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Feelers On The Dealers

Music Village

Article from International Musician & Recording World, August 1985

Billy Punter joins the Village people in Chadwell Heath

Stop Press: Punter makes a purchase at this shop

Watch out Which; we've out-consumer-tested everybody this time. After all, what's the ultimate test of a music shop? It's buying an instrument, that's what.

And this month we bought an instrument. More accurately, I bought an instrument, spending a fair whack of my hard-earned pittance on it.

To tell the truth, there was more of it than the desire to be ruthlessly truth-seeking and accurate; for ages I'd been looking for a particular guitar, and it just happened that this shop had one.

Which is quite a good sign, for a start — anywhere that has enough stock for a particular, fairly unusual, axe to turn up there must be worth a visit from time to time and so it proved.

Music Village is situated on the main road East out of London towards Ilford, Romford, the rest of Essex, Kent, the sea, and if you continue far enough, probably Belgium. A good reason to stop at Chadwell Heath, really.

It's a much bigger place than it looks from the outside. It didn't used to be, not long ago, but since the owners decided that they'd like to swing their collective cat in a bit more space, the internal walls have taken a dive and the internal space has taken a big expansion.

So now the shop is long and thin, running lengthways from front to back, and housing a good varied selection of amps, keyboards, drums, guitars, and heaps of home recording gear. There's a large amount of chippery, because Music Village is well ahead in the high-tech field. Various computers, sequencers, drum machines and MIDI-controlled devices snuggle up together down one side of the shop, all interfacing like crazed rabbits and all (it must be said) going for very sensible prices indeed. Roland, Korg and Yamaha are all well represented, Casio's digital wonders are there, Siel and Sequential get in on the act... it's a veritable technotrove of the latest and flashiest. They're a Yamaha Hi-Tec dealer, which means they get stuff like the CX5M computer, the QX1 sequencer, the TX-7 expander module, and for all I know the XR3 Ford Escort.

So looking at all that, what particular piece of up-to-the-minute Japanese wonder gear did I plump for? A 25 year-old semi-acoustic guitar.

Not that I couldn't have splurged on a suitably 'eighties axe — headless, fretless and occasionally tasteless instruments were in ample supply, and there were particularly good deals on Fenders, the last few of the breed which will shortly become known as the 'pre-Schultz' models.

But being deeply contrary and in the habit of feeling nostalgia to the point where it approaches neuralgia, I made a beeline, or maybe a B string, for a 1960 Hofner President archtop Jazz guitar. As I was speeding towards the rack, an assistant deftly tripped me and enquired whether I needed any help.

I explained my interest in the beast, and he whipped it off the wall and took it out to the front bit of the shop where there was, he explained, a working guitar amp. He plugged it in, turned the knobs to full, and... that's when the first problem arose. No noise.

"Ah," he said, "I thought one of these guitars had a bit of a problem with the electrics. It's not working." Refraining from saying that I'd noticed, I asked if he knew what was wrong. But no luck, he muttered something about the pickups, or maybe the wiring, or it could be the socket. Strangely enough for a big shop, they hadn't done any enquiring into the cause or attempt to repair it.

But as I can (sometimes) work a soldering iron without burning myself too badly, I decided I'd still try the Hofner without amplification. It played well, it looked nice, and generally it was what I was after. But was it really the done thing not to have made any indication on the price tag or in the adverts that it was electrically defunct? Probably not. Still, I told my man I was laden with hard cash and willing to haggle.

However, he wasn't quite so keen. After some tough negotiating I managed to knock a few quid off — but the guitar came without a case so a fairly tatty one was found and duly charged to me.

To be fair, though, the price wasn't vast to start with, at less than a ton-and-a-half, as us Essex soulboys say. So it's not surprising that there wasn't much built-in haggleability in their profit margin. And considering I've seen very similar pieces in very similar conditions go for very much larger amounts, I came out pretty well.

The guitar's fine — the electrics were merely suffering from a bit of dodgy soldering to one of the controls. The shop, too, was pretty good. Service was friendly and stock was extensive and more important still, well-priced. So my only problem now is how you can claim a semi-acoustic guitar on expenses...

MUSIC VILLAGE (Contact Details)

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

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International Musician - Aug 1985

Donated by: James Perrett



Feature by Billy Punter

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