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Effect Pedals: Which Brands and Models Sell Most?
“Our customer base is consisted of every age group, and they include professional artists and studio musicians. As live events have revived, musicians take models priced around 30,000 yen, but the best-selling items are inexpensive multiple-functioned effect pedals, such as BOSS GT-1, Zoom G1 FOUR and G1X FOUR purchased by junior and senior high school students who are first time guitarists started playing the instrument in pop music band.
“They study sound making and devices posted on YouTube. It often happens that such video movies of popular artists using effects board on live stage instantly attract attention of young fans and sell well. For example, VEMURAM, a Japanese brand which builds overdrive and fuzz units made a sensation in the world market after an overseas artist used it and uploaded the video clip.
“We have about 600 effect pedals of different brands on the shelves. It’s easy for customer to find the most desired unit as we hear about his or her guitar and amplifier in use and pick up best effect pedal from our rich selection. I feel I’m learning from customer in this communication process. Customer satisfaction comes first than anything else at us.”
Ryo Kobayashi, Amp Station, Ikebe Gakki, Tokyo
“We see a definite sign of economic recovery these months. Located in Ochanomizu, the ‘town of musical instruments’, broad range of customers from senior high-school students to senior citizens visit us. While young customer seeks new and unique effect pedals, not a few people like to buy traditional units such as Boss models and Ibanez Tube Screamer. We always stock these lines in the inventory.
“We also see change of trend from overdrive to fuzz. Customer tends to buy specific fuzz units which popular artists play on stage. Multi-effects pedals are the choice for entry level players as they provide versatile effect modes. Thanks to advance of digital technology, the fuzz machines today offer far richer tonal effects than previous models and they are becoming choice of even seasoned players.
“Well thought marketing directly leads to sales of effect pedals. We are ready to support customer with detailed information on products matched to their musical environment. Effect pedals easily become obsolete, but I believe we can overcome the problem with meticulous marketing.”
Shinya Yasumoto, assistant manager, Ishibashi Music Ochanomizu Main Store, Tokyo
“Consumer response to new products has become more moderate than before. It’s probably because new effect pedal makers joined the market, and wider selection of products are offered as a result. On the other hand, the market trend is set by influencers. It happened that the effect pedal used by popular guitarist AssH in a video clip co-performed with YOASOBI totally disappeared for 12 months from the sales floor of music store.
“The trend is effect pedal and multi-effects processor. Zoom G1 FOUR is popular among entry level players. They are a good choice when it comes to specification and price, but I am a little worried if the entry-level players can use the unit first bought as they expected. Our sales staff explain those units may be a bit hard to control for them, and suggests models matched to their needs. We want them feel fun and happy adding an effect pedal to their music.
“Another trend is growing demands for reverb units. Delay units are out. It naturally reflects today’s music trend.”
Yasunori Ishikawa, Ochanoizu Station Store, T. Kurosawa, Tokyo
“We concentrate on unique lines of effect pedals including self-imported and very maniac units. Our key customers really love them. Sales much depend on exposure on social media these days.
“Customer largely in their 30s, 40s and 50s visit us to try interested units themselves. Reflecting our strong selection of vintage type guitars and amps, we see growing demands for distortion units for more retrospective sounds than modern types. Sales of expensive SOLODALLAS units priced over 200,000 yen are increasing now among players seeking sound of Angus Young from AC/DC.
“Like many other products, we see price hikes of effect pedals. How much they will affect the sales of effect pedals is unknown, but we must watch carefully. Given that guitarists always seek second, third or fourth effect pedals, we will enhance our business concentrating taking and trading used units in.”
Takuya Mori, Miyaji Guitars Kanda, Tokyo
“After a bunch of new Japanese hand-made makers joined the market in 2015, sales of popular effect pedals diversified in the matured market. When the world went into the pandemic, demands grew for home studio recording and units that deliver sophisticated sound. Music makers turned to pick up units themselves for upgraded sound.
“Recently, a new business style came in as brands take social media as an effective marketing tool. While existent makers are struggling with shortage of parts and commodity price increase, a Japanese hand-made effect pedal builder showed outstanding performance with models priced around 30,000 Yen. The products sold out instantly when they were put into the market. In contrast, some established brands have difficulties to promote new models failing to spread sufficient information to support user.
“The trend is multi-effect processor which offers high quality sound and supports home studio recording at reasonable price as well as expensive cables to be used in sound recording.
“We have characteristic models not found at other stores to better meet individual needs of customer. It’s like offering a spot for treasure hunting. In addition to information obtainable from social media, we are always on the lookout for catchy items through talks with customer at the sales floor. “
Marina Yoshida, Miki Gakki Umeda Store, Osaka
“We came to sense little change in sales of pedal effects first in summer, last year. It was more visible by the year end. During the pandemic, people stayed at home doing sound recording and music production. They have got back to physical store.
“The best seller items here are digital pedal effects, in particular multi-effects processors priced over 200,000 yen. The units of BOSS and MXR sell constantly. Demands soared at the exact time when products went out from our shelves by shortage of chips. Import brands were particularly had hit as they take time to replenish the inventory. Sales of related products including switcher, power supply and board-mounting device are also strong.
“Music activity revived around the early May holiday season. Sales of compact type effect pedal and orders for custom-built effect board increased. As we totally relied on net sales during the pandemic, it’s so nice that we see customer at the sales floor trying and selecting favorite unit.
“Recently we have produced original pedal effect as we mark 75th anniversary in collaboration with a Japanese brand. The initial order sold out and the second order follows. We plan to promote this exclusive unit featuring original functions to increase customer traffic.”
Hisahiko Morikawa, store manager, Watanabe Musical Instruments Osaka Store, Osaka