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Thread: Looking for used Baritone Horn

  1. #1

    Looking for used Baritone Horn

    Hi. Thanks for allowing me to register on this forum. I played the baritone horn in high school (1968 through 71), then did not play at all until a few days ago when I dug my old Collegiate, Elkorn, Wisconsin, tarnished upright horn out of the attic and started fooling around with it. I found myself really enjoying it and would like to possibly join a local, community band, once I get back into shape. Iím having trouble figuring out if my horn is adequate enough for my modest goals. I think the sound quality is OK for my purposes but it feels as if I have to blow harder than necessary to make a decent sound. The thing is, Iím not experienced enough to determine whether the strength with which I have to blow is excessive or appropriate. Is there any way to assess this in a forum form like this, without actually hearing the instrument? Another option Iíve considered is to buy or rent a used horn at an intermediate price, but how does one assess pthe quality of the horn if itís purchased through the Internet or on eBay? Again, Iíd like to be able to get a reasonable sound out of it without feeling like I am straining. I realize some if not most of this may be technique and not the instrument, but it still feels like I have to blow harder than necessary. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,108
    Welcome to the forum. Getting back to playing is not like “riding a bike”. It takes time and patience. I suspect your old Elkhorn horn is what is referred to as a euphonium. When I was in HS (mid ‘60s) everyone called the American style euphonium a baritone. I would suggest buzzing on just your mouthpiece to see if you’re getting a fairly strong buzz. If you are then there may be something in your old horn causing you to use too much air and it may need a good clean out.

    To try out other horns you could call around to local music stores to see if they have any euphoniums (baritones) to try out. Maybe some others may have some suggestions.
    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
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Anderson, Indiana
    Posts
    212
    Hi Larry, I have gone through what you are going through. One of my goals in retirement was to return to playing euphonium. So after 40 years of no playing, I picked up my euphonium again. I found that it took me about 3 months to play at a level reasonable enough to approach a teacher for lessons. Fortunately, I ran into Dr. Mark Mordue, who had recently retired as professor of tuba at Ball State University, at a recital. He graciously agreed to take me as a student and proved to be a wonderful teacher. As I improved, he connected me with some community bands. It has been a great experience and I highly recommend it.
    Upon restarting playing, I also encountered an issue in how to use my air. While it may be that your instrument needs to be cleaned (as Rick mentioned and never a bad idea anyway), I found that for me it was a matter of relearning to use my air in the best way. This took me an additional 3 months. Dr. Mordue was very helpful in directing me in this effort.
    Like Rick, Dr. Mordue is a big believer in mouthpiece buzzing. You could buzz scales or refer to Dr. George Palton's website, which has some exercises for breathing and mouthpiece buzzing. http://www.georgepalton.com/euphonium-exercises.html
    When I returned to playing I still had my Besson euphonium, so didn't have to look for a new instrument. As for non-professional but good playing euphoniums: some members of this forum (and others) seem to like Yamaha instruments (especially the YEP 321) and the Wessex Dulce euphonium. The YEP 321 uses a small (regular) shank mouthpiece, so would not take as much air as the Dulce, which requires a large shank mouthpiece. Also, keep an eye on this forum, as Dave Werden frequently posts links to used instruments of interest.
    Most euphonium players that I know are friendly people and don't mind demonstrating their instruments. You might see if you can find a nearby community band and sit in on one of their rehearsals. Afterwards, you could try persuading some euphonium players to let you try their instruments. (Take a mouthpiece.)
    Good luck and good playing!

  4. #4
    Hi Larry, I share some of your experience. I played from age 6 though about 26. But then because life got in the way (marriage and working for a software sweat shop) I gave it up for many years. But I really missed playing. Finally in 2000 I bit the bullet and bought a euphonium, a Besson 967. I have to say during those initial few months I sounded like a wounded cow. It obviously wasn't the horn, but it was me. I stuck with it though and things got better. But I'm going to second some of the suggestions. If you can, find a teacher and that will help a lot. I finally found one and he helped me a lot with breathing and tone production. Buzzing can be very useful as well. If you need a new horn the Wessex Dolce is an inexpensive alternative to some of the higher priced ones these days and the quality is quite good. But try out as many as you can.

  5. Over a decade ago now, when I went back to playing low brass after being away from it for over 25 years, I routinely found myself overblowing, especially as a tuba player behind the bell of a borrowed souzy. Relax. Take it slowly with your old lesson books. It will take some time to get back into shape. You are right: you are under the bell of your horn and it is difficult to figure out how you are doing. Don't worry about it. It will come back. I would wait a few months to a year of good practice and getting with an ensemble before you finally decide whether or not you need a new instrument. The bore is the same as all the other similar "American" horns of this type, and which were the conventional instrument for almost every school band in the nation for decades: King, Conn, Olds, Reynolds, Martin, etc., including your Holton. If the community band you are considering joining plays mostly traditional literature, then you will be fine unless and until you want to change. The main reason to change is to get a horn with a 4th valve so you have better pitch on the lowest notes. Since the lowest common note in the concert band literature is bass clef f at the bottom of the staff, a non-comp instrument will suffice if you get a really good deal on it. But for just a little more, the Wessex Dolce is hard to beat for the price point, fully compensating.

    In the meantime, being a 3-valve, set the slides like this on your Holton: pull the first valve slide a couple of cents flat. Leave the second valve slide as is (this makes G & D 1+2 not so sharp), or just a hair of pull, whatever you are comfortable with to split the tuning difference between E and A natural 2nd valve alone and D and G 1+2. Pull the third slide so 2+3 Gb and Db are a couple of cents flat, so that lipping down 1+3 C and F is not a chore. Welcome back to brass!
    Last edited by iiipopes; 12-27-2018 at 04:48 PM.

  6. #6
    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I will definitely consider all your suggestions.

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