Went by the Tuba Exchange today to play the Adams again. Wanted to compare it to the Yamaha Neo after having played the Neo for six months or so.
Interestingly, I found the Adams to be less attractive than before, which means that I really have come to like or used to the Neo sound.The Adams still played sweetly, resonantly and beautifully, but was lighter, brighter and lacked the gravitas of the Neo. I still might like to own an Adams, to have a horn which has a different and contrasting sound than the Neo.
I complemented John S. on how well the valves worked and he mentioned that Felix Sung had been in the day before and had oiled up the valves. So if you are out there, Felix, many thanks!
Apparently Adams has heard that kind of comparison before, especially from Besson players, because they have now begun to offer models with thicker metal, which should provide some of that gravitas you mention. I understand they still sell mostly the lighter horns, but players who have or like Besson choose the heavier ones.
More and more choices! I guess we're all going to have to accept the need to own multiple euphoniums!
I had a chance to try an Adams for a couple of days, and concur with the "lighter, brighter, lacking in gravitas" assessment.
I also discovered--rather painfully--that the leadpipe doesn't wrap nearly as far around the bell as the leadpipe of my Sterling or my JinBao (not that the Sterling or JinBao leadpipe wrap very far around the bell to begin with). With my Sterling and JinBao, my horn forms roughly a 45° angle from the plane of my shoulders when my mouthpiece is centered on my embouchure; with the Adams, the angle was roughly 75°. My back and neck let me know I was subconsciously twisting my upper body to be able to see my music before I noticed the difference and adjusted the horn angle instead.
Yes, the first thing I noticed was how light the Adams was when I held it; was made of very thin metal. And it had that kind of burnt finish which looks like it was applied with a blowtorch -- not silver, not lacquer, not sure just how they do it.
Pam, interesting point about the leadpipe. I was too caught up in the tonality and response to drill down like you did.
Forgot to mention. It has great intonation, as does the Neo.
Adams calls the finish "raw brass," but there's definitely a coating of some sort (probably lacquer) on it.
My guess is it's applied chemically: most likely ferric chloride or ferric nitrate. the "scratch" texture of the brass leads me to think they use ferric chloride, which is typically "roughed up" with steel wool after application to produce a mottled appearance. Ferric nitrate also yields a richer patina per unit of time than ferric chloride.
The appearance of the raw brass finish is certainly striking, but I'm not sure that the subliminal message it conveys is one that I would want to convey.
Here's a pic of the Adams from the Dillon website:
And an even more "interesting" raw brass example from Inderbinen (note the absence of waterkeys, the absence of bracing in and between tuning slides, and the orientation of the 2nd slide pull ring):
Thanks for the photos. It makes it easier to understand the discussion for those who have not seen this option.
I agree with you that it is striking, and if I understand your meaning about the subliminal message, I agree with that as well. So when I look at this euphonium finish, I'm sure I don't want it. But I have seen some of the Adams flugels in this finish and kind of like them. I'm not sure why they strike me differently (I still wouldn't likely choose to buy that finish if I were a flugel player, though).
I actually like the finish, but I am not sure I would want to take it to a rehearsal, not sure what kind of statement I would be making.... But maybe it is just conservatism. When gold accents came on the market many did not like them. Same sort of thing.
I also tried the Adams at TE a few months ago.
I have been a bit derelict in my promise to post my findings, but here they are
1. All the Adams horns I tried had EXCELLENT intonation. The E flat, E, and F above middle C were spot-on with little if any lipping. If Adams and Miraphone can do this, why can't the others?
2. MIND THE GAP!! I am normally quite skeptical when it comes to gadgets and contraptions, but the adjustable gap receiver makes a SIGNIFICANT difference in how any Adams plays!!! If any readers try an Adams and find its response unsatisfactory, ADJUST THE GAP and be surprised.
3. I'm not enough of a scientist to know if the adjustable gap setting could give the reality or perception of a "lighter" tone--perhaps PGYM, Pam, or Fsung could chime in here--they seem to have a scientific and analytic bent in common. (No, I didn't measure any angles!) ;-)
4. Yes, the Adams had a different sound than my Miraphone 5050 (unfortunately, I did not bring it with me for direct comparison purposes, as test time was limited and I wanted to log as much Adams time as I could), but I'd say the Adams sounds had character and the character could change as I adjusted the gap setting.
5. The construction seemed to be first-rate. The Adams horns do seem to be a bit lighter than my Miraphone 5050, but so are some tubas! :-)
6. According to the notes I took, from which I am preparing this post, my favorite was the red brass bell. Again, I am not sure of the physics of the bell composition, so one of our scientific triumverate might chime in...or anyone else, for that matter.
Is a red brass bell "gravitas-supporting" or "anti-gravitas"?
7. My sense of the tone quality may well be influenced by the fact that I play a lot of pop and jazz music, but I found the tone quality from all the Adams horns I tried to be within my acceptable range.
8. You couldn't pay me enough to buy one of those "raw brass" models. Looks like spray-on suntan liquid gone bad. ;-0
9. I must give thanks to Vince--I was in town visiting my mother, who lives 10 minutes away from TE. I called in advance to set up an appointment. I explained my situation fully, saying that I was not going to buy anything, but wanted to try the Adams horns. Vince received me cordially when I arrived and we discussed names from our NY days...he had one arm in a sling and was short some personnel, but he was gracious enough to set me up with the Adams horns and some TEs as well. So I apologize for not posting my findings sooner.
10. I remain enthusiastic about the TE-1300 4-valve inline model. When I do my Matteson impression I use a Yamaholton 321, as Rich used the Yamaha 321. The TE 1300s I tried played very well. They also have a large receiver, which helps.
I still have my notes from my visit--if any questions arise, I'd be happy to address them if possible.
If I were in the market for a compensator, I sure would give the Adams a serious whirl, and I would take a lot of time to find a gap setting that would work for me, given my body type and choice of mouthpiece.
Dave's right--another solid choice and a quality addition to the list of instruments.
I think I read that Matt Tropman is now playing Adams... but it's the silver model. Not sure I care for the 'antique type' finish myself.
The inderbinen looks like it's just the natural oxides you get from annealing brass with a torch. The valve section isn't affected in the same way because they don't need to anneal it. I'd bet that inderbinen are buying valve sections from adams, by the way, as is sterling!
the adams raw brass finish looks like it's natural oxides, partially buffed off, and then chemically treated. Check out the way the valve section brass and nickel is "antiqued" and compare that to the darker and more splotchy finish on the bell.
I like it, but if you are sitting in a section of silver plated instruments you are going to stick out!
Regarding intonation -- the one piece that everyone always leaves out of their analysis of intonation is the mouthpiece. It can make a huge difference in seemingly random ways. You cannot directly compare the intonation of two makes of instrument which were designed with different mouthpieces in mind by using the same mouthpiece on both.