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Thread: How do we characterize a horns sound and its use?

  1. #1
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    How do we characterize a horns sound and its use?

    Certainly this is very subjective but lets give it a go. For example: what about the Besson sound and in present times the Prestige has made it the brass band standard? This subject is related to the latest posts in the How to best order an Adams thread which discusses the 3 Adams professional models.

  2. #2
    Throughout my Army career I played exclusively on Besson euphs. Initially, back in the mid-70s and up till about 1982, I played on an Imperial and then a Sovereign. I'd characterize the classic Besson sound as being dark, with virtually no edge to the sound at all. Perfect for blending. For soloists, the usual method of carrying the sound over a band was (and probably still is to a point) to use a huge mouthpiece of whatever flavor. It takes serious work to develop the chop strength to play on that kind of setup, but I know of many top players who have done it that way. Most recently, a conversation I had with Al Torres (formerly of the US Army Field Band) told me that's what he did.

    To my ear (FWIW), the Adams E1, even with the thicker-gauge metal, has a very light, bright sound. It can carry over a band without a lot of the work needed for the British instruments (Prestige, Sterling Virtuoso most notably). The E2 is built even heavier than the E1, again even with the thicker-gauge metal. I have yet to even try the E3, but I have no doubt it's a fabulous horn. Some have said here that it's the horn to play for a British band soloist, and I respect that opinion.

    One thing I have not been able to wrap my ear around, and that is the fascination with sterling silver bells. When I owned my E1, it had a SS bell. I was not able to differentiate the difference in sound, whether good or bad. My E2 has the heavier-gauge metal (0.80mm IIRC), and it's silver plate, but I opted not for the SS option. Sounds fine to me. But I digress...

    Another characteristic about Besson euphs -- they are built like tanks, which was one of the reasons I played Bessons in my Army days. I could take it outdoors and play a ceremony and it could sustain the inevitable issues that we are all confronted with when we play in larger gatherings.
    U.S. Army, Retired (built mid-Fifties)
    Adams E2 Euph (built 2017)
    Boosey & Co. Imperial Euph (built 1941)
    Edwards B454 Bass Trombone (built 2012)
    Boosey & Hawkes Imperial Eb tuba (built 1958)
    Kanstul 33-T lBBb tuba (built 2010)
    Shen 3/4 upright bass (who cares?)

  3. #3
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    Thanks for relating your experiences! Willsons are also built to last. Mine was in great shape after 40 years! Regarding the SS bell my .6 E3 has this feature but I havent played another so I cant comment. It certainly can have an edge to the sound when pushed.

  4. #4
    The sterling silver bell is an interesting topic in and of itself! BUT, it is confusing to test/compare because one of the main differences (in my experience) is that the sterling bell transfers sound directly to the player in a different way. Yellow brass just seems warmer from behind the mouthpiece.

    Because the sterling is soft and easier to dent, I looked into getting a yellow brass Adams with .70 metal, thinking the extra thickness might "make up for" not having the denser silver material. Here is a video comparing the two horns, both E3's. Mine is .60 with sterling bell, the other loaner was .70 in yellow brass. Use good speakers or headphones if possible.

    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
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    I vote horn A.

    DG
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original
    2019 Wessex Tornister

  6. #6
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    Summerville (SC)
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    Hmmm... Using a good Plantronic USB headset, I instead vote in favor of horn B..... But am not sure which horn is which.

    G.
    Wessex EP104 Festivo + DC4, SM4U, 51D

  7. #7
    You can see a full discussion of the comparison test in the thread below. We start out talking about appearance only, then I add the video and gather a lot more feedback, all in the same thread. The sterling silver is "B". The reason I brought this up again is just to show how close the 2 horns can sound to each other. (Some day I might like to test a .70 E3 with gold brass, but I have no immediate plans to do so.)

    http://www.dwerden.com/forum/showthr...-Adams-Options

    In the case of the Adams comparison, at least both horns were the same "platform" but with different metal. The difference is greater with a comparison between 2 brands. Even so, it often boils down to a matter of personal taste.

    Before there were quite so many top brands to choose from, I compared the Besson Sovereign 967 (which was my full-time horn while I was a Besson artist) with the Besson Sovereign 968. They were both good horns. For my life as (mostly) a band player I chose the 967 for its bigger sound and greater projection. But if more of my time were spent in small groups (including our euph/tuba quartet) I think I would have found the 968 more satisfactory because of its better focus. It's not hard to understand why trumpet players and even some trombone players use a variety of instruments, depending on their situation.
    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

  8. I like these comparisons. To me, a trombone player, the difference was pretty clear. The first horn sounds clearer, and thus better. The second horn is very dark, which I imagine is good in some situations, but for solo listening, I prefer a clearer euph sound.

    The trombone forum sometimes has these discussions about bell materials. Silver is generally denser and softer than brass, but can be hardened, and both materials can be annealed to dead soft. Just to say there's a lot of potential overlap between the hardness of the materials. Harder materials make more high overtones. Heavier objects tend to have lower natural frequencies, so the thicker material should be mellower. All other things being constant.

    So you've got 3 competing properties - hardness and overall weight of material which itself relies on two properties - material thickness and material density. Based on the material tendencies, without any additional information, I don't think there is a way to figure out which is which, aside from just guessing.

    I would guess that the first horn is the yellow brass, and the second is the sterling. I base that on general tendencies of yellow brass to be one of the brighter materials in trombone bells. If the silver were hard instead of soft, that would change my guess.

  9. #9
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    Thank you Dave, I had totally forgotten your thread dedicated to the comparison of E3 SS vs E3 YB 0.70, where you finally revealed that horn B is your own E3 with SS bell.

    After two and a half years, my preference is still for the variant with the SS bell.

    For completion's sake, here is what I said then, which is still valid for me today:

    "* B speaks more easily and attacks are crisper.
    * B is more nimble/agile.
    * B has a more open tone, and simultaneously sound sweeter.
    * B is grander and more resonant.
    * B sounds more expressive, nuanced, emotionally intense, and lyrical.
    * When pushed, B actually seems to yield greater carrying power."

    Funny thing is though that when I playtested the two variants at ITEC 2019, my preference behind the bell was the opposite.... Using an SM4U, my nuby preference between the two variants fell on the E3 with YB 0.70 bell.... Go figure *Rolls Eyes!*

    Regards, Guidoe
    Last edited by guidocorona; 12-28-2021 at 03:57 PM.
    Wessex EP104 Festivo + DC4, SM4U, 51D

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Location
    Farmington Hills, MI
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    In David's comparison, A has a darker more focused sound and B a lighter, sweeter tone. In certain ranges it seems to produce more overtones as well. Dave makes a very important comment about how a horn sounds from behind the mouthpiece instead of from the listener's point of view. Not to mention the effect of the venue.

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