Chapter Three: Birth of the Xeno Series
In 1978, before the release of these New Custom trumpets, there was already an attempt in progress to launch a "heavy model development project" within the company to address the needs of players who preferred a long-established brand's instruments when Kawasaki, who was at Atelier Tokyo at the time, received an unexpected request from Thomas Stevens, principal trumpet of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Stevens had his trumpet restored after it was damaged, but he wasn’t satisfied with the result and asked Yamaha to build him a new instrument. It turns out that the brand founder had actually sold his production facility in 1961, and there had been issues with quality ever since, resulting in more and more players turning to Yamaha in search of replacements for their instruments.
Fulfilling Stevens’s request presented a unique opportunity for Kawasaki and the other project members to research the brand's instruments. They spared no effort, taking detailed measurements of dimensions and analyzing product materials—importing those not available in Japan from the US—and they even traveled to New York to meet with a craftsman who had previously shaped bells for the brand. Unraveling the secrets of a design so alien to Schilke’s ideal would take a considerable amount of time, and Kawasaki continued researching the instruments even after he returned to the design section at Yamaha HQ in 1983, along with Imaoka, prototype technician Masao Suzuki, and Okabe, who took Kawasaki’s place at Atelier Tokyo. They must have built hundreds of bells alone, not to mention the other parts, and they made an important discovery which affected the quality of sound while using trial and error to explore metal processing techniques and methods of heat-treating the bells after they had been formed.
The project members continued a cycle of developing and sending prototypes to Stevens for testing until in 1988, after 10 years had passed, they finally succeeded in building a trumpet he was satisfied with. In addition to getting to hear Stevens say, "you finally did it," the project members were rewarded for their hard work when the whole trumpet section of the Los Angeles Philharmonic switched to Yamaha trumpets. At that moment, it became clear that the designers’ passion had finally born fruit.