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Thread: My double bell euphonium

  1. #1

    My double bell euphonium

    Last week, I received my 1906 Conn double bell euphonium from the repair shop. I had gone back and forth for a few years to get one, and back in May I came across this one. It has four valves up top and one on the side for the smaller bell. Most that I had seen had three on top and two on the side, so I was happy to find one to which I'm used. It seems to be all original, including the case (although the leather strap has been replaced with a rolled up plastic bag). I was told it hadn't been played in 20 years, and the valves and slides were either stuck or hard to open. So, I brought it to Carl Chudy in Stonington, Conn., who did a phenomenal job. The horn plays and sounds absolutely wonderful. It also came with the lyre, and separate mouthpieces and slides, which leads into the next part.

    I thought the extra slides, which you can see below in the pictures, were to change the key of the horn. Last week, before a concert with the community band in which I play, I used the horn for the first time since I got it back from the shop and it played very sharp. I pulled out the main slide nearly all the way out and it was better after that. Tonight, before our concert, I swapped the slide with the larger one and it sounded much better. You can see the difference in size in picture 2; the one in the background was the one I used tonight. There's also a separate slide to swap out with the one for the smaller bell, which you can see in picture 3. Clearly these are not used to change the key, but I can't seem to figure out what is their use.

    This horn also came with two mouthpieces, which you can see below in picture 4. One has the letter B, and the other the letter E (both have Conn on the stem). Before I swapped out the slides, I thought these were for the different keys of the horn (like Bb and Eb) but I don't think that's true. What is it? I feel like this is an episode of "Ask This Old House."

    Thanks!
    -Brian







    Last edited by duckpin; 07-16-2013 at 01:41 PM.

  2. #2
    I have that exact Conn E mouthpiece. It is tenor shank and came with an early 1920s Cleveland Baritone I acquired in the past. It is a rather deep piece and someone on this forum told me that the E might stand for Euphonium. Pretty horn BTW!
    Bob Tampa FL USA
    Euph -- 1984 B&H Round Stamp Sovereign 967 / 1978 Besson NS 767 / Early 90s Sterling /
    1905 Boosey
    Tuba -- 2014 Wisemann 900 CC/ 2013 Mack 410
    Euph 4AL Tuba Blokepiece Symphony 33.2 #2 rim

  3. #3
    It is a lovely horn, and your small bell appears larger than the small bell on my 1940 Conn 30I. I'm really attracted to these early horns with their ornate engravings on the bugle. Back then the manufacturers were proud to have their names on their products, and the embellishments show it. By comparison my 1960s Besson NS looks like a stencil job.

    I would hazard a guess that what you have (lucky you!) is both the high pitch and low pitch slide(s) for your horn; so yes, they do sort of change the pitch. The larger slide is for playing now with contemporary instruments
    tuned to A=440. But if you should get abducted by steampunk aliens and taken back to 1906, the shorter slides will serve you well.

    I have a Conn B mouthpiece and also an Innes. My wretched computer blocks me from accessing the site, but if you Google (how I'm coming to *despise* that word!) conn innes mouthpiece you should hit this at the top of the results list:

    History of Early American Trombone Mouthpieces - The Trombone Forum
    tromboneforum.org › Teaching & Learning › History of the Trombone‎
    Nov 3, 2005 - 20 posts
    I have a small number of early trombone mouthpieces, including a Conn Pryor, Conn Innes, and an unidentified mouthpiece from an extremely ...
    Conn Innes
    Harry Nuttall

    Bach Stradivarius New York model 8II tenor trombone #28xx
    Besson New Standard #438xxx
    Besson "Prototype" euphonium #510xx
    Conn 30I Wonderphone double-belled euphonium #327xxx
    Hawkes & Son Excelsior Sonorous #534xx
    Holton Revelation euphonium #753xx
    Holton Revelation euphonium #797xx

  4. #4
    Thanks for the information. Bob, your idea would make sense in that the 'B' could mean a more baritone sound, while the 'E' would be more of a euphonium. If so, that's pretty clever. Harry, it definitely sounded better with that larger slide. I was stunned ?*and I guess I should have used a tuner when practicing before the first concert ?*when we're playing the first song last week, and I was so far out of tune with the other euphoniums around me. I had known about the early pitches of these horns, and throughout the first song thought I just spent $1,500 on a double bell that I could never use with a concert band! Fortunately, pulling out the slide almost to the end seemed to solve it the rest of the way, and using the longer one yesterday, it sounded great.

    I still feel really lucky to have found this, and I think it's very close to being in its original shape with its original components.

  5. #5
    Also, how can I tell what model this horn is?

  6. #6
    Senior Member ghmerrill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Euphearted View Post
    The larger slide is for playing now with contemporary instruments
    tuned to A=440. But if you should get abducted by steampunk aliens and taken back to 1906, the shorter slides will serve you well.
    It may indeed be for 440. But it also may be for whatever they were thinking of as "low pitch" when they made the horn . This could be anywhere from 440 to, say, 435. But it sounds as though at least you can use those slides to tune to 440 -- which is great.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 2XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N104, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N104, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, Denis Wick 5

  7. #7
    Harry, I misspoke in my initial post. I meant change the key (such as Bb to Eb), not pitch. But you might be on to something, as is Gary.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by tampaworth View Post
    I have that exact Conn E mouthpiece. It is tenor shank and came with an early 1920s Cleveland Baritone I acquired in the past. It is a rather deep piece and someone on this forum told me that the E might stand for Euphonium. Pretty horn BTW!
    I have an "E" as well. It came with a 1912 model euphonium. According to the 1913 C. G. Conn catalog, the euphonium mouthpiece is marked "E" and the small baritone or trombone mouthiece is marked "B" with a "1" under the B. I don't see a mouthpiece with just the "B" in the 1913 catalog.

    I'm a trumpet player with a yen for longer wavelengths. I've been screwing around with a trombone, more than 35 years after my last trombone class, and I still can't make the slide work for me effectively, so I sought out a euphonium. The story is that it was purchased new in 1913, and played professionally until the owner died suddenly in 1924. Then it was put into storage. In the mid-1990's, it was sold, and the buyer put it into storage. Last month, I bought it from him. It was in great shape for a horn this old, and it was perfectly playable as-is, although the valves were bone-dry until I oiled them, and I couldn't move two of the valve slides. According to the Conn Loyalist, the serial number indicates that it was manufactured in 1912. That, and the very good condition, support the euphonium's life story as told to me. After a brief in-patient stay with Jim B. in the shop at Osmun Music, it's now clean inside and out, shiny, lubed, and in perfect working order. Whether I can make it sound good is another matter!

    It's a bell-up four valve model (non-comp), four inline front-action valves, silver plated "velvet" finish. It can do both low and high pitch; there's a low-pitch extension for the main slide (between the receiver and the first valve), and lines marked on the 1-2-3 slides to show how much to pull them for low pitch. It came with the original case, with the original "E" mouthpiece and a cleaning rod. A small-shank 51d is arriving soon.

    That Holst melody is running through my brain right now.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by mm55 View Post
    I have an "E" as well. It came with a 1912 model euphonium. According to the 1913 C. G. Conn catalog, the euphonium mouthpiece is marked "E" and the small baritone or trombone mouthiece is marked "B" with a "1" under the B.
    Thanks for the supporting literature that changes assumption to fact. Most of all -- Welcome to the forum!
    Bob Tampa FL USA
    Euph -- 1984 B&H Round Stamp Sovereign 967 / 1978 Besson NS 767 / Early 90s Sterling /
    1905 Boosey
    Tuba -- 2014 Wisemann 900 CC/ 2013 Mack 410
    Euph 4AL Tuba Blokepiece Symphony 33.2 #2 rim

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by tampaworth View Post
    Welcome to the forum!
    Thanks!

    The 1913 Conn catalog is here:
    http://www.saxophone.org/museum/publications/id/131

    The mouthpieces in question are on page 33 of the catalog, which is page 39 of the slideshow (click the 39 button). The catalog makes some good reading.

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