Who's bought what from where.
CARLSBRO SOUND CENTRE in Sheffield run the gamut of musicians' needs. Both a Gibson Star Dealer and a Fender Soundhouse, they also stock a full range of Arbiter, Ibanez and Antoria guitars, and also self quite a few of the more inexpensive Columbus and Saxons.
Their amplification ranges include Carlsbro, Laney, Marshall, Orange and Altec, and when it comes to P.A.s, these proven names are supplemented by Simms-Watts and S.A.I.
The keyboards stocked strike a familiar chord with Wurlitzer, Farfisa, Crumar, Elba Orla, Hammond (accompanied by Leslie speakers), and Mellotrons, as well as Vox split end keyboards. Drums stocked include Rogers, Ludwig, Pearl and Olympic, and the second-hand department offers some extraordinary bargains in both these and many other ranges of equipment. The current "big buy" is a Les Paul Recorder at £285, while a new model goes for £480! Most of the group musician's questions are answered in this shop - a full range of strings, and picks are available, and a substantial stock of Shure, Beyer, Electro-Voice and Calrec microphones are always in the shop. The manager, Nelson King, and his assistant manager Colin Crabtree are musicians themselves - as is their assistant, Clive Eggington - and they know how to make musicians feel at home. They have provided a soundproof 12'x 12' studio booth where anyone interested in an instrument or amp can go in and have a blow.
The management recommend that any guitar bought from them be brought back after three months so that they can make sure that any future problems are taken care of before they come to light, and then they further recommend that the instrument be brought in again after a year, for a second look.
Local bands such as O'Hara's Playboys and the J.James Vagabonds are regular visitors, and Paper Lace have been in recently, as have the Mersey Beats. Alvin Stardust bought a P.A. not tong ago. Carlsbro of Sheffield are a friendly, experienced bunch with a vast array of stock and a large parking area, all designed to aid their customers.
JIMZ of Christchurch in Hampshire are perhaps the ideal place on the south coast for musicians in search of amplification — be it advice or equipment. Manager J.H. "Jim" Harris is an electronics engineer, and he knows what he's talking about. As a Fender Soundhouse, he stocks Fender guitars and amps as well as a full range of spares, but he has also developed a fuzz unit which he calls the "Creamer", for its softer sound, an illusion not dispelled by the sturdy die-cast case which renders it more or less immune to the dangers of the road.
This is perhaps the key to Jimz' approach to things: finding a problem and sorting it out to the customer's satisfaction. They stock HH P.A. systems and amps, as well as a selection of Acoustic, Peavey and Custom systems, and a wide range of spares.
Local groups such as Albatross come in frequently and, in Albatross's case, actually work there, and the Wiltshire group Tracker (which includes Dozey, Beakey and Tick) drop in to discuss equipment and seek advice. Repair service on amps is done straight away, while other repairs will be seen to as quickly as possible, depending on their complexity.
The shop's keyboards number among them Crumar and Mellotrons, but it is not so much what they stock that makes Jimz a good market as it is what they'll get for you. And that, we were told, is anything. The grapevine has proven effective for Jimz - they recently had an order from Blackpool for some equipment, which was handled quickly and professionally.
SOUND PAD of Leicester have recently moved to a new site on the London Road, and the additional space means that they will be able to expand their service. Both a Gibson Star Dealer and a Fender Soundhouse, the Sound Pad also offer an extensive number of copies, including Arbiter, Ibanez, Antoria, CSL, CMI, Kasuga and Yamaha. Their amps and P.A. systems include Acoustic, Peavey, Fender, Carlsbro, WEM, Marshall, and Yamaha.
When we spoke to sates manager B. Grant, he told us that the more than 2,000 square feet of space would provide them the opportunity of carrying even more keyboards, to supplement their Vox, Crumar and Fender-Rhodes ranges. Percussion is represented by Rogers, Ludwig, Beverley and Hayman. Sound Pad do a roaring trade in disco equipment, and the new pitch will include a basement fitted out as a disco den.
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