Quality craftsmanship is the leitmotiv that guides Stephen Shires each day (in the photo below, with Doc Severinsen) since 1995 when he opened his workshop in Hopedale, Massachusetts (United States). His entire team of workers put a lot of care and attention to every detail, every piece that is manufactured. Stephen’s deep knowledge of design, and its effects on sound, is second to none. All instruments coming out of Shires are tested before they are shipped. And the result of all this is, given the special sound and excellent mechanics of these trumpets and trombones, in 2014 the powerful Eastman Music Company noticed the S.E. Shires brand and ended up purchasing it and adding everything to their catalog.
All Shires trumpets are manufactured, assembled and finished at Shires’ Massachusetts headquarters. Their bells are well known for their rich, responsive sound and projection. Pistons, guides and tubes are thoroughly tested to be perfectly adjusted. Each piece of metal used to make a Shires trumpet has been sized, bent and aligned with meticulous attention, so there is no stress during the assembly process.
This handcrafted approach means the trumpet provides the performer with an incomparable palette of sounds. It’s not just about beautiful instruments; it’s about instruments of superior quality, made to last for many years.
However, it is clear that everyone does not possess the economic capacity to access such an instrument. And this is something that the Eastman Music Company, ever since it took over Shires, has wanted to solve; because its philosophy is to produce the best musical instruments in every price range. That is why they have used all their resources to develop a series of handcrafted yet affordable instruments for everyone: the Q Series. Good trumpets for those who enter the professional world, with many of the same characteristics of the high range instruments.
The Q Series
As we said from the beginning, the Shires Q Series consists of 4 models of trumpets: 2 in B-flat and 2 in C. In Trumpet Magazine, we have studied each instrument order to explain what each one of them consists of.
To begin with, they all share 5 main constructive characteristics:
- As for the bell: they have the same diameter (4 13/16 inches, or 122,237 millimeters), and are made of yellow brass hammered by hand, in one piece, with a rounded bead and engraving that includes the S.E. Shires logo, the name of the model and a floral etching. What distinguishes one bell from another is the narrowing of its bell bow, which in three of the models is moderate, but in one of them it is open (explained below).
- As for the leadpipe: all Q Series models have a heavyweight leadpipe, also made of yellow brass. Although their diameter may vary from one model to another, all the leadpipes are designed to allow a full blow without resistance, and so that each pitch is in place.
- As for the pistons: they are all hand lapped monel valves. The valve cluster is made in two pieces, standard weight and with nickel balusters. Both the upper and lower valve caps are made of nickel silver.
- As for the rest of it: the combination of nickel, nickel silver and silver in valve caps and balusters give brightness and character to the sound, besides increasing its core sound and contributing to the cleanliness and immediacy of the attack.
- As for the finish: all trumpets are silver plated.
.459 inch (11.6586 mm) bore. It’s called ‘Q10’ because that’s the bell model it uses, whose bell bow is moderately narrow, which helps keep the sound focused at louder dynamics and veiled at lower dynamics (the ‘S’ in the title stands for Silver). It incorporates a .345 inch (8.763 mm) diameter ‘Q05’ model leadpipe that provides a combination of efficiency and flexibility, allowing delicate passages to be played relatively easily, and a ‘QW’ model tuning slide. Broadly speaking, this trumpet is the best choice if you want a versatile instrument to play in different types of musical formations.
It is exact same model as the previous one, but with a reverse leadpipe (hence, the ‘R’ in its title: Reverse), used to reduce air friction when blowing. Therefore, the leadpipe of this trumpet is a ‘Q05R‘ model, and the tuning slide is a ‘QWR‘ (adapted to the reverse leadpipe configuration).
.462 inch (11.7348 mm) bore, obviously larger than B-flat trumpets, as this instrument is primarily intended for use in an orchestra. It features the ‘Q11’ bell, whose bell flair is the most open of all those made by Shires, producing a big and powerful sound. This, together with its .348 inch (8.8392 mm) reverse leadpipe and its corresponding ‘QWR’ tuning slide (for this type of leadpipe), makes this trumpet maintain good balance between projection, amplitude, agility and sound clarity.
Identical bore to the previous TRQ11RS. The bell, however, is a ‘Q13’, which is not as open and therefore more focused on producing a sound rich with harmonics, while maintaining an astonishing agility in all registers. Also contributing to the latter is its .347 inch (8.8138 mm) leadpipe, which is slightly narrower than the TRQ11RS, with a compact feeling where the pitches are well slotted, and a ‘QW’ tuning slide. It is a trumpet model that can be used for orchestral practice as well as solo or chamber performance.
In short, we can say that any trumpet player who has the whim of purchasing a quality, handcrafted instrument — instruments that usually cost a minimum of 4,000-5,000€ — but wants it at a more affordable price, can do it for about 2,800 or 3,000€ with the S.E. Shires Q Series.