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Thread: Creating the perfect euphonium

  1. #1

    Creating the perfect euphonium

    If it was possible to amalgamate the various parts of euphoniums you have owned in order to create the best of them all, what would it consist of? Having owned numerous euphoniums, largely different versions of the same idea - Boosey / Besson Sovereign - my own personal choices would be primarily things I've encountered in those ownerships. I have played at length other brands, not limited to Yamaha and Sterling.

    I have customised my Globe Sovereign with Besson New Standard caps and buttons because I prefer the look and feel, but what other changes might you make?

    My creation would look something like this.

    Besson Prestige valves - unsurpassed in my experience.
    Boosey Globe Sovereign bell and bottom bow. The metal for the B&H Sovereigns is of much better quality than the models that followed. / Adams Sterling silver bell - not having played one I don't know if this would be the right material at all, but the synopsis of the character of the sound seems that it might suit me.
    Boosey "Lyndon Baglin" Globe Sovereign false piece - much closer to valves than conventional wisdom suggests and completed different to any other euphonium I've played.
    Besson Prestige third valve slide assembly - I like the way it is curved towards the main branch, enabling more comfortable grip.
    Yamaha Custom 1st valve slide - no water key.
    Boosey / Besson 3rd valve slide - full length legs rather than the short ones. I've found top Ab speaks better with these slides.
    Boosey Globe Sovereign "S" leadpipe - the angle is more conducive to comfort when playing sat down.
    Besson New Standard valve caps and buttons - love the look and they seem to focus the sound a bit but that is wishful thinking more likely than not.

    If a trigger was mandatory, the Adams system seems to be the most intelligently designed.

    Mead springs, because for all my cynicism about such snake oil, they have make a marked difference to my battered old Sovereign.

    It would make an interesting project, and I'd be fascinated to hear anyone else's thoughts.
    1983 Boosey & Hawkes Globe Sovereign
    Randelfalk R3

  2. #2
    I saw you post this exact same thread on Facebook a while back.
    I am not really into assembling all sorts of parts from very distinctly different instruments to create my own imaginary "perfect" euphonium. I'd rather look to my own instrument, think about why I chose it to be mine in the first place, sum up the good stuff and list up things that I wish to be improved for the future versions. I am in fact planning to do this in the near future, inspired by the recent discussions on this forum.

    Now to comment on your creation:
    -Besson Prestige valves: I think you meant to say "German" Besson Prestige valves. There is quite a lot of difference between English made Prestiges and German made ones. Also keep in mind that Besson uses identical valvesets on their professional grade instruments, those are the Sovereign and the Prestige series.
    -Boosey Globe Sovereign bell and bottom bow: "The metal for the B&H Sovereigns is of much better quality than the models that followed" Well sorry to interrupt your Besson-bashing, but the change of metal over the years has mainly to do with the hydroforming process in the manufacturing of brass instruments. I recently listened to an episode of the "Best Brass Instruments Makers Podcast" (great recommendation by the way) where Mike Johnson, a brass instrument maker from the Manchester area was interviewed. According to what was said there, the Boosey & Hawkes company has been making brass instruments using hydroforming since the 1950s for economical reasons if I recall correctly. Hydroforming has a better chance of succes when the metal used is softer, so that is why the metal has been going softer and softer over the years. But still, a modern Besson is very well made, structurally sound and has no distinct negative sound. Sure, it is different from older examples, but not worse in my opinion. I wouldn't call this bad-quality metal when comparing to an older B&H. It is certainly easier to dent it or deform it, but that also comes with the benefit that it is easier to undent, repair and manipulate.
    -Boosey "Lyndon Baglin" Globe Sovereign false piece: This is very subjective and dependent on your style of playing. I play with the tips of fingers on the valve buttons, but many other players play with flat fingers. That alone can make a very big difference on how far your hand should be from the valves to be able to play comfortably.
    -Besson Prestige third valve slide assembly: I completely agree.
    -Boosey / Besson 3rd valve slide: Interesting observation, I never specifically tested this myself but it could make sense.
    -Yamaha Custom 1st valve slide - no water key: Again a personal preference, I like to be able to dump water as quickly as possible, preferably with a water key.
    -Boosey Globe Sovereign "S" leadpipe: Leadpipes and their angles are also a very subjective thing. I like the leadpipe to curve around the bell a little more so I can hold it closer to my body and play more comfortably.
    -Besson New Standard valve caps and buttons: Someone should reproduce these in all different thread sizes. I personally do not specifically care for the cosmetic look of my personal instrument that much, but I've heard a lot of people yearn for these so there is certainly a business opportunity for someone who can reproduce these. I think the Wessex reproduction the British F-tuba uses this style of valve caps.
    -Trigger: Sigh... This is an entirely different topic of discussion on itself and one that I do not wish to start a war over right now. I'll cover my opinion about them in my own instrument "review".
    -Mead springs: Can agree, they make a difference IF you own a B&H or Besson euphonium. Put them in a valveset that is not close to a Besson one and they will have varying degree of succes. In my experience they were way to stiff in instruments that use Bauerfeind valves like Adams, Willson and some Sterling euphoniums. Yamaha valves are even shorter and therefore even stiffer.
    Last edited by Vito; 07-07-2021 at 07:49 AM.
    2019 Besson Sovereign 967T silverplated - Denis Wick SM4U

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Vito View Post
    I saw you post this exact same thread on Facebook a while back.
    I am not really into assembling all sorts of parts from very distinctly different instruments to create my own imaginary "perfect" euphonium. I'd rather look to my own instrument, think about why I chose it to be mine in the first place, sum up the good stuff and list up things that I wish to be improved for the future versions. I am in fact planning to do this in the near future, inspired by the recent discussions on this forum.

    Now to comment on your creation:
    -Besson Prestige valves: I think you meant to say "German" Besson Prestige valves. There is quite a lot of difference between English made Prestiges and German made ones. Also keep in mind that Besson uses identical valvesets on their professional grade instruments, those are the Sovereign and the Prestige series. **Correct, I did mean the German instruments, although the valves on the UK ones weren't at all bad, although I concede there were lots of people who had problems with their valves**
    -Boosey Globe Sovereign bell and bottom bow: "The metal for the B&H Sovereigns is of much better quality than the models that followed" Well sorry to interrupt your Besson-bashing, but the change of metal over the years has mainly to do with the hydroforming process in the manufacturing of brass instruments. I recently listened to an episode of the "Best Brass Instruments Makers Podcast" (great recommendation by the way) where Mike Johnson, a brass instrument maker from the Manchester area was interviewed. According to what was said there, the Boosey & Hawkes company has been making brass instruments using hydroforming since the 1950s for economical reasons if I recall correctly. Hydroforming has a better chance of succes when the metal used is softer, so that is why the metal has been going softer and softer over the years. But still, a modern Besson is very well made, structurally sound and has no distinct negative sound. Sure, it is different from older examples, but not worse in my opinion. I wouldn't call this bad-quality metal when comparing to an older B&H. It is certainly easier to dent it or deform it, but that also comes with the benefit that it is easier to undent, repair and manipulate. **The heavier the instrument the better the sound, in my opinion. Certainly I feel more in control of the timbre of a Boosey than I do a modern Besson**
    -Boosey "Lyndon Baglin" Globe Sovereign false piece: This is very subjective and dependent on your style of playing. I play with the tips of fingers on the valve buttons, but many other players play with flat fingers. That alone can make a very big difference on how far your hand should be from the valves to be able to play comfortably. **I am certain this particular instrument is unique - I've not seen it on any other round stamp, and I've played quite a few. It may be as it was the first one (prototypes aside) it was set up specifically for him**
    -Besson Prestige third valve slide assembly: I completely agree.
    -Boosey / Besson 3rd valve slide: Interesting observation, I never specifically tested this myself but it could make sense.
    -Yamaha Custom 1st valve slide - no water key: Again a personal preference, I like to be able to dump water as quickly as possible, preferably with a water key. **I always empty my slide by removal rather than water key so it wouldn't be an issue for me**
    -Boosey Globe Sovereign "S" leadpipe: Leadpipes and their angles are also a very subjective thing. I like the leadpipe to curve around the bell a little more so I can hold it closer to my body and play more comfortably. **I prefer the opposite and over the years some of the lead pipes have gone a little too far round the bell for my preference**
    -Besson New Standard valve caps and buttons: Someone should reproduce these in all different thread sizes. I personally do not specifically care for the cosmetic look of my personal instrument that much, but I've heard a lot of people yearn for these so there is certainly a business opportunity for someone who can reproduce these. I think the Wessex reproduction the British F-tuba uses this style of valve caps. **Probably a good idea but I'm not sure there'd be that much call for them, although a brand new set would be quite desirable for me**
    -Trigger: Sigh... This is an entirely different topic of discussion on itself and one that I do not wish to start a war over right now. I'll cover my opinion about them in my own instrument "review". **It's fascinating that the trigger issues causes such heat. I've had several be-triggered instruments, and several without, and prefer them without, but my observation of the Adams' system leaves me impressed. It looks substantial**
    -Mead springs: Can agree, they make a difference IF you own a B&H or Besson euphonium. Put them in a valveset that is not close to a Besson one and they will have varying degree of succes. In my experience they were way to stiff in instruments that use Bauerfeind valves like Adams, Willson and some Sterling euphoniums. Yamaha valves are even shorter and therefore even stiffer.

    Thanks for your reply. Interesting stuff. I don't how or why you think this is a Besson bashing exercise. It might help if I explain that I have owned, in order Boosey Solbron, Besson New Standard, Besson 967, Besson 966, Besson Prestige (German and UK models) Boosey Sovereign. This is not the complete list of examples, just the types. I have no issue with Besson otherwise I wouldn't have spent such a calamitous amount of money on them. It is my contention they are not as good as they used to be, and I'd also state, in my considered opinion, the sweet spot was the middle 1980s just after the round stamp and before the Kit Kat wrapper 967GS.

    I can find something about all of them that was good, and in some cases exceptional, and thought it would be amusing to try and assess what I preferred from them. The only one I took nothing from is the aforementioned 967GS which was dreadful in all regards, it is possible it was just a duff one.
    1983 Boosey & Hawkes Globe Sovereign
    Randelfalk R3

  4. I wonder with it being pretty much all Besson if you could Frankenstein one together?

    From every discussion I read about instrument design and development, there are always a series of compromises as one change has another affect further down the line.

    Adams seem to be the most customisable brand at the moment, and I bet with the level of detail you have given, that they could create something very close to your spec…

    What are the differences in the valves? I have never had an issue with sluggish valves that a new set of springs didn’t fix, do they move faster/smoother? Or is it a longevity issue?

  5. #5
    My apologies if my comment came off as unkind, but I can't but notice that you have a very outspoken opinion about this particular brand for a while now, across this forum and in a couple of Facebook groups. Now to be clear, I do respect opinions and outspoken opinions even more, but they have to be informed. Thank you for adding your comment about your history with these instruments as they clearly show that you have a lot of experience with them, and therefore showing that your opinion is indeed well informed. I'll take my words back.
    Believe it or not, I am absolutely not a Besson-fanboy and I also have my own opinions about Besson instruments. As aforementioned, I will do a very long-term review about my personal instrument, a Besson BE967T-2 from 2019. I'll also compare it to it's British-made predecessors and it's place on the market today.
    As I have read your comments in the thread "What's the point of instrument reviews?", I would still like to invite you to read it. I think that we are all on this forum because we are passionate about euphoniums and like to read stuff about it, discuss topics and opinions. Content like instrument reviews can just be a great read, and you have all the right to be skeptical about them, but it is also that sort of content that keeps this euphonium-specific forum alive and very active to this day.
    Kind regards
    2019 Besson Sovereign 967T silverplated - Denis Wick SM4U

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Vito View Post
    ...I also have my own opinions about Besson instruments. As aforementioned, I will do a very long-term review about my personal instrument, a Besson BE967T-2 from 2019. I'll also compare it to it's British-made predecessors and it's place on the market today.
    I'll be interested to see that!
    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

  7. Maybe some of you will call me haretic, but I would like to have an euphonium with the 4th valve layout of the 1980s Courtois 167. The 4th valve was located between 3rd valve slide and main bow, just like on the top-action Eb tubas (and most non-compensators). With that design you can hold the horn without bending the wrist. At some point in the 80/90s Courtois changend the layout to the standard valve-hidden-behind-everything. When I asked the Courtois boss at Frankfurt Music Fair for the reason he answered: Just to look like Besson!
    Only once I found another compensated euphonium with the comfortable valve-in-front layout from one of the far-east brands (it could have been Wiseman, but I am not sure).
    The euphonium's odd 4th valve layout is one reason for me to play saxhorn instead of euphonium...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
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    Posts
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    I tried out a Yamaha 621, which, although non-compensating, also has that 4th valve inbetween the 3rd valve slide and main bow, but it's just really awkward to hold because you either have no grip on the instrument itself, or you can't use the 4th valve. So yeah, standard configuration all the way for me.

    As for my 'ideal' instrument, I would probably just go with my Round Stamp Sovereign, replace the valve block with a new, German-made one, get a new leadpipe with a slightly larger diameter (15mm instead of 14.70mm) and have a more conical 4th valve circuit like my Willson, instead of the more cylindrical it normally has to open up the lower register.
    Also add a trigger for that 6th partial.
    The rest of the instrument can stay the same.

    Then again, I've only played on a Sovereign, a Willson 2960TA and tested a Geneva Symphony and Cardinal for 5 minutes several years ago so I don't have a LOT to go off of, but this is what I would do with the knowledge I have.

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