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Thread: Adams Custom Series Model E3 Euphonium - A Comprehensive Review - Part One

  1. #1

    Adams Custom Series Model E3 Euphonium - A Comprehensive Review - Part One

    I ordered an Adams E3 Euphonium on December 11, 2015 and received the horn at my dealer in South Dakota on May 18, 2016. The horn was expertly packed in a very strong and sturdy box. It was shipped from the factory in The Netherlands. It arrived in flawless condition. The following is a comprehensive review of this outstanding instrument. I have to do this review in two posts as the amount of information exceeds the limit for one post.


    • Adams Custom Series Model E3 Euphonium, Serial # 49710
    • Sterling silver bell
    • 0.60 gauge metal
    • Bore is .590 inches 1st, 2nd, 3rd valves, .630 inches 4th valve
    • Bell diameter is 12 inches
    • Brushed finish except shiny inside bell
    • Main tuning slide trigger
    • Honduras rosewood finger button inlays
    • Vented valves
    • Full bell engraving
    • Name engraved on main tuning slide receiver
    • Water gutter for valves 1-3
    • Adjustable gap receiver
    • Blue Marcus Bonna case
    • Weighs 10 1/2 pounds, +/- 1/4 pound
    • Comes with no mouthpiece

    My wife and I have officially named the Adams Euphonium: NellyBelle

    Here are five pictures that were taken in the evening with a flash, and they show how beautiful the euphonium is:

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    Overall impressions:

    This is the finest euphonium I have ever played and ever owned. The sound is exquisite. The fit and finish is incomparable. The intonation is spot on and better than any horn I have played. The ergonomics of the horn are very satisfying.

    Here are several more pictures of the Adams Euphonium:

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    I prefer a sound that is somewhat mellow and warm without being too dark or tuba sounding. This horn delivers. It produces what I will describe as a very clear and very pure sound. My wife equates it to the sound of a very nice, easy to listen to, smooth male singer. Pleasing. Amazing response when playing super soft. The horn just plays the note, even at the softest levels. No matter how high or low. At louder volumes, you can't even seem to break up notes, the horn just shines and sparkles. Overtones galore. The low range really speaks more easily and solidly, and with more presence, than any other horn I have played. The high B natural, a nasty note on many euphoniums, plays fine on the Adams. High notes above Bb have more body and fullness than I have ever experienced.


    Wonderful. I played up and down the horn several times with two tuners in front of me. Dave Werden's intonation chart for the Adams is very close to my results. The Eb, E, and F above tuning Bb that are usually sharp are just about spot on. The G in the staff plays well with either 1&2 or 3. The C in the staff is a little sharp using 1&3. It was even more sharp early on, but I did some fine tuning to the tuning slides since then. But that C is right on using 4 alone. I may not use the trigger much, but still glad I have it.

    The Trigger:

    From the pictures, you can see there is a little gold piece that is adjustable by one side of the main tuning slide. My name is engraved on the outer slide receiver just above this piece. You can adjust the little piece up and down, and you fix it with a set screw. It seems to do the job in not letting the slide rub against you when playing. The round cylinder like piece on the hardware attached to the main tuning slide is the adjustment for regular tuning (as in tuning to concert Bb). You simply turn it one way or the other to let the slide out or bring it in. If you look behind the 4th valve (from your perspective holding the horn in playing position), you will see the spring for the trigger paddle mechanism. There is also another long vertical screw that can go up or down. At the bottom is a black rubber stopper hooked on and the trigger mechanism rests on this when not being deployed. In other words, you press the trigger paddle, the main tuning slide goes out, then when you release the paddle, the trigger arm comes back to rest on the black rubber bumper. It is fairly compact and neat. Good design. I think the brace that is bent in a "v" shape on the main tuning slide, and where the hardware attaches, is shaped this way so that the push on the main tuning slide happens closer to the curved part of the tuning slide (which is by the way rose brass - Adams found this provides the best sound). This probably makes pushing the slide out mechanically easier than if the hardware were attached to a straight across brace. It works well.

    The Valve Area:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Valves are working splendid after a few days and only one cleaning. The valves are finely finished and look nice. There was some early chatter about the Adams valves not looking very good, but that seems to have been resolved. I ordered vented valves, and you can see the little hole in the valve which is just that. The upper valve caps screw on delightfully well, after having to worry about cross-threading on some horns. The bottom valve caps are heavier with more volume than I have been accustomed to with other horns. The springs "look" like junior high school springs, they are dinky, the smallest looking springs (at least in diameter) that I can remember seeing in a euphonium. But, they work excellent. On my Miraphone, the stock springs were not strong enough, and I got valve bounce, and after trying other springs, ended up stretching out the stock springs. In "looking" at the springs on the Adams, I would have thought they were not strong enough, but these Adams springs seem to be just about perfect for me. I can go fast and they keep up. The valve buttons have inlaid wood on them. They are flush with the brass part so if you run your finger over the finger buttons, it is totally smooth the whole way. The tops are flat, not concave or convex. The buttons are bigger in diameter than my last horn, and I much prefer this size. They just feel right, and much less chance of getting your finger stuck in between valves when you are doing the one-finger finale to Carnival of Venice. The water gutter that Adams included is nice and much like others out there. It does, however, click (or snap) into place when you put it on, so there is great feedback that you have attached it securely. The valves are quiet, at least that is how I would characterize them. Ample padding at the right places. No clacking at all. One other thing a bit different on this horn. I use a K&M stand and have for many years. It has held a Besson Prestige, Yamaha 842S, Miraphone M5050 and a Wessex Dolce. They all just slide in nicely, but I did have to adjust for each horn's width. But, with the Adams, when I put it in the K&M stand, the 4th valve touches the side rubber bracket before the horn settles all the way in. This means that the 4th valve sits low on this horn, at least lower than any others. It is unnoticeable when playing it or even looking at it, but sure enough, it is lower. I just have to tilt the horn a wee bit to get it in the stand. No big deal at all, just interesting that the 4th valve is located lower than all other horns. And, speaking about the 4th valve, there is no lock down device for the 4th valve stem on this horn. So when you put it away, the 4th valve stem is still in the ready to play position instead of locked in the down position. I thought the case for the horn would know this, but it apparently does not. There is no cubby hole spot for the 4th valve stem to fit into. When you stuff the horn in the case, the 4th valve stem just sort of gets pushed in against the side of the case. Maybe some of you who already own an Adams can say if that has caused any problems. Not sure why Adams chose to not put a lock down device on. Or at least have a solution with the case, which they do not.

    Part Two to follow.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 05-23-2016 at 11:02 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. #2

    Question about slide trigger.

    I'm new to this website and it's been 40 years since I had access to a euphonium. I plan to purchase an Adams E3, .60, with a brushed sterling silver bell in the near future. I believe I want Saturn water keys on all the slides, a knob on the #2 valve slide, the water key pointing forward on the tuning slide (so it doesn't drip on me when I empty it), and maybe a shorter main tuning slide so it doesn't play flat?

    Most people I've seen online claim that a slide trigger is unnecessary on an Adams euphonium. Have you found it helpful or unnecessary? Also, I've never heard of anyone using clear lacquer on silver. Wouldn't it make the instrument easier to clean? What would positive/negative effects be of clear lacquer on silver, brushed or not? I hope David Werden will respond to my questions too. All comments and or answers are appreciated.
    Last edited by Julian; 06-02-2016 at 04:16 PM. Reason: didn't need photos

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Hi Julian.

    Both John and Dave are attending ITEC in Lexington, Kentucky this week so they may not reply right away. Didn't want you to think that they were ignoring you.

    Welcome to the forum.
    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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    El Paso, Texas
    I myself do not own an Adams with a trigger, but I can attest to the fact that it is not a necessity for this horn to be able to play in tune, but like any horn on the market, even this horn has some notes that are out of tune. For me, the trigger is not a necessity for this horn, BUT it is useful by all means.

    As far as the tuning slide itself I wouldn't imagine wanting to order an additional slide unless the issue presents itself. I have never had the issue on my horn and usually have the slide extended about 1 1/2" - 1/2" depending on the day as well as temperature of the performance venue. another factor in this may also be how much or little you decide to turn out the adjustable receiver to meet your preferences. As you adjust the receiver, I would make sure that before you test the playability of each different setting of the receiver, tune the Bb to get a general sense of being in tune. I say this because some notes on any horn may feel good, but they may not lie where you want them as far as pitch is concerned, thus they respond differently as well.
    Adams E1 SS, Gold Brass Body .6mm DE Euph N103 Jcup, J9 shank
    Meinl Weston 2141 Eb Tuba PT 84

  5. #5
    I don't think it is necessary to get a shorter main tuning slide. My new Adams E3 is in tune for concert Bb when warmed up with the main tuning slide out about 3/4 of an inch. I'm still on the road and will write more later.

  6. #6
    John - I'm about to place my own Custom E3 order and was wondering how you landed on this bell engraving design? Was this something you specifically wanted, was it offered to you from a selection of designs? Is the engraving lacquered over?
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D

  7. #7
    Hey Jake,

    Neato, a new Adams E3 is coming!! I actually saw Matthew Van Emmerik's horn (Matt is an Adam's Artist from Australia) and spoke with him several times prior to ordering mine. When I was getting ready to order mine, the E3 was just coming out. Matt had just received his new E3 to replace his E1. He had the whole bell engraving done on it, and I loved it. I told Miel to do mine exactly like what was on Matt's horn. A dude in the Czech Republic did the engraving (by hand, so I am told) and that added over a month to my build time (just short of 6 months). I think it would have been closer to 4 months at the time I ordered mine if I had elected to not do the engraving (almost two years ago when I ordered in Dec 2015). For what it is worth, I have heard that the design on my horn and Matt's will not be done again, it is retired. That makes Matt famous and makes me infamous! But apparently you can still get many different designs and patterns done.

    Now, about the engraving being lacquered over - Well, best answer, I am not sure. I think there is lacquer on most of the horn, possibly the SS bell too, but I can't tell you if the engraving happened pre-lacquer or post-lacquer. Even looking at it, I can't tell. I would think lacquer would be the last thing in any case, but just don't know for sure. Guess that is a Miel question.

    You are gonna love that E3!! How exciting!!
    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, really appreciate your response! My local Adams dealer quoted me an extra month to do the engraving and extra $$$ of course. Haven't placed the order yet, had some other questions for the dealer.
    Adams E3 0.6 with SS Bell
    K&G 3.5D

  9. #9
    I've looked at it before but what a beautiful horn! Simply gorgeous.
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Davidus1 View Post
    I've looked at it before but what a beautiful horn! Simply gorgeous.
    Thanks, David! I must confess that I never tire of looking at it myself. I am really fond of this horn. This is my keeper.
    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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