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Thread: Wessex Festivo vs. Dolce

  1. Wessex Festivo vs. Dolce


    first I'd like to say "thank you" for all the precious information here. I've read through a lot and it's really a treasure!
    Still there's something I'd like to ask.

    I'm about to buy a new, fully compensated euphonium - my first. After a lot of reading it seems that a Wessex is the way to go for my budget and wishes. Still I'm struggling a bit between the Dolce and the Festivo. Front or top action is not important, just sound and responsitivity, especially in the medium to lower register.

    intended use:
    - small brass band: 3-4 trumpets, 1 trombone playing baritone, 1 bass (me) sometimes doubling with 1 tuba - occasionally plus 1 trombone for bass, then I'm switching to doubling with the baritone
    - when performing we stand in a half circle, me at the right end: Dolce would point to the audience, Festivo away from the audience (sound usually reflected by apse or wall)
    - I'm looking for a good, round bass foundation if the tuba is not present, but also not too "thick" if the tuba is present (does the different bell size really matter that much?); so: maybe a more open, clearer sound
    - preferrably lacquered version over silver
    - I'm going to buy an extra mouthpiece anyway
    - my experience: amateur, about 20 years trumpet, last 8 years German Tenor Horn playing baritone/tenor now switching to bass mostly

    After reading a lot of internet resources (but not having heard both side by side) I'm tending towards the Festivo. Today... Yesterday it was Dolce...

    - do you think there's any difference for me with Festivo vs Dolce?
    - which one would be better suited?
    - any other helpful advice is very much appreciated.

    Thank you so very much in advance,
    greetings from Germany,
    Last edited by inge058; 11-07-2019 at 09:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Summerfield, Florida Sturgis, SD (previously)
    Hello Michael !!

    Welcome to the forum.

    I own a Wessex Dolce and a couple other high end euphoniums. I personally would choose the Dolce over the Festivo.

    1. $500 less
    2. Bell points traditional way (with a 3+1 horn) if you do any future playing in a section
    3. Bigger bell (I prefer this for the sound)
    4. I think you can play the valves faster with the 3+1 configuration - even though you could use your left hand (and finger) to man the 4th valve with the Festivo, I think it is less awkward with the 3+1 setup
    5. If you do decide to sell this in the future or trade up, I think the Dolce would be easier to move
    6. They both come in lacquer (and gold bells), I have lacquer - the lacquer on mine is not the greatest, but I suspect it got better in the years after I purchased mine (3-4 years ago)

    With all that said, I have also played the Festivo, and it is a nice horn. Don't think either would be a mistake for an inexpensive 4 valve compensating euphonium, but I would opt for the Dolce (even if both were the same price).
    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
    Kingdom of the Sun (KOS) Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)
    KOS Brass Quintet (Trombone, Euphonium)

  3. #3
    I played both a Dolce and Festivo side-by-side at the Wessex showroom. They are both good horns. To me the Festivo had a clearer, more focused sound (possibly due to the smaller bell size?). I also felt that the Festivo was more responsive, meaning it felt like transitions between notes on scales and interval exercises were a little more effortless and clean to me. It was a very fun horn to play and would be a great instrument. But I feel your pain, if I were to choose I think it would be hard to pick between the two, especially considering that the Dolce is a more "traditional" compensating euphonium design that is tried and tested and will match any euphonium section you sit in, etc...

  4. #4
    I too played both in Chicago and echo aroberts781 observations. I also felt like the intonation was slightly better on the Festivo, but YMMV. I will note that I “grew up” on a Conn Constellation so the Festivo valve configuration is more natural for me. In a section, I just sit on the end next to the tubas! However, John’s observations are spot on, and if valve configuration doesn’t matter to you, I would go Dolce. Best is if you’re reasonably near Chicago, go try them out.

  5. Thank you everyone for your time and your efforts! Your input was really helpful in getting my thoughts going.
    Especially the ideas about the traditional orientation of the bell and the use in Euphonium sections... led me to the conclusion that the Festivo is the right one
    - I'm playing alongside a tuba so the left side bell of the Festivo makes for a better optical impression and harmonious sound projection
    - If I ever were to change to another formation I will most likely be placed with German Tenorhorns (what I'm playing now), which also point to the left - we prefer them over Euphoniums for our style of music.

    Right now I have borrowed a mint Arnolds&Sons 1142 (3+1 non compensating, 300mm bell, 14,4mm bore) - I've never before heard of that brand and honestly it's quite obvious that it's a low budget instrument. I'm really looking forward to getting a Wessex soon!

    Still I have one more question: I have read that the Dolce comes in batches which often have improvements over previous versions. Is there any information if this is also true for the Festivo - in other words: any ideas if waiting for a new batch in December might be worth the wait?

  6. #6
    Knowing what we know of Wessex's focus on quality, I really can't imagine a Festivo ordered today would be any different, and certainly not inferior, to a Festivo ordered in a month.

    I think your choice is really interesting and fun, and I'm glad you have challenged my assumptions of a traditional 3+1 setup being the choice to "fit in" with any section! That may be true where I sit, but sounds like front-valve/left-facing bell may be ideal where you sit

  7. Thank you for reassuring me - you know what I have wanted to hear

    Tonight we will have a rehearsal with the AS euphonium and I'll see how well a traditional 3+1 setup will fit in (or rather not - neither the tuba nor me should move too much tonight). After that I'm going to order the Festivo and then the long journey to bankruptcy will begin (also known as: what's the best mouthpiece for me...)

    Thank you everyone again for helping!

  8. it's done - yesterday I received my Festivo!
    My little ones (1.5 and 4) were so keen on making the first puffs and they got nice Bs and Fs out of it, so family approval is granted! And it's a real joy to play with it myself, it just feels right for me.

    Still there's a bit of mixed feelings after playing it a bit

    - fast delivery
    - bag and mouthpiece leave a good impression, there's nothing to complain at all
    - at first it's a bit unusual to hold, but very soon it feels really natural and much more comfortable than the usual 3+1 setting; still I play it with 3+1 fingering and that's easy to do - great design! Even now I can say that I prefer front action over top action.
    - lovely sound! It's just a tad on the bright side, but very beautifully so. I had expected that (bell size!) and this will fit nicely into our band.
    - it responds well to different mouthpieces and shows their differences (SM4, 51D, Bach 6 1/2,...), this makes for nice options.
    - intonation was such a pleasant surprise! The rented Euphonium is all over the place, it was tough to play together with the others and not sound too much out of tune (I also checked the rented one with a chromatic tuner: oh my!) The Festivo feels like a whole other ballpark, it's not perfect, but more than good enough. I'm curious to test it with a tuner. But first impression is promising.
    - lower and middle register (both I will use quite often with this instrument) are quite easy to play and to slot, well done! Upper register is also fine.

    minor quirks:
    - strong smell of machinery oils
    - when I'm playing with the 3+1 finger setup it can happen that the palm of my left hand accidentally opens the main water key; furthermore I can empty this tubing only with the key, there's no slide (I prefer pulling a slide than having droplets on my instrument)
    - valve operation could be a mit more silent; but that's ok, some future tweaking might be possible
    - no bill/invoice (but I need that for tax declaration)
    - some polishing is not done so nicely and there's a little nick on one tubing; but given the price I can live with that
    - euphonium stand does not fit (website declares that it fits all euphoniums)

    - not as advertised in the pictures on the website, for example no thumb ring for the left hand - I would like to get what was shown
    - the valves are not airtight. I tried several testing methods (push the valve, pull out the slide and seal the opening with my thumb. If everything's normal I shouldn't be able to blow air from the mouthpiece through the instrument, but now I can...) It's not much, but in f or ff I am able to reach that amount of pressure and the air finds it's way around, which means I might not be playing that efficiently.

    The last point concerns me quite a bit. We have got nine brass instruments in the house from several manufactureres and every valve is tight - even on the rent Euphonium which costs about 1200€ less than the Festivo.
    Maybe a thicker oil is a way around, maybe with time by oxidation and lime deposit everything will become tighter (but as I keep them clean I rather suppose that they will become looser over time), but I suppose that the tolerances are just a bit too generous in my instruments.

    I really do like the Festivo, it's a great instrument, but still I wonder if the cons are something to worry about? Any ideas from more experienced euphonium players than me?
    Last edited by inge058; 11-23-2019 at 03:08 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Farmington Hills, MI
    Does the airtight issue with the valves affect how it plays? If not, is it really an issue?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2019
    Spartanburg, SC
    Bad timing. Wessex is having a Black Friday sale and the Festivo is going for $1,400.

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