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Thread: How is the best way to convert a low pitch (A435) 1907 Besson Euph to A440?

  1. #1

    How is the best way to convert a low pitch (A435) 1907 Besson Euph to A440?

    I bought an excellent 1907 (approx.) Besson "Prototype" "Chicago Bore" euphonium from a seller that didn't know about "pitchi-ness" and I didn't check with a tuner when I initially play-tested the horn. I only discovered the low pitch nature of the beast with a tuner several days later - and it has an "L" stamped on the first valve casing above the serial number. It plays great and I love the sound but I need to play in ensembles - don't we all - and wonder if anyone has had this work done. I searched the forum and didn't find anything specific about this issue. The tuning slide is before the valve block and looks long enough to cut down and maybe the lead pipe could also be reduced. I got the horn for a pretty low price and would invest in the surgery if it would work. Thanks in advance for any ideas.

    Brad

  2. #2
    I've modified the pitch of several low pitch horns, mostly tubas, but I also did one 1912 Conn double bell. The process is a bit tricky because each horn is different. Basically you shorted slides enough to get your horn in tune. The tricky part is which slides and how much. The usual process is to push your main tuning slide in all the way and see what you get. Now tune to 435 and measure the amount of slide you have pulled. Now do it again to get to 430. These lengths should give you an idea on how much to cut your main tuning slide. Cutting usually involves de-soldering and soldering. Sometimes you run into braces that limit your cutting options. It you are not up to this, you need to find a tech who has done this before. Lee Stofer is a great choice for this. This measuring and cutting needs to be done for all the valve slides taking into account both bells. Basically, you have to do a lot of tuning and measuring to determine the right amount to cut on which slides. Sometimes you will not have to cut a slide. Remember to check all the notes and all the valve combinations to determine the right amount to cut. You may have to cut a bit and try, then do it again. Be happy you have a low pitch, because adding slide length is more complicated. Good luck.

  3. #3
    Thanks for the quick reply. The notes on horn are all pretty good with the main tuning slide all the way in so I thought shortening that one would be sufficient. I'm not going to do it myself - I'm sure I would ruin it, but we have several good horn techs here that will do a good job. I just wanted to know what method has worked and I wouldn't have thought of estimating the length of tube to cut by tuning down.

    Best,

    Brad

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,038
    You really can't tell if just cutting the main slide will work until you try it and the various scales and pitches. My guess is that it probably won't. I ended up cutting every slide on my 1924 low pitch Buescher tuba. The real trick will be on the 2nd valve because the slide is so short.

    And you may not be happy with the result under of the best of circumstances. Sometimes it works well, and some times it doesn't -- and you'll have intransigent intonation problems, especially with valve combinations. That horn was built to play at a specific pitch and may resist playing completely successfully at another.

    There's a lot of trial and error in this, and NOBODY is likely to get it right with just one cut of each valve slide.
    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. #5
    I found that tuning a low pitch tuba to 440 is much more challenging than a euphonium. The double bell I did with the help of Lee Stofer, only required shortening the main tuning slide by 3/8 of an inch (with one cut). Prior to that adjustment, the horn reacted similar to yours (it played pretty good). With the tubas, and I have done 5, they have all required more adjustment. Lee did 2 of those tubas and he had to cut the main tuning slide 3 times on each plus some work on other slides, to get things in tune. So, from my limited experience, I would suggest you take it to a good, hopefully experienced, tech and likely you will have acceptable results. Yes, likely there will be some trial and error, but this adjustment has been done often and mostly with good results.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,038
    If it took Stofer that much effort, I'm going to stop feeling so bad about it taking me that much as well. The second valve slide modification on that 1924 horn of mine was a real challenge: no room to work, and I didn't want to de-solder a lot of stuff to get to it. I ended up making a little special-purpose saw to do the job. And the whole cut-and-test cycle just took a bunch of time.
    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)

  7. #7
    opus37 - I appreciate your optimism. This is a pretty simple horn and with the tuning slide where it is, I think it shouldn't be a problem. I see you're in Minnesota. I'm in Minneapolis and have used Eric Peterson to do most the work on my instruments for over 30 years (including putting a trigger on the tuning slide of a 1950's B&H Imperial - which I sadly sold a couple years ago) and he's always done great work. He hasn't gotten back to me yet so I thought of asking this forum so that when he does I'll have some knowledge. I also use Denis Pollard at Davenport (Schmitts) - are there others in Minnesota I should consider? Thanks, Brad
    Last edited by bbell; 11-22-2018 at 01:48 PM.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by bbell View Post
    I'm in Minneapolis and have used Eric Peterson to do most the work on my instruments for over 30 years (including putting a trigger on the tuning slide of a 1950's B&H Imperial - which I sadly sold a couple years ago) and he's always done great work. He hasn't gotten back to me yet so I thought of asking this forum so that when he does I'll have some knowledge. I also use Denis Pollard at Davenport (Schmitts) - are there others in Minnesota I should consider? Thanks, Brad
    Most times I use Dennis and he has always done good work in a timely fashion. On a friends recommendation I took my Adams euphonium to Eric to adjust the "tightness" of some slides and to tighten the bell rim, which had loosened after a fall. The slides came out great, but he left a groove in the metal all the way around the bell. I had to send it to Holland for replacement. I'm not sure how such an experienced repair technician did that, and it is contrary to his reputation, but I mention it FYI.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  9. #9
    Thanks for the information Dave, and although I'm not much of a contributor or consumer of your forum I appreciate it very much and am thankful that you keep it going. I've had a couple glitches similar to the one you mention over the decades but he has always made them right. Best always, Brad

  10. #10
    All's well that ends well! Dennis Pollard at Schmitt Music in Minneapolis did a great job shortening the tuning slide and I'm happy to report that this beautiful old euph - with brass valves - will see the light of live group performance. The old beast sounds fabulous.

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