Southern California’s Bertrand’s Music Takes Home Win at Top 100 Awards

Elizabeth Dale

Earlier this month at Summer NAMM, Bertrand’s Music took home the Innovation Award at the Top 100 Dealer Awards. The retailer was honored for its innovative thinking as it took on the challenges with instrument sanitization and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 Top 100 Dealer Awards - Innovation Award

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Since 1983 the NAMM Member has been serving communities throughout the southwest United States. John Bertrand Sr., a retired music teacher started his shop in San Bernardino with the philosophy serving his customers “how he would want to be taken care of if he were the customer.” Since its humble beginnings, Bertrand’s Music has grown to eight locations, including one in western Arizona.

The retailer remains committed to adapt and embrace new technologies to provide superior services to its customers. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, Bertrand’s Music found an opportunity to continue to innovate, creating their own ultraviolent C (UVC) sterilization system.

The retailer noticed a gap in the market for a sterilization system that met the specific needs of musical instruments, specifically instrument rentals. Keita Ishibashi, operations manager for Bertrand’s Music, found himself, alongside his biologist wife, researching how viruses are transmitted, learning that the greatest threat to the transmission was often airborne. Ishibashi also learned that biological labs regularly use UVC mounted hoods to kill and sterilize live samples and equipment.

According to Ishibashi, UVC systems are equipped with two types of bulbs, ones that generate ozone and ones that do not. Bulbs that generate ozone kills viruses at a higher rate but can “trigger a reduction in lung function causing chest pain, coughing, and throat and airway inflammation,” a consequence that Bertrand’s Music was not willing to expose its employees or customers to. Instead, Ishibashi decided to rely on his extensive experience in electronic design and fabrication to create a product that relied on the short distance of bulb to the instrument, direct radiation, and airflow to reach appropriate radiation levels that were also safe for staff and customers.

Bertrand's Music Safety Video

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Like most new product development, Ishibashi faced challenges along the way. With the shift to LED technology, it was challenging to source fixtures to accommodate the bulbs needed for his design. Once Ishibashi acquired the correct components, he still had to fabricate components and fit a certified and calibrated UVC meter to the system. The newly constructed UVC system not only allowed Bertrand’s to quickly and evenly radiate instruments and their cases, but it also achieved a higher efficiency than commercially available units. 

With the success of the first version of the UVC sterilization system, Ishibashi tackled a mobile version. With the lockdown in California affecting case manufacturers, Ishibashi relied on his experience building road cases to manufacture custom units from his garage to deploy in Bertrand’s Music locations. The newly constructed, mobile UVC systems also allowed the company’s education reps to take the system on the road. From there, an industrial-sized version was built and is now located in the retailer’s warehouse and repair facilities, having the ability to sterilize three full-size storage racks at a time.

Bertrand’s Music is continuing to offer its sterilization services for its pool of instrument rentals, its customers, as well as local school districts to ensure the safety of musicians throughout the community.

For more information about NAMM’s Top 100 Dealer Awards, including the complete list of winners, please visit /summer/2021/top-dealer-awards/winners.

For more information from Bertrand’s Music, please visit