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Thread: The Sound and feel of an unplayed instrument.

  1. #1

    The Sound and feel of an unplayed instrument.

    Hello! This is just a curiosity question. Can a professional ear hear when playing an instrument (in this case an euphonium) feel and hear that the (perfectly tuned and perfect valve movement etc) instrument has been left unplayed for many years even if the instrument has had a sufficient warm up of 30 mins? I would guess that once the brass is warm it would have the same sound as a regularly played euphonium but maybe there is more to it than that?!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Nixa, Missouri
    Anyone on here can probably tell me wrong, and I very well could be, but I'd say it might be possible, depending. Leaving a horn sitting year can leave it to take on many changes. The metal could react to the air, and change its composition, or buildup inside could start growing (heaven forbid) or any matter of variables can change in a horn that has sat for years. I would imagine such a horn could very likely have a different sound or feel, a more strained sound possibly or the sound of a newer horn, because it hasn't been used and the metal has settled instead of vibrating and in a sense being "loosened up" like a horn that is used frequently. So, all of this to say, there's countless variables that could lead to a different sound, which could make a professionally trained ear able to hear the difference. While some think of these instruments being rugged, durable things, I think of them as fragile, and very subject to change from any number of minute things.

    However, I could be wrong. Hope this helps, however!

  3. #3
    I think a "dry" horn may not sound and feel as good as a "wet" one, where a "wet" horn has oiled pistons, lubed slides and a certain amount of condensation and the former inside all the tubes. My horn seems to sound and feel better when the pistons are freshly oiled.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    West Palm Beach, FL
    I think a horn that was broken in would play better. Several years ago some euphers would pour milk in the instruments to coat them and leave it for a few days before rinsing it out. I think I'll pass on that one.

    See this blog post by our admn:
    Breaking in a horn:
    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
    When the Saints Go Marching In (arr. Mashima) at ACB Conference Ft. Lauderdale
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  5. #5
    Yes thankyou and i agree too, they are more fragile than we think!

  6. #6
    Yes makes sense, thanks.

  7. #7
    Thanks for the link and i think ill pass on the milk too, wouldnt want my cat getting stuck in the bell!

  8. #8
    Thanks, Rick, for posting the link to my blog post. I was all set to add some opinions here, but I see that my blog post covered them!
    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,

  9. #9
    I was glad for the link, great post thanks!

  10. #10
    Allow me to contribute a dissenting opinion. I believe it's the player that "breaks in" and not the instrument. All these theories about changes to the metallurgy of the instrument have no basis in science in my opinion.

    I believe most people talking about a horn feeling better after "break in" are dealing with models that are new to them, that have different characteristics in intonation and acoustic "feel". My hypothesis is that the "break in" period, barring mechanical issues like the grit that Sterlings carry, is the player adapting to the characteristics of the new instrument that differ from the old one, and that there is no perceived break in period if the instrument is identical.

    I recently changed from a 7 year old Miraphone 5050 to a brand new 5050. I picked up the new instrument on the way to the Association of Concert Bands convention on a Friday, played a rehearsal on Saturday morning, and a performance on Saturday afternoon. The new horn felt better, and sounded better to me and my band mates.

    Don Winston

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