February 2010 Archives

2009 Annual Music Retail Markey Survey

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101 music retailers responded to the Japan Music Trades Questionnaire

Sales declined 13% in average
Eighty music dealers replied that their 2009 sales declined. Only 10 dealers reported increased sales. Though the majority of the dealers faced sales decrease, the average drop rate was 13%. Twenty seven dealers reported less than 10% decline, 34 dealers answered that their sales went down somewhere between 10% and 20%. Six stores commented larger decline between 20% and 30%, and only 4 stores replied more than 30% decrease. Nine stores declined to comment. As to the year end/new year business, 63 stores reported negative results.

The sales by product category also show that most of the items underperformed or leveled off. The music dealers foresee that the sales hit the bottom last year but the business will maintain the level of the last year in 2010.  MarketResearch2009.pdf

What did sell in 2009 and what is most expectable in 2010?
The music dealers responded to the questionnaire reported that the grand and digital pianos, electric guitars, computer music-related products, accessories sold favorably well in 2009. The popular animation TV program, 'Pop Music' stimulated demands for the electric guitar. They also commented that in-store music studio for adults helped contributed to their business. One notable thing was that more dealers than any other years reported no specific instruments which generated extra sales.

Nearly 40% of the dealers didn't name any prospective products for this year. That is partly because the industry failed to put products with substantial impact into the market last year. They are more uncertain than ever what to promote.

Prospects for 2010
Three retailers expressed a positive prospect for the 2010 business as they see more people are interested in music making, and the musical instrument is widely accepted as an effective tool for communication.

Thirty three dealers see that the business will remain flat. Many of them don't expect a quick recovery from the down turn for the first half of the year, but hope that the market picks up in the latter half.

Sixty three dealers expressed their anxiety for the 2010 business. Their major comment was; stagnant economy, lack of confidence and strategies in the Japanese government, and consumers' low spending would adversely affect the music products business. They feel that customer base is getting slimmer than ever in this economic crisis, and increasing competition with the internet dealers and mass merchants like amazon.com is felt while traditional store sales will remain soft.

In these unquestionably difficult times, the positive dealers are trying to find their ways to keep their heads above water by enhanced inventory of accessories, massive promotion of music studio, and staging attractive musical events to draw prospective music makers.  


Toyo Piano introduced the Apollo SA133W upright piano which has equivalent expression capabilities of grand piano last November. It represents the culmination of the company's decades of quest to add exceptional value to upright piano as an acoustic piano manufacturer.

The company's first step towards the goal was the remarkable SSS (Slide Shift System) action developed in 1986 which realized key touch and delicate tonal quality of grand piano. As with the grand piano, it changes tonal volume by reducing number of striking strings.

Grand piano is designed to achieve about 13 times per second stroke of strings. With the SSS, it's 11 times per second, 50% more than the average upright piano. The SSS action incorporates some innovative mechanisms including separately designed hammer and damper actions. Toyo Piano has acquired utility model registration for this mechanism.

Newly designed sostenuto pedal
One of the most distinguished features of the grand piano is the sostenuto pedal. Incorporating this feature in the SA133W, an upright piano having distinguished sonority very close to the grand was born. The sostenuto pedal is already patent-applied in Japan, and the international registration is making way.

Jyunji Mori, Sales Dept., (photo below, right) says, "We have put the line in the market in 1986 with the SR565 as the initial model incorporating the SSS action. A series of technological refinements followed in the ensuing years, and the line has greatly sophisticated today with the equivalent level of key touch of the grand piano.

"Our concept has been presenting our customers who want a grand piano but can't afford because of limited space and budget, an excellent alternative providing advanced playing feeling and tonal quality not experienced with the conventional upright piano. We have studied the sostenuto pedal function since 18 months ago to complete the project."

So far, the SSS action is standard to almost all models of Apollo intermediate and advanced acoustic pianos, and it has successfully acquired high reputation among Japanese and foreign customers.

Exceptional value for serious students
It took Toyo Piano nearly a quarter century to develop an upright piano well conceived as a qualified substitute to the grand piano for piano students. The success never came easily.

Hideshige Hosokawa, manager of Piano Quality Control Dept., (photo left) explains, "The SSS action comes in a specific structure with two separately built center rails. The dampers are positioned slightly different from the conventional pianos. Because of this, we had to resign the basic structure of the Apollo SA133W to efficiently assembly the SSS action and the sostenuto pedal. Our extensive studies have solved the problem,

and the SSS action and the sostenuto pedal have not only become the most characteristic features of the SA133W, but also made us to go into factory production."

Toyo Piano started distribution of the SA133W to the limited market in June, 2009. Not a few customers first played the piano immediately decided to buy as it had full, resonant sound and they almost felt like playing the grand piano.

The SA133W measures 133cm high and 156cm wide, slightly larger than the conventional upright piano, and has the strings longer than the baby grand piano, and the bigger soundboard. It attracted international attention at the 2009 Music China.

Hosokawa says, "The sostenuto pedal is very delicate, and tends to cause regulatory problems. We have designed ours relatively easily adjusted by the piano technicians. It accepts regulation for entire and individual tone ranges, and installation of any hybrid system."

The sostenuto pedal is consisted of 1,700 parts in 80 types. Mori explains, "The piano finely serves first time players for their practice longer time so that they can continue playing even in advanced lessons. Experiencing the SA133W, they will feel comfortable playing the grand piano later as their skills progress."



Photos: The damper sostenuto assembly (top) and the sostenuto lod and drive shaft built into the SA133W.


Roland announced at the end of December that it would transfer the businesses of Edirol Europe Limited in U.K to its 4 subsidiaries in Europe. Founded as a European distribution arm for Roland computer music programs and imaging products, EEU will cease business by the end of this coming June.

The 4 subsidiaries which undertake the EEU businesses are, Roland (U.K.) Ltd., Roland Elektronische Musikinstrumente HmbH (Germany), Roland Italy S.p.A. and Roland Iberia S.L. (Spain)

Yamaha 3rd Quarter Sales Dip

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Yamaha announced on February 3 that the 3rd quarter sales declined 14.2% to 316.883 billion yen from the same period of last year. The gross profit for the term dropped 52.8%, and the net profit decreased 67.8% to 3.005 billion yen.

Based on the recent sales results, the company revised its sales prospects which were announced on April 30, 2009. The estimated sales for the 2009 fiscal term are 413 billion yen, 5.9% fewer than the previous announcement, and a net loss of 1.5 billion yen is expected. However in comparison with the previous term which reported 20.615 net loss, the business performance is significantly improving.

Roland Reports 3rd Quarter Loss

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According to the Roland sales report issued on Feb. 5, the company's total sales for the 3rd quarter dipped 31.2% to 54.368 billion yen over the same term of previous year. The term ended up with a 1.967 billion yen net loss.

As to the 2009 fiscal year sales, Roland foresees 74.5 billion yen sales which are 8.1% less from the previously announced estimate.
Despite of healthy recovery of the computer peripheral businesses, the digital music products market is still struggling, in the U.S. in particular.

Yamaha Electronic Drum System

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DTX950K ¥665,000
DTX900K ¥540,000
Yamaha has added two high-end models to the DTX series electronic drum system developed in pursuit of advanced expression capability, feel and playability.

They have the new DTX-PADs with the Textured Cellular Silicon head developed with a completely new molding technology. The air bubbles confined in the silicon material provide the player with natural and comfortable stick work.

The individual pads for the snare, tom, etc., are designed to give the player increasingly comfortable feel by adopting different sizes and density of air bubble matched to their requirements. They have realized at the same time much quieter practice.

 It features shock absorbing mounting system so that it satisfies both superior sensitivity and low vibration. For more natural feel, the head surface and rim shape are also redesigned.

The DTX900K Drum Trigger Module contains authentic sounds of Yamaha acoustic drums as well as rich sound kits fit into any musical genre including the MOFIF sounds, amazingly natural snare roll, subtle nuances of hi-hat and ride cymbals produced with the XA (Expanded Articulation) system, 9 types of master effects, 51 variation effects to be applied for individual sound kits.

Yamaha provides an optional DIMM memory for expanded applications such as audio data entry and flexible sound production by importing external sounds through the AUX IN/SAMPLING IN port.

Other features include song data for versatile musical genre, metronome, groove check and rhythm gate functions.

They have USB connectivity, and the Cubase AI DAW software is also included in the package.
The DTX950K features a set of 4 toms with reliable HEXRACK mounting system. While, the compact DTX900K comes with a set of 3 toms and the same mounting system.

Further information is available from:



Korg Synthesizer

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Korg has redesigned the KAOSSILATOR palm-top synthesizer and announced a larger KAOSSILATOR PRO which is suitable for live performance and as a track-making tool for dance music.

Played by scratching, scrubbing or tapping the touch pad, it has 200 diversified sound programs including DSP and PCM drum voices, 20 practical one-shot sounds, 25 rhythm loop patterns, a mic input, 15 Vocoder programs, 8 program memory buttons accessible to eight favorite sounds, and 31 musical scales.

Other features include Scale Setting function allows the user to play melody and phrase matched to selected styles of music, a single-key play capability for complicated melodies and phrases, and Note Range function to specify range of  pitches.

The advanced gate arpeggiator has a slider to control the gate time or gate speed. The Loop Recording function helps the player to enjoy loop recording simply by a touch of a button. Adding single note one by one, it provides the player with expertly layered loop phrases. It has 4 loop recording banks to save 4 phrases of loop recording which are helpful for live performance.

An SD card slot is provided for music data storage. Having USB connectivity with computer, the package contains the edit software for efficient control of loop and MIDI assigned data as well as user settings from computer.

Further information is available from:



Yamaha Concert Xylophones

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YX500R ¥450,000
YX500F ¥380,000





In response to the calls for top players Yamaha has added two  models of concert xylophones.

The upper model YX500R has highest quality rosewood lower crossbars, while, the 500F is equipped with Acoustalone graduated bars made of Yamaha's exclusive FRP material of which tonality is almost equivalent to rosewood. Both models have F45 to C88 (3 and half octave) tone range.

The 500R features 23mm thick and 40mm wide bars, and the 500F comes with 23mm thick and 38mm wide bars.

They are characterized for much improved tonal quality, brilliant treble tones and well discernible open sound.

The gas shock height adjustment frame promises the player easy and comfortable adjustment. Locking casters are provided for increased stability on stage and in practice.

They feature Japanese beech frame, and come in two finishes of subdued urethane-painted brown (500R) and subdued enamel-painted black (500F).

Further information is available from:



Yamaha Electric Basses

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BB2025 ¥350,000
BB2025X ¥360,000
Yamaha has added two 5-string models to the BB series electric basses unveiled last fall.

They feature 3-piece Spline-Joint alder body which has realized tight body resonance close to that of one-piece structure, specially processed with Yamaha's exclusive A.R.E. (Acoustic Resonance Enhancement) technology to improve tonal quality of wood, a bolt-on 5-piece maple and mahogany neck, and 21 frets rosewood fingerboard.

The one individual alnico V and ceramic magnet pickups employ new open face structure which places string and bobbins closer than conventional models to achieve deep bass sound.   

The original angled string-thru-body bridge greatly reduces string stress and efficiently transfers string vibration to the body. Applying the I.R.A. (Initial Response Acceleration) technology, the basses provide much advanced body resonance.

The BB2025X has a pick-guard, metal knobs and a metal plate. They are available in Natural, Vintage Sunburst or Black finishes, and come with a matched hard case.

Further information is available from:



Boss Guitar Multiple Effects

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The ME series multiple effects line has a new compact entry-level model incorporating COSM amp models which provide 10 amp sounds from those of legendary amps to latest ULTRA METAL.

The new Sound Library contains Clean, Crunch, Drive, Heavy, Lead and Extreme sound types and 10 voices per type to be recalled instantly. The internal memory allows the guitarist to save 60 user-original sounds.

Other helpful features include Super Stack function to add heavy low bass sounds and Phrase Loop function which provides 38 seconds of recording time.

It has USB connectivity to computer for controlling sound data using the Librarian software, recording and music production based on the SONAR 8.5 LE DAW software included in the package.

It comes in high quality metallic black chassis.

Further information is available from:



Yamaha Digital Recorders

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Two new models capable of handling 24bit/96kHz linear PCM recording joined the POCKETRAK line.

Incorporating a highly sensitive X-Y dual microphone, the W24 has 8 recording modes and is compatible with the MP3 format as well. It provides wider applications including wireless remote control capability, an adapter for microphone stand and a wind screen for outdoor use.

With an AAA alkaline battery, it works for 56 hours when in MP3 recording and 38 hours in linear PCM recording modes.

The rich Scene Memory modes including studio, live, outdoor allow the user to save desired scenes to the user memory. Other features include a 5-band graphic equalizer, programmable ADC high-pass filter (low cut filter), peak limiter, from 50% to 200% playback speed control capability (in MP3 mode), A-B repeat function, sentence playback function, a chromatic tuner, a metronome function and an onboard speaker.
The 57g weight (including battery) C24 is an all-in-one recorder having an attachment clip and the same functions as the W24, USB direct slide connectivity capable of transferring data in USB2.0Hi-Speed.

 Both models incorporate a 2GB memory for 36 hours of MP3 recording and 3hours of PCM recording. It can also handle 16GB microSD/SDHC card.

The package contains the Cubase AI software.

Further information is available from:



Kawai Chord Scanning Software

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Band Producer 3 ¥19,000
The upgraded chord scanning software is capable of showing chord progression of music CD, WAV, MP3, WMA audio files on the display screen. The chord scanning engine has greatly enhanced with additional new Algorism which provides increased scanning capability of the bass sounds.
The Copy Support function enables the user to listen to only selected phrases. It has helpful functions for band members having difficulties in detecting specific phrases by ear such as playing back music in slow speed without affecting pitch, and enhanced playback of specified sounds and tone ranges. Any copied sounds can be pasted on the Power Map and printed out on lead sheet.

  The Lead Sheet Editor accepts standard music score, tablature and drum score. The Song Editor function is capable of producing music scores for sing-along purpose adding lyrics to chords. The produced music data can be saved in SMF format for advanced music score production with use of the Kawai Score Maker software.

The Composition Mode helps the user to enjoy music writing in combination with the rich rhythm patterns provided in the software.

It runs on Windows7/Vista/XP Japanese.

Further information is available from:



Yamaha Oil & Grease

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Key oil (Light/Medium/Heavy), 20ml, ¥850





Tuning slide oil, 20ml, ¥750
Rotor oil, 40ml, ¥840






Yamaha oil and grease for wind instruments are refined with 100% chemical substance to ensure light and smooth touch, stable year-round controls and rust-free mechanism.

The key oil is provided in 3 types; Light for piccolo, flute and oboe, Medium for clarinet, and Heavy for saxophone and bassoon.

The tuning slide oil is most suitable for the first and third trigger slides of trumpet and cornet, and the rotor oil efficiently keeps the rotor surface moistened.

Slide grease 10grams/5grams stick ¥550 each
Cork grease 10 grams/5grams stick ¥550 each





They are made of 100% chemical oil specially developed for instrument grease. The slide grease contains rust preventive substance.

Further information is available from:



Kawai's 2009 Sales Increase

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Kawai announced on February 9 that its 2009 fiscal sales were expected to increase 0.9% over the previous term. The total sales from April 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010 would be 55 billion yen.

The company expects that the musical instrument businesses will continue to expand in China, however, the sales in the domestic market will decline because of the prolonged economic slowdown. The music education business will also go down as the number of students at the music studio is decreasing.

Increasing orders for the materials engineering business will contribute to the growth of the total sales for the term.

Kawai also announced that it would pay 2.5 yen dividend per share for the shareholders. In the previous sales report in Nov., 2009, the company didn't comment about it. 

Inspired by the sales estimates, the Kawai stock jumped up about 18% at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on February 10.