March 2010 Archives

Negative comments over stagnant economy and slow consumer spending are still frequently heard on media and streets. Japan Music Trades interviewed 26 musical instrument manufacturers and distributors how they see present soft music business, what they plan to cope with the economic difficulties, and what the music products industry can do. Here are excerpts of their comments.

"We can seek opportunities outside the industry, for example, in animation and game businesses. I think we have to be sensitive and well prepared to the changing social and market requirements."
   Makoto Suzuki, president, ESP. Co., Ltd., Tokyo.

"Because of low unit price, printed music is likely to be overlooked of its excellence. The fact is that it's a solid line less affected in hard times. Music retailers can expect larger gross margin than the musical instruments, and sales per floor space for the printed music is much higher. In these exceptionally difficult times, we, distributor for printed music, can support music retailers with extensive packages we offer."
   Hiromu Hasegawa, president, Osaka Murakami Gakki, Osaka.

"We don't support typical saying that slow business much relates to stagnant general economy at Casio. We now carry an extensive promotional approach to increase exposure to general consumer with demos and mini concerts at shopping malls. These events we had staged last November and December brought our dealers substantial results. We plan more campaigns of this type in coming spring season to expand the market."
   Masayuki Uehara, Consumer Marketing Dept., Casio Computer, Tokyo.

"We have 3 assets in doing business. The first is rich tradition in music studio operation. The second is technical services we provide that is based on piano technician's school we launched 50 years ago. And the third is our established relationship with the music teachers. Only piano manufacturer who can effectively capitalize one's business assets can survive."
   Motowo Ohkubo, director, Kawai Musical Insts. Mfg., Hamamatsu.

"We see accessories are doing fine. People still buy guitar strings, picks and such small items. That means we have a huge customer base. Because general economy is stagnant, we need well planned marketing strategies to appeal to end users. We much expect in in-store seminars and clinics which stimulate buying interest of consumer."
   Shinji Takizawa, director, Kanda Shokai, Tokyo.

"To recover the lost businesses we have ventured into a new market, gift industry. We exhibited at some gift shows recently, and found new opportunities. Demands are more than expected for ukulele, wind instrument, guitar package and drum set for first time player purchased as gifts."
   Hitomi Yawata, director, and Seiji Yamaguchi director, Kikutani Music, Aichi-ken.

"We have never trimmed our purchasing. If it has real value, we don't hesitate to add it to our distribution lines. Simply buy and heavily promote it to sell through. Distributing only the existing lines as we did in the past years will have a limited future. What we are contemplaing is custom-built instruments. Our customers are more inclined to original instruments these years. Building original instruments meeting their requests will generate additional value to our products."
   Shinichi Fukuda, president, Global Corp., Tokyo.

"The market is growing. Customers want to buy various small items after they purchased musical instruments. They bring us repeated businesses. Such our products as KAOSSILATOR and microKORG and nano series find new customers outside the music society. Those customers are likely to get interested in music playing, and visit music stores. Korg continues seeking something new, developing products supported by professionals, and increasing customer satisfaction."
   Sakae Yoshinaga, manager, Korg Inc., Tokyo.

"We are now talking about going back to the basics of business. That is to provide people with opportunities to play music. In the school market, we can't expect same level of growth we experienced before because they have already some types of musical instrument. The return to the basics in this market is promoting pleasure of music playing."
   Manji Suzuki, president/chairman, and Shuji Suzuki, executive director, Suzuki Musical Insts. Mfg., Hamamatsu.

"The market is more affected by demographic trend, i.e., aging population coupled with low birth rate than economic woes."
   Noriyuki Honma, president, Zen-on Music Co., Ltd., Tokyo. 

"We are manufacturer and distributor for our original and imported accessories. Any music stores having rich selection of accessories are successful in attracting customers. I always tell my sales staff that we can establish good relationship with the dealers by suggesting them a profitable product mix. That will definitely increase store traffic."
   Yasuhiro Tsugino, president, TMC, Osaka.

"It's the time to train our staff and have them professional skills to contend with the hard times like this."
   Masato Horibe, president, Niimi Gakki, Tokyo.

"The number of lesson studio is increasing in large cities despite the recession. People still play music. I feel that music market is growing, and there are substantial demands for musical instruments. Consumer is uncertain as to the future because of the economic slump, and reluctant to buy new musical instruments. Our strategy is to carry intensified sales campaign to stimulate end user."
   Takahisa Saida, director, Pearl Musical Instruments., Chiba-ken.

"Regardless of economic trend, we need extensive market development efforts. Distributors are requested to keep continuing grass-roots activities to promote music making at our own cost. While carefully watching the economic trend, we will make all our efforts to provide seminars and sales promotions for the dealers and consumer."
   Hitoshi Ohashi, president, Prima Gakki, Tokyo.

"We support the benefit of on-line sales, but traditional music retail channel still remains vital for us. I want to see customers drop in music store to buy their favorite gears. Our dealers will see intensified sales support and services we provide in the coming months."
   Shinichi Kubo, president, Hoshino Gakki Hanbai, Aichi-ken.

"I say printed music is a bottom line for music dealers. It contributes to increase loyal customers to the store. We, distributors, are positioned between the publishers and music dealers. We can cooperate better for effective marketing. We are most concerned to share successful case studies in written document with all staff."
  Shingo Matsuzawa, president, Matsuzawa Shoten, Tokyo.

"The industry should maintain spending for advocating value of music and promoting pleasure of music making even in this hard-pressed time. It's our policy to share information with the dealers and every staff in the company."
   Toshimasa Oka, director, Moridaira Musical Insts., Tokyo.

"We are ready to keep carrying seamless promotional campaigns even in this economic strain. In June we stage 9th Tokyo Guitar Show. With help of the manufacturers, we expect it to be an event that generates demands among professionals and guitar enthusiasts, thus serves the guitar market in the end."
  Takashi Nonomura, director, Yamano Music (distributor), Tokyo.

"We don't fret about the present business environment. This is our unified consensus at our office. We all know the gloomy conditions. The point is to think and act positive. The issue is what we can do to beat all the adversities. As part of our market development activities, we are now intensively promoting 'Family Music Ensemble'. As the Beatles generation become grandpa and grandma, we can expect an evolving market where 3 generations in family enjoy session play. We appreciate increasing involvement of music dealers in this project. They can work in many ways including in-store concert for the family."
   Yoshihiro Doi, executive officer, Yamaha, Hamamatsu.

"I think the industry has been too much affected by the negative reports on general economy and the market. Our approach is to go back to the basics, promote music playing with strategic marketing, and support professionals, while maintaining appropriate profits to keep our employment. Wind instrument accessories including cloth, grease, reed and string comparably sell well. From the standpoint of distributor, music dealers look to be cutting their inventories more than they need. They can build own business with their original ideas and marketing matched to their budget."
   Masayuki Haraguchi, director, Yamaha Music Trading, Tokyo.

"We can get product information easily through new media these days. The on-line sites are likely to draw consumer with attractive price settings, but we know a host of successful music dealers are doing well over the on-line merchants. We hope that they fully take advantage of the Internet that can be an effective tool to deliver customer qualified messages. We have established Planet, Planet Express and Forest in-store special exhibits at 104 dealers. They are definitely contributing to provide dealer sales staff with high quality product knowledge and marketing skills. Roland will continuously stage user-oriented contests, competitions and in-store clinics."
   Takao Miyamoto, executive officer, Roland, Hamamatsu.


Roland Keyboard, Vocal Processor & Digital Piano

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V-Combo VR-700
The latest 76-key model to the V-Combo line provides organ, piano and synthesizer sounds ready-to-play on stage. In addition to the full polyphonic virtual tone wheel sound engine, it offers 9 harmonic bars, rotary speaker simulator for creation of authentic organ sounds, amp models, key split function and a connection capability with the PK-7A optional pedalboard.

The ensemble sounds include 88-key multi-sampling piano voices, Rock Piano variation sounds, vintage electric piano voices as well as such backing voices as strings, brass, choir, and synth lead and synth pad sounds. All ensemble sounds can be layered each other or with the organ sounds. Tone remain function promises seamless voicing. Matched effects can be added to the individual sounds. 
An ensemble bar is provided to adjust the volume of the ensemble section.

The VR-700 has the velocity-sensitive waterfall keyboard which dedicates to characteristic organ performance from glissandos to fast actions.

Other features include play back capability over SMF, MP3 and other audio files with help of USB memory key, and 51 types of onboard rhythm patterns.

VP-7 Vocal Processor

It provides keyboard player and vocalist with authentic backing chorus and harmonies without vocal skills. The Human voices provide Female, Boys, Gregorian choirs and Jazz Scat.

The Vocal Designer containing Duet, Trio1 and Trio2 modes is capable of producing matched harmonies based on MIDI signals entered by keyboard and add 2-voice or 3-voice backing harmonies by analyzing vocal and keyboard sounds automatically. An optional foot switch is offered for harmony control. Seven types of harmony highly regarded with the VP-770 add harmonies matched to the playing keys.

The Vocoder button provides robot and other 2 advanced voices to support dance and techno pop music.

The package contains DR-HS5 microphone specially designed for the Roland Vocal Designer products.

K-RD700GX1 RD-700GX SuerNATURAL Piano Kit    
The kit adds SuperNATURAL piano sound engine which is a combined technology of V-Piano modeling and 88-key stereo multi sampling technologies to the RD-700GX stage piano.

It delivers seamless response from note to note, tonal transition from low to high velocity and note decay for well sustained and resonant sound.

The kit contains the expansion board and a USB memory key, and it enhances the sound capabilities of the K-RD700GX with 17 new voices.

The entry-level digital piano incorporates 88-key stereo multi-sampling piano voices, 128-voice polyphony, damper, string and key-off resonance, Progressive Hammer-action alpha II keyboard, control buttons laid out on the front panel for easy and fast navigation.

It has 306 types of sounds, recording capability for 20 songs, a metronome function and 65 demo music dedicated to play back or mute sound in single hand play and backing parts, and Twin Piano function.
Power consumption level is 49% fewer than the RP101, yet it plays back rich sounds through highly efficient circuitry and speakers without sacrificing output level.

It comes in Rosewood type cabinet.

Further information is available from:

Korg SV-1 Sound Pack

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Sound Pack #1
The SV-1 owners can now obtain additional voices free of charge through Korg website. (photos: SV-1 88-key and 73-key models.)
The pack contains 6 individual expressive voices for the EPiano 1 &2, Clavichord, Piano, Organ and Strings, 36 in total, in different sound combination from the factory preset voices, and much required layered sounds.

The Sound Pack #1 works on Ver.1 and over operating system and SV-1Editor Ver1.1 and over.

Further information and sound data download are available from:

Roland V-Drum System and Electronic Percussion

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The compact and cost efficient V-Stage series drum kit has refined with enhanced V-Edit capabilities, bigger pads, stronger hardware and much improved sound engine software.

It features new MDS-12X drum rack with adjustable arms and ball-clamp holders which have realized advanced solid feel, pad-mounting and placement.

The bass drum is replaced with the 12" KD-120 for increased stability, natural response and kick feel. The 10" PD-105 floor tom provides more natural feel with the mesh head.

The V-Edit function for the TD-12 allows drummer to customize voices, and offers greater sound creation with enhanced Beater, Snare Buzz, Sizzle, Mic Position controls.

The latest addition to the SPD digital percussion of its first model unveiled 25 years ago has now 8 pads, new Phrase Loop function which is capable of controlling 3 types of kit to flexibly modify phrases, refined rubber pads providing extra expression capabilities with wider dynamic range.

It incorporates a total of 670 new percussion and drum voices and 30 onboard multi effects, ambience, equalizer and limiter controls.

Four dual-trigger inputs which respond to V-Pads and V-Cymbals are provided. A compact drum kit can be set up in combination of the OCTAPAD, a KD-8 kick pad and an FD-8 hi-hat control pedal.

The Large backlit LCD and pad indicator lights are provided for easy operation on dark stage.

USB connectivity is provided for MIDI and data storage.

Further information is available from:

FIFA World Cup South Africa Official Ball Guitar

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Arai & Co. has introduced GOAL RUSH 2010 FIFA-licensed electric guitar to be retailed at ¥23,619.

It has a soccer ball design round body and a spike shoe-style headstock along with the coming South Africa Tournament logo at the body top and back, a built-in amplifier and a speaker.

Made of alder body, bolt-on maple neck, rosewood fingerboard and an original mini humbucking pickup, it comes complete with a matched gig bag.  
Further information is available from:

Aria Electric Guitar

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VM-BS Bob Spalding Model ¥500,000
Arai & Co is now accepting orders for the VM-BS, a signature model of Bob Spalding, 5th member of The Ventures.

Based on the VM-2001, his favorite model, it features alder body, maple neck, 22 frets rosewood fingerboard, two Seymour Duncan SSL-4 and one TB-4 pickups, and Schaller Floyd Rose type tremolo system.

The headstock and the pick guard come with Bob Spalding and 5th Venture logos, individually. It's finished in sunburst and a matched hard case is standard.

Orders will be fulfilled in 6 months.

Further information is available from:

Yamaha Classical Guitars

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CG142S ¥35,000/CG142C ¥35,000/CG162S ¥40,000/CG162C ¥40,000/CG182S ¥50,000/CG182C ¥50,000/CG192S ¥65,000/CG192C ¥65,000
Yamaha has refined the CG Series standard models of classical guitar and introduced 8 new models in 4 types. They are inspired by the GC highest quality hand-made classical guitars.

(photos from l. to r., CG142S, CG-182C & CG-192S) 

Employing new structure and painting, they feature the same neck shape and lower set strings as the GC series, distinctive treble tone and well balanced sound with fine response.

Smooth fingering and sure grip are provided as the neck rear is mat-finished. They have increased resistance to warp and twist of the wood caused by environmental change.

They are designed simple yet sophisticated in every detail from head shape, sound hole inlay works to under bridge and machine head. Three types of sound hole inlay works in warm earthy colors are offered depending on the models.

They feature either solid spruce (S) or solid American cider (C) top, nato or sapelli (142), ovankol (162) and rosewood (182 & 192) sides and back, nato neck except for the 192 in mahogany, either rosewood (142 & 162) or ebony (182 & 192) fingerboard.

Further information is available from:

Roland A. Guitar & Keyboard Amps

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   Exclusively designed for the acoustic guitar, the lightest and compact acoustic guitar amplifier operates for 8 hours continuously with 8 AA alkaline batteries thanks to the Roland's exclusive Energy Saving Technology.

It features 30 watts power, stereo sound delivered through 12.5cm twin speakers, guitar and mic/line channels, an AUX input, rich onboard effects including reverb, chorus and 3D-type ambience, anti-feedback function, and Phrase Looper with 40 seconds of record time.

The AC-33 has a built-in tilt-back stand for sound monitoring at most appropriate position on stage.

The new battery powered stereo keyboard amplifier runs for 7 hours on 8 AA alkaline batteries.

Incorporating 30 watts power amplifier, two 16cm speakers and two tweeters, it provides versatile applications for practice at home, live and street performance with the battery-driven JUNO-Di and other synthesizers.

It has 3 channels with an individual volume control, an AUX input for CD and portable music players, and a headphone output. Sound recording and mixing capabilities are provided since it allows sending sounds through the line output.

Three high quality digital Reverb, Chorus, and Wide Chorus effects and the 2-band equalizer are built-in for efficient sound production.

It can be set on stage with the built-in tilt-back stand or mounted on the optional speaker stand, ST-A95.

Further information is available from:

Yamaha Digital Mixer

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M7CL-48ES ¥2,000,000
The M7CL professional digital mixing console has a connection capability with the SB168-ES stage box via EtherSound network cable.

It has 3 independent EtherSound outputs instead of 48-channel input head amplifier to 2 of which 3 SB168-ESes can be connected, and one to be linked with personal computer for monitoring the network, and 8 analog OMNI in and out ports.

The large LCD touch-control panel and Centralogic operation providing the user with reliable and consistent controlling position, which is highly regarded among the world professional sound engineers, are standard to the M7CL-48ES.

In coincidence with the introduction of the M7CL-48ES, Yamaha has upgraded the firmware to Version3.

Further information is available from:

Cakewalk by Roland DAW, Keyboard Controller

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SD-50 Mobile Studio Canvas
A self-contained Mobile Studio Canvas SD-50 is now equipped with the Music Creator 5 music production software.

Designed to provide user with multiple capabilities including audio and MIDI interface and music player, the latest core sound engine of the SD-50 realizes mobile music production without relying on PC-based software sound system.

It provides 1,125 sounds with 128 voice polyphony including GM2 / GS solo tones as well as new Violin Trombone and Shakuhachi voices, 32 drum set voices, reverb and chorus effects and mastering effects.

Supporting 24bit/44.1kHz professional audio quality, it provides one individual mic input with phantom power supply and Hi-Z-compatible guitar/mic input, audio and MIDI data file play back capability plugging with a USB memory key. The MIDI data accepts mute control for parts, and center cancel or key/tempo change when playing back audio file. The Play List Editor allows the user to manage song play sequence on PC display screen.

The MUSIC CREATOR 5 software offers easy music production using audio and MIDI files. The MIDI control function for the SD-50 enables the user to control play back/cancel button and file transport from the software with the value dial.

The package contains more than 3,000 types of audio/MIDI loop to produce original songs in combination of them.

The SD-50 runs on Windows 7/Vista/XP Home/XP Professional and Mac OX10.4 and over.

Music Creator 5
Music Creator 5 Audio Recording Pack
Music Creator 5 MIDI Recording Pack
They are music production software specially designed for entry level user. Incorporating sound engine, effects, mixer, multi-track recorder, MIDI sequencer and other functions, original music is easily created simply by plugging with instrument or microphone.

They have recording/play back capabilities on 32 stereo tracks in 24bit/48kHz audio quality, and 128 MIDI tracks. The audio and MIDI files can be seamlessly edited, and the MIDI files can be published.

Four software sound engines provide more than 1,300 high quality sounds. They include Cakewalk Sound Center which provides 150 versatile voices, Studio Instruments Drum Kit voices, GM2-compatible TTS-1 multi-timbre voices and Virtual Sound Canvas DXi to play back GS-compatible MIDI data precisely.

Eleven types of plug-in effect, over 3,000 audio/MIDI loop sounds are also provided. They come with a complete instruction book for the first time user.

They run on Windows 7/Vista/XP Home/XP Professional.

The MUSIC CREATOR 5 Audio Recording Pack has a UA-1G audio interface to be capable of handling professional revel recording with rich inputs and outputs. It's best suited for music production using acoustic instruments or vocal sounds by plugging with microphone or guitar.


The MUSIC CREATOR 5 MIDI Recording Pack comes with a UM-1G MIDI interface which has one individual in and out ports. It effectively serves recording MIDI data real time by plugging with keyboard or digital piano.

A-300PRO (32-key. photo top)
A-500PRO (49-key, photo center)
A-800PRO (61-key, photo bottom
They are keyboard controllers providing real keyboard feel and response in portable design. 

The 45 assignable controls include 9 knobs, 9 mixing sliders, 8 velocity-sensitive Dynamic pads, transport buttons, hold and expression pedals. Assigned data can be shown on the backlit LCD screen.

They support ACT which optimizes SONAR and other Cakewalk software, and a control map for DAW software is also provided.

Individual packages contain A-PRO-exclusive editor and Cakewalk Production Plus Pack software to support music production.

The 49-key full-sized MIDI keyboard controller is designed with authentic keyboard feel.

It has 12 velocity curves and 4 fixed velocity modes in Light, Medium or Heavy key touch. Three types of power supply, AA batteries, USB-bus and AC adaptor(sold separately) are available.

It comes complete with the Cakewalk Production Plus Pack music production software.

Further information is available from:

Yamaha Sound-proof Booths

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AVITECS Cefine II Every, from 2.64sq.m to 4.95sq. m floor space, (from¥480,000 to ¥1,300,000)
AVITECS Cefine II Every, from 6.6sq.m to 14.19sq. m floor space, (from ¥800,000 to ¥2,200,000)
Fifty one types of attractively priced sound-proof booths joined the line.

While maintaining the basic features of the Cefine II such as advanced sound insulation, comfortable interior and excellent sound field, the new models are priced 15% less than the predecessor models. The largest booth is spacious enough to place a grand piano. (photo right: AMCVB12C. 3.96 sq. meter floor space)

Besides the Dr-40 and Dr-35 sound insulation levels, some of the new kiosks feature slightly louder Dr-30 level for rather quiet instruments or set-up in a large house to be selected at reasonable price. (photo left: AMCVC43C, 14.19 sq. meter floor space.)

They are built of sound-absorbing anti-vibrant walls and wall panels, and additional detachable type sound field panels are provided for choice of acoustic conditions.

Set-up time is about 1 hour for the smallest type, and 3 hours for the larger type. Additional assembly and transportation fees are required.(

Further information is available from: