Music to the Ears

Security employed at acclaimed Mandolin Brothers Ltd. are advanced systems

MANDOLIN Brothers Ltd. of Staten Island, N.Y., has been memorialized in music by Joni Mitchell, written about in prestigious industry and consumer publications, praised by Sir Paul McCartney of Beatles' fame and frequented by the who's who in the international music industry. As a globally renowned retailer of fine new, used and vintage guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, and electric and acoustic bass fretted instruments, it was only natural the company would look to another distinguished company, Panasonic Security Systems, to replace its 25-year-old video surveillance system.

Stan Jay, president and owner of Mandolin Brothers, said the original video surveillance system was a makeshift combination of components which provided coverage of the main showroom, comprised of five rooms. Four black-and-white cameras were connected to a hand-wired, four-view sequential splitter box, and from there to a VCR for recording and consumer television for monitoring.

One day, Frank DeFina, president of Panasonic System Solutions Co., an avid collector of vintage musical instruments, visited Mandolin Brothers to have one of his guitars serviced and noticed the archaic video surveillance system. DeFina suggested to Jay that perhaps it was time to consider installing a new video surveillance system to protect the collection of valued instruments at the facility and to provide customers with the assurance that they were leaving their prized instruments in a secure location. After a brief discussion as to the merits that new video surveillance technologies could provide, Jay agreed to revamp his system.

"Expanding our showroom by six more rooms required that we extend the system into the new area," Jay said. "The old system was simply too outdated and outmoded, and we concurred with Panasonic's proposal to start anew."

Compared with the previous system, the new, color video surveillance system offers several advantages for a multi-room retail environment, including reviewing activity in any room in full-screen mode.

"One of the major disadvantages of the old system was that it taped in real time, but in sequence, so you would see activity in one area, then three seconds of activity in another, and so on," Jay said. "This was quite frustrating when trying to capture something as malicious as the intentionally amoral act of a miscreant."

Mandolin Brothers provides instruments and repair services to many of the music industry's brightest stars, including Jimmy Buffet, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Diana Krall, Paul Simon, Stephen Stills, and many others. It also deals with non-recording musicians, many of whom visit the store in Staten Island.

An unexpected benefit of the new surveillance system was recently uncovered when a customer put their sunglasses down and then forgot where they put them. As it turned out, the customer had placed the sunglasses in an open guitar case which somebody had subsequently closed.

"We helped a customer retrieve their glasses using the Panasonic video surveillance system, which turned out to offer the unexpected benefit of improving our customer service capabilities," Jay said. "This became a perfect example of 'case closed.'"

Other advantages of the security system cited by Jay are the ease of use and reliability.

"There are fewer steps in setting it up, and the procedures are far less confusing than with the old system," he said. "Anybody on staff can use the new system, while the old one needed to be re-started each morning by a person who had experience doing it. In many instances, even experienced staff members threw up their hands and walked away. The old system also was beset by sporadic intermittencies that we have not encountered with the current system -- only solid, continuous reliability."

The security system installed at Mandolin Brothers Ltd. includes high-performance color CCD surveillance cameras that are digitally multiplexed and recorded. The system provides Mandolin Brothers with the ability to view any combination of cameras throughout the facility while recording full-motion video from all camera inputs on Panasonic's DVR. Now in its second generation, the DVR features dual-compression recording to deliver more than 500 lines of horizontal. In addition to the improved recording performance, the DVR offers a base disk capacity of 250 GB -- expandable to 7.5 Terabytes -- and built-in networking and switching capabilities with individual camera profiling. Additionally, Mandolin Brothers' facility is protected by an advanced intrusion alarm system and interior motion sensors with a redundant back-up.

The need for intense security at Mandolin Brothers becomes quite apparent based on the extreme value of their merchandise and instruments in for repair. One of the most compelling examples of this revolves around Sir Paul McCartney's prized Hofner Violin Bass, now commonly known as a Beatle Bass. Throughout all of the Beatles' recording years, and later with Wings and as a soloist, McCartney had a problem with his legendary bass. After interviewing five international repair shops, Mandolin Brothers was selected as the shop best suited to repair the multi-million dollar instrument. McCartney's head equipment technician brought the bass to New York in its own seat on the Concorde, and stayed with it in the shop, eight hours a day, during the time it was in the shop's care. McCartney is later quoted as saying, "[Mandolin Brothers] put it in tune for the first time in its life."

When asked to compare the quality of the video surveillance system to the standard for which his company has become known, Jay said, "we would rate Panasonic a solid 10. All components are of professional specification and it would not surprise us if they remained, unlike ourselves, in continuous use for another 25 years."


  • Maximizing Your Security Budget This Year

    7 Ways You Can Secure a High-Traffic Commercial Security Gate  

    Your commercial security gate is one of your most powerful tools to keep thieves off your property. Without a security gate, your commercial perimeter security plan is all for nothing. Read Now

  • Busy South Africa Building Integrates Custom Access Control System

    Nicol Corner, based in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, South Africa, is home to a six-star fitness club, prime office space, and an award-winning rooftop restaurant. This is the first building in South Africa to have its glass façade fully incorporate fritted glazing, saving 35% on energy consumption. Nicol Corner (Pty) LTD has developed a landmark with sophisticated design and unique architecture by collaborating with industry-leading partners and specifying world-class equipment throughout the project. This includes installing a high-spec, bespoke security and access control system. Read Now

  • Only 13 Percent of Research Institutions Are Prepared for AI

    A new survey commissioned by SHI International and Dell Technologies underscores the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) while exposing significant gaps in preparedness at many research institutions. Read Now

  • Survey: 70 Percent of Organizations Have Established Dedicated SaaS Security Teams

    Seventy percent of organizations have prioritized investment in SaaS security, establishing dedicated SaaS security teams, despite economic uncertainty and workforce reductions. This was a key finding in the fourth Annual SaaS Security Survey Report: 2025 CISO Plans and Priorities released today by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), the world’s leading organization dedicated to defining standards, certifications, and best practices to help ensure a secure cloud computing environment. Read Now

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • FEP GameChanger

    FEP GameChanger

    Paige Datacom Solutions Introduces Important and Innovative Cabling Products GameChanger Cable, a proven and patented solution that significantly exceeds the reach of traditional category cable will now have a FEP/FEP construction. 3

  • Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden CM-221 Series Switches

    Camden Door Controls is pleased to announce that, in response to soaring customer demand, it has expanded its range of ValueWave™ no-touch switches to include a narrow (slimline) version with manual override. This override button is designed to provide additional assurance that the request to exit switch will open a door, even if the no-touch sensor fails to operate. This new slimline switch also features a heavy gauge stainless steel faceplate, a red/green illuminated light ring, and is IP65 rated, making it ideal for indoor or outdoor use as part of an automatic door or access control system. ValueWave™ no-touch switches are designed for easy installation and trouble-free service in high traffic applications. In addition to this narrow version, the CM-221 & CM-222 Series switches are available in a range of other models with single and double gang heavy-gauge stainless steel faceplates and include illuminated light rings. 3

  • Luma x20

    Luma x20

    Snap One has announced its popular Luma x20 family of surveillance products now offers even greater security and privacy for home and business owners across the globe by giving them full control over integrators’ system access to view live and recorded video. According to Snap One Product Manager Derek Webb, the new “customer handoff” feature provides enhanced user control after initial installation, allowing the owners to have total privacy while also making it easy to reinstate integrator access when maintenance or assistance is required. This new feature is now available to all Luma x20 users globally. “The Luma x20 family of surveillance solutions provides excellent image and audio capture, and with the new customer handoff feature, it now offers absolute privacy for camera feeds and recordings,” Webb said. “With notifications and integrator access controlled through the powerful OvrC remote system management platform, it’s easy for integrators to give their clients full control of their footage and then to get temporary access from the client for any troubleshooting needs.” 3