THE LOUGHBOROUGH MUSIC CENTRE opened on the main Derby road in Loughborough three years ago. It's a large and roomy shop and the only one in a densely populated area which includes several villages, as well as the town of Loughborough. The ground floor displays everything that one would expect to find in a music shop.
It has a wide range of equipment and instruments, as well as accessories and a selection of second-hand gear. Owner Trevor Pratt and his assistants Ray Longand and Andy Carvell deal with more than a thousand customers a week and they find that the second-hand equipment sells as fast as it arrives in stock.
Upstairs Trevor has built up an expansive hire section, which aims to supply bands with their every need, from an echo unit to a complete P.A. system. The hire side of the Loughborough Music Centre is becoming increasingly popular and they often lend equipment to local musicians like Pete Gibson, The Celebrated Artist Band and The Mike Miller Band.
Trevor is also responsible for teaching 300 people a week to play a variety of instruments. He employs two full time and eight part time teachers to give organ, drum, guitar, saxophone, piano, and accordion lessons. Both group and individual instruction is available. The shop is open late most evenings, and lessons are held four nights a week till 8.30 and all day Saturdays. The teaching school has been approved by the local educational authorities and Trevor hopes to expand the course to take up to 500 pupils by April of 1976.
THE DAVID VANE MUSIC CENTRE is only five minutes from the Devon coast in Exmouth. The owner David Vane has recently been receiving quite a lot of local publicity as a result of his success in establishing the shop as a musical education centre. David and his large staff of teachers have been involved in teaching handicapped children as well as many hundreds of pupils from all over Devon. The teaching staff are self-employed but David contracts work for them and the majority of the instruction is done on the premises.
Most of the musicians teaching also work in the shop during the week, so the customers are assured of professional advice whenever they need it. David found that the demand for electrical equipment was fairly small and although there is always some electrical equipment in the shop, he has concentrated on building up an extensive stock of new and second-hand instruments.
BOTTLENECK is a shop in the beautiful historic centre of Salisbury. The building which houses Bottleneck has a preservation order on it and in the ground floor showroom the most modern musical instruments and equipment are displayed beneath oak beams which have supported the building for hundreds of years. The owners Richard Canning and Richard Pickett have succeeded in making Bottleneck into an ideal shop for professional musicians. They are helped by four assistants who aim to be able to help anyone with advice on equipment problems.
Bottleneck is part of Mitchell Electronics and their repair shop reflects their experience. They believe that they can get any band with broken equipment back on the road the same day. The engineers also build customised equipment on request and the second-hand gear in stock is always checked by them. Bottleneck is a Fender Soundhouse.
J.P. DIAS L TD of Carlisle was established almost one hundred years ago by the present owner's father. The shop still stands on its original site on what used to be the main road to Scotland from the South. Botchergate is no longer the busiest road in Carlisle but the reputation which J.P. Dias has built up over the years attracts customers from all over Cumbria and has helped to make it one of the most successful shops in the area.
Their stock is spread over two floors. The ground floor carries a wide range of equipment including drum kits and percussion, brass and woodwind, P.A. equipment, Arp, Moog and Syntorchestra synthesizers and many different makes of guitar. On the first floor there is a large selection of keyboards including Hammond, Farfisa and Phillips organs. Mr. Dias has eight assistants helping him as well as three full time engineers who will attempt to repair anything, but are particularly good at working on electronic amps and organs. The shop has a Hammond organ Society and also organises a popular group teach-in two or three times a week for would-be organists.
MIDLAND SOUNDS started in business about ten years ago by supplying P.A. systems for commercial and industrial application. They became involved in the music trade because there were no adequate music dealers in the area to cater for the equipment needs of bands. A few years ago Midland Sound began to apply their experience and knowledge to meeting this demand and now operate a busy corner shop adjoining their Rugby offices and workshops in Albert Street. The shop has a wide range of amplification, disco and lighting equipment in stock controlled by retail manager John Grindle. More sophisticated desks, multiways and bins are not in stock but they can be quickly supplied either separately or as part of a custom system.
Four of the staff play in bands but they only claim to be specialists in the electronics field. Many gigs have been saved by their immediate repairs done in the service department or actually on the concert hall platform.
In the autumn Midland Sound held a mini-exhibition of amplification and lighting equipment which was a great success.
DOWN UNDER is a busy shop in Redhill, Surrey. The shop is split into two levels with most of the equipment and instruments displayed on the first floor. The ground floor is divided up into different sections with a teaching lab, a servicing/repair bay and a targe display area for organs and keyboards.
Andy Simmons and Jim MacDonald, the directors of Down Under, are very happy with the success of the teaching section. They have employed a full time organ teacher, Billy Shewring, and lessons have become increasingly popular. The number of pupils attending the guitar and organ courses average about 40 a week, with lessons available most days, including Saturdays and Tuesday night. Two other assistants are Mike Sachs and Steve Baylis, who is Down Under's percussion specialist.
There is a large stock of second-hand equipment in stock and Down Under hire lights, organs and amplification. Traynor amps have proved the most popular. They also run a 24 hour repair service for guitars and amps. Local bands visiting Down Under include Limerick, Joanne Pop Group, Fire, Toby and Rivendell. The roadies for Burglar Bill and Screamer have been in to look at drum kits.
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