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Adams Euphonium - What Does CUSTOM Mean?

Rating: 16 votes, 5.00 average.
I usually refer to my horn as an "Adams euphonium" but the more proper name would be an "Adams Custom euphonium." Because so much of the work of building the horn is done by hand the factory is fairly flexible about making alterations.

In my case I asked for two "comfort" options for mine:
  1. I wanted the leadpipe angle just a bit more horizontal so it matched my "upstream" embouchure better. While I was at the factory they tried several leadpipe bends for me. The horn I was using to test these was not fully assembled, and they just lightly soldered the leadpipe well enough for me to "feel" it, even though I could not play the horn. Photo below shows Thijs from Adams working on this.
  2. And I asked for a reduced reach to the 4th valve because of a wrist weakness that developed during my Coast Guard Band days. The latter was accomplished partly by turning the valve body and some associated tubing slightly within the outer wrap of the horn. (I don't recommend this for others because it makes the first valve extremely close to the bell when you take it out for cleaning.) Adams did this for me for no extra charge and now the horn is more comfortable for me. Of course, the leadpipe angle required me to be at the factory, which I was (fortunately) able to do after ITEC 2012.

Most of you may be familiar with the more normal customizations, like 5 different metal thicknesses, 3 materials, several finishes, and 2 different models (E1 and E1), plus little niceties like different styles of valve caps. This is the most customizable euphonium I've ever seen, so you can really make it "your own" beyond most other brands.

Adams is also able to supply different options for the valve slides.

Pop Quiz! Which of the three 2nd valve slides below is the standard slide for the Adams euphonium?

ANSWER: none of the above! One could easily assume it was the one on the right, but that was actually customized for me. My left index finger was injured by a football several years ago, which left it with an enlarged knuckle. It tends to get stuck in the normal pull ring, so Adams made the 2nd valve ring on mine larger. Below is a photo of the two different ring sizes:

Currently I'm testing some options for the front valve slides. The standard configuration is to have water keys on 1 and 3 and a pull ring on 2, as shown above. I'm also testing other options for emptying the 2nd valve. Adams can build your horn with a pull ring, an Amado water key (push button through a cylinder), or a Saturn water key (with a ring around it, which can be pushed from any direction). Below is a photo of the 2nd valve slide with a Saturn (left) and an Amado (right) water key.

Both keys have an advantage for the 2nd valve slide because a standard lever-style water key would not fit well. Another advantage of either of these special keys is that they create less disruption in the air flow. A standard water key has to have a little "tube" to extend to where the water key cork sites on it. But the Amado and Saturn keys put the sealing piece nearly flush with the bore.

I'm currently testing these with the help of one of my star students. Obviously, aside from their theoretical advantages, they need to actually work! They need to drain the water quickly and easily, and of course they need to be dependable. Amado keys are well tested in the field, and their main downside is that they may require a little oil now and then to avoid sticking. The Saturn key sticks out more and may be more vulnerable to damage. I tested the draining time of each (by starting with the entire slide full of water), and the Amado was about 10% faster, which is negligible. But time will tell. Either one has some very enthusiastic fans already, but euphonium players are more used to standard construction. I had an Amado key on the Sterling's 2nd valve and it was fine over the years, but it did require oiling (I did so whenever I oiled the valves so I would not forget).

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  1. davewerden's Avatar
    Check out this Adams Custom trumpet (which has the same brushed finish as my euphonium):

    The valves are offset to more closely match the arc of the owner's fingers. This was a custom request - the normal valves are inline. They are also offset on the vertical plane as well. Here are comments from the owner (taken from his FaceBook comments):

    "All the valve sets are individually made, so can be made 'traditionally' in a straight line, OR off-set so that the 2nd valve sticks out a little to match the length of your middle finger, On this model the valves are also made in a V formation, so that they are closer at the bottom and slightly wider apart at the top. It's up to You !!! Each trumpet can be individually tailored to each trumpet player. That's the real beauty of real hand-made instruments. ADAMS - Brass at it's Best."
  2. davewerden's Avatar
    Here is another example. In this case I think the main customizations are in appearance. Notice the engraving. Looks very nice on a tuba.

  3. davewerden's Avatar
    A lot of the custom action is within the Adams trumpet (driven by Christian Scott, perhaps). Here are some example. I can't recall another company building so many one-off's in recent years, but they are neat to see!