A Brief History of Michael Rath


Company founder Michael Rath began his professional career as an apprenticeship with Paxman Musical Instruments, a Covent Garden-based manufacturer of French horns. After nine years honing his skills, Michael opened his own brass instrument shop in West Yorkshire, specialising in repairs and customisation. His clientele grew to include professional musicians, particularly trombonists, from throughout Europe.

In 1995, British jazz trombonist Mark Nightingale asked Michael to create a bespoke instrument. After nearly two years of prototyping, this tenor instrument became the first Rath trombone and Rath Trombones was established.

With tenor trombones in steady production, Michael Rath, along with technicians Andy Hutchinson and Adrian Davison, began development of a full trombone line. Over the next decade the Rath catalogue grew to include small-bore jazz trombones, large bore symphonic instruments, bass, contrabass and alto models.

Today, Rath trombones are popular with solo artists and brass band, symphony and jazz trombone sections around the world. A line of student-level instruments, JP/Rath Trombones (and later a range of JP Rath French horns) was introduced in 2014 in collaboration with John Packer, and is manufactured by Rath-trained technicians.

In January 2024 Rath trombones was acquired by John Packer Musical Instruments. The agreement will see JP Musical Instruments look after marketing, distribution and logistics for the Yorkshire business, while retaining Rath’s focus as a maker of outstanding, bespoke trombones, the choice of leading symphonic, commercial and studio trombonists all over the world. 

The Rath Trombones shop is located in Honley, Huddersfield in West Yorkshire.