November 2013 Archives

2013 Music China closed successfully on October 13 with another record of exhibitors, visitors and exhibition space. The total exhibitors were 1,680, a 5% increase over the previous show, and the visitors increased more than 14% to 68,621. 

Japanese music products industry first set up Japan Pavilion at the last Music China with support of JETRO, and achieved a remarkable success. This year, the industry once again joined the show staging a 530 sq. meter pavilion, 30% larger than the year before with participation of 36 companies including 11 new members. According to the exhibitors, the orders including negotiating cases written during the show were 480 million yen, which is about two times over the last year result.

The pavilion came up with a demo stage and meeting rooms this time to support participated members. High quality sounds of the latest models introduced by the exhibitors enthralled massive crowds every time.

The exhibitors reported that they saw more professional and amateur musicians, music academy educators and students than dealers and distributors. The successful result this year explains that the high quality products manufactured in Japan can meet the needs of wealthy Chinese consumers, who take priority in better quality than price.

In the meeting organized during the show period, members of Overseas Exhibition Committee of Japanese music products industry and delegates of China Musical Instruments Association talked and agreed that the industries of both sides could establish good communication, and work together to serve the benefit of music products markets in the world. An Zhi, president of CMIA commented, "We all know that general economy is under pressure. But China and Japan can cooperate for future growth of the industry. Though China has an enormous population, and a huge number of music products manufacturers, distributors and retailers, we can learn much of product development and world-level technologies from Japanese industry. We need improved communication and cooperation of the two countries, in particular, small and medium-size companies."

Celebrating 12th session, Music China continues to expand as one of the largest music products shows in the world, however, some industry experts say that recent economic slowdown of the country suggests some changes may influence the show and business style.

Among the 68,621 visitors, foreigners share only 5%. Though the exhibits include some international brands, business looks to be largely done by local manufacturers and distributors. Overseas manufacturers are present at the show seeking business opportunities in the Chinese market. On the other hand, local exhibitors expect sales in the domestic market at the same time as they try to find distributors overseas.

Chinese government set expected 7.5% GDP growth rate of the country for 2013, the lowest in the last 23 years, and is shifting its gear to consumption-driven economy. Whether it goes as expected is unknown, Yet, for overseas manufacturers, the fast growing Chinese market is still attractive. A Japanese exhibitor said, "There's no other market growing from 6% to 8% level annually. We should take it entered into a moderate second phase, not slowed down." He expects expanding business into local small towns.

Industry Close-up: Hammond Suzuki XK-1c Organ

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Hammond Suzuki has recently introduced XK-1c, an entry-level organ which features every basic functions required by organists. (photos right: XK-1c and CU-1 optional Leslie Rotating Speaker Control unit.) 

A sister model of XK-1 launched in 2006, it comes in extremely lightweight structure and simple operation meeting requests for a portable model from keyboard players.    
XK-1c features digital tone wheel sound engines, the same system as the upper model XK-3c, inheriting traditional Hammond B-3 sounds processed by latest digital technology and the legendary drawbars.

Masato Tomie, chief engineer of Engineering Dept., Suzuki Musical Inst. Manufacturing explains, "We have designed XK-1c a single-manual keyboard having a set of draw bars with keyboard players of amateur bands in mind. Key-split function and automatic bass sound are the features best suitable for real-time performance. It provides the user with rich organ sound well comparable with upper models, and not delivered by synthesizer, carrying over guitar sound in the band and other voices.

The 'c' of XK-1c stands for compactness. As the product name shows, XK-1c weighs only 7.5kgs, almost 50% of XK-1. This has been achieved by redesigning the drawbars, control buttons and their overall layout. Takeshi Atsumi, assistant manager of Engineering Dept. says, "We have replaced steel with aluminum for the frame and panel. Also number of parts is greatly reduced, and controls are designed much simpler for trimmed and lightweight structure, while we reserved wooden side panels to keep the image of organ. The control knobs come in exactly the same design as the old B-3 to give XK-1c a look of legendary organ. The entire design of XK-1c gives audience a distinctive image of organ on stage. "

Seita Yamauchi, junior assistant manager adds, "SK Series are designed with much of a concept of synthesizer. It provides rich different voices in addition to organ in hopes of promoting Hammond sound to musicians of versatile genre. On the contrary, XK-1c is the instrument developed to meet those demands from core Hammond enthusiasts. Unlike the ordinary keyboards with a bunch of buttons and knobs laid out on the control panel, XK-1c equipped with drawbars comes in a simple look appealing to organ players."  (photo left: from l. to r., Masato Tomie, Takeshi Atsumi and Seita Yamauchi) 

Other characteristic features of XK-1c include Scanner Vibrato, advanced Leslie Simulator, voices of transistor organ, solemn pipe organ, rich effect modes of overdrive, tremolo, ring modulator and phaser. It's compatible with CU-1 optional Leslie Rotating Speaker control unit. Also XK-1c has individual control capability of tone wheels for production of sound with subtle nuance. Atsumi says that the function is critical for B-3 players enabling them to produce original sounds controlling tone wheels. In short, it allows the user to recreate familiar organ sounds they only knew from old phonograph records.

As to distribution, Yamauchi says, "Response from keyboard dealers is very good. We expect much in European and U.S. markets, as it was well accepted at the Summer NAMM Show in July.

By plugging with a MIDI keyboard, it turns into a 3-manual organ with bass sounds produced by the foot pedal. Tomie says, "Unfortunately, number of keyboard players is declining today, but organ has a great expression capability as guitar does, in solo or ensemble. We want young musicians to find pleasure of playing organ with XK-1c. It's easy to travel with it. You don't need to borrow a keyboard at studio. A great feature, isn't it?"

Korg Named Japan Distributor for Mezzo Forte

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Korg Import Division (KID) was recently named as the exclusive distributor for Mezzo Forte carbon fiber violins in the Japanese market. It's the first time in its history that KID distributes violins.

Known for its superb sturdiness and lightness, carbon fiber is widely used for various products. Bows are one of those made of the material. German manufacturer Mezzo Forte first launched carbon fiber violin bows in 2009. Two years later, manufacturing expanded to violin, and further to viola and cello the next year. The cellos in glamorous design and spectacular sounds played by '2CELLOS' are featured in a recent mobile phone TV commercial in Japan, and made a sensation.

Norio Iwasaki, manager of KID (photo bottom) says, "I was much thrilled with the sound produced by carbon fiber at the last Frankfurt Music Fair. Full overtones, and well-contoured sound were quite impressive. Mr. (Jörg) Kleinalstede, president of Mezzo Forte, passionately told me about his vision and pursue of his instrument building. Featuring wooden materials for bridge, fingerboard and tailpiece, and Wittner gear-driven Fine Tune machines, the company has searched a perfect balance of carbon fiber for body top and peg head, and traditional wooden parts.   


The Mezzo Forte violins and cellos are suitable as a second instrument for professionals, hobby tools for adult home music makers as they are maintenance-free and come in all-weather structure. They will be distributed at similar price points as German traditional violins and cellos.

KID starts distribution of the Mezzo Forte lines from the end of this year to the beginning of next year.