Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Sterling Euphonium Testing

  1. #1

    Sterling Euphonium Testing

    So I went down to Sterling and had a blow on some instruments on Thursday. It was a bit like meeting your idols for me as ever since I started playing Euphonium (after switching from cornet) the Virtuoso was my dream instrument. Putting aside the actual instrument testing I enjoyed just being there, seeing how the instruments were put together and listening to Glyn Williams and another well known player (not sure if his presence there was common knowledge so i'll keep his name to myself) testing instruments prior to myself.

    Quite a few of you on here have far more experience playing on a Sterling Virtuoso than me, and can supplement, clarify or even just point out where i've got it wrong if you like. This is written from the perspective of a average player.

    My reference point is my own York Eminence 4052. I could of tried to compare to the Genevas I tested recently but that wouldn't be fair to either Sterling or Geneva without a side by side test. I should mention that I tried 3 different instruments that were all initially the same/similar spec (heavy bell, with and without the heavy 4th valve cap) and the consistancy between them was very good (more consistent than I was managing to play them) each had their own subtle difference in sound but all three were great instruments.

    Virtuoso with heavy bell (with rose brass flare) and heavy 4th valve cap
    The notes centred really nicely, instruments blew freely and very consistently whether below, in or above the stave (treble clef). My big concern prior to trying them was that the high range would be inaccessible to me but it was definitely a little easier than on my Eminence and I loved the sound up there, really full and warm. In fact the sound I got throughout my range was as close to what I consider a classic Euphonium sound as I think i've ever produced.
    You do need to put a decent amount of air in to produce the notes, on my Eminence I can get away with being quite lazy and still produce a good sound if in the stave, this wouldn't work on the Virtuoso (not sure thats a bad thing in my case - making me support the air flow properly).
    Tuning for me was very very good even when not using the trigger, certainly much better than my Eminence (I have to admit I didn't use a tuner but for all my weaknesses I've a decent ear for tuning), purely to save on weight I could even be tempted to forgo the trigger if I decided I needed to.
    Ergonomically everything was in the right place for me, the valves felt wider apart than I'm used to but I had no issue with either their placement or response, I didn't find them overly heavy. Trigger and 4th valve placement was nice but i'm not a fan of the paddle shape, no where near as comfortable to use as the one on my Eminence.
    I know this is known as a heavy Euph but with the trigger, HVC and heavy bell these Euphoniums are way heavier than my Eminence. They are, however, a little more comfortable to hold than my Eminence (couldn't put my finger on why).

    Virtuoso with standard bell
    So, Ideally I'm looking for an instrument thats a lot easier to play above the scale than my eminence without losing too much of the sound I like (try to get the instrument to make up for my deficiencies). With that in mind Sterling swapped over one of the heavy bells for a standard bell while I was waiting. I was hoping for a big difference in how easy it was to play in the higher range while not losing too much of that lovely tone. What I got was a small change it how easy it was to play above the stave and a noticeable change in tone - it wasn't bad just a bit brighter, but I preferred the heavy bell.

    With some help (and patience) from Glyn we found a combination of options that worked and sounded best for me and I could quite easily of bought one there and then but I'd made a promised to myself (and my wife) that I would test all the "possible" Euphoniums on my list before I decided on one and the weight is something I need to really think about (I have back problems which have required some surgery in the past and my Eminence is too heavy really so getting an even heavier instrument - not sure it's a good idea).

  2. Quote Originally Posted by EuphoJon View Post
    With some help (and patience) from Glyn we found a combination of options that worked and sounded best for me and I could quite easily of bought one there and then but I'd made a promised to myself (and my wife) that I would test all the "possible" Euphoniums on my list before I decided on one and the weight is something I need to really think about (I have back problems which have required some surgery in the past and my Eminence is too heavy really so getting an even heavier instrument - not sure it's a good idea).
    Dear EuphoJon,

    I was aware of the "surprises" that were in await for you when you got there. One of the really GREAT things about Paul Riggett is the access to the support you get when you visit from those like Glyn.

    Your comments about weight are correct. I think a fully equipped red-brass Virtuoso with trigger and heavy 4th valve cap is similar in weight to a Miraphone 5050 with trigger. With back problems myself, I have not found the physical weight to be an issue, but I never march with the horn nor do I often play while standing. When playing in a seated position, the Sterling sits perfectly on my left knee and I find I don't have to put pressure on my back to hold it up. The distance from bottom bow to leadpipe is about 1.5" more than a Besson/York which helps me since it puts the horn in almost exactly the right position. As a comparison, the Yamaha Custom 842 is VERY uncomfortable for me since its bottom bow to leadpipe distance is very short (at least 2.5" less than Sterling) and I have to hold the horn up by my arms alone.

    When standing, the weight can become tiresome. I have a Besson/York-style belly pan on my Sterling (a customization done just for me by Paul) and so can hold the horn more tightly against my ample belly while still using the trigger. This means my left arm and right thumb are not carrying all of the weight.

    As regards promises to wife and self, I can relate. I had an early German produced 2007 Besson Prestige 2051 when I visited Paul the first time in summer 2008. He had 4 different Virtuoso's laid out for me to try. My wife was my listener and she agreed I sounded better on the Sterling. It took a little planning, but when I returned in summer 2009, I had ordered my "ideal" horn, a heavy red brass, 300 mm bell, Virtuoso with trigger. Paul built 2 horns in raw brass to audition and had Trevor Groom of GUS fame in to be my listener/helper. We selected the best horn and then my personal customization's (my name engraved on the 1st valve slide, belly pan, etc.) were put on as the horn when through finishing. In Sept. of 2009 I got my Sterling delivered to my doorstep here in the US and it has been my #1 play ever since. This horn is in near new condition after 8 years and will likely be with me until I have to "hang em up".

    For me, at age 66, my physical limitations (even with back problems) have been more in finger (multiple) and left arm tendinitis. As a result, I held on to the Prestige since it was lighter than the Sterling, then replaced it with a modified Sovereign, finally being replaced with an Adams. The purpose of my 2nd horn is to give me a triggerless horn that is lighter for when I am in "extremis" with any of my disabilities. That said, I still prefer my sound with the Sterling and enjoy having a blow with Paul's Bedford Town Band every year when I visit the UK while attending the IBBSS in Wales.

    Good luck with your decision. You will continue to get lots of advice from those of us here on Dave Werden's forum (including from me), but continue your search at your own pace. You are lucky to have access to these fine specialty manufacturers, and with Sterling, to their artists.

    Doug
    Last edited by daruby; 04-15-2017 at 03:33 AM.
    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
    Hi Doug and EuphoJon, I did a final play test of a Sterling this past Saturday, and I have to say that the Sterling (in my opinion) is top of the class. I spent a week with a silver belled Adams. It was a great horn, but not in the same class a the Virtuoso. The tone production throughout the entire range of the horn was amazing. I've played on quite a few horns lately, and like I said the Sterling was incredible! I ordered my horn today with Paul, and I can't wait!!

  4. Quote Originally Posted by bdawley81 View Post
    Hi Doug and EuphoJon, I did a final play test of a Sterling this past Saturday, and I have to say that the Sterling (in my opinion) is top of the class. I spent a week with a silver belled Adams. It was a great horn, but not in the same class a the Virtuoso. The tone production throughout the entire range of the horn was amazing. I've played on quite a few horns lately, and like I said the Sterling was incredible! I ordered my horn today with Paul, and I can't wait!!
    Great! You will love your Sterling...Play on!
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  5. #5
    Doug,
    I should have mentioned the important specs.

    12" heavy red brass bell

    Set of 3 heavy valve caps in addition to the standard.

    Gold trim

    In my opinion, both Adams and Sterling are the best companies in terms of caring for their customers!

  6. Quote Originally Posted by bdawley81 View Post
    Doug,
    I should have mentioned the important specs.
    12" heavy red brass bell
    Set of 3 heavy valve caps in addition to the standard.
    Gold trim....
    My 2009 Virtuoso is exactly the same spec including various accessories except for bell size. I have a 300 mm (11 5/8") instead of 305 mm (12"). BTW, I found that the 3 heavy valve caps were not useful for me. They made the horn sound too dead. I do use one of those three caps on my Adams 4th valve however!
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  7. #7
    Interesting about the valve caps. So you advise against them? Do you suppose they would be useful in more ensemble playing? Just curious since you've actually used them.
    Ben Dawley
    Music Director,
    Calvary Baptist Church & Academy
    Euphonium, Mid-Michigan Brass Band

    Adams E1
    Sterling Silver Bell
    Brushed Lacquer

  8. Quote Originally Posted by bdawley81 View Post
    Interesting about the valve caps. So you advise against them? Do you suppose they would be useful in more ensemble playing? Just curious since you've actually used them.
    The Sterling with heavy red brass bell is a very heavy, robust horn designed for brass band playing. It has a dark, yet warm, singing sound. Kind of like my old New Standard on steroids or a Sovereign with better response and warmer tone. Adding the three extra heavier valve caps made the sound more "wooden" for me, getting rid of the warmth I described. Feel free to experiment with them, but I have not used them since I got done with my experiments. The heavy cap on the 4th valve is another matter. It stabilizes response in the low range significantly.

    Doug
    Sterling Virtuoso 1052HS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  9. #9
    Thanks Doug. I may just save the extra $$$ and pass on them. I don't want to be stuck with them if they don't work out. The Sterling I had tested had the same specs, and that sound and response is what sold me!
    Ben Dawley
    Music Director,
    Calvary Baptist Church & Academy
    Euphonium, Mid-Michigan Brass Band

    Adams E1
    Sterling Silver Bell
    Brushed Lacquer

  10. The Sterling Virtuoso is the best fit horn I have played in regard to my playing. It has the beautiful, warm tone of the Besson I currently play, coupled with an evenness of response and a lack of noticeable tuning issues that make it my dream horn. I've only played one, but I ended up spending more time there than any other booth at TMEA because of how fun it was just to play this great horn. I'm not 100% sure of what customization it had, but I know for sure it had the heavy 4th valve cap and a trigger.
    My second favorite horns were the Besson Prestige 2051 (came close in tone but took a lot of warming up to get the response how I wanted), Adams E1 (felt a little too light, response was excellent but it felt flat. E2 also felt light and E3 felt too heavy), and the JP Sterling 374 (which had good response and tone but something felt "off" regarding the ease of playing- not sure how to explain, might have just been me being tired from playing horns all day)

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •