A Brief History of Lawton

Lawton mouthpieces were originally made by Geoff Lawton. Geoff trained to be an engineering toolmaker and started playing the saxophone at the age of 15. Playing semi-professionally around the Macclesfield area, Geoff used his tool room skills to make his own mouthpiece; it worked well, and Geoff was asked to make similar for friends and bands in Manchester and London.

Alongside gigging, Geoff worked as a development engineer for the Friedland Bell Company in Stockport, experimented with existing mouthpieces and in the early 1960s started making “Lawton-Barton” metal mouthpieces in collaboration with Dennis Barton. The mouthpieces were made in Geoff’s garden shed in Macclesfield, Cheshire.

Following the death of Dennis Barton, the brand changed from Lawton-Barton to Lawton in 1965 and the mouthpiece design was updated. Geoff continued to work part-time for Friedlands on a consultative basis, whilst devoting the rest of his time to his mouthpiece business.

Geoff spent a lot of time trying new ideas for mouthpieces, using different materials, experimenting with different shapes of chamber and throat, various baffle designs and a range of facing curves and tip sizes. Many of these experimental prototypes were never sold publicly.

As demand for Lawton mouthpieces increased, the business developed into a full-time occupation. Geoff subcontracted the manufacture of his reed guards to a fellow musician and former Friedlands colleague and also employed his son Jason for initial machining, polishing and plating, whilst he himself was responsible for the final finishing and all of the marketing.

Geoff died in 2003, after which his son Jason took over the manufacturing of Lawton mouthpieces to his father’s original designs.