’t say it, but perhaps he is thinking, “the rest is history.” And so it is. But today the scene is that local high street, the Brompton Road, west London; and the store, a famous brand on that particular high street, is Harrods. It is perhaps a far cry from its corporate headquarters in El Cajon, California, but Taylor Guitars is holding court for ‘an evening of guitars,’ with Bob Taylor, in Harrods’ sumptuous music department, where a reproduction of Elton John’s famous signature red piano will set you back a trifling £79,000. Bob Taylor began making guitars in junior high school, and in a field not exactly lacking in competition, Taylor Guitars has, over its 36-year history, carved a global reputation as a leading manufacturer, both in terms of the aesthetics of the instrument and its tonal balance and purity. Throughout this period he has followed his central mantra of making the guitar easy to play, with the result that Taylors are typically characterised by a slim neck and low, easy playing action. Perhaps unusually, his first guitar was a 12 string, and because a close friend was a left-handed player, Taylor has always (well, almost always, he concedes) made equivalent left-handed models of its guitars. On graduating high school, Bob Taylor cut his teeth at the American Dream Guitar Company, San Diego California, subsequently buying the company and forming the Westland Music Company in 1974, with partner Listug (now CEO), which evolved into Taylor Guitars. He admits that he has not chased the “elusive goal of creating the best sound in the world,” because he believes it to be an unattainable obsession. Rather he has pursued the objective of

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creating a portfolio of instruments, within which any aspiring guitarist should find a perfect instrument for them: a “guitar which they can play really easily, which sounds great when you play together and a guitar which amplifies well.” Taylor acoustic aficionados know the range well from, as Bob puts it, the “big, boxy dreadnaught, with the barking, bluegrass personality,” through the Grand Auditorium and Grand Concert, to the three-quarter sized Baby Taylor. Having garnered praise for the introduction of the hybrid T5, Taylor’s SolidBody line and the semihollow T3 electric series, the new Taylor Baritone 8-String was awarded a Musikmesse International Press Award (MIPA) for Best Acoustic Guitar during the 2010 Musikmesse trade show in Frankfurt. But successful entrepreneurship is never without its challenges. On two occasions in its early history the company survived only by laying off all but the principal founders. Undeterred, Taylor continued to focus on innovation. The development of efficient and environmentally sound processes for manufacturing, bolt-on necks for acoustic guitars (its new technology (NT) system); using ultraviolet light to save production time when drying guitar finishes; coupled with and the company’s expression system (ES) for electronic amplification without loss tone quality, have been significant innovations in contributing to Taylor’s continuing success. And Taylor seems to have weathered the recession remarkably well. In spite of having to lower its production early in 2009, the company was able to retain the vast majority of its workforce. CEO Kurt Listug acknowledges that “this lasted for several months while we sold down our inventory, and we’ve been back in full production since early November. We’re now very lean on inventory and have had to increase our projections for 2010

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FROM THE USA

several times. This was a painful process to go through, but we’re now in great shape and well positioned for 2010.” With Taylor Guitars using a wide diversity of woods from Rosewood, Mahogany and Maple, (a wood with ‘the focus and cut of a laserbeam’) to Hawaiian Koa and Striped Ebony from Indonesia, wood sourcing is a big subject for Bob Taylor, who acknowledges the dilemma faced by a world in which increasing demand must be met with limited resources. “We are living on the threshold of everything changing,” he says. “It’s a transitional time and we have to try to go beyond compliance in sourcing the raw material we use to build our guitars. We are forging alliances with communities in many countries,” he adds, “including Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Honduras and beyond. We have to ensure we preserve wood species and because of our close community connections, we have an easier time obtaining wood and our buying policy is a much more focused and surgical procedure,” he says. Taylor works closely with communities in which the wood is found and gives one example in which his company has provided 40 per cent of a local community’s income by buying five trees. Taylor has never been afraid of a commitment to producing high-end instruments and charging for them accordingly. The company stuck by this

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philosophy during a painful recession when the temptation must have been to drop margins to placate retailers. But Taylor seems now to be reaping the rewards of sticking to its guns. In spite of a difficult 2009, Taylor saw an increase in market share and was the top selling acoustic guitar brand in the USA in terms of retail revenue, generating “higher retail revenues at US cash registers in 2009 than we did in 2008.” Taylor’s distribution partnership with Fender seems to be working well in Europe, with a greater variety of Taylor guitars available for purchase from retailers throughout the UK and online. How does Bob Taylor explain this level of success? “It comes down to having quality people, quality processes and a quality philosophy,” he says, and I don’t hear any of the numerous Taylor guitar enthusiasts at Harrods arguing. The Taylor ‘roadshow’ at Harrods provided a unique opportunity for a music department packed with Taylor guitar aficionados to meet and greet Bob Taylor and some senior colleagues. Taylor demonstrated the tonal quality of a wide variety of guitars, including the new Baritone, and the versatility of the T5 electro-acoustic. He talked the audience through the Taylor story, and Harrods staff were at hand to help customers on that tricky decision of which guitar to choose.

www.mtgazette.co.uk


mtgads.indd 15

5/5/2010 9:42:40 AM


Jim, Pete & Mannie, 1977

A RETAIL PHENOMENON

HOBGOBLIN:

THE FIRST FOLK MUSIC SUPERMARKET MTG gets to the checkout at one of the niche music retail success stories of the past 30 years

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obgoblin Music was born in 1976, when Mannie and Pete McClelland were searching in vain for a concertina. In the short-term the mission was unsuccessful, but the germ of a business idea was born. The McClellands began to envisage a type of folk music supermarket, where you could walk amongst a cornucopia of folk instruments, accessories and tune books, acquiring everything you needed to play folk, under one roof. And so it was that Hobgoblin Music began, in humble circumstances at the Burgess Hill Market, while Pete was working at an engineering firm and Mannie was teaching. The name was Mannie’s idea, and it caught on fast. As demand grew, Hobgoblin

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upgraded to a barn in Ifield Woods, and then in 1977 to its first ‘proper’ shop in Northgate, Crawley. As the only shop of its kind, Hobgoblin Music in Crawley attracted customers from all over the UK, and soon all over the world, aided by its proximity to Gatwick airport. A mail order service was soon developed and rapidly began to succeed. Folk music enthusiasts everywhere began to look forward to the next Hobgoblin catalogue. Gradually the company began to grow, and a London branch was opened in the early 90s when Hobgoblin took over the running of the ‘The Folk Shop’ in Cecil Sharp House, in collaboration with the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Eventually the Hobgoblin shop outgrew the premises, and moved to Rathbone Place, London, where it still remains, run by manager John Howlett. The London shop stocks the full Hobgoblin range of weird and wonderful folky things, but in addition has strong leanings towards handmade fretted instruments of

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Jim, Pete & Mannie, 1977

A RETAIL PHENOMENON

all sorts, and wind and percussion instruments from around the world. There followed several more shops, including some franchised branches, and there are now eight UK Hobgoblin Music shops, as well as two USA branches of Hobgoblin Music run by harp maker Gary Stone in Minnesota USA. The largest branch is now the company’s brand new flagship shop in Park Street, Bristol. Hobgoblin Music was one of the first traders to embark upon the UK folk festival rounds, and many festival-goers will still remember visiting Mannie, Pete and their two daughters in their trailer-shop on the Ham at Sidmouth Folk Festival in the early 80s. The Hobgoblin festival stall can still be seen at most of the major UK folk festivals each summer. The company has now also harnessed the power of the internet, with a web-based business founded by Pete in the late 90s with the aim of creating one of the best sources of information about folk music on the web, as well as making the extensive Hobgoblin catalogue available to online shoppers. A great many musicians have done their stint working in a Hobgoblin shop over the years, and in 2001 the company celebrated this with a 25th anniversary CD release, featuring music by Hobgoblin staff past and present. The CD was greeted very warmly by the folk world, and a follow-up CD is due soon along similar lines. Pete McClelland had a taste of being the A&R Man, and soon Hobgoblin Records was created as a side project, and is about to launch its 11th release – Blabbermouth’s second album Me and the Metronome.

Hobgoblin has also spread its wings in the world of live music, becoming involved in the Sidmouth FolkWeek and Crawley and the Gate to Southwell Folk festivals among others, via the Hobgoblin Stage. In 2007, Hobgoblin Music took over the running of the Wadebridge Folk Festival (previously the Cornwall Folk Festival) when the previous organisers announced at the last minute that it was no longer financially viable for them. The new festival has been received very warmly, and the August bank holiday weekend in 2010 will see the fourth Hobgoblin-run Wadebridge Folk Festival, headlined by Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick, and Andy Irvine. Thirty-four years after Pete and Mannie began trading at Burgess Hill market, Hobgoblin Music is still recognised as ‘Britain’s first choice for Folk’. The original shop in Crawley is still going strong, now operated as a franchise by musician and businessman Brian Flexman. Good times have come and gone for the music industry, but traditional and Celtic music has remained very strong, although there are clear trends within the business. Right now world percussion, ukuleles and mandolins are the big news, and products like banjos, autoharps and Celtic whistles have maintained their huge popularity over the last few decades. Sometimes you can tie in an instrument’s sudden popularity with something that is happening in popular culture. Bands like REM raised the profile of the mandolin, and the world went whistle-mad after the film Titanic came out. The staff in the Hobgoblin shops are all gigging musicians themselves, and the company is proud

Burgess Hill, 1976

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Image courtesy of Billy Alexander

A RETAIL PHENOMENON

of its reputation for friendly and expert customer service. Company founder Pete McClelland attributes much of the company’s success to this. “Our staff are all experienced musicians but the company ethos is that everyone is welcome in our shops, whatever their level of playing. We want to get more people playing a musical instrument, so we stock a huge range of products for beginners, as well as professional musicians.” Pete McClelland still maintains a major role in running the business, and although Mannie has pursued a ‘proper’ job as an educational psychologist, she remains very strongly involved with Hobgoblin Music. Pete and Mannie now play in several bands, and in 2005 realised their youthful dream of one day performing at Sidmouth Folk Festival when their band, Blackthorn (also featuring their oldest daughter Sarah, a flautist, guitar player and scientist), played on the main stage at the festival for the first time. Sarah’s younger sister Nicola works for the

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family business as a marketing and retail manager, while Sarah can still occasionally be seen working at a Hobgoblin festival stall. Mannie did eventually find her concertina, a Jeffries Anglo, and still plays it to this day! www.hobgoblin.com

www.mtgazette.co.uk


mtgads.indd 17

5/5/2010 9:43:13 AM


MUSIC PUBLISHING

IT’S PUBLISHING JIM, BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT:

JAWBONE PRESS

If you’re a publisher with an unrivalled range of home grown technical titles and distribution of one of the biggest names in music publishing, where do you go next? Into multimedia titles. David Etheridge explores the next generation with Jawbone Press MD, Nigel Osborne

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ver the past few decades books on rock instruments have changed out of all recognition. The early books might have been slightly dodgy tomes with a text lifted in large chunks from other (unacknowledged) sources, with plenty of pictures of rock stars who may have had only the most tenuous connection to grab the eye of the naïve buyer. In more recent times the gurus of the instrument world have put fingers to word processors and given us the benefit of decades of knowledge and experience, and provided the instrumental fan with complete histories of designers, companies and single instrument models and their derivatives. Some books in this genre have been labelled ‘guitar porn’, and justly so for the aspiring owner who simply lusts after classic instruments. But running in tandem with this style of book has been a growth in books about rock music written by authors who actually know the subject, rather than trying to cater to the fan market. You know the type – long on rock celebs and irrelevancies, and nothing on the music apart from song titles. It makes you wonder in some cases how much the author actually knows on the subject. One of the most comprehensive ranges of rock-based titles, both in musical instrument lore and language and music history, will be found in the formidable inventory of Jawbone Press, which also distributes Backbeat books and Hal Leonard’s products. Once you look at the company’s scope, you’ll realise that the people behind Jawbone are seasoned publishers, as Nigel Osborne, Jawbone’s MD, explains: “I’ve been in illustrated book publishing since I left college in 1972, working for people like Mitchell-Beazley, Dorling Kindersley and Reader’s Digest. That route led me to the Quarto Group, where I started looking at music books. We did a book that was a round up of the instruments of rock and roll called Rock Hardware, which for the time was excellent and had not previously been covered in a larger illustrated format. Fishing around among my colleagues, someone suggested that Tony Bacon would be a good

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MUSIC PUBLISHING

person, who at that time was working for Making Music. We had a lot of fun and I met an interesting collection of people involved with it. “A couple of years later I was putting together projects for Dorling Kindersley out of house; I could give them creative projects economically, and one of the ideas I had was for The Ultimate Guitar Book. I put that together, contacted Tony again and off we went. After that sold extremely well they wanted other books, so I then put together a book with Richard Chapman called The Complete Guitarist. That was a very difficult project to do for a number of reasons, so Tony and I said: ‘Why are we doing this for somebody else, when we should be doing our own books?’ So we went off and made The Fender Book, starting with a guitar profile, and it slowly developed into something that we did all the time. “Eighteen years later, we’ve expanded the range to around 150 books in print that we have made, and we now have an association with Hal Leonard. We’re doing the marketing and trying to brand their books in the UK. If you look across the board with the Jawbone list, the Backbeat and Hal Leonard lists, there’s well in excess of 500 titles. We’re hoping to establish this as a good place for a very wide selection of music books, and making sure that the technical books get into the correct part of a music shop rather than going into chain bookstores.” The relationship of Jawbone, Backbeat and Hal Leonard comes across as quite symbiotic, but with each arm having a good degree of independence. Like many business stories, the history can seem quite convoluted. “Backbeat and Jawbone are two separate companies, completely autonomous,” says Osborne. “Backbeat UK is the company that Tony and I started, and there’s also Backbeat US which was branded from Miller Freeman books, owned by CMP – a part of the United Business Media operation. “We started producing books which they marketed in the US, starting with The Fender Book. That relationship developed to the point where we were handling all the business in the UK and they were doing it in the US. Eventually, United Business Media sold CMP to Hal Leonard, who now has the distribution rights to Backbeat books. Hal Leonard approached us after all the dust settled with the acquisition; they did what they term ‘due diligence’, analysing the figures and seeing that we were actually over-performing sales-wise. They wanted to form a working relationship, and we said that they must understand that we’re an independently minded company. We’re not corporate folk, but if we can work out a deal where we can be left alone to do our thing, then we’re very happy to work with them. To date, it’s working quite well – they leave us alone and let us do what we do. We check stuff out and we get the right people.” Words and music The next step for the company has been to move into integrated multimedia: a book and DVD package that provides all the advantages of the two different formats. Osborne describes the thinking behind the new approach: “There are two parts to that really. There has to be a market for it, although it’s difficult to define to people what it is they’re getting. If you’re doing books on shiny instruments, instrumental techniques or just showcasing a particular brand of instrument, whatever it might be, a printed page with still pictures and even excellent use of the English language is only going to get you 40 per cent of the way. If you can then add moving pictures and real sound you’re going from a one-dimensional thing to a three dimensional thing. Obviously that’s better, but it’s also quite new. “We see an opening to do something slightly different [to the DVDs that are already out there], because of my background in integrated books, meaning an extremely good combination of words and pictures that gives you a cohesive

www.mtgazette.co.uk 

 35 


MUSIC PUBLISHING

grasp of a subject. I’ve always done that; the analytical side of putting words and pictures together. To get the elements to interact – to make sense of them – I think you need someone who’s always done the job of integrating elements. So instead of integrating words and pictures, which I’ve done with diagrams, photographs and words, I’m now taking in two other mediums – DVDs and audio tracks. There’s nothing new in this, but I don’t think any company has brought them together and made them an integrated product – that’s what we’re grappling with.” Cash flow “We’re a small independent company and we’re always tight on cash flow because we’re producing twice as many products now within two years, so we’ve doubled our output. For some time we’ve had an association with an American company which specialises in developing special markets. One of the company’s main outlets was into the price clubs in the US: the Costcos and the Sams Clubs. They go to big business by assorting various products; in other words they will take five or six very general titles and pack to a case, and then the Costcos of this world will buy a pallet full. If you get it right, they sell like hell. “We’ve been doing music books for them for about five years; we’ve done about 10 books, and I think virtually every one of them has sold out and done very well, so they’re very keen to get product from us. Because they put in a large initial order, somewhere in excess of 25,000 copies, that gives us the finance to develop our interactive projects. “I’m not interested in doing stuff that just looks flash, gets the sale and then we’re gone; I want to build something that can go into new areas. I’m starting to learn about how to make broadcast quality programmes, because we really do our very best to get broadcast quality in these products. It’s not a slightly tatty room with a guy sitting on an old stool with a guitar and slightly wonky lighting. We’ve got a three-man team that are DVD producers and they are very keen to develop this side of the market – they want to be the best and they’re very aggressive in their pursuit of excellence.” The changing face of the industry has affected many companies in different ways, but Jawbone has managed to stay relatively immune to any negative results to the company, while a certain change in emphasis has steadily altered the company’s approach to title publishing, as Nigel explains: “Our business over the past couple of years has been pretty much the same; we’ve done slightly smaller versions of the book with DVD packages, and not quite so large as the three big ones on guitars, keyboards and running your band (the Bible series). They went fairly well through the price clubs, although we didn’t do a huge amount with them in the UK. In fact we did more of the guitar one than we did with any of the others, and we did a couple of smaller information-type books that listed specifications of Fender and Gibson guitars, and they both had a full length DVD with them which demonstrated classic instruments from those makers. We don’t find that the market here is anything like the market in the States, and so we’ve adapted our product slightly. That’s the way we perceive the market at present. While the guitar title sold better than the other two, the Band Bible seemed to translate better in the US than it did in the UK. Here, we are finding that the simpler approach minus tutorials, DVDs and CDs, has more appeal. “The ‘super’ paperbacks we specialise in are still very popular and so we see the market going much more towards a book on a big star and a pivotal or small part of his/her career. For instance, we’ve just done a book on the Elvis comeback tour (1969). We’re looking at certain aspects of artists’ careers – stories like that of Cliff Burton (Metallica bassist) – and we find we’re doing well with that kind of thing, moving away from what can loosely be described as the coffee table book. Those we find hard to sell now – people want something small and compact.”

36 

Contact: Jawbone Press 0207 720 3581 www.jawbonepress.com www.backbeat.com

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mtgads.indd 19

5/5/2010 9:43:44 AM


SIX OF THE BEST

LET US NOW PRAISE ANJI

N

John Rogers Prosser pays homage to one

of the greatest acoustic guitar instrumentals o matter how you spell it, there can be few acoustic guitarists who have not, down the years since it was written, been seduced by Davey Graham’s brilliant Anji. I don’t know any acoustic player who hasn’t been fascinated with it and grappled with trying to perform it. But in spite of its pedigree and fame, and my spending more years that I care to count listening to it, and playing the guitar, I had personally never seen it performed professionally on stage. At least that was the position before I experienced a unique recent concert featuring Ralph McTell at that Mecca of music, the Cabbage Patch public house, Twickenham, earlier this year. Ralph, who is much more used to performing in significantly larger venues, had agreed to play a oneoff concert at Twickfolk to celebrate a 50th birthday, and featured Anji in his repertoire. Having searched Wikipedia, I found the following quotation: “Anji soon became a rite of passage for many acoustic fingerstyle guitarists, including… talented British musician, Ralph Mctell, who said of Anji ‘...here was a tune that combined a quirky rhythm figure with a tune of simple beauty with sexy blue notes with a hypnotic descending bass

38 

line. The hard part of this was that there were two beats to every bass note instead of the one that most of us were able to play. I was captivated, and for the next few weeks played nothing else. Finally I could manage a passable version. My mates were impressed! It practically became my signature tune.’ ” So it was wonderful to hear Ralph’s rolling clawhammer guitar style, so redolent of the 60s, echoing through the room from his favourite guitar (and yes, he did play Streets of London). Since then, there has been a wonderful golden period for British acoustic guitarists and enthusiasts, which seems still to be continuing. With such scintillating players as Martin Simpson, Martin Carthy, Martin Taylor, and indeed many other guitarists not called Martin, there has never, to my mind, been such a profusion of enduring talent and technique. And for manufacturers and luthiers, the story seems to be very similar. With today’s range of choice from a multitude of companies, surely there has never been a better time to learn to play or buy an acoustic guitar. It was a privilege to have attended the recent Frankfurt Musikmesse and witnessed the stunning array of instruments; from guitars made of carbon to baritone guitars, the choice of styles, materials and prices for all budgets seemed endless. Long may it continue.

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SIX OF THE BEST

1: Breedlove Guitars at Go to Guitars

Breedlove is viewed as a ‘new’ brand in the UK, whereas in the USA it is known for a comprehensive range of acoustic guitars with prices between £295 and £35,000. Started 35 years ago by luthier Kim Breedlove as a strictly high-end brand, Breedlove today manufactures in its newly custom built premises in Oregon and Korea, with its own unique build style and traditional models. Distributor, Go To Guitars, says it has a ‘one price for all policy’ and a minimal stocking plan. Go To Guitars Ltd • 01925 444 696 • www.gotoguitars.com 2: DRL Guitars

1

DRL Guitars are premium ‘hand crafted’ models, some with special design features. Currently there are four models: Thinline acoustic, Thinline 8 string acoustic, 8 string acoustic, 00 acoustic. They have been created for guitarists at all levels of technical ability who want to exploit the acoustic characteristics of guitars: live, studio or home. DRL offers high-end affordable guitars producing unique sounds plugged and unplugged. DRL Guitars • 01784 457 719 • www.drlguitars.com

2

3: Patrick James Eggle Guitars

Award-winning luthier Patrick James Eggle has been professionally building guitars for over 20 years. His acoustics have gained a reputation for quality, attention to detail, good playability, and a full and balanced sound. Based in Oswestry, Patrick and his team currently produce a selection of models from the OM sized Linville through to the Skyland Dreadnought, including a 12 string and Baritone based on the Saluda jumbo. Two 12 fret, slot headstock designs, Etowah and Kanuga 12, further complement the range. Patrick James Eggle Guitars • 01691 661 777 • www.eggle.co.uk

3

4

4: Powell Guitars

Based on the edge of the Peak District, Ken Powell of Powell Guitars builds handmade steel string acoustic guitars, guitar shaped bouzoukis, mandolas and citterns, giving customers the chance to choose their owns woods if they want to. His personal design is based on years of study and development and produces a consistent projection and tone, which is very popular among acoustic musicians. Powell Guitars • www.powellguitars.com 5: Toon Guitars

Steve Toon offers a range of top quality guitars all built by hand in his Cheltenham workshop. He specialises in commissions mainly for classical and flamenco guitars but alongside these guitars he offers a range of high spec ‘standard’ guitars which are all hand built and available through chosen dealers. The Lansdown and Charlton steel string guitars have AAA grade spruce fronts and AAA grade Indian rosewood bodies with mahogany necks. The Montpellier guitar is a hybrid Gypsy jazz guitar and is one of the best sellers due to its flexibility in other genres, while the new lattice braced Prestbury nylon string parlour guitar is proving popular for recording purposes. All guitars have quality tuners, wood bindings, and a high gloss finish, and are supplied with a Hiscox PRO II case. Toon Guitars • 01242 224 985 • www.toonguitars.com

5

6

6: Turner Guitars

The next generation of Turner Guitars have arrived, with new bracing patterns, new truss rod placement, new Fishman Ion+ pick-ups in the 30s, 40s, 60s and 70s series, and Fishman Aero+ pick ups in the 80s. The 70s and 80s series also have new binding and rosettes and new machine heads, while the 90s acoustic Koa range has the new bracing system and truss rod. Turner Guitars • 01253 798 370 • www.turnerguitars.com

www.mtgazette.co.uk 

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5/5/2010 9:44:39 AM


mtgads.indd 21

5/5/2010 9:44:39 AM


MANDOLINS

A TIMELESS INSTRUMENT

Michael Northcott investigates

I

t is not quite clear from which century the mandolin actually sprung. It is widely accepted as having evolved from the lute family in the 17th century, becoming very popular in the mid 19th century as the deep-bowled instrument that we recognise now. Single stringed instruments, which can be plucked or struck, have in fact been around for almost 17,000 years, dating as far back as cavemen. The modern steel-stringed

42 

the history of the mandolin, and its continued popularity across many different genres of music

mandolin, however, is evolved from Italian luthiers who began to make the mandolins themselves. In modern musicianship, the mandolin has become a commonly used alternative in both pop music and film scores. Although the mandolin traditionally has its roots in classical music, followed by jazz and bluegrass, it has been used in rock music the past five decades or more, first appearing during the

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MANDOLINS

LITTLE KNOWN SECRETS… In the recording of Maggie May, the mandolin was played by Ray Jackson of the band Lindisfarne, but on Top of the Pops, John Peel mimed it for the cameras!

www.mtgazette.co.uk 

playing this previously niche instrument. Many UK rock acts have subsequently used the mandolin, including The Who, The Smiths, Muse and probably most recently, the folk-revival bands Noah and the Whale, and Mumford and Sons. The recent emergence of the instrument is credited more to the growing folk scene in London, which is where the latter two bands formed and record. As for sales, the mandolin has become much more of a commercially popular instrument. Avoiding relegation to the status of ‘orchestral’ and remaining fairly sought after, especially by aspiring indie rock and folk bands, it is finding a place in the teenage band-forming market alongside guitars. Fender sells a range of electric mandolins using a single coil pickup, which has many of the vestiges of the company’s guitar range, complete with spruce gloss finish and the characteristic F-holes of the more folk-suitable stringed instruments. The range was introduced in 1998 and has been available ever since. Although not among the most famous of Fender forays into stringed instrument manufacture, the fact that the company has not one, but a whole range of mandolins available in graduated specifications, tells us something about the perceived market appeal for it. If Fender, in all its Telecaster and Stratocaster prowess still finds time for a range of mandolins, then perhaps it’s worth sitting up and taking notice, if only for the musician himself! Music Trade Gazette spoke to Fylde Guitars, which produces handmade mandolins, and as high-end instruments that outstrip the quality and craftsmanship of cheap imports from the Far East, the time taken to produce them is much greater. The owner and founder Roger Bucknall said: “There was a huge surge after both the novel and film for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” but added that the demand for Fylde’s instruments was greater than the production capacity. Mr Bucknall told Music Trade Gazette that although they sell a lot more of the cheaper mandolins, this is not normally to teenagers, as they start at around £600 to £700, pricing the transient interests of most teenagers out of this quality instrument market. Interestingly though, Mr Bucknall’s trade is not affected by the cheap imports of lesser-quality instruments, because his line of ‘Touchtone’ mandolins receive more psychedelic era of the 1960s. One of its most demand than Fylde Guitars can meet, meaning that popular airings was with Rod Stewart’s number the normal situation of cheap imports damaging one hit Maggie May in 1971, propelling it into a domestic producers’ competitiveness in the market limelight of acceptability on the pop music scene. has not occurred. Mr Bucknall did note, however, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page of band Led that cheap imports had a much bigger financial Zeppelin used the mandolin for a few of their boom, because they were able to meet the demand songs in the 1970s, meaning that with the start of in large numbers at low prices. Obviously, the target Top of the Pops on BBCtv (now BBC One) in 1969, market for these was not people with an interest in several acts were featured on primetime television a quality instrument – instead it catered

43 


MANDOLINS

for a temporary interest-driven market, which sprang up and faded after the film. The handmade mandolin remains something of an art form despite the economic influence of cheap imports. Even in the United States where instrument manufacturing giants such as Yamaha have found their Western foothold, there are still small-scale production companies making mandolins as a skilled and accurate craft. Take for instance Givens, a tiny company based in Idaho,

which has been producing mandolins for decades. The company was taken over by Steven M Weills, who still runs a one to two man outfit, producing between 12 and 30 units a year. Each mandolinmaker seems to bring his own influence to the production process. Steven Weills, who says he has “logged on and off for 35 years,” knows a thing or two about wood. He claims that the wood he uses is at least 20 years dry, and also that air-dried wood makes for a much better and durable instrument than kiln dried. The fact that this tiny company has been steadily producing mandolins for so many years, using older, more expensive and more time consuming methods, and in the face of Far Eastern mass-production economies, is testament to the value of skill, craft and the quality materials that make a beautiful sounding instrument. The mandolin with its seemingly timeless appeal and perennial manufacturing techniques remains a staple of the stringed family of instruments. It may not surface in pop all that often, but even small firms are overwhelmed with demand for their expensive and traditionally-made products. The guitar’s modest little brother still receives a lot of attention from those seeking an alternative sound, and it can be seriously pricy, ruling out anyone’s suspicion that its resurgences are just a novelty fad.

IN THE MOVIES… The John Madden film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, starring Nicholas Cage, features the titular character’s passion for playing the mandolin. In the novel that the film is based on, the use of music is used as a lighter backdrop for hope in the dark foreground situation of world war two.

Supplier listing Fender: www.fender.com Fylde Guitars: www.fyldeguitars.com Eccleshall Guitars: www.eccleshallguitars.co.uk Moon Guitars: www.moonguitars.co.uk Image: Fender

44 

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mtgads.indd 23

5/5/2010 11:39:39 AM


EVENTS Summer NAMM, 2009

EVENTS 3 June 2010

Yamaha Lunchtime Conservatoire Concert Series Featuring Leo Nicholson (TCM) Bach, Schumann Yamaha Artist Services Europe (London) Chappell’s 152-160 Wardour Street www.chappellofbondstreet.co.uk

18 – 20 June

Summer NAMM Nashville Convention Centre www.namm.org/summer/2010

26 – 27 June 2010

Teaching String Ensembles Warwick Arts Centre www.abrsm.org/news

8 – 10 October 2010

London Music Show Excel Arena London www.londonmusicshow.com

13 – 15 October 2010

4 – 7 November

In The City Piccadilly and Northern Quarter, Manchester

Music Live NEC Birmingham www.musiclive.co.uk

http://musicians.about.com/od/ musictradeshows/p/inthecity.htm

24 November 2010

Music China Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC)

27 – 31 October

MIA Music Awards 2010 Landmark Hotel London

www.musicchina-expo.com

www.womex.com

12 – 15 October 2010

46 

WOMEX World Music Expo Copenhagen

www.mia.org.uk

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Leisuretec is a distributor sound, lighting and special of professional and commercial serving the industry for effects equipment, and has been 20 from more than 70 brands, years. With thousands of products knowledge and experience, combined with a wealth of Leisuretec offers a to re-sellers, installers and hire companies. Its useful service range spans many market sectors including installed sound, live entertainment, club presentation, and theatre. The Leisuretec Plus 2010 features more Listings product portfolio, and about the company and Leisuretec’s is available in hard copy or online. Information: 01525 850 085 or www.leisuretec.c o.uk

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The 6505 Series of amplifiers from Peavey has metal for artists such as Bullet For My Valentine.long characterised the sound of contemporary flexibility provided with With the original 2-channel the 6505 Plus’s totally distinct biting tones and independent lead channel, head and the extra offer roadworthy reliability. the amplifiers also boast Information: www.peavey-eu .com/support or www.trace-elliot should be addressed to .co.uk/support (point of the Peavey sales team) sale enquiries

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ÄÄ Shuttles

The new Laney Linebacker range offers players simple straight ahead combinations, which sound tone and effects great with the minimum amount of fuss. There are three models ranging from five watts up to 35 watts, with 11 amp models per effects per channel, plus channel plus two much more. The range offers a modern day approach to simple straight ahead flexible guitar tone for a player who wants everything to enhance their playing and nothing get in their way. to Information: www.laney.co.uk

ound

Music Trade Gazette - the magazine designed to provide you with all the latest news, products, issues, trends and information pertinent to the industry, helping to keep your business robust.

At the Winter Olympics, Rocky Mountain Production Services, based in Vancouver and Whistler, BC, was tasked with providing some audio equipment required, of the and, more importantly, a roster of capable audio engineers and staff to manage specific production requirements. The entertainment stage featured 12x Electro-Voice XLD281 line array elements with 6x Electro-Voice X-sub (2 x 18-inch) subwoofers, by EV Tour Grade Series driven specifically TG5 and TG7 amplifiers, models. Frontfills, sidefills, and monitors included a variety of EV SXA250 and SXA180 loudspeakers. Information: www.shuttlesoun d.com

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FROMTHEUSA

company has improved his The longevity the corrosion and resistance, When Bob Taylor and durability of plain steelLondon as an innovative in strings through colleagues arrived compound tin-plating process. This exclusive European wire provides four part of a whirlwind times more corrosion resistant tin to dramatically improveof an audience the life of the whole tour, they held set. Information: 0191 300 3000 at or www.daddario.co.uk guitar enthusiasts enthralled Harrods’ music department. joined 12 Prosser   John Rogers the throng

"

With only minimal price increases from previous years, SR Technology’s Jam series combos are now providing even greater value for both music retailer and end user. Acclaimed for their ability to successfully amplify both single and multiple acoustic, electric and vocal sound sources, Jam are now the preferred combos choice of many top players and musicians worldwide. The company the addition of two furtherhopes models at the Frankfurt show will only further enhance the popularity at the premiumrange’s quality end of the market. Information: 01406 365 291

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e learned as we went along,” says Bob Taylor, president of Taylor Guitars, recalling the early days of his pioneering guitar company, and describing how he and his partner, now CEO of Taylor Guitars, Kurt Listug, loaded up Listug’s Volvo and would drive to Los Angeles, and often further to peddle their wares. “We came home with cheques,” he adds, smiling. He doesn’t say it, but perhaps he is thinking, “the rest is history.” And so it is. But today the scene is that local high street, the Brompton Road, west London; and the store, a famous brand on that particular high street, is Harrods. It is perhaps a far cry from its corporate headquarters in El Cajon, California, but Taylor Guitars is holding court for ‘an evening of guitars,’ with Bob Taylor, in Harrods’ sumptuous music department, where a reproduction of Elton John’s famous signature red piano will set you back a

Free to all interested readers, manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers of musical instruments, audipro and related products and services. Please complete the form and send to:

ÄÄ The Plectrum Box

The Plectrum Box offers new and innovative design The company says its from a very familiar shape. products musician who has everything. are the perfect gifts for the guitarist or indeed the A high quality piece featuring one of several iconic guitar designs that finished in several different woods, routed into the lid to are all drawn by hand add etc. Plectrum clocks and that extra dimension. Ideal for storing your and then capo, tuner, slide coasters complete the set. Information: 07770 404 033 or www.plectrumb ox.com

ÄÄ Big Cat Audio

ÅÄ D’Addar

trifling £79,000. Bob Taylor began making guitars in junior high school, and in a field not exactly lacking in competition, Taylor Guitars has, over its 36-year history, carved a global reputation as a leading manufacturer, both in terms of the aesthetics of the instrument and its tonal balance and purity. Throughout this period he has followed his central mantra of making the guitar easy to play, with the result that Taylors are typically characterised by a slim neck and low, easy playing action. Perhaps unusually, his first guitar was a 12 string, and because a close friend was a left-handed player, Taylor has always (well, almost always, he concedes) made equivalent left-handed models of its guitars. On graduating high school, Bob Taylor cut his teeth at the American Dream Guitar Company, San Diego California, subsequently buying the company and forming the Westland Music Company in 1974, with partner Listug (now CEO), which evolved into

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ÃÄ Piano

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Street

The popular classical piano 3,000 high quality printable website Piano Street offers over piano scores and recordings classical piano music in of addition to its popular members forum. Gold 43,000-plus membership costs $47 the user unlimited access (£30) and gives year. Gold membership to the entire online library for a full is in the form of value code now available for reselling by retailers scratch cards. Information: www.pianostree t.com/resell

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creating a portfolio of instruments, within which any aspiring guitarist should find a perfect instrument for them: a “guitar which they can play really easily, which sounds great when you play together and a guitar which amplifies well.” Taylor acoustic aficionados know the range well from, as Bob puts it, the “big, boxy dreadnaught, with the barking, bluegrass personality,” through the Grand Auditorium and Grand Concert, to the three-quarter sized Baby Taylor. Having garnered praise for the introduction of the hybrid T5, Taylor’s SolidBody line and the semihollow T3 electric series, the new Taylor Baritone 8-String was awarded a Musikmesse International Press Award (MIPA) for Best Acoustic Guitar during the 2010 Musikmesse trade show in Frankfurt. But successful entrepreneurship is never without its challenges. On two occasions in its early history the company survived only by laying off all but the

MANDOLINprincipal S founders.

THINKER, TAYLOR, LUTHIER, TRAILBLAZER 26

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Taylor Guitars. He admits that he has not chased the “elusive goal of creating the best sound in the world,” because he believes it to be an unattainable obsession. Rather he has pursued the objective of

Undeterred, Taylor continued to focus on innovation. The development of efficient and environmentally sound processes for manufacturing, bolt-on necks for acoustic guitars (its new technology (NT) system); using ultraviolet light to save production time when drying guitar finishes; coupled with and the company’s expression system (ES) for electronic amplification without loss tone quality, have been significant innovations in contributing to Taylor’s continuing success. And Taylor seems to have weathered the recession remarkably well. In spite of having to lower its production early in 2009, the company was able to retain the vast majority of its workforce. CEO Kurt Listug acknowledges that “this lasted for several months while we sold down our inventory, and we’ve been back in full production since early November. We’re now very lean on inventory and have had to increase our projections for 2010

 27

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Music Trade Gazette Subscriptions Mulberry Publications, Wellington House, Butt Road Colchester CO3 3DA

MANDOLINS

A TIMELESS INSTRUMENT

Michael Northcott investigates

I

t is not quite clear from which century the mandolin actually sprung. It is widely accepted as having evolved from the lute family in the 17th century, becoming very popular in the mid 19th century as the deep-bowled instrument that we recognise now. Single stringed instruments, which can be plucked or struck, have in fact been around for almost 17,000 years, dating as far back as cavemen. The modern steel-stringed

the history of the mandolin, and its continued popularity across many different genres of music

mandolin, however, is evolved from Italian luthiers who began to make the mandolins themselves. In modern musicianship, the mandolin has become a commonly used alternative in both pop music and film scores. Although the mandolin traditionally has its roots in classical music, followed by jazz and bluegrass, it has been used in rock music the past five decades or more, first appearing during the

LITTLE KNOWN SECRETS… In the recording of Maggie May, the mandolin was played by Ray Jackson of the band Lindisfarne, but on Top of the Pops, John Peel mimed it for the cameras!

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playing this previously niche instrument. Many UK rock acts have subsequently used the mandolin, including The Who, The Smiths, Muse and probably most recently, the folk-revival bands Noah and the Whale, and Mumford and Sons. The recent emergence of the instrument is credited more to the growing folk scene in London, which is where the latter two bands formed and record. As for sales, the mandolin has become much more of a commercially popular instrument. Avoiding relegation to the status of ‘orchestral’ and remaining fairly sought after, especially by aspiring indie rock and folk bands, it is finding a place in the teenage band-forming market alongside guitars. Fender sells a range of electric mandolins using a single coil pickup, which has many of the vestiges of the company’s guitar range, complete with spruce gloss finish and the characteristic F-holes of the more folk-suitable stringed instruments. The range was introduced in 1998 and has been available ever since. Although not among the most famous of Fender forays into stringed instrument manufacture, the fact that the company has not one, but a whole range of mandolins available in graduated specifications, tells us something about the perceived market appeal for it. If Fender, in all its Telecaster and Stratocaster prowess still finds time for a range of mandolins, then perhaps it’s worth sitting up and taking notice, if only for the musician himself! Music Trade Gazette spoke to Fylde Guitars, which produces handmade mandolins, and as high-end instruments that outstrip the quality and craftsmanship of cheap imports from the Far East, the time taken to produce them is much greater. The owner and founder Roger Bucknall said: “There was a huge surge after both the novel and film for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” but added that the demand for Fylde’s instruments was greater than the production capacity. Mr Bucknall told Music Trade Gazette that although they sell a lot more of the cheaper mandolins, this is not normally to teenagers, as they start at around £600 to £700, pricing the transient interests of most teenagers out of this quality instrument market. Interestingly though, Mr Bucknall’s trade is not affected by the cheap imports of lesser-quality instruments, because his line of ‘Touchtone’ mandolins receive psychedelic era of the 1960s. One of more its most demand than Fylde Guitars can meet, popular airings was with Rod Stewart’s meaning that number the normal situation of cheap imports one hit Maggie May in 1971, propelling damaging it into a domestic producers’ competitiveness limelight of acceptability on the pop in the market music scene. has not occurred. Mr Bucknall did note, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page of band however, Led that cheap imports had a much bigger Zeppelin used the mandolin for a few financial of their boom, because they were able to meet songs in the 1970s, meaning that with the demand the start of in large numbers at low prices. Obviously, the target Top of the Pops on BBCtv (now BBC One) in 1969, market for these was not people with an interest in several acts were featured on primetime television a quality instrument – instead it catered

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YOUR VIEWS

VOICE ON THE HIGHSTREET John Gardonyi of Gardonyi’s, Ealing

How did you get involved in the business? It had always been a dream of mine since my midteens to open a music shop. I generally found music shops intimidating and a tad elitist, which seemed to be an opinion shared by many friends. I felt they should be fun, supportive and helpful, which is what we try to achieve in our shop. I had a spell in the corporate world in various IT related jobs until my wife and I felt we could give starting our own business a go back in 2004, and we have been here growing slowly, but surely ever since. How many people do you have working in the shop? Three including me. Alfie has worked with us almost since we started and is really a part of the business, and Josh works for us on Sundays – both are excellent. We have also had a few other young students who have worked for us. We have always recruited on the basis of personalities that we feel would offer excellent customer service and be completely trustworthy; I’m glad to say that has always been the case. Are you online yet and what impact do you think the web has had on the music retail business? We have a web presence, but are not trading online yet – that’s my job for today! I think the web has had a massive impact on the music retail business. In essence, I do not think the business models have changed (mail order companies previously offered discounts, now it’s big online retailers), but the customers have far more information at their fingertips when deciding on the purchase, which I view as a good thing. The networks and technology around the web will only progress so it is up to the retailers to decide how they embrace it in line with their businesses.

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What’s your current favourite product? Spring drum. It’s basically a circular cardboard tube with a spring dangling from it and when shaken makes a noise like thunder. It never fails to bring a smile to the face of anyone trying it for the first time. What do you enjoy most about the job? No one thing.There are many aspects I enjoy and it’s impossible to order them: meeting the public; feeling good about selling something that somebody is really happy about buying; having our own business; and having flexibility around working time so I can spend a lot of time with my kids. What’s the biggest challenge you face in your day-to-day job? Generating enough sales to make it a viable business. Although we have grown the business, our overheads have grown. What advice would you offer to someone starting in the trade today? If you feel passionately about something then you should do it, but do the research. Where will you open, how much will it really cost, how and who will you compete against?

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Take away the real thing from as little as ÂŁ10 a month Buy a musical instrument and accessories on interest free credit takeitaway.org.uk

Typical 0% APR Subject to status. Terms and conditions apply. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. Take it away is operated by ArtCo Trading Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arts Council England. Registered address: Arts Council England, North East, Central Square, Forth Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 3PJ

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MTG May 10 Issue  

Music Trade Gazette May 10 Issue

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