Tokyo Trumpet Store Visit – Trumpetgear Checks them out!

Posted: May 11, 2009 in The Business
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Dad & I entering the first store in Tokyo

Dad & I entering the first store in Tokyo

So here we are on a visit to Tokyo.
We’ve already crossed Disneyland (or should I say Disney Sea) off the ‘To Do’ list – plus ate and drank a fair share of the local food and drink offerings – nothing left to do but hit the trumpet stores and see what we could find.
I’ve got to say I always enjoy my visits to Tokyo (Okinawa is a 2.5hr flight away from here and they have 1 or 2 stores only that are both terrible) as the stores have a great selection of new and used instruments to try.
This trip was no exception – in fact if it wasn’t for the NZ peso (At the time of this trip $1NZ = 49 yen) being worth so little I probably would have put down the card and bought a few of these fine trumpets on the spot.
The Test Lineup - What a Choice!!

The Test Lineup - What a Choice!!

The first store provided the nicest selection of trumpets that I had seen in a while.
These guys has brand new Yamaha’s, Bach – you name it.
But what I was really on the hunt for was a nice jazz combo horn – so it was over to trying to find a horn such as the legendary Martin Committee.
The first test came down to 3 choices and here’s the lineup from left to right:
Lawler C7S, Inderbinen Alpha, Martin Committee Medium
You’d never see a lineup like this in the same room even if you took the top 3 pros and stood they side by side!!
The Lawler and the Martin were comparitively priced around $4,000 to $5,000 NZD, and I tried the Inberbinen just because I had read so much about them – but it was twice the price at little under $10,000 NZD.
The results I will leave for another time and another post.
The Sight that greets you upon entry to the store

The Sight that greets you upon entry to the store

But just look at this picture and it will give you an idea on how good the selection is in these stores.
(This is not the best place I have been into either).
In each store they also provide a testing room that is sound proofed and allows you to really test the limits of each horn.
The golden rule seems to be that you need to bring your own mouthpieces for testing horns (especially the Yamaha Superstore in Ginza) for some reason you can bring your horn and test mouthpieces, or bring your mouthpieces and test a horn – but not both.
Service in most stores is great once you have the attention of the sales people.
The other great thing about Tokyo is that they have districts for everything. For instance they have this district which was basically just instrument stores down a whole block – so you can bounce around from store to store with ease.
The pick of the day - 1960's Martin Committee Deluxe

The pick of the day - 1960's Martin Committee Deluxe

Just be sure to budget a whole day if you can to check out each district as the options are vast.

And it pays to have a translator if you don’t speak Japanese (as most shops will not have english speaking staff) and a healthy credit card limit as vintage horns may be top notch but they also command a healthy premium.

So what can I expect from a visit?

  1. Great Selection – these stores are dedicated only to brass players
  2. Wide selection of accessories
  3. No English speaking staff in general (That’s a given – you’re a visitor to a foreign country)
  4. Weird rules about testing – just go with it and keep an open mind
  5. To pay a premium for Vintage instrument (1 – they are cool and 2 – most people prefer vintage for Jazz here)
  6. High prices at the Yamaha super store – if you want a Yamaha buy at another store (Yamaha has to sell at recommended retail where the street price is minimum hundreds less!!)

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