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Thread: Picking up the euph again, thinking about options

  1. #1

    Picking up the euph again, thinking about options

    Hey everyone,

    Brand new member here. A bit of background: Back in high school (1999-2003) I played a lot. We had Yamaha 621's, and by my senior year I was a relatively advanced player. I was All-District, All-State, Governor's School, and doing a college-level wind ensemble in Charlotte while also doing my high school's wind ensemble, and I was principal in all but one or two groups. My crowning achievement was pulling off Karl King's "Melody Shop" as the soloist in my senior year spring concert series. (I don't say all of these things to brag, but to provide some context around what level I *used* to play at.)

    When I went to college, I had a Besson 967, but I hardly ever played it because I went to a small liberal arts school where there just weren't many playing opportunities for the euphonium. My voice became my primary instrument as I sang with the choral groups and got a scholarship, and occasionally I backed up the symphony orchestra or the jazz ensemble on trombone, but gradually I lost my brass chops. I was on my way to a degree in political science, Marine Corps officer candidates school, law school, all that good stuff, so I just couldn't fathom when I would ever get to play again. Then the kicker: I lost my job in banking during the Great Recession and needed to make ends meet until I reported to OCS, so I did the unthinkable and sold my Besson to a local university, to a professor there who I had done some master classes with.

    Fast-forward 12 years later and I'm all settled down and feeling the itch again. I miss playing euphonium! I called up the university, but they surplussed my Besson only TWO YEARS AGO, so it's officially gone and I'll probably never find it again. So now I'm in the market for a horn, and trying to figure out what to do.

    I picked up a couple euphoniums at the Tuba Exchange in Durham, NC, and I am just terrible now. I still remember all my fingerings, but my articulation seems like it's always a quarter-second behind where I want it to be, and my embouchure is totally gone -- it feels foreign, even uncomfortable, to have a mouthpiece pressed to my lips. So it's like I'm starting over fresh. I'm wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation and can provide exercises or advice, because I'll be doing this on my own: no teachers or professors to give me pointers.

    Also, I need a horn. I'm not looking to play in any ensembles (maybe a quintet if I can find willing folks around here), so I feel like trying to go back to a Besson or even a Yamaha would be overkill... not to mention the fact that Bessons now retail for $8,000 (!!!) and Yamahas for $6,000. I've searched for used horns as well, but it still seems like more than I want to pay. I just caught wind of Wessex on this forum... That brand didn't even exist when I was playing, so I had never heard of them until today, but the price point seems amazing for a compensating euph. Otherwise I would be looking at a Jupiter, or maybe I could sweet-talk my wife into a Yamaha. I don't think it's smart for me to spring for a Besson. So, I'm also wondering if anyone thinks a player with my background should spring for a more expensive euph, or if I should look at the Wessex Dolce or another comparable "entry-level" brand.

    That was a lot of words, so thanks for reading all the way to the end (those of you who made it). I know my situation can't be unique, so I'd love to hear some feedback. Thanks!

    Pete

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    783
    Welcome to the forum and--hopefully--back to playing!

    I would heartily recommend a Mack Brass 1150. At $995 new in silver, it is a terrific choice for a returning player.
    I used one for a while when I was between two other instruments, and everyone I work with was satisfied.
    I have no experience with Wessex instruments other than the occasional 10-minute trial at a conference, but others on this forum sing their praises.
    You're right--in the period you've been away, there has been an explosion of GREAT instruments for us to choose from. Fortunately, part
    of that explosion has occurred on the low end of the price spectrum. Mack and Wessex are Chinese and both importers exercise good quality control.
    You might want to act quickly if you buy a Wessex or Mack--it's unclear to me whether musical instruments are part of the new tariff structure.
    Perhaps Jonathan or Tom can report here on that.
    So please have a look at the Mack 1150 at www.mackbrass.com ! I assume you've already looked at the Wessex site.
    Jim
    Last edited by Snorlax; 08-08-2019 at 11:51 AM.
    Yamaha 642-II Neo, Wedge 103A/Wick 4AL
    Yamaha 321, Yamaha 621 Baritone
    Conn 50H trombone
    Blue P-bone
    www.soundcloud.com/jweuph

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,139
    Welcome to the forum Pete. I'm sure your lip and fingering coordination will come back. Maybe not like 'riding a bike', but it will come back. I didn't play for 33 years so it took me awhile.

    Snorlax suggestion of a Mack Brass horn is a good one. Tom at Mack posted on TubeNet that they ordered extra horns in preparation of the tariff hike. See this thread on "Pricing due to tariffs"
    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
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  4. #4
    We have 3 main choices now for entry-level-but-very-nice-compensating euphoniums: Jin Bao, Mack Brass, and Wessex.

    Schiller (Jin Bao) - cheapest entry point if you stay with the non-triggered model (around $800). Quality control is not assured, although most buyers have pretty good luck. The largest importer of these does not have a good reputation here, but I have never dealt with them myself.

    Mack Brass - the middle of the pack for price (around $1000). They are still buying a Jin Bao, but with their own brand on the bell. However, Mack Brass says they play test (and correct where needed) all horns that are shipped to their shop. So quality control is better by a good margin.

    Wessex - the highest price of the 3 (around $1300). Their own design is no longer based Jin Bao but has had many design/manufacturing improvements over the years. Quality control is the best because Wessex play tests every horn at the factory, before they ship. If there is a problem they have it fixed there or reject the horn. Any corrections necessary are done with all the right equipment and spare parts available. This also gives them a certain leverage to make sure the factory constantly improves.

    My own choice would be the Wessex, but we have folks here who have had good luck buying Schiller/Jin Bao, Mack Brass, and Wessex.

    At these price points for a brand new horn, you are in a very good place. If you decide later that it is time to upgrade, you can probably regain all but a few hundred $ of your investment if you take care of the horn.
    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
    Thank you Jim, Dave, and Rick for your excellent feedback. I spent some time looking at some of the other Wessex threads here in the forum, and I looked at the Mack Brass euph as well. I decided to go ahead and order a Wessex Dolce in silver, although it's backordered until early September according to the site.

    Gotta admit -- I'm really excited! I'll always regret that I sold my Besson, but chalk it up to being young and shortsighted.

    Pete

  6. Melody Shop as a solo by choice....I bet that was more fun than it had any right to be. I wish that was an option instead of a requirement the last time my band played it!

    Advance welcome back to the game. If you'd not already ordered, I would have offered the suggestion of browsing the Buy/Sell threads here. There's some pretty fantastic deals that pop up on occasion.
    Whatever you lose, you'll find it again. What you throw away, you'll never get back.

    -- Kenshin Himura




    1974 B & H Imperial / Bach 3G -- no LTE mouthpieces for me!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by pdbenbow View Post
    Hey everyone,

    Brand new member here. A bit of background: Back in high school (1999-2003) I played a lot. We had Yamaha 621's, and by my senior year I was a relatively advanced player. I was All-District, All-State, Governor's School, and doing a college-level wind ensemble in Charlotte while also doing my high school's wind ensemble, and I was principal in all but one or two groups. My crowning achievement was pulling off Karl King's "Melody Shop" as the soloist in my senior year spring concert series. (I don't say all of these things to brag, but to provide some context around what level I *used* to play at.)

    When I went to college, I had a Besson 967, but I hardly ever played it because I went to a small liberal arts school where there just weren't many playing opportunities for the euphonium. My voice became my primary instrument as I sang with the choral groups and got a scholarship, and occasionally I backed up the symphony orchestra or the jazz ensemble on trombone, but gradually I lost my brass chops. I was on my way to a degree in political science, Marine Corps officer candidates school, law school, all that good stuff, so I just couldn't fathom when I would ever get to play again. Then the kicker: I lost my job in banking during the Great Recession and needed to make ends meet until I reported to OCS, so I did the unthinkable and sold my Besson to a local university, to a professor there who I had done some master classes with.

    Fast-forward 12 years later and I'm all settled down and feeling the itch again. I miss playing euphonium! I called up the university, but they surplussed my Besson only TWO YEARS AGO, so it's officially gone and I'll probably never find it again. So now I'm in the market for a horn, and trying to figure out what to do.

    I picked up a couple euphoniums at the Tuba Exchange in Durham, NC, and I am just terrible now. I still remember all my fingerings, but my articulation seems like it's always a quarter-second behind where I want it to be, and my embouchure is totally gone -- it feels foreign, even uncomfortable, to have a mouthpiece pressed to my lips. So it's like I'm starting over fresh. I'm wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation and can provide exercises or advice, because I'll be doing this on my own: no teachers or professors to give me pointers.

    Also, I need a horn. I'm not looking to play in any ensembles (maybe a quintet if I can find willing folks around here), so I feel like trying to go back to a Besson or even a Yamaha would be overkill... not to mention the fact that Bessons now retail for $8,000 (!!!) and Yamahas for $6,000. I've searched for used horns as well, but it still seems like more than I want to pay. I just caught wind of Wessex on this forum... That brand didn't even exist when I was playing, so I had never heard of them until today, but the price point seems amazing for a compensating euph. Otherwise I would be looking at a Jupiter, or maybe I could sweet-talk my wife into a Yamaha. I don't think it's smart for me to spring for a Besson. So, I'm also wondering if anyone thinks a player with my background should spring for a more expensive euph, or if I should look at the Wessex Dolce or another comparable "entry-level" brand.

    That was a lot of words, so thanks for reading all the way to the end (those of you who made it). I know my situation can't be unique, so I'd love to hear some feedback. Thanks!

    Pete
    Welcome Pete! That was a nice read. As a retired Army guy, curious to know if you did the Marine Corps thing? I gave the oath of office to my son, Ian, when he joined the Marine Corps. Pretty neat. If you did the Marines, how long, or are you still in?

    I was going to recommend a Wessex, you can see I own one along with a couple other euphoniums. One is definitely not enough in my case. The Wessex has been a great horn for me. It was supposed to be just an interim horn to use after selling my Miraphone M5050 and waiting on my Adams E3 to be built, about a 6 month process. But I liked it so much, I decided to keep it after I got my Adams. So, I see you have already placed the order for a Wessex.

    Welcome back to the world of the euphonium. I would think in the Charlotte, NC area that you would find opportunities to play. Let us know when your Wessex arrives and how you like it!
    Last edited by John Morgan; 08-09-2019 at 10:10 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
    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)

  8. #8
    Some nice Bessons pop up on Ebay frequently, and I would match a used Besson against a new Chinese clone any day, considering build quality and sound. If you like the Besson sound, it might be worth lurking on Ebay between now and September. As for regaining your chops... long tones and lots of practice! No shortcuts available.
    Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium, Denis Wick 4AL

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,139
    Pete, I noticed you mentioned attending the Governor’s School in NC. I understand that’s quite an honor and excellent program. My granddaughter (trombone) got to do that 2 or 3 years ago. Think it was 6 weeks long. She’s now sophomore at USC (South Carolina). She marches in the band to get ‘in-state’ tuition and loves it. She’s Pre-med so hope she can keep it up.

    Good luck with your new Wessex.
    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
    Cell phone video of : El Cumbanchero:

  10. #10
    Congratulation on your new Wessex! Looking forward to your thoughts on it! It seems like Mr. Powell is currently traveling to China to QC a batch of instruments at the factory. So, I bet your Euph will be coming from this batch! I always found it fascinating to know the journey a eupho went through before reaching a user (or even stories as it gets passed down from one user to other)
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. And always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euphonium)"

    Euphonium: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音, JP 274 MKII - 千歌
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL
    Gone but not forgotten: Yamaha EP100 - Euphy (Thank you for the past 15 years)

    https://soundcloud.com/ashsparkle_chika
    https://www.youtube.com/user/AshTSparkle/

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