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Thread: Finally tried an adams

  1. #1

    Finally tried an adams

    I got an adams E3 from Trent at Austin Custom Brass on approval to try. He even discounted it because of a ding in one of the 2nd valve tubes from trade show use.

    This was an E3, yellow brass bell, brushed lacquer, with short action valves.

    I was out of town when it arrived, so I was really anxious to play the horn when I returned. I played it along with my own sterling virtuoso, and a friend's Willson 2900s.

    A few things I noticed right away:

    1) the horn is physically much lighter than the other two I had. This surprised me.

    2) the valves were top sprung, and looked surprisingly worn for a new horn, even with trade show use.

    I initially left the AGR in its default position to play.

    The sound was much less dense and robust than either the sterling or Willson. It sounded much less rich/robust to me. (Admittedly in a small room)

    Response was Pretty good. A little quicker than the sterling and Willson in the mid-range of the horn. In the upper register, slotting got very narrow, and hard to manage. I assumed at this point it was because I needed to change the position of the AGR.

    Response in the low register was a little stuffy, but acceptable. Not as easy as on either of the other horns I had.

    I noticed once I had warmed up on the instrument that even with the tuning slide all the way in, I was around 10 cents flat all around the mid register of the horn. Again, I thought adjusting the AGR might change some things.

    So I started with the AGR all the way in, played a little bit and then moved it WAY out to get an idea of the range I had available. All the way in, slightly slower response with wider slotting. All the way out, very quick response with narrow slotting.

    The behavior above the staff didn't change much even with AGR adjustment. Thin sounding, narrow slotting.

    I then tried the AGR in a few different positions in between, and while I could feel changes in response and slotting, the intonation never improved, and it never felt quite right to me.

    I moved back to the sterling and Willson just to make sure I wasn't crazy, and easily played those two in tune with my slides in the usual places.

    So, I'm sad to say, my first experience with an adams horn was less than stellar. It's possible it was isolated this horn, as it has some custom options like the short throw valves.

    I REALLY wanted to love this horn, but as I went on, it became clearer that this was absolutely not going to work for me, so I'm afraid it's going back.

    I was playing a Wick SM4X on all 3 horns.

    Has anyone else played this horn? Any thoughts to add?

    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,258
    Hmm, I wonder if the Adams has different length main tuning slides as an option? I know that this was a problem with some folks with the Miraphone 5050. One forum member a few years ago couldn't get his horn up to pitch. He found out his horn was shipped with a longer tuning slide. Just a though.
    Last edited by RickF; 04-16-2016 at 02:50 PM. Reason: correct 'shorter' to 'longer'
    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
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Cumbanchero (Rafael Hernández) cell phone video

  3. #3
    I'm at a disadvantage in this discussion because I have not yet tried either the E3 or the short-action valves. But here are some ideas.

    Less-dense sound.
    Complicated topic! First, I want a less-dense sound than the Willson. It has a great core and consistent tone, but it's hard to move it outside its own particular sound box. By my Adams, which is an E1 with sterling silver bell and .60 brass, was extremely close to my Sterling with heavy red-brass bell, but with slightly more projection. I would not have been willing to give up the great Sterling sound, even with Adams' better response and intonation. So it could be the metal choice, or the thickness (you can find the thickness stamped on the receiver), or the E3's natural differences. The heavier-metal in the E2 has been the best for denseness of sound.

    There is also a difference in concept of sound production, at least on the E1 series I'm most familiar with. Adams' approach is to make sure the horn can resonate consistently through its entire length, which is partly why they hand-form tubing from sheet brass. Anyway, I've found that if you are used to forcing the sound to some extent, that is the wrong approach on my horn. You cooperate with the horn and "feel" the resonance as you play.

    Response.
    The AGR certainly affects this, and you should experiment with it. When I'm wandering around trade shows and trying random horns (including other Adams models) I find the Adams is slightly better in response over the low/middle range than the best of the others. I'd call the response in the high range less of a stand-out, but even that is interesting. It did seem like a little more work to hit a high Bb, for example. But on the other hand, after I got used to the horn a bit more I found that I could do things in the high range that I could not do dependably on my Sterling (or Bessons before), such as playing the very last phrase in Bydlo at least a full dynamic level softer. I don't know if the E3 model or short-action valves affect this quality.

    Valve appearance.
    I have to say, Adams valves are not as pretty as others. I'm not sure why. I know they are working on that facet. But when clean, the action is very quick and dependable and I don't detect any signs of leakage. This is the 4th Adams horn I've had for long-term or semi-long-term use and that has been consistent. I'll make sure Adams does not forget about this factor. While the valves are high quality functionally, it is still important to have a high-quality appearance in my book.

    Intonation.
    I requested mine with a slightly shorter tuning slide (main), after ordering such a slide for my previous horn. It does the trick for me, and I have never found the horn too low after it is warmed up.

    Physical weight.
    This makes me think you have thinner metal, but it could also be the weight difference of a trigger (you did not mention which horn has one or doesn't have one).
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    I'm at a disadvantage in this discussion because I have not yet tried either the E3 or the short-action valves. But here are some ideas.

    Less-dense sound.
    Complicated topic! First, I want a less-dense sound than the Willson. It has a great core and consistent tone, but it's hard to move it outside its own particular sound box. By my Adams, which is an E1 with sterling silver bell and .60 brass, was extremely close to my Sterling with heavy red-brass bell, but with slightly more projection. I would not have been willing to give up the great Sterling sound, even with Adams' better response and intonation. So it could be the metal choice, or the thickness (you can find the thickness stamped on the receiver), or the E3's natural differences. The heavier-metal in the E2 has been the best for denseness of sound.

    There is also a difference in concept of sound production, at least on the E1 series I'm most familiar with. Adams' approach is to make sure the horn can resonate consistently through its entire length, which is partly why they hand-form tubing from sheet brass. Anyway, I've found that if you are used to forcing the sound to some extent, that is the wrong approach on my horn. You cooperate with the horn and "feel" the resonance as you play.

    Response.
    The AGR certainly affects this, and you should experiment with it. When I'm wandering around trade shows and trying random horns (including other Adams models) I find the Adams is slightly better in response over the low/middle range than the best of the others. I'd call the response in the high range less of a stand-out, but even that is interesting. It did seem like a little more work to hit a high Bb, for example. But on the other hand, after I got used to the horn a bit more I found that I could do things in the high range that I could not do dependably on my Sterling (or Bessons before), such as playing the very last phrase in Bydlo at least a full dynamic level softer. I don't know if the E3 model or short-action valves affect this quality.

    Valve appearance.
    I have to say, Adams valves are not as pretty as others. I'm not sure why. I know they are working on that facet. But when clean, the action is very quick and dependable and I don't detect any signs of leakage. This is the 4th Adams horn I've had for long-term or semi-long-term use and that has been consistent. I'll make sure Adams does not forget about this factor. While the valves are high quality functionally, it is still important to have a high-quality appearance in my book.

    Intonation.
    I requested mine with a slightly shorter tuning slide (main), after ordering such a slide for my previous horn. It does the trick for me, and I have never found the horn too low after it is warmed up.

    Physical weight.
    This makes me think you have thinner metal, but it could also be the weight difference of a trigger (you did not mention which horn has one or doesn't have one).
    Dave,

    Thank you, these are all thoughtful comments.

    As it turns out, the Adams is the .70 gauge. So much for that being the reason it's lighter.

    The other horns to have a trigger, but I was still surprised at the difference in weight.

    I agree with you regarding the desired tonal characteristic. The Sterling sounds fantastic, in my opinion. The Willson is a little too "compact" for my taste.

    The 4th valve on this horn (standard length) looks pretty good, it's just the short valves that look a little off to me, so who knows.

    Interestingly, the tuning slide on this horn appears to be rose brass; it's the only thing on the horn that's different than the rest of the slides, which are brushed lacquer. Regardless, if I can't play the horn at pitch, it isn't much use to me! :-)

    I'm going to play it a little more, but it's still looking like it's going to go back.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  5. #5
    ALL the main tuning slides are red brass. They have found that, for whatever reason, it helps the tone no matter what the alloy of the rest of the horn.

    You may very well be right that it is not the horn for you. It could be you don't like the characteristics of the Adams, and that's to expected for some folks. No one instrument fits every taste. But I think you should try to get your hands on an E1 or E2 with the sterling bell and/or one with a red brass or gold brass body. If you are going to ITEC it will be a good chance!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    ALL the main tuning slides are red brass. They have found that, for whatever reason, it helps the tone no matter what the alloy of the rest of the horn.

    You may very well be right that it is not the horn for you. It could be you don't like the characteristics of the Adams, and that's to expected for some folks. No one instrument fits every taste. But I think you should try to get your hands on an E1 or E2 with the sterling bell and/or one with a red brass or gold brass body. If you are going to ITEC it will be a good chance!
    Oh, that's interesting. Thanks for that info!

    At this point, I'm definitely going to ITEC. I've never really had the opportunity to play test horns to find the best suited to me, so it seems prudent.

    Mike

  7. #7
    My experience from playing an E1 for a year and two E2s for about 8-10 months each largely agrees Mike's criticisms and Dave's responses above.

    I regret selling the E1, which was a .6 sterling silver model -- in day to day play in the ensemble and smaller groups, the E1 was darn near perfect.

    I had less luck with E2s, a model i finally decided needed to be refined a little more to work for me in high level wind ensemble play (both E2s were subject to too much resonance, feeding back ensemble fortissimos as a kind of jitter in my sound, something I've never experienced in any other horn).
    However, I only tried .6 E2s. A heavier gauge like .8 might have solved this problem. But I had no experience with heavier gauge Adams' horn, and I wasn't going to order one and possibly churn through more $$.

    The Adams sound is less dense to the player; but to the listener, the audience, the sound is terrific given a good player who is capable of a good euphonium sound.

    On flatness -- one E2 was so flat that it would only easily play in tune after a full warmup.

    For the last year I've been playing a Yamaha 642 Neo, which is nothing like an Adams. It's great horn, which does not get enough respect. Part of its problem is that (unlike Adams) it doesn't dazzle in a quick play test; it keeps getting better with use. That said, I find the Neo a little dense in its approach to sound (its kind of Willson-like that way, without sounding at all like a Willson). So I may go back to an Adams E1 and sell the Yamaha.
    Last edited by JTJ; 04-17-2016 at 08:57 AM.

  8. #8
    JTJ: I am curious about your post and the two E2 Adams you played. You said you only tried .6 E2s, but from what I have learned about Adams, the E2 model is supposed to only come in .8 gauge metal. How did you get .6 E2s?

    As some of you know, I have an E3 on order. I am sure hoping that the flatness issue is not to be found on my horn. Having to warm a horn up completely in order for it not to play flat, seems off. I would think that once the horn is warmed up, the main tuning slide should absolutely be out some, not all the way in. The horn should be sharp with the main tuning slide in.

    Dave: You said you had the main tuning slide shortened. When you say that, do you actually mean the part you pull out, or rather the legs that you put the slide into? Did you find this necessary to do on "every" Adams you played? Does Adams make their horns with some of the higher European tuning in mind? I think generally A=440 is the standard in the U.S., but some in Europe tune to a slightly higher pitch if different from 440, not usually lower. So, if anything, you would think the Adams horn would not be flat.

    It is interesting, and a little disconcerting, to hear some of the reviews on the Adams, especially this thread. And I have heard such utterly glowing reviews from others and spoken to some pretty impressive players who think their Adams is the best of the best. I suppose in the long run, it is just going to take getting the horn and trying it out for myself (and paying a hefty price for the privilege to do so!).

    I probably shouldn't read these reviews until my horn arrives. And when it does, I hope to be able to give a stunningly glowing review!
    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)

  9. #9
    Well...I'm just an amateur, but my E1is outstanding. I do find, however, that it is easy to make it sound 'bland' with changes in how I play (air, posture, fatigue, etc.) and especially with different mouthpieces! I have observed that each of my mouthpieces requires a different AGR position, and it's quite sensitive. I would guess that some of the 'me' sensitivity is also related to the function of the AGR. The AGR is a great innovation, but it does require extra work to maintain; maybe easier for pros who are more consistent.

    I am willing to bet your house your horn will be awesome!

    Chris
    Chris Bunker
    Adams E1, Wick 4AL

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    El Paso, Texas
    Posts
    383
    John: For a while, and maybe still currently, Adams was making a special E2 model with .6 gauge and a sterling silver bell. It was an interesting combination and produced interestingly different results I believe. I've never played one in person but I've come close by having all the heavy weight caps, buttons, and bottoms put on my E1 SS .6 gauge.

    Mike: By no means by saying this am I trying to discredit your findings, but is it possible that because of the openness of the SM4 you used mixed with the openness of the Adams horns that you were flat? I played all the horns at TMEA this year including your exact model horn. E3 in lacquer with short action valves, which I loved btw. I had my girlfriend listen to me back and forth between my horn and all of the display horns Adams had and never once did she notice a major difference in intonation. My E1 typically has between 1/2 inch to 1 inch of main tuning slide pull. The only time I'm flat is in rooms that are in the 60 degree area. this causes me to be about 10-15 cents flat from my normal setup.

    In reference to the valve appearance I totally agree, they look a little worn, or even wear funny or not evenly, but my valves are silky smooth and everyone in my studio has drooled over how smooth they are.
    Adams E1 SS, Gold Brass Body .6mm DE Euph N103 Jcup, J9 shank
    Meinl Weston 2141 Eb Tuba PT 84

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