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Thread: Returning Player - Need another, Intermediate or jump to Compensating/Pro?

  1. #1

    Returning Player - Need another, Intermediate or jump to Compensating/Pro?

    Hello everyone,

    I知 new on the forums (1st post!), but have been reading them for the past few months. Hopefully this is in an appropriate spot, seemed to be the best match based on other posts. I have a few questions I知 hoping you can help me out with, as it has been awhile since I last played regularly. Sorry for all the text, I'll try to break it out.

    Recently, I purchased a euphonium on Ebay, had it professionally repaired/cleaned, and am experiencing some major tuning issues with it. The horn, a Buescher 1924 True Tone Euphonium, Silver 3 Valve Euro Shank; is extremely flat on nearly every note (most are 30-40 cents flat), however the standard Low Bb is registering closer to an A natural most of the time (edging sharp) with every slide pushed in completely. Essentially, I have the mouthpiece (Wick SM4MX Ultra) near the bridge of my nose to force it in tune, which is fairly uncomfortable.)) I have played on a colleagues 1960s Besson baritone and a B&S euphonium with the same mouthpiece and had no problem hitting/pitching nearly every note within a few cents of the target. He tried to play my horn a bit and said it was very odd and really unnatural to get everything in tune. I also have a King 1128 Marching Baritone (large shank) that I知 working with for outdoor polka performances/parades, and it performs/sounds good for what it is, but it is not as ideal for indoor events.

    As much as I would like to try and adapt to the Buescher (it痴 somewhat ornate and it is kind of cool to play on a 95 year old horn), I知 afraid that the unnatural mouthpiece positioning/playing might have some negative consequences if I get a newer horn. (I normally just play like that for higher notes)

    QUESTIONS:
    1) Is this a valid concern (playing constantly at the bridge of my nose to force it in tune) or would it just help develop my 田hops after being away for so long?

    2) If going for a newer/different horn, would it make sense to go towards an intermediate (new Besson 163 -165 or a King 2280) or just jump into an affordable compensating for the long haul? (Like a Wessex Dolce or John Packer 274, which I致e read many positive things on this site about)

    3) Are there any other horns you would recommend within the $1k-2k range? I know Wessex, Mack, Schiller and John Packer are praised quite a bit for affordable compensating horns for being (Yamaha / Besson) clones. Could potentially justify up to 3k range if it's worth it on a newer horn.

    Though I知 just getting started again, I do plan on playing pretty actively throughout the year with a few different groups. The music will mostly be local concert, polka and maybe some jazz, orchestra or solo fun with the euphonium. I will not be a professional/college player, but do want to be able to learn and push myself to play beyond the best of my ability.

    I look forward to your responses, thanks in advance!



    A bit of history about me: I recently started playing again back in May of this year (small shank trombone to start due to lack of euphonium, then to euphonium in July) after not playing at all for close to 12 years. Originally, I started out in middle school on a Yamaha 201 and mostly played in high school on a Jupiter 4 valve (JEP1000?). Played in quite a few honor bands, orchestra, concert, event bands, marching band, jazz and some solos for most of high school before being transitioned onto tuba. Picking up the euphonium again was a fairly quick transition in terms of playability and remembering the fingering combinations/alternatives, but rebuilding the range/durability feels like my biggest area of improvement atm.

  2. #2
    I suspect the Buescher horn of 1924 is pitched lower than A=440. Not uncommon for that to be the case with horns built in that time frame. I don't think I would spend a lot of time trying to get that horn to play in tune to today's standard, especially if you are trying to get it in tune with a certain mouthpiece or by doing gymnastics with your chops. My advice would be to go with a Wessex Dolce which gets you a very nice compensating horn. Alternatively, the King 2280 is a great non-compensating horn with a very nice sound. About twice what the Wessex costs, however, but still within your up to 3K range. Happy hunting!!
    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. Tohsy,
    Does the medium shank mouthpiece really fit correctly?
    I have a 1924 Buescher Double Bell that seems to need something smaller than a medium (euro) shank mouthpiece, but slightly larger than a small (tenor) shank.
    A medium shank that is not seating 100% correctly could generate some tuning issues.
    I expect to eventually have a custom adapter made to use a small shank mouthpiece with mine.
    Having a good machinist shave off a bit of a small shank to medium shank adapter will probably be the start for me.
    Good luck with your Buescher.
    Jim
    Jim Babbitt
    1960s 4 valve and 1971 3 valve Besson New Standards (Denis Wick 6BM) for regular playing
    1936 Conn 5 valve 30I Double Bell (Bach 6-1/2AL) General Purpose Back -Up
    1924 Buescher 5 valve (the Denis Wick is close) and 1940 Holton 5 valve (Bach 6-1/2AL) Double Bells for kicks.
    1860s OTS Saxhorn when history is required (the Denis Wick fits)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    783
    The mouthpiece you're using is too big for that instrument and may be a contributory factor to the pitch issue.
    Try something like a Bach 6-1/2AL with a horn that small. The combination of a too-large mouthpiece, a
    long layoff, and inherent issues with the instrument may not be optimal for redevelopment of your embouchure

    Above all else, please don't go into contortions or exert great strain/force trying to get up to pitch on that horn with that piece. It may lead to bad habits down
    the road. The Mead mouthpieces are made to go with modern large-bore compensating instruments, which yours ain't. ;-)

    ALSO: How's the plating on the valves? How's the compression? Worn-out valves are common in horns of that vintage,
    and that may create leaks within the cylinder/aroound the piston that may also drive the pitch flat. How about a picture of the valves?
    Last edited by Snorlax; 10-11-2019 at 04:55 PM.
    Yamaha 642-II Neo, Wedge 103A/Wick 4AL
    Yamaha 321, Yamaha 621 Baritone
    Conn 50H trombone
    Blue P-bone
    www.soundcloud.com/jweuph

  5. #5
    Jim,

    I've attached some pictures of the mouthpiece in the horn and where it sits using electrical tape. I actually do have a few smaller shank mouthpieces (conn/bach) and they do not sit inside without sliding out fairly easily. The small shank doesn't grip at all really, even going all the way to the end of the mouthpiece. The Denis Wick is the only Euro shank I have, but does go in a bit and has a good seal.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Tohsy; 10-12-2019 at 01:30 AM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Snorlax View Post
    The mouthpiece you're using is too big for that instrument and may be a contributory factor to the pitch issue. Try something like a Bach 6-1/2AL with a horn that small. The combination of a too-large mouthpiece, a long layoff, and inherent issues with the instrument may not be optimal for redevelopment of your embouchure

    Above all else, please don't go into contortions or exert great strain/force trying to get up to pitch on that horn with that piece. It may lead to bad habits down
    the road. The Mead mouthpieces are made to go with modern large-bore compensating instruments, which yours ain't. ;-)

    ALSO: How's the plating on the valves? How's the compression? Worn-out valves are common in horns of that vintage,
    and that may create leaks within the cylinder/aroound the piston that may also drive the pitch flat. How about a picture of the valves?
    Thanks for the suggestion on the mouthpiece, to be honest, I am fairly unaware of how each one differs based in terms of performance. (U shape vs. V shape, ect. Previously played a Bach 4G I believe in school). I do have a 6 1/2 bach, but not in euro shank unfortunately. Would it really contribute to that much of a step down just due to the mouthpiece?

    The valves were pretty bad initially, (fair amount of brown/green/yellow), after cleaning they do have some light scratches and pitting on them that was uncovered. Not sure on the compression/plating aspect, but they are pretty fast and responsive. Immediately after the cleaning, they were pretty gritty and slow, however after wiping off the oil they used and putting a few coats of blue juice, it cleared up pretty quickly.

    During the cleaning/repair, they did repair a few air leaks and allignments. (they basically did a light overhaul, as I accidently shifted the valve alignment/broke bracings trying to get a stuck 1st tuning slide out. It ended up pinching the 3rd valve so it wouldn't move freely and 2nd tuning valve.)

    Here are a few pics, let me know if you want a more close-up view of them.
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    Last edited by Tohsy; 10-12-2019 at 02:58 AM.

  7. Tohsy,
    Your mouthpiece pics match my observations on an old Buescher mouthpiece receiver.
    I agree with Snorlax that a Bach 6-1/2 AL is a better starting place for the horn.
    At one point I was sanding down a small to medium adapter to match the Buescher receiver.
    Unfortunately, I ruined the adapter before I got the fit correct for the Buescher.
    Next go I will find a skilled machinist to do the work.
    Meanwhile, I keep my eyes open for older mouthpieces.
    A small shank mouthpiece with a longer tapered section than is typical may match the Buescher receiver.
    Jim
    Jim Babbitt
    1960s 4 valve and 1971 3 valve Besson New Standards (Denis Wick 6BM) for regular playing
    1936 Conn 5 valve 30I Double Bell (Bach 6-1/2AL) General Purpose Back -Up
    1924 Buescher 5 valve (the Denis Wick is close) and 1940 Holton 5 valve (Bach 6-1/2AL) Double Bells for kicks.
    1860s OTS Saxhorn when history is required (the Denis Wick fits)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    783
    First, welcome back to playing!

    I might suggest that there are several issues here:
    1. A horn with pitch that may inherently be too low.
    2. A mouthpiece that is too big for the horn and for a re-developing embouchure.
    3. Valves that are quite worn and likely to be leaking air in the cylinder.
    4. A re-developing embouchure that is resorting to force and contortion to execute what the musical mind is hearing.

    I might recommend that you don't sink any more time or money into the Buescher except as a horn on which to play long tones get re-accustomed to blowing. Don't try to adjust the pitch; let it be as is and just blow so as to center the note, no matter where the pitch wants to be. Yes, it's cool to play into a 95-year-old instrument, but it has issues of pitch and is MUCH smaller than more modern instruments. IF you can find a suitable small mouthpiece, AND it solves most of the pitch issues, then I might use it for solos in a pop or jazz style, but it will not match well in a current wind ensemble, where the instruments, even the three-valve bell-front high school types, will be much larger in bore and sound.

    While I don't know how much you've put into it, I'd hate to see you spend more on it when you can get a Wessex or a Mack compensator for $1200 brand new. Unless you have an emotional attachment to the instrument, I would not make any more investment in it, as your musical return on that investment is not likely to be large. I don't want to be a pessimist here, but I firmly believe you'll get a lot more satisfaction, a lot QUICKER satisfaction--and fewer hassles--with a Wessex or a Mack.
    Last edited by Snorlax; 10-13-2019 at 03:26 PM.
    Yamaha 642-II Neo, Wedge 103A/Wick 4AL
    Yamaha 321, Yamaha 621 Baritone
    Conn 50H trombone
    Blue P-bone
    www.soundcloud.com/jweuph

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Snorlax View Post
    First, welcome back to playing!

    I might suggest that there are several issues here:
    1. A horn with pitch that may inherently be too low.
    2. A mouthpiece that is too big for the horn and for a re-developing embouchure.
    3. Valves that are quite worn and likely to be leaking air in the cylinder.
    4. A re-developing embouchure that is resorting to force and contortion to execute what the musical mind is hearing.

    I might recommend that you don't sink any more time or money into the Buescher except as a horn on which to play long tones get re-accustomed to blowing. Don't try to adjust the pitch; let it be as is and just blow so as to center the note, no matter where the pitch wants to be. Yes, it's cool to play into a 95-year-old instrument, but it has issues of pitch and is MUCH smaller than more modern instruments. IF you can find a suitable small mouthpiece, AND it solves most of the pitch issues, then I might use it for solos in a pop or jazz style, but it will not match well in a current wind ensemble, where the instruments, even the three-valve bell-front high school types, will be much larger in bore and sound.

    While I don't know how much you've put into it, I'd hate to see you spend more on it when you can get a Wessex or a Mack compensator for $1200 brand new. Unless you have an emotional attachment to the instrument, I would not make any more investment in it, as your musical return on that investment is not likely to be large. I don't want to be a pessimist here, but I firmly believe you'll get a lot more satisfaction, a lot QUICKER satisfaction--and fewer hassles--with a Wessex or a Mack.
    Sounds like I have a few more problems with it than originally thought, a perfect storm in a way. I think I will have to put aside working on this until I can find a mouthpiece that fits. (Didn't even consider shank length vs. diameter might be different)

    Thankfully I didn't spend too much on it overall, (still under $800, the repairs cost slightly more than what I paid for the horn), but I suppose that's the gamble you take when trying to be cheap with certain instruments and this one failed. It's a shame in a way since the body was so nice, most of the other horns in the $200-800 range were in much worse condition on ebay at the time. (Very large dents, missing valves, broken brackets, severe lacquer degradation, dents in the valve areas, ect)

    I went ahead and ordered a Wessex Dolce a few days ago and should have it be coming in this week. I'm looking forward to seeing and playing this horn after all the positive reviews and feedback on it and the company.

    Thanks again for all your help again with this, maybe someday I'll get that horn to sound decent, but for now it'll be a nice display piece until it's playable. Maybe with how it is (being so flat), I can make it into a tuned in the key of A instead of Bb by pulling some of the slides out. Wouldn't play it for ensembles of course, but could be a fun talking piece.
    Last edited by Tohsy; 10-13-2019 at 04:23 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Indianapolis area
    Posts
    783
    Tohsy,
    I think your decision to buy a Dolce will make you very happy!
    Please keep us posted as you progress.
    Jim
    Yamaha 642-II Neo, Wedge 103A/Wick 4AL
    Yamaha 321, Yamaha 621 Baritone
    Conn 50H trombone
    Blue P-bone
    www.soundcloud.com/jweuph

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