Echigoya, another synth power-spot in Tokyo

In January this year I presented the FiveG store in Harajuku, Tokyo, but the city is home to many other fantastic gems for synth heads. Today I’ll post some pictures from the Echigoya Music (えちごやミュージック) store in Shibuya.

Along with FiveG, I would list Echigoya as probably one of the best spots in Tokyo to go searching for vintage or just used synthesizers and other studio gear. It’s a small shop but filled floor to ceiling with some really fantastic gear. Prices are reasonable too, and the manager is more than happy to assist with shipping to just about any region of the world.

To get to this store you get off at the Shibuya station and walk towards Harajuku along the JR (Yamanote) line tracks. You’ll bump into Tower Records on your right side.

TowerRecords

Echigoya will be across the street.

EchigoyaExt

You have to take the elevator up to the 9th floor.

EchigoyaElevator

Inside you’ll find keyboards, synth modules, rack gear, accessories and tons of other gear.

E_Keyboards

Look at that, a used Korg Volca Beats makes a surprise appearance. I would have bought it but my mind is set on a Elektron Machinedrum now…

E_VolcaBeats

Lots and lots of gear.

E_Keyboards2

If I had the means I would have picked up a SEM or two…

E_SEMmodules

Lot’s of MPC goodness. With some custom skins too…

E_MPCs

On a side note, when I was walking back to Harajuku I spotted this charming sign near the Yoyogi park:

Sign

It basically says that all unauthorized live music performances using amps are forbidden in the park. The background is most likely that this has traditionally been one of the most popular spots for amateur bands and performers to do impromptu shows. Thus, today the area was entirely devoid of any music and mostly desolated. Sad to see such a nice ‘tradition’ go, but I’m sure they will find other spots across the city.

Check out the Echigoya Music website here!

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Elektron Side Cheeks / Panels Part 3

Check the following posts for part 1 and part 2!

I had my second meeting at the studio where the side panels will be made. At my first meeting with the carpenter (furniture maker?) we discussed the choice of wood and went over some simple design directions. This was mostly to get a sense for material and time so that I could get  a rough estimate on the cost.

DSC00932In today’s meeting we went deeper into the precise angles of the tiers and details around air vents, decorative additions and spacings for cables.

I have to say it’s very impressive to talk to a true expert at these things.

Even while listening to my ramblings about standing up vs. sitting down, studio and live use and so forth he was casually drawing up designs that were miles ahead of the sketches that I had brought. I also completed the actual formal order so that work can start for real.

These panels will not be cheap, but on the other hand they are hand made by an expert wood smith from one of the most famous craft regions in Japan. I also get it made precisely to the specifications I want.

More to follow :).

Elektron Side Cheeks / Panels Part 2

As you may know I’m working on some designs for Elektron Side Cheeks / Panels. Read Part 1 here for the background.

Here are some photos of my extremely crude prototype boards that I made to check the angles for the tiers:

DSC00934

I didn’t have any tools (currently traveling…) so I went to a local home center and borrowed an electric jigsaw. The holes are drilled using a small hand drill that I picked up for $10. The wood is a simple pine board ($3). All in all this little crappy prototype / test (which actually works!) cost about $15 to make.

DSC00936

I started with a high angle and gradually shaved off degrees so that I could check both the standing and sitting viewing angles. The angle in the photos is final result for the lower tier.

I also realized that I wanted at least 10mm of space between the lower tier machine and the table top to pass cables under the stand.

This is to accommodate a possible third machine placed directly on the table top in front of the stand. Other important lessons include the space needed for the cables attached to the back of the lower tier machine, and making sure that the upper tier does not cover the controls of the lower tier.

Elektron Side Cheeks / Panels Part 1

I bought a Analog Four synth from Elektron back in January and I have to say that the more time I spend with it the more impressed I get. It’s true that the workflow can be a bit difficult to get used to, there is definitely a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually very fast and intuitive.

I’ve also been lusting for a drum synthesizer / beat box for a long time, and I was almost entirely set on a DSI Tempest, but I have to say that the workflow of the Elektron machines is so good that lately I’ve also started considering a Machinedrum instead.

Regardless, I know I will want an Octatrack as well some day, so I started thinking about how to best place and support the Analog Four and which ever other (Octatrack or Machinedrum) I by next.

Looking around the web a lot of people are designing and building their own mini-racks or side panels to stack two or more Elektron machines. While some of them look good and ergonomic, I figured it would be really fun to try and come up with a design / material that would both look great and have excellent ergonomics fit for my own personal workflow. Ideally it should support both a standing and sitting position with great viewing angles, be sturdy enough to not topple over while playing live, and be transportable.

Since I’m currently in Japan I started looking around for someone with the right tools and materials for the job and I’ve met with a great furniture designer with whom I’ve started working on a design for a 2-tier wooden solution.

I will keep you posted on the progress. :)

Pelican cases are amazing!

’nuff said.

Really though, I’m currently in Japan and for the trip I brought the portable setup described below. I checked in the pelican case at the airline counter thinking that it’s content should be well protected by the hard case and the inline foam.

When I picked it up again at the baggage claim in Tokyo there were some serious dents in the case. One of the corners had been shaved down by about 3mm and there were some deep indentations in the protective risings on the lid.

At first I was worried that it might have fallen from some high up place, like the top of a stack of suitcases on a carrier truck, but then again this is exactly the kind of scenario I was imagining when I decided to go with a pelican case.

Once I arrived at the place we are staying I got all the gear set up and connected and it turns out that nothing was damaged and everything sounds and works just fine. I have to say I’m impressed with the fantastic quality of the case and I highly recommend it to anyone planning on traveling with sensitive musical instruments.