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Thread: Besson Prestige (Gold Lacquer) review/experience

  1. #1

    Besson Prestige (Gold Lacquer) review/experience

    I'm going to preface this by saying this:

    Those of you that know me know that I like to try every horn I can get my hands on, sometimes to the point of futility.

    That said, I sold some other music and audio gear, and ordered one of the new gold lacquered prestige horns from Thomann in Germany, after finding through the Besson distributor that there were none available in the states. The part number is 2052-8G-0.

    Hilariously, the horn left Germany on Thursday and was delivered today, meaning a package from Germany gets here (Chicago area) faster than a package from California.

    I expected to feel about this horn the same way I've felt about every other Prestige I've played, both English and German origin. That is, all the examples I've personally played have had great valves, but the response has left something to be desired. In particular, the "high" concert B natural is a real bear, and the response in the neighborhood of that note can be squirrely. Thus, I half expected to play the horn for a while, say "yep, I've tried it", and send it back to Thomann.

    It's a little more complicated than expected.

    First, a few general comments about the horn:

    The serial number seems to place it as the 700th overall horn made at Besson in 2020. I have to assume that means it's from late in the year, although I have no idea how many horns they make in a year. In any case, I've never seen a serial number with so many zeroes in it!

    The horn came in the Besson case pictured below, along with what appear to be lighter valve caps as "extras", and a bunch of felts and valve silencers. The horn was in a tarnish resistant bag when I opened the plastic. (I'm not sure why they'd do this, as it seems superfluous with a Lacquer horn... maybe to maintain parity with the accessories on the silver prestige?)

    The horn also came with:
    An alliance Prestige E2 in silver.
    A Silver "grime gutter" (this seems very lazy, since it would be the only thing on the horn that's silver)
    An attachable lyre holder
    a hex tool presumably for the trigger attachment points
    A polishing cloth
    A MTS guard that's similar to the ones Adams now uses
    Some alliance valve oil



    The first thing I did was pull the valves to clean the valves and casings and re-oil before playing. The valves appear clean. Interestingly, the horn came with mead springs installed stock. I'm not sure whether they're the "light" springs or the regular ones. Does anyone know?

    There are some marks on the first valve and inside the first valve casing that look almost like it was scraped by something in a lathe or something similar. They're not deep, so I'm not sure whether to be concerned about it. I had a similar thing on a miraphone I had a number of years ago; Miraphone ultimately found that they had a tool that was broken and it was creating that problem. (they replaced the valve that was affected)

    I pulled the first valve compensating loop and the alignment was good out of the box. I also checked the 4th valve by looking up through where the main tuning slide enters the horn. It also looks good. This is an improvement over a lot of other horns I've played that had TERRIBLE alignment out of the box, as though the maker just said "ok, we made the horn, throw some felts on there and call it good".

    The overall response seems to be better than the other prestige horns I've played, which I was pleasantly surprised about.

    The overall resonance also seems to be a little more vibrant than other Prestige examples I've played. It doesn't seem quite as resonant as the Sovereign 967 I've got, but I think that makes sense, as that horn is lighter in terms of metal than the prestige. (Although the sovereign DOES have a trigger on it, so that shouldn't be a contributor).

    I played through my daily routine so I could get used to the way the horn responds, and afterward played a few of my "normal" excerpts that I'm very familiar with.

    Cosma Concerto Mvt 2 - I used this one to check intonation against a piano accompaniment track I created, and it plays through the very low register and the upper register of the horn. Response was very good, and intonation was good, although it's still sharp in all the places one might expect a besson to be sharp. Easily managed with the trigger.

    Excerpts from Sparke's Harmony Music (in particular, the euphonium solo in the first chunk), to check the high register resopnse. Usually, the high concert D is a real bear, but using the 2nd valve, it came right out. In fact, it was clearer than on any of the other horns I've played recently. So much so that I stopped and said "well S***..." out loud. I didn't expect that.

    Chunks of Pantomime, since it's familiar, and I like to use the B arpeggio to check the upper B natural. It wasn't perfect, but still responded significantly better than I expected, and certainly better than any other example of a prestige I've ever played.

    I played through some stuff that I'm currently learning, and enjoyed it.

    All of the above said, I'm wondering if I just happened upon a well built example of a horn, or if they actually updated the design enough to "fix" the issues I've felt on every other example of a prestige I've ever played. I'm pleasantly surprised by the horn overall, and to say I'm surprised would be an understatement. Go figure.

    Anyway, just thought I'd offer my experience for anyone that's curious.

    Photos below of the case and stuff that came inside, and of the horn.

    Horn in the case:
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    "Case Candy"
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    Clean Valve:
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    Valve with odd Marks:
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    Valve casing with odd internal marks:
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    Stuff that came with the horn:
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    Extra Valve Caps:
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    Last edited by miketeachesclass; 04-13-2021 at 08:59 PM.
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

  2. #2
    Nice review, Mike. So, the 64 thousand dollar question, "You keeping it?"
    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. #3
    Iím going to log some more hours before making that call, lest the honeymoon effect be a problem. Although, Iíve gotten pretty good at quickly sussing out when a horn isnít working for me.

    Itís all varying degrees of ďgoodĒ when you get right down to it. Most ďproĒ horns on the market are perfectly playable. Itís really a Goldilocks type situation!

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post
    Nice review, Mike. So, the 64 thousand dollar question, "You keeping it?"
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

  4. Hello Mike,

    It was really interesting to read your comments about the new Gold Lacquered Besson Prestge 2052-2 Euphonium. I hope we will get to see you testing this horn in the coming days.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

  5. #5
    I once heard what I would call an "urban legend" indicating that european dealers got the cream of the crop of Bessons, and USA dealers got the rest.

    Does anyone know whether there is or was any truth to that?
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    San Diego, California
    Posts
    401
    "There are some marks on the first valve and inside the first valve casing that look almost like it was scraped by something in a lathe or something similar. They're not deep, so I'm not sure whether to be concerned about it. I had a similar thing on a miraphone I had a number of years ago; Miraphone ultimately found that they had a tool that was broken and it was creating that problem. (they replaced the valve that was affected)"

    Hey Mike, you mentioned an issue with your valves on a Miraphone. Which Model are you referring to and when did you purchase it? I'm asking because I've had issues with my Miraphone 5050 Ambassador, purchased in 2011.

    Thanks,
    Dan
    Miraphone 5050 Ambassador
    Mp: Wick SM4 Ultra X
    The San Diego Concert Band
    Big Brass Quartet- tuba ensemble (EETT)

  7. #7
    Dan,

    It was an m5050 from 2016. It was clearly a manufacturing problem on the 4th valve, and they replaced it.

    Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by tonewheeler View Post
    "There are some marks on the first valve and inside the first valve casing that look almost like it was scraped by something in a lathe or something similar. They're not deep, so I'm not sure whether to be concerned about it. I had a similar thing on a miraphone I had a number of years ago; Miraphone ultimately found that they had a tool that was broken and it was creating that problem. (they replaced the valve that was affected)"

    Hey Mike, you mentioned an issue with your valves on a Miraphone. Which Model are you referring to and when did you purchase it? I'm asking because I've had issues with my Miraphone 5050 Ambassador, purchased in 2011.

    Thanks,
    Dan
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by miketeachesclass View Post
    I once heard what I would call an "urban legend" indicating that european dealers got the cream of the crop of Bessons, and USA dealers got the rest.

    Does anyone know whether there is or was any truth to that?
    I personally believe that to be true and came to that conclusion while I was a Besson artist. It's not a dark plot or anything, but is a matter of circumstance.

    When I have been near a shoe outlet like Famous Footwear or DSW, I liked to go in and look at the clearance rack. I have gotten a couple of great bargains there in my (somewhat unusual) size 13. Now and then I found a good shoe that no other bigfoot people bought. However, most times what I see there are oddball shoes that are there for a reason - people chose other, better shoes when shopping.

    In Britain the players generally knew when a new "batch" came off the line for their instrument (cornet, euph, etc.). Besson didn't send out a notice as far as I know, but word of mouth did the trick. So if you lived in the geographically small country that is packed with brass bands, and if you were thinking about getting a horn, wouldn't you want to go to the factory and pick from a large batch? The logical result: by the time they got around to shipping to the USA, the horns may have been somewhat picked over.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

  9. #9
    That's really nice that they are sending extra dampers and felts with the instrument now. I love the way Besson instruments play but I sold mine and moved on to something else because I had to wait 3 years to get a replacement set of these. I had $17,000 worth of instruments sitting in the closet unplayable because they couldn't get it together to sell me a set of $1 parts. I really hope they've figured that out by now.
    --
    Barry

  10. #10
    This makes a lot of sense to me. I didnít mean to imply anything sinister.

    Certainly, this horn, having been shipped to me from Germany, is the finest example of a prestige Iíve played to date. Whether thatís a product of circumstance or of the small changes/updates they have made to the instrument, who knows.

    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    I personally believe that to be true and came to that conclusion while I was a Besson artist. It's not a dark plot or anything, but is a matter of circumstance.

    When I have been near a shoe outlet like Famous Footwear or DSW, I liked to go in and look at the clearance rack. I have gotten a couple of great bargains there in my (somewhat unusual) size 13. Now and then I found a good shoe that no other bigfoot people bought. However, most times what I see there are oddball shoes that are there for a reason - people chose other, better shoes when shopping.

    In Britain the players generally knew when a new "batch" came off the line for their instrument (cornet, euph, etc.). Besson didn't send out a notice as far as I know, but word of mouth did the trick. So if you lived in the geographically small country that is packed with brass bands, and if you were thinking about getting a horn, wouldn't you want to go to the factory and pick from a large batch? The logical result: by the time they got around to shipping to the USA, the horns may have been somewhat picked over.
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

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