The first of a new occasional series looking at some of the most up-to-date music stores in the country.
Mitcham Lane, Streatham, a few miles out from London's city centre, may seem an unlikely spot for a music store, but it's one which has its share of advantages. Over the last few years Gigsound has collected an impressive list of franchises and dealerships, partly due to its relative geographical isolation, and partly due to the excellent reputation it has achieved over the last five years or so of trading.
The present premises have been in use for around a year, and before this Gigsound operated a general music store on a much smaller site a few yards up the road, together with a specialist drum shop nearby. Now there's no lack of space, despite the huge amount of gear in stock, and yet the shop still gives the impression of being divided into small specialist areas.
Owner Eric Lindsay explains that this is intentional and he's proud of the degree of specialised service that this arrangement makes possible. The drum shop is still almost a separate entity, with its own display window, the keyboards have an ante-room to themselves, and the guitars, amps and accessories occupy the main floor area. Tucked away in the basement is a powerful 16-track studio, which as we shall see is just part of the all-round Gigsound service.
Eric Lindsay deals largely with the guitars and amps. The first obvious feature on entering the shop is a huge stack of Marshall valve amps in all shapes and sizes, and in fact Gigsound used to subtitle itself 'The London Marshall Supercentre'. On further inspection there's a very wide range of amplification, much of which comes from British manufacturers. Although Gigsound maintains good relationships with all the American and Japanese manufacturers, there's nothing quite like the personal service of having a company's owner or chief designer coming around on the van to deliver!
Gigsound have a franchise for Ohm amplification and also deal in amps from Session, another English company. In addition there's Solton PA equipment from Germany, and Fender, Peavey (such as the Peavey Heritage reviewed in E&MM July 82), H&H and many others. Fender's range of guitars is also widely stocked, and these are displayed on a veritable forest of stands and all along one wall of the shop.
Together with the Fenders there is of course a wide selection of Gibsons, and several other makes such as the excellent Westones. Westone basses continue to create a lot of interest, as do the Wal range often hailed as the best conventional bass in the world. The Wal franchise is one of only two in Greater London, and Eric Lindsay is particularly proud of it since Wal chose Gigsound about three years ago largely on their reputation. Schechter gear is also stocked both on the guitar side and as part of a large range of custom parts and accessories.
The Keyboard department shares a large window display with the guitars and amps, featuring the smaller synthesisers and polyphonics by Yamaha, Casio, EDP and Korg. Inside the story is different — centrepieces of the keyboard display are the powerful Yamaha GS2 and CS70M keyboards, surrounded by smaller synthesisers on floor and wall stands.
Again Gigsound have captured dealerships or franchises for many prestigious lines, including Roland and Moog, the latter being particularly hard to come by. Moog are represented by the Source, and Roland by some of the fastest-selling keyboards on the market including the Juno 6, the Juno 60 and the SH101. In addition to the Yamaha GS2 there's the smaller CE20, which sells at a considerable discount below its recommended thousand pounds or so. Both instruments work by the digital FM tone generation system, and so the sounds are sparkling and lifelike, although necessarily the instruments only appeal to the more well-heeled end of the market.
For the average musician there's the Moog Rogue, Korg MS10 and MS20, a selection of electric pianos, the smaller Yamahas such as the CS5 and a wide range of effects and instruments. One recent big seller has been The Kit, together with its add on accessories such as The Timp and syndrum effects. Keyboard specialist Jonathan Cole is also in charge of Gigsound's recording studio.
In the drum section there's a wide range of complete kits, individual drums and cymbals, and accessories. One colourful window display consists largely of the popular Melanie FanToms, and again there's a drum specialist in attendance at all times.
Overall the shop seems to combine a wide range of stock and low prices with a genuine interest in giving the musician a complete service. To this end a 16-track studio has been opened in the last year, which isn't widely advertised but is available for bookings primarily by Gigsound's customers.
Jonathan Cole does most of the engineering work, occasionally booking outside engineers. He's also responsible for the installation of new equipment, and has brought the studio up to a very high standard. The mixing desk is Soundcraft with a total potential of 46 inputs if the equalised monitor channels are used, and the main tape machine is a Soundcraft 16 track.
The effects rack is well up to date, although the digital delay was temporarily missing — a customer needed one the same evening so it had to be sold! The increasingly popular range of Drawmer studio effects are represented by the Multi Tracker and Dual Noise Gate, which for around £250 gives excellent results - up to minus 80dB for keeping noise down, tightening up bass drums and so on.
Cassette copies can be run off on a JVC machine, and the whole control room area gives an impression of compactness and efficiency. The studio floor, on the other hand, was in a state of chaos — simply an indication of the amount of work that's done there! The main vocal mike is the expensive Neumann U87, and there's a selection of Beyers, AKGs and Shures. Connection to the control room is by two 16-way stage boxes, with additional connections if needed.
The studio has the advantage of the 'passing trade' from the shop itself, and the benefits are obviously mutual as the studio generates additional interest and business for the shop. The whole organisation is completed by an engineering service run by Terry McDonald, who is qualified to service all the electronic equipment stocked and also manufactures some small accessories.
Overall, Gigsound gives the impression of an efficient and comprehensive service which has the added advantage of being totally up-to-date. Check out their adverts and consider making the journey — it may be well worth the effort.
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