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Thread: Euphonium Testing - Saturday 3rd October 2020

  1. Euphonium Testing - Saturday 3rd October 2020

    Hello everyone,

    On Saturday 3rd October 2020, I had the opportunity to test a range of Euphonium’s whilst helping a friend pick a brand new Euphonium. I wanted to share a few of my thoughts from this really superb day.

    The instruments that we tested were as follows.

    Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium with a Heavy Red Brass Bell.
    Yamaha Custom Euphonium.
    Yamaha Neo Euphonium.
    Geneva Cardinal Euphonium.
    Geneva GVL Euphonium.
    Silver Plated Besson Prestige 2052-2 Euphonium.
    Gold Lacquer Besson Prestige Euphonium.
    Besson Sovereign 976T Euphonium.

    Overall each instrument was really impressive and it really highlighted how lucky we are to have a range of really top quality instruments that are well made.

    The Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium is a solidly built instrument and a brand which I have played on for quite a few years. I was interested to see how this brand had developed in the five years since I had last played a Sterling Virtuoso Euphonium. The sound was as expected with a dark tonal colour to each note, the mechanics worked well however I found the position of the leadpipe to be quite different but this is down to personal preference.

    The Yamaha Neo Euphonium and Yamaha Custom Euphonium’s are really well built instruments that have a light sound and solid mechanics. I found when testing both instrument that I had a preference for The Yamaha Custom Euphonium over The Yamaha Neo Euphonium but both instruments are very well built and you would be troubled to find any faults with them.

    The Geneva GVL Euphonium and Geneva Cardinal Euphonium are instruments that I have wanted to test for quite a long time due to the current popularity of these instruments within the brass band world. I found that both instruments were quite different with The Geneva GVL Euphonium having a darker sound than The Geneva Cardinal Euphonium. The aesthetic look was quite pleasing and both instruments were free blowing with the sound being a touch brighter than I expected.

    The Besson range of Euphonium’s are instruments which I always find to be consistent. I absolutely love The Gold Lacquer Besson Prestige Euphonium which has such a vibrant sound and is such a free blowing instrument with the changes that have been made to the leadpipe. Again the Silver Plated Besson Prestige Euphonium is a joy to play with the sound slightly different to that of The Gold Lacquer Besson Prestige Euphonium. The final instrument of course is The Besson Sovereign 967T which has such a lively and responsive sound, the only thing I dislike about this instrument is the positioning of the leadpipe which is just down to personal preference.

    After four hours of testing my friend settled on a Gold Lacquer Besson Prestige Euphonium which we both felt overall made the best sound of all the instruments we had tested that day. It consistently came top in all blind tests that we conducted that day and was the solid choice for my friend.

    I hope this short thread has been of use and I look forward to hearing about all of your recent testing experiences.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

  2. #2
    I see you just got a silver/gold Prestige 2052. What are your observations in comparing that to the gold-lacquer model? And/or, what characteristic(s) swayed your personal decision?
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  3. Hello Dave,

    I really hope that you are well. My new Besson Prestige 2052-2 Euphonium is pretty much the same as the new Gold Lacquer Besson Prestige the only real change is that my new Euphonium is silver plated. I absolutely love the resonant sound of my new Besson Prestige 2052-2 Euphonium. I think both models are quite similar in their sounds with the Gold Lacquer Besson Prestige having a slightly warmer sound than that of my Silver Plated Besson Prestige 2052-2 Euphonium. It was a really hard decision to make but I have always preferred silver plated instruments and I was also very lucky that I was able to make a few requests to Besson which made my decision easier in the end.

    I shall have to update you in a few weeks to let you know how everything is going with my new Euphonium.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

  4. Note that Micah's new Prestige has the new leadpipe without the center brace that is on Steven Meads gold lacquer horn. So in this case, the differences between this new 2020 silver Prestige and my older early production 2007 silver Prestige are:

    1. Modified wrap on the 3rd valve slide to make grip smaller and horn easier to hold.
    2. New leadpipe that removes the center brace connecting leadpipe and bell.
    3. Any other improvements in quality and minor tweaks to improve QC and some specific issues with dread high B (for example)
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  5. Hello Douglas,

    I was wondering if you knew of the other improvements which had been made to the Besson range of Euphonium's over the past number of years? I would love to hear more.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

  6. Changes to Sovereign

    Sovereign 967's

    1. 1st version - Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign "Round Stamp" - 12" bell, heavier brass, large shank receiver, leadpipe soldered to bell, metal "tacquet" valve guides, molded nylon (poly) valve stops, removable 1st valve compensating slide, serial number on near side of bell.
    2. 2nd version - Besson label - soldered leadpipe, modern plastic valve guides, felt stops, removable 1st valve compensating slide.
    3. 3rd version - Besson label - floating leadpipe, modern plastic valve guides, felt stops, removable 1st valve compensating slide, serial number under label.
    4. 4th version - German built - Metric valves/caps/buttons not interchangeable with earlier English built, floating leadpipe, lighter brass than 3rd version. non-removable 1st valve compensating slide, serial number on receiver.
    5. 5th version - German built - adds trigger, otherwise same as 4th version.

    I am completely unclear which version (2 or 3) was the "GS" and what that implied, but I suspect it was the 3rd.

    Another feature of the 1990+ horns was that Edgware road mfg. quit machining the valve cylinders 100% of the way through so that pistons would bind of you tried to push them completely through the cylinder. In or around the same time, the factory changed suppliers of the sheet brass that had been used for "umpty-ump" years, resulting in a less robust sound/strength horn. I do not know if this affected the "weight". Both of these measures were cost cutting that began in the so-called "lottery era". I learned both of these from Paul R.

    Since many of the parts in the Prestige are built using the same materials and tooling as the Sovereign, some of these changes affect both.

    This is all to the best of recollection based on conversations and reading from a number of sources.
    Last edited by daruby; 10-07-2020 at 11:19 PM.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  7. #7
    Boosey & Hawkes also changed metal supplier in 1984 when the Sovereign brand moved from B&H to Besson. To all intents and purposes the Bessons that immediately followed the Globe sovereigns are identical in ergonomics and a more reliable choice when buying second hand. They also don’t suffer from the nostalgia tax that round stamps now have (having said that I wouldn’t change).

    The 967 GS refers to the model launched in 1993, featuring the very best in tin foil and snake oil marketing speak. The ones I have played have been deplorably bad. Cases were better; it was nice to have a shorter third tuning slide with a water key, choice of buttons, and valve dampers, but at what cost? I reckon the Prestige came along to repair the damage to the reputation the GS had done.

    A good UK Prestige is still a good banjo, but nowhere near as well engineered as the new version.

  8. #8
    FWIW, I tried an early GS that Steven Mead played at the Army Band conference in 1993, I believe it was. It was a bit more responsive than the Sovereign I had played until 1990. But one thing was disconcerting. They had not improved the 6th partial intonation, but the pitch was pretty inflexible. I tried to lip it down, and it was very hard to move pitch. It only went a little flatter before the tone started to break. On a later model I tested at some other event I didn't notice that stubbornness so much.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  9. Hello everyone,

    This is really interesting to hear. Thank you so much for this update Doug!

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

  10. I hope we can disagree amicably here, since I know my opinion will differ from Magikarp's on a couple of points. I play a 1997 Sovereign 968, with the floating leadpipe and stainless valves. It is a beautifully assembled instrument; the slides are all perfectly aligned and the valves are quick and quiet. I have viewed a fair portion of the inside and the soldering I can see is very clean.

    When I was playing it with a Giddings Kadja the sixth partial was high but manageable without alternate fingerings. Since switching to the Parker LaDuke it's, at most, 5 cents high, but only when I'm not paying attention. I love the sound and response of it. I will admit that I am mostly a concert band player and like a bit more focus to my sound than some other players.

    I know that there are inconsistencies in the later UK made Bessons. If you want to take the time to look you can find a good one, though. If mine is made of tin foil it still sounds good and doesn't dent without being given a good reason. Perhaps the snake oil is why the valves are so smooth and fast.

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