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Thread: Baritone or euph for 12 year old new player

  1. #1

    Baritone or euph for 12 year old new player

    My grandson is 12 and my son is considering purchasing either a baritone or euph for him, neither of which he currently plays. I believe the baritones are generally smaller bore than the euphs, so would require less air. Do you recommend one over the other for a 12 year old just starting out, and why?


  2. JP,

    Short of a large, pro model 3+1 euph, the issue is less about air and more about physical maturity. A 12 year old is usually big enough, has enough arm reach and finger span to play at least a 3 valve full sized euph like a Yamaha YEP-201. A smaller mouthpiece will help with the issue of "air". The Yamaha's come with a Yamaha 48 (equivalent to a Bach 6 1/2 AL) which is a fine choice for a beginner.

    If it were me, I would go with a good 3 valve for a beginner at your grandson's age. He will be maturing quickly and by the time he is 14-15, you will be looking for a good 4-valve intermediate. And I know you know the options there, having looked into Wessex, Yamaha 321, et al.

    I do NOT recommend an English style baritone. An American bell front style horn may be just fine, however. The English style horns often are not as easy to play as a good euphonium. And further, IMHO, it takes more strength and finesse to get a decent sound out of a baritone than a Euphonium.

    Last edited by daruby; 12-08-2016 at 01:54 PM.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  3. #3
    Absolutely true. Baritone requires a really steady airflow and will highlight any imperfections in articulation. Euphonium is a much easier instrument in every way except hauling the case around!

    12 is what, 7th grade? That's absolutely time for a YEP-321 or similar.
    Last edited by bbocaner; 12-08-2016 at 02:43 PM.

  4. I have taught 6th grade beginning band for 20 yrs (11 & 12 yr olds). We have always started the kids on Yamaha 201 euphs. In all that time, I don't recall ever having a kid who didn't have enough air to play. They don't always have the best tone, but that comes in time. Of course, we screen the kids individually prior to confirming instrument choices when they join if a kid is physically too small to handle a euph, we usually guide them to something else to start on. We also provide school horns to kids to keep at home and one at school so carrying back and forth to school is not a concern.

    It would be my recommendation to start off on a euphonium (three valve or even a four valve like a Yamaha 321 if the kid is big enough to handle hauling it around....the four valve weighs a bit more). If he ends up being in band, a full size euphonium will be useful for longer as he grows and advances. If he is going to be part of a band program, I would also make the suggestion of contacting the may be that they have horns provided like we can then make it your goal to find something comparable.

  5. #5
    I recommend the Yamaha 201 eupho as well. It is a good size bore to learn on as well as being on 3 valves, it keeps the weight down. If your grandson is still keen after a few years (when he reaches probably the age of 14), then you might look at upgrading to a Yamaha 321 or 621, both are 4 valve non-comp euphoniums.
    Yamaha 642-II Neo Euphonium (2016) - Denis Wick SM4

  6. #6
    My 9yro is learning on a full size 3+1 comp horn. It shouldn't be a problem. Go for either the Yamaha 321 or maybe the King 4 valve (2280?). Both are good enough to last a lifetime for an enthusiast. They also hold their value better if the boy looses interest. If you get the 201, it will have to be replaced.
    Chris Bunker
    Adams E1, Wick 4AL

  7. The amount of air required for breath support to play a horn is more determined by the throat diameter of the mouthpiece, a little bit by the way the backbore opens up, and by the way the horn is plumbed and braced for efficiency to avoid impedance or interference with the nodes and anti-nodes, not by bore. After the air stream transitions the embouchure, cup and throat (which is a function of Bernoulli's Principle) and transitions into the horn and how it resonates pitch (which is a function of Static Wave Theory with its compressions and rarefactions), the air is like a river dumping into the ocean: velocity drops to essentially nil. A player does not "fill up" the horn, contrary to the myth about brass playing. And so the choice of horn then devolves to the physicality of the player and desired tonality and style of both instrument and repertoire.

    I post this to agree with the above: it's not about bore. It's about the physical maturity to actually get a buzz out of the mouthpiece and be able to physically hold the instrument in proper position to play it, then developing from there.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Central North Carolina
    Reliable studies have shown that, at a given age, children vary greatly in terms of their overall size, development of musculature, development of teeth and jaw, strength, and a broad spectrum of other physical and mental characteristics. No child can, or should, be expected to begin or continue playing an instrument that's uncomfortable to hold and to play. It's the very best way to discourage further interest. Just put yourself in the kid's place and go with common sense and opinions based on experience with a large number of kids. Don't try for "We want to get a horn he'll be able to use for years and 'grow into'." You want to make it as easy as possible for him to WANT to practice and to ENJOY playing. If that means getting an instrument that will need to be replaced in a couple of years, then do that. Luckily you're dealing with an instrument for which that is pretty easy to do.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  9. #9
    Thanks for all your responses! I'll be recommending (and watching for) a good 3 or 4 valve non-comp euph.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Smoketown, Pa
    Being a retired music teacher, I would agree with most of the above that an euphonium is a wiser choice over a baritone. What we called baritones when I was that age were actually bell front euphoniums. A used instrument at this stage of the game would be a wise choice. I did a lot of damage and had a lot of dents by high school. It wasn't always me but kids that age are naturally clumsy or unaware of their surroundings. I played an old school owned Conn and that was almost indestructible.
    B&S 3046 Baritone/Euphonium
    B&S PT33-S Euphonium
    B&S PT37-S
    Schilke ST20 Tenor Trombone

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