• In the Spotlight… Rockem Music

    Rockem Music... In the Spotlight | Interview

    We’re delighted to introduce our latest interview series ‘In the Spotlight’ with Take it away music shop members! You’ll get to know one of our music shops including how they started, what makes them tick and what you can expect when visiting them.
    Kicking things off is drum and guitar specialists Rockem Music, based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Read on to find out more…

    What is the story behind Rockem Music?

    Rockem Music Ltd was established in South Yorkshire by the Rockem brothers in September 2003. From very humble beginnings Rockem Music has grown into one of the UK’s leading drum stores. There is a large shop in Rotherham and a superb mail order department sending all over the UK and Europe. The Rockem brothers, Rob and Dave are originally from Poole in Dorset. They are both accomplished musicians having studied their respective instruments from an early age with well respected teachers. Rob studied piano and organ and Dave drums. Both played in various orchestras such as Bournemouth Youth Big Band and Jazz De Sud. Dave went on to play drums professionally and Rob went into accountancy. Dave’s drumming eventually lead him to re locate in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

    In 2003 Rob re located to Rotherham and Rockem Music was formed. Premises had to be found in the town. After a few chats with the local piano centre it was agreed we could start by sharing some of the building. The building is a very spacious converted Chapel. Gradually all the main accounts with the leading suppliers were opened such as Mapex, Yamaha, Remo, Evans, British Drum Co, Paiste, Meinl, Stagg, Takamine, Ibanez, Washburn, Sigma, etc.

    After about six months the company began to grow. It became clear we did not have enough space at the piano centre and the landlord kindly agreed to let us have more space. The rear of the chapel began to fill with more and more stock and Rockem has become one of the best stocked drum shops in the business! The showroom has been modified quite a few times and we now have a large showroom full of stock.

    As the company has grown we have been able to employ more staff. To start with the Rockem brothers pretty much did everything from serving in the shop to packing the mail order sales! After a few months a couple of staff were employed and gradually the employment level has been increased to five full time employees. In 2007 a general manager was taken on as the company had grown very quickly and the Rockem’s needed more help! With each manager able to concentrate on their individual roles, the company was able to expand very rapidly. The two directors and general manager are very involved with the day to day running of the company and this is one of the reasons the customer service is exceptional.

    In 2009 the company expanded into guitars and amps and employed a guitar specialist to run this department. This has continued to grow and now makes up a large part of what we do.

    A yellow to brown ombre drumkit, on display in the Rockem Music shop

    What can customers expect when they come to visit you?

    The store specialises in all types of percussion both new and pre-owned. Our drum kits range from beginner right through to professional. We stock both acoustic and electronic kits. We have some very interesting pre-owned drum kits. We recently sold a vintage Ludwig Vistalite see through acrylic drum kit to a London production company! We have a large range of cymbals on offer and all types of hand percussion, djembe, cajon and bongos! We are one of the best stocked stores in the country.

    Our guitar department also offers both new and pre-owned guitars from beginner to advanced. We stock both acoustic and electric guitars and bass guitars.

    Our staff are very experienced and knowledgeable musicians. Dave works as a professional drummer playing across the UK and Europe. If you require advice on your instrument needs, you have come to the right place!A wall display of a dozen acoustic guitars of various shades, colours and shapes

    What’s the most unusual instrument in your shop?

    Currently, the most unusual instrument we have for sale right now is the Arbiter vintage classic advanced tuning kit – a very rare instrument from the 1990’s!

    What additional services can customers come to you for?

    Tuition is offered for drums. We repair and re-string guitars and there is also a rehearsal space.

    Go on, tell us about your most famous customer/alumni musician…

    Dave taught Ryan Jenkinson drums for many years. Ryan is now playing drums for The Vamps and Reverend and the Makers. We have close ties with local bands The Reytons and The Sherlocks.

    From the jazzy side of things one of our customers is Paul Robinson. Paul has worked at the top of his profession for over 50 years. He works on many premier West End London shows and was Nina Simone’s drummer for 18 years! We advise and supply his drumming equipment.

    Another customer is Ian Roberts. Ian was brought up in Rotherham and often visits the store. He is a session drummer, composer and producer. He has worked with famous bands such as Iron Maiden.

    Do you get involved in the local community?

    In the local community we offer music lessons. We run drum clinics featuring guest drummers in partnership with suppliers such as Yamaha. We work with the annual Rotherham Show suppling drum kits for their performers. We have an instore notice board where we encourage local events to be advertised such as jam nights and open mic nights.

    Why do you think music shops like yours are vital and important to your community?

    Being able to play an instrument is a very therapeutic pastime and music retailers are vital for people to select the instrument which feels right for them. By existing in the local community we are able to offer customers a chance to handle and play an instrument to make sure they are happy with the feel and sound of it. We are able to provide specialist advice on any questions they may have and also supply consumable accessories which may be required.

    It’s been a tough year! How can the music community support you?

    Trading conditions remain very tough. For local music stores to survive it is vital that the local music community come to the store in person. Our business services customers all over the country via our own web site plus Amazon, Ebay and Reverb. But, a large amount of margin is given away to the these third party platforms and postage costs. Also money is lost due to the cost of returns. Our instore prices are very competitive and it is great to see our customers in person and help them with the next purchase!

    And finally, why do you think payment options like the Take it away scheme are of value to your customers?

    The Take it Away scheme provides the opportunity to purchase an instrument on an interest free basis making participating in music more affordable.

    Thank you Rob!

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • How to restring your classical guitar

    How do I restring my classical guitar?

    Has your classical guitar started to slip out of tune more quickly? Or maybe the tone isn’t as bright and alive as it was a few months ago? …and perhaps the fretboard isn’t looking as clean as it should…
    These are all signs that it’s time to restring your guitar! Our Take it away music shop member Forsyth has put together a step-by-step process on how to do it yourself.
    They say: “Restringing a nylon-strung guitar is a little fiddlier than a steel-strung acoustic but it’s still an easy skill to learn. In this post, we’ll cover how to approach changing the strings on a traditional classical guitar.”
    Remember, practice makes perfect!
    1. Firstly, we need to get the old strings off. Depending on how they were put on previously this can take a few minutes!
    Loosen the tuning pegs until the strings become free.

    Undoing pegs on neck of guitar

    2. It’s a lot easier at this end! They should be easy to pull loose once the tension is taken off:

    untying guitar strings at base of guitar

    3. Ok, time to tie some knots! First, pass the end of the high E string through the hole in the bridge heading away from the neck so that the string end pokes out of the back of the bridge.
    The length of string behind my thumb and forefinger is the long part that we’re going to tie on at the other end:

    Tying a new E string at base of guitar

    4. Now we’re going to bring the end of the string back on itself.
    Notice that the end of the string goes to the treble side of the long length of string (or behind the long string if you’re looking at the guitar as in the photos:

    tying new guitar string at base of guitar

    5. And round it goes to make a loop passing around the long length of the string:

    tying new E string on classical guitar

    6. Now we’re going to wrap a couple of turns of the end of the string around on itself. Over the top and underneath:

    tying knot

    7. And again…

    tying knot on guitar string

    8. Lastly we just need to pull the knot tight and it will lock in on itself. That length of spare string you can see in the picture we’re going to tuck underneath the loop we make for the B string for a little extra snugness:

    tying knot on guitar string

    9. Don’t worry, you’ve done the difficult bit! There are a few ways to tie the strings on at the other end so I’ll show you how I do it. The string goes over the roller, underneath and up through the hole:

    securing guitar strings back into tuning pegs

    10. Now I’m going to pass it back through the hole, trapping the string in the loop:

    securing guitar strings back in tuning pegs

    11. Pull it back through the hole and it locks the string firmly in place:

    securing strings in tuning peg

    12. Next we just need to wind the string onto the tuner. I’ve left a bit of slack on the string which needs winding on and then we need to bring it up to pitch.
    Typically on classical guitars, the two E strings wind outwards and the other four inward to keep the break angle from as the string passes over the nut reasonably shallow. Here’s the E string winding its way:

    restringing classival guitar

    13. The bass strings are a little easier to tie on. If you have a square edge on the back of the tie block this single loop is enough to keep them anchored with the back of the loop over the edge of the tie block.
    (If the edge is worn and the string keeps sliding back you can tie them the same way as the trebles):

    tying bass string on base of guitar

    14. Here’s a view of the finished tie block. You can see clearly the loop used on the bass strings, and that each string is tucked into the loop of the next string along.
    I’ve trimmed the ends so that they’re not sticking out or trailing against the soundboard, which can be a cause of erroneous buzzing. It looks neat and should anchor the strings nice and strong:

    restrung strings viewing on body of guitar

    16. And here’s the finished headstock end, also trimmed nicely:
    It’s a little fiddlier than a steel string but give it a couple of goes and you’ll find you get the hang of it pretty quickly!


    finished restrung guitar viewing from neck of guitar

    forsyth logo

    Forsyth is a Take it away music shop member based in Manchester that offers an extensive Sales Departments for sheet music, classical and  jazz recordings, acoustic pianos, digital pianos, guitars, orchestral instruments and all accessories!
    They also have piano and instrument repair services with our own tuners, technicians and luthiers.
    Find out more and get in touch by visiting their website: www.forsyths.co.uk

    Tell us what you think @takeitawaymusic

  • In the Spotlight… Becketts Music

    Becketts Music... In the Spotlight

    trio of images of the inside of becketts shop
    In the Spotlight today is Becketts Music, based in Southampton. In 2021, this extensively stocked music shop celebrated its 75th year since opening in 1946! We caught up with the owner, Dan Redhead, to find out what they’ve got to offer in the shop and how they can help you, our lovely Take it away customers.

    What is the story behind Becketts?

    The business was started in 1946 by Mr Beckett senior, so we celebrated our 75th year of trading in 2021. I joined Becketts in 1980 as a sales assistant and subsequently became manager. Mr Beckett’s son at that time was running the shop and eventually, we became business partners. I had always wanted to do something within the music sector and a plan was agreed to allow him to eventually retire at which point I took over the business. It was a very amicable arrangement and Mr Beckett still carries out repairs for the store as a 3rd party repairer today.

    Old black and white image of becketts music shop front

    What can customers expect when they come to visit you?

    We can offer a great wealth of knowledge having been involved in the music industry for many years. Our staff are knowledgeable on the instruments we have for sale, either as players or from years of sales experience (or both!). We have a reputation for good honest advice and help which is not earned by being a “quick box shifter”.

    timpani inside shopWhat’s the most unusual instrument in your shop?

    At the moment, probably a 25″ timpani sat in the shop – any takers?

    What additional services do you offer?

    Repairs to instruments are the main additional service we offer. We don’t have much physical space so we’re unable to offer tuition but we do work closely with local teachers – do ask us for recommendations!

    Go on, tell us about your most famous customer…

    Over the years we have had involvement with many celebrities as we are located only a stone’s throw from the local Mayflower Theatre. We have had last-minute requests from musicians appearing at the theatre, musicians who were performing for the Queen on board a ship following its launch but had left gear behind, as well as James Last (a blast from the past) who wanted music stands within an hour.

    Name a favourite piece of music. (From any genre you like, absolutely no judgement!)

    There would be so many, I guess it really depends on your mood at the time. I have quite a range of interests but it would have to be something with a decent melody. Sorry, I can’t pick from such a vast library to choose from!

    How do you get involved in your local community?

    We visit schools to explain how instruments work and meet with bands to give talks on instrument care. If we can, we always try to help with any musically orientated project.

    In one sentence, why do you think music shops like yours are vital and important to your community?

    You will never be able to experience the joy of trying that instrument and getting invaluable advice through a computer screen.

    Why do you think payment options like the Take it away scheme are of value to your customers?

    Money can be tight for all of us and Take it away gives that opportunity for customers to purchase that instrument which in turn opens up a whole world of opportunity.

    Thanks, Dan!

    Visit Becketts Music at: beckettsmusic.co.uk

    And follow them for updates on Facebook + Twitter:

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • IWD | Musicians who inspired us to play

    #IWD - Musicians who inspired us to pick up an instrument

    This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating some of the musicians who inspired and gave us confidence to play what are often seen as just ‘traditional’ musical instruments. 
    Encouragement comes from many places, from an approving nod from a stranger (or perhaps a nice comment on social media) to teachers, parents, peers, friends and siblings; those we trust and are closest to us are often our biggest supporters. 
    However, there’s something about seeing someone popular in the mainstream who you can relate to advocating and endorsing that thing you want to be doing. It makes us feel more assured that what we do will be positively received. 
    With this in mind, here are some of our favourite musicians who have inspired us and made us feel confident about picking up and playing our instruments. 

    Lizzo | FLUTE

    Lizzo’s flute playing went viral after her iconic performance BET awards. You may not know that she’s a classical trained flautist and she’s inspired so many people that beginner flute sales were boosted by a third in 2019! Her Flute is called Sasha also has it’s on Instagram account #ICONIC

    Watch her NPR Tiny Desk Concert here below.

    Lisa Simpson | SAXOPHONE 🎷

    Not all role models are real life people! Lisa is arguably the best Simpsons character. Summed up: “Her formidable intellect and insatiable thirst for knowledge make her a hero to brainy outcasts everywhere. She’s also been The Simpsons‘ moral compass as well, helping to ground her family’s more outlandish adventures in common sense and decency.”

    Here’s Lisa and her idol who gave her his Sax playing together:

    Alicia Keys | PIANO 🎹

    Alicia Keys is an inspiration in more was then one but those instantly recognisable opening notes in If Ain’t Got You falling down the chord never cease to make you stop and listen. 

    Did you know Alicia started learning the piano aged 7? Watch below as she is gives a piano lesson and shares the story behind one of her most well known and moving songs. On a more classical side, here’s Alicia playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in honour of Kobe Bryant. 

    Nicola Benedetti | VIOLIN 🎻

    Nicola was born in Scotland and won BBC Young Musician of the year when she was just 16 and has gone on to inspire and encourage music education across the world! 

    Watch her famous rendition of the Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams below. She’s got some great tutorials on YouTube which are soon to be added to.

    Shelia Maurice-Grey | TRUMPET 🎺

    Shelia aka Ms Grey is bandleader of KOKOROKO and has performed with the likes of Solange, Kano and Little Simz and studied at Trinity Laban. For a long time, brass instruments have been seen as a ‘male’ instrument and we LOVE that Shelia is breaking down that preconception. 

    In 2018, a Telegraph article reported that Anne McAneney of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, was the only female trumpet player in the world’s top 20 orchestras. This was a couple of years ago but there’s still lots of work to be done in encouraging more women to play brass instruments. 

    Here’s Shelia playing for Jazz re:freshed in 2018:

    Laura Marling | GUITAR 🎸

    It’s Laura’s effortless and often stark simplicity of what is most often just her voice accompanied by a guitar that made us want to pick up the guitar.

    She has recently shared lots of amazing tutorials recently over on her Instagram. Watch her NPR Tiny ‘Home’ Desk concert below.

    We would absolutely love to hear about the women in music who inspired you! Tell us on Instagram or Twitter @TakeitawayMusic

  • 60 Seconds with… Ebony & Ivory

    A row of guitars
    We’re delighted to introduce Ebony & Ivory, the newest music shop member of the Take it away scheme!
    Celebrating 40 years of business, we caught up with the team to find out more about the shop based in Colindale, North-West London as well as their music school which now offers handy online lessons too.
    Two people looking at the camera in music shop
    A visit from Ella Henderson

    How would you describe your shop in three words?

    Dedicated to musicians

    How did the business get started?

    We started about forty years ago when Ajit, who had many years of expertise in piano retail, noticed the need for a dedicated piano shop in north-west London, so he decided to open up the business.

    What does your shop specialise in?

    Great customer service! Of course. Relating to our instruments, we originally specialised in new and used pianos but we soon broadened our stock to include digital pianos and keyboards, guitars and basses, ukuleles, violins and violas and other instruments. We also carry hundreds of accessories including strings, bows, picks, tuners, metronomes and cases. There’s a great selection of books in store and also a music printing service.

    Ebony and Ivory Shop FrontWhat additional services do you offer?

    You can come to us for instrument repairs including guitars, amps and keyboards. We can restring guitars, ukuleles, violins and other string instruments and offer setups as well as servicing. We also offer a piano removal service.

    What’s your favourite item for sale in the shop right now?

    Ukuleles – they are a great way to start learning music!

    Name a favourite piece of music. (From any genre you like, absolutely no judgement!)

    How do you get involved in your local community?

    In the basement below the shop we run a music school that teaches hundreds of children and adults to play musical instruments and learn to love music as much as we do. Normally, we hold concerts with our students twice a year where everyone is welcome.

    Find out more about our online music lessons here: ebonyivory.co.uk/online-music-lessons

    Black and white photos of children playing piano, violin and singing

    Visit Ebony & Ivory at:


    Ebony & Ivory shop details
    Ebony and Ivory staff members

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic 

  • 60 Seconds with… Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre

    Front of "Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre"

    *This article was first published in July 2020*

    Born from a long held childhood dream, the iconic Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre is a one stop shop for all your percussion and guitar needs!
    Founders David Fletcher and Andrew Cammiss first opened their specialist shop in 1999 and it has grown from strength to strength.
    We talked to David to find out more ahead of their reopening on Friday 3rd July post lockdown. 

    How would you describe your shop in three words?

    Great friendly store

    How did the business get started?

    David Fletcher, Director

    My business partner Andy and I, are both working drummers and have been friends since our teens. Back in 1999, we had the idea to open a drum store in Nottingham and so we opened the Nottingham Drum Centre that December. We had a team of drum teachers in the building too and the business just grew and grew. A few years later we decided to add a guitar department and the store became the Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre.

    By around 2006, we realised we needed bigger showroom premises so the hunt was on. Luckily, we found an ideal building and, after a lot of hard work and many late nights, we moved into our present store on Cranbrook Street, just a stones throw away from the Motorpoint Arena.

    What does your shop specialise in?

    Drums and guitars, plus offshoots such as marching and concert percussion, and sound healing gongs.

    What additional services do you offer?

    We do a lot of drum repairs, re-heading, tuning, and also guitar restringing.

    What’s your favourite item for sale in the shop right now?

    That’s such a difficult one… probably the large Meinl Gong as I seem to be unable to walk past it without giving it a hit!

    Name a favourite piece of music. (From any genre you like, absolutely no judgement!)

    “Variations” by Andrew Lloyd Webber… Incredible music played by awesome musicians.

    Do you get involved in your local community? If so, how?

    We are very proactive in instrument tuition and have a great working relationship with many great drum and guitar tutors. We’ve also held many drum clinics over the years with people such as Gregg Bissonette, Jojo Mayer, Craig Blundell, Thomas Lang, to name just a few…

    We are re-opening on Friday 3rd July and looking forward to getting back to the shop and seeing our customers and friends. This year had started off for us very positively, so we’re hoping to build on that success after the COVID Lockdown. Pop in and see us 🙂

    Visit Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre at:

    Nottingham Drum and Guitar Centre
    Cranbrook Street
    NG1 1ER

    0115 8414148

    Inside a music shop with a wall full of electric guitars, a drum kit and a counter

    Tell us what you think @Takeitawaymusic