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Thread: Upgrade - YEP-201 to Besson 967

  1. Upgrade - YEP-201 to Besson 967

    I just received a message from a high school student who had seen my Youtube video. His message raised an interesing question:

    "...Hello Doug, I was just wondering if you could tell me if you think I can make All State with a month worth of practice on a Besson Sovereign, stepping up from a Yamaha YEP-201 student euphonium? As long as I practice like an hour-2 hours a day I should be alright, right? Or is it that big of difference?...."

    My lengthy reply (and I invite comments):

    "I have played Euphonium for 47 years, mostly at a very high amateur or low-professional level. I play a 1980 Besson 967S Sovereign using a Denis Wick 4AL that I purchased new in 1981. I played Conn Connstellation horns (4 valve but a bit smaller than the YEP-201) from 9th grade through my sophomore year in college. I played Besson Imperials during my junior and senior years of college and first year of graduate school.

    My senior year in HS (1969), my euphonium teacher bought a Besson Imperial (similar to the 968 and the predecessor to the Sovereign). I already had been 1st chair in the All-state top band in California for 2 years running. At the time I played a very small mouthpiece, a Bach 12 (we all used smaller ones then). About 1 month before playing the spring concert in which I soloed Fantasia di Concerto by Boccalari with the band, my instructor loaned me his Imperial. WOW, what a change! While the sound was much nicer, it took a lot more strength and energy to play, even though I did not change mouthpieces. My band director was quite upset with me and it was not until the dress rehearsal that I finally was able to get through the number without "falling on my face" somewhere along the way. That one month was just enough for me to make the transition and I was already the top high school performer in the state of California.

    The Besson is a MUCH larger bore than the Yamaha YEP-201. It also is physically much heavier and requires changes in how you hold the horn to adapt to the 4th valve. The 967 is most comparable to the Yamaha YEP-842S in size and is considerably larger than the YEP-642. As long as you are not trying to use the 4th valve much, it should play enough like the Yamaha YEP-201 that you will be ok, AS LONG as you do not change mouthpieces. Changing to a large horn and also adjusting to embouchure changes dictated by a larger mouthpiece is going to be too much in one month.
    1. What mouthpiece do you play on the YEP-201? It will be a small tenor shank mouthpiece due to the size of the leadpipe on the Yamaha. EDIT: I have since found he plays the stock Yamaha 48.
    2. You should replicate that mouthpiece in a large shank (Bass trombone shank) for the Besson...Do this now so you have the new matching mouthpiece as soon as you receive the horn.
    3. Use the new mouthpiece comparison chart at mouthpiece chart to make comparisons with you current mouthpiece
    By way of comparison, I just finished an 8 day Northeast Tuba and Euphonium Workshop. We had 8 Euphonium players, 6 of whom had good horns including: YEP-321, YEP-641, YEP-642, YEP-842S, Willson 2900, Besson Sovereign, and York Preference (similar to a Besson Prestige). One of the Yamaha 642 players is going to be a senior in HS. He studies under Roger Behrend and is a very strong player. We swapped horns (he kept his Schilke 51D) and he tried my Besson. His immediate reaction was that he would need to work hard to grow into the horn since it felt larger than his YEP-642. The Willson 2900 student is a college graduate about to enter Brian Bowman's graduate program. He plays a BB-1 mouthpiece (similar to the Shilke 51D in size). He felt that my Besson was VERY large compared to his horn. I tried his Willson and it felt very small to me.

    Having said all of this, you are still early in your HS career. If so, the Sovereign will give you lots of room to grow into. As you get stronger, you can fill up the horn with an ever bigger sound. This horn was designed for the Denis Wick line of mouthpieces, specifically either the Wick 4AL or its Steven Mead equivalent (SM4). I progressed from my Bach 12 to a Bach 6 ˝ AL, and finally to the Denis Wick 4AL, but I still sometimes fall back to the 6 ˝ when my embouchure is suffering as it was yesterday after 7 straight days of playing 5+ hours a day. When your breathing, embouchure, strength and skill reach the point where you can play a Sovereign like it is designed to be played, you will be richly rewarded by a very warm and breathtaking sound...."

    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL

    Upgrade - YEP-201 to Besson 967


    Those are all excellent things to point out to this student. I personally don't think one month of practice is enough on a new (pro) horn to get ready for an All-State audition. But, maybe this student is a strong player.

    Usually the comments I hear from someone who jumps from a 201 (or similar bore horn) to a pro horn is, "Geez -- it takes so much more air to get the sound I want!". In addition, he (or she) may have trouble making it to breath marks before needing to breathe and break up the phrase. On top of that, there's always 'intonation' concerns that the student may not learn in just one month's practice.

    There are two very good amateur players in one of the Community Bands I play in who stepped up to a pro level horn from a smaller bore one in the past two years. One of these players used to play on a YEP-201 and now plays on a YEP-642. He made the transition fairly quickly using the same size mpc (51D) - but the new 51D is of course a large shank. I noticed his tone improve immediately. Another player, who purchased a YEP-642 last year, still doesn't have the tone I think he could have. His technique is wonderful, but I don't think he's moving enough air to get a full-dark tone. He insists on playing a Bach 6-˝ mpc. He tried the Schilke 51D, Wick 5AL, but always came back to the Bach 6-˝ AL. (Personally, I don't think that's large enough for a .591 bore instrument, but that's just my opinion.)

    Hope this helps some.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank

    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernández) cell phone video

  3. Upgrade - YEP-201 to Besson 967


    I agree that the 6 1/2 AL is too small for the horn. However, I played my Sovereign for almost 2 years with a 6 1/2 AL before I could fully transition to the Denis Wick 4AL. By the way, Dr. Earle Louder still uses a 6 1/2 AL on his large Hirsbrunner. The sound I get with the smaller mouthpiece on the large horn tends to be well formed and very sweet but a much lighter sound. The high range really sings (all the way to a very comfortable Eb with vibrato and an F without) but is much more penetrating than with the big mouthpiece.

    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  4. #4

    Upgrade - YEP-201 to Besson 967

    Doug's comments in players and their reactions to various horns are interesting.

    I've always felt that the Yamaha 642, 842, and the Hirsbrunner seem "large" and take the most "air," per se, while the Bessons are among the most free blowing, but don't require a lot of air, a different thing.

    The Willsons have all just felt stuffy, rather than large or small. And the Willson with a BB1 or 51D in the hands of a poor player can produce a clumsy, destructive foghorn of a sound.

  5. Upgrade - YEP-201 to Besson 967


    I agree on the Willsons. They are just NOT favorites of mine, especially with the BB1 or 51D (I guess I won' b going to North Texas anytime soon). Wrt. to the Yamaha's (642 and 842), the comments were from the players, not from me.

    Personally, after having gotten used to my first Besson Imperial, I find that all pro-horns blow "large" with just shades of grey separating them as long as I can use equivalent mouthpieces. I approach all horns now with approximately the same embouchure and support, so the largest differences I find are in respones, either in the high range or at low volume levels.

    I have recently purchased a Denis Wick 4AY so I can play small shank horns with a similar cup depth and width to my 4AL. I use an adaptr for the 4AY to play medium shank horns. One of the horns I enjoy the most with that mouthpiece is the YEP-321. I find the 321 to be remarkably stable and in tune until you get below low F. With a large enough mouthpiece, I can make it sing and it just isn't quite as dark or large as my Besson.

    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  6. Upgrade - YEP-201 to Besson 967

    About a two years ago I switched from a YEP 321 to the 642 close to an all-state audition. But my Band Director was smart. Since I was getting a good sound on the 321 to try out on it before I switch or else my audition placement wouldn't have been so good. I did make All-State on that small bore. Then my director let me take the 642 to the clinic. My gosh what a change. On one song I sat out because I didn't have the air supply to make it to a high G. Now of course with months of pratice Im trained on the Yamaha 642 as I was on the 321.

    -About the Wilson I too agree with that.


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