A Brief History of Smith-Watkins

Smith Watkins logo

 The Smith-Watkins Company has been making high class, top quality cornets and trumpets as well as flugel horns, soprano cornets and fanfare trumpets since 1985 and has built itself an enviable reputation.

Richard Smith was the man responsible for the design of the famous Besson Sovereign cornet 928 range as chief designer at Boosey and Hawkes, while Derek Watkins enjoyed an international reputation as a leading trumpet player, performing with such people as Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, James Last and Maynard Ferguson. Together they formed the company that bears their names and produced a series of instruments that are internationally recognised as some of the very best in their field.

Richard Smith wrote a doctoral thesis on trumpet acoustics before joining Boosey and Hawkes, where he worked for 12 years as chief designer and technical manager. Richard’s research work into acoustics, testing and development of brass instruments has been widely publicised in the scientific literature and on TV and radio, and he has travelled in Europe, the United States and Japan, testing instruments with top professional symphonic and session players, and presenting papers at international conferences on acoustics and instrument design.

In the last decade Smith–Watkins have become contractors to the Ministry of Defence and have designed, made and supplied specialist brass instruments to most of the British military bands. Their fanfare trumpets have been seen in spectacular form at a variety of prominent public occasions, including heralding the beginning and end of the Grand National, and various Royal weddings and ceremonies!

In 2008 Richard Smith began a collaboration with John Packer on a range of trumpet and concerts. All JP Smith-Watkins instruments feature an exclusively designed Smith-Watkins leadpipe and benefit from a wealth of fine-tuning due to the expansive knowledge of Dr Richard Smith and his team.

The keen amateur would be advised to look at the JP collaborations, while the advancing musician would invest in the Soloist or Professional models.

Numerous military bands, John Gracie - principal trumpet with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra -,  Mike Lovatt, professor of Trumpet at the Royal Academy of Music

Thanks to the JP collaboration, the Smith-Watkins range is now accessible to an amateur market, while the Soloist and Professional models are designed for the most discerning of musicians often found on the professional stage.