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Thread: Wessex Festivo

  1. Wessex Festivo

    A couple of weeks ago I placed my order for a new Wessex Festivo euphonium. According to a post by Jonathan Hodgetts elsewhere on this site, about half a dozen horns will be arriving in this first production shipment, so I guess I will be one of the first half dozen guinea pigs. According to the information I have received, the horn should arrive around the first of June. I am looking forward to experiencing this new design, and when I have had adequate face time with the instrument, I will try to post some of my impressions. I will also relate my experiences of doing business with Wessex Tubas, who so far have been straight forward and efficient.


    Perhaps a little background might help in explaining my decision to purchase this instrument. Like most folks in the US who began playing euphonium in the early 1960s, I played an American style euphonium with front action valves. Through my high school and college careers I played a 4 valve Reynolds Contempora Diatonic. The Diatonic tag meant that it had a spring loaded main tuning slide that could either be pushed out or pulled in to adjust intonation, and when it was released, it would spring back to its normal setting. In the late 1980s I upgraded to a King 2280, again with 4 inline valves although now top action rather than front action. While the King has been a good horn for me, I have never cared for the top action valves. Besides not being comfortable to me, they are notorious for leaking out through the vent in the bottom valve cap, and there is no provision for a grime gutter. I play with a towel in my lap. I never had that problem with a front action horn where the condensation usually goes down into the slides. After playing a 4 inline valve setup for over 50 years, it is rather ingrained into my motor memory, and Iím not too anxious to try and teach an old dog new tricks.


    The 3 plus 1 valve setup of most auto-compensating euphoniums was one reason why I never seriously considered purchasing one to replace the King. Also with the Kingís long pull 4th valve slide and the spring loaded third valve slide, it is capable of playing all of the notes in the compensating range by pulling slides and manually compensating. If I ever came across something I could not play, it was not the hornís fault. Many years ago I learned of the Willson 2975, which is an auto-compensating euphonium with front action valves that was an improvement of the Marzan euphonium. They are as scarce as henís teeth and very pricey. None the less, not long ago I decided that at my stage in life I had the financial security to purchase one if I was so inclined. A visit to Willsonís website showed that it was no longer listed on their product page, so it looked like I had missed the boat on that dream. Then I learned of the Wessex model that was under development. I monitored its development from reports online, and a recent review on YouTube by Matonizz gave it glowing reviews on intonation. With a price that is less than a new King 2280, I decided it would be worth the gamble to try one out.


    Hopefully this purchase will turn out to be as good as some of the reviews I have read and will not turn out to be a pig in a poke. I know that this design will not please everyone, but at least now those of us who prefer front action valves and 4 inline valves in an auto-compensating euphonium at least have an option in a reasonable price range. I also prefer my cars and trucks with manual transmissions, but today that is less than 10% of the market. Just because something is not preferred by the masses does not mean it is not a good idea.

  2. #2
    I look forward to reading your report.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2011 Jinbao JBEP-1150L, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (1st Bari)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Smoketown, Pa
    Posts
    187
    Please give us a detailed report when you receive the horn. I'm just like you from the front action valves from the 60's. I still have and play a Conn 24I. I'm quite familiar with the Reynolds horn as they one in college owned by the school. It had an upright bell which I liked at that time. Since finishing teaching elementary and middle school music, I've taken back to playing euphonium again and have a B&S oval with front in line rotary valves along with a B&S inline top 4 valve. I tried and compared with the King and even if the intonation of the King was a little better, I love the sound of the B&S. Like you, I find the top valve position uncomfortable and considering the Festivo. What concerns me is the position of the valves and being able to play a straight 4 valve horn without using the right hand for the 4th valve. Waiting for your review.
    B&S 3046 Baritone/Euphonium
    B&S PT33-S Euphonium
    B&S PT37-S
    B&S 3050 Tenor Trombone
    Conn 24I Euphonium

  4. #4
    What concerns me is the position of the valves and being able to play a straight 4 valve horn without using the right hand for the 4th valve.
    I believe Wessex designed the horn so that you can use your left hand for the 4th valve. That's what I would do - the pinky is too weak and dependent on the 3rd finger.
    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

  5. #5
    For me, the 4 in a row is more natural and comfortable. I've played the festivo, and had no problems using my pinky on the 4th valve (I do have LARGE hands though, so your mileage may vary)

  6. We are all different, so what suits one may not suit another. As far as finger strength goes, my pinky is actually stronger than my third finger. Perhaps that is because of all the work it has gotten over the past 50+ years. My problem has always been the third finger being a little more cumbersome than the others. A mechanical study of agricultural tractors was done many years ago to help improve the design of the operator's platform, and what the study found was that the operators quickly devised methods to overcome the deficiencies in the designs. I guess it proves the old saying that practice makes perfect.

    Dave is correct, in that the Festivo was designed for the 4th valve to be played with either hand. Actually I have done that on occasion with all my 4 inline valve instruments, as the 4th valve is within easy reach for the left hand on all of them. I did that one time on Pineapple Poll in a very fast and tricky section, although at the moment I can't remember exactly what the problem was. I did notice on the photos of the Festivo that the valves are lined up with more of a horizontal orientation than on the Reynolds that I have, which has the valves more on a diagonal in relation to the main vertical tubing on the horn. I don't know if that will be a problem or not. I guess it all depends on how you hold the horn. Especially when seated, I have a tendency to hold my euphonium in a more vertical position than players who play the 3 + 1 layout. I imagine I will adapt to whatever is most comfortable for me.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Smoketown, Pa
    Posts
    187
    Dave, I stand corrected, I meant the 4th valve using the left hand. I'm like 58 and prefer the straight 4th valve and I also find like the above with the 3rd finger being cumbersome. However, we are all different and get used to a certain pattern after X amount of years of playing. The input on the Festivo has really been helpful. Thanks to all.
    B&S 3046 Baritone/Euphonium
    B&S PT33-S Euphonium
    B&S PT37-S
    B&S 3050 Tenor Trombone
    Conn 24I Euphonium

  8. The Wessex Festivo has arrived, and kudos to Wessex for getting it here exactly when they said it would arrive. It came via FedEx and was very securely packaged. It comes with a very large hard case that also has a plug that fits inside the bell to further protect the horn from bumps and jolts. The case also has a place for the supplied gold plated Wessex 4Y mouthpiece (bass shank) that appears to me to be very similar to a Dennis Wick SM4, and there is also a spacious compartment for other accessories. In that accessory compartment there were a few spare parts - a valve spring, a valve guide, a spit valve cork, and an extra lyre screw. A large mouthpiece pouch with the Wessex logo was also included. Some additional goodies included a ball cap with the Wessex logo, both an ink pen and pencil with the Wessex logo, and a combination key chain, tape measure, bottle opener, and flashlight.


    The workmanship on the instrument appears to be excellent. Everything is put together nicely. The silver plating appears well done. I have found no defects as of yet. The valves are a little stiff compared to my King 2280, but I imagine that will improve as they are broken in. The only complaint I have so far is the same complaint I have with every Chinese made horn I have had experience with, and that is you have to be very careful when screwing on the valve caps in order to keep them from cross threading. I’ve never had that problem with my American made horns. Maybe that too will improve with time and wear. I would be very reluctant to turn this instrument loose with a middle or high schooler without a thorough warning about this problem.


    My initial impressions on how the instrument plays have so far been positive. I will try to give a more detailed report after I have had some time to put it through its paces in a variety of settings. I spent some time today going back and forth between the Festivo and the King 2280, making comparisons between the two, and others listening from another room could not tell the difference between the two. That is a good thing, because there is nothing wrong with the way a King 2280 sounds. The intonation is very solid, probably a little better than the King. So far I am very pleased with the purchase, and the instrument is certainly a great value for the money. Wessex Tubas has also been a pleasure to deal with. They seem very efficient and honest.
    Last edited by dkstone; 06-02-2017 at 01:33 AM.

  9. #9
    Really wanting one of those! Looking forward to a more detailed review.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2011 Jinbao JBEP-1150L, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (1st Bari)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Ontario, California
    Posts
    4
    when you bought it online did you also have to order the case or does it come with it?

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