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Thread: Should You Buy a Pro Horn?

  1. #1

    Should You Buy a Pro Horn?

    I put some thoughts in a blog post. Feel free to comment on the blog (or here):

    http://www.dwerden.com/forum/entry.p...sional-Players
    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

  2. #2
    Interesting topic. Thanks for posting. It is a good read with food for thought.
    Cerveny BBb Kaiser Tuba
    __________________________
    “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

  3. Pro doesn’t mean cost. Globalisation has disrupted that notion for a long time. Capitalism has exploited consumers ignorance of this for a long time.

    Besson prestige has had German labour wages, material import taxes, R&D, Bessons sponsorship and marketing costs, you have to buy from a dealer who have to also make a profit, I bet the instrument itself has very little cost difference from other brands it’s all peripheral cost. All the big brands have bigger overheads, a lot of that the consumer pays for.

    Smaller brands not so much, the biggest cost to most businesses are wages, if all else is equal Chinese and Indian wages are the determining factor in reducing costs, returned to customer.

    Besson have made awful instruments in the past, and then improved, watch China at the olympics and tell me they aren’t hard working and deliver awesome performances, compensate workers correctly and they do a good job, the country isn’t a deciding factor on human ability and competence.

    Pro features: absolutely, you need as many as you can afford otherwise you will hit limitations quite quickly, I can’t imagine anyone playing a non compensation 3 valve euph for more than the first 12 month, if they put 30 minutes a day into practice…

  4. #4
    Good points, JHarris. I would agree that price does not equal "pro" quality necessarily. But we are not quite to a point where it is as simple as finding pro features built for a lower cost. Certainly 4-valve compensating euphoniums that are affordable have been a blessing to many students. They are even great for advanced players like John Morgan, who has sung the praised of his Wessex Dolce loud and clear, even though he uses an Adams for most of his playing.

    I am starting to evaluate the Wessex Sinfonico, which is "built like the Adams" in that it uses sheet metal and hand assembly. It has all the important features of my Adams, except for the AGR. I can tell you it is a great horn (more details in a complete review as I get more done with it), and for $3k it is wonderful. But it is not as good as the Adams.

    For one thing, Adams takes more time in assembly to make sure things are correct. And they can make faster improvements because they have so much input from pro players in Europe who come to the factory. (It's a fun thought that the euphoniums are assembled by Thijs, who is himself a euphonium player.)

    For the time being, at least, the top brands are not in danger of being replaced for pro players by the cheaper choices. That IN NO WAY lessens the positive impact that these instruments have had for players who want a really good horn but can't afford one of the pro lines.

    As far as Besson's period of building "variable" instruments, from what I understand that was IN PART because they had been trying to hire more unskilled labor to assemble the horns to save money. They went out of business, perhaps partly as a result. Besson's mistake resulted in some of the top artisans forming the Sterling company, which gave us a good alternative in the market.
    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

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    I put some thoughts in a blog post. Feel free to comment on the blog (or here):

    http://www.dwerden.com/forum/entry.p...sional-Players
    This raises a question for me. When should consider replacing a pro horn? I have used the same Willson 2900 for 37 years. It was picked by Brian Bowman from a group that came in, so i know that it has a great sound. Unfortunately, my playing usually doesn't live up to the sound. But, I always read about forum members trying out this horn and that horn and it makes me wonder if I should try out something else or how much of a difference it would make. After all, the grass is always greener...

    Mike

  6. Quote Originally Posted by Jharris View Post
    Pro doesn’t mean cost. Globalisation has disrupted that notion for a long time. Capitalism has exploited consumers ignorance of this for a long time.

    Besson prestige has had German labour wages, material import taxes, R&D, Bessons sponsorship and marketing costs, you have to buy from a dealer who have to also make a profit, I bet the instrument itself has very little cost difference from other brands it’s all peripheral cost. All the big brands have bigger overheads, a lot of that the consumer pays for.

    Smaller brands not so much, the biggest cost to most businesses are wages, if all else is equal Chinese and Indian wages are the determining factor in reducing costs, returned to customer.

    Besson have made awful instruments in the past, and then improved, watch China at the olympics and tell me they aren’t hard working and deliver awesome performances, compensate workers correctly and they do a good job, the country isn’t a deciding factor on human ability and competence.

    Pro features: absolutely, you need as many as you can afford otherwise you will hit limitations quite quickly, I can’t imagine anyone playing a non compensation 3 valve euph for more than the first 12 month, if they put 30 minutes a day into practice…
    If you want to buy Chinese or Indian Euphoniums, well, have at it.

  7. #7
    There are certain Chinese-made instruments that will play circles around certain German-made instruments that cost 4x the price in every conceivable way.
    --
    Barry

  8. #8
    The question, should you buy a pro horn, very interesting. I am (or was) a professional player, and I absolutely wanted then and want now a pro horn. Being that music and playing euphonium is my number one passion in life (not counting family of course), I want the very best euphonium I can have, period. I am not independently wealthy, but I will definitely pay to have the best I can get.

    If I could not afford the top of the line horn, I would get as much horn as I could afford. And until I am gone from this earth, I want the very best euphonium to play (I think I said that already!).

    But what about non-pro players?? If money was no obstacle, I would probably want the best horn I could have, too. I play guitar a little, certainly not at a pro level, but strictly amateur. I do have, however, a very top of the line Taylor guitar (912E 12 fret). So, I basically have way more guitar than I need, but I enjoy having the finest I can get. I can definitely appreciate the Taylor, and its qualities are not lost on me, although stronger players could surely make it sound better than I can. Cheap guitars are harder to play and don't sound as good, probably more pronounced differences than cheap vs. pro-level euphoniums. Because there are some inexpensive euphoniums that are quite good, but cheap guitars are usually quite bad.

    So, in a nutshell, I want the best instrument I can afford since music is with me every day of my life, be it a euphonium which I play well, or a guitar, which I play so-so.
    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)

  9. #9
    This really is an interesting subject, especially since the only horn I’d be able to play isn’t available anywhere for any price.

    I think if I’d realized when I began to play euphonium that there was virtually NO possibility of playing an “American Baritone” made at the pro level (Conn Connstellation in particular) I might not have given any low brass choice a second thought.

    I’m not the only player here who’s thought that either. I want an American made, 4 front valve euphonium with a a large shank or possibly convertible sized shank receiver, along the lines of what Conn was intending to do next (rumored) when the company stopped making baritones/euphoniums altogether.

    That was “EUPHONIUM” when I was growing up in wind ensemble. I loved them and coveted them. THAT was the sound I wanted to make, no matter how much I could accomplish in the woodwind section with lower clarinets.

    I’d pay whatever I had to if I could buy one, but I feel a little sheepish having one made for me, as somebody with as little experience in low brass as I’ have right now. I still think about it every once in a while though.

  10. Go for it, Ann.
    You only live once (unless you're Shirley MacLaine...)

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