What inspired you to have a career in making instruments?
Early on in my education I was very interested in more technical subjects and learned how to work with metal and with wood. Later, I attended a specialist technical school and finished with a technical craftsmanship certificate.
I started to play trumpet when I was 10 years old. But when I bought my first trumpet, it was such a nice experience visiting the music store and seeing all the different instruments. Sometime later I had some trouble with the mouthpiece stuck into the receiver and some valve issues. I went to a local instrument workshop for some repairs to my trumpet. This visit to the brass & wind instrument workshop, was one of the most exciting experience for me. Seeing them, repairing my instrument, I then decided that I would like to learn how to repair and build instruments.
As a musician what opportunities do you have to play and what has been your proudest performance?
I have played the trumpet for many years now and was my trigger for to build and repair instruments and to be involved in the music industry. I have played in concert wind bands and later also joined a Big Band. One of my proudest performances was, when a TV station asked us to perform at a live televised event. This was a great experience.
Later on, the business for wind instrument building & development required too much time, therefore I stopped playing the instrument. Luckily my current business allows me to listen to the best players coming to our workshop.
What makes an instrument ‘special’ to you?
Every instrument has to be play with great intonation and the feeling must be suited to the individual player. Also, the mechanical parts, like valve and slide function must be in best condition.
What makes an instrument “special” to me is the sound of the instrument. Many variations are possible and also individual sound and timbral colours make an instrument special.
How do Yamaha integrate a ‘concern for the environment’ when manufacturing instruments?
Yamaha has always been one of the companies, taking care about the environment in production. Priority is the environmentally friendly production and health security for their technicians and the musicians.
For example, lead-free soldering was one of the important parts for the health of workers and for the musicians. It also improved the performance of instruments.
Also, the factories are at the highest standard of environmentally friendly production. They have full water recycling in the factory and the production areas have high level green credentials.
What do you feel when you hear a musician play an instrument that you have made?
When a musician is playing the instrument that I have built or modified, this is a very emotional feeling. Listening to a concert, where the player is performing on my instrument gives me a lot of feedback for future development.
If you could invent a new instrument, what would it look and sound like?
As the invention of new instruments is my daily work, this is a normal process. The most important things are:
- great mechanical & technical performance, such as valves & slides
- The best possible intonation
- An outstanding and individual, emotional sound
- The feeling for the player that the instrument is the very best for them
Thomas started playing trumpet at the age of 10 Years, which eventually lead into the craftsmanship of instrument building. After finishing technical school he started an apprenticeship at a local repair shop, and after finished exams worked in several different repair workshops and companies.
In 1981 Thomas moved to Munich to work at manufacturer “Ganter”, a specialist builder of trumpets, Vienna horns, and Trombones. At same time studied to achieve a master’s degree. Thomas then moved to Melton/ Meinl Weston in Geretsried near Munich specialising in tuba and tuba development. Thomas worked as a Master Maker for custom-made brass instruments as well as production of tubas.
Since 1991 Thomas has been with Yamaha as a specialist in research & development responsible for all brass instruments with specialty for low brass instruments with artists from all around the world
Thomas has created a worldwide network of musicians and other technicians to develop the next generation of brass instruments for Yamaha.