Continuing our trek around London's suburban perimeter, we came upon Leytonstone-based Holiday Music. The shop has been in existence for the best part of 13 years, and at its present location for nine, making it one of the oldest-established shops in East London. While still not all that mighty a stone's throw from the West End, Holiday Music have the advantage that, unlike so many of their counterparts in the centre of the metropolis, they have enough space to carry a large range of secondhand equipment, and are therefore almost always open to suggestions on the part-exchange front.
The shop is run by owner Steve Jolly, with the help of Rob Hinton (shop manager), Pete Dudley (keyboardist and chief coffee maker), Steve Piert (drums) and Dave Wilk (repairs). Together they form a fine crew, able to deal with most of the technical enquiries that come in (and believe us, they get enough of them: while we were there the phone seemed to be ringing at least every 30 or 40 seconds).
Amplification equipment takes up most of the space at the front of the shop, with names like Fender and Peavey well to the fore, not to mention HM's own Tek cabs, of which more later.
Behind the stacks of amps lies the home recording department, rather sparsely-occupied at the time of our visit but more usually bristling with gear from names such as Tascam, MXR and JBL. The booth in which the multitrack equip- ment is contained is acoustically-treated so that prospective purchasers can test the equipment without having to stand in the direct line of fire from marauding guitar amps.
And that was where the shop - as it used to be - came to an abrupt halt. However, some careful wall-removal has now almost doubled Holiday Music's length, which is probably just as well, as the rear half of the shop has to house a mountain of drums, percussion, effects, guitars, and finally keyboards.
The effects department is the best-equipped we've come across for a while. Holiday Music seem to stock product from just about FX manufacturer around: Boss, Pearl, MXR, Loco, Ibanez, DOD, and Ross - you name it, HM stock it.
The guitar department is similarly well-endowed, the names available including Westone, Squier, Fender, Ibanez, Aria and, just arrived as we appeared on the doorstep, Kay. Plus, of course, a bewildering array of secondhand guitars and basses, most of them at pretty fair prices.
It's worth mentioning at this point that Holiday Music insist on obtaining some form of identification from anybody who offers them equipment, whether it's on a cash or part-exchange basis. It's certainly a responsible attitude that's saved them getting their fingers burnt on a number of occasions, and has also seen more than a few thieves being marched over the road to the local police station!
The keyboard department is located at the extreme rear of the shop, with several new models from Siel, Korg and Yamaha on display, plus some ageing Moog and Roland monosynths in a secondhand 'bargain basement' section. As with all other areas of the shop, all the gear here is thoroughly set up and tested by HM's technical department before it goes on display. They even set up cheap copies as well as the 'name' guitars - a refreshing socialism.
'We've always maintained', comments Steve, 'that a shop is a showroom as well as a sales point. So the instruments we have on show have to be not only representative of their manufacturers, they have to be representative of us, as well. We take a lot of pride in what we show and what we sell, and I think that's the sort of attitude that has to pay off in the long run - the size of our regular custom proves that.'
The eastern side of London has become something of a haven for live musicians in recent years, with a whole host of good venues both large (a few) and small (a great many!). It's to the latter that Steve Jolly and company have aimed their attentions with the introduction of their own range of Tek cabs.
These are 1x10 or 2x10 cabinets made from polypropylene, a material that's virtually unbreakable due to the fact that it bends under pressure instead of cracking. We were a little sceptical of this at first, but Steve soon changed our minds by turning the front panel right over as we stood back, aghast. Both cabinets come complete with 10" drive units of Celestion manufacture, and would seem capable of forming the basis for a neat, compact, but nonetheless quite powerful PA system.
Finally, and continuing our quest for regional music hardware favourites, it would seem that the most popular product at Leytonstone at the moment is Carlsbro PA equipment (especially the power amps) and Westone guitars, while the usual DX7 supply and demand story is repeated there also...
Feature by Tim Oakes
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