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Thread: Holton 1911-1912 Double Bell Euphonium

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    Lake Stevens, WA
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    Holton 1911-1912 Double Bell Euphonium

    I recently picked up a Holton double valve euphonium, 4 valve, upright main bell. From what I believe is the serial number (94XX on second valve casing with Frank Holton stamp above it) the instrument dates to somewhere between 1911 and 1912. The previous owner believed it to be from around 1913 so this sounds close enough. If there is some other hidden place I should look, please advise. The only other number I found, 80XX, was on the fourth valve casing.

    I purchased the instrument from someone whose grandfather played it in bands in Missouri in the 1920s. It has been sitting untouched for at least 60 years. The horn came with both sets of slides (HP/LP), original leather case which is not in the greatest shape and 4 mouthpieces including the original. Is there a technical term for these 'smaller than small shank' mouthpieces? I am a trombonist so please forgive my ignorance as I have never seen one of these shanks.

    The intonation on the big bell is a tad wonky. The biggest issue I see is that the low Bb is extremely out of tune but the Bb's above it are just fine. From what I have read by way of this forum this sounds like the norm with these Holton double bell euphs. The intonation seems to be quite a bit better on the small bell. I assume this is something that one just learns to deal with and work around.

    The good and the bad: It is in excellent condition with what I would say is 98% silver (and gold wash) finish remaining, virtually no dents except for a few very small ones in the bottom bow. The only issues I can immediately see are that it needs to have the second valve slide repaired (legs are stuck inside, I "repaired" temporarily with a zip tie and some o-rings so I could test it out), and the fourth valve needs some work as it tends to stick. I gave it a thorough cleaning this morning but suspect that more gunk will loosen and be dislodged over time. The valves are leaky but that is to be expected. I will experiment more with heavier oil before I do anything more extreme. I could not find what was suggested by my tech, Hetman Classic (or #3 depending on how old your bottle is), so I purchased some Yamaha Vintage valve oil at the local music store that worked for about 20 minutes before it disbursed and the valves started to leak again. I suspect I need something a little thicker. Does anyone have a suggestion on a thicker oil, preferably not Hetman (that is just my personal preference)?

    The only other photo I have found online of a euphonium that looks like this particular model with the "curled" main tuning slide appears to be housed in the Holton Factory Reference Collection at the National Music Museum. Does anyone have any information on these? Any help would be greatly appreciated. I will include photos at the bottom of this post.

    National Music Museum link
    Main euph page with info - http://www.drobnakbrass.com/index.ph...on/euphoniums/
    More photos - http://www.drobnakbrass.com/index.ph...ell-euphonium/







    Last edited by pineapple707; 07-25-2015 at 12:00 PM.

  2. #2
    As far as the mouthpiece receiver, I think there were only a couple sizes in use around then. There is the small-shank tenor-trombone size, and some "tenor horns" had a trumpet-size receiver. But there were probably minor variations from one maker to the next (or even one year to the next). If you have a trumpet-size receiver, then your small-shank mp will go in about a quarter inch. I assume that is not the situation for you. So if it is a trombone-equivalent small shank, then I would also suggest you try a Bach 6-1/2 or similar. Some brands want to stick out a bit more, which is OK on trombone but not on euphonium. Could we see a photo of your own small-shank mouthpiece in this receiver?
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
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  3. #3
    What a gorgeous vintage horn. Enjoy playing that piece of history!
    Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium, Denis Wick 4AL

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Lake Stevens, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    If you have a trumpet-size receiver, then your small-shank mp will go in about a quarter inch. Could we see a photo of your own small-shank mouthpiece in this receiver?
    That is exactly the case, my small shank Wick will only go in 1/4 inch. What appears to be the original Holton mouthpiece is about 6-1/2AL-ish in size. Then there is a Conn-Innes which is tiny, and another one marked "Virtuoso". There was also a mouthpiece marked Coast - Germany that is not the right shank size but has insertion marks from being used in there.

    Wick 4BS - Only goes in about 1/4 inch. Insertion marks visible are where it hits the receiver on my small bore Shires trombone


    This is how far the Holton mouthpiece goes into the leadpipe


    Inside view, photo makes the cup look smaller than it actually is


    What it came with plus my Wick 4BS - Frank Holton Chicago 14, Conn Innes, Virtuoso, Coast "Germany" which does not fit because shank is too large

  5. #5
    So, how does it sound with the original Holton piece? If, as you say, it seems similar to a 6 1/2AL, it might be a good match with the horn, overall. I'm not sure what the shank size would be called, but there were a bunch of weird shank sizes back then. I had a Czech stencil euphonium from the 20's, and it was hellishly difficult to find a mouthpiece that would insert to the right depth, and no piece came with the horn.

    I bought several vintage mouthpieces before finding one from the same period that was a match. The horn sounded best with that one. Keep checking eBay for another of the Holton originals, or get the one you have fixed up nicely. I'll bet the horn will play its best with that one.
    3-valve Blessing B-350 Euphonium

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Lake Stevens, WA
    Posts
    3
    Quote Originally Posted by Garcky View Post
    So, how does it sound with the original Holton piece? If, as you say, it seems similar to a 6 1/2AL, it might be a good match with the horn, overall. I'm not sure what the shank size would be called, but there were a bunch of weird shank sizes back then. I had a Czech stencil euphonium from the 20's, and it was hellishly difficult to find a mouthpiece that would insert to the right depth, and no piece came with the horn.

    I bought several vintage mouthpieces before finding one from the same period that was a match. The horn sounded best with that one. Keep checking eBay for another of the Holton originals, or get the one you have fixed up nicely. I'll bet the horn will play its best with that one.
    Thanks for your reply and sorry for the delay in responding. It sounds ok with the original Holton piece but the cup and backbore are a little too small for my liking. I play normally on 4-ish size mouthpieces and don't typically get along with anything smaller than that. I think it sounds better, tone-wise, with my small shank Curry 4D piece, but of course it does not fit far enough into the receiver so that's not a solution. I'll keep looking on eBay for something better. I likely will end up ordering a mouthpiece with a custom shank.

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