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Thread: FS: Besson Sovereign 955 3-Valve Compensating Baritone Horn

  1. #1

    FS: Besson Sovereign 955 3-Valve Compensating Baritone Horn

    This is a much newer model of the same baritone I play. It was made in Germany, so quality control should be very good. It is reportedly a very low-mileage horn in great shape, and it includes the new-style Besson case. I think it is priced very well at $2,970!

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Besson-BE-9...n/223494605846

    Click image for larger version. 

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    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

  2. The Besson baritones I've played are mostly from the mid-90s, and they've been hit or miss in terms of quality. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about the German Bessons, and the price listed is quite good.....and quite a bit cheaper than a new Besson or what's considered to be the current gold standard of British baritones, the Yamaha Neo.
    James Kircoff
    Genesee Wind Symphony - principal euphonium (Adams E3 Custom .60mm yellow brass bell w/ Parker 4G Houser)
    Capital City Brass Band (2019 NABBA 2nd section champions) - 1st baritone (Besson BE956 w/ Denis Wick 6BY) and 10 piece ensemble (Getzen 1052FD bass trombone w/ Bach 1G)

  3. I've been looking at this horn for a while. Compared to my Adams E1 euph, my Schiller baritone is what I would call "difficult" to play, i.e. less responsive, more missed notes, more difficult upper register, requires more vigilance to produce good tone, etc. None of this is a big surprise to me, but I can't help but wonder how much of this difference is due to the fact that it is a baritone, and how much is due to the fact that it is an inexpensive baritone. To anyone who may have experience with this, how much better would this Besson be to play, relative to my Schiller? I wish I could test play the Besson, but it is in Arizona and I am in Florida.

  4. #4
    My 955 plays very nicely, and I suspect this one will be better. The Sovereign model offers a nicer sound (IMHO) compared to the New Standard. I just heard from a colleague that the Schiller and Wessex are based on the New Standard.
    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. Interesting, thanks! If money were no object...

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    I just heard from a colleague that the Schiller and Wessex are based on the New Standard.
    Hmm, I'm not so sure about that. They are shaped like a sovereign (new standard has a loop that goes over the top of the valve buttons, whereas the sovereign has a loop that goes under the top of the valves) and the bell size is certainly the larger sovereign bell size and not the smaller new standard bell size. It's true that the new standard baritone is a pretty poor instrument. They just didn't put all their best R&D into the "less important" instruments in those days.

    I'm not a huge fan of the schiller baritone mostly because the intonation is poor and it just doesn't have a very nice sound, but compared to euphonium even the good baritones absolutely take more effort to sound good on. I think the new german-made 955 is better than the old english-made ones, too -- they made some modifications to the design along the way. But don't expect it to play like an adams E1 euphonium.
    --
    Barry

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by bbocaner View Post
    Hmm, I'm not so sure about that. They are shaped like a sovereign (new standard has a loop that goes over the top of the valve buttons, whereas the sovereign has a loop that goes under the top of the valves) and the bell size is certainly the larger sovereign bell size and not the smaller new standard bell size.
    Visually, I agree! I'm kicking myself for not finding time to test out the Wessex baritone at ITEC. I actually had my own 955 with me, so I could have compared easily enough. It was John Powell who told me about the New Standard basis, although he said something like it was "closer to a New Standard" than to a Sovereign. John had just returned from testing horns at the Wessex factory.
    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

  8. #8
    I think that the new standard and early sovereigns like yours had the same bore size. The sovereign had a larger bell and different tapers post-tuning slide. I would assume a different leadpipe design as well. And of course the different shape. I believe that when they introduced the 956 with 4-valves they went ahead and made the bore through the valve section slightly bigger so that the extended range wouldn't be stuffy, although the bore by the main tuning slide stayed the same. I think they went ahead and updated the bore on the 955 at the same time to simplify production, so that the same pistons could be used for both models. I've verified this by trying to swap around various tuning slides between an older 955 and a newer one as well as a 956 and 2056.

    This may be what he meant by comparing it to the new standard, that it has the smaller bore of the new standard (and original sovereign) not the larger bore of the present-day 955.

    I really like the 3-valve wessex baritone! I'm not so crazy about their 4-valve instrument, though.
    --
    Barry

  9. Quote Originally Posted by bbocaner View Post
    Hmm, I'm not so sure about that. They are shaped like a sovereign (new standard has a loop that goes over the top of the valve buttons, whereas the sovereign has a loop that goes under the top of the valves) and the bell size is certainly the larger sovereign bell size and not the smaller new standard bell size. It's true that the new standard baritone is a pretty poor instrument. They just didn't put all their best R&D into the "less important" instruments in those days.

    I'm not a huge fan of the schiller baritone mostly because the intonation is poor and it just doesn't have a very nice sound, but compared to euphonium even the good baritones absolutely take more effort to sound good on. I think the new german-made 955 is better than the old english-made ones, too -- they made some modifications to the design along the way. But don't expect it to play like an adams E1 euphonium.
    Thanks for the additional info. I find that with effort on the Schiller I can produce what I consider to be a nice tone, but of course have nothing to compare it to, i.e. I don't question that the Besson may well be better. Yes, the Schiller has intonation quirks also. I find them to be "manageable" but alternate fingerings are necessary.

  10. #10
    I recently played on a newer Schiller and found it was MUCH MUCH better than the Schiller I played on 4 or 5 years ago. Much more open and responsive and with better intonation. So maybe it depends on how old your baritone is. The Wessex 3 valve is pretty cheap and supposed to be super nice. Otherwise I'd save for the Neo.
    Yamaha Neo w/Trigger, Lacquer
    K&G 3.5D

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