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Thread: 3 + 1 vs. 4 Inline (valves)

  1. #1
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    3 + 1 vs. 4 Inline (valves)

    This is a brand question, or I think that at least part of it is.

    Euphoniums tend to come in two flavors. The valves are arranged in a 3 + 1 configuration, or in a 4 inline configuration. I have seen that some manufacturers produce horns in both styles. I was wondering what is the difference and why. Four inline valves do not tend to be compensating horns. In my understanding, the fourth valve functions much like the extra tubing in a compensating horn. So how did we end up with these two fraternal twin constructions of the euphonium?

    When I played in high school, the school lent me a silver Yamaha 321. The 4 inline horn was all I knew. When I learned about the 3 + 1 configuration, I thought that perhaps the 4 inline valve set was a Yamaha innovation. I have since seen it in many other horn brands. Which manufacturer started putting all the valves all together at the right hand (and when)? What are the advantages and disadvantages of building a horn this way?

    And now for the contentious opinion questions. Which is better (3 + 1 vs. 4 inline)? Why do you think so? Which do you prefer?

    - Sara
    Last edited by Sara Hood; 07-20-2019 at 02:25 PM. Reason: for clarity
    Baritone - 3 Valve, Compensating, JinBao JBBR1240

  2. #2
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    I own euphoniums with each kind of valve set-up. I can play passages that require use of the 4th valve faster in the 3+1 instrument than on my Conn 24i in-line model. Perhaps this is because the 3+1 is the instrument I use the most. But, I suspect that it would take much work to make my pinky finger work as well and as fast in the 4 in-line instrument as the 3+1 setup.
    Last edited by enhite; 07-20-2019 at 01:57 PM.

  3. #3
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    Answering the questions at the end, I much prefer the 3+1 configuration. Mainly because it is easier for me (and most I suspect) to finger a 3+1 configuration than try to get the little pinky to work on the 4th valve of an in-line model. Much more dexterity and ability to play things faster with the 3+1 configuration. Some tuba players prefer the 4 in-line as that is what they are used to in many cases. Probably true for some euphonium players, also.

    There are some 4 in-line euphoniums that are compensating, the Wessex Festivo, for example.

    Your statement "...the fourth valve functions much like the extra tubing in a compensating horn..." is sort of mixing apples and oranges. You can have a 4th valve on a euphonium and the horn can be a compensating horn or not. And you can not have a 4th valve at all on a euphonium and the horn can be a compensating horn or not. The 4th valve allows you to play more notes (lower) than you can on a horn with just 3 valves. Particularly, the notes below low concert E natural down to pedal concert Bb. Also, the 4th valve allows you to use alternate fingerings to get notes like low B natural (fingered 1-2-3 with a three valve horn) in tune (compensating horn 2-4) or more in tune (2-4). So, the 4th valve extends your range (of notes) and helps with tuning and alternate fingerings.

    The whole purpose for compensating horns is to add tubing to various valve combinations to get the right length of tubing needed to accurately play notes in tune.

    The compensating models, both 3 and 4 valve instruments, add tubing so that on a 3 valve horn, the 3rd valve, when used with the other valves, adds tubing to get in tune (even the infamous 1-2-3 for B natural). On the 4 valve compensating horns, the 4th valve when used with other valves, adds tubing to get notes in tune. See Dave Werden's excellent Compensating System explained on his website. This article explains why notes are not in tune with various valve combinations on non-compensating horns.

    As for the construction of horns with 4 in-line vs. 3+1 configuration, pretty sure most of the 4 in-line were what was built in the U.S.A. early on. I believe the 3+1 to have come from across the pond. Most of the major top end brands all offer the 3+1 configuration, some also the 4 in-line.
    Last edited by John Morgan; 07-20-2019 at 02:20 PM.
    John Morgan
    The U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) 1971-1976
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  4. #4
    Sara, please see this article, which should help explain things:

    http://www.dwerden.com/eu-articles-comp.cfm
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams E3, Denis Wick 4AL (classic)
    Instructor of Euphonium and Tuba
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    Owner of TubaEuph.com, DWerden.com

  5. #5
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    Yes, I am familiar with this article. It was one of the first explanations I understood for how the compensating horn worked (and horn valves in general worked) and why it is a superior instrument.

    I know and understand the math reasoning behind the air stream length and how that translates into the fingerings we use. I was more after the who, when, and where (maybe call it the "history") of the question. Like the way this is called the Blaikley compensating system. Because back in the day, a guy named Blaikley was the first one to put it into use in horn construction. (I would love to have a year on this innovation, by the way.)

    So which brand introduced the "new" valve arrangement and when did they do it? Which one (3 +1 or 4 inline) was the new arrangement? Did they do it because some virtuoso was in search of a better instrument? Or because they were looking to make a name for themselves by developing a "better mousetrap," so to speak? Or some other reasoning that I have not considered yet?

    From there, I wanted to branch out in to the soft question of preference. There is so much to explore when you get into the question of "why" something is the way it is.

    - Sara
    Last edited by Sara Hood; 07-20-2019 at 04:04 PM.
    Baritone - 3 Valve, Compensating, JinBao JBBR1240

  6. #6
    Take a look at this page. Lots of examples over time:

    https://www.horn-u-copia.net/Referen...ment=Euphonium

    Many early models followed the Saxhorn design, which generally has only 3 top valves, but may have 1 or 2 side valves added. I suspect, but don't know, that the 4 front valves came along early, but not first. I also suspect that once you have front valves, it may be easier to include 4 in that position, perhaps for tube wrap reasons or perhaps ergonomic reasons. If you use your right hand for all 4, you have positioning options for your left hand that might be more comfortable and would allow you to do page turns on a concert stand or a flip folder for marching.

    As mentioned in the compensating article I linked, have a little more tubing run from 3 to 4 lets you expand the bore more gradually to match the intermediate compensating bore (usually between the main bore and 4th valve bore in diameter).

    Also as mentioned in the article, the 4th finger is quite a bit weaker that the first 3 and is somewhat "tied" to the 3rd finger, so facility won't be as great once you get used to two-hand operation.

    There are conflicts in what I said above. That is due to the many design considerations, and also allowance for the huge difference in size of the players' hands and arms.
    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

  7. #7
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    Harold Brasch was credited with introducing the compensation euphonium to the USA (see this article by Arthur Lehman).

    "You see, Harold Brasch, single handedly, influenced the entire country to adopt the four valve English type euphonium with compensating pistons and forsake all other types of euphoniums. He did it all by himself and he was as successful as ever anyone could have been at an endeavor. His efforts turned the world of military band euphonium playing completely around and he did it in a very few years; a feat of amazing strength and determination. His name has gone down in history for this single accomplishment."
    Harold Brasch (aka Mr. euphonium) was a wonderful euphonium soloist who played with the U.S. Navy Band for 20 years starting in 1936. He was known to memorize the whole concert and didn't require any music or a stand. After patrons noticed that he didn't need music, they asked why others did. The Dir. told him to please bring his stand and music. He did but still had it all memorized. Then the Dir told to him to open his folder. (This story shared by Dr. Brian Bowman several years ago).
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  8. I prefer the 3+1 configuration, as it translates more directly to playing a Bb/F trombone. Also, like many, I feel that the pinky finger can be a liability, especially on a piston valve instrument. With rotary valves, it's not as much of an issue.

    But in the end, whatever works best for you. Tubas have definitely gone with the 4 inline design with both piston and rotary designs. Then there can be additional valves, which are rotary in both cases. They do make tubas that are 3+1, but they are usually compensating, or are an older 3 valve tuba that someone wanted better low range and intonation on.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS - Hammond 11L , Bach 42T - Laskey 59MD, Kanstul 1588CR - Hammond 11ML, Yamaha YBL-612 RII - Faxx 1 1/2G

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    [snip]Also as mentioned in the article, the 4th finger is quite a bit weaker that the first 3 and is somewhat "tied" to the 3rd finger, so facility won't be as great once you get used to two-hand operation.[snip]
    I'll chime in here as a pianist. Dave is quite right. The arrangement of tendons in the fingers causes the 4th and 5th fingers to have dependent motion (numbering fingers as a pianist, the thumb is 1 and the pinky is 5). For example, many pianists will not finger a trill as 4545 but instead will use 3535.

    It is possible to achieve facility on four in-line valves - tuba players do it all the time - but the construction of the hand makes the 3 + 1 arrangement much easier.
    Dean L. Surkin
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  10. #10
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    3+1 tubas rule in the brass band world. So do players with long arms...

    DG
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    Last edited by highpitch; 07-22-2019 at 10:24 AM.
    3 notes and the truth.

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