December 2009 Archives

Staged amid the once a century economic slow down, and pandemic flu, however, the 2009 Fair in Pacifico Yokohama opened in positive atmosphere with much excitement and expectations as the industry had experienced in the previous shows.

Unlike the NAMM Show and Musikmesse Frankfurt, the Musical Instruments Fair Japan which takes place every other year has been organized as a public show expecting more first time music makers to visit. Years of extensive promotional efforts by the organizer and the industry have been paid this year as it greeted increasing number of elementary school and junior high school students as well as young families who will be core customers in the coming years. Yokohama City Board of Education joined the organizer to promote the event among local elementary and junior high schools. In the weekend, children and parents took part in a host of consumer events and enjoyed musical experience.

According to the organizer, it drew 28,185 visitors for the 4 days. Though the number of exhibitors declined 25% and exhibit space decreased 30% over the previous Fair, the exhibitors looked to be more spirited and ready to meeting the changing economy and coping with the challenge that the industry throughout the world faces.

The Fair was co-staged with such consumer shopping events as the Premium Guitar Show, Outlet Mall, Music Publishing Exhibition and benefit auction. Nevertheless, they also presented huge business opportunities for the exhibitors bringing them a total of 133 million yen sales.


2009 String Instruments Fair in Tokyo

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Japan String Instrument Makers Association organized 52nd String Instruments Fair from Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 at Tokyo Science Museum. Originated as an exclusive stringed instruments exhibition for luthiers and archetiers, amateur and professional players, and general music enthusiasts, the 2009 fair drew 59 independent makers and manufacturers from Japan and 19 makers, companies and associations from 6 countries including Italy, France and Germany. The economic slump caused about 10% decline of the exhibitors compared with the last year. The number of visitors were 3,500, 500 less from the 2008 Fair. 

Nobuhiro Sonoda, president of the association, expects that the fair provides Japanese players an opportunity to experience a broad selection of instruments of various makes and origins and find ones matched to individual taste.

Roland Founder Kakehashi Donates Synths to Museum

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Roland Corp. and Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of the company, donated 3 synthesizers to Hamamatsu Musical Instruments Museum in November. The museum first opens a permanent exhibit of digital musical instruments with these instruments.

Despite its reputation as one of the largest museums for musical instruments, there has been no exhibit of digital musical instruments so far. The donated instruments include Roland System 700, the first system synthesizer developed in Japan, and Moog System 35, and Arp Model 2600 synthesizers owned by Kakehashi.  (Photo: Kazuhiko Shima, left, and Ikutaro Kakehashi.)

Kazuhiko Shima, managing director of the museum, said, "When we staged a special exhibit, 'Musical Instruments and 20th Century' in 2003, we recognized that innovative technologies in the coming years would continue bringing digital musical instruments into an established segment in the music history. The musical instruments represent a cultural legacy man has created. The idea for setting up a permanent exhibit for the digital musical instruments has been the project of years. I believe it will inspire young generations and be a key history in the future."

Kakehashi expects much in the new exhibit saying, "I appreciate Mr. Shima very much for his support when Roland was developing the digital harpsichord. Half joke, I said it's about time that we saw the digital musical instruments exhibited in museum. Surprisingly, and to my pleasure, he took my words seriously, and the dream plans have realized. I understand this is a very good start. Having the visitors know the early history of the digital musical instruments will have not a small impact. The exhibit will include other makes with historical value and will be known as the world's first museum having a comprehensive collection of vintage digital musical instruments."

The exhibit is scheduled to open by the end of this year with initial collection of more than 30 legendary instruments donated from connoisseurs, and the products manufactured in and after 1950's which are borrowed from Yamaha, Korg and other makers.

Miyazawa Flute 40th Anniversary

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Miyazawa Flutes Mfg., Co., Ltd. celebrated 40 years in business on November 6 at Pan Pacific Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu inviting 170 industry guests. (Photo top: from l. to r., Masashi Miyazawa, chairman, Masashi Yamamoto, president, Eiko Sekine, vice president and Kazushige Miyazawa, director)

Masashi Yamamoto, president, thanked the guests for their long time support and cooperation, and commented in his opening remarks, "Our efforts in the past years to further improve precision level of our parts are paying now. We have completed a production system capable of manufacturing high quality, reliable flutes. All the staff will further concentrate in establishing Miyazawa flutes to be recognized as truly valuable instruments for the players."

Yamaha Disney Model Digital Pianos

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F11 ¥1,300,000
F01 ¥960,000
Back panel Unit ¥590,000

Stylish MODUS line digital piano has two new additions with a back panel featuring Mickey Mouse figures. Yamaha accepts order for these pianos until October, 2010.

The high quality polyester-finish back panel comes in two types; Rose with red Mickey Mouse figures on warm gray background, and Lime in two different shades of green.

Yamaha also provides a back panel unit for the F11 and F01 owners.

In coincidence with the launch of the Disney models, Yamaha opens "D" Fantasy channel in the ModusRadio (¥630/month) on the net which provides BGM and other music contents.

Further information is available from:



Korg Digital Pianos

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The newest model of the stylish SP line digital piano comes in compact, light-weight cabinet. The front panel is designed smooth and flat without buttons and switches. It provides 10 instrumental voices including concert grand piano and harpsichord, natural weighted hammer action (NH) keyboard, large frame speaker system, reverb and chorus effects, 3-step key touch control capability, 2 headphone jacks and a damper switch.

Either white or black cabinet can be selected.


A vivid red cabinet model joined the 2009 Good Design Award-won slim and flat style LP-350 line.

Further information is available from:




It's a refined model of the HAMMOND 44 keyboard harmonica introduced last year with advanced tonal quality. Featuring tapered reeds which are standard to the 44 and PRO-37v2 top model of the Suzuki Melodion, it delivers bright and fat sound.

To obtain much more open sound, it employs a punched out metal cover.

The brilliant tonal color with enhanced mid and treble range is suitable for rock, reggae, ska and other band music when plugged with a pickup microphone.




HAMMOND BB B-24H ¥32,000
The electric-acoustic bass harmonica with built-in microphones for bass and treble ranges has 24 bass keys, and F to e1 tone range. By plugging with equalizer and effect machine, it provides versatile sounds.





HAMMOND Jr. Square HEK-3 ¥68,000
The refined ensemble keyboard has sound of low brass instruments and 100 new effect modes added to the existing 159. They include versatile mimic sounds suitable for kamishibai (storytelling play for kids), operetta, and talk show.

The Custom function allows player to assign desired effect voices to the keys.

Further information is available from:




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Yamaha has introduced a standard model of the TNR-W TENORI-ON which made debut with a sensation in May, 2008 to be distributed through Yamaha website and music stores throughout Japan.

TENORI-ON delivers music performances by controlling 256 LED buttons with hands. An output jack,  MIDI In/Out ports and an SD memory card slot are also provided.

It's operated by mains with an AC adapter and comes in plastic frame with orange LEDs laid out on the front surface.

Further information is available from:



Global XO Piccolo Trumpets & Bass Trombones

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PX-GBS ¥285,000
The cost-efficient piccolo trumpets promise comfortable playing feeling and stable pitch featuring gold brass long bell, third slide with a trigger, an A mouthpipe, High Bb or A keys, 101mm size bell and Monel metal hand wrapped pistons. Clear lacquered and silver-plated models are available. Global accepts orders for gold-plated model as well. They come with a newly designed cornet shunk mouthpiece. 


RB-L ¥550,000
The two bass trombones were designed in search of most desirable instruments for modern players in every detail from shape of bell, positions and shape of edge bracing to materials.

They employ original double axial flow valve to efficiently support expression of players in every sound level from pianissimo to fortissimo. An adjustable F & Gb lever is provided for quick response even for small hand players.

Yellow brass (L) or gold brass (GB) bell can be selected. They are lacquered and come complete with 3 interlocking type mouthpipes made of brass (standard and longer sizes) and silver, a gold brass main tuning valve, a yellow brass sliding nickel crook, gold-plated parts, and a matched fiber case.

Further information is available from:



Yamaha Digital Percussion Pad

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DTX-MULTI 12 ¥90,000
Based on the technology of the Silent Session Drums, Yamaha has introduced the DTX-MULTI 12 digital percussion/drum pads. It's sound engine provides a total of 1,277 instrumental and effect voices including those imported from the top line MOTIF synthesizer as well as reverb, chorus and variation effect modes.

The twelve pads respond to drum sticks, hand and finger tapping plays. Individual pads can be played in mute mode, in stacked style by layering 4 voices assigned to a single pad, and in alternate mode.

Other helpful features include128 performance patterns of various genre, and a 152,000-note sequencer.

The package contains a Cubase A15 DAW software to link with PC via USB so that pitch and rhythm can be controlled by tapping pads.

It has expansion capability with 5 trigger inputs for external pads and an input to control hi-hat.

Further information is available from:



ESP Electric Guitars & Basses

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BLACK TRUCKSTER James Hetfield Model ¥510,000
The TRUCKSTER James Hetfield (METALLICA) model has now a sister model finished in Aged Black Satin. It features hard maple top, single cutaway body with mahogany back, mahogany neck, 22 frets rosewood fingerboard, EMG60 and EMG81 pickups at the front and rear, Sperzel tuner, TonePros bridge and tail piece.
The headstock comes with an original logo and a James autograph. A matched hard case is standard.

ESP has recently introduced LTD BLACK TRUCKSTER which inherits specifications of the BLACK TRUCKSTER but at a greatly reduced price of ¥l68,000.


003 RAINBOW Aiji Signature Model ¥440,000
The latest model of the 003 Series which Aiji of L.M.C. has long played has a rainbow stripe running through top to back at the center of the black body. It features alder body, bolt-on hard maple neck, 24 frets rosewood fingerboard, Seymour Duncan SCR-In Cool Rails and TB-5 Custom pickups at the front and rear, and Floyd Rose tremolo system.






U-02 HELLION-II ¥730,000
Designed after the POTBELLY, the signature model of Uruha (the GazettE) is made of quilted maple top, Honduras mahogany back, hard maple neck, 24 frets Honduras rosewood fingerboard, DiMarzio DP165 Bread and DP160 Norton pickups at the front and rear, and Wilkinson GTB200 bridge. It's finished in Malachite Green. A matched hard case is standard.





Honowo Saga (Alice Nine) Model Bass ¥450,000
Designed with the AMAZE-ALR at its base, the bass reflects a host of Saga's original tastes. It features alder body, bolt-on hard maple neck, rosewood fingerboard with a scorpion inlay spread over 11th, 12th and 13th frets, Seymour Duncan SJB-In and SJB-2b pickups, and HIPSHOT STYLE A bridge and HIPSHOT HB6C & HE6C (4th string) tuners for instant setting into down tuning mode. It's finished in Volcano Red.








KOKUSHI-AK Akiya Model ¥480,000
The 6-string model of a 7-string MUGEN-AK electric guitar endorsed by Akiya (Kagrra) features hard maple top, mahogany neck and back, 22 frets rosewood fingerboard, Seymour Duncan SPH90-In Phatcat and SH-4 JB pickups at the front and rear, and GOTOH bridge. The black body has a samurai silhouette at the back. A matched hard case is standard.






KAGEBOUSHI Shin Model ¥500,000
The 7-string model of the HIMAWARI, a favorite gear of Shin (Kagrra) has mahogany body and set-neck, and 22 frets rosewood fingerboard. Seymour Duncan SH-1n-7 and SH-1b-7 pickups at the front and rear are specially designed so that they turn into single pick up mode allowing guitarists to enjoy versatile sounds by controlling coil output with a rotary switch when the PU selector is set in RHYTHM mode.

It's finished in fine combination of glossy and subdued black, and comes with a matched hard case.



Yume-no-Domin Nao Model ¥400,000
The sister model of Kagrra bassist Nao's favorite Yumi-no-Domin has swamp ash body finished in titanium metal color, bolt-on hard maple neck, 24 frets rosewood fingerboard and two ESP Custom Lab CL-P-J5-1 pickups, ESP Cinnamon pre-amp and GOTOH bridge. A matched hard case is standard.








Black Growl Ruiza Model ¥460,000
An advanced model of the MV designed for popular Ruiza band has an alder body, hard maple through to body neck, 27 frets rosewood fingerboard which expands tone range more than 2 octaves, Seymour Duncan SLSD-In Li'l Screamin' Demon and TB-4 JB pickups directly mounted to the body and Floyd Rose tremolo system. It's finished in Black.







Kogyoku Hide-zou Model ¥530,000
The signature model electric guitar of Hide-zou (D) is characterized for gold hardware and see-through red body. The traditional style body is made of hard maple and mahogany with mahogany set neck, 22 frets rosewood fingerboard, 2 EMG89 pickups with a mini switch to select either humbucking or single pickup mode.






Rumble 5 Tsunehito Model ¥470,000
D bassist Tsunehito's signature model is 5-string bass featuring white ash body, hard maple bolt-on neck, black-painted maple fingerboard with cross inlay works, 2 ESP Custom Lab CL-P-J5-1 pickups, ESP Cinnamon pre-amp and HIPSHOT STYLE A bridge.
It's finished in semi-mat black.

Further information is available from:






Aria Pro II Electric Guitars

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XX-DLX/80's ¥380,000
Arai & Co has revived the V-shaped XX-DLX electric guitar which attracted attention of a host of guitarists in '80s completely duplicating sound and appearance of the original model. It's built to order, and the production completes in June.

It features alder body maple bolt-on neck, maple scalloped fingerboard, 2 Dimarzio FS-1 single-coil pickups, and finished in white with an original XX print.





AW-72/80's ¥240,000
The AW (Armoured Warrior) electric guitar, popular in '80s with its original edgy body is reissued only in 18 units. It features maple top, mahogany back, maple neck, 22 frets rosewood fingerboard, Seymour Duncan SH-In THE 59 and TB-4 JB pickups at the front and rear, and black hardware. The body is finished in Blueberry.

Further information is available from:




Killer Electric Guitars

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KG-WISHBONE-V ¥200,000
Discontinued V-shape KG-ARMED V is now available with refined specifications. It has 45mm thick ash body with elbow-cut design for improved playability and impressive mid range sound, maple neck, 22 frets ebony fingerboard, 2 EMG 89 and 81 pickups at the front and rear and Floyd Rose original bridge. The front pickup is compatible with coil tap play for versatile sound creation.

Two finishes of Antique Brown with a 3-piece tortoise shell pick guard and Snow White with a 3-piece black pick guard are available.





KG-REAPER ¥420,000
It's a custom model of the KG-REAPER, a gear for Akira Takasaki of LOUDNESS, finished in Hickory Brown, featuring light ash body with a burned taste on the surface, hard maple neck, 22 frets figured maple fingerboard, Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz and TB-14b Custom5 pickups at the front and rear, and Floyd Rose original tremolo system.

Further information is available from:



Korg Handy Recorder

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Sound on Sound ¥30,000
It allows players to recording on multi tracks while playing back music. Individual tracks can be saved in separate files. When taking sound 100 times, it produces one single multi-track recording file and 100 track files for individual recording.

Recorded track files saved in WAV format (16bit/44kHz) into microSD card is ready for advanced editing works with help of DAW software.

It also provides such helpful functions as unrestricted Undo/Redo, A/B loop, capable of recording sound in loop mode, and Sound Stretch to control play back speed without altering pitch.

Other features include 100 effect modes produced with Korg's exclusive REMS modeling technology, 50 rhythm patterns with 4 variations per rhythm, a chromatic tuner for guitar and bass, high quality stereo condenser microphone and a speaker.

Touch-controlled display screen is provided, and it operates for 10 hours with batteries.

Korg provides KORG AUDIO UTILITY free CD production/format conversion software at its website. (The software for Macintosh is available early April.)

Further information is available from:



S-0808 RSS by Roland Audio Transfer System

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The Digital Snake audio transfer system based on Roland's exclusive REAC LAN technology has an additional model which has 8 individual inputs and outputs.

While the digital audio transfer system has been widely accepted at concert venues and professional studios, demands for AC power supply are growing among the sound engineers. The S-0808 meets their requirements with 3 types of power supply via external battery system and LAN cable.

The most compact and light-weight S-0808 among the series incorporates a discrete microphone amp which promises precision and high quality playback for individual input channels.

When used with the S-4000M REAC Merge Unit, 4 S-0808s can be linked in need of much larger system.

Further information is available from:



Boss TU-3 Tuner

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Roland has refined the TU-2 compact size chromatic tuner and introduced a new pedal-controlled TU-3.

Needle type CENT and beam type STREAM display modes are available. In addition to chromatic tuning, it provides guitar/bass tuning mode including 5 string gears with tuning status shown in numbers of individual strings.

As with the predecessor model, it has power supply for 7 pedals, and an output jack to automatically mute sound when in tuning mode.

To improve visibility on dark stage and for open-air live performance, it has high luminescent 21 LEDs nearly doubled from 11 for the TU-2.

The Acupitch function indicates fine tuning with beaming light running from both ends to the center.

Flat tuning capability is greatly upgraded to cope with 6 half-notes below in guitar mode and 3 half-notes below in bass mode.

Further information is available from:



Manji Suzuki Awarded at the SPAH 2009

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SPAH 2009 Pete Pederson Award plaque and the winner, Manji Suzuki.

SPAH (Society for the Preservation and  Advancement of the Harmonica) staged 46th convention from August 11 through 15 in Sacramento, CA inviting 500 harmonica players and enthusiasts.

For the Hamamatsu-based Suzuki Musical Instrument Manufacturing Co., Ltd. the event has been a precious opportunity to introduce its latest models since 2005.

This year, the company exhibited the M-20(MANJI), G-48/G-48W Gregoire Maret models and BCH-48 bass chord harmonica. Their sounds were demonstrated by the Suzuki artists including Brendan Power, Gregoire Maret, Rob Paparozzi, Joe Powers and Koei Tanaka.

A dinner reception for all participants has been a long tradition of SPAH where Pete Pederson Award and Best Artist of the Year are announced. Manji Suzuki was the 2009 Pete Pederson Award winner paying a tribute to his 70 years of dedication in harmonica manufacturing.

Pete Pederson, ex-SPAH chairman and respectable classical chromatic harmonica player, died in 2002. SPAH initiated the award in memory of him and his great works.

7 Music Products Won 2009 Good Design Award

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Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization selected 7 products for the 2009 Good Design Award from the music industry. They include Yamaha AvantGrand N2 & N3 digital pianos, Yamaha Disklavier E3 hybrid piano, Casio Privia PX-830BP & PX-130 digital pianos, Korg LP-350 digital piano and TASCAM BB-1000CD portable CD/SD recorder.

Yamaha AvantGrand N2 Yamaha AvantGrand N3

Korg LP-350
Yamaha Disklavier E3

Casio Privia PX-130
Casio Privia PX-830BP


2009 Music China

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Much Excitement Filled The Fair Site
Japanese Exhibitors Cultivate The Market

The 8th Music China took place for 4 days from October 13 through 16 at Shanghai New International Expo Center, Shanghai. Grown as the largest exhibition for musical instruments in Asia, it drew 1,164 exhibitors from 24 countries from all over the world. Despite the prolonged financial woes prevailing in the world markets, the show proved its growth potential as it drew equivalent number of exhibitors as last year.

The organizer announced 42,499 visitors from 86 countries registered among which 40,001 came from various areas in China. The figure went down 2% over the last year, however, the 6 exhibition halls never showed any sign of economic slow down.

Export Diminished, But Domestic Market Continues to Flourish
Reflecting rapidly developing Chinese economy, construction works go everywhere in Shanghai.

The economic difficulties in the world markets since fall last year has rather mildly affected Chinese economy than other countries, but people tightened their purse strings in a fear for future uncertainty. Hardly hit U.S. and European markets took a heavy toll of Chinese export industries. As GDP growth rate for the country is expected to be around 8% this year which is a significant decline from two digit annual growth continued until 2007, China is no doubt suffering from recent global level setback.

To boost its economy, Chinese government was quick to shift from export-oriented growth to stimulation of domestic demands. It worked and Chinese people are now coming back to buy products. It's said that Chinese production of musical instruments this year will be almost the same as the last year. Aside from dwindled export, domestic demands are still strong and growing.




Yamaha, Roland, Casio, Suzuki Musical Instrument Mfg., Tombo and Toyo Piano were represented by their subsidiaries in China. While Kawai, Mac Corp., Itoshin Musical, HOSCO, KMS Shokai, Suzuki Violin, Watanabe Musical Insts., Takemoto Piano, Union Gakki, Ishibashi Gakki, S.I.E., Gendai Guitar, Kohno Guitar Manufacturing, Tokai Gakki, etc., directly participated from Japan. Nevertheless, a host of other Japanese top brands were displayed through their local distributors.

Piano attracts the largest attention of the visitors
One of the most characteristic features of Music China is that the piano exhibit draws the largest crowds. Piano lesson is the second most favored after school education programs following dance in China. Given the fact that China is the largest producer of piano in the world market, people's exceptional interest in piano seems to be a natural outcome.

As part of its market development programs, Yamaha launched music teaching business in the country in 2005. Today, about 3,000 students take piano lesson at the studios in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other neighboring cities.

While, Kawai has successfully tapped music conservatories and institutions markets with the advanced models. Most of the piano buyers in China are piano teachers and students seeking professional music career. Backed by excellent installation of the Shigeru Kawai and other advanced models into top ranking music conservatories and national theatres, the company expects 30% sales growth in China this year.
Roland digital drums were quite popular among the visitors. The V-Drum sales share one third of Roland total digital products businesses which increased 30% over the last show. The company has been operating V-Drum studios at around 100 locations mainly in coastal area since 3 years ago.