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Thread: Upgrading Issues

  1. Upgrading Issues

    I recently came into posession of a Sterling Virtuoso, as an upgrade to the Jupiter that I've been playing on for years. The horn is in pretty much pristine condition, even after being owned for a year, but the problem is that it doesn't exactly sound like I've upgraded horns. While I can tell that there are certain things the horn is definitely better at (note consistency, range, general responsiveness), I doubt the casual observer would gather that I was playing on a horn 3 times as expensive, and in addition to this I find it unusually difficult to play. I figure this might be for a couple reasons:

    1. The horn wasn't played much by its previous owner, so there is still a fair amount of breaking in to do.
    2. Going from a small to large bore instrument, or playing on a new, unfamiliar mouthpiece, takes time to get used to.
    3. The horn is heavy as all get out, and again, takes time to get used to.
    4. The mouthpiece that I currently have isn't well suited to the instrument. I played my Jupiter with a Schilke 51D and adored it, but the same mouthpiece in large shank on the Virtuoso sounds terrible! The mouthpiece selection at my local music store was fairly limited, and in the end I walked away with a Bach 5G, but I still feel like there's a lot of 'nasaliness' in the throat of the instrument that's related to the mouthpiece.

    I was also able to play on a Jupiter XO, Yamaha Neo, and Besson Prestige before purchasing this horn. I absolutely loved the Prestige, and playing that for the first time, even though it was a brand new horn, felt like an instant and noticeable upgrade. I ended up purchasing the Sterling because it's less expensive (I got a great deal on this used one), and I figured that the differences between really high end horns like that would be minute, and I would still find the Sterling very enjoyable to play, but this isn't ending up to be the case.

    My overriding instinct is to say that I just need to find the right mouthpiece and get used to the horn, but my experience on the Prestige is giving me a nagging feeling. I still have time to return the Sterling if need be, and I can just wait until I can afford the Prestige, but I'm eager to get some other opinions on this.

  2. #2
    I think I might go back to the store with the Sterling and do some play testing with it along with the Besson that you liked. Spend hours if you can. Were you using the same mouthpiece to play the Sterling as you were when playing the Besson? If you have the luxury of a little time to decide, at least you could do some more play testing.

    I am a fairly accomplished euphonium player, however, there were a few years when I did not play (my Army officer years as a 1LT and junior Capt mostly). When in Germany, I bought a sidewinder German baritone to play in a little German town band. This was my first playing in at least a few years. After doing this for a year or so, I then purchased a brand new Besson, sight unseen, from a music store in Germany (they had to order it). Once it came in, I went to the store. I played it a little at the store and sounded wretched. I took it home and played some more. Again, I sounded wretched. It took me a couple weeks of serious practice to start getting the sound I used to have. So, the point is that you may not sound great or quite right immediately with a new horn, especially a bigger bore instrument. It is an adjustment. And having the right (or a suitable) mouthpiece is part of the equation.

    If you have several more days before making the decision to keep it or not, play it A LOT and see what happens. You do really need to have a mouthpiece that is suitable for that horn, and you. If you can play in a large space, that would be better also, so that you can really hear the horn. Also, make sure (if you can) that the Sterling is totally okay, i.e., no leaks, water keys fully closed and corked good, no joints undone or loose, etc. In my opinion, a Sterling and a Besson should both sound and be pretty good horns.

    Good luck!! (And welcome to the Forum!)
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
    Adams E3 Custom Series Euphonium, Wessex EP-100 Dolce Euphonium, 1956 B&H Imperial Euphonium
    Adams TB1 Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Farmington Hills, MI
    I agree with John. The mouthpiece may be your biggest issue. The Sterling is a big horn and needs to have a lot of air pushed through it. I'd recommend going online and find a more suitable MP. There are tons of threads on this site's Euph Mouthpieces forum with great advice.

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