April 2010 Archives

Bösendorfer Entertains Guests at Westin Hotel Tokyo

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In conjunction with the 10th Austria Fair at The Terrace restaurant,Westin Hotel Tokyo in Ebisu staged special concerts every day at the lobby to entertain the guests with enjoyable Austrian music from March 8 through April 4. 

The 4 sessions of the concert held in the evening every day featured Bösendorfer Johann Strauss Model, The Dancing Model grand piano along with zither, accordion and songs by Vienna folklore music group.

The guests enjoyed the Viennese sound played on the Bösendorfer piano favored by such maestros as Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and Johan Strauss II.

Akiko Omuro, pianist, commented, "I really love the Strauss model of its light key touch, noble sound and elegance. Lobby concert like this generates much more relaxed atmosphere. I feel they enjoy my play."

Noriyuki Kon, Bösendorfer Japan Group, Yamaha, said, "As part of our expanded marketing plans, we contacted Westin Hotel Tokyo and Vienna Representative Office in hopes of increasing exposure of the famed Austrian piano. So far our dealers, concert halls and the showrooms have served a major role to have our customers experience the high quality sound of the Bösendorfer piano. But we believe we can further promote our pianos to prospective customers at hotels, institutions and other public places."

Yamaha has recently opened a lesson studio to better serve the requirements of customers at its Bösendorfer Japan Showroom in Nakano, Tokyo. It has one individual Bösendorfer Model 280 and 290 Imperial grand pianos offered for the customers, and is open from 11:00 through 17:30 on weekdays. The fees are 5,000 yen for one single piano and 8,000 yen for two pianos for 2-hour use.

2009 Chinese Piano Production Grew 4%

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China Musical Instrument Association and China Light Industry/Musical Instrument Information Center announced that China manufactured 323,961 pianos in 2009 which was 3.68% increase over the previous year. The figures are based on self reported data from major manufacturers. Upright piano production rose 3. 59% to 305,671 units and grand piano production rose 4.95% to 18,290 units. China exported 61,404 upright and grand pianos in the year which declined 10.61% over the previous year.

A total of 25 piano manufacturers responded to report their production figures to the Association. Seven of them have annual manufacturing capacity of more than 10,000 units and they built 227,500 units in the year which represented 70.23% of the total production in China.

Guangzhou Pearl River, the largest piano manufacturer in China, produced 85,457 units (+5.41%) and shared 26.37% of the total Chinese production. The 2nd largest Beijing Xinghai built 38,909 units (+4.39%) and shared 12.01% of the total production. Hangzhou Yamaha, the 3rd largest, built 34,058 units (+8.1%) and shared 10.51% of the total production.

Sixteen manufacturers reported that their production surpassed the result of the year before last having shared 64% of the total output of the Chinese piano industry. While, only 5 piano manufacturers failed to achieve the production level of the previous year.

A sign for recovery
These data indicate that the Chinese piano production slightly increased in 2009 while other markets had the challenging year with down-sized production. Despite the soft export, a little sign for recovery was felt. Grand piano production plummeted 49.58% in 2008, however, it turned up 4.95% last year. Twelve out of 19 grand piano manufacturers reported increased production during the year.

Export remained soft
Chinese piano export by 22 manufacturers went down 10.61% in 2009 though it much improved over the previous year. Fifty percent of them reported that their overseas business increased. A total of 27,311 piano were exported in the year. Guangzhou Pearl River, Hangzhou Goodway and Qingdao Sejun were the major exporters with shipment of more than 5,000 pianos. They shared 44.4% of China's total piano export.

Piano production in China
Piano is manufactured in 9 districts and cities in China. Guangdong District,Zhejiang District and Shanghai are the largest producers and exporters of the Chinese pianos. In 2009, The Chinese state-owned piano factories produced 136,800 pianos including 5,791 grands, 5.17% more over the previous year. They exported 16,276 units in the year having shared 26.5% of the total piano export.

The privately-owned piano manufacturers built 96,200 pianos including 9,785 grands in the year. They exported 28,677 units, 46.7% of the total export.

The foreign makers produced 90,700 pianos including 2,714 grandls of which 16,451 units were exported. They shared 26.79% of the total export.


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Yoshimochi Kamijo, CEO, Fujigen Inc. passed away after a battle with illness on March 1 at the age of 69.

He joined the Matsumoto-based guitar manufacturer in 1962 and was appointed to president in 1986.

While pursuing his goal to be one of the leading electric guitar manufacturers in the world markets, he was enthusiastic in expanding the business outside the music products industry which included production of wooden panels for automobile, luxury disc music box built with established woodworking and lacquering technologies acquired through manufacturing of electric guitar. He will be remembered with his distinguished sense for business which has made Fujigen a top-level electric guitar manufacturer in the industry.   


We have statistics on music products production (sales), import & export compiled by Japan Musical Instruments Assn. (JMIA), The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, (METI) and Customs Bureau, The Ministry of Finance. (Individual statistics are provided in PDF files In this report.) As the METI statistics have been more simplified in recent years, figures are only available for limited items today. In this context, the JMIA statistics with detailed data on diversified product categories are the most reliable source to review the production (sales) and export of the Japanese music products industry. Any comments on import & export figures are made on The Ministry of Finance data.

In 2009, the Japanese industry gained total sales of 146.2 billion yen that was a 28% decline from the previous year as a result of world-wide economic slow-down. The industry much struggled both in the Japanese and overseas markets. The domestic sales decreased 13% to 53.2 billion yen. The export plummeted 34% to 92.9 billion yen because of the dwindled world markets, and the appreciation of the yen.

The strong yen prompted the Japanese manufacturers to move their production overseas to minimize the impact of currency fluctuation. However, the prolonged global-level economic downturn combined with their high share in export has adversely affected their 2009 business.

Such expensive discretionary items like piano were hardest hit in the year. While 11% fewer 20,000 pianos were sold in the domestic market, overseas sales of piano dropped 29% to 99,000 units. That has imposed a negative impact to the total sales of acoustic musical instruments which resulted in 69.7 billion yen, 26.1 billion yen less than the year before. One bright spot in this segment is that upright piano sales have much expanded in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Israel, England, France, Canada and Australia. The dramatic growth in Asia reminds us of the much spoken prediction that Asia evolves as a major player in the 21st century.

Future prospects are also high in BRICs where dramatic economic growth is reported. While Chinese market is emerging, export to Russia, India and Brazil remains modest except some segments.
Electric/electronic musical instruments also underperformed in 2009 with 76.5 billion yen total sales, a decrease of 30 billion yen over the previous year.

Looking into details, sales increased in unit for ukuleles, violins, mandolines and harps, marching drums, glockenspiels, digital pianos, keyboard synthesizers and other digital musical instruments, but declined in value. That suggests unit price significantly dropped in the year.

TV animated movie 'K-ON!'(Pop Music) successfully boosted sales of electric guitar last year. Industry experts comment, however, that only the models of specific brand name featured in the movie enjoyed the boom. The second session of the 'K-ON!' is expected to be on air this year. A series of movies featuring band musicians will also be released soon. They will apparently support the industry and generate new demands for music playing.

The export statistics show advanced performance for trumpets and trombones in unit. Unlike the acoustic instruments, they hardly experienced decline of unit price.

According to the statistics by Customs Bureau, The Ministry of Finance, 2009 import of music products went down 10 billion yen to 42 billion yen. The appreciation of the yen  definitely helps importers, but it didn't work last year as domestic market experienced a serious slump.

With exception of brass instruments and electric guitars, import from China failed to maintain the level of the previous year. Instead, Indonesia emerged as a prominent supplier with substantial export of upright pianos and other electric/electronic musical instruments. Imports of brass instruments from Taiwan and U.S.-made guitars also increased last year.

Speaking about the trends In the Japanese market, demands are growing for used instruments, printed music, and accessories. Not a few industry experts point out brisk studio business. Music dealers are increasingly concerned about recruiting new students for their music studios to offset soft instrument sales.

It's a common understanding in the industry that music activities are not affected by the recent stagnant economy. The industry can inspire and support those music makers with all-industry events and promotional activities.

JMIMA_Stat_2000-2009.pdf  MI_Sales_Japan_1990-2009.pdf  MI_Export_List_2009.pdf  MI_Export_2009.pdf  MI_Import_2009.pdf

Yamaha Stage Pianos & Digital Pianos

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CP5 ¥275,000 (photo top)
CP50 ¥189,000
The CP1 stage piano is now followed by two new models. They employ SCM (Spectral Component Modeling) sound system which is a powerful combination of sampling and modeling technologies.

The CP5 allows the player to create original sounds in combination of physical components of the instrument including hardness of the hammers, striking position of the hammers,etc. or setting up piano, effect and amp components in desired combination. It provides 17 acoustic and electric piano sounds, 305 additional voices including strings, guitar and bass, and on-board effects, a mic input port, and NW-STAGE weighted wooden keyboard.

While the cost-efficient CP50 features 12 electric and acoustic piano sounds, 215 additional voices, on-board effects and GH (Grade Hammer) keyboard packed in a compact chassis.

Both models allow the user to save performance as MIDI data in the internal memory, or played back pre-programmed drum patterns in external USB flash memory as Wave files. The saved Wave files can be played back as backings.

A USB To Host port and Steinberg Cubase AI DAW software are also provided.

Five new models joined the ARIUS high quality digital piano line designed for entry level players. (photos from top: YDP-141C, YDP-161 & YDP-V240) 

They feature 3-level AWM dynamic stereo sampling Pure CF voices, 64-voice polyphony (128-voice polyphony for the 161 & 161C), GH (Grade Hammer) keyboard for the YDP-161 and 161C, and GHS (Grade Hammer Standard) keyboard with mat sharp keys for the YDP141 & 141C, 2-track recording capability, metronome function and 50-title music library with scores.

The YDP141 and 161 come in New Dark Rosewood type cabinet, and the YDP-141C and 161C in Light Cherry type cabinet. The YDP-V240 is a multi-function digital piano incorporating 504 voices suitable for backings. It's first ARIUS piano featuring a large LCD screen to show score and lyrics.

They provide 160 music styles to add matched backings simply by pressing chord with left hand. Music Data Base function allows the player to enjoy favorite genre of music in automatically selected sound, style and tempo.

Nine-step Song Lesson function offers 3 practice modes of Waiting, Your tempo and Minus one for single and two hands play.

A USB To Device port, 30-title music library, a CD-ROM containing 70 music titles are also provided. Additional music data can be purchased from the website (http://www.music-eclub.com/musicdata/)

They come in New Dark Rosewood type cabinet.

Further information is available from:




Roland Digital Pianos

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The second generation model to the LX-10 digital piano in modern and stylish design has SuperNATURAL piano sound engine, PHA III (Progressive Hammer Action III) Ivory-feel keyboard with escapement and a newly designed Progressive Damper Action pedal which provides authentic damper pedal effect of acoustic piano.

Besides the closable lid, it has stereo Grand Piano Presence II with 6 Components Sound System laid out on top and bottom of the cabinet, and rear the keyboard to deliver fully resonant sound.

DP990F /DP990RF
The stylish, space-saving digital piano has SuperNATURAL sound engine, PHA II (Progressive Hammer Action II) keyboard with escapement, rich educational functions as metronome, recording capability and Twin Piano which splits the keyboard into two zones for two players.

They come in 30cm deep cabinet finished either in Medium Cherry type or Satin Black.

Further information is available from:


Casio Digital Pianos

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Casio has introduced PX-3 stage piano and Celviano AP-6 digital piano in celebration of its 30th anniversary.
A new model to the Privia line is a stage piano incorporating Linear Morphing AIF sound engine, 3-sensor Scaling Hammer Action keyboard, Acoustic Resonance system to reproduce resonant effect produced with damper pedal, mat-finished keyboard for comfortable play feel, instrumental voices and other features matched to band music.

The Master Control function allows the user to designate two individual voices selected from 4 built-in voices and 4 other external voices to upper and lower keyboard ranges, 64 DSP effects assignable to 2 voices, and two assignable switches for modulation and other functions.

The black metallic chassis comes with 'Limited Edition' lettering.

Celviano AP-6
Modeled after the highest class AP-620, it features 250 voices produced by Linear Morphing AIF sound engine, 3-sensor Scaling Hammer Action keyboard, Acoustic Resonance system to reproduce resonant effect produced with damper pedal, mat-finished keyboard for comfortable play feel, a high-power amp, 4 two-way speakers, an incrementally controlled damper pedal which responds to half pedal play, an SD memory card slot for storage of song data and PC connectivity.

It comes in polished black cabinet with 'Limited Edition' lettering.

Further information is available from:


Roland Electronic Accordions & Synthesizer

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Roland FR-7X (piano type)/FR-7X (button type)








Roland has refined the FR-7 top model of the V Accordion with increased playability and enhanced sounds. Since the debut in 2004, a total of 10,000 V Accordions were distributed in the world markets by 2009 fall.

The FR-7X features the latest sound engine precisely designed after voicing mechanism of acoustic accordion, detection capability of bellows opening and closing with new bellows pressure-sensor circuitry.

The rich sounds include new Bayan and traditional Italian accordion voices, 24 new orchestral sounds and Virtual tone wheel organ voices as well as bass- chord-assignable percussion sounds.

A USB Host port is provided to save performance data to USB memory and enjoy session play with MP3 and other audio files.

The Ni-MH battery operated, light-weight and compact 37-key synthesizer is designed so that all levels of musician can casually enjoy music making with family members, friends at home, school and community events.

It provides 150 instrumental voices including 6 special sounds of synthesizer, violin and trombone, Jazz Scat with 4-level sound control, a modulation bar to add vibrato effect to solo play, a touch controller for pitch  bend and other controls, and a D-beam controller.

A stereo mini-type EXT In port is provided for connectivity with portable music player. The accessory strap has a small envelope to accommodate MP3 player useful for standing play. It has USB connectivity to play MP3 and other audio files for minus-one play and backing sounds. The external sound can be mixed with the sounds of Lucina without sub mixer.  

It's finished in Pearl White, but Black Sparkle variation color will also be available in summer. It comes complete with a tutorial DVD for first-time player.

Further information is available from:


Korg Synthesizers

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PS60 ¥80,000
It's a synthesizer designed with musicians performing live on stage, for easiness of play and real time control of the functions. EDS-i (Enhanced Definition Synthesis-Integrated) sound engine provides 440 instantly accessible sounds including piano, electric piano brass, synthesizer ideally organized into several categories.

High quality sounds can be created with 4 filters, 2 amps, 5 LFOs, 5 EGs and 63 on-board effects including modulation, dynamics, Korg's exclusive REMS amp modeling types. Nine knobs are provided to control master modulation, reverb/delay and EQ effects.

The Easy Set-up function offers the player designation capability of tone volume, effect send level/octave to individual sounds. Tone layer and split functions are provided to be recalled by one single button control. Twenty split and layered performances can be saved in the internal memory.

It has 61-key Natural Touch keyboard and USB connectivity.

The package contains PS60 Editor and PS60 Plug-in Editor software.

Monotron ¥6,000
The 12cm-wide hand-held ribbon-controlled analog synthesizer runs with two alkaline AAA batteries. Korg's legendary analog technology generates thick and powerful sounds.
The panel contains five knobs and one switch to simply control VCF and LFO.

By plugging with KAOSSILATOR and other portable music player, it provides finely filtered sounds.

It has a headphone input and a compact speaker to deliver sound anywhere.

Further information is available from:


Osawa Ocarinas

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AC Doublet N/AC Doublet U ¥74,000, respectively
AC Triplet U/AC Triplet N ¥100,000, respectively
AC Triplet LU ¥100,000
AC Triplet SU ¥120,000
AC Triplet SN ¥120,000





They are built under supervision of Satoshi Osawa, acclaimed ocarina player, in search of ultimate sounds and tonal quality. Employing multiple chambers, they have broader tone range: A4 to C7 for the double-chamber models and A4 to G7 for the triple-chamber models.

They are characterized for well-balanced tonal color, precise pitch, excellent play feel and carefully designed finger positions.

All models come in C alto in either natural finish (N) or 'urushi' (Japan ware, U) finish which provides more brilliant, mellow and tight sound.

In addition to the normal type for players with relatively weak breath pressure, SU and SN solo models and LU light-weight model are also provided.

Individual ocarina comes complete with a matched hard case, fingering chart and an inspection certificate authorized by Osawa himself.

Further information is available from:


Yamaha Glockenspiel and Percussion Table

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TG-50C ¥31,000
Accommodated in a hard case, it's a 32-note table-top glockenspiel in attractive price with aluminum alloy sound bars, music rack and a pair of mallet. The hard case serves as a resonator box. 

ST-PTX500 ¥37,000
It's an inexpensive percussion table smaller than the ST-PT600 to be used for table top xylophone and glockenspiel as well. Measured 705mm wide and 474mm deep size, it's height-adjustable from 600mm to 900mm. Urethane casters can be folded for the convenience of touring musicians.

Further information is available from:



ESP Electric Guitars

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A-III en  ¥540,000
The latest model of Aoi with the GazettE inherits MA shape alder body with bevel cut on the arched top, 3-piece hard maple neck, ebony fingerboard and 2-way sound variation system using one individual Seymour Duncan SL59 1n humbucking and SLSD-1b single coil pickups with ANTIQUITY II Custom Bridge for the front and rear. It's finished in black and a hard case is standard.

U-02 HELLION-II WH  ¥500,000
 The signature model of Rei with the GazettE in Snow White finish is a twin model to HELLION-II. It features hard maple top, mahogany back, 3-piece hard maple neck, 24-fret Honduras rosewood fingerboard, Seymour Duncan SH-1n and SH-14 pickups for the front and rear, traditional style TonePros bridge, and GOTOH tail piece. A matched hard case is provided.

Further information is available from:




H. S. Anderson Electric Guitar

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First introduced in 1973, the H. S. Anderson electric guitars have won acclaim for their characteristic features and sounds. They are still much demanded today in Japan and overseas markets.

Following the MAD CAT revived last year, Moridaira now offers HS-2 made by the builders of the Bill Lawrence guitars.

While succeeding sexy appearance of the MAD CAT, it has two Bill Lawrence L-500 humbucking and one L-250 single coil pickups, a reverse headstock and other original features.

It has framed maple top, ash back, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fingerboard, and is finished in Golden Brown. Only 6 units are built in Japan. An SKB hard case is standard. The expected retail price is around ¥210,000.

Further information is available from:


Aria Pro II Electric Guitars & Bass

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Having a 5-way pickup selector switch for two humbucking and one single coil pickups, and two series/parallel mini switches, they provide versatile sound making with 13 types of pickup control.

They feature framed maple and maple top, mahogany back, maple neck and selectable rosewood or maple fingerboard, Duncan designed HR-101, SC-101 and HB-102 pickups, GOTOH machine head and bridge, and CTS pots for tone and volume controls.

They are finished in Amber Natural.



First unveiled during the Tokyo Music Fair last fall, they are now available in the market. The PE-NEO electric guitar features fine framed maple top, mahogany back and neck heel-less cutaway design, EMG HZ-H4A and HZ-H4 passive type pickups, 22-fret rosewood fingerboard. The IGB-NEO bass has ash body, maple neck, one EMG HZ-MM pickup, and 22- or 24-fret rosewood fingerboard. Both models have GOTOH machine head and CTS pots for tone and volume controls.

The finishes include See-thru Black, See-thru Green and See-thru Purple.


PE-509 ¥50,000
It's a cost-efficient model of the PE series featuring mahogany body with quilted maple top, gold hardware, body binding and inlayed dot markers, heel-less cutaway mahogany neck, 2 alnico V magnet humbucking pickups and GOTOH machine head.

The color finishes include See-thru Black, Honey Burst and See-thru Emerald Green.

Further information is available from:





Cakewalk by Roland DAW Package

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Specially designed for guitarist and band musicians, the PC-based recording package complements a portable, hardware recording system with the power, flexibility and control of latest computer-based recording.

The VS-20 hardware contains a stereo audio interface, control surface, and built-in stereo mics.
It incorporates 36 Boss COSM DSP effects which offer the user zero-latency recording, and 12 COSM amp modeling sounds, a guitar/bass input, a phantom-powered XLR mic input, a line input, an expression pedal port and a transport control pedal port.
The V-STUDIO 20 Effect Editor is provided,and the produced effect settings can be saved as patches. Fifty Boss preset patches are also provided.
Sound recording can be controlled with the Guitar Tracks 4 software which provides 11 plug-in effects for sound mix down.

A DVD-ROM containing 300 backing data and audio loops help the user to enjoy advanced music production.

The VS-20 runs on Windows7/Vista/XP Home/XP Professional.





Further information is available from:


Yamaha Accessories

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UPTC GBL/UPTC GPK ¥4,000, respectively
Blue pastel and pink pastel color variation models joined the piano top cover cloths for upright piano. The jacquard fabric with music note motif is made of 60% acrylic and 40% polyether trimmed with delicate 100% cotton lace.


ME-110 Metronome ¥2,700




Measured 100mm wide and 40mm deep size, it provides LED-guided tempo display and full sound, dial type sound level control and tempo/beat display in one-touch button control.

Three color chassis of black, pink and raspberry are available.

It comes with automatic power shut down and memory capabilities,and a collapsible leg.

Further information is available from:


Yamaha's New Edifice Opens in Tokyo

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In 1951, Yamaha completed its 5-story above ground Ginza Building as the ultra-modern edifice for musical instrument on the posh shopping street in Ginza, Tokyo. Fifty nine years later on February 26, it was reborn as a new symbolic center for music and musical instrument.

Mitsuru Umemura, president (center), franked by Yurie Miura, pianist and Eriko Iso, violinist,Yoshihiro Doi, director (far left) and Shinya Hanamoto, president, Yamaha Music Tokyo.

The new Yamaha edifice opened on Feb. 26. The new landmark in Ginza comes with 2 buildings, a 12-storied main building with 2 basement floors, and a 7-storied annex with 2 basement floors.

The main building facing the busy street has an innovative and impressive exterior design using Japanese traditional diamond patterns on grass panels which come in 5 different levels of clarity with gold, shaded and transparent finishes. Delicate transition of natural light, time and season generate characteristic visual effects of rhythm and harmony on the wall surface.

Photo right:entrance where the MODUS digital piano and the grand piano with inlaid clematis patterns specially built for the opening of the Ginza Bldg.are showcased.

While serving as the largest musical instrument store in Japan with 5 billion yen annual sales estimated for the initial year, it offers versatile venues for music makers from live studio, multi-purpose mini hall to Yamaha hall best suitable for acoustic music and Yamaha music studio for adult which enrolls 3,000 students. 

Photos below: The 4th floor wind instrument division has every type of Yamaha woodwind and brass instruments, and 80 violins. The largest selection of acoustic pianos in Japan including 15 grand models and Avitecs sound-proof booths are shown on the 5th floor. The Yamaha Hall is provided with excellent sound conditions for acoustic music.The visitors can select and look into printed music and books at the spacious counter offered at the 3rd floor.

Casio Celebrates 30th Anniversary in Music Business

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Casio entered the music products industry with the CT-201 electronic keyboard in 1980. Japan Music Trades interviewed Takaki Maeda, Manager, EMI Planning Section, Consumer Products Marketing Department, Global Strategic Marketing Division, Global Marketing Headquarters, and Hitoshi Ando, General Manager, Product Development Department-4, Consumer Products Division, Hamura R & D Center to have them talk about the 30 years in music business. (photo: Hitoshi Ando, left, and Takaki Maeda.)

Innovative keyboard and digital synthesizer
--You joined the company in 1986. How are you involved in the music business?
Maeda: One year after I worked as a sales staff of compact LCD TV business group, I turned to one of a few sales staff of musical instrument business. Now I've been responsible for global marketing for about 15 years.
Ando: I joined Casio simply intrigued by synthesizer since it was quite popular among young people then. My days have been closely associated from the very beginning with design and development of electronic keyboard, digital percussion, digital piano not to mention synthesizer.

-- I think Casio was already recognized as a major player in the industry having introduced a series of characteristic electronic musical instruments by the time.
Ando: Toshio Kashio, now chairman of Casio, was instrumental in developing musical instrument to make it the 3rd key line following the electronic calculator and digital watch. The CT-201 (photo left) was designed to simulate temporal change of sound controlling attack and release waveforms separately. The idea drew attention in the industry and the market. As the brand name Casiotone tells, we think tonal color is the most integral part in designing our products. From the stand point of providing people of all age groups with pleasure of music playing, the CT-401 introduced as early as 1980 had automatic playing capability. Next year, the CT-701 equipped with light-guided playing function came into the market. It was the forerunner of later models incorporating light-guided melody play function.
Maeda: The Casio electronic keyboard was an attractively priced, easy-to-play gear for high-end user those times rather than home instrument for amateur musicians. Many overseas musicians played ours on stage. Most of our products distributed through music dealers not mass merchants.
--Name artists favored the CZ synthesizers launched in 1984, I remember.
Ando: Unlike the wave-filtering analog synthesizer, the mainstream during the time, the CZ synthesizer featured PD (Phase Distortion) sound system. The sound was produced with modified waveforms by changing recalling speed of sine waves. Digitally controlled, but it pleased musicians with analog style play feel, and full sound containing rich overtones. In the latter half of the 80s, the DZ-SYSTEM electronic drum system, MIDI guitars (photo left) and electronic wind instruments joined the product lines.
Maeda: I remember acclaimed professional artists joined our endorser list those times. Yukihiro Takahashi with the Yellow Magic Orchestra appeared in our brochure and Isao Tomita, composer/pioneer of synthesizer music, staged a series of experimental musical spectacles using the COSMO synthesizer and sound system. As Casio synthesizers increased their exposure, general consumer became recognizing our music business and the products. In fact, 30% to 40% of the students including us who joined Casio in 1986 reportedly expressed interest in the music business in the job placement interview.

Launches into digital piano market
-- When was it that the Casio digital musical instruments were widely accepted in home market?
Maeda: Around the end of the 80s, I think. We found demands for music ROM packs and mini-size keyboards soared among shoppers seeking holiday gifts. In 1988 we put the PT-280 in the educational and home market. We started expanding our distribution channels to department stores and mass merchants.

Casio PX-7WE Casio AP-6
Casio PX-3
Casio has introduced Privia PX-7 (left), Celviano AP-6 digital piano (right) and Privia PX-3 stage piano 30th anniversary models very recently.)

 Ando: In the 80s the market for the digital musical instruments was clearly defined. One was electronic organ for education, and another, synthesizer for band members. The attractively priced Casio keyboards helped increase awareness of digital musical instrument among general consumer. Our corporate policy is "Creativity and Contribution." That is to create new products not existed in the society before, tap the hidden demands, and develop new markets.
Maeda: Market development is the key to every industry. For instance, we designed small-size keyboards with sound sampling capability in an intention to encourage inexperienced piano players to enjoy music making. This style of product development will surely make an effect in expanding the music market. Our manufacturing, distribution and marketing are based on this point.
-- In 1991 Casio announced AP-7 first digital piano As the last comer in this segment, how did you see the market?
Ando: So far the digital piano had been regarded as a substitute to acoustic piano in the Japanese market. We developed the AP-7 with built-in CD player in hopes of offering the user new style of music entertainment. Canceling vocal sound of CD, it provides the player with high quality backings. W also produced orchestra, jazz and other orchestra music CDs performed by top level professionals. They allowed the user to enjoy, say, violin concertos by Tchaikovsky backed by full-member orchestra.
Maeda: I had a very interesting experience with the sale of the Celviano digital piano. When we introduced the first model of the line, one of our music dealers contacted me and placed an order of 10 units. He told me that the store would heavily promote the Celviano for the school season. In the past our business remained relatively small because we just sold him inexpensive electronic keyboards retailed less than 100 thousand yen. After the sales campaign completed, we received an order of 30 Celvianos which came in 300 thousand yen per unit from the store. I was very much impressed with their dedication to the campaign. Music retailers really do a great job.

-- The second brand Privia digital pianos followed in 2003. We know they are well received in the market.
Maeda: The light-navigated electronic keyboards we introduced in 1996 made a kind of sensation. We were much inspired by the success. The main purchaser group of those models was adult who have experienced piano lesson when they were very young. They were back and enjoyed music playing. Unlike synthesizer, 60% to 70% of electronic keyboard users choose their instrument as an alternate to piano. We felt that we can further develop the market for digital piano with meticulously tailored marketing.
Ando: Given the stagnant piano market both in Japan and overseas, sales of the Celviano also remained soft. Our conclusion was to develop the second brand digital piano designed with a new concept. It took us two years to announce the Privia PX-100, the first model of the line.
-- Will you tell us the future for the Casio's music business?
Maeda: Our music business has grown basically as we expected. Jump-started with the Casiotone, put synthesizer in the market next, then came consumer-oriented sound sampling keyboard, generated new demands for light-navigated keyboard, and now promoting digital piano. Every product category is destined to grow and disappear as time goes. What we do is to find market needs, develop products to meet the requirements and being flexible to changing consumer taste. To expand music making population remains as our principal goal. We will seek effective measures to develop the market in the future as we did in the past.
Ando: We have "EEE" policy at Casio; Education, Entertainment and Enjoyment. In the coming years we will more concentrate on the Enjoyment factor. Whether they have musical experience or not, our mission is to fill their desire for music making and present the instruments matched to their requirements.