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Thread: Besson 3 valve compensating 1963

  1. #1

    Besson 3 valve compensating 1963

    I just acquired (friend who is thrift / estate sale shopper found it) a Besson lacquered, curved detachable bell, 3 valve compensating euphonium.
    Has the usual 50 Medals of Honor etc...
    It came with what I assume to be the original Besson 10 medium shank mouthpiece.
    Truly in amazing condition. No dents, only a few tiny lacquer scratches. All the slides and valves were free.
    Interestingly, in the detachable bell one can see that under the lacquer the metal used to braze the bell together is a little lighter in shade than the sheet metal. It shows how the builder made the little tab cuts that some manufacturers use to align the sheet metal prior to brazing. Very cool
    This is serial number 377xxx, meaning it should be a 1963 horn.
    Even the case is pristine, the "fake alligator" material is entirely intact, clearly well used but none of the general battering a case usually gets. Clearly a smoker owned it, not just usual old case smell but leaping tobacco too. That will fade quickly.
    Best part my friend got this for $100.00. Wow.

    I love how it plays, I just must get to know its needs and variegates.
    Will change the felts.
    It is getting a good bath soon.

    Several questions of the group.

    1. Was there ever a "model" name/number used for this era Besson?

    2. Do the bottom valve case caps unscrew? They are very close fitted and have not yet come off. I will let oil soak in a bit longer. I would expect them to be removable not soldered in place but want to ask before forcing them. Also very had to reach with your fingers.

    3. The tacquets show some wear especially valve 1 as expected. There is no tendencies to bind and not too much noise but it looks like not a lot of engagement in the groove milled in the valve casing. Are these better addressed early or can I wait for more obvious signs to occur? The noise I mention is not the travel stop related sounds that the felts mitigate.

    I did just order a DW SM4MX for this. Already one friend pushes a 51D. I am neither a ford or chevy person. I just want to horn to play well, the label is not important.

    Cheers all.



    Here are the photos of this horn. Really great condition. Case also.

    The main question was about the tacquets.

    Also the valve case bottom caps being tight. I will try penetrating oil for a bit and hope to gt them off.
    In the photos you can see the residual corrosion and gunk by the caps. Given they are so closely fit it was unclear if they were solder, I think not.

    Does the "H" on Valve 2 mean anything?

    The Besson logo has some polish in the text. NO I did not do that, I think the estate sales folk might have.
    A little mottling of the lacquer in some areas.
    The few areas with lacquer worn off are the left hand contact point on the valve loops.Click image for larger version. 

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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 3 rear valves.jpg   4 Rear.jpg   8 bottom case caps.jpg   12 In case.jpg   13 cse.jpg  

    Last edited by dozerdan; 02-12-2015 at 01:54 AM.

  2. #2
    Congratulations to the new owner on the terrific buy! It sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

    I think that Besson's compensating horns were always their pro models, which I think would mean it is either an Imperial or New Standard.

    In my experience the bottom caps were never soldered in place. Keep working at it!

    The tacquets are probably OK, but maybe you can include a photo showing how they look. Metal ones are not as thick as the plastic variety, so maybe that's why they look thin to you.

    As far as any smell in the case, you might try some "dry" techniques before using any sprays or solutions. I wonder if you sprinkled some baking soda around inside and left it for a while, then vacuumed it out, if the smell might be better. There may be better products, too, but I have not had lots of experience with that. The horn itself can be de-scented by disassembling and giving the whole thing a good bath, which you probably should do anyway. Just don't use water that is hot. Some of the old lacquer jobs would soak right off in hot water.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. #3
    The Besson has had a bath. Oh my.
    Bits of green. Well quite a fair bit o bits. Me thinks it was getting ready for St Paddy's day.Click image for larger version. 

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    The bottom valve caps took a bit of WD40 type to loosen and gentle tapping with soft dowel to come free.

  4. She's a beauty, congratulations! You don't see that many with the bell front configuration and a time capsule horn to boot. Always exciting to see a classic get a new lease on life. Enjoy
    Last edited by tampaworth; 02-15-2015 at 02:23 PM.
    Bob Tampa FL USA
    Euph -- 1984 B&H Round Stamp Sovereign 967 / 1978 Besson NS 767 / Early 90s Sterling MP: 4AL and GW Carbonaria
    Tuba -- 2014 Wisemann 900 CC / 2013 Mack 410 MP: Blokepiece Symphony American Shank and 33.2 #2 Rim

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Hot Springs, Arkansas
    Occasionally I play a 1963 Besson 4 valve that belonged to a dear friend who died a few years ago. The horn is well used (he played professionally years ago).

    The valve guide for the third valve was pretty much worn down to a nub, but the horn still played fine.
    David Smith

  6. The green stuff is normal, particularly since the horn had sat unused for a long time and probably not been cleaned (if ever). The horn looks beautiful. As regards the H on Valve 2, I would try playing the horn to insure it tunes properly to an A=440 and is not a high pitch instrument.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  7. #7
    With the Besson 10 mouthpiece that came with it I have the main tuning slide out about 1/2 inch to center everything. With a DW SM4MU I have the slipe almost all the way closed.
    I had wondered the same, thinking I remembered reading about the "H" meaning it was a 442 to 446 or there abouts. Of course since I am a newer euph player coming from Oboe, Sax and everything else it could signify "high" tuning and just be me making it look different.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by daruby View Post
    The green stuff is normal, particularly since the horn had sat unused for a long time and probably not been cleaned (if ever). The horn looks beautiful. As regards the H on Valve 2, I would try playing the horn to insure it tunes properly to an A=440 and is not a high pitch instrument.
    I second this. H on the second valve casing or leadpipe usually means high pitch. This being said, I have at least two horns which, the H notwithstanding, calibrate to low pitch. One of these is a mid-sixties New Standard. Check the horn against a tuner.
    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

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Leadwood, MO
    Beautiful instrument. Congrats on the great purchase!

  10. #10
    And just a hundred bucks... I NEVER find deals like this!

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