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Article

Edmund A. Bowles

American firm of instrument makers. In 1849 Joseph Rogers, an Irish parchment-maker and musician, established a tannery (eventually located in Farmingdale, New Jersey) to manufacture high-quality animal skin for the fast-growing banjo and drum industry. For this purpose he used superior calfskin, and the best of his banjo heads became famous. The business prospered for several generations, but by the late 1930s the decline of the banjo’s popularity created a need to diversify the product line, so Rogers began to turn out drums and drum accessories. When Roger’s great-grandson, Cleveland Rogers, died without heirs in 1953, the firm was purchased by Henry Grossman and became a subsidiary of Grossman Music Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Three years later Rogers moved to a new factory in Covington, Ohio; its range of products was expanded, but when plastic heads became the norm the manufacture of calfskin heads was discontinued. The student market, in particular, grew after Donald G. Canedy, an educator, bandmaster, and percussion expert, was retained as a consultant. The company’s centerpiece was the Dyna-Sonic snare drum, with a unique cradle in which the snares were supported, so that the wire and snare tensions could be adjusted separately and the drum played at both low and high dynamic levels. Other innovations included the Dualmatic High-Hat Clutch, designed for the player of twin trap-drums; the Memriloc hardware system, which allowed the drummer to set up his equipment in precisely the same position each time; and the Swiv-O-Matic pedals for bass drum and hi-hat. In ...

Article

Roland  

Hugh Davies

Japanese company of electronic instrument manufacturers. It was founded in Osaka in 1972 by the electronics designer Ikutaro Kakehashi (who had co-founded Ace Electronic Industries in Osaka in 1955, marketing rhythm machines and Ace Tone electronic organs); it was named after the legendary medieval French hero. Expansion was rapid, and by the early 1980s the company employed over 500 people in Osaka alone. During the period 1988–90 Roland bought three foreign electronic keyboard manufacturers: Siel, Rodgers and Rhodes.

The range of Roland instruments has included monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers, synthesizer modules, remote keyboard controllers, electronic organs and pianos (many digital models), a digital harpsichord, home keyboards, guitar synthesizers, samplers, vocoders, sequencers and many electronic percussion devices and effects units, some under the names of Roland’s offshoots, Boss and Amdek. The company also manufactures a variety of sound equipment as well as a teaching system designed for use with Roland electronic keyboard instruments....

Article

Anne Beetem Acker

South Korean manufacturer of acoustic and digital instruments. The name Samick (‘three benefits’) refers to benefits to the company, its customers, and the national economy. Founded in 1958 by Hyo Ick Lee (d 1990) as a Baldwin piano distributor, the Samick Piano Co. began building uprights from imported parts under the name Horugel in 1960. In 1964 Samick became the first exporter of Korean pianos and in 1970 manufactured the first Korean grand. Guitar production began in 1965, eventually expanding to acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitars, banjos, and mandolins under the names Samick, Abilene, Silvertone, and the Greg Bennett Signature series. In 1973 the company was incorporated as Samick Musical Instruments Co., Ltd. In 1983 Samick engaged the German piano designer Klaus Fenner. Fenner introduced European-style scale designs and three-ply ‘surface tension’ soundboards, which are claimed not to crack or lose their crown and to suffer only a slight tonal disadvantage compared with solid spruce soundboards....

Article

Cheng Liu and Stewart Carter

Largest Chinese manufacturer of traditional instruments. Located in the Minhang district of Shanghai, the corporation was founded in 1958 through the consolidation of 86 small workshops. Huifang Ren led the company from its inception through 1962; Guozhen Wang has served as its director since 1998. The firm produces more than 60,000 erhus (including about 100 of top professional quality) and 40,000 guzhengs annually, and also makes pipas, ruans, yangqins, Chinese flutes, and a few non-Chinese instruments, notably marimbas. Proprietary subsidiaries of the corporation include Dunhuang Musical Instruments Company, Shanghai Guibao Musical Instruments Company, and Lankao Shanghai Musical Instruments Company in Lankao. The firm has manufactured instruments under the Dunhuang brand since 1962. In 1999 the firm signed a cooperative agreement with the Central Chinese Orchestra in Beijing, under which instruments in that orchestra have gradually been replaced with Dunhuang instruments. The firm also maintains a close relationship with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Many instruments bearing the Dunhuang brand are exported, particularly through Eason Music in Singapore....

Article

Teisco  

Anne Beetem Acker

Brand of inexpensive musical instruments owned by Kawai since 1967. Teisco grew from a firm originally called Aoi Onpa Kenkyujo, or Hollyhock Soundwave Laboratories, founded in 1946 by the guitarist Atswo Kaneko and electrical engineer Doryu Matsuda. The name was changed to Nippon Onpa Kogyo Co. in 1956 and to Teisco Co. in 1964. The Teisco brand name, first used in 1948, initially covered microphones, amplifiers, and a lap steel guitar. In 1952 the firm produced an acoustic Spanish guitar modelled after that of Gibson, with a microphone pickup. In 1954 Teisco introduced their first solid-body electric guitars, copied from a Les Paul design. The guitars were sold under various names at discount stores in the USA (as Teisco Del Rey, Kingston, Silvertone, Kent, Beltone, Duke, World Teisco) and the UK (as Arbiter, Sonatone, Audition, Kay, Top Twenty). In the early 1960s Teisco released the EB-1 bass electric guitar and began making electric guitars with unusual shapes. In ...

Article

Uakti  

Laurence Libin

Brazilian ensemble notable for its use of novel acoustic instruments. The quintet, founded in 1978–9 by the composer, cellist, and instrument maker Marco Antônio Guimarães (b 10 Oct 1948), was named for a mythical being of the Tukano people, whose perforated body sounded as wind blew over it, and from whose grave grew palm trees from which flutes were made. Among Uakti’s many unconventional instruments, mostly made by Guimarães, are so-called Pans, graduated lengths of PVC tubing recalling the tubes of a panpipe but struck by hand or with mallets; marimbas with bars of construction lumber or glass, both types mounted above movable soundboxes; bowed string instruments including the Iarra, a kind of cello with two sets of strings that can be fingered simultaneously, the Chori Smetano, said by its creator, Guimaraes’s teacher Walter Smetak, to be able to evoke opposite feelings simultaneously, and the Torre, a PVC tube with strings stretched along it—the tube is turned on its axis by a handle while another person bows it, creating chords that vary with the speed of the turning and the number of strings bowed; and drums such as the Trilobyte, comprising 10 PVC tubes in a frame, with drum heads over the top openings, played melodically by two drummers. Uakti also employs conventional and traditional instruments of several cultures. The group’s success, for example in collaboration with Philip Glass, has led to imitation by other musicians seeking new sounds from familiar materials....

Article

Carolyn Bryant

Society founded in 1973 to promote the art and science of making, repairing, and preserving string instruments and their bows. Membership is open to all who share an interest in the violin, viola, cello, bass, and their bows, reflecting a diverse range of interests, including craftsmanship, acoustics, innovation, the history of instruments and performers, technique, performance practice, repertory, and other matters pertaining to instruments of the violin family. In 2011 the society had over 1400 members, with 29% from outside the United States.

The group holds an annual convention, offering lectures, demonstrations of violin and bow making, exhibits, and performances, and is well known for its biannual international competition for new instruments and bows. It publishes the refereed Journal of the Violin Society of America and VSA Papers, as well as a newsletter, and maintains a website (<http://www.vsa.to>). Jointly with Oberlin College, the VSA has sponsored summer workshops (since ...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover, Roslyn Rensch and Hugh Davies

American firm of instrument makers and dealers of German origin.

Cynthia Adams Hoover

(Franz) Rudolph Wurlitzer (b Schöneck, Saxony, 31 Jan 1831; d Cincinnati, 14 Jan 1914) came to the USA in 1853; he settled in Cincinnati and began dealing in musical instruments in addition to working in a local bank. It is likely that he was one of a long line of Saxon instrument makers, beginning with Heinrich Wurlitzer (1595–1656), a lute maker. By 1860 he had a thriving trade and is said to have been a leading supplier of military wind instruments and drums during the Civil War. In 1865 he opened a branch in Chicago and in 1872 joined his brother Anton to form the partnership of Rudolph Wurlitzer & Bro. On 25 March 1890 the firm was incorporated as the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. Rudolph served as president of the corporation from 1890 to 1912...

Article

Cynthia Adams Hoover, Roslyn Rensch and Hugh Davies

Firm of instrument makers and dealers of German origin.

Rudolph Wurlitzer (Franz Rudolph Wurlitzer; b Schöneck, Saxony, 31 Jan 1831; d Cincinnati, OH, 14 Jan 1914) came to the United States in 1853; he settled in Cincinnati and began dealing in musical instruments in addition to working in a local bank. It is likely that he was one of a long line of Saxon instrument makers, beginning with Heinrich Wurlitzer (1595–1656), a lute maker. By 1860 he had a thriving trade and is said to have been a leading supplier of military wind instruments and drums during the Civil War. In 1865 he opened a branch in Chicago and in 1872 joined his brother Anton to form the partnership of Rudolph Wurlitzer & Bro. On 25 March 1890 the firm was incorporated as the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. Rudolph served as president of the corporation from 1890 to 1912...