NEW! Read 'The Visit' Written by Ian Starsmore
about his trip to the Taylor Trumpets Workshop!
This is the story of how Taylor
Trumpets came to be.
I was fortunate enough to get a very broad training base, but specialising in bell making. After a number of years, I had a good pretty good idea of where my strengths lay. My particular interest was in the theoretical, acoustical and design aspects of the instruments. In short, I wanted to know more about how it worked, why it worked, and how to make it work.
I became involved in the prototyping of new models and the new ideas
that Paxmans horn designer (Richard Merewether) was working on. He was
a most interesting and informative man, from whom I learned a lot about
the physics of brass instruments. Richard sadly died in 1987. The following
months found the job starting to loose its appeal.
|1988, and along came the opportunity to set up in business on my own.
In April 1989, Bellman Brass was set up, to supply bells to other brass
instrument makers. After a promising start the UK recession started
to take a hold. My main customer was liquidated owing lots of money.
With no other customer big enough to fill the void, I was forced to
do something different. My first and only 7 months of working as a professional
musician followed. I did not find this the most enjoyable of jobs. Long
hours away from a young family, late nights, and all the time working
during the day trying to salvage the business.
This was when the idea of making my own trumpets became a sensible proposition. I thoroughly enjoyed playing the trumpet as a teenager, playing 2nd chair in my regional County Youth Big Band (on an old Besson!). I also played a number of other instruments, and still do, and felt my skills and interests could be put to good use. I looked at other companies' instruments, and realised that I'd made some of the major components used for those. Why not finish the job off, and make a trumpet for myself? What had I got to lose?
So, during the daytime I worked on building prototype trumpets, and at night played a residency with a band to pay the rent. I bought in some valve blocks and, using the experience I had from making French horns, approached trumpet making from a different angle. Lets face it, after 15 years of making French horns, the trumpet is a relatively simple brass instrument! My own interpretation of a trumpet was soon up and playing! At first they looked conventional enough, and had the company name 'Bellman Brass 'engraved on them.
It was apparent fairly early in their development, that they had a warmer sound than regular trumpets, the French horn input, maybe! The 'reference' sound in my head was that of Wynton. If I could get somewhere close to that I would be very happy. I sold a few, but not enough to pay my way.
Then came the breakthrough. An American instrument dealer who knew about me, was visiting England. We arranged to meet, and he tried my trumpets. "Very distinctive, dark, plenty of character", came the reply, "but they look too ordinary". "Make them look more like this, and change the name to something more personal, like your own name, and I can sell some of these for you". What he gave me was an early Monette brochure to look at. At first I thought, why? But I soon started to realise that the trumpets he had asked me to style them after had a reputation for 'that sound', a sound not a million miles away from what I was already making.
What it came down to was image, pure and simple. A pick-up truck with a big engine might go like a rocket, but it doesn't make it a Ferrari, because it doesn't look like a Ferrari. Let the image do the talking, and people will start to look at it differently. It seemed to work. The dealer was starting to sell what was basically the Bellman Brass trumpet, with a few styling tweaks and a raw brass finish on it, and with Taylor engraved on the mouthpiece receiver.
During the next couple of year's, the business grew slowly but surely. The time came to take on an extra pair of hands. Along comes Peter, who had never made a trumpet in his life, all sorts of other things, but not trumpets. To my way of thinking, this had some major advantages. Firstly, he had plenty of experience with various hand tools and could adapt quickly. Secondly, no experience with trumpets meant I could teach him how to make trumpets 'my' way. The corner turned, we could now concentrate on developing the range. The Taylor Flugelhorn was a big success for us. Design wise, it is a departure from normal flugelhorns, and is usually greeted with big smiles by those who try it. What's more it is not influenced by any other current makers, and still has no real competition in its class.
The Taylor Custom Shop trumpets have proved beyond any doubt that we can push the boundaries of trumpet making further than most. We have gained valuable knowledge by making these instruments. Some of that has proved very useful in developing the Chicago trumpet range even further. Currently, four guys toil away, working up a sweat, while singing happily, to produce the Taylor instruments. We still make specialised components for other brass instrument makers, and take on commissioned projects, sometimes from the most unlikely of clients!
I very much enjoy speaking to all my customers individually, on the phone, by email, and in person. It goes a long way to ensure that we make the right instrument for you. Many an interesting day, or weekend, has been spent with customers coming to collect their new instrument. Sometimes they have come from halfway around the world, and it is always good to meet with them. My collection of customers CD's grows by the day!
What does the future hold for Taylor Trumpets? Well, I have no grandiose plans to take on the big boys. Just steady growth, and constant development, (I believe the trumpet has a long way to go yet.). I would also like to keep this company to a manageable size. That way we can maintain the high quality, and individual craftsmanship that goes into each instrument. And probably most important of all, do our very best to ensure that each and every customer continues to receive that personal touch.
Well, that about sums up the story to date. I hope that was an interesting and informative brief history, and maybe even answered some of the questions we frequently get asked.
Oh! One final thing, has your coffee got cold yet?