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Thread: Just Got a Wessex Dolce Euphonium - WOW!

  1. #1

    Just Got a Wessex Dolce Euphonium - WOW!

    I am posting my impressions of my new Wessex Dolce Euphonium in the hope that it will provide others useful information about this horn.

    As background, I am John Morgan, a former member of The United States Army Band (Pershing's Own) in Washington, D.C. I have kept at it all my life and now in my late 60's, play in a couple community bands, a very good summer municipal band and also play bass trombone in the Black Hills Symphony Orchestra. I live near Rapid City, SD.

    I have owned many Bessons over the years, as well as a Hirsbrunner, a Yamaha 842S and my latest, a Miraphone M5050. I just now (last week) sold my Miraphone and have a custom Adams E3 Euphonium being made, but probably won't see it until April or May 2016. I needed a horn to get me from now until the Adams arrives. After quite a bit of research, I opted to purchase a Wessex Dolce Euphonium. I placed the order a couple days before the end of 2015 and received the horn this past Monday. It came from England, although Wessex has a stateside operation in Michigan as well. I ordered the horn directly from Jonathan Hodgetts, the owner of Wessex. He in fact called me directly from England after I sent him an e-mail stating I needed a horn and I needed it pronto. I opted for the Dolce Euphonium with a lacquer finish and a gold brass bell (which is a $60 addition). The packaging was very good, including a form fitting, felt covered insert in the bell to protect the bell from any impacts due to hard handling. Also got a free Wessex hat that actually fits my huge head. A water gutter was included. And a mouthpiece called the Wessex 4Y. It looks gold plated, but from reading all the news on Wessex, may not be gold plated but titanium plated, not really sure.

    So, after unpacking, I did an inspection of the horn. The quality looks quite nice. I read there had been some earlier problems with the bell engraving of the Wessex name and logo, specifically being done so deep that you could see it from inside the bell. Looks like that issue has been resolved. The engraving on this one was fine and professional looking. The valves worked fine, a bit gummy, but I attributed this to the trip and newness of the horn. I have since cleaned the valves and casings a couple times already, re-oiled, and they are working remarkably well. There is a black rubber washer in each of the bottom valve caps. I suppose this aids in quieting the valves. The net result is quiet valves. I haven't had any sticking of the valves at all, and they also seem to fit very precisely in the casings.

    There is a water key on the 1st and 3rd valve slides and the main tuning slide. There is additionally what looks like an Amado water key on the 2nd valve slide, as well as a traditional pull ring to remove the slide. The Amado is placed a little ways up from the bottom center of the 2nd valve slide. I haven't experimented with this much, but it does look like one would have to have the right angle, both side to side, and front to back, to be able to use the Amado and not get the water on the 3rd valve slide or elsewhere on the horn when using the Amado key. I am so used to pulling the 2nd valve slide that that is what I have been doing. I will probably experiment with the Amado in due time.

    The slides I have taken out seem well constructed and fit well. Easy in and easy out. I have not taken all of them out yet, maybe half.

    The water gutter, in my opinion, could be a trifle shorter. It is close to tubing on both ends, and having a little more room would be useful. But it works well and does its intended job. You get a silver colored gutter for both the lacquered horn and silver plated horn. Only the silver plated w/gold trimmed horn comes with a gold plated water gutter. I learned this after asking about it after the horn arrived.

    I played the horn for a while to warm it up, then played through some scales and melodies to check the intonation. I did this first without a tuner because I have a fairly good ear. The intonation was remarkably good up and down the horn. I later put the horn on a tuner and it verified what I had thought - this horn plays really well in tune. I think I have learned that the main slide tuning trigger model is no longer available, but that isn't a real issue, because of this horn's great intonation. I am sure I will learn more over time, but early findings are really good.

    I tried a few notes that are typically gnarly or out of tune and had good results. The high concert B natural, which is a lousy note on many high end horns (my Miraphone was an exception - played it great) plays really well on this horn, either 1&2 or 2 alone. That was a pleasant surprise. And notes like low B natural (the one where if you had three valves you would use all three, but on 4 valve horns, you use 2 and 4) played well. That note sometimes is stuffy or the timbre is so much different from the notes a half step up or down from it. Using the 4th valve alone or with other valves produced nice sounding notes up and down the horn.

    I opted to use the mouthpiece that I used on my Miraphone. The mouthpiece that came with the horn, a Wessex 4Y, is okay sounding, but a little "thinner" than I prefer, so I opted for a bit bigger mouthpiece. It takes large shank mouthpieces. The Wessex 4Y mouthpiece may be useful when you need your high chops.

    I frequently play what are referred to as "barn burner" solos with a couple bands in my area. They require fast valves, and these valves do not disappoint. They are perhaps not fully broken in yet, but still are performing great. I have gone through a few of my most technical solos, and they get the job done.

    The horn is noticeably smaller than my last horn, the mighty Miraphone, which I think is the biggest top of the line horn out there now. But the switch is kind of nice. The horn does not feel cheesy or so light that there is no heft to it. It is quite comfortable to hold and play.

    Now, I saved probably the most important aspect for last. In buying a horn, at least for me, no matter what it looks like, feels like, how fast the valves go, and how in tune it is, if it does not sound good, then that is a show stopper for me. I did actually buy this horn without ever trying one out or hearing one, but put my faith in the reviews I read, mostly here - thank you David Werden, and the fact that this horn was bought primarily to bridge the gap between selling my Miraphone and getting my new Adams. And for a little over a thousand dollars, it was a gamble I was willing to take.

    The sound of this horn is really good. Is it as big or as warm as my Miraphone? Probably not. But it is a very sweet, mellow and pleasing sound. I took the horn to band rehearsal the day after I got it, and played it for my director and a few friends. They were all pretty amazed at the actual sight of the horn and what came out of it. They all said it sounded wonderful. They called the sound a little brighter than what they were used to with my Miraphone. But this horn will sing. I am playing Carnival of Venice probably a dozen times in March and April, and I will be doing it on this horn. I feel no trepidation in doing so.

    The case that came with the horn is fabric covered, opened by a zipper and looks to be some sort of form fitted foam. It is light and at the same time a little bulky, but seems to do the job fine (that is of carrying your horn from home to band and back). This case is certainly not one you would put in the belly of an airplane, at least I wouldn't. Hardly any case is one I would do that with. The case is form fitting on the inside and the horn fits pretty nicely inside. Only thing else on the inside is a mouthpiece slot. There is no accessory area on the inside of the case. However, there is an attached case that looks about the size of music on the outside. This is where I put stuff like pencils, valve oil, slide grease, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and other essential stuff. Works pretty good.

    So, overall, I am VERY HAPPY with this purchase. So happy in fact, that after my Adams arrives, I plan on keeping this horn and using it in situations where I might fret using my Adams horn (very expensive). Things like close quarters especially where I risk getting my horn banged into.

    If anyone has any questions or comments, please feel free to ask them by responding to this post. Or feel free to PM me if you prefer.

    I unequivocally recommend the Wessex Dolce Euphonium for the quality, price, sound, intonation, valves and overall value. It is not totally equal in all aspects to the very top of the line euphoniums, but it is a very, very good 4 valve, compensating horn that can be played with satisfaction by amateurs and professionals alike.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 01-09-2016 at 01:48 AM.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  2. Thanks for the post John,

    Although I have a music degree (Theory, Composition and Choral) I am at the opposite end of the spectrum of those playing the euphonium. 4 yrs. ago a local band director friend talked me into playing in a Tuba Christmas. He surmised that with my music background (I'd been a school administrator the last few decades) I could play a euphonium in the Tuba Christmas. Still not sure I'm doing too well at that, but each year I borrow a euphonium and play in Tuba Christmas events. This year I played in 4 from Engadine in the U.P. to Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo downstate in Michigan.

    Fully retired this year, I've decided to spend time studying the euphonium. I'm getting very well acquainted with Mr. Arban.

    My problem has been finding an inexpensive euphonium that still plays well enough in tune to satisfy this old musician. Living in Michigan, I've been able to visit the Wessex showroom twice and have decided to buy a new Dolce.

    Although I'd made up my mind, it was good to see your post. I expect the Dolce will meet my needs as a player that will enjoy the community band experience, but will, probably, never be a real "player" like yourself.

    Thanks again.

    Later,

    John

    P.S. -- Thank you for your service!

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Great review John. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Your review should help prospective buyers of a Wessex horn.
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  4. #4
    KKORO: Thanks for your comments about my service. I appreciate that. And, when you say you will never be a real player like me, au contraire, if you play the euphonium, that in and of itself qualifies you as a real player!! It doesn't get more real or better than that! Good luck with your Wessex. I am quite certain you will really enjoy it.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  5. Thanks John

    Later,

    John

  6. #6
    That was a very thorough review, John - thanks very much for taking time to share your thoughts!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
    Twitter: davewerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    YouTube: dwerden
    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  7. #7
    Dave and Rick - it was my pleasure providing the review. I love reading reviews on euphoniums, in fact, I may be a euphonium junkie in that regard, so it was only right to do a review of my new Wessex. They are quite remarkable horns without even saying "for that price".
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  8. #8
    Thanks John for such a great review. If I ever needed a cheap eupho that was very well made, I would definitely consider the Wessex. I have heard nothing but great reviews about them. Shame they don't make the Cantabile version anymore (the one with the trigger). I would definitely look into getting a Wessex for situation where I wouldn't want to risk a much more expensive eupho (like a Geneva Symphony or Besson Prestige - hopefully I will get one of them one day...) such as marching or park gigs with the band.

    It's great to hear that the Wessex has good response and tuning. The top B (C# for me) is an absolute lousy note to try and play on my Sovereign. It's like blowing into a garden hose. The intonation is dreadful. The same can also be said about the low B (C#), where you have to put a huge amount of air in to fill the instrument on that note.

    Very much appreciate taking your time to review this horn.
    Yamaha 642-II Neo Euphonium (2016) - Denis Wick SM4
    Besson 956 Sovereign Baritone - Vincent Bach 5G

  9. hi all,
    new here so hello,i have just bought a Wessex euphonium silver with gold valves ,I play with a besson prestige but like some I don't like taking out to galas or in the rain so when I saw this one I was very interested,on receiving it which I got next day I was very pleased with the look of it and took it to practice the same night to give it a trial and was well impressed it has a great sound and good range ,I used my denis wick 4al as I prefer it to my bach mouthpiece the mouthpiece supplied looks ok but i'm used to the wick ,I would recommend anyone looking for a decent euph for value this is the one ,the only down side is it did not have a lyre holder fitted which I have e-mailed Wessex about as it shows it on their website picture as that's the reason for buying it as it will be mostly parades
    thanks for reading

  10. #10
    garyf1967: So, there you have it, another good review for a horn that is exceptionally good for the price. About not having a lyre holder fitted, hmmmm. Mine has a lyre holder soldered onto the outside of the 3rd valve slide as it shows in their picture on the Wessex website. It also shows it on the first slide tubing in another picture (of the off the bell leadpipe). Maybe the dude doing that on the assembly line in China took a break when your horn came by, and it didn't get put on. Seems that it would be difficult to fix this easily, but maybe Wessex can send you the part and pay to have it soldered on by an instrument repair shop? I too will use the lyre holder for playing outside at some of the events where I live, i.e. Christmas tunes from a march sized book.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

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