Lesser-Publicized Music Products Burst Into The Spotlight

By Dan Ferrisi

Around this time every year, The Music & Sound Retailer takes a momentary step away from electric and acoustic guitars, drum sets, DJ mixers and effects pedals—the kinds of products we cover abundantly every month—and allows lesser-publicized music products to enjoy their moment in the sun. After all, if you operate a full-line music store, then you know firsthand that every type and category of music product contributes to your overall bottom line, keeping your shop in business and ensuring that current musicians and players of the future have access to everything they need.

From the ukulele and the banjo to a cool super hero-themed set of accessories, the following collection of products simply cannot be ignored.

Earlier this year, D’Addario announced its Nyltech and Titanium Ukulele Strings. D’Addario and Aquila Strings have formed a string-development partnership, which created the Nyltech Ukulele Strings. Nyltech is made with D’Addario exclusive string material that offers a warm, yet punchy, gut-like tone. The Nyltech Strings are available for most popular ukulele sizes and tunings, such as the Soprano (EJ88S), Concert (EJ88C), Tenor (EJ88T) and Baritone (EJ88B).

“Our new Nyltech Ukulele Strings are a contemporary take on a traditional sound, with improved intonation versus other ukulele strings on the market,” said Brian Vance, Director of Product Management.
D’Addario also released new Titanium Ukulele Strings. Titanium strings have recently been popular with classical guitarists for their bright, projecting tone and ultra-smooth feel. Now, ukulele players can increase their volume, clarity and dynamics with Titanium Ukulele Strings. The dense monofilament material with translucent purple hue and smooth feel is similar to traditional nylon. The strings are available for most popular ukulele sizes and tunings, such as the Soprano (EJ87S), Concert (EJ87C), Tenor (EJ87T) and Baritone (EJ87B).

“We are excited to create Titanium strings that give a bright tone and smooth feel exclusively for ukulele players,” added Vance.

Suitable for adults and kids of all ages, Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, Complete Starter Pack and its Kid’s Ukulele Starter Pack are extensions of bestselling methods, making these suitable products to stock during the holiday season. Both come fully equipped with everything needed to start playing right away, including a high-quality Firebrand wood ukulele with nylon strings; deluxe accessories, including a custom-fit lightweight gig bag with carrying handle; an extra set of nylon ukulele strings; and an instructional Book, CD and DVD.

Expanded from Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele method—an easy-to-follow, self-teaching resource—Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, Complete Starter Pack appeals to the growing ukulele market. “Ukulele is on its way to becoming a mainstream instrument. The demand is so high. We’ve seen a surge in sales with the Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele Pack, which is now one of our bestselling products. Our warehouse and dealers have had a hard time keeping it in stock, and the demand for it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down,” said Antonio Ferranti, Director of Sales, Alfred Music Publishing.

Alfred’s Kid’s Ukulele Starter Pack is an addition to Alfred’s Kid’s Ukulele Course 1 method, geared for kids ages five and up, and suits teachers and parents alike. Its related method, Alfred’s Kid’s Guitar Course, is the number-one bestselling guitar method for kids, and is the recipient of Disney’s iParenting Media Award for “Best Product of the Year.”

Alfred’s Kid’s Ukulele Starter Pack and Alfred’s Teach Yourself to Play Ukulele, Complete Starter Pack are now available for $49.99 each at music retail stores.

NS Design
NS Design has announced delivery of the NS Fretted Electric Violin series. Created by designer Ned Steinberger, the fretted models are now available in both the NXT series, which features a self-powered pickup system, and the CR series, with its active electronics. The CR and NXT models are both available in four- and five-string configuration. One of the first things players notice is a warm, sustained “pizz” sound, and enhanced sustain overall. As guitarists know, where some damping would normally occur when the string is in contact with the finger, the fret provides a “hard stop.” Violinists are also happy to discover that these instruments respond well to traditional techniques, including a satisfying glissando effect when desired.

As with all NS violins, the new NS Fretted models feature the patented NS Tuning System, noted for its precision and stability. They also feature the Polar pick-up system, which is able to selectively capture the string vibration favored for both bow and pizzicato technique with brilliance and sensitivity.

One feature of all NS violins, which fretted players might particularly appreciate, is the removable upper bout body segment. Providing easier access to the highest positions of the instrument, this option provides musicians with new technical performance opportunities in the highest registers.

Deering Banjo Company
The Deering Phoenix six-string banjo has arrived. The lightweight six-string banjo boasts two pickups and volume and blend controls. What makes this banjo so different? The Phoenix features both a piezo and a humbucker Kavanjo pickup mounted to a Renaissance head, offering a well-balanced tone across all six strings. The blend control allows the player truly to dial in his or her tone to suit his or her style, and sits alongside a master volume control, offering control of the sound to suit any situation.

The new patent-pending bridge plate is designed to increase the sustain of each note played, while taming unwanted feedback, both of which further enhance the tone of the Phoenix. Unplugged, the acoustic sound of the Phoenix allows it to live up to its name as a true acoustic/electric banjo, producing a warm, round and rich sound without too much brightness, largely due to the Renaissance head.

Along with the tonal and amplification advantages offered by the Phoenix, there is a new thermo set polymer finish on the hardware in an antique gold, which makes it virtually tarnish free and hypoallergenic. The violin-grade maple rim and neck receive a rich dark amber stain and satin finish. Rounding out the overall aesthetic of the banjo is a white banner with the Deering name on the peghead and white dot fingerboard inlay markers.

Now available for the first time in the United States, the guitalele is a miniature nylon guitar that looks and sounds like a ukulele, but features six strings and is tuned like a standard guitar up to an A (A/D/G/C/E/A). The GL1 guitalele from Yamaha is currently available. Chord fingering is the same as for any standard-tuned guitar, but, now, guitarists can easily join the ukulele craze with a portable, playable and thoroughly unique instrument. “The GL1 plays well and gives guitarists a fun alternative to their usual nylon-string guitar,” said Dennis Webster, Marketing Manager, Yamaha Guitars.

Azumi Flutes
Altus flutes, known worldwide for its handcrafted flutes, has introduced two Azumi Flute models for the advancing player, which feature the Z-cut professional Altus headjoint. The AZ2 and AZ3 models are available now. The Azumi AZ2 features a Sterling silver Altus Z-cut professional headjoint, which responds quickly and easily and produces a full, rich tone. The body and keys are silver-plated. Available options include inline and offset G key configurations, as well as offset G with split E mechanism.

The Azumi AZ3 also features the Sterling silver Altus Z-cut professional headjoint, on a sterling silver body with silver-plated keywork. Available options include inline and offset G key configurations, offset G with split E mechanism and a C# trill key. Keeping with the tradition of Altus’ commitment to creating the best in flutes, Azumi offers the pre-professional the opportunity to purchase a well-designed Sterling silver flute with a high-end brand headjoint at a good value.

Designed by Altus creator Shuichi Tanaka, Azumi flutes are a good fit for the serious student and aspiring flutist. The most distinct feature of Azumi flutes is the Altus Z-cut professional headjoint, which responds quickly and easily and produces a full and rich tone in all three registers. The Z-cut headjoint features a rectangular cut, providing the player a quick, free response, more tone throughout the registers and a wider embouchure hole to accommodate a variety of embouchure shapes. This headjoint, coupled with several standard features, including a B foot, gizmo key, open holes and pointed key arms, makes it stand out.

Korg USA
Korg has announced the Humidi-Beat Metronome with Humidity/Temperature Detector. It’s a personal metronome and instrument care assistant for nearly every musician. Acoustic instruments of all types—guitars, strings, woodwinds, reeds and even brass—can be affected by changes in temperature and humidity. The Humidi-Beat can monitor these elements, so adverse conditions can be avoided. A clock function is also included.

Available in both black and white, the compact Humidi-Beat features a clear, easy-to-read LCD screen. A bright LED augments the beat-counting display for visual reinforcement. The volume can be set to loud or soft, or muted for visual-only use. There are 13 rhythm patterns available, and the measure length can be set from zero to nine beats. The tempo can be set in pendulum steps as with a traditional metronome, or in full steps. The tempo may also be set using the tap tempo buttons.

In addition to its metronome functions, the Humidi-Beat is equipped with a clock, a thermometer and a relative humidity detector that can monitor the environment where the instrument is being played, in addition to monitoring conditions inside the instrument’s case. Avoiding extremes of heat and humidity can help preserve instrument life and help keep it sounding its best. The Humidi-Beat detects a temperature range from 32°F up to 122°F in single-degree steps. The relative humidity detector reads from 20 percent to 90 percent. Power is supplied by a single CR2032 battery.

Hohner, Inc., has released the FlexRack, a new generation of harmonica rack. For decades, the harmonica rack has allowed musicians hands-free access to the harmonica. Offering melodic accompaniment, rhythmic counterpoint and expressive accents, the harmonica has been a perfect partner for guitarists who desired to expand their sound. The MZ2010 FlexRack is the only product available that can adjust at three separate points (position, angle, and height) without any additional tools, providing an ergonomic fit. The FlexRack features an adjustable, rubber-covered spring clamp that will easily accommodate any one of your favorite harp options without scratching the cover plates. A matching ergonomically designed neck rest provides a combination of stability and comfort.

Peavey Electronics
Peavey Electronics and Marvel Entertainment, LLC, have made becoming a guitar super hero more fun than ever. Peavey released its all-new line of officially licensed musical instruments featuring the legendary comic super heroes of Marvel Universe. Musicians of every skill level, from beginner to pro, can become real guitar heroes with these music products exclusively from Peavey, which immortalize Marvel super heroes Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk in highly detailed artwork on guitars, percussion instruments and accessories.

“From the largest and loudest sound systems on the planet to iconic comic superheroes, Peavey and Marvel are both known for larger-than-life creations,” said Hartley Peavey, Founder and CEO of Peavey Electronics. “Musicians, music fans and comic aficionados alike will find a lot of fun and inspiration in these new musical instruments featuring their favorite Marvel super heroes.”

Peavey Marvel Universe leather straps are adjustable from 44 inches to 50 inches in length (two-and-a-half inches wide) and feature striking full-color Marvel graphics on high-quality genuine leather. Available in 10 designs, including Captain America, Ghost Rider, Punisher, X-Men, Deadpool, Avengers and Spider-Man.

Nylon straps are adjustable from 30 inches to 52 inches in length (two inches wide) and feature eight designs on durable nylon, including Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Thor, Ghost Rider and Punisher. Guitar picks are available in four sets: Marvel Classic, Marvel Heroes 1, Marvel Heroes 2 and Marvel Villains.

When you hear a favorite song on the radio, it’s easy just to get lost in the music, not even thinking of the fact that, often, a half-dozen or more instruments are all contributing to the beautiful sounds being heard. In much the same way, every single instrument and music product is invaluable to a successful full-line music store. Let’s not forget these lesser-publicized gems, which just might be music to your ears when they ring your register.

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