A little about me, and how the PWK came to be.
I'm an amatuer musician, which means I play mostly for the love of music. I left teaching years ago to go into business, and found myself in an industry that required a bit of a mechanical mind. I love trying to solve problems, and my first patents were issued in the early 1990's. Not everything I patented turned out to be a commercial success, but sales of product generally exceeded development costs, which includes prototyping, patent applications, and marketing.
I have been a student of the trumpet my entire adult life. My early years were haphazard in that I had no trumpet instruction regarding embouchure, practice routines, building techique, or general trumpet/brass knowledge that many high-schoolers would have had access to. My parents couldn't afford private lessons, and the high school band was so weak, I became 1st chair after only 6 months as a beginner.
As a result, my chops were never developed properly, and as an adult "student", I craved the knowlege and understanding of why some players "had it", and most didn't. I sought out the usual gurus, and all I wanted to gain was better tone quality, range, and endurance. I studied with Larry Black (a great teacher) for a few lessons, but then sought out Jerome Callet. Jerry analyzed my chop issues, and over the course of ten years, I gained some of the qualities I wanted in my playing.
This led to a thirst for more knowledge and a desire to play better, so I subsequently took lessons from Bill Carmichael, Pops McLaughlin, and in a strange twist of fate, Nathaniel Mayfield. All these guys were great, and lessons with Pops inspired to me work towards my Master's degree in trumpet performance. But my lessons with Nate Mayfield gave me a real and lasting entry into the world of playing with better sound, and with his masterful guidance, I was able to actually get the sound I had so long desired. I always knew the sound I wanted, but Nate actually gave me the tools and knowledge to acheive it. I'm not a world class player, but I am a far better player than I ever have been.
What does this have to do with the development of the Pollard Water Key? It is just perserverence. I had a problem with sticky Amado keys, as do many other players, and in the past I had also had to resort to using a wad of paper on a concert because I lost a cork in a spit valve.
The problem was defined in my own experience, and in many other players' experience. So after developing some ideas in my mind over the course of a year or more, I made a drawing and sent it to my friend Cliff Blackburn. Cliff told me he thought it would work, so I partnered with a local machine shop to develop a prototype, and I at the same time hired a lawyer for the patent work. There were misteps, but a gentleman named Jason Harrelson, who makes the wonderful Harrelson Trumets, offered to manufacture the PWK for me. He was very impressed with the idea, and has been a great advocate for the PWK. Jason tests each and every PWK, and the craftmanship and funtion is all I could ask for.
I am passionate about the quality of the PWK, as is Jason Harrelson, because, if you put my valve on your horn, I want to be totally confident you have installed a product that makes your life as a musician a little less annoying, and get rid of that nagging thought that your spit valve could stick at the worst possible time!
One surprising development is that larger bore instument players have become my most enthusiastic customers! It is a joy to open emails from very happy customers. It will be interesting to see how the POLLARD WATER KEY idea develops....Thanks for reading!