It's an exciting process... turning raw materials into a beautifully hand crafted instrument. We've been perfecting our process for over twenty years and we're proud of the work that we do, the skilled craftsmen and craftswomen that choose to be a part of our team, and our desire to continually strive to create an instrument that our customers will cherish.
Maybe you've had the chance to visit us in person: you made an appointment to come and have a custom trombone or trumpet fitting with one of our experts. You've toured the shop, you've seen Steve Shires spin a bass trombone bell, you've seen our team building a trumpet right in front of your eyes.
Maybe you've watched one of the TV segments we've been featured on in the past few years. Discovery Channel and Science Channel have both come to us directly to document the process...How Its Made-Trombones How Does a Photo Copier Become a Trumpet?
But maybe you haven't had the chance to really see the inside of a custom brass factory. The whirring machines, the determined look on our craftsmen's faces as they solder and assemble a delicate part of an instrument, the giant rolls of brass that will be sculpted into your future alto trombone bell.
We pride ourselves on designing and creating custom brass instruments that give musicians more than just a tool to use for music making. Our handcrafted approach to instrument building combines the highest standards of modern manufacturing with the practices of old world craftsmanship to create a unique and handcrafted instrument that is built just for you.
We fabricate, assemble, and finish every instrument onsite in our Massachusetts factory because we know that every stage of building affects the way that an instrument plays. The taper and weight of the bell, the alloy of the metal, the shape of the valve ports and the size of the bead wire...and hundreds of other considerations. By controlling these processes in house, we gain an intimate knowledge and mastery over every facet of our instruments.
Tours are always available if you're in Massachusetts and you'd like to see the factory for yourself. We're proud of what we do and we love to share that with our brass playing friends!
Have you ever wondered how some of our amazing craftsmen get started with instrument building at Shires? Paul Chadbourne works in the trombone valve finaling department, a job that requires precision, patience, and perfection.
"I started in this field of making instruments by apprenticing doing brass instrument repair at Rick's Musical Instruments in Cumberland, RI. When the apprenticeship was up I then began to do repair on the side for fellow classmates while I attended Rhode Island College to get my Music Performance degree on tuba. A year later I decided to reach out to S. E. Shires to see if they had any openings or if I could shadow anyone to learn more about repair.
They got back reasonably quickly and offered me a part time job since I was still in school working in the buffing room. From there I then began to bounce around a lot from job to job doing everything to making trumpet pistons and bells to building hand slides and trombone valve sections. Three years later I now am the main valve pre-fitter and also do valve section and handslide final assembly.
Some cool projects I have been apart of building was 2 alto hand slides for Colin Williams of the New York Philharmonic and two single valve bass trombones for George Curran also of the New York Philharmonic."
Keep up the great work Paul! Trombonists all over the world are depending on you!
Our S.E. Shires blog features articles and photos on the craft of making handmade trumpets and trombones. If you are curious about the process, this is the place to go! We will discuss methods, materials, options, design, and many more topics. We'll also answer your questions and encourage you to join in the discussion!