Our Company

Tom Crown, Founder - tom@tomcrownmutes.com

Before developing Tom Crown mutes, I was an active professional trumpet player. I started my playing career in 1950 with the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops Tour Orchestra, and the WGN Radio TV staff orchestra. I ended my two year military service in 1955 playing in Europe with the Seventh Army Symphony Orchestra in Germany, Italy, France and England. After discharge I returned to WGN, later playing in the Bozo Circus Band.

I joined the Lyric Opera orchestra in 1964 and continued playing there for the next 29 years. In 1973-74 I changed places with Arno Lange of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Arno came to Chicago to play in the Lyric Opera orchestra and I, with my wife Donna, went to Berlin for a year to play in the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper. I returned to the Lyric Opera until retirement in 1993.

I studied the trumpet with Isabel Harridge, Renold Schike and Adolph Herseth. Later, at coaching sessions with Arnold Jacobs, tubist with the Chicago Symphony, I met my future wife, Donna Frank, a trombonist who was also studying with Arnold Jacobs.

In 1968, inspired by a mute that Adolph Herseth used with the piccolo trumpet, I produced a mute for the Bb or C trumpet that was well received by professional trumpeters worldwide. Among other orchestras, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra started using our new straight mute in their orchestras.

With the general proportions of this mute in mind I designed and produced straight mutes for tenor and bass trombone and later cup mutes for trumpet and tenor trombone and a trumpet wa-wa mute. We later produced straight, cup, and wa-wa mutes for piccolo trumpet. As I and my later assistants have no scientific or acoustic background, we do not know what a Helmholtz wave is, we relied on the more accurate judgements of professional brass players. All of our mutes were tested and approved by brass players from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera Orchestra and freelance professionals in Chicago.

Until 2019 we had independent metal spinners make the mutes to our specifications, in 2018 we moved to a space were we could do the complete manufacturing process ourselves. We now have a beautiful, modern factory and office at 4110 N. Nashville Ave in Chicago.

Our staff, many of whom have worked for the Tom Crown Mute Co for many years includes William Camp, now president of the Tom Crown Mute Co, Gene Arnold, Chitaka Nishikiori , all professional trumpet players and Henry Nelson, our metal spinner, now working for us full time, who previously spun our mutes at different metal spinning shops. Other shop personnel include Richard Pietszak and Larry Fletcher.

Under Bill Camps leadership, we have developed several new, well liked mutes, including the Gemini straight mute for Bb or C trumpet, practice mutes for trumpet, piccolo trumpet, trombone and bass trombone, adjustable cup mutes for trumpet, trombone and bass trombone, “Wah Wah” mutes for trombone and bass trombone and Pixie mutes for trumpet and tenor trombone.

William Camp, President - bill@tomcrownmutes.com

William, who currently resides in Chicago, is originally from Niles Michigan. Camp earned his music degrees from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and The University of Michigan. His principal instructors include Gene Young, Louis Davidson, Armando Ghitalla, and Arnold Jacobs. Camp has appeared with the Chicago Sinfonietta, Chicago Pops Orchestra, Lake Forest Symphony, South Bend Symphony, Springfield Symphony, Northwest Indiana Symphony, Kenosha Symphony, American Ballet Theater Orchestra and the Westwind Brass. His recording with the Dallas Winds and Chicago Chamber Brass, called “The Brass and the Band,” has received national acclaim. In 1980 Camp worked for Schilke Music Products for two years. During that time he met Tom Crown, took some lessons and started working for the Tom Crown Mute Company.