Feelers On The Dealers
You've got to 'and it to Andertons, says Billy Punter
Andertons Music, (Contact Details)
Displayed conspicuously in Andertons' shop window is a Pearl effects pedal. And it's been bothering me ever since.
All it says on it is 'Thriller'. And the controls, with nondescript descriptions like 'Depth' and 'Emphasis', don't help much either. So what I want to know is this: exactly how does a small black effects pedal turn you into Michael Jackson? Does your hair spontaneously ignite when you step on it? Do you spin round and round on one leg? Does it make the pavement light up under your feet? Or does it just simulate the smell of llamas?
And I may never know the answer to that, because I forgot to ask while I was perusing the Guildford group gear gaff's stock. Which, I may add, was large enough to make a list of it downright impossible unless you'd like the rest of the magazine to look like the S to Z section of the Greater London telephone directory.
Suffice it to say that it's more comprehensive than most secondary schools and considerably less dangerous to walk round.
I went in undecided about what I was going to test their patience with and it took me a long time to decide. The drum department is impressively full of those things that drummers love to hang at ear level and bash at irregular intervals so as to make conversation in between songs impossible at rehearsals... cymbals, that's it... and not exactly understocked with drum kits and add on bits and pieces, either. But I felt too fragile to be a drummer, and anyway I didn't have the stick-on arm muscles and beer gut with me.
The guitars are well displayed, hung alternately upside-down and right-side-up all over the partitions that zigzag across the shop. And one nice touch I noticed was that if you wanted to test an amp or an effect, they didn't get down a zillion quid's worth of scratchable Super Axe for you to scrape across your belt buckle and jacket zip — there were a small stock of cheaper guitars ready for demo use. This means in practice that somebody who wants a guitar doesn't end up with one that every grubby-fingered six-string yobbo has tried out eight times a day for months. And the people who try out amps don't feel disappointed because their newly purchased combo doesn't sound the same with the Kay Les Paul copy as it did in the shop with the '57 Gibson. Mighty fair, if you ask me.
Talking of amps, there is a sensible amount of them on shelves around the walls; as with everything else, a good spread of the bigger and better names in both big loud sizes and little practice types. You can't get much bigger than a Dynacord bass combo — a monstrous thing like a Tiger tank in a flight case — or smaller than the Peavey Backstage Plus combo — if it was any tinier you'd be in danger of losing it down the cracks in the stage.
The newest area the music shop in the street has been pushed into is recording gear, and Andertons have obviously got into the field in a wholehearted way — their stock of Fostex gear is impressively full and their Accessit effects, Promark and Seck mixers, and plentiful rack units of various kinds all point to serious commitment to the four and eight-track arena. But as with most things, the true worth of a shop can often be gauged from accessories. The get-rich-quick merchants will be happy to flog you a £1500 hardware package but when you go back for a set of phono leads or a reel of tape they ain't got it. The Guildford men have obviously decided to take things seriously, though, as their stock of bits and pieces shows.
And lastly (or neatly so, if you don't count accessories, effects, tuning devices, and all those other things that you always see on the walls of music shops but are never sure what they do) there's the keyboards — or more rightly the hi-tech gear, because it's not just keyboards, but computers and sequencers, drum machines and electronic drums, expanders and MIDI devices...
Lots of all of them, from the Yamaha FM giants and Korg's high-spec hi-tech to Casio portable keyboards and several more odds and sods of a synthish nature. One bargain I noticed was an early Casio going second-hand for £99 — instant Julian Cope/Tom Verlaine sounds, anyone?
But enough of this stocktaking, how was the service? Unobtrusive, uncomplicated, and helpful, quite simply. No high-pressure selling, merely a gentle enquiry every so often as to whether I needed any help. When I asked about the Casio, I was told as much as there was to know about it and left to experiment, and when I turned up the wick and let fly with a few scorching and tuneless runs not a mutter of complaint was heard... amazing.
And the prices were fair, too — the shop has what they call 'a 'Price Match' policy which means they'll match the prices of any local shop. Never Knowingly Undersold and all that sort of stuff rules, and therefore the Andertons pricelist can be as low as it's possible to get without banging your knees on it.
Well-stocked, well cheap, well helpful. Well, well, well.
Feature by Billy Punter
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!