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BritBass 2

ABC Music Retail from the 1980’s , any memories ?

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  On hearing the sad news about Dawson’s Music going into administration I thought it was about  time  to rummage through a stack of old video tapes and reminisce on how the high street was for us over thirty years ago . Back in the 1970’s and 80’s ABC Music became one of the largest music retail chains  in the South.  With branches based in Addlestone , Esher, Surbiton, Slough , Oxford and Bristol , the company was for many the introduction and progression with both music and especially  gear acquisition syndrome (GAS). Countless hours were spent drooling over guitars , amps and effects in that quest for the ultimate set up. With the exception of Esher , sadly too ,these shops are now long gone..
      Anybody here have a few memories or  stories they could share ? Apologies for the photo quality as these were taken from 1980’s video footage.0D6C41C8-F306-4ACF-9112-DC8F1C1B4A09.thumb.jpeg.a087b391f86284ca76fa2882b00dc5fc.jpegA98ADC94-3E9B-4B49-BD16-7360B4B761CA.thumb.jpeg.9cb3f4b59705baae02d58d999a9fc9cb.jpeg8B6C692A-E972-417F-9D5F-67ACC49D2AA4.thumb.jpeg.7f2d9c4fd8a3ed3341f78250e333b380.jpegACB343CC-0FD0-4586-96D1-77EEDFC8BFE6.thumb.jpeg.35204a1960acfe38fe889baac2c97955.jpegF6599AAC-86C0-486A-AAF8-864E49CAC49F.thumb.jpeg.5bec2cc04fb62fb86aeecc7b636ae957.jpeg951900EF-F425-406A-BF15-4D7396C764C0.thumb.jpeg.3b01fd27c9428db268b0becc38018c10.jpegE5B5D28D-0593-4014-BFD5-ACD5272AFB12.thumb.jpeg.b4ad87a49c56c83a6f88ae69dcbef067.jpegE621CB15-E625-4288-A466-DD917FD8C756.thumb.jpeg.69748fe2ab3bc7a58142d8a7da1ebb31.jpegF30CF26F-CF22-4E0C-AB4A-0BF58F41E058.thumb.jpeg.3ad06b367a4d66df0aef19da01cda00d.jpeg79DE83AB-C6DC-47A1-A821-20BC1803AC03.thumb.jpeg.9f3e5ef81263daac4423cfb6097b4618.jpegD31D43FD-1559-4CCB-A4C3-255FA2538B20.thumb.jpeg.3ead3a7e4b5ad24d22dfd350dbe2f4ba.jpeg

Edited by BritBass 2
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ABC Surbiton. I bought my Wal mk3 Custom there. I think that was around 2004.

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I bought a fair amount of gear from ABC in Surbiton in the 80s including my first bass amp, a secondhand Ohm GA125 which I bought with a 15" Laney cab. I also bought a Yamaha CX5M music computer system when they were first available in 1984 and later a Casio MG-510 midi guitar.

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As a SW London/Surrey boy I used to love a visit to ABC Music on my trips into Kingston/Surbiton.... and even more so when I was at Kingston College. Decent gear selection for a small shop and occasionally a s/h bargain to be had. Much missed....

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I have very fond memories of the Surbiton branch in the early 80s when I used to pop in to play with the synths.  I still have GAS for a Jupiter 4.

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Carvin stockists miss their gear too, bought my Carvin Pro bass 500 from the slough branch, mid 90's  i think

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12 minutes ago, BritBass 2 said:

The Surbiton team - including Russell, Simon , Rob, Barry and Graham (RIP).45F61347-D9F0-4524-8F37-438652AE0EA2.thumb.jpeg.45ede60f25d729799d8cb396368a03fc.jpeg

Wow. I played in 3 different bands with Simon and never saw him with a tash before!!

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I remember ABC well, and then in the 90’s I used to use Hands Music in Kingston near the market.  Bought my first Stingray there.

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Bought an Ampeg B15-T from the Slough branch in the 90's.

IIRC, the parking was awful which can't have helped in the long run.

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19 hours ago, skankdelvar said:

Bought an Ampeg B15-T from the Slough branch in the 90's.

IIRC, the parking was awful which can't have helped in the long run.

Graham White was the manager of Slough and Kingston back in the eighties and previously worked at Denny Laine Music, Weybridge. Also  appeared on TOTP with Don McLean playing American Pie.139AB4B7-9D51-42CF-BC08-0655E2A4F866.thumb.jpeg.9fcb0f00f60e3a29bae9ff435c6688b9.jpeg

Edited by BritBass 2
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4 minutes ago, BritBass 2 said:

Sadly it too became a retail casualty.

:(

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5 hours ago, gt4ever said:

I remember ABC well, and then in the 90’s I used to use Hands Music in Kingston near the market.  Bought my first Stingray there.

Hands Music was very much a friendly family focused shop as much as it was for serving the  professional musician. Such a shame for this long established business to now be just consigned to Kingston’s history .

Edited by BritBass 2

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USA Strat circa 1990 bought by telephone and email from ABC. Still have it, as it was as good as they said.   

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Graham White was the manager at Hands for awhile. Lovely guy and great guitarist.

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Oh this brings back so many memories... spent ages in ABC in both Addlestone and Slough. Bought quite a few bits and bobs from Addlestone and rented some PA gear from them a few times. They were early stockists of Levinson Blades and used to drool over them. Still “look at the store”every time I drive through the crossroads. Bought my first acoustic guitar from the Slough branch - lovely slope shouldered Dread by Washburn - D25S - solid spruce top and a really nice ovangkol back and sides.

The Slough branch featured in the film “Buddy’s Song” - where a Roger Daltry takes the one and only Chesney Hawkes to buy a guitar in the movie...

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DA26025D-6B29-49F5-8223-14509287A527.thumb.png.b2f124f53038528fb53ba60a477ea16c.png

 

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A few more video stills  from Slough . During filming gravity definitely  got the better  of the window display guitar ,without doubt a headstock reshaping momentDC9B42A8-6C3F-422F-9CA6-76D7FDE8D391.thumb.jpeg.2ee19dabfbca51721848b7c3fcba2c50.jpeg751BFD26-CDEE-44DC-A1C6-2F400D563643.thumb.jpeg.b5e1fcdf2a0224fc23f163d60cd841a4.jpeg653B274F-75BA-41B0-B8BE-F74782789996.thumb.jpeg.52f4f656f50f94e39e9de3a92499ab83.jpeg75D232A2-3227-435D-BD8D-9CB7B2E3EB5A.thumb.jpeg.8ed2db38278a5b895aa513de6cf48039.jpeg2058FD3B-4CBA-4F19-9759-7DE8E80B4B99.thumb.jpeg.6421ed266bd9ab9a1766a71c8b18513a.jpegD095B114-80BB-4E49-9372-3330A4F24E65.thumb.jpeg.42acb6e6867e9da4b793018d2080bbca.jpeg.

Edited by BritBass 2
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I don’t remember this place, Academy of Sound was the only chain I remember when I started playing in the early 2000s.

But I do have an observation to make.

Looking at those pics the amps (and the haircuts!) look very dated and of their time. However the guitars haven’t changed at all. Those pics could have been taken in any music shop today.

I’ve never considered it before but I guess guitar styles just never change. I wonder why the same manufacturers feel the need to make their amps look more modern every so often.

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11 minutes ago, joeystrange said:

I don’t remember this place, Academy of Sound was the only chain I remember when I started playing in the early 2000s.

But I do have an observation to make.

Looking at those pics the amps (and the haircuts!) look very dated and of their time. However the guitars haven’t changed at all. Those pics could have been taken in any music shop today.

I’ve never considered it before but I guess guitar styles just never change. I wonder why the same manufacturers feel the need to make their amps look more modern every so often.

Funny isn’t it. At least in the bass world amps have (mostly) got more advanced and much more portable.

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18 hours ago, chris_b said:

Graham White was the manager at Hands for awhile. Lovely guy and great guitarist.

 

Phil Lusher (son of Big Band leader Don Lusher) managed Hands for quite a while too at the site in the alley by the Thames. I also remember when Hands was further down the Thames road out of town.... and, before that, just a small concession in the original Bentalls in Kingston (god I'm old...)

Phil had previously been manager at Ivor Mairaints just off Oxford St in London's West End....

Edited by cetera

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Wasn't there also an ABC Music in Kew - on one of the parades of shops near the station... much more of a "schools music" shop rather than a "guitar shop".

Also, about Kingston Upon Thames guitar shops... what was the shop up the hill on the outskirts of town, more on the Surbiton or New Malden side? That was definitely much more of a guitar shop...

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3 hours ago, cetera said:

 

Phil Lusher (son of Big Band leader Don Lusher) managed Hands for quite a while too at the site in the alley by the Thames. I also remember when Hands was further down the Thames road out of town.... and, before that, just a small concession in the original Bentalls in Kingston (god I'm old...)

Phil had previously been manager at Ivor Mairaints just off Oxford St in London's West End....

The last time I saw Phil a two or three years ago, he was helping out at Sutton Music Centre

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1 hour ago, TrevorR said:

Wasn't there also an ABC Music in Kew - on one of the parades of shops near the station... much more of a "schools music" shop rather than a "guitar shop".

Also, about Kingston Upon Thames guitar shops... what was the shop up the hill on the outskirts of town, more on the Surbiton or New Malden side? That was definitely much more of a guitar shop...

 

There was a shop halfway between Tolworth and Surbiton/Kingston on the site of the old Bell Accordion shop that my friend used to manage - can't remember the name of it now - but Jon Law of Feline Guitars had a workshop there for a while as well.

Just remembered that ABC had a short lived shop on The Ridgeway, Wimbledon Village for a while too in the 90's....

Edited by cetera

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