CASS MUSIC of Eastbourne offer the customer a combination of two shops in one: they are both a conventional music shop and at the same time, they provide a good range of gear for groups. A Gibson Star Dealer, Cass also stock a broad range of such copies as CSL, Antoria, and Kimbara. They hold an HH agency, their keyboards are mostly the electric pianos of Kemble and Yamaha, and they stock Slingerland and Pearl kits. Cass also recently became a Premier agency.
The real strength of Cass, however, is their extensive and still burgeoning range of second-hand gear. Manager Jeff Frost told us that Cass intended to continue their expansion in this area. "Not only has it been bucking up our turnover," he continued, "there is an enormous amount of interest in second-hand instruments and equipment."
Cass also specialise in spares, and they carry an impressive range of Fender and Gibson guitar spares, and receive mail-orders from all over the world, in addition, they are exporting fretwire to Japan!
Customers visiting Cass recently include local bands Alice Trout and Fat Max, and touring professionals such as Hackensack and the Peddlars.
Cass also have a second branch in the London suburb of Mitcham, which exclusively caters for group needs. The manager there is Boot Lapwood, and one of the shop's specialities is custom built guitars, by such craftsmen as Graham Noden, Dick Knight and Jeff Gate.
CHARNLEY OF WISHAW, situated 11 miles from Glasgow on the Edinburgh road, offer a substantial range of equipment which might tempt the musician. A Gibson Star Dealer, Charnley also provide Rogers, Hayman, Ludwig and Beverley drum kits. Their range of amplification includes Fender, Sound City and Carlsbro.
Local groups such as Ryan's Express and Daybreak have visited the shop recently. Country and Western acts, including Country Friends and Branded, are often in the shop - in fact, they get most of their gear from Charnley's.
A recent venture is Charnley's foray into dub installation, which is proving successful for them. Employing Sound City speakers, the 100w bins, the new systems are especially noteworthy for their low feedback. Shure, AKG and Beyer microphones are all stocked.
Operating completely as a family business - the staff consists of Mr. Dick Charnley, his wife Margaret, and their daughter Pauline — Charnley's have managed to keep abreast of the times and to provide comprehensive musical service to Lanarkshire since 1949.
ISLAND MUSIC CENTRE of Douglas, Isle of Man, are the largest Manx Music Shop, and provide a friendly and comfortable atmosphere for both local and visiting musicians. They stock Fender, Gibson and Rickenbacker guitars as well as a full range of copies. Like most small shops, Island may not always have every item that they offer in stock, but they are willing to get them for the customer on request.
Their amps include HH, Marshall, Carlsbro, Selmer, Custom, Gibson and Dan Armstrong. Their P.A.s are HH and they do both Soundcraft and Calrec mixers, and Shure and AKG microphones. The range of drums include Ludwig, Hayman and Rogers, and they also hold the Premier agency for the Isle of Man. Repair services on guitars and amps are carried out on the premises (except in the most complicated cases).
The summer season is the busiest time of year for the Isle of Man, and groups visiting the shop have included Slade, T.Rex (who had their Hohner Clavinet repaired) and Whitticomb Fair.
Most of the musicians on the Isle of Man are semi-professionals, and original Fenders and Gibsons do a roaring trade. P.A.s can also be hired from the Centre.
An added attraction of the Island Music Centre is a recording studio, which will be operationally eight-track by the middle of September. Shop manager Terry Clough and Robin Kelly of nearby Kelly's Records handle the engineering in the studio.
Terry Clough and his two assistants aim to run a happy-go-lucky music shop serving the needs of musicians playing in groups. There is also another music shop under the Island Music Centre banner, located in Ramsey — the Organ Studio. Organs ranging from the very economical to the great Lowreys, Thomases and Hammonds are available there.
MARSHALL'S are situated in the centre of Bletchley, Bucks., an increasingly busy town since the birth and subsequent growth of the adjacent city of Milton Keynes.
As well as the increasing population and customer potential of the area, Marshall's are situated in the middle of what Pat Peacock, the shop manager, described as "The musical county". His description of Buckinghamshire seems justified, as there is a musical school not far from Marshall's at Woburn Abbey.
It's run by John Dankworth and Cleo Laine and the summer and evening courses they organise give Marshall's a lot of business. The Open University is also nearby and Marshall's sell them a great deal of sheet music.
An increase in the sale of educational equipment is not the only advantage of having a new city grow on their doorstep. Pat Peacock feels that the influx of new people from London and other regions is bringing with it new and very lively musical tastes.
Bands are forming rapidly and they visit Marshall's frequently to buy new equipment and replacements for their older gear. Pat's assistant, Dougie Barnwell, plays with White Satin and is obviously aware of the needs of local bands. Regular customers are Winter's Tale, Scarlet Jade, Born Free and The Cockatoos. The Barron Knights' roadies drop in to stock up on parts and Marshall's do have the interests of the professional musician at heart. One reason for the popularity of the shop with local bands is their repair service. The shop is not a large one but they manage to undertake any running or casual repair jobs on the premises; any larger repairs are done at the factory.
The shop is a Gibson Star Dealer and the Gibsons and Fenders are the most popular guitars but the comprehensive range also includes Dynalectron and Dan Armstrong instruments. Yamahas sell well too, and Pat thinks that this is a result of the popularity of Folk music in the area. Marshall's also stock woodwind and brass which are Pat's special interest. That's explained by the fact that he was once principal clarinet player with Her Majesty's Scots Guard. The only member of staff not yet mentioned is another musician, Vera Clare, in charge of the piano and organ showroom which is across the road from the main shop. The range of keyboards include Kemble, Barrat and Robinson, Callen and Bentley.
Pat Peacock did make an interesting comment on the new V.A.T. Since the 25% rate was introduced, there has been a rapid increase in the sale of drum kits (which are still at 8%). People who want to learn an instrument ask about drum kits, rather than about more expensive equipment. The most popular drum kit in Marshalls is the Maxwin kit which sell at about £145.
They also stock a fair bit of secondhand equipment, mostly amps, but some guitars and even a bit of brass and woodwind.
MUSIC MARQUEE is a friendly shop in the busy old part of Plymouth. The shop has only been there for three years but the owner, Brian Hearn, has been in the business for thirteen years. The result of his experience is a shop which manages to run efficiently and on a very personal level.
He's helped by Rodney Passmore, who has been doing the same sort of thing for seven years and has been with Brian since the shop opened. Between them, they have managed to create an atmosphere in Music Marquee which attracts musicians from all over the Western counties.
One unusual thing about Music Marquee is the rapport that has grown between disc-jockeys and musicians in the area. Brian plays the organ and piano, bass and acoustic guitar. His assistant Rodney is a disc jockey and the store of information and advice they share attracts people from both sides of the industry. Musicians are welcome to come in and play albums and their own music on the most sophisticated disco equipment in the shop. As a result, the shop is a favourite meeting place for local musicians. Among the bands visiting the shop are Revival, Sweet Life, Canyon, Clockwork Orange and Ronny Potter's Sound.
Music Marquee is a Traynor agent and they also stock WEM, HH, Dj, Marshall and Laney amps. The most popular of these are the small Traynor Combos. Most of the guitars sold are copies like Jedson and Zenta, although occasionally they have a Gibson or a Fender.
As well as stocking such a comprehensive range of new equipment, Music Marquee is justifiably proud of the vast amount of second-hand gear the shop has. They have a work shop at the back of the building and Music Marquee specialises in professional adaptions to equipment. Their adaptions of keyboards are among the most popular things they do. There is always an engineer on the premises and they are always willing to undertake any kind of repair job.
A point of special interest in a town as busy as Plymouth is that Music Marquee also manage to provide an hour's free parking space, which can't be bad.
WOODROFFES OF BIRMINGHAM can truly claim to understand the group scene and to cater for it. Managing Director Michael Woodroffe's brother Gerald recently joined Black Sabbath on keyboards, and recent visitors have included Tony Iommi of Sabbath and John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. No one in the shop is over thirty, and the policy is to concentrate on groups, leaving brass, woodwinds, and educational toys to the competition.
Both a Fender Soundhouse and a Gibson Star Dealer, Woodroffe's specialise in American guitars, keeping over 500 in stock. Other makes include Guild, Gretsch, Arbiter, CSL. and Antoria. Stepping up to the first floor, amplification is spotlighted with such names as Fender, Traynor, Carlsbro, and Acoustic being represented. The second floor finds a range of Fender, Traynor, Custom, Acoustic and Carlsbro P.A. systems, as well as Soundcraft mixers. The third floor is given over to a workshop, with a full time engineer in the person of Malcolm Deeley.
Next door but one, Drumland - also a part of the Woodroffe empire - is located, under the care of Mike Evans. This shop is reckoned to be the largest drum shop in the Midlands, if not the country, and kits from the stables of Rogers, Fibes, Ludwig and Premier, as well as cymbals from Paiste and Zildjian and hundreds of accessories. Tuned percussion is represented by tubular bells, vibraphones and gongs.
Woodroffe's hire mixers to venues around the Birmingham area, and Malcolm Deeley goes along with the system to see that it works as it should. With Craig Feeney looking after guitars, Peter Malloy taking care of P.A. systems, Woodroffe's are definitely geared up for group gear. The only exception to this is their newly finished disco showroom, which boasts equipment from Citronic, Carlsbro, Optikinetic Lighting, and Dream Lighting.
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