Stentor Music Co. Ltd.
Orchestral string instrument maker and distributor
focuses on music education market
With humble beginnings as a supplier of gut strings and rosin, U.K.-based Stentor Music Co. has grown to be one of the music products industry’s leading suppliers of instruments, focusing on the music education market. Today, more than a million violinists play Stentor instruments.
Stentor Music Co. Ltd. manufactures Stentor Orchestral Stringed Instruments, ranging from student level and intermediate up to high-grade orchestral violins, violas, cellos, and basses. Its best-selling Stentor Student II violin outfit is used and recommended by teachers and music services worldwide for its quality and reliability. Carved from solid tonewoods in Stentor’s unique workshop environment, the outfit’s violin features good tone, a responsive sound, and reliable performance.
In addition to its manufacturing activities, Stentor has been one of the United Kingdom’s top distributors since the 1960s, always focusing primarily on the education market. Its reputation for outstanding sales and service attracts quality brands to join its extensive portfolio of strong product lines. In 2017 Stentor became the distributor for Jupiter and XO brass and woodwind instruments in the U.K. and Ireland.
Stentor instruments are sold worldwide through the firm’s network of distributors in more than 30 countries including the U.S., Australia, and much of Europe and Asia. With the distribution side of the business, Stentor has also expanded into other international markets through its own quality brands and extensive product catalog.
Stentor’s full range of orchestral stringed instruments is made in the company’s wholly owned factory in Taixing, China. Launched more than 23 years ago, this ISO9001-compliant production facility is now one of the most established violin factories in the Far East. Its management team, which possesses years of violin making experience, works closely with Stentor’s team in the U.K. to ensure outstanding consistency. As Chinese manufacture has grown and modernized, Stentor has successfully blended traditional craftsmanship with modern methods to continually improve its instruments.
By owning its own factory, unlike brands that are simply sourcing products, Stentor is afforded greater control in adhering to specifications and product quality. Stentor’s meticulous quality control and attention to detail enable it to produce instruments that are consistently reliable, correctly fitted, and optimized to produce great tone. Meanwhile, the company’s due diligence policy for sourcing raw materials equips it to comply with CITES regulations, the Lacey Act, and the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan. In addition to ensuring that its materials are derived from managed sources, all Stentor wood is carefully stored, selected, and dried before use.
The name “Stentor” has been known to orchestral stringed instrument players and teachers for more than a century. Music professor and violin teacher Edward C. Doughty first registered the name (referencing a Greek myth herald with the voice of 100 men) in 1895 for gut violin strings and rosin, and later for a range of violins imported from France. Around the turn of the century he ran the operation out of the Doughty & Co. music shop in south London. Doughty and his son changed the business’s trading name to Stentor Music Company in 1927, adding accordions and an imported range of fretted instruments. Stentor Music Co. Ltd. was formed in the early 1960s by Michael Chapman Doughty, who remains its chairman, and other members of his family. It has since grown to become the premier wholesale distributor of orchestral and acoustic instruments in Britain. Its current managing director, Gary Prior, joined Stentor after a career with Philips Electronics, but Stentor continues to be a family business: Liz Wilkes and Luke Doughty are both directors and represent the fourth generation of the Doughty family in the business.
Over the years, Stentor’s strategic cooperation with teachers has enabled it to develop instruments that are easy to play and have the correct measurements. The company uses the feedback it receives from teachers and players in many countries and tailors its products to the needs of different markets.
Sales within the U.K. have remained flat in recent years mainly due to government cuts in education spending and low wage growth. Stentor has adapted to the challenging business conditions through strategic sourcing and offering high-quality, profitable lines while maintaining an excellent level of customer service. To serve consumers whose expectations have been shaped by surging online commerce, Stentor has invested in stock control and new systems to increase efficiency and speed up its supply chain. The Stentor website already includes a successful B2B ordering portal, and this will soon be augmented with additional product information. Meanwhile, management continues to refine the company’s products and develop new instrument specifications to ensure that Stentor offers today’s savvy consumers excellent quality and value and the most rewarding playing experience.
“We aim to continue building on our strengths in meeting the needs of music education,” says Marketing Director Liz Wilkes. “At Stentor we offer personal and knowledgeable support for all our products, and we are implementing new ways of working with our customers to create more music and musicians. We also see more potential for growth as we expand our reach into new markets.”
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