London Rock Shop
In the recent past the LRS has developed into one of the major suppliers of electronic music equipment in the country. As stockists of all the major manufacturers, they seem to be able to offer reasonable prices together with an informed service, a combination which is highly attractive to the amateur or professional electro-musician. While teenagers saving for their first keyboard were playing with Casios and Roland pianos downstairs, it was possible to see two Prophet 5's being boxed upstairs ready for delivery to David Sylvian of Japan.
The small upstairs room of the shop was originally used for quiet demos of the more complex electronic instruments — guitar synthesisers, the Roland MC4 or 100M Modular System for instance. Customers for the latter units included Heaven 17 and Chris Carter, founder of Throbbing Gristle and now of CTI. As more musicians began to follow the lead of such innovators, and as synthesisers became more complex yet more popular, the top room gradually filled up with electronic equipment until it became the tightly-packed showroom it is today.
Partners Ed Jones and Jack Brand explained that another force then made itself felt. Home recording, particularly using Fostex equipment, suddenly took off, and the studio effects necessary for such work had to be stocked. The upper showroom reflects, then, three stages of development.
Along two walls are the guitar synthesisers — about ten different Roland controllers, including left-handed models — and Microcomposer/Modular system equipment. In the centre, a stack of synthesisers including Memorymoog, Jupiter 8, Prophet and a couple of Minimoogs, and on the opposite wall a stack of studio equipment.
The policy is one of continual comparison and cross-checking, so almost all the effects are patched via an Accessit patch bay to a mixer and Bose or ElectroVoice PA. All the delay lines, reverbs, graphics and so on can be quickly compared by ear, and there's a very wide range of specifications and prices.
Reverbs range from the new Rooverb at £69 to the Fostex at £330, delays include the £1,000 Korg DDL which compares favourably with the much more expensive Lexicon, and there's the MXR Pitch Shift/Doubler, Dual 2/3 Octave EQ, Yamaha E1010 Analogue Delay, MXR Dual Limiter and many others.
There's a selection of monitors including the new powered Anchor speakers, and of course the Fostex A8 8-track machine itself. Ed Jones points out that not everybody wants or needs 8-track, but it's become so reasonably priced now that it's a pity not to work at its full potential by using decent studio effects.
The keyboard business is still expanding, and in the near future LRS expects to stock the Yamaha FM pianos, the Prophet 600, the Jupiter 6 and the new MC-202 Microcomposer to name but a few. An awareness of the interfacing possibilities of such equipment is of vital importance to the would-be purchaser, and link-ups on display include the TR808 drum machine triggering the Jupiter 8, the TR606 Drumatix driving the TB303 Bassline and SH-101 built-in sequencer, and the MC4 driving a set of 100M Modules including 16-step analogue sequencers.
In the near future Apple and Amdek equipment will also be on show, and the LRS will have moved to the forefront of affordable computerised music. The new MC-202 Microcomposer should go some way towards achieving this aim, offering a built-in synthesiser for just over £300, and the MIDI interface incorporated in an increasing number of keyboards will give a much wider choice for musicians wanting to use a selection of equipment from different manufacturers.
Meanwhile downstairs, the Casio 7000 is selling well, together with the Juno 6 and 60, a wide range of Korg and Yamaha keyboards including the Electric Grand and the CS-01, and guitars including Tokai and Squier. The guitar market has picked up since these ranges were introduced, and there's a very wide choice of styles and finishes available. Also in stock, the Steinberger Bass at a mere £1,350.
The London Rock Shop is an unusual example of a music store that has the organisation of a studio equipment company, and not only keeps up with current trends but helps to set them. Ed Jones, Jack Brand and their well-informed staff can look forward to a prosperous future as synthesiser and micro-based music and the LRS develop hand-in-hand.