The business that's been done in the shops
CARLSBRO SOUND CENTRE in Nottingham, under the capable direction of Keith Woodcock, are defying most of the gloomy economic forecasts. "We've sold our third disco rig today," Keith told us when we rang him, "so it can't be bad!"
An addition to the Sound Centre's already extensive range of sound equipment is the Star range of cabinets, which are especially made to the customers' specifications.
Local bands and dub artists are popping in regularly to the shop. These include Jigsaw and Follyfoot, and Paper Lace were in recently to buy a P.A. system.
One of the post V.A.T. surprises for Carlsbro was the increase in the sale of keyboards, of which they stock a good selection, including Fender-Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Farfisa. Another surprise is the volume of sales of coloured Fender guitars - both Stratocasters and Jazz Masters. Green, purple, and similarly outrageous hues have proven a winner over the last month.
As a Gibson dealer, the Sound Centre naturally do a brisk trade in Gibsons, and they stock a broad selection of old and cherished second-hand models as well.
CHINGFORD GROUP GEAR in Chingford is part of the Organ Studios chain of shops but deals exclusively with bands, their equipment and problems. A major part of the shop's activities is concerned with servicing, and through their service they deal with major bands including Horslips, TYA, Procol Harum and ELP.
Main lines at the shop in amplification are Fender, Marshall, Yamaha, and also stocked are Carlsbro, Sound City, Hi-Watt, Peavey and Leslie. As the shop is both a Fender Soundhouse and a Gibson Star Dealer, there is naturally a large range of Gibson and Fender guitars available. 20 Stratocasters are on the walls, as are 12 Les Pauls and 12 SGs.
Ace Tone, Gem, Diamond, Hohner, synthesisers from Roland, Moog, Arp and Mellotrons are stocked.
The "While you wait" service on most gear problems attracts a considerable number of players into the shop and the fact that Chingford also has a Hammond organ franchise is also a great attraction. In percussion the stock includes Ludwig, Pearl, Rogers and Olympic, and all the usual accessories are stocked.
CUSTOM SOUND of Crewe specialise in sound equipment for musicians at all levels of skill, but they also manage to provide a good range of musical instruments. They hold both Gibson and Fender franchises, but the big surprise is the number of banjos that they carry in stock. Manager Pete Johnson plays the banjo himself, and there are more than 30 models in the shop, including Clifford Essex, Windsor, Stewart and Maybell models. There are also a number of hand-built guitars from Gordon Smith of Manchester.
There is a 24-hour repair service in operation, and Custom have provided a lot of equipment for local groups such as China Grove, Wheels, Blister and Collage, as well as Strife and Sweet Sensation. The latter's producer, Des Parton, is a regular in the shop.
With a friendly atmosphere promising no hassles, and plenty of time for a chat and a cup of tea, Custom Sound are staffed by an expert staff of four and an enchanting secretary, all ready to help the customer.
HOBBS MUSIC of Lancaster are a well rounded music shop with something to offer for all musicians. The emphasis however, is on guitars. A Gibson Star Dealer, Hobbs also offer a unique selection of hand-made guitars, including the Petersen range, which are made in Barrow. They also hold the Northern franchise for Peter Abnetts hand-made guitars, banjos, hurdie-gurdies and dulcimers. Other ranges include Levin and Yamaha, and the Little Buddy range of pedal steel guitars.
Hobbs pride themselves in their fine range of old guitars and collectors items, and when we spoke to them, these included an Epiphone Texan, and a Reliance Cameyer Banjo.
Their percussion range includes Promuco and Star kits, and shop manager Bruce Hobbs is quick to point out that the Star accessories, cymbal stands, bass pedals and the like are absolutely brilliant quality for the money. Paiste, Zildjian and Syn cymbals and a variety of sticks are also available.
KEYBOARD HARMONY of Red Hill High Street, Surrey, seem to have been visited by all the bands in their area in the last month. Ducks Deluxe were interested in the Traynor amplification, as were Isotope. Checkmates, Limerik and Screamer, all regular customers, were in buying odds and ends and subjecting the equipment to close scrutiny. Another local band, Dirty Works, stopped by to look at P.A. systems.
Keyboard Harmony is popular with professional musicians for several reasons. When it first opened in April 1973, it sold only keyboards. By September of the same year they had expanded their range to cover all kinds of equipment with a particularly large percussion section. The shop is run by Andy Simmons and his partner, Jim MacDonald who pays special attention to the expansive keyboard section dominating the basement. They are assisted by Mike Sachs and Steve Baylis who between them manage to retain a stack of useful information about the organs and wide range of percussion instruments which they stock.
Guitars stocked are Fender, Gibson, Antoria, Arbiter and CSL, the Japanese guitars selling way ahead of any of the others. The amplification they stock includes Traynor, HH, (both selling well) Carlsbro and Davoli. Their Maxwin drum range is selling fast, despite competition from the other makes they stock, Slingerland, Premier, Ludwig, and Hayman. Synthesisers in stock are Korg, Davoli, and Crumar, while the brass stocks include Boosey and Hawkes and Selmer. From the keyboard range, National and Riha are selling very well.
MACARI's in London's Charing Cross Road is situated at the heart of the traditional centre of the music industry and for that reason many big stars are regular visitors. Recently artists including Jack Bruce, Baker-Gurvitz, Suzi Quatro, Mud, the Pretty Things, the Rubettes and the Sweet to name just a few!
Perhaps the most unusual order from the stars was one for over £100 worth of strings from the Baker-Gurvitz roadies - they obviously believe in travelling prepared. Big feature at this one of Macari's three shops is the synthesiser showroom. Here several different kinds of string synthesiser are on show including the Insta Strings, The Solina and the Rhapsody.
Guitars stocked include Fender, Gibson with only a very little amount of second-hand material being available. Amp lines include Marshall, Sound City, Carlsbro, Hi-Watt and Fender. Colorsound pedals and effects units are big sellers in the shops.
WHITE SOUND EQUIPMENT in Sunderland are naturally keen to promote White Amplification as their main line. Cirkus have recently been considering taking a 3KW White System and the company are finding problems in keeping up with the demands their customers make on them. There's a lot of work in the area, mainly dubs, and bands are constantly visiting the shop to discuss changing their instruments.
The accent in the shop is mainly on amplification and guitars and lack of space prohibits the stocking of discos, keyboards and drums.
Pilot sent their roadies in to stock up on accessories recently and local band Crypt have just taken delivery of a 1,000 White P.A. System. White have also provided P.A.s for John Martin and Hedgehog Pie tours, and recent customers include Halfbreed and Prelude, both groups buying P.A. systems. They have also provided P.A. cabinets for the Cambridge Folk Festival.
The shop is a Gibson Star Dealer and a Fender Soundhouse and naturally a large range of both Gibson and Fender guitars is carried. A big feature is the second-hand department in the shop and one large item customers are currently interested in is a powerful Kelsey-Morris P.A. system that Becket have traded in. Main amp lines include, White, Carlsbro, Orange, Hi-Watt, Marshall and Ampeg. Obviously Fender amplification is also popular.
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