Wednesday, April 16th

Master Luthier, Kazuo Yairi Dies Aged 81

posted March 10, 2014 in Featured News

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – It is with great sadness that St. Louis Music announces the death of Master Luthier and dear friend, Kazuo Yairi.  Mr. Yairi passed away in his hometown of Kani, Japan on Wednesday March 5th, 2014.

As owner and president of the Yairi Guitar Company, Mr. Yairi helped change the landscape of acoustic guitar manufacturing and distribution.  His company was one of the first to export professional acoustic guitars to the United States, and became the main manufacturer of Alvarez and Alvarez-Yairi guitars, owned and distributed worldwide by St. Louis Music.

Mr. Yairi and former owner of St. Louis Music Gene Kornblum, forged a close business relationship from the late 1960’s that saw them build Alvarez and Yairi into globally recognized brands.  Through his passion and commitment, Kazuo Yairi became one of the most innovative and highly regarded Master Luthiers of modern times.  Yairi

“He believed that you had to work the wood by hand and get close to it to build better guitars, listening with your hands as you carved,” Says Chris Meikle, Senior VP at St. Louis Music and head of Alvarez development.  “I feel incredibly blessed to have known and worked with Mr. Yairi.  Even at 80 years old he would lead R&D meetings and sometimes call the whole factory into the room and give a Statesmen-style, impassioned address to the workforce.  He is one the largest, most interesting and naturally charismatic men I have ever known.”

Mr. Yairi was born into the musical instrument business in 1932.  His father, Gi’ichi Yairi, trained as a luthier at the Suzuki violin factory in Nagoya before leaving to set up Yairi Musical Instruments to make his own violins and classical guitars.  Kazuo took over his father’s business in 1965.  After visiting the United States to study steel string acoustic guitar making, he formed the Yairi Guitar Factory and began exporting handmade acoustic and classical guitars.

Innovation was always a large part of Yairi’s approach to design. He incorporated unique elements such as his direct-coupled bridge system, and extended dovetail neck joint, combining traditional, handmade luthiery and an obsessive attention to detail to create exquisite guitars.  His instruments have been used by some of the world’s major artists such as Ritchie Blackmore, Joe Bonamassa, Bono, Johnny Cash, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Ani DiFranco, Jerry Garcia, Dave Mason, Sir Paul McCartney, Monte Montgomery, Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood, Bob Weir, and many more.

In 2005 the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare decorated Mr. Yairi in recognition of his eminent craftsmanship and in 2006 he was awarded a Yellow Ribbon Medal of Honor by the Japanese Emperor, a prestigious acknowledgment of Kazuo’s lifetime of dedicated work and his indelible contribution to society and future generations.

Mr. Yairi leaves his wife, daughter and son in law and two granddaughters, and many loyal colleagues, some of which he has worked with more than 50 years. His legacy will live on through the hands of the craftspeople and luthiers he has trained, and his company will continue, managed by his family.

“All of us at Alvarez are all greatly saddened by this loss,” Meikle continues.  “Mr. Yairi is one of the reasons Alvarez exists and irreplaceable because of his wonderful personality.  His work will continue, and will continue in the way he would want, by building guitars without compromise to quality, and with a dedication to innovation.”

A private service was held on Saturday, March 8th.  A memorial service will be announced over the coming weeks for all to attend.

 St. Louis Music is a division of U.S. Band and Orchestra Supplies Inc. and one of the largest general distributors of musical instruments and accessories in North America. SLM offers over 7,000 products from 250 brands and distributes Alvarez & Alvarez-Yairi Guitars. Sigma & Austin Guitars. Zonda Brass & Woodwind Instruments & Zonda Reeds. Knilling & Suzuki String Instruments and Dixon Drums & Percussion. 


Alvarez ABT60 Goes Viral with Back to the Future Cover

posted January 18, 2014 in Featured News

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – In the summer of 2013, Alvarez Guitars revamped their Youtube channel, creating “product featurettes” that included professional videography and performances on top of spoken guitar specs.  But a second phase of the Youtube strategy involved Alvarez Endorsees, and including Alvarez copy in their covers of popular tunes.

“We wanted to make a change from traditional product reviews and demos by introducing performance elements as well as glamour shots,” says Gregory Johnson, Alvarez Endorsee and Content Curator.  … read more

P. Mauriat Presents: An Interview with Greg Osby

posted December 6, 2013 in Featured News

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI – Coinciding with P. Mauriat’s launch of the Greg Osby Signature Series Saxophone, Adam MacBlane of St Louis Music sat down with the jazz great for a candid interview about his evolution as an artist.

“Any chance I have to spend with the man himself, Greg Osby, is an absolute privilege and honor, “ says Adam.    “My time with him in San Francisco for the interview and his show with Bill Frisell and Geri Allen was no exception.

The interview … read more

Sigma Guitars, Exclusive to iMSO Members

posted February 7, 2013 in Featured News,news

St. Louis Music announces that they are managing and distributing the Sigma Guitar line. These mid-level guitars will be offered exclusively to members of the Independent Music Store Owner’s (iMSO) group.

“St. Louis Music has always enjoyed a great relationship with independent music store owners and our friendship with the people of iMSO has continued to grow,” says CEO Mark Ragin. Ragin began his career behind the counter of an independent music instrument store, and he’s been dedicated to independent … read more

Terell Stafford Chooses P. Mauriat

posted October 9, 2012 in Featured News

Inspiring, amazing, renowned jazz trumpeter, composer, educator, and bandleader Terell Stafford has chosen the P. Mauriat PMT-700 unlacquered trumpet as his horn of choice. Terell joins artists Ralph Alessi and John McNeil as an early advocate of the new trumpet line. “The horn is warm and extremely centered with brilliance when needed,” he says. “It’s even in all registers making any musical situation a complete joy.”

Hailed as “one of the great players of our time” by pianist McCoy Tyner, … read more

Paul Zahn Joins Our Sales Team!

posted September 11, 2012 in Featured News

St. Louis Music announces that Paul Zahn has joined its inside sales team. “We’re excited to have Paul on the sales force,” says CEO Mark Ragin. “He’s got a lot of industry in experience, including having worked for some great local retailers here in St. Louis. He’s a great asset.”

Paul started his career in 1996 working for Fazio’s Frets & Friends where he oversaw rentals and collections, purchased print, and sold and serviced instruments. In 2000 he went to … read more

White Rabbits Choose Dixon

posted July 9, 2012 in Featured News,news

White Rabbits, the Brooklyn-based rock band featured everywhere lately including on Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brian, has not one but two drummers, and both choose Dixon Drums.

“We like how they feel, how they respond, and how they fit with the energy of the band,” says Jamie Levinson, currently on a world-wide tour supporting their new hit album, Milk Famous

. “Dixon drums are great.”

Jamie Levinson is playing a Dixon Artisan TMS kit and Matthew Clark stands while accompanying … read more

Introducing Hamilton SuperPro Combo Stands

posted June 20, 2012 in Featured News,news

Hamilton Stands will debut their all-new combo line at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville by showing off newly designed guitar, mic, speaker, and keyboard stands at the St. Louis Music booth (#536). SLM is distributing these and other combo stands from Hamilton.

“We’re really excited to introduce StagePro to the market,” says Bill Carpenter, President of Hamilton Stands. “One of the new products will be our patent-pending KB5000G guitar stand which we think will be a new top seller.”… read more

Ralph Alessi Plays P. Mauriat

posted March 15, 2012 in Featured News,news

Renowned trumpeter and educator Ralph Alessi has joined the growing list of progressive artists endorsing P. Mauriat professional instruments. Alessi, who Jazz Times magazine declares as having “drop-dead trumpet chops” and calls his music “as clean and airy and sophisticated and disciplined as post-modern progressive jazz gets,” is playing the PMT-655CL.

“I love the core sound of this instrument which is consistent throughout the different ranges,” Alessi says. “In addition, the slotting is outstanding.” Alessi will be appearing in a … read more

Alvarez Makes a New “Friend” on Facebook

posted January 25, 2012 in Featured News,news

Alvarez fans are fanatical. In just six months, the number of “friends” on the Alvarez official Facebook page has more than doubled. But not content with that, a “Spread the Word” Sweepstakes was launched in November adding more than 1,000 active musicians who are now following Alvarez. The reward was a drawing was held on December 23rd to give one of those friends a new Alvarez RD 12 with hard shell case.

“The guitar and case are killer,” says … read more

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