Manufacturing maestro marvels master musicians

Rath Trombones celebrated its 20th anniversary in style, surrounded by some of the world’s leading trombonists and musical instruments distributors.

From inauspicious surroundings in a shed in Bradford, Rath Trombones has grown from a one-man band to its current 12-strong workforce of skilled engineers and experts.

Established by current managing director, Mick Rath, 75% of the more than 300 custom built trombones each year, alongside a further 300 oo range of trombones, are exported to professionals, amateurs and students across the globe.

Mick Rath in his Honley showroom - – image courtesy of Rath Trombones.
Mick Rath in his Honley showroom – – image courtesy of Rath Trombones.

Joining in with the celebrations were musicians who have become more than just clients from the US, Japan, China and Europe, as well as closer to home from some of the world’s leading bands in Yorkshire,.

In the past year alone, Rath Trombones has supplied the Jools Holland Band; David Whitehouse of the London Philharmonic Orchestra; The Corpus Quartet, and the Count Basie Orchestra, embracing all musical genres.

And it isn’t just professionals who beat a path to the Yorkshire factory,  you’re just as likely to bump into an ambitious student or a retiring professional either starting their musical journey or hoping to spend more time making music in their retirement.

Mick Rath commented: “People have often been bought Rath Trombones as leaving presents by grateful colleagues or family, or cashed in a savings plan to treat themselves as they slow down their careers.

“When I started because there was so little call for trombone cutting equipment I had to make some of the tooling myself, and even though we are now a larger operation we still use it and train our own team of engineers.”

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Nov 2-3, The NEC (Birmingham)

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Given the relatively small UK market for trombones, Rath quickly realised that overseas sales would be the difference between a small or sustainable business leading him to market the brand at international music exhibitions where he quickly established a reputation for manufacturing world class instruments.

He continued: “I always say that my name is my word and it has become a byword for trombone quality because over the years we have listened to what our customers told us and responded.”

Marketing his trombones to educators at musical colleges and universities around the globe one of the things that musicians told Rath was of the need for an entry level instrument for students, leading to the development of the oo range.

Launched onto the world market three years ago it has significantly increased the business; turnover and now accounts for around half its exports.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, Rath Trombones is working on the Pro Range Anniversary Model which will combine the sound beloved of musicians and fans, alongside design detail reflective of 21st century trombonists.