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Thread: Best Chinese euph

  1. #1

    Best Chinese euph

    What is the best Chinese knock-off euphonium? I am most likely going to buy a Schiller, but if there is a better knock-off, let me know


  2. #2

    Best Chinese euph

    That's kind of like asking, "What's the best Japanese computer?"

    It depends on what your intended use, your criteria are and how you rank them in order of importance: sound? intonation? slotting? evenness across registers? build*quality? durability?*warranty service? resale value? repair/replacement parts? etc.

    The more you choose, the higher the price.*Pick as many or as few as you desire.

    Schiller is the leader in terms of bang for the buck up front, but resale value is likely to be next to nothing. Sound and intonation are quite good for entry-level comp euphs, but if you want the full, warm, dark British sound, forget it. Quality appears to be reasonable, but durability: who knows? And Jim Laabs has a rather dubious reputation for customer service (and gone through at least four house-brand name changes since 2000 that I've been able to track down), so warranty service and repair/replacement parts could be something of a crapshoot. And, unlike many of its competitors (Dillon, Tuba Exchange, M&M, etc., Jim Laabs does not offer a trial period.

    Dillon is quite a bit more expensive than Schiller, but*Matt Walters is generally acknowledged as one of a handful of masters in the field of low brass repair, and at least some of the additional cost pays for setup and service to the instrument prior to shipment. Sound and intonation are acceptable. Quality and workmanship appear to be on par with the Schiller, and from the samples I've examined, they seem to pay a bit more attention to the fit and finish of details (valve cap threads, water key springs, felts, etc).*Durability? again, who knows? Dillon does have an outstanding long-term track record for customer- and warranty service, but these particular instruments haven't been around long enough to have a track record. Resale value: Dillon's name and reputation might be worth something to a buyer who is familiar with Dillon, but the premium vs. a no-name instrument isn't going to be much.

    Ditto for Tuba Exchange and M&M.

    In Europe and the UK, Virtuosi is garnering rather high praise in some circles, and at least one Championship Level Brass Band plays Virtuosi instruments. Given the target market, it is entirely possible that they are better than any of the Chinese stencil horns currently available in the US, but unless one had reason to visit England, it would likely be an expensive proposition to find out whether or not that is the case.

    The problem with all these stencil horns is that warranty service is provided solely through the vendor, so unless you're local to the vendor or are willing to forego warranty service, you're stuck having to ship the horn back to the vendor for warranty service, which can quickly become an expensive proposition.

    Accent is a relatively new entry into the field, which is sold through retail stores rather than mail order, which suggests the availability of local service (or free shipping from the store to the factory). The fact that they have signed a number of respected professionals as sponsored artists creates the perception that one may have at least a reasonable degree of confidence in the quality of the instruments, however, as of yet, there is no track record to confirm or disconfirm that perception.

  3. Best Chinese euph

    In my opinion, when buying a Chinese stencil horn, the most important thing is to deal with a dealer you trust. If problems arise, they are the people you will have to work with. Fsung makes some valid remarks on the potential problems you may encounter.

    I recently attended a trade show where some national distributors of the Chinese stencil horns were exhibiting their wares in hopes of building a presence among the local music stores across the US. The incredibly low prices they offer to the retailer are very tempting. From what I was told by the distributors, they contract with various manufacturers (of which there are many scattered all across China) to provide certain models, which are then shipped to the distributor, who then engraves the labels on the horns and prepares them for shipment to dealers. Each distributor is usually working with horns from many different manufacturers, but they all will be labeled with the same mark. They will put your store's label on them for a small fee.

    As an example, one distributor had four euphoniums (all branded the same) which came from three different factories. Also, the distributor may buy from totally different factories the next time he makes a purchase if he is able to get a better deal or find a better quality product for the same price. So, the lesson here is buyer beware. I personally would buy one of these stencil horns only if I could play test the actual horn I was buying, and then I would only buy from a dealer with extremely good customer service.

    An interesting thing occurred while blowing a few notes on some of the euphoniums. Apparently, if you are a reasonably accomplished player, the distributors descend on you like a duck on a June bug to pick you for all your impressions of the horn. They especially want to know which one you like the best, presumably to determine which manufacturer makes the better horn. They listen intently to any recommendations you may have about any problems that exist with each horn. The next thing I know, they are shoving trombones and tubas in my face, and they want my opinions on those as well. At that point, I have to say that while I can play trombones and tubas, I did not feel that my level of expertise on those instruments was adequate to provide them with any purchasing decisions. At least it is obvious they are trying to improve their wares.

  4. #4

    Best Chinese euph

    Resale value means nothing to me what so ever. My main concerns are sound and intonation. So would that mean take the Schiller?


  5. #5

    Best Chinese euph

    If price is a primary or an overriding concern, then Schiller offers very good, possibly the best, overall value for the money among the entry-level comp euphs I've tried,; but only you can tell whether the sound and intonation discrepancies are acceptable to you.


  6. #6

    Best Chinese euph

    Originally posted by: dkstoneI recently attended a trade show where some national distributors of the Chinese stencil horns were exhibiting their wares in hopes of building a presence among the local music stores across the US. The incredibly low prices they offer to the retailer are very tempting. From what I was told by the distributors, they contract with various manufacturers (of which there are many scattered all across China) to provide certain models, which are then shipped to the distributor, who then engraves the labels on the horns and prepares them for shipment to dealers. Each distributor is usually working with horns from many different manufacturers, but they all will be labeled with the same mark. They will put your store's label on them for a small fee.
    Thanks for chiming in, DKStone!

    This raises a couple of very interesting and very important issues regarding Chinese stencil horns, viz., if an importer or distributor is buying instruments by the lot from a variety of mgfs. based primarily, if not exclusively, based on price, to what extent can one expect the quality and playing characteristics a vendor-branded stencil horn mfg'd by Company X to be the identical or substantially identical to the quality and playing characteristics of in identically branded stencil horn mfg'd by Company Y; and, consequently, to what extent can potential buyers trust reviews - even multiple reviews - of any given brand of provide an accurate representation of the quality and playing characteristics of that vendor's instruments?

  7. Best Chinese euph

    Some of these companies are fly by night, even the "legitimate" companies.
    We used to have a value Chinese brand
    The flutes were ok
    the clarinets all have the thumbrests break
    the trombones were poorly plated and flimsy
    The Trumpets all had cheap valve guides that warped and jammed and lost most of their lacquer by 2 years.
    The Horns had springs that nobody could supply a replacement, the rotors were poorly ported. Half the horns came dented.

    They were being supplied by a legitimate supplier, with a 5 year warranty and guarantee that parts would be available.
    The supplier can't get parts from them anymore, looks like they're gone. We have 2 years of warranty left.

    However, Selmer made the Prelude line, which has been pretty disappointing except for the flutes, piccolos, and saxes.

    The Eastman instruments line has been outstanding. All Chinese made, have been around for years, many parts are interchangeable with the well reputed instruments they closely resemble.

  8. Best Chinese euph

    I was able to play a compensating euphonium branded as a JZ, and it was not a bad horn. It was a little stuffy in the compensating range, buy many higher priced horns have that same fault. Then, I played a non-compensating inline 4 valve horn that was roughly a copy of a Yamaha 321, which was also branded as a JZ (but which was made my a different manufacturer). To my surprise, the non-compensating horn was superior to the compensating model throughout the range. Of course, the non-compensating model did not have the intonation of the compensator in the extreme low register, but it had a much more open sound. There was also a problem with the positioning of the 4th valve and the tubing which was used as the grip for the right hand. The 4th valve was an awkward reach for the pinky finger. Despite these problems, it was a sweet playing horn, and I much preferred it to the compensating horn. What does that say when your intermediate instrument can outshine your professional model? To me, as stated previously, it means buyer beware. Play before you buy, use a reputable dealer, and don't be surprised if repair problems develop down the road. Sometimes the extra money you pay for a name brand horn buys peace of mind.

  9. I've been playing on a 1965 Conn Connstellation 4 inline valves, upright, manual compensation system, for many years. I've played other horns but none of them come close to matching the rich, brilliant sound that comes out of this horn. Since the euphonium community switched over to the upright, 4 valve on the right side of the instrument type of euph, my Conn points the opposite from any other players I sit next to, causing some problems. We either clank bells or I sit on the left of everybody. I was considering buying another euph that matches the style of horn that seems like every other euph player these days uses. I even owned a music store for 11 years and played Yamaha 201s, 321s, Bachs, Jupiters, etc, etc but never found one I would consider buying. Many of them were too stuffy or the valves too tight, long and widely spaced to move quickly. I'm cautious of all the Chinese brands, India and plastic euphs. We had so many problems with Chinese horns that I would only consider one as a temporary horn. Anyone have any more ideas on decent, used euphoniums out there. I didn't want to spend more than about $700 just to try something out.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    Posts
    634
    $700 will relegate you to the used horn market, at least for anything good.

    My neighbor got a Wessex Dolce off Craig's List for $600, but she was very lucky.

    In any case, a new Wessex is right about twice your amount, and has the best no-nonsense warranty. Every horn shipped is played by the company owner first.

    DG
    3 notes and the truth.

    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard, Wick 4AL
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1917 Conn C/D/Eb mellophone original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original, Bach 5GS

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