Current Issue
Email

A quarter-century of Dealers’ Choice Awards (DCAs)! It’s our “Silver Anniversary!”

That’s a pretty significant milestone and, boy, did voters come out in droves to celebrate. The 2017 process far eclipsed even last year’s impressive, record-setting numbers with thousands upon thousands of registered MMR subscribers participating in both the nominations and final voting (for those of you who may be wondering, “Why isn’t my brand represented in the _______ category?” or “How come I didn’t get an opportunity to vote?” all I can say is: check your emails and “regular” mailings more closely in the coming year and, if you’re not currently subscribing to MMR… sign up, already! If you’re actually in the industry, we want to connect with you – and it’s free!).

This annual event is incredibly meaningful because, unlike other awards which designate “best of” products or “best in show” brands, the DCAs aren’t determined by a single editor, or by some panel of self-appointed “experts” – MMR’s Dealers’ Choice Awards are bestowed upon the best instruments, gear, and companies as determined by MI retailers. Sure, I know what guitars I like to play and over here at Musical Merchandise Review we all do our best to follow and report upon trends in the industry, but I don’t own a musical instrument dealership, I don’t have a precise knowledge of what gear has been generating the most profit for the past 12 months. These trophies get handed out to the brands that MI retailers tell us are pushing the boundaries and driving the industry. To those organizations – and to all of the dealers who voted this year – we appreciate all that you do.

Our thanks to everyone who participated in the nomination process this past summer and who then cast their votes this fall. Read on to learn more about the 2017 Dealers’ Choice Award winners…

 

PRODUCT OF THE YEAR: BOSS KATANA

Roland Corporation

With a range that includes versatile combos, powerful heads, and even a compact battery-powered unit (I have one – it’s great!), BOSS’ Katana amplifiers connect with players of all styles and budgets. Select functions derived from the celebrated Waza amp series, integrated access to a wide range of BOSS effects, Tone Setting memories, and inspired design that allows the units to excel both on-stage and at lower volume, home settings all combine to make the Katana amps an across-the-board hit. Dealers pointed to the line’s popularity with end-users and nice profit margins as reasons why these truly innovative products are the clear Product of the Year for 2017. These amps sound absolutely amazing, look boss (see what I did there?), and have reasonable price-points. Well, done BOSS!

roland.com

 

ACCESSORY LINE OF THE YEAR: D’ADDARIO

D’Addario & Company

Industry go-to strings? Check. High-quality instrument and speaker cables? Check. Clip-on and stompbox tuners? Check. Drumheads, sticks, reeds… you get the point. D’Addario beat out the competition in a very hotly contested category this year – once again! A commitment to quality design and manufacture, coupled with a dedication to collaboration with their MI retail partners were all factors that 2017 Dealers’ Choice Award voters pointed to as reasons why D’Addario & Co. are still tops when it comes to musical accessories.

daddario.com

 

 

ACOUSTIC GUITAR OF THE YEAR: MARTIN D-28

C.F. Martin & Company

Oh, Martin makes acoustic guitars that both pros and aficionados embrace and/or covet, you say? Shocking. The D-28 truly is the Dreadnought that set – and continues to set – the standard. When an instrument going for over $3,000 is a clear winner in a Dealers’ Choice Award category, that truly says something.

Impeccable craftsmanship, high-quality materials (East Indian rosewood back and sides, Sitka spruce top, and mahogany neck), and a classic aesthetic have made the D-28 a favorite for decades. Hey, if Jimmy Page, Del McCoury, and Hank Williams Sr. choose/chose to play the thing, who am I to argue? Not a “new product,” but this model continues to impress – and likely will for many decades to come. This one’s been on my Christmas wish-list since I was 14…

martinguitar.com

 

 

 

ACOUSTIC PIANO LINE OF THE YEAR: HAILUN

Vienna International Inc. dba Hailun USA

An established and celebrated brand in China for over two decades, Hailun is continuing to make a positive impression on U.S. players and dealers. Since partnering with noted Austrian piano master-builder Peter Veletzky in 2003, the brand’s reputation has soared and the quality and product excellence of these instruments has made them favorites of thousands of players, globally. Over 80 American authorized Hailun dealers have fully embraced these pianos – as have their customers. Hailun is no stranger to the MMR Dealers’ Choice Awards winner’s circle and 2017 represents yet another victory-lap for the company.

hailun-pianos.com

 

AMPLIFIER LINE OF THE YEAR: MARSHALL

Marshall Amplification, PLC

With products that have helped shape the sound and legacy of The Who, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, AC/DC, The Runaways, Slayer, Guns ‘n Roses, Aerosmith, and Motörhead (RIP Lemmy. L) – among many, many, many others – it’s really not a surprise that Marshall Amplification got the nod in this category. Frankly, it’s surprising the brand hasn’t won the DCA for “Amplifier Line of the Year” more often in the past! The Mini Jubliee Series and Vintage Re-issue models were noted by voters in this year’s ballot as being particularly impactful in 2017.

Speaking of Marshall re-issues, the minute these guys put out a JCM800 Anniversary Series combo (white tolex, man!) I will be the first in line. Made in England, played all over the world – Marshall! I’m gonna go disturb the neighbors now, by cranking my JMP 100-watt…

mashallamps.com

 

BAND & ORCHESTRA LINE OF THE YEAR: YAMAHA

Yamaha Corporation of America

A commitment to superior design, customer service, and dealer support makes Yamaha a juggernaut across so many (so many!) instrument types. The brand was a near-win in multiple Dealers’ Choice Awards categories this year, but when it came to Band & Orchestra instruments they were clearly the brand in 2017. Percussion, brass & woodwinds, strings, marching instruments – Yamaha does it all and, according to voters this year, they’re doing it better than anyone out there.

usa.yamaha.com

 

 

DJ LINE OF THE YEAR: PIONEER DJ

 Pioneer DJ Corporation

Fielding celebrated and essential gear for DJs of all types – players, turntables, mixers, monitors, and more – Pioneer DJ has long been a favorite with MI retailers and customers. The recently introduced DJS- 1000 standalone DJ sampler and XDJ-RX2 all-in-one DJ system were singled out as a late-in-the-year hit by DCA voters, as Pioneer ultimately took the prize in this very competitive category. The “DJ world” shows no signs of slowing down and, as the name suggests, Pioneer is leading the way.

pioneerdj.com

 

 

ELECTRIC BASS OF THE YEAR: IBANEZ SOUNDGEAR SERIES

Hoshino Group

Ibanez’s SR Series has been singled out as “Electric Bass of the Year” by Dealers’ Choice Award voters in the past – and deservedly so – and this year saw the venerable line once again taking top honors in this category. For nearly three decades the Ibanez Soundgear series has resonated with bassists and retailers. Models vary from the “bare-bones” GSR and GSRM to pristine basses featuring exotic woods and hardware plated with precious metals, such as the SR Premium and SR Prestige. Soundgear basses are beloved by players for their fast, thin necks and smooth, elegantly contoured bodies – and by MI dealers for their ability to generate profits!

hoshinousa.com

 

ELECTRIC GUITAR OF THE YEAR: FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL STRATOCASTER

Fender Musical Instruments Corporation

Ah, the Fender Strat… Ask a non-musician to draw or envision an electric guitar and odds are that he or she would come up with a Stratocaster-shaped instrument.

If there is a single, iconic “rock guitar” this is it. Fender recently upped the ante with the American Professional Series, offering new features such as a “Deep C” neck profile, Narrow-Tall frets, V-Mod and ShawBucker pickups, and brand-new finishes – Candy Apple Red and Natural – that truly connected with customers. Virtually every MI retailer playing the electric guitar game wants to stock Fenders and nearly every guitarist, from beginners to seasoned pros, wants at least one Strat in their arsenal. It’s not surprising that the American Professional Stratocaster was deemed “Electric Guitar of the Year” by DCA voters. “Fly on, little wing,” indeed…

fender.com

 

HOME DIGITAL KEYBOARD OF THE YEAR: KAWAI CN SERIES

Kawai America Corporation

The CN27 and CN37 continue to meet the high standards set by the much-lauded CN Series of digital pianos from Kawai. Feature-rich, with authentic touch and resonant sound, these instruments – that are compact enough to fit into a small city apartment – have become favorites of players across the globe. Re-defining the concept of “value” in this category, Kawai’s CN line also includes the CN14 which features the Advanced Hammer Action IV-F keyboard action and Harmonic Imaging sound technology – all at a surprisingly affordable price. Dealers love them, customers love them – no wonder the CN Series was chosen as the “Home Digital Keyboard of the Year” for 2017 by voters.

kawaius.com

 

 

LIGHTING LINE OF THE YEAR: CHAUVET DJ

Chauvet DJ

For the past few years, Chauvet DJ has had a virtual lock on this category – and it’s easy to see why. One of the world’s premier lines of entertainment lighting, controllers, and accessories, the company offers any number of products invaluable to working DJs, clubs, and other venues. Innovative designs and value-oriented prices make Chauvet a leader in luminaries, controllers, atmospherics, and trussing. “Lighting Line of the Year” is always a tight race in the annual DCA voting, but Chauvet DJ once again rose to the top of the heap in 2017. These guys (and gals!) know what they’re doing and it’s going to be difficult to unseat them as winners in this category anytime soon.

chauvetDJ.com

 

MICROPHONE LINE OF THE YEAR: SENNHEISER

Sennheiser Electronic GmbH & Co. KG|USA

For over 70 years, Sennheiser has been producing innovative, industry-leading microphones and related products. The MD421, MD 441, e609, and e602 are legendary and newer introductions such as the AVX Digital Wireless system continue to push the brand forward, making it the choice for performers and recording engineers the world over. Fun (well, not at the time) story: I accidentally spilled an iced coffee on a vintage 441 while I was a student at Berklee, and I legitimately thought my professor was going to strangle me.

en-us.sennheiser.com

 

PERCUSSION LINE OF THE YEAR: LUDWIG

Ludwig Drums

Since 1909, Ludwig has been one of the premier names in percussion. Counting the likes of Ringo Starr, Bill Ward, John Bonham, and Alex Van Halen among the many who have embraced the brand over the years, Ludwig Drums is truly iconic. From the Vistalite kits to the Black Beauty snare drum, this company continues to field instruments embraced by drummers of all stripes. This is always a very tight category, but the dealers made their voices heard – 2017 was Ludwig’s year!

ludwig-drums.com

 

PRINT MUSIC PUBLISHER OF THE YEAR: HAL LEONARD

Hal Leonard

Hal Leonard… What’s there to say, really? The company has such a stranglehold on the “Print Music Publisher of the Year” one would be tempted to say it’s getting to be unfair – except for the fact that it’s easy to see why retailers continue to point to these guys as the most deserving. An exhaustive catalog of titles, coupled with industry leading customer service and dealer support continue to make Hal Leonard the brand to beat when it comes to print. Oh, and it bears mentioning that they’re all super nice folks over there!

Halleonard.com

 

 

 

 

PRO DIGITAL KEYBOARD LINE OF THE YEAR: CASIO

Casio America, Inc.

Another tight race here – Casio snuck by the competition, though, and dealers cited the company’s commitment to innovation and value as the main reasons. If you still think of those fun/funny little keyboards from the ‘80s when someone says “Casio,” it’s time to update your reality. These days the company is producing some of the finest, feature-rich keyboard consoles out there and both consumers and MI retailers have been taking notice for years.

casio-usa.com

 

RECORDING LINE OF THE YEAR: PRESONUS

PreSonus Audio Electronics, Inc.

A real and genuine feel-good legacy of homegrown ingenuity and drive, the PreSonus story is one that inspires those of us who give a damn about making music. Co-founder and the company’s current CSO Jim Odum is a legit gigging musician (the dude has RIAA-certified gold- and platinum records – do you?) and also, y’know, a frickin’ genius. Drawing upon his background in electrical engineering (Jim designed military spec. surface-mount technology-based sonar equipment. What did you do after graduating college?), Odum and his partners have forged a company culture that speaks to – and for – actual musicians, dealing with real-world budgets. Great gear at attainable prices. It comes as a surprise to nobody around here that PreSonus absolutely decimated any competition in this category. A well-deserved win for an amazing company.

presonus.com

 

SOUND REINFORCEMENT LINE OF THE YEAR: JBL

Harman International Industries, Inc. While JBL is fairly ubiquitous when it comes to sound reinforcement, it’s likely that James Bullough Lansing had little notion of what a legendary brand he was founding way back in 1946 when he departed his former position at Altec Lansing. If you’ve gone to a stadium concert, a major sports event, a local rock club, or a church event, chances are you’ve heard words and music projected through JBL loudspeakers, mixers, and associated gear. This is a case of, “Oh… I guess there’s a reason why they’re the biggest name in the game.” There are plenty of quality players in sound reinforcement – the votes in this category spoke to a number of deserving candidates – but JBL is JBL, man. Sometimes the big dog is big for a reason. Arf! Hats off to Harman’s crown jewel.

jblpro.com



Visit our online supplier directory for the latest industry resources:

 

 

MMR Supplier Directory

Visit our online supplier directory for the latest industry resources:

Get the MMR newsletter!