December 2008 Archives

Roland FR-1 V-Accordion, Piano type & Button type

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Entry level compact and extra light 5kg models provide 26 keys for right hand (62 buttons for the Button type) and 72 basses for left hand, 7 types of accordion voice, 10 orchestra voices including saxophone, clarinet and double bass, 4 organ presets (Harmonic Bar) with rotary effect, and 4 sets of percussion sounds which are produced with same PBM sound system incorporated into upper model V-Accordions. Four song data are provided for versatile practices from minus one performance on right and left hand as well as bellows control. 

Players can save up to 4 user programs for instant playback of accordion, orchestra and percussion sounds.
It comes with 6 variations of inlay sheets so that players can customize their instruments with different sheet.

FR-1 can be plugged directly into stage PA and keyboard monitor speaker. Eight AA type 2000mAH Ni-MH batteries allow players to enjoy about 5 hours of playing.

Further details are available from: 

Korg LP-350 Digital Piano

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A new model to the Korg digital piano line features slim and modern cabinet well matching to home interior. Measured in 27.7cm deep, it has soft landing top cover which is made flat without 
hinges. Stereo sampled 
30 piano, vibraphone, organ, guitar and other sounds, 
and Real Weighted Hammer Action3 keyboard enable players to enjoy delicate and natural musical expression.

Two 10cm built-in speakers in box are located under the keyboard to deliver authentic and full sound. 

Despite the compact structure, it has damper, soft and sostenuto pedals for versatile performance. Black and white cabinets are available.

Further details are available from:

microKORG XL Synthesizer/Vocoder ¥59,000

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New addition to the Korg microKORG incorporates 128 powerful and practical voices produced by Korg's state-of-the-art MMT analog modeling sound system, vocoder function with a goose-neck microphone and 17 effect voices.

Compact, but comfortable Natural Touch Mini Keyboard has improved expression capability resulted from redesigning balance of natural and sharp keys.

Korg provides users of microKORG XL with free preset programs of microKORG XL Sound Editor, MS2000 and microKORG at its website at the end of February. It's bettery-operated as well.
Further details are available from:

KAOSSILATOR in Pink ¥23,600

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A new pink model in limited production of 3,000 units is available now for the Dynamic Phrase Synthesizer KAOSSILATOR favored by its wide selection of 100 sound programs, 31 scale patterns and 50 gate arpeggiators packed in the compact body. 

Further details are available from:


AKAI EWIUSB USB Electronic Wind Instrument

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It turns everybody into a wind instrument player simply by installing an exclusive ARIA software into pc and connect EWIUSB. Garritan-designed ARIA provides player with a total of 88 wind instrumental sounds. It supports almost all plug-in formats including Windows VST, Mac VST, AU and RTAS. EWIUSB has MIDI control/change assign capability to be used as a MIDI controller. It's recommended for entry level players as it's easy to start and comes at reasonable price. Yet, it has almost equivalent controls of upper model EWI4000s.  

Further details are available from:

Ibanez S5470F S Prestige ¥200,000

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S5470F_BH.jpg S5470F_RVK.jpgThe key line of Ibanez electric guitars has a new addition featuring flamed maple top, mahogany back, 5-piece maple/walnut Prestige neck, rosewood fingerboard, 2 humbucking and 1 single coil pickups, and ZR-2 tremolo bridge with zero-point-system which promises fast replacement of strings, tuning and stable play. They come either in black haze or red viking finish, and a hard case is standard. 

Further details are available from:

Ibanez S470B ¥85,000

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S470B_RD.jpg S470B_WH.jpgTwo solid color models of white and red joined the S series. It has mahogany body, 3-piece maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, ZR tremolo bridge with zero-point-system which promises fast replacement of strings, tuning and stable play, 2 humbucking and 1 single coil pickups. 

Further details are available from:


Ibanez RG370AX (limited edition) ¥70,000

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RG370AX_SSW.jpg RG370AX_RSW.jpgEmploying ash for the body, and characteristic Shock Wave finish which enhances wood grain, it has an astonishing image rarely found in electric guitar. Other features include 3-piece maple neck, rosewood fingerboard with shark tooth inlay, Edge III tremolo bridge, 2 humbucking and one single coil pickups. Red Shock Wave and Silver Shock Wave finishes are available.

Further details are available from:

Ibanez ARTCORE CUSTOM (limited edition) ¥115,000

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A new model of the ARTCORE CUSTOM series semi-hollow body guitar line comes with beautiful quilted maple top, back and sides, 5-piece maple/bubinga set-in neck, rosewood fingerboard, 2 humbucking pickups and in amber burst finish. 

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Ibanez EDB550 ¥80,000

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EDB550BKF.jpgA mat black body bass is back. It features ligt ash body, 5-piece jatoba/bubinga neck, rosewood fingerboard, B100 bridge, 2 Duncan/Ibanez J type pickups, and one each volume, tone and 2-band equalizer controls. 

Further details are available from:


Ibanez SRX430 ¥65,000

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While retaining vintage taste, the new addition to the SRX bass line features basswood body, 3-piece maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, ACCU-CAST b100 bridge, 2 humbucking pickups of which pole pieces are exposed, EQB-IIDX equalizer, and either red or white finish.  

Further details are available from:


Ex-pro D&B ¥38,000

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DandB.jpgUsing MOS-FET instead of ICs and diodes, it can deliver clean-cut sounds in distortion mode. A mode switch is provided to control bass range. It supports low tuning and 7-string bass as well. The booster can be applied alone or together with distortion. With the Ex-pro D&B, battery replacement is quite easy as a 006P battery is packed in magazine and then housed in the body. 

It also works with mains with help of conventional DC9V AC adaptor. It has gain, treble, out level and boost controls, 70dB maximum gain in distortion mode and 20dB in booster mode. 

Further details are available from:

Ex-pro D+S ¥38,000

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It delivers fat distorted sound with 80dB maximum gain in solo mode and 74dB when solo mode is off. The controls include gain, treble, out level and solo, and 3 mode switches are provided. It comes with the same battery box incorporated in the D&B.   

Further details are available from:

Aria HAS-28 Humidity Control Sheet ¥2,800

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Sheet-type HAS-28 using superabsorbent polymer maintains humidity level inside guitar case between 40% and 60% and protect instrument. Measured 100mm by 200mm, the sheet comes in a gorgeous silk cloth envelope used for traditional kimono.    

Further details are available from:

Lighter weight and Fuller Sound
Harp which is regarded as lady of orchestra has 3,000 years of history. It was a most favored instrument in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. In Europe, it developed gradually in the middle of 18th century, and became a member of orchestra from folk instrument with the invention of pedals which allow players to change keys. 

Today, about 100 grand harps are built monthly throughout the world by 7 makers. Among them only 4 makers have production capability of 20 units a month. Aoyama Harp in Fukui Pref. is one of them. 

The company unveiled a new model last spring which was highly acclaimed for its tonal quality, full sound and astonishingly light weight construction at the World Congress held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in July. Making light weight harp has been a major interest for Kenzo Aoyama, president, for over 10 years. Reducing weight of musical instrument apparently affects tonal volume and color. 

Aoyama says, "Harp makers have sought after greater tonal volume, fuller sound with dynamics for some time. Whether it's played in solo or in symphonic band and orchestra, players have unanimously inclined to this trend. As a matter of course, harp has become larger and heavier as string tension increased. Beginning players are annoyed by extra heavy instrument. Even professionals feel it a hurdle especially when they are getting older. Of course, they usually don't fret, but I know they feel it burdensome deep in their mind."
Extensive Research Began 10 Years Ago
Aoyama continues, "The point is not just building lighter harp. It must be superior as a musical instrument. Years of study and analysis are required to evaluate balance between lightness and durability. If it only serves the purpose for one year or two, we don't call it musical instrument." 
Aoyama full concert harp comes in 6 series, 12 models. They are Apollon, Monarch, Musa, Delphi, Amphion and Orpheus 47, having 47 strings in 187cm or 188cm height and between 34.5kgs and 36kgs weight. There are harps exceeding 40kgs. built by other makers. Despite its captivating beauty, players are exposed to heavy structure on their shoulder. 

Aoyama started his plan to build lighter instrument with 46-string Vega semi concert type using walnut in 180cm tall and 32kgs weight. Firstly, he measured size and weight of every part from pillar, soundboard, sound box, base and screws, and experimented to replace brass disk which is the heaviest part with duralumin. Aoyama brought the new disk to a disk manufacturer for intensity test. It cleared required level causing 3kgs reduction of weight. He also made less influential parts thinner. It took him 3 to 4 years to examine secular change of the replaced materials. 

Wood parts come next to metal in terms of heaviness. Thinner wood obviously affects tonal color and volume of harp. Just building down-sized instrument doesn't mean a good job. He carefully studied the balance of sound volume, tonal characteristics and overall structure to achieve best results. All in all the works took considerable time and patience. 

Asymmetrical Cherry Blossom Patterns
"A host of professionals throughout the world support us and Aoyama harps. They are our treasure. Mrs. Masumi Nagasawa who teaches at Maastricht Academy of Music in The Netherlands is one of them. When I told her my challenges to build light weight harp, she suggested that I build a harp with cherry blossom motif. The national flower means something special for Japanese residing overseas, she said," explains Aoyama.   

Princess SAKURA (cherry blossom), 178.5cm tall, 47-string model which was born after 10 years of extensive research for lighter construction comes with asymmetrically designed cherry blossom patterns strewn from pillar, sound board to base. Employing traditional japan artwork (makiye), it weighs only 28.8kgs. 

Aoyama commissioned the art work to a Fukui resident designer who produced Aoyama Harp company logo, posters and brochure. "European and American harps come with symmetrical patterns. The Princess SAKURA was very well accepted during the Congress for every point from tonal quality, light structure to impressive asymmetrical cherry blossom patterns. One British wholesaler quoted if we can build an instrument with rose patterns. They commented that it is comfortable to play. I'm very pleased with their remarks. 

While we have designed harps which meet the requirements from professionals, it's our mission as a manufacturer to increase harp players. We promote the Princess SAKURA to seasoned professionals and entry level irish harp players who want upper class instrument."

Aoyama's next plans include development of light weight full concert grand harp besides improved production to increase monthly output to 24 or 25 units. "We expect to complete a 30kgs full concert model by the end of 2008. Hopefully it will make debut this spring after having it repeatedly played every day for months. 

We are inspecting sample pedals using aluminum now to replace iron parts of them. If they meet our strict standard of rigidness they will be installed in the new full concert model. We don't mind taking much time in research and study before we put our harps into the market. We are only concerned to build the instruments we are really proud of," he concluded.

1st Rhythm & Drums Magazine Festival

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A special event exclusively designed for drummers takes place at DIFFER Ariake, Tokyo, on January 24 and 25. Jointly organized by Rittor Music Rhythm & Drums magazine and Kyodo Tokyo, a producer/management office of concert, theatrical art and musical event teaming with manufacturers of acoustic and digital drums & related accessories and retailers, it invites drummers of all levels to experience sound and playing technique of acclaimed drummers. 

So far individual drum manufacturers have organized consumer events as part of their own marketing and promotion, however, there have never been a unified event which promote drum products of all makes to end user. 

The visitors are invited to manufacturer/retailer booths to try latest models and their sounds, enjoy live music and clinics. They can buy favorite gears on site from the retailers. 

Katsuaki Komiya, editor of the Rhythm & Drums Magazine, says, "There has been no big drum event like PASIC in Japan. We started working to launch an equivalent stage a year earlier. Total support from the manufacturers has prompted us to step forward. The primary objective of this event is to let consumers know pleasure of playing drums and percussions, and increase music makers. This is a good opportunity for the industry to cooperate and work together to develop drum market."     
Manufacturers which set up booths include Komaki Tsusho, Pearl, Hoshino Gakki Hambai, Moridaira, Yamaha, Yamaha Music Trading and Roland. Such music retailers as Shinseido Rock In, Miki Gakki and Music Land Key also stage their booths. 

Such top level drummers and grorups as Akira Jimbo, Kozo Suganuma & Satoko, Soul Tohru, Terry Bozzio, Stanton Moore will make appearance for concerts and clinics.

New Exclusive Distributors

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Pearl Musical Instrument started business as exclusive distributor for Spector basses in Japan. The Spector lines include hand-made Spector U.S.A, EURO and cost-efficient Professional models.

Moridaira Musical Instruments has been distributing Aquarian drum heads as exclusive agent in Japan since last December.

Yamaha Music Trading became sole distributor for KALA ukulele last December. Attractively priced KALA instruments are made of mahogany, koa, and framed maple.

Roland Russia In Moscow

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Roland announced on Dec. 5 that it would open a distribution company, Roland Russia (tentatively named), in Moscow in April in an expectation of increasing awareness of Roland brand name, and mid/long term development opportunities in the country which is expected to be a promising market with its vast land and rich natural resources. 

Total capital of 5 million Russian ruble, which is about 17 million yen, is jointly invested by Roland Corp. (10%), Electronic Musical Instruments Roland Scandinavia A/S, distributor in Denmark (60%) and present management team of Russian distributor (30%). Andrey Voronov is responsible for day-to-day operation. 

The new company estimates 260 million Russian ruble sales for the initial year. 

2008 Stringed Instrument Fair

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Japan String Instrument Makers Association hosted 2008 String Instruments Fair from October 31 to November 2 at Science Museum, Kitanomaru Park, Tokyo. As an annual trade/consumer event it drew 63 independent makers of violin, guitar, lute, mandolin and bow, 29 instrument and case makers, importers and distributors and 22 overseas individuals and companies from 7 countries.


While providing the members of JSIMA with business opportunities, it serves as a venue to enjoy concerts played by displayed instruments for general public. As many as 4,000 music fans, educators and professional players visited the fair looking for desired instruments and meeting makers in person. Amateur instrument makers find the fair a precious opportunity to get tools and parts which are hard to buy in town. 

Nobuhiro Sonoda, president of JSIMA said, "We celebrated 50th fair last year. Year after year the fair has successfully expanded. It's our great pleasure that we are serving as a meeting point for instrument makers, industry and users. We are very encouraged that the fair has increased its awareness in the string instrument society."

Roland Strengthens Partnership With GK Alliance Makers

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Roland held GK Alliance Meeting on November 6 at ONAIR Ohkubo Studio, Tokyo inviting guitar and bass manufacturers which support Roland GR guitar synthesizer, V Guitar System and V Bass system. 

Roland has been heavily involved in developing guitar synthesizer since the introduction of GR500 in 1977. A breakthrough came in 1995 with the VG-8 V guitar system incorporating COSM technology. The greatly enhanced guitar synthesizer progressed to VG-99 in 2007 and VB-99 for bass guitar last year. These latest models enable guitar player to enjoy diversified guitar sound simply by installing GK Divided Pickup into favorite guitars. Roland formed GK Alliance in 2000 with leading guitar manufacturers in an expectation of exploring the concept by promoting GK pickup built-in guitars.
Today the company has licensed 12 Japanese manufacturers to build the GK pickup into their gears, and Fender, Godin and other overseas manufacturers manufacture guitars incorporating GK pickup provided through local joint-venture companies. Many of them are imported to the Japanese market. 

Tetsuji Iyota, president of Boss Corp., says, "We have sold 6,500 units of GK-3 and GK-3B in 2007. In addition, we provided the alliance members with around 500 units. The total sales of the GK pickups exceeded 11,000 units as the GR-20 guitar synthesizer comes with the GK-3 as standard. The VG-99 is well accepted in the market. The VB-99 followed last October. We see more integrated cooperation with the alliance makers will help stimulate the guitar market." 

So far, the alliance makers have only manufactured and sold new instruments with built-in GK pickup. Under the intensified agreement, they can meet remodeling requests of the users who bring in their own gears for installation of the GK pickup. 

Following technical session on COSM and modeling technologies delivered by Shoichi Ikeda, Engineering producer, Takayuki Murata, bassist and Yutaka Nakano, guitarist demonstrated characteristic features of the VB-99 and VG-99. Yutaka Nakano commented, "The VG-99 surely opens up new world of music making for guitarists without feeling of maneuvering guitar synthesizer. I am sure that guitarists will find it fun and recognize greater expression capabilities of guitar synthesizer."

Roland and alliance makers cooperate together in future marketing to further promote the GK pickup by putting leaflets introducing GK pickup-powered instruments of alliance makers into GK product package, and including the information in Roland advertisements and on website. 

GK alliance makers include: Days Corp., Diviser, ESP, Fujigen, Harry's Engineering, Hoshino Gakki , Ikebe Gakki, Quest, T's Guitar, Total Sound Communication, K. Yairi Guitar and Zodiac Works.