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Electric Music - Electronic Musical Instrument Repair & Servicing

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 
 
 

 

 

Electric Music.

 

Digger talks to David Wiseman who has over forty years of experience in electronics repairs. Coming from a background of TV, Radio and music systems repairs, David now offers his expertise to customers with faulty vintage and retro electronic musical instruments and equipment.

This is a niche market because there aren't many people like David around and he's very much in demand.

Amps, pianos, organs, synthesisers with classic names like Vox and Hammond - you name it and David can fix it...

 
 

 

 

 

Digger: Can you please tell us about your background David?

David: I have a background in electronics and electronic and electrical repairs. Radio and television.

Digger: Oh so you were a TV repair man?

David: Yes, when you had to repair them properly rather than just swap a part.

Digger: That was exciting back then - when the telly would go wrong every few months and the TV repair man would come round to fix it.

David: These great big hunks of television that weighed a ton and we did proper repairs.

Digger: This was in the days of black and white?

David: Yes.

Digger: I can remember the move to colour and from 405 lines to 625, where we had a little button and it was high-tech ďWow, weíre going into the 625 lines and colour.Ē We were one of the first households with colour, because I was such a nag for my poor old mum.

David: I hope you paid her back for it. It was BBC only, 9Ē televisions and just a few hours of transmission an evening back in those days.

Digger: How did you get into the music side of things?

David: It was funny. I had been working at a factory in Hackney, which made Hi-Fi in the days when you had a turntable in a plinth with a smoked plastic cover. This was at English Audio, and these people saw all the television people making this audio and thought it was easy. So they made it. They had a wood mill, because that area was the epicentre of the lower end of the woodworking and cabinet making. Islington was the centre for piano makers and acoustics, so they were making this stuff and I got a job there.

Digger: You were always good at that sort of thing?

David: Yes, always picking up a soldering iron and playing with bits of wire.

Digger: Catís whisker radios and that sort of thing?

David: Yes. But they went to the wall eventually because they wouldnít do anything properly or spend money. They didnít know anything about electrics and electronics, but they thought they knew the world. Cabinet making was their background. They were good at that.

Digger: And the two complemented each other well.

David: Yes, today itís all plastic, but in those days it was all wood. They were making cabinets for one-man-band audio companies. So they set-up a couple of rooms to make these cabinets and they went out and bought a competitors' unit. But the problem was they bought a duff one and it was dead in the water, they failed and it cost them a lot of money. They had a ten watt amplifier but, a bit like the Sinclair stuff, it had tiny little transistors and it could only give you ten watts of smoke when it went pop! They limped along and then went bust and then I was looking around for a job. I went to the labour exchange, as it was called then, and they pointed me at this guy who had a shop in Woodford who wanted a repairer. He sold radio and TV and he did some trade work for people and the local council. The shop sold musical instruments and thatís how I got into the music.

Digger: Youíre very adaptable.

David: Well, itís all electronics so it doesnít matter if youíre making a fluorescent lamp or a microwave oven or computer. Itís all electronics. So itís moved on from there to where I am now.

Digger: A few years ago they were saying ďVinylís deadĒ but people hang on to this stuff and vinyl's come back with a vengeance.

David: Yes it has. I fixed a Rhodes last week for a guy and the other day someone in Sheffield had two Fender Rhodes and he was going to bring them down to me.

Digger: You must have covered most of the country a few times?

David: No, only the London area and surrounding areas. A lot of people come to me. I have been abroad and even up to Aviemore to do repairs taking the Caledonian Sleeper train.

Digger: Where are customers finding you?

David: It's often repeat business or referrals.

Digger: What sort of feedback are you getting from customers? I suppose the best kind you can hope for is repeat business?

David: Yes, yes. And locally I have found it to be very, good to be honest. Iíve got a lady who comes to me every so often from Rugby Ė she runs a band, she phones up and says ďDavid, Iíve got something for you.Ē Iíve got a couple of units in the garage for her now ready and waiting.

Digger: Do you get many youngsters?

David: Yes, a couple this morning were young. 24 or 25, and theyíve been shopping around for somebody to fix his piano. They had contacted a piano seller locally.

Digger: Have you put your name about with all the local people who might be able to point customers your way?

David: Yes, all the local music shops. Itís surprising actually because up here music is big. Whereas in London it's almost non-existent because the authorities virtually killed it off with the ďTwo in a barĒ rule. That's where, anything more than two people, you need stringent licensing although the coalition seems to want to revoke that.

Digger: Are you travelling far to repair machines David?

David: I tend to prefer people to deliver them here where possible. It is usually a lot better to repair here rather than on site because I have all the tools and materials here. And because you can spend a whole day driving there and driving back which is a waste of time as well as a cost Iíd need to pass on to the customer. Most jobs can be done better here.

Digger: Youíre now in a position where you can say that and sort of dictate terms.

David: Yes.

Digger: So the parts - are they getting more difficult to source? Do you have to make or manufacture some?

David: Some of them. Ironically itís the new parts that are difficult to get a hold of. Itís microchips and things.

Digger: So the newer parts are more problematic?

David: Yes, and once they've gone, theyíve gone. Old stuff like the valves you can buy. No problem with valves and bits and pieces for Hammonds Ė theyíre around. Thereís lots of Hammonds that have been cannibalised. But itís the modern stuff - five years old and the manufacturer doesn't have any chips for it.

Digger: Why would they have?

David: This is the trouble.

Digger: So what do you do in that case?

David: Well, the other problem is how much is somebody going to spend on this thing before they decide it's not worth it? I had one last week and it has four notes on piano only which has got some distortion on them. You play it and itís alright and then you play it again and it distorts. Or sometimes you play it twice and it doesnít sound. Iíve spoken to the manufacturer Ė I ordered a wave memory chip and put that in and it didn't make any difference. After that where do you go? You just tell the customer ďSorry, you have a dead one.Ē What can you do? Itís not worth anything. Itís alright if you donít want to play the piano. Or if you can suffer those notes as they are. Or you can get a workaround, and there are often workarounds. You can get a midi box and put that in there and then play the sound on that for piano rather than the piano itself, plus youíre going to get a better sound because youíve got a modern sample.

Digger: Some people would be happy with the old-fashioned shell and the modern innards?

David: Not only that, but youíll get a lot more sounds out of it because the midi expander will give you lots of sounds and youíll probably get better results than the original piano would have given you. Which is, what, twelve or fifteen years old? Itís very unusual when something is completely dead and fallen over and not capable of being resurrected. The old stuff like the Hammonds and the Wurlitzers Ė I can get bits for them.

Digger: Were they made better in those days?

David: Sometimes they were made better. Some of the parts werenít better.

Digger: The tolerances on them werenít that great.

David: The tolerances on these old resistors were 1% and if you wanted 1% resistors fifteen years ago you were talking about a lot of money. Now itís common or garden and theyíre tiny. 10% was expensive - 5% and you were getting special. Nowadays 1% is the norm. And theyíre dirt cheap really.

Digger: A lot of youngsters are going for these vintage and analogue pieces of musical equipment. Why do you think that is?

David: "Iíve got this guitar like Eric Clapton had and I can play like Eric Clapton."

Digger: So itís emulating and imitating their heroes?

David: Yes, but I donít knock it.

Digger: Is it also that theyíre saying ďThis is the proper, authentic sound and I want that.Ē

David: Yes, people do want that analogue sound and to a certain extent I would agree Ė with a Hammond you canít mimic it or the Rhodes Ė theyíve both got a distinct sound of their own. Your Rhodes doesnít even sound like your friends Rhodes. Theyíre all individual and all different. And the same with the early Strats, jazz basses or those nice old Gibsons. Thatís why they can be sold for silly money. You canít buy one new and whether itís worth the money they charge for them Iím not here to argue Ė Iím here to make sure they work. The man goes out of the door after Iíve repaired it and heís on cloud nine. And I really value my customers because a customer in your hand is worth ten out there.

Digger: Yes, itís so much more difficult to get a customer than to keep hold of them. Youíre lucky because youíve got a USP.

David: Yes, Iíve got a niche service.

Digger: And youíre loving what youíre doing and have got a passion for it.

David: Yes, definitely. Exactly, itís like somebody who enjoys painting.

Digger: Youíre an expert and people come to you Ė itís a good position to be Isnít it?

David: Yes, but of course, you donít make money out of it. You're not going to be a millionaire or buy a palace. Youíre not going to be able to buy a Roller. But you pay your mortgage and you have a reasonable living and really enjoy what youíre doing.

Digger: Itís a 24-hour business with The Internet, isn't it?

David: People email me on a Sunday and phone the next morning to see whatís happening!

Digger: And they say "Why havenít you answered my email?" What about the future David?

David: Another few years maybe. Who knows? It depends on how things go.

Digger: Youíre looking at a Ďproperí retirement at some stage?

David: Eventually. You get to a point where you canít work or don't want to work anymore. We might up sticks and move somewhere else but for the moment this is working well.

Digger: The best of luck with the business David. It's great doing something you're passionate about for a living, isn't it?

David: Yes, I'm very fortunate.

 

 

 
     
 

 

 
 

   

 
   

 

Electric Music.

Electric Music for Electronic Musical Instrument Repair & Servicing

Established in the music business for over forty years. Repairs and Servicing to a wide range of electronic music equipment. Including pianos, organs, synthesisers, amplifiers, mixers, effects, etc.

Pianos, Synthesisers, Organs, Amplifiers, Mixers , Effect Units, Etc...

CONN ELKA FARFISA FENDER RHODES HAMMOND JENNINGS LESLIE MELLOTRON ROLAND ROGERS YAMAHA VOX WURLITZER

Work can be carried out at your site whether it be your home, studio, school, church etc or my own workshop.
Located in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside just outside of Northampton only 10 minutes off the M1 no parking problems. If you are travelling a distance you can bring your instrument to me in the morning. I will then work on it during the day while you can go off and explore the locality, plenty to see and do. This is of course depending on making arrangements first and subject to the work involved.

I have a collection/delivery point in Central London for the convenience of customers in the London area .

David Wiseman
Tel 01604 583007
Mobile 07947 454449
546 Harlestone Road Northampton
NN5 6NU

david@electricmusic.co.uk

electricmusic.co.uk

 

 
     


 

 

 

 

 

 


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