Paul D. Chadbourne II, Craftsman S.E. Shires Co.
You’ll find musicians at work in clubs, concert halls and conservatories. But in Massachusetts – home to noted makers of musical instruments – you can also find them on the factory floor.
Just ask Paul D. Chadbourne II, a craftsman at S.E. Shires Co., the Holliston manufacturer that’s produced trumpets and trombones since 1995.
“One of the things I love about working here is probably about 90 percent of the shop is a musician,” Chadbourne says. “You know the care that needs to be there is going into the instrument.”
That kind of care for his own instrument is precisely what led Chadbourne to start tinkering while studying tuba performance at Rhode Island College. The only technician he trusted lived in New Jersey – a long way to haul his horn – so he set out to learn some repair skills himself, apprenticing at Rick’s Musical Instruments in Cumberland, R.I.
Paul D. Chadbourne II, 27
Craftsman, S.E. Shires Co., Holliston
Products: Trombones and trumpets
Level of education: Bachelor of music in tuba performance
Favorite band: “The Soul Rebels Brass Band, out of N’awlins.”
Average salary for his position*: $39,040
*Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data
Options beyond playing & teaching
Classmates started tapping Chadbourne to work on their instruments, and before long he reached out to S.E. Shires, seeking another apprenticeship to hone his skills. They offered him a part-time job in the buffing room, and he’s since bounced from department to department, learning most steps in the production process. Today he builds valve sections for trombones, cutting brass tubing and soldering fixtures using a meticulous method that can take four to six hours.
“For me, it’s like a dream job,” Chadbourne says.
Yet it’s one he never thought to dream about growing up.
“I was brought up with the idea that there are only two professions in the music field: It’s either teaching or playing,” he recalls. “But there’s so much more that you can do. I never would have thought when I was in high school that I would be making instruments for some of the most highly regarded musicians in the world.”
“One of the things I love about working here is probably about 90 percent of the shop is a musician. You know the care that needs to be there is going into the instrument.”
— Paul D. Chadbourne II