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.
McCLARENS of Edinburgh serve Midlothian and lowland Scotland, providing musicians in the area with a broad selection of instruments and equipment. They carry Fender, Gibson, Jedsen, Antoria and Hayman guitars, all looked after by Colin McClaren, and Baldwin, Yamaha, Kimball, and Zenta Keyboards, looked after by Colin's father, Sandy McClaren.
Lines of amplification stocked in the shop include WEM, Selmer, Fender and Marshall, and their percussion side is basically Rogers and Hollywood.
McClarens sold equipment to the Bay City Rollers and Pilot long before they gained national prominence, and local bands such as Dillinger, Barnaby and Coloured Harmony frequent the shop. They offer a 24-hour repair service, and their staff of five is well versed in the answers to the problems bands run into on a day-to-day basis. There are two engineers on the premises to look into difficulties with guitars, organs or sound equipment.
SCHEERERS of Leeds cover a wide range of musical areas, and answer the needs of such diverse groups as schools, groups and dubs in the process. They are a Fender Soundhouse, and they also offer a wide range of Gibson copies, including Les Paul and SG copies which retail around the £50 mark.
Manager Alec Swain has been in charge of the shop for 30 years, and over that period he has built up a tradition of service and performance that is carried out today, ably assisted by assistant manager Paul Reynolds, Bill Gibson (whose special province is amplification) and Mick Ibotson (a fine drummer).
Groups who come in are welcome to go upstairs and try out amps or guitars at their leisure. Recent groups who have taken Scheerers up on that proposition include Wally, a local band from Harrogate.
Located near the heart of clubland, Scheerers do a range of equipment for cabaret performers, including Beyer, Shure and A.K.G. microphones, and the HH range of amplification.
Offering a discount for cash, full credit facilities, and complete brass, violin and woodwind repair facilities, Scheerers are prepared to provide help and information to budding musicians as well as pros. Perhaps best of all, their diversity is summed up by the presence of a Chinese gong in the window — retailing for £290.
ST. GILES MUSIC CENTRE in London, W.C.2 have been on the go for ten years now, and their performance has recommended them to a variety of musicians. Recent visitors have included Pilot, Brian May, Argent, Rory Gallagher, Man and Headstone, while up and coming bands like Salutations, King Size and Second Offence are in fairly often.
Shop Manager Richard Manders and his assistant Steve Potter are aided by Harry Varley, Jack Gordon, Chris Bryant, Carl Barnett, Trevor James and repairmen Bill Childes who specializes in woodwinds, and Dennis Lofthouse, an expert in brass repairs.
Guitars sold in the shop range from Fenders and Rickenbackers to Guilds, Antorias, Angelicas, and such rarities as a Ned Callan hand-made copy of a Gibson Firebird, at £108. Percussion is represented by standard drums from Beverley and Premier, as well as a good selection of tuned percussion such as Glockenspiels, vibraphones and both hand and pedal tuned tympanies. St. Giles also offers a range of Latin percussion instruments, as well as cymbals from Zildjian and Paiste, and they've Just received a large shipment of Regal tip drum sticks.
Keyboards include ARP synthesisers and the Diamond range of portables, white the amps stocked include Laney, Ampeg, Altec-Lansing and Peavey.
That takes care of the ground floor! Upstairs, there is a selection of Boosey & Hawkes brass and woodwinds, and a repair department. St. Giles have mail order facilites, a repair service and honour both Access and Barclay cards.
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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