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Thread: 4th Valve with Left Hand

  1. #1

    4th Valve with Left Hand

    In various discussions we have talked about whether it is more or less awkward to use the left hand for the 4th valve than to use the pinky of the right hand. That is a topic related to the very design of most professional 4-valve euphoniums. It also comes up with people playing 4-valves-in-line instruments like the Yamaha 321. On the latter, some people like to reach around with their left hand to operate the 4th valve.

    The little finger is weaker, of course, and is somewhat tied to the 3rd finger (ring finger). But beyond that, I and others have wondered if our preference is simply a matter of what we are used to. When I first switched from my high school King 4v to a Besson in college, it took a while to get used to working 4 with my left hand. But I obviously didn't have a choice on the standard Besson so I got used to it.

    I just ran across some interesting new evidence on Instagram. There was a video of Sergei Nakariav (my hero!) playing Rococo Variations on his 4v flugel. He was using his left hand for the 4th valve. Now keep in mind he was a young prodigy on piano until a back injury made it impractical to sit on the piano bench for hours at a time. One would think his little finger is much more facile and has more strength than any of ours, yet he did not use it for the 4th valve. Interesting, no?

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    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
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  2. #2
    Back in my college days, when a trumpet major, I owned a Bach 4 valve piccolo and a Getzen 4 valve Eterna flugelhorn. I too, used my left index for the 4th valve. Found it comfortable to use and technique was certainly enhanced as well. My instructor at the time, Natalo Paella found no reason not to.
    Shires Q-40

  3. #3
    Like we say here in the South, "Whatever cranks your tractor." I played on a 4-in-line Conn for decades, and since '12 I've been playing a 3+1 comp. I can go back and forth almost without thinking. Not that I do that much actual thinking anyway.
    David Bjornstad

    1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
    2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
    2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
    2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
    Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
    Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Varese,Italy
    Posts
    169
    My experience
    Until the mid-80s of the last century I played on a 3- cylinder bonbardino ( a real disgrace) owned by the band. After school and military obligations, with the money earned from my first job, I could to buy a proprietary instrument. At the time there was no internet and this forum, I didn't know anything about euphonium brands and so I relied, for my purchase, on the euphonium owned by the best player of the band, a Courtois 165, 4 uncompensated in line pistons. I played with this for 20 years and I had no particular difficulty in operating the 4th with the little finger ( I never thought I could do it with the left hand). When, in 2007, I bought the Besson Prestige, I had to activate the 4th with the index of the left hand. I took me a while to get used to ( the hardest thing was to find the synchronization between the right hand the left hand). Now I have no problems to play indifferently with both configurations.
    Last edited by franz; 11-17-2019 at 09:16 AM.
    Besson Prestige 2052,3D K&G mouthpiece;JP373 baritone,T4C K&G mouthpiece;Bach 42GO trombone,T4C K&G mouthpiece

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Tucson, where tacos are real.
    Posts
    19
    I realize this is non-doctrinaire, but I have a British(?)-style configuration with the 4th valve separate from the rest, and I play that valve with the little finger of my left hand. I just like gripping the horn a bit higher up. I was a 4 valve tubist for decades, and never considered the little finger as noticeably weaker than the rest.

  6. #6
    Pulling this up because I’m looking for suggestions regarding thoughts on the best of four in a row non-compensated horns.

    Back story- started playing in February of 2019 when arthritis in fingers forced me to give up bass clarinet and harp. Received excellent instruction from June 2019-February 2020. Began a month ago with same teacher.

    Purchased a used Wessex Festivo in September 2019. On a whim, acquired a fine uncompensated “vintage” horn in July 2020 and really took off with it. Presently working on Horowitz second movement. This is a horn I will never give up.

    My goal is to play very high level wind ensemble and brass ensemble repertoire. I’m not interested in solo work.

    I’d like to get ahold of a very good quality 4 valve uncompensated euphonium with the largest bore available, but I also want 4 in line valves, and my years playing bass clarinet did prepare me to use a power pinky.

    I know there are not many 4 in line uncompensated euphoniums available, so if anyone can suggest any it would be helpful. Price isn’t as much an issue to me as value to me with all of my playing idiosyncrasies. What’s out there?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,336
    Ann Reid wrote; “I’d like to get ahold of a very good quality 4 valve uncompensated euphonium with the largest bore available, but I also want 4 in line valves, and my years playing bass clarinet did prepare me to use a power pinky.

    I know there are not many 4 in line uncompensated euphoniums available, so if anyone can suggest any it would be helpful. Price isn’t as much an issue to me as value to me with all of my playing idiosyncrasies. What’s out there?“

    ————
    Not sure but I think the King 2280 has the largest bore for a 4-valve inline Euphonium. Main bore of .580 main circuit and .600 for 4th valve circuit. Also a large sized mpc receiver. The Yamaha 321 has a bore of .571 and .610 with a tenor size (small) mpc receiver.

    - - edit - -
    Correction: A Willson 2704 (4 valve in-line non-compensating) has a bore of .591 with the 4th valve further back to make for an easier reach. Don’t remember the bore of the 4th valve circuit.
    Last edited by RickF; 11-20-2020 at 10:06 PM.
    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
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    181
    I had to use a 4v in-line instrument for 2/3 weeks when my main euph was in for maintenance, and I HATED it. Mainly because I am used to holding my euph while sitting down instead of putting it on my lap because my torso is quite big, and I practice while standing. So I either had to use the 4th valve with my left hand, which caused really bad cramps in my left shoulder and wrist, or use it with my right little finger, which is too short to comfortably reach it, so I couldn't even press it down properly.

    All in all, it was impossible to play that thing and I was SO GLAD once I had my own euph back.
    Euphoniums
    Willson 2960TA Celebration
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 5AL
    1979 Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Globe Stamp)
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick SM4
    Baritone
    1975 Besson New Standard
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 6BS

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    Posts
    763
    3 & 1 euphs came about for a reason. Over a hundred years ago, even.

    Weak pinkys in most players, and your left hand was already there, holding the horn.

    DG
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original

  10. #10
    Having played guitar for years now, it really is "the weakest finger", and "the slowest finger". If you're doing trills, bends, etc on a guitar, it's the one finger you don't use. It just doesn't work as well.
    Sterling / Perantucci 1065HGS Euphonium, 1952 B&H Imperial Eb Tuba, Yamaha YBB-631S BBb Tuba, and a bunch of trombones.

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