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What is a Double-Bell Euphonium?

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They were made to give the euphonium more versatility, so you could better match the trombones, horns, etc. or to give a lighter sound when playing with bassoons, etc. Soloists use(d) the extra bell for special effects, such as echoes.

The last valve on the horn (either 4 or 5) was used to switch the sound from one bell to the other -- both could not play at the same time. On better horns, the playing qualities were pretty good with the large bell, and not bad with the small one. Each bell had its own tuning slide loop, so they could be matched pretty well. Unlike double French horns, there is only one set of valve slides with a double bell euphonium, so only the basic pitch of the two bells could be matched. However, on mine, I find no tremendous difference between intonation on the two bells except on the low notes (around low B-flat and below).

The last double bell euphoniums were made around 1960. They became extinct because of the extra weight and slightly degraded playing characteristics of the large bell compared to a one bell model. It seems that most of them in use were only used with the large bell anyway, so players didn't want to bother with the double bell models.

The famous euphonium soloist Arthur Lehman was once using a double-bell euphonium while in the Marine Band. He was asked by an onlooker what the small bell was for? Arthur said "We use it to hold our white gloves when we are not wearing them."

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