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Thread: First impressions of my new silver Wessex Dolce

  1. First impressions of my new silver Wessex Dolce

    Per the recommendations of many on this board, along with extensive research, I made the decision to purchase a Dolce. I felt sure about the decision after only a day and a half rather than the inordinate 3-4 months I would normally take for kinda-big-but-not-really decisions. I'm as relieved by the decisiveness as I am excited to own my own euphonium for the first time ever! I wanted to share my first impressions with you, but I've debated how to structure this. If you'll indulge the slightly stream-of-conscious style, I'll try a pro/con list in no particular order.

    I played an old but good Yamaha 321 for 7 years ending 15 years ago. The Dolce arrived 8 days ago.

    Pro: Steve's customer service
    I was not particularly enchanted by the wyvern on the valve buttons, and despite my efforts to be logical, I just wasn't getting over it. Sunday evening two weeks ago (before ordering), I asked Steve if there was an alternative. Before noon the following Tuesday, he let me know that they had found four black valve buttons and would include them at no extra charge. When the horn arrived, the black buttons were already installed and the original wyvern buttons were included in the pocket of the case.

    Con: Steve's accessibility
    But consider the circumstances! - relocating is a big deal. Plus, considering he called me on a Sunday evening, the man is clearly working nonstop. Still, it took over a week of emails, voice messages, and Facebook messages before we made contact. I don't blame Steve at all, but it would be helpful if they had 1-2 more Steves to meet the demand.

    Pro: The ordering process
    Simple, straightforward, efficient.

    Pro: Extraordinary shipping logistics (FedEx)
    Steve told me that while some people do receive their horn in two days as I had read in other reviews, 7-10 days is common and expected. I submitted my order at 11:03 Tuesday morning; received shipping notice at 4:28 Wednesday morning; FedEx tracking predicted delivery by 10:30 Thursday morning; delivery arrived in central U.S. at 10:17 Wednesday morning. And this from Great Britain! I'm as much impressed by the accuracy of the delivery estimate as I am with the speed of it. Kudos to FedEx!

    Con (resolved): Messy buttons
    The custom black buttons, though much better than the wyvern and greatly appreciated, were kinda gummy on top. Is that a fair criticism? It looked like they had used a glue to hold them in, and then didn't wipe off the excess glue. Maybe they shipped it so fast that some squished out the sides in shipping. Anyway, it's since come off and they look great, so it's not a big deal. It just didn't make an awesome first impression. I'm glad I waited a few extra days to write this.

    Con (inconsequential): Customer service via Facebook messenger
    Steve was not the first person to respond to my inquiries. Whoever responded to my Facebook inquiries was decidedly unhelpful and approaching rude.

    Con (but fair): Imperfect finish
    The silver finish looks really nice, but **it isn't perfect. Is it supposed to be on a $1400 horn? There are light buffing swirls in the silver. There is a plainly visible but non-textured mar in the silver on the outside of the bell, just above the first valve. Is the inside of the bell usually finished?* It's been so long that I honestly don't remember, but the inside of this one is dull. No one in an audience would ever notice any of this, and it's a budget horn, aand I remember Jonathan posting a blog about the balance between perfectionism and cost, aaand as a business person I can appreciate that, aaaand a less detailed person probably wouldn't notice even up close... but I noticed, and this is about my first impression.

    *Update 2/23/19: Thanks to John below for informing me that this is perfectly normal. While the OCD tendencies would like a more perfect finish, rational thinking must prevail. Rational thinking requires me to accept the quality of the finish as "good enough" and very good for the cost.

    **Update 3/18/19: I think the finish is fairly thin. It seems to scuff very easily even though I am uber-careful. There are no actual scratches yet, but I see more circular pattern than in some of the other horns in the section.

    Pro: Tone is warm and rich
    The talented section leader in our community band plays an Accent something or other. His tone is significantly brighter, like a scratch instead of a rub. Compared to him, the Dolce sounds smooth and sweet, warm, like extra marshmallows in your hot chocolate. I get that it's largely a matter of personal preference and style, but the smooth, gentle tone of the Dolce by this unpracticed, mediocre player sure warms my cold bones better than his polished but brighter tone.

    Con (resolved): Problematic valves
    They arrived dry. I wouldn't have known whether that was good or bad, but I think I recall Jonathan replying to someone here a while back to say that it wasn't expected. Worse, the included valve oil only helped a little. Even after fully lubed, they were slow and clunky. I wiped it all off and tried the stuff that I bought a year or two ago for an old trumpet, yet they remained sluggish and even noisy. On day 2, my Blue Juice arrived from Amazon, so again I wiped it all off and started over. I'll agree with those who opine that it's like slurping jet fuel, but I'll also attest to its efficacy. After a few days of very frequent Blue Juice application, the valves were consistently moving quickly and quietly. By day 5 or 6, I could go a whole day or two between application. How much of that improvement would have come with continued usage regardless of oil, do you think? *It did seem like the Blue Juice made an immediate difference.

    *Update 3/18/19: I used Blue Juice very frequently for the first couple weeks, but then it's like me and the horn and the oil all hit our stride. I haven't had to open the valves in over a week, but they are smooth and fast. (I don't play every day.) After this dramatic improvement, and I am now MORE than satisfied with the operation of the valves.

    Con: Problematic valve screwer-inner*
    What's it called? - the round top of the valve that you unscrew to remove it? - must not be threaded very well on the third valve. **All four valves were really hard to screw in at first. After several repetitions, I can now put in 1, 2, and 4 pretty quickly. That third valve though - it's making me crazy! I spent a literal four minutes just trying to get that valve back in the other day. SURELY that's not right, is it??

    *Update 2/23/19: Google calls it a "cap." Yep.

    **Update 3/18/19: This actually has gotten better. I'm not sure if this is entirely because I've gotten used to it and therefore better at setting it just right, or if the threads have also deepened through repetitive action. I still spend about a minute on that third valve sometimes, but that's a lot more tolerable.

    Con (to me): Silver mouthpiece
    The picture showed a gold mouthpiece with the silver option, and I expected gold. I get that this is kinda petty, kinda like the valve buttons. I'm pretty sure that if I'd specifically requested gold, they'd have sent gold no problem. But I didn't think about it because I assumed I'd get the color shown. Does it affect the music? Not in the slightest. Does silver look better anyway? Many would say yes. It just isn't what I expected, and *I personally would have preferred the gold.

    *Update: A very kind member of this board sent me a gold Wessex mouthpiece that wasn't being used. First, it really does look pretty! Second, I maintain that this is one of the best forums on the Internet.

    Con (resolved I think): Second valve rattles or something
    *I haven't noticed it the last few times I've played, but there was a definite rattle every time I used the second valve. I tried to make sure nothing was loose or out of place. I confirmed the sound was coming from the instrument and not my children or other mischievous presence. I can't even guess what it was, but it was really bothersome at first.

    Update 3/18/19: I'm not gonna like, you guys... I still hear it! It's definitely coming from the horn, but now it's less of a rattle and more of a vibration, like how the cymbals across the room sometimes sound if you play just the right pitch. I only hear it with the second valve, and not even with second in combination with another. Only the second valve. It doesn't bother me anymore, though, since it's less rattley.

    Con (to me): Uncomfortable reach
    I expected the 3+1 to take some getting used to. But besides the utter lack of coordination with my left hand, it's hard to reach all the way across to that compensating valve. I don't think there are any better options that I could afford, so trying before buying probably wouldn't have altered my decision. It is kind of a hardship to me, however, that most (usually male and taller) players wouldn't share.

    Con: First valve is hard to remove
    It isn't hard to open the valve and pull it out to oil, but pulling it all the way out is really hard to do without banging it into the bell. When the valve is all the way out of the casing, there is very little clearance above the button and the bell. Is that normal?? I don't remember this with the Yamaha. I appreciate the general compactness of the instrument, but this seems like a little much. I'm guessing y'all will tell me I'm being unfair (about several things here), and if you do, I'll trust you. It's annoying though.

    Pro: Position of the lead pipe
    I used to use a pillow to prop up the Yamaha to reach my mouth since I wasn't strong enough to hold the instrument comfortably. I believe the Dolce is lighter than the Yamaha (does anyone know for sure?), but even more helpful is that the lead pipe is positioned so that I don't need a pillow. I don't believe I've gotten shorter or taller. The angle of the lead pipe to my body is quite comfortable. I wonder what a taller (average) person thinks about it?

    Pro: Playability
    I've been very pleased with the ease of output compared to the Yamaha. I easily played down to the B without even thinking, and only later realized: huh... I guess I'd never done that before. And I easily played up to the high Ab4, and only later realized: huh... it took me years to work up to the G below it. By the second day, I hit B4 without too much effort. I mean, it wasn't pretty! But it was a lot better than I expected so soon after so long. I haven't hit it again since, but I know it will come again. The point is that besides just being compensating, the instrument must be more free-blowing than the Yamaha.

    Con: Zipper on case
    I didn't expect it to bother me, but it's a lot slower to open and close than the three buckles.

    Pro: Grime gutter
    Well I'll be. I never really knew I needed one, but now that I have it, I don't want to be without it. This may be the exception, but I don't remember having drip and grime problems with the Yamaha. But the gutter looks very nice, and I do my own laundry now.

    Neutral surprise: Instrument is turned 180 in the case
    You don't realize how much muscle memory affects everything you do. I keep wanting to lay the bell down to the left, but this one lays down to the right.

    Unsure (somebody please help me): Intonation
    Last time I checked, probably 4-5 days in, literally every single note was blowing 30-50 cents sharp. I tried to adjust with slides, but I only got down to within 15 cents at best. Is that me because my embouchure is so undeveloped? I would expect some notes to blow a little sharp and others a little flat, but all the same amount sharp? What is that?

    Conclusion:
    I've been reluctant to write this because I don't want to seem negative about it. Truthfully, I don't want to feel negatively about it either. I wasn't sure what I expected after so many years, and transitioning to a 3+1 at that. A very deep part of me loves it in ways inexpressible, and not just because it's a euphonium, but because it's a wonderful euphonium. We are still getting to know each other, and I'm still finding the music, and the music is still finding me, and I'm still finding that part of myself again. I knew this would be emotional, but it's hard to separate the depth of feeling toward the music from the discomfort of change from the 321 and all the little details I didn't expect. I don't want to be unfair to Wessex. As a whole, I'm very impressed with the transaction and I'm trying to be very impressed with the instrument. I learned when I dated my husband that the best loves sometimes come slowly. I welcome your counsel (about the Dolce, not about dating). And I'll try to keep you updated as we work on our relationship (the Dolce, not my husband).
    Last edited by lzajmom; 03-19-2019 at 08:02 PM. Reason: Updated as indicated
    15 years and a lifetime later, euphonium again.
    Wessex Dolce

  2. #2
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    Great, voluminous, and entertaining review!! Well done lzajmom!! A couple answers for you:

    1. The inside of the bell on euphoniums is usually finished down to about just a little above the lead pipe, that is a real swag and not precise, but hardly ever would you look down a bell and see it finished (silver plated, lacquered, etc.) all the way down as far as you can see. So unless you aim your horn at someone like you are going to shoot them with it, they shouldn't see the "unfinished" part. Hopefully yours is like that.
    2. My Dolce is probably not perfect everywhere, but it is totally adequate. I have noticed that the lacquer seems to be wearing faster/more than I am accustomed to, particularly where I hold the horn with my left hand wrapped around the front. On those fourth valve slide legs there is some lacquer scratching. But overall, the horn is nicely finished.
    3. Ah yes, the valve caps. EVERYBODY, as in every single solitary person who has ever purchased, used, seen, or wanted a Wessex euphonium has experienced faulty or hard to screw on valve caps. More so the uppers than the bottom caps. I smiled and chuckled when reading about how long it took you to get the third valve cap on. My most problematic one is the 2nd valve. I once had to pull a valve during a solo between variations on another horn because of something causing it to stick. I was able to undo the cap, mess with the valve, and put the cap back on, all in about 10 seconds, with a full 2 seconds to spare before I was playing again. I could NEVER do this with the Wessex. Just too squirrely trying to get the valve caps screwed back on. With this problem being ubiquitous on EVERY SINGLE WESSEX EUPHONIUM, you would think that it would be getting close to being fixed, but apparently not so. My caps seem to have gotten easier to reinstall, but that might just be that I am getting better at screwing them in without cross threading.
    4. Interesting with the mouthpiece. I got a gold one with mine. But, I don't use it. I have another mouthpiece that I have been using that I much prefer. I still have that mouthpiece. It is unused (except for a minimal tryout when I got the horn).
    5. Rattle in the 2nd valve. Possibly the spring is not seated correctly? Valve caps fully screwed in? If it went away, then it was just gremlins, and nothing to worry about.
    6. Uncomfortable reach- hmmm. My wife is a smurf, and she might have a hard time with the reach. I assume you have stopped growing, so your reach isn't getting any longer unless you hang from a parallel bar for a couple months, and that's no fun. Yoga mat and stretching exercises maybe.... The coordination will come. In fact, after a while, when playing a Bb concert scale, you might find yourself using the 4th valve for the C above low Bb on your way up the scale. I do that most of the time.
    7. Yep, my first valve is pretty close to the bell when I remove it. And just as close when I put it back!! You just can't jerk it out and manhandle it like a manhandler would. Same with the grime gutter. There is an art to taking it off without banging it into some errant slide that is in the way. My grime gutter fills fast, so it is invaluable.
    8. The case is bigger than my first car. And you are right about the zipper thing. It isn't as fast as a couple latches. If you are small, I bet you look interesting toting the case around. But that is okey-dokey.
    9. Intonation - on mine, I have the main slide out at least an inch. It is sharp on notes like F, E above tuning Bb. It is not gross, but when my horn is in tune with Bb, the upper F is still sharp. I have to do a pretty major lip job to get it in tune. I have most of the other slides out, the 4th valve slide a good inch or more, same with the 3rd. 1st I leave in. Give it a little time to get used to the horn. If you have other mouthpieces or access to a couple others, try those as well. I never checked the tuning on my Dolce with the supplied mouthpiece. After you have put more hours on the horn, try the tuning again. Set your tuner up, play some notes around tuning Bb down a few notes to F. Close your eyes and try to get the very best sound you can out of each of those notes, then while blowing, open your eyes and see where the note is on the tuner.

    It will take a little time to get used to a 3 + 1 euphonium. It is a big change from your previous Yamaha. But, I think in time you will grow to love it. You can do so much more with the horn you now have. You might want to even take some lessons. With only a very good low brass teacher, preferably a euphonium teacher. There might just be one near you, perhaps at a university. And having a very well qualified teacher, you can quickly learn if in fact your horn is sharp, or if you are just not quite settled in on it yet.

    Good luck on your adventure, and it is delightful to have another person in the mighty euphonium universe!! Play long and prosper.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 02-23-2019 at 02:37 AM.
    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
    Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone, Edwards T396-A Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YSL-891Z Jazz 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
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    3. Ah yes, the valve caps. EVERYBODY, as in every single solitary person who has ever purchased, used, seen, or wanted a Wessex euphonium has experienced faulty or hard to screw on valve caps.
    So too for tubas.

    With this problem being ubiquitous on EVERY SINGLE WESSEX EUPHONIUM, you would think that it would be getting close to being fixed, but apparently not so.
    This has been going on for YEARS, and yet people who purchase new horns have the SAME problem. Interestingly, the 2nd valve cap seems to be affected disproportionately to others (just anecdotal evidence), whether on tubas or euphoniums. It makes me wonder if there's just one guy who does the second valves and he's just not very good.

    If you get a magnifying glass (or better, a binocular head magnifier), and look at the threads, you'll see that there's no mystery to what the problem is: really terribly poorly cut threads -- often more a problem of inconsistent thread height. And this can be in both the cap and the casing top. I've actually improved the function with a Swiss file and chasing the thread (on the casing) to some degree. But you can only do so much because (a) the brass is pretty soft, and (b) the threading is just SO crappy. The top of the thread should be crisp and even and at the same height above the valley at all points. It's not even close on the problematic ones (and not exemplary on the others).

    You can take your instrument to a good tech and see if he/she will chase (recut) the threads for you. That MIGHT work, but this is, in fact, impossible to fix in the sense of making it the way it should have been made. You can only do your best to work around it or try to improve it. You can't put the metal back on the thread that's been hacked/worn off it in the factory threading process.

    Diagnosis: You might call this condition "Chinese thread syndrome" (not restricted to Wessex). Very poor fabricating of threads; probably the result of sloppy tooling or using poor quality or worn (not replaced frequently enough) thread cutters; dreadful quality control both at the factory and prior to sending the instrument to the customer. It seems to be part of the "quality standard" (I use the term loosely) that's being accepted. Anyone can immediately tell this is a problem (as John has said), and anyone with a magnifying glass can see exactly what the problem is. Puzzlingly incompatible with what Wessex says about its quality control (both at the factory and prior to shipping).

    My caps seem to have gotten easier to reinstall, but that might just be that I am getting better at screwing them in without cross threading.
    They will get easier to install (if you take extreme care with that). This is because those crappy threads will get worn-in a little bit more evenly (both horizontally and vertically). Another thing you can do is to lubricate the threads on a continuing basis. This helps because a part of the problem is the friction and uneven thread path. Threads are just an example of the simple "inclined plane" machine. Imagine the trouble the Egyptians would have had in building the pyramids if their construction ramps didn't have flat surfaces, but hills and valleys, and also pitched a bit from side to side. That's exactly the problem with this threading.

    I use my silicone slide grease ("Not too little; not too much; just enough") since that actually fills in some of the voids and meanders in the threading as you're putting the cap on. It makes a huge difference. And it stays in place (for quite a while if you don't clean it off) and so acts as a kind of lame thread restorer. I actually thought (for at least a few moments) of rebuilding the threads with epoxy (commonly done for steel threading that can't be recutj). But with brass and the quality of the threading in this case, it quickly seemed insane to consider it.
    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)

  4. #4
    I may have a few other thoughts later, but for now I'll direct you to this video, where I show my own technique for dealing with the valve caps without cross-threading anything:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhMzkgQQtSw
    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 TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Quote Originally Posted by lzajmom View Post

    Con (resolved I think): Second valve rattles or something
    I haven't noticed it the last few times I've played, but there was a definite rattle every time I used the second valve.
    In case it reappears ...

    First, make sure that your valve guide is okay and is firmly and correctly seated in the piston. Take the top of the valve mechanism (finger button, shaft, valve cap) off and examine the valve guide. The Yahama-style guides are plastic with flat metal insert that rides in the valve guide channel of the casing. Make sure the metal part isn't loose in the plastic part. Then reassemble the the whole thing, being careful that the valve guide seats correctly into the piston top before tightening it down.

    On the bottom of the valve guide theres a small plastic protrusion (bump) that has to seat into a small hole in the top of the piston when it's assembled. This acts as a detent to "lock" the valve guide to the piston and prevent the piston from twisting out of alignment as the horn is played. Sometimes the bump isn't seated correctly into the hole or things aren't tightened enough and the metal part of the guide will chatter/rattle/vibrate in the channel.

    Then look at the guide channel in the casing (flashlight, magnifying glass, head magnifier, ...). Are the sides nice and straight and even? If not, you may have a problem there.

    Just a thought.

    Another thought: It may not be the valve at all. It may be a bad solder joint that's vibrating at random times, maybe on a particular note, maybe when you use a particular valve, etc. This is difficult and frustrating to find by yourself. First, you have to be able to reproduce it. Try to figure out the circumstances in which you hear the rattle. Then try to reliably reproduce it. Also try knocking/rapping with your knuckles on various parts of the horn to see if you can hear a buzz or rattle. Once you can get the noise to appear (like summoning an evil spirit), then you can start to find it.

    Enlist a spouse, reasonably competent child, or passer-by. Reproduce the rattle and have them try to locate it precisely. This can often be done with "the laying on of hands": have the assistant put his/her hand on different places all over the instrument and see if that stops the noise from appearing. Then find exactly where it is.

    My Wessex tuba, after a couple of months of playing, developed this incredibly irritating buzz on one note (I think it was the A at the top of the bass staff) and intermittently when I used the second valve. Maddening. I finally traced it to the base of a support brace where the solder joint had broken. I fixed that myself in a couple of minutes, but many people would need to take the instrument to a tech and have the joint resoldered. Like threading, solder joints on these instruments can be very -- should we say -- "uneven" in their quality.

    Good luck with the rattle.
    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)

  6. #6
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    Jan 2006
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    West Palm Beach, FL
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    3,104
    A bit earlier when I first read this thread, I was going to search for Dave’s video on starting fussy valve caps. Glad to see Dave already shared the link.

    One of the easiest valve caps to get started are Yamaha caps. It’s because they’re courser and deeper. I spoke with Mike Morse of Tuba Echange about this. He said that’s true but he’s seen some Yamaha horns with ‘out-of-round’ casings because of that. If threads are cut too deeply the brass becomes weak in that area. That makes perfect sense. I know it took me some time getting used the finer threads on my M5050 when coming from my Yamaha 641.

    Congrats on your new Wessex lzajmom.
    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
    El Cumbanchero (excerpts)
    ; Raphael Hernandez, arr. Iwai from our Swing/Salsa concert 2018
    Video of above: El Cumbanchero:

  7. #7
    Hello lzajmom, congrats on Dolce!

    Concerning cross-threading, as others have pointed out, you are not the only one to "enjoy Wessex " valve caps vagueries. Jonathan from Wessex posted just a few weeks ago on this very topic.... As I recall, he recognized that there is an issue on current horns, and that the issue has been finally solved at the factory.... However he realizes that this does not address cross-threading that currnt owners are experiencing....

    He proposed a two tier solution....

    * As soon as Wessex gets a supply of redesigned spare valve caps from the factory -- presumably sometimes during Q2 2019, current owners experiencing cross threading will be able to call Wessex to obtain a new set of caps.... It's my understanding that this would be at no charge.

    * Meantime, he suggested a top caps remedial fastening technique which -- at least for me -- seems to work reasonably well.... Press down on the button to end of travel and hold gently in place.... This process helps to keep the cap in the best horizontal orientation... Now rotate the cap counterclockwise for a little.... I do this until I feel the faintest of clicks... Then very gently start rotating clockwise.... Continue if no resistance is felt until the cap is fastened.... If you feel any slight jamming, go back to counter rotation and repeat the process.

    While the above is far from being perfect, combined with lubricating the caps inner threads with a modicum of slide grease, it has help me significantly.

    Best would be for Jonathan to chime in, and correct me if my recollection were flawed.

    Saluti, Guido
    Euph - Wessex EP104 Festivo - SM4U
    Flugel - Kanstul 1525
    Trpt - Adams A4 LB
    Bb Cornet -Carolbrass CCR-7772R-GSS
    Eb Cornet - Carolbrass CCR-7775-GSS

  8. Thank you for the review which I will copy to the Wessex team so we can improve the experience of both customer service and product. I think your problems in contacting Steve were because you contacted during the Washington DC conference at which Steve attended with subsequent communication delays (there have been a few complaints). I have learnt from this experience in to use other members of the team to exhibit in future (I pulled Steve from attending TMEA because of this issue).

    We have now found at least a partial solution to the valve threading issue with redesigned valve caps and will have spares available to replace existing troublesome caps. As soon as they are in stock, I will post availability on this forum.

    However to improve the threads further and other finishing issues, Wessex are steadily moving production of all but student horns to a new high-grade workshop dedicated to Wessex production. They will then be individually made by craftsmen/craftswomen and not on the main factory production line. The increase in quality is quite considerable, but obviously does increase prices - but I am thinking our customers would prefer to pay slightly more (actual amount will vary between instruments) for the higher quality. The Dolce euphonium is planned to eventually be moved across, but due to the high volume of Dolce production (possibly the best selling euphonium in the world), the new workshop needs to be built up to a full three floors of production with far more craftsmen trained before I can move across Dolce production. You can see products which are now made in the new high-grade workshop on the Wessex website by a ‘H’ after the product number.

    To izajmom: Have you considered the EP104 Festivo euphonium if you are having problems reaching the 4th valve? Wessex will exchange if that would suit you better
    Last edited by Jonathantuba; 02-23-2019 at 05:01 PM.

  9. Thank you all! You really must be the most helpful people on the Internet. I'm already feeling better about some of the issues, as it sounds like they are common and within expected range. I'm especially relieved that the issue with the valve caps isn't just on mine, and it isn't just in my head (or my clumsy fingers). Honestly, I can accept the inconvenience more easily knowing that I didn't just get a lemon. I will implement as many of the suggestions above as possible, and I'm very thankful for the benefit of your experience!

    I know that some of my observations seem nit-picky, but this is a really significant purchase to me. This horn is probably the nicest I will ever own; I wasn't sure what to expect.

    I do believe that I'll come to truly love it, and I look forward to updating here at that time. I've been trying to teach my 3yo that we don't base our beliefs or opinions on first impressions (in her case, about book covers), and certainly I endeavor to keep an open mind about the Dolce.


    To John:

    1. Indeed - it is exactly as you say. I hereby revoke that particular concern and will add a note to the original post.
    2. I agree that I can accurately call the finish "totally adequate." If that is what we're going for, then I suppose it will have to do (sincere, not sarcastic).
    5. I will try to reproduce the rattle tomorrow. Here's hoping for gremlins! If so, I'll update the original post.
    6. Wouldn't one normally use the 4th valve for that C? I always have. Anyway, I'm having a heck of a time with C to Bnat, or vice versa, combinations. It's like my fingers are drunk. As you say, the coordination will come.
    7. I suppose I need to remember that I'm now a grown-up who can take time to do things artfully. It's just an adjustment.
    8. I look utterly ridiculous; I always have.
    9. Thank you for your notes on slide positions! Somehow that's really encouraging. I will play with it some more in the coming weeks.

    Jonathan:

    Thank you so much for the response! And poor Steve! I fully understand about the timing, and I appreciate his excellent service once we finally connected. He didn't even make me feel judged for wanting alternate valve buttons.

    I looked at the Festivo previously and really admire the innovation. The Dolce won over the Festivo simply because of cost, but if I could afford either one, it would be a really hard decision!

    I look forward to receiving the improved valve caps. Until then, I will try to be patient with what I have, remembering that an instrument of this quality cost 3-4x as much not that long ago. If annoying valve caps are the worst part of owning a compensating euphonium, then I am exceedingly glad for the advancement you've personally made to the industry!
    15 years and a lifetime later, euphonium again.
    Wessex Dolce

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Sturgis, South Dakota
    Posts
    782
    Quote Originally Posted by lzajmom View Post
    ....6. Wouldn't one normally use the 4th valve for that C? I always have. Anyway, I'm having a heck of a time with C to Bnat, or vice versa, combinations. It's like my fingers are drunk. As you say, the coordination will come....
    Yes, 4th valve for low C is usual, especially for a C held longer than a wee bit, because after a wee bit, you can tell the intonation pretty clearly, and a 1+3 C is always pretty sharp. Same for B natural, 2+4 is much better than 1+2+3. But, many times when zooming along with fast notes, one might play low C using 1+3. Or when playing a Bb chromatic scale, one might use just the 3 valves, without engaging the 4th valve for the B natural and C. Guess my point is that I often use the 4th valve for those two notes, even when zooming along, I have just gotten used to it.

    An interesting tidbit that I noticed with Brian Bowman. He and I must think and behave in similar fashion with this particular piece. The piece is Carnival of Venice. There are a couple videos of Brian playing this on YouTube, search Brian Bowman Carnival of Venice. When I learned Carnival of Venice (in 8th grade after hearing it played as a euphonium solo at one of the premier service band concerts at Departmental Auditorium in D.C.), I always had a tough time getting through a certain spot in the 1st variation. The part that was most troubling was when the solo line of fast notes went down and you had a C (1+3 variety low C) going down and then four notes later a C going up. I always got my fingers in a wad trying to get this up to speed. I was playing on something like a King or Conn 3 valve baritone. So much later (8 years later) when I finally got a 3+1 euphonium (a Besson), I started using the 4th valve for those two C's that gave me fits in Carnival of Venice. That was back in the late 60's. If you look at Brian in the YouTube videos, you will see that he does that exact same thing. I would like to think I taught him that, but, alas, I didn't. But I think I did it first, so maybe I can get the patent! We just both seemed to have happened upon that same way of playing that part of the solo. It does take a bit of practice to be able to use the 4th valve when sailing along, so I am not sure this is actually any easier than just learning to play the C 1+3 at the necessary speed. But my fingers don't feel like they are in knots when I use the 4th valve.
    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
    Yamaha YBL-822G Bass Trombone, Edwards T396-A Tenor Trombone, Yamaha YSL-891Z Jazz 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)

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