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Feelers On The Dealers

The Keyboard Shop

Billy Punter beats around the bush — Shepherds Bush's Keyboard Shop, to be precise.

A helping hand in the Bush

As the great, venerable and quite possibly divine Spike Milligan once said, "A bird in the Strand is worth two in Shepherds Bush." And so having failed to locate any wildlife at the Lyceum I decided to hedge my bets and headed out west on the Central Line.

It turned out to be a sensible move. No sooner had I emerged from the tube station onto the green than what should I see but a pair of Great Tits. Suffice it to say, my journey turned out to be worthwhile which was why I found myself the next morning wandering round that same neighbourhood with a slightly thick head and a sweet taste in my mouth.

After a visit to the cafe for some greasy sustenance I found myself looking into the window of a shop neatly arrayed with DX7s, Yamaha FM pianos, Clavinovas, Casio CZ synths, and a host of other synths by Roland and Korg.

Then I realised it was Monday...

I looked at my watch. "Rats" I cried. It was half past 10. Once again I was late for work. What excuse could I possibly give this time to offset my tardiness. Granny died? No, I've used that one three times already. Then suddenly a brainwave. I popped into a nearby kiosk.

"Hello Ed." I said down the phone, "I'm right by a keyboard shop in West London so I'm going to do a bit of feeling..."

The trick worked.

"Oh that's fine," came the reply, "there's not enough real feeling in the world today."

So off I trotted back to the shop, which as it happened wasn't open in spite of the fact that it was now nearly 11 o'clock and the shop was supposed to be open at half past 10. From the inner recesses of the shop a figure emerged and fumbled with the multitude of locks, finally admitting me with an apology for lateness, attributing it to the Monday morning syndrome.

Still, he was nothing if not affable. I decided to try and settle a question that had been nagging me for some weeks, namely, which sounds better — the Yamaha Clavinova or the FM pianos. Naturally, a truly inquisitive punter would have to spend quite a lot of time farting about between the two keyboards, playing riffs which could possibly seem quite nauseous toa dealer first thing on a Monday morning. In addition he would pose some very awkward questions about the preset features on the Clavinova and the MIDI specifications, or lack of them, on each instrument.

The response was, in fact, very favourable. All the instruments in the shop are set up in such a way that you can just go to one, switch it on and start to play, and so while the shutters were still being pulled up I was able to just play away and get an initial impression of the instruments.

Lenny Barker, (I found out his name later), was very ready to take me through all the accompaniment features on the Clavinova, and took trouble to go to the relevant literature in order to fill me in on its MIDI spec. Then it was time to put the man to work. Questions like "How does it sound with an amp," and "Can I try it with a foot pedal" etc are the ones that really test out a dealer's posterior pain threshold. But upon my insistence, Lenny showed no signs of irritation and my questions were answered in full.

What's more, an engaging conversation followed, during which I learnt that the Yamaha PF15 was, in fact, coming to the end of the line and that its follow up, in addition to having even better sounds, was likely to have MIDI as well. This I thought was a signal point in my investigations, since a dealer with less integrity might have tried to keep me unaware of this so that I would have been more keen on buying the PF15 in stock.

Information is at the heart of good customer relations and the shop assistants (as was obvious from my visit) are ready to let you try the instruments and pick their brains without getting peevish and calling you a time waster if you don't actually buy anything.

The shop is quite small, very clean, and just a little bit, ahem, un-Rock and Roll. Later inquiries revealed that it was set up to cater for the punter who doesn't want to spend over two grand, but wants a good deal of help and information in order to get him or herself the system of their desires.

At the moment the shop does a few sidelines like home recording gear, small keyboard amps and a small amount of computer software, and HP deals can be arranged, some with instant credit in lieu of discount. The shop has a policy of putting discounts on everything they can, although obviously somethings can't be discounted too heavily due to the usual politics of the dealer world.

All in all then, I was very satisfied by my visit to this shop — even taking into account the fact that its presence had saved me from an embarrassing situation. Still I'll know next time. If I go looking for love in London on a Sunday night, I'll do it with feeling.

The Keyboard Shop (Contact Details)

More with this topic

Previous Article in this issue

Nik Picking

Next article in this issue

Manson Six-String

International Musician & Recording World - Copyright: Cover Publications Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.


International Musician - Mar 1986

Donated & scanned by: Mike Gorman



Feature by Billy Punter

Previous article in this issue:

> Nik Picking

Next article in this issue:

> Manson Six-String

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