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Thread: Hoping to find out more about my euphonium

  1. Smile Hoping to find out more about my euphonium

    Hi all,

    Haven't been on the forums in a few years, but am happy to see they are still running strong. I still think this is the go-to place for all things euphonium.

    I wanted to ask you guys if you could tell me anything about a euphonium my parents helped me buy off of ebay for Christmas. We paid about 2k for a Boosey and Hawkes 4-valve, compensating, medium-shank euphonium. I'm a freshman in college and hope to play and take care of this horn for a very long time. Unfortunately there was a bit of false advertising, as it was portrayed as a large shank horn, but everything else was accurate. The listing didn't give much information other than the brand, the horn's condition, and general features.

    Upon getting the horn, I found the serial number (160268) and did a quick search on it. It appears that the horn was made between 1943 and 1944. Unfortunately, I don't know anything else about it. On the bell above the leadpipe, more on the side of it than the front, there is insignia of a bird carrying a bugle. Under that, it says,

    Boosey & Hawkes Ltd
    Makers
    295 Regent St
    London W.l. (?)
    160268

    The valves are also numbered (from 1st to 4th) 58, 59, 60, and 23. The second valve also has the number 123919 under the 59. I'm not sure what this means. I doubted the serial number would be on the valve casing rather than the bell, but I don't know.

    I also noticed that the main tuning slide seems really long; it extends all the way down to where the instrument would touch my lap. The tuning slide also is the only part of the instrument that is a color other than silver; the straight tubing on the back side of it is gold. I was able to fit the tip of my large shank mouthpiece in (very carefully of course) far enough to play the horn and see how it sounded. I'm really happy with the response and sound, but I was much flatter than I usually am. I'm hoping this is due to the fact that I was using a mouthpiece that didn't fit and not an issue with the horn, but then again, I'm not sure.

    I'll attach some pictures so you guys can see what I mean. My impression is that it's an Imperial, but I don't know a) if that is correct or b) what kind of horn this would be (beginner, intermediate, professional).

    If any of you have any information to offer or any advice on how I should keep this horn playing well, please let me know. The valves seem to be working pretty well, especially considering the age of the horn, but if there's anything I can do to improve them (specific oils, grease, replacement parts, etc.) then I definitely would like to do so. All of the tuning slides are working nicely as well.

    (I also forgot to mention that I replaced the valve caps with some extra Yamaha 321 caps I had. Hopefully this didn't confuse anybody)

    Thanks for reading this far and I appreciate any knowledge/advice anyone has to offer!
    Preston
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails euph1.jpg   euph2.jpg   euph3.jpg   euph4.jpg   euph5.jpg  

    euph6.jpg  
    Last edited by preston; 01-11-2018 at 03:00 PM.
    Freshman Euphonist attending Boise State University
    Member of the BSU Symphonic Winds and Blue Thunder Marching Band
    1943 Boosey & Hawkes Imperial (Denis Wick SM3X)
    Yamaha YBH-301M (Schilke 58)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,379
    The Horn looks really good for one from the 1940’s. The longer main tuning slide suggests to me that it was ‘high pitch’ so an attempt to get it to A=440. Does it play in tune when you check it against a tuner? Boosey and Hawkes made a great horn. Even though it’s NOT a large shank lead pipe, I wouldn’t worry about that. It does limit your choices a bit when trying to find a mpc, but some folks think the medium (or Euro shank) makes for a better sounding horn due to the slow taper. That’s one reason the Willson 2900 was designed that way.

    Maybe some others will chime on in your new horn. Congrats on your new horn.
    Last edited by RickF; 01-10-2018 at 06:47 PM.
    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. Definitely a 1943 Boosey & Hawkes high-pitch Imperial horn. The bird carrying a bugle may indicate something regarding the military service it was built for? Keep in mind that a 1943 horn was at the height of WWII.

    You will need to get a medium shank mouthpiece (hopefully similar to what you normally play) in order to work on pitch. The individual valve slides have not been lengthened, so tuning will take a while. With everything pushed in, you need to make sure you can get the horn in pitch on open tones. Then you need to tune each valve by pulling the slides out.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,045
    This is interesting since the A=440 standard was widely adopted in the US in the mid/late 20s and formalized as a standard (I think by the predecessor of ANSI) in the mid-30s. But apparently it wasn't until the mid-50s that the UK went more definitely in that direction. Certainly something to keep in mind when looking at instruments in those periods.
    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)

  5. Quote Originally Posted by RickF View Post
    The Horn looks really good for one from the 1940’s. The longer main tuning slide suggests to me that it was ‘high pitch’ so an attempt to get it to A=440. Does it play in tune when you check it against a tuner? Boosey and Hawkes made a great horn. Even though it’s NOT a large shank lead pipe, I wouldn’t worry about that. It does limit your choices a bit when trying to find a mpc, but some folks think the medium (or Euro shank) makes for a better sounding horn due to the slow taper. That’s one reason the Willson 2900 was designed that way.

    Maybe some others will chime on in your new horn. Congrats on your new horn.
    Rick,

    Thanks for your input. That definitely explains the tuning slide; I did some research and found many similar horns with the main tuning slide extended. I don't have a medium shank mouthpiece to properly tune with, but I did try my large and small shank mouthpieces just to see what happened. With the large shank mouthpiece (an Alliance E2), I was playing about 20-40 cents flat on open notes with all of the tuning slide all the way in. I imagine this is because of the mouthpiece not fitting the horn correctly. With my small shank mouthpiece (a DW SM4B), I was pretty consistently between 10 cents flat and in-tune. If I am still playing flat with a small shank mouthpiece, does this mean I'll have about the same results with a medium shank one? I've been playing on my Alliance mouthpiece for a couple of years and really like it, but I didn't find anything on their website when it comes to medium shank mouthpieces. The website did say that the E2 was very similar to the Denis Wick Steven Mead SM3 Ultra, so I went ahead and bought a medium shank one of those.

    Thank you for the congratulations, I'm excited to play this horn for a long, long time.

    Preston
    Last edited by preston; 01-11-2018 at 02:32 PM.
    Freshman Euphonist attending Boise State University
    Member of the BSU Symphonic Winds and Blue Thunder Marching Band
    1943 Boosey & Hawkes Imperial (Denis Wick SM3X)
    Yamaha YBH-301M (Schilke 58)

  6. Quote Originally Posted by daruby View Post
    Definitely a 1943 Boosey & Hawkes high-pitch Imperial horn. The bird carrying a bugle may indicate something regarding the military service it was built for? Keep in mind that a 1943 horn was at the height of WWII.

    You will need to get a medium shank mouthpiece (hopefully similar to what you normally play) in order to work on pitch. The individual valve slides have not been lengthened, so tuning will take a while. With everything pushed in, you need to make sure you can get the horn in pitch on open tones. Then you need to tune each valve by pulling the slides out.
    Doug,

    Appreciate the help. As I understand it, the Imperial has a strong reputation with euphonium players.

    I see what you mean with the bird and bugle. This is really interesting; I'll keep this in mind and see if I can use this knowledge to my advantage as I try to find out more. I suppose I could contact the person who sold it to me and see what they know about it.

    I'm currently waiting for my Steven Mead SM3X in the mail. I made sure to snag one that is medium shank. I'll be sure to take your advice on tuning and will update this thread later with my results.

    Preston
    Freshman Euphonist attending Boise State University
    Member of the BSU Symphonic Winds and Blue Thunder Marching Band
    1943 Boosey & Hawkes Imperial (Denis Wick SM3X)
    Yamaha YBH-301M (Schilke 58)

  7. Quote Originally Posted by preston View Post
    If I am still playing flat with a small shank mouthpiece, does this mean I'll have about the same results with a medium shank one?
    You should be well in tune with a medium shank mouthpiece: goes in farther (makes the horn sharper) than the large shank, doesn't go in quite as far (makes the horn flatter) as a small shank.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by ghmerrill View Post
    This is interesting since the A=440 standard was widely adopted in the US in the mid/late 20s and formalized as a standard (I think by the predecessor of ANSI) in the mid-30s. But apparently it wasn't until the mid-50s that the UK went more definitely in that direction. Certainly something to keep in mind when looking at instruments in those periods.
    Gary,

    I agree. As I get older and make more money, I assume I'll be back looking at more instruments as many of the members of this forum have. These instruments especially are always very rewarding to learn more about and to own. I will definitely keep this mind in the future. I've heard lots of great things about medium shank horns, but knowing whether the horns are high pitch or low/modern pitch is definitely important information.

    I didn't think that the instrument could be high pitch as the seller stated that it was a large shank horn. As far as I'm concerned Boosey and Hawkes/Besson stopped making medium shank imperials in 1974, and moved on to large shank imperials until the early 1980's. I'm under the impression that the brass band movement transitioned from high pitch to low/modern pitch in the early '60s, and as a result Boosey and Hawkes stopped making high pitch Imperials around this time. If the horn truly was large shank as it was described, then it had to be made in 1974 or later, when high pitch was a thing of the past. So if my reasoning is correct, the seller's misinformation is to blame for my lack of consideration of high vs. low/modern pitch.

    However, please let me know if I'm mistaken. While I'd like to say I know a thing or two about euphonium history, I don't have much besides the internet at my disposal, and I'm only 19. You guys are the gurus when it comes to this stuff!

    Preston
    Freshman Euphonist attending Boise State University
    Member of the BSU Symphonic Winds and Blue Thunder Marching Band
    1943 Boosey & Hawkes Imperial (Denis Wick SM3X)
    Yamaha YBH-301M (Schilke 58)

  9. Quote Originally Posted by iiipopes View Post
    You should be well in tune with a medium shank mouthpiece: goes in farther (makes the horn sharper) than the large shank, doesn't go in quite as far (makes the horn flatter) as a small shank.
    Thanks, duly noted. I'll update the thread when my mouthpiece arrives.

    Preston
    Freshman Euphonist attending Boise State University
    Member of the BSU Symphonic Winds and Blue Thunder Marching Band
    1943 Boosey & Hawkes Imperial (Denis Wick SM3X)
    Yamaha YBH-301M (Schilke 58)

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by preston View Post
    I didn't think that the instrument could be high pitch as the seller stated that it was a large shank horn. As far as I'm concerned Boosey and Hawkes/Besson stopped making medium shank imperials in 1974, and moved on to large shank imperials until the early 1980's. I'm under the impression that the brass band movement transitioned from high pitch to low/modern pitch in the early '60s, and as a result Boosey and Hawkes stopped making high pitch Imperials around this time. If the horn truly was large shank as it was described, then it had to be made in 1974 or later, when high pitch was a thing of the past. So if my reasoning is correct, the seller's misinformation is to blame for my lack of consideration of high vs. low/modern pitch.
    Your reasoning is right on the money.

    In terms of playing in or out tune with a particular shank of mouthpiece, you're really only going to get close to in tune with the shank that the instrument was designed for. Using small shank in a medium shank horn will produce unpredictable pitch and likely slotting problems as well since the junction between the mouthpiece and receiver will be pretty different than what was intended.
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist
    www.adrianquince.com

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

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