On October 23rd 1977, the Shiino Musical Instruments Corporation, later Shiino Vesta FIRE Corporation and today Vestax Corporation, was incorporated with the intention to satisfy three core values. Values which, at the time of incorporation, the founders thought were not being satisfied by other manufacturers, design teams or creators within the music industry.
Finally exasperated by the then market environment, these founders sought to create a company that would light the way for progress, quality and innovation. A company that would satisfy the needs and expectations of consumers, altering the way in which the music industry moved forwards, particularly in regards to the manufacturing of quality instruments that promised to release artists from previous constraints to creative freedom.
Those three values, today still form the basis of all business activity at Vestax, with as strong an inclination as before ensuring that these values are upheld at all times. These values are;
- A total commitment to QUALITY. From the design and research level to the manufacture of each instrument and its many parts, the quality of all inputs should never be compromised.
- A total commitment to ORIGINALITY. Again from the commencement of design through to completion, each program, department, view, idea or concept is fully explored with an emphasis on innovation and creativity. A strong ongoing program of education and training for the entire Vestax team further reinforces this.
- A total commitment to MUSIC CULTURE. A total dedication to helping facilitate the growth of music culture is reflected in all areas of business at Vestax. This might be demonstrated by providing instruments that are highly innovative, or by expanding the features of a product to allow an new creative style to develop. The end result however, is that music culture benefits in a positive way, always.
Bursting with an enthusiasm to illustrate their dedication and passion, the founding team set about on a make or break course of discovery in the world of music. Designing and manufacturing by night and selling their products by day, the charged atmosphere was constantly bringing about challenging new concepts/ideas for new instruments and advances in manufacture that would eventually lead to some amazing high-end quality instruments.
Moreover a sense of belonging persisted, resulting in the creation of a technical focused team well linked to the customer. A team that would always be able to ensure that needs were being met and that new designs weren't without market potential. In the beginning, any concerns or complaints that came through about anything Vestax saw a quick and personal response by the President. Often making telephone calls to disgruntled customers, attempting to find out the problem and ensure that it was repaired, Mr Shiino set a precedent that instilled greater cultural values into this young team, and produced a consumer base that was fiercely loyal and trusting in new Vestax products.
Primarily working within Japan, and in the business of stringed instruments, the team came up with numerous cutting edge designs and processes that lead to a number of industry firsts.
Following incorporation, the team at Vestax set out to capture the hearts and minds of guitar enthusiasts the world over. Through Paco, a small speciality store in Tokyo, they produced a parts catalogue second to none. Every part possible was listed, and this little book went on to become an international parts bible. The parts business continued to grow allowing the team to look into the manufacture of custom guitars and parts. This exploration lead to the manufacture of custom guitar bodies, some of which eventually where exported to the USA for a select few outlets and producers.
As a novel idea, Vestax went into the production of mini guitars, producing full-scale audible replicas of some well-known standards, like the Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster. In fact, one of these mini guitars later rose to stardom thanks in part to its performance in a Rolling Stones video circa 1979. However, Vestax soon withdrew from the market as a number of inferior copy models began to crowd out the market.
In the early months of 1978, Vestax began producing guitars. At that time, few of the big Japanese brands known today were able to make quality guitars close to the quality of certain European and North American manufacturers. But with a lot of thought, and experimentation with some new compounds Vestax was able to come up with some very innovative pieces. Some of which easily surpassed the quality of any other like instrument that had previously come out of Japan. Some of these pieces went on to be collector's items, for there durability and design were second to none. One particular item produced, H.S.Anderson guitars, caused quite an upset at NAMM a few years later and is still today a collector's item cherished by a few of the worlds leading guitarists and song writers, most notably the artist formerly known as Prince.
But the process wasn't to stop at aesthetically pleasing instruments. In an effort to capture the warmth of pure noise, not unlike the sound wind makes, the team delved into the perfection of pick-up and amplification technology. With a lot of consideration and design ambition, the team went on to produce the first pre-amplifier for musical instrument use. The underlying concept here was the purification of noise, central to the amplification process involved with electric guitars. Up until this innovation, most amplification came from either one box sets of debatable quality or super huge systems, far too impractical for most musicians to lug around. But its eventual rise to popularity was not quick.
Travelling to the USA, then President Mr. H Shiino, intended to shop his companies wares to several key musical instrument and professional audio stores. Although several of these stores were interested in this talkative Japanese, they couldn't see the practical implications or sales possibilities for this device due to their own lack of technological understanding. Undeterred, Mr. Shiino persisted, pushing his products time and time again. But eventually it was one particular store that took the gamble and incorporated the piece into their store catalogue. Nay Dees, on Hollywood Boulevard had for several years enjoyed its status as one of the world's greatest music stores. Most of the huge celebrity musicians of that time made sure that any tour let them browse through the displays at Nay Dees. On one such trip, the Vestax Pre-amp was discovered and the rest is history, sales of this then boutique piece expanded to around 200 units per month, allowing Vestax just a little breathing room for some more innovation. (Today, despite several amazing advances in digital sound and amplification technology, guitar purists and studio engineers alike, revelin the beauty of pre-amp sound creativity.)
Vestax had started to stir up some interest, and soon the Research and Design (R &D) team was in demand all over the world. Seeking a new, passionate approach, several key producers, namely Yamaha, Akai and Teac, approached Vestax about collaborative efforts. The results were great, for the first time cementing Vestax's status as a creative quality focused and innovative designer.
In one such collaborative effort, Vestax commenced a study into the modification of digital sound waves, particularly focused on delay and reverb extensions. The reward was a digital delay and reverb unit that quickly captured a huge 60% market share. But more important to Vestax at this time, was that this discovery allowed them to invent the world's first stereo chorus. The proprietary information captured in this venture later helped Vestax create the first stereo keyboard with JVC.
Unfortunately, several complicated issues lead Vestax to pursue a path of its own soon after. From humble beginnings in the musical instruments markets selling parts and small units such as delays and reverbs effects, to designing technology for other manufacturers that lead to advances in home theatre technology, Vestax had assembled a strong team with a library of patents behind them. Taking this know-how and passion forward, it was now time to commence full-scale operations as a manufacturer of international proportions.