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Thread: Improvement Tips on Tone Quality

  1. Improvement Tips on Tone Quality

    Hello, Iím new here so apologies if Iím not doing something correctly. I have hit a wall where Iím not sure how to improve my tone on euphonium without experimenting for countless days (which is good but can end up at dead ends). Is there maybe some not so obvious tips that can help me improve my tone quality on euphonium that I can work on slowly to help? Thanks.

  2. #2
    Welcome to the forum!

    We have plenty of users here who have very diverse experiences, and we can probably generate some advice. HOWEVER, can you give us some more info?

    What level of player are you (grade level? or whatever might give us a clue)?

    What instrument are you using?

    What mouthpiece are you using?

    Do you have 2 or 3 players in mind (who we might know of) whose tone you like?
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. I am a sophomore in high school, I make region consistently (but not quite area), I am using a Yahama YEP642 Neo, a Schilke 51D mouthpiece, I like David Werden, David Childs, and Demondrae Thurman a lot. Iím looking for a mellow sound with some darkness to it.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by What’s A Euphonium View Post
    I am a sophomore in high school, I make region consistently (but not quite area), I am using a Yahama YEP642 Neo, a Schilke 51D mouthpiece, I like David Werden, David Childs, and Demondrae Thurman a lot. I’m looking for a mellow sound with some darkness to it.

    OK, that helps. Disclaimer: this is just general commentary based on what we know; without hearing you in person and working with you a bit, it's hard to be spot-on accurate.


    Tone is a combination of equipment, your own chops, oral cavity to some extent, and your use of air. Your mental concept helps to shape all those factors to go where you want to go.


    Your horn/mouthpiece combo is good, but the mouthpiece is a different sound concept than the 3 players you mention. We all use more "open" mouthpieces, which in my case is a classic Denis Wick 4AL. That helps the "bigness" of the sound. The 51D is a more contained concept.


    Chops: you need very good muscle and very good flexibility. You should absolutely work on your low range, if you don't already. With work you should be able to play chromatically down to pedal Bb (bass clef, open), and then down from there to a low B-natural (which I call a pedal B). You want to try to get a good open tone in that range, which is a challenge, but it helps build tissue density, which can help your tone. (This same work can also help your high range if you work correctly - see my video on building high range).


    Air: you want to work on using "warm air" so you move a wide column of without too much narrow-width intensity. Here is an exercise you might find useful. Pick a pretty solo, from a band piece or solo/piano - doesn't matter. Play it with a really pretty tone color and a gentle volume. The progressively and gradually increase the volume a half a dynamic at a time, but try to keep it sounding pretty. After all, a pretty solo in band pieces is sometimes badly overwritten in the rest of the band so that the piano dynamic is simply not going to get to the audience. In cases like that, I have had to play to a mf or even f dynamic level, but I tried to keep the sound as piano-like as possible. That requires using the warm air.

    Advanced exercise: as above, but with something that is louder to start. I like the opening of Barat's Introduction and Dance. I play it at a forte, but trying for a big sound - not edgy. Then I keep going louder to find out how loud I can get without letting it be edgy.

    Others will jump in with tips, I'm sure, but this is for starters.
    Last edited by davewerden; 12-15-2019 at 07:49 PM.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  5. Thanks so much! Yeah, I was planning on going mouthpiece shopping over the holiday break with some of my friends because Iíve been told by people (like my lessons teacher and one of my other friends that made TMEA All-State last year) that it might be a good idea to get another mouthpiece. Iíll definitely try out the Denis Wick 4AL. Also, Iíve always tried to use warm air but havenít really dedicated myself to constantly using it, I just tried the exercise you told me and I can tell the difference already (I tried it on Fantasia by Gordon Jacob since thatís the solo Iím playing this year). Thank you so much, I canít wait to see some more results in the future.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Central North Carolina
    Posts
    2,039
    I suspect that the most common inhibitor of poor tone among beginning to moderatly advanced students (and likely beyond that) is not playing with an "oral cavity" (as Dave mentions) that is open enough. It's almost always the cause in my case when I notice poor tone starting to creep in. If you don't play with an open enough oral cavity and palate/throat region, your tone will lose resonance, get thin or stuffy, not have a clear "center", and will sound kind of "pinched" and sort of wander around in pitch.

    This may sound like an "obvious tip", but it's so prevalent that it's always worth considering. It's often accompanied by a pinched or otherwise malformed embouchure, and often caused by trying to "force" a particular pitch or dynamic.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  7. #7
    I think you have to do the kinds of things Dave and Gary recommend, no matter what horn & mouthpiece combo you play. I like long tones played with my eyes closed to focus on the sound; one can start by playing as if there's a hot potato in your mouth, which helps to open things up.

    The Neo is a Yamaha designed by a British brass band player. I think it is helped by a more open mouthpiece to sound its best. I use an Alliance E2, a mp pretty close to an SM3U and I'm getting a great sound out of my Neo. So if you wanted to spend on a mouthpiece I might recommend trying an SM5, 5AL or SM5U--any one of the Denis Wicks should match up better than a 51D.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    7
    I have a Neo and I use both a 51D and an SM3U (that I bought from JTJ off this forum several years ago) with good results. The SM3U certainly delivers a more open and powerful sound to my ears but it's not going to magically fix your tone. Long tones are your friend.

    BTW I love my Neo. I had a regular 642 before and the Neo sounds sweeter to my ears. A little more resistance than the 642 so the low range is more work for me but the upper register seems to slot a lot easier.

    Arul

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by cbz View Post
    I have a Neo and I use both a 51D and an SM3U (that I bought from JTJ off this forum several years ago) with good results. The SM3U certainly delivers a more open and powerful sound to my ears but it's not going to magically fix your tone. Long tones are your friend.

    BTW I love my Neo. I had a regular 642 before and the Neo sounds sweeter to my ears. A little more resistance than the 642 so the low range is more work for me but the upper register seems to slot a lot easier.

    Arul
    I agree totally about the sound improvement with the Neo over the previous 642. It does push back a little but once it's resonating I always am struck by the coherence and smoothness of the sound across all registers.

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