|Terry Warburton demonstrated the P.E.T.E. to band directors and students during his Florida Music Educators’ Conference clinic.|
|Warburton Music Products
U.S. manufacturer of horns and related accessories grows through expanding global reach and relentless innovation
Currently celebrating its 45th anniversary and the recent grand opening of its new 12,000-square-foot production facility, Warburton Music Products is enjoying steadily rising sales both domestically and abroad. For its growing export business, the strong U.S. dollar makes its wares more pricey overseas, but according to founder Terry Warburton, their unique, innovative features, along with growing recognition of the brand in foreign markets, has kept consumers buying. Recent investments in additional CNC equipment at the company’s factory in Florida has helped keep up with the rising demand.
Warburton Music Products was founded in Toronto in 1974 by Terry Warburton with help from his father, Bill Warburton. At that time, it was the only brass mouthpiece manufacturer in Canada. After relocating the company to Florida in 1980, Terry partnered with machinist/trumpet player Mike Padula to develop the industry’s first CNC machining application for brass mouthpieces. In 1986, Ken Titmus, a University of Kentucky trumpet student, asked Terry to make him a custom mouthpiece. Terry made him the mouthpiece—and a job offer—and Titmus officially joined the Warburton Music Products team.
Among the more gratifying rewards for Terry’s passion and ingenuity are recent product design collaborations with the legendary Mike Vax (Stan Kenton, Mike Vax Big Band) and Carl Fisher (Billy Joel, Maynard Ferguson). Their efforts culminated in the launch of Warburton Signature Series Vaxinator and CF Horn model trumpets. Among several features unique to the brand, all Warburton trumpets are equipped with the Warburton Slot Receiver, which “locks in” the size of the cylindrical area between the mouthpiece gap and the beginning of the tapered leadpipe. This exclusive design element helps the notes “slot” into place throughout the entire range of the horn.
From a retailer’s perspective, there are two common threads running through Warburton’s growing catalog of developmental accessories: They all help players reach their full musical potential, and they all make great, affordably priced add-on sales. Not surprising considering the company’s origins, many are designed specifically for trumpet players. Terry was one of the first to develop a comprehensive two-piece system for brass mouthpieces that gives the player more options with rim, cup depth, and backbore resistance. New among many unique brass instrument mouthpiece designs, the Warbonite Hard Rubber model feels similar to polished polycarbonate— “soft, but with a secure, non-porous “friction grab.” Combined with a brass backbore, Warbonite tops play very efficiently, producing “more volume-per-effort than an all-brass setup, while sounding more radiant than Lexan or Delrin plastics.”
One of the top sellers in the company’s line of developmental accessories for brass players is the Warburton A.P.E., which helps the player learn how to maintain a high-quality, full-range buzz without applying excessive pressure. The Warburton A.T.V. visualizer, offering more than visual diagnostics, provides an advanced, high-intensity isotonic workout and low-intensity exercises to develop a relaxed aperture for greatly improved tone in the lower and middle registers. And the Buzzard, with models available for many different brasswind instruments, helps the player improve control over airflow and resistance while developing a relaxed yet focused buzz. Warburton Woody Mutes are designed with a unique “scalloped” interior that diffuses the sound and produces a uniquely pleasant tonal color. Available in cup and straight models for trumpet and trombone as well as a model for French horn, these mutes are beautifully crafted in a choice of North American hardwoods, each delivering a unique sound and feel.
Warburton’s best-selling accessory is the P.E.T.E., short for “Personal Embouchure Training Exerciser,” for brass and woodwind players. This tool facilitates isometric exercises to strengthen and develop the embouchure, resulting in improved endurance and range for most players. 2018 is the tenth anniversary of the P.E.T.E., and Warburton has sold more than 50,000 to date.
In addition to its selection of metal and hard rubber saxophone mouthpieces, Warburton also offers a number of innovative accessories for saxophonists. In the same way that the Warburton two-piece mouthpiece system enables trumpet and trombone players to fine-tune the feel and tone of their instruments, the patented Warburton Modular Sax Neck System was invented to eliminate the frustrating and expensive trial-and-error process of purchasing and fitting traditional one-piece necks to their instruments. Available in sizes to fit any mouthpiece and any brand of alto or tenor sax, the Warburton Modular Sax Neck System comprises three pieces: The Initiator, which screws onto the neck’s mouthpiece; the Tenon, which screws onto the instrument end of the neck; and the Neck, which looks like any other saxophone neck but has threaded mountings for the Initiator and Tenon. The necks are also available in a choice of brass, bronze, or copper, allowing players seeking particular performance and sound qualities to use a favorite neck on multiple instruments even if they have different tenon sizes, easily swap mouthpieces (for quick sound changes) despite different cork dimensions, fine-tune blow resistance, and generally take control over how the instrument feels, plays, and sounds. Warburton can also convert a player’s favorite neck to accept the Warburton Initiators and Tenons. The System is endorsed by such players as Ron Holloway (Susan Tedeschi, Dizzy Gillespie), Charles McNeal (Wynton Marsalis, The Temptations), and Plas Johnson (“The Pink Panther,” B.B. King).
When not inventing innovative new products, Terry and his team are often traveling around the world, attending trade and consumer shows so they can meet customers face-to-face. The company also maintains an active social media presence to reach consumers. “Staying on top of changing marketing trends takes time and manpower,” Terry says, “but not doing so will let other companies get ahead of you.”
Warburton sells some products direct, via its website, at full retail, but most of its business is conducted through international distributors and dealers. “Terry’s been a great resource for musicians for decades,” says Josh Whitehouse, band & orchestra department manager at Milano Music in Mesa, Arizona. “And speaking as a retailer, they run [Warburton Music Products] like a top. He always completes orders very quickly and delivers the finest quality product. It’s a privilege doing business with him.”