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Thread: Baritone Buying Advice

  1. #1

    Baritone Buying Advice

    Hi all,

    I stumbled on this forum while researching baritone horns, so I thought Iíd try to pick your brains to help me with my current situation.

    Iíve been subbing with a local brass band in PA, and theyíve recently offered me a permanent position. Iím a euphonium player, but I have subbed with them on tenor horn and baritone horn, and always borrowed an instrument. I always played a Yamaha 301 when subbing on baritone. The horn was fine for me, but I really donít like the lack of compensation or really anyway to easily help with low intonation.

    While researching Iíve quickly gathered so far that everyone can agree the Yamaha Neo is pretty much the horn to buyÖ a little expensive though. Iím a play before I buy type, but thatís a difficult thing now since stock is spotty. Iíd want to be able to compare other horns, too.

    So, I have two questions.

    What are the good, pro level horn I should be going out of my way to try? I donít necessarily have a hard price limit as Iím willing to save for the right horn.

    What are so good, ďsafeĒ options that I could look for as used horns to get now so I have something to bridge the gap while I am trying horns and maybe saving for purchase?

    Thanks in advance for all the advice!

  2. #2
    Welcome to the forum!

    I wouldn't necessarily agree the neo is THE horn to buy - I believe it's a 3 valve horn, and you may want a 4th valve for some more difficult works.

    I'm also primarily a euphonium player.

    I have owned a york preference, and two besson prestige baritones, and I have played a colleague's Besson 956. I've also played a couple yamaha baritones, including the 4V non-comp.

    Of those horns, the 956 played best. Obviously it's different from horn to horn. The two prestige baritones I own play differently from one another and they're both more recent german horns.

    There is a besson 956 available in the for sale section of this site, which may be a good choice for you.

    If you're looking for "safe" options, the Besson 956 if on the used market, and the prestige on the new market are safe choices in my opinion. I did not like the yamaha baritones I've played.

    All of that said, it's important that your approach to the horn differs from your approach to the euphonium. That was maybe the most difficult thing for me to grasp early on. Acting as the true bridge between the low and mid brass carries with it a tonal color that's going to be brighter than you think you should be if you come form euph.

    All my opinion, obviously. YMMV.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mp4G View Post
    Hi all,

    I stumbled on this forum while researching baritone horns, so I thought Iíd try to pick your brains to help me with my current situation.

    Iíve been subbing with a local brass band in PA, and theyíve recently offered me a permanent position. Iím a euphonium player, but I have subbed with them on tenor horn and baritone horn, and always borrowed an instrument. I always played a Yamaha 301 when subbing on baritone. The horn was fine for me, but I really donít like the lack of compensation or really anyway to easily help with low intonation.

    While researching Iíve quickly gathered so far that everyone can agree the Yamaha Neo is pretty much the horn to buyÖ a little expensive though. Iím a play before I buy type, but thatís a difficult thing now since stock is spotty. Iíd want to be able to compare other horns, too.

    So, I have two questions.

    What are the good, pro level horn I should be going out of my way to try? I donít necessarily have a hard price limit as Iím willing to save for the right horn.

    What are so good, ďsafeĒ options that I could look for as used horns to get now so I have something to bridge the gap while I am trying horns and maybe saving for purchase?

    Thanks in advance for all the advice!
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Posts
    140
    Here is a link to the Besson 956 Mike referenced above.

    http://www.dwerden.com/forum/showthr...e#.YdhzWBZOmEc
    David Shinn
    Peninsula Concert Band
    Yorktown, Virginia



    1971 Besson ĎNew Standardí 181 Euphonium (4 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1960 Besson ĎNew Standardí 180 Euphonium (4 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1962 Besson ĎNew Standardí 176 Euphonium (3 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1979 Besson 'New Standard' 168 Baritone (3 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC5S
    1927 Holton Double Bell Euphonium (5 valve) ~ Alliance DC5S

  4. To all,

    I am NOT a fan of most 4 valve baritones. In the brass band context, you just won't use the 4th valve for range and using it for intonation or alternate fingerings is of marginal value given the other issues. Keep in mind that the 4 valve 956 or York 3056 are NOT fully compensating horns. They are based on using the 3 valve horn's valve block with minor modifications. The 1st and 2nd valves are the same as a 3 valver and the 3rd valve is adapted from a 1st valve. Thus, the compensating loops are all too small to compensate for a full F attachment (4th valve). Plus you get no compensation for 1-3, 2-3, or 1-2-3 combinations. The downside to ALL 4 valve baritones including the Besson 2056 Prestige and the Wessex 4 valve (which are both full 4 valve compensating horns) is ergonomics. They are much heavier. Due to the small space required to cram all of the extra tubing, the horns are expanded front to back. This makes the left hand grip VERY wide (more than even the older Besson euphoniums). The horns based on the 956 have an evil double loop in the 4th valve wrap that is a pain to empty.

    A good pro 3 valve baritone like the NEO, Besson 955, York 3055, or a Sterling like mine is easier to hold, plays well in tune with judicious use of alternate fingerings, and is MUCH easier to deal with. Your arms and fingers will not get as tired holding it up in a good playing position. I am a fan of my Sterling Virtuoso heavy bell baritone. It is a 3 valve with an extra thick and heavy bell. This helps to keep the horn from braking up at high dynamic levels. A common problem for euphonium players is using "euphonium air" when playing baritone. It becomes very easy to over blow. I just don't have this problem with my Sterling. However this horn is not generally available in the US. Overall, for use here in the US, my recommendation would be the NEO. I find them incredibly responsive and they have generally decent intonation.

    Doug
    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. #5
    Points taken, though I don't personally agree - I prefer a 4 valve instrument to a 3 valve. Both from the standpoint of available alternates, and for 4th valve usage in difficult lit.

    Mike

    Quote Originally Posted by daruby View Post
    To all,

    I am NOT a fan of most 4 valve baritones. In the brass band context, you just won't use the 4th valve for range and using it for intonation or alternate fingerings is of marginal value given the other issues. Keep in mind that the 4 valve 956 or York 3056 are NOT fully compensating horns. They are based on using the 3 valve horn's valve block with minor modifications. The 1st and 2nd valves are the same as a 3 valver and the 3rd valve is adapted from a 1st valve. Thus, the compensating loops are all too small to compensate for a full F attachment (4th valve). Plus you get no compensation for 1-3, 2-3, or 1-2-3 combinations. The downside to ALL 4 valve baritones including the Besson 2056 Prestige and the Wessex 4 valve (which are both full 4 valve compensating horns) is ergonomics. They are much heavier. Due to the small space required to cram all of the extra tubing, the horns are expanded front to back. This makes the left hand grip VERY wide (more than even the older Besson euphoniums). The horns based on the 956 have an evil double loop in the 4th valve wrap that is a pain to empty.

    A good pro 3 valve baritone like the NEO, Besson 955, York 3055, or a Sterling like mine is easier to hold, plays well in tune with judicious use of alternate fingerings, and is MUCH easier to deal with. Your arms and fingers will not get as tired holding it up in a good playing position. I am a fan of my Sterling Virtuoso heavy bell baritone. It is a 3 valve with an extra thick and heavy bell. This helps to keep the horn from braking up at high dynamic levels. A common problem for euphonium players is using "euphonium air" when playing baritone. It becomes very easy to over blow. I just don't have this problem with my Sterling. However this horn is not generally available in the US. Overall, for use here in the US, my recommendation would be the NEO. I find them incredibly responsive and they have generally decent intonation.

    Doug
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band

  6. #6
    I recently came into possession of a Besson new standard 3-valve compensating baritone (for free???), and though I don't really have much of a use for it at the moment, it's a really fun little instrument to play! Haven't really checked the pitch tendencies on it, but I assume it's probably in line with most Besson horns from that era. Serial puts it somewhere around 1967-70 I think, from the databases I've seen. Those might be worth looking out for as well.

    I do think unless you're playing 2nd baritone in a brass band, a 3-valve horn will probably do what you need it to do while being less expensive.
    Sean

  7. #7
    I hate the 956 and the york 3056 that was made with the 956 tooling. Ergonomic mess, weird little loop in the 4th valve tuning slide that's a huge pain to mess with, abysmal intonation, and they just don't project. The 2056 is better but the intonation is very bad on it as well. The 4th valve is extremely useful for solo repertoire, especially if you're borrowing from euphonium/cello/bassoon repertoire since there isn't much available specifically for baritone. I only know of one band test piece that "requires" it and you could easily just fake or leave out those notes and nobody would notice. As far as technique, it's easier for us euphonium players to use 4 valves since that's what we're used to but the cornet players manage to play some very technical stuff with only 3 valves so we should be able to as well.

    I really like the Neo, and the new 955s are good too. The Sterling (not the JP-Sterling) is extremely good as well.
    --
    Barry

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Summerfield, Florida
    Posts
    1,604
    From a what does maybe the best or certainly one of the best baritone players play perspective, namely Katrina Marzella, she plays a 3 valve, compensating, Yamaha Neo.
    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
    Kingdom of the Sun Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)

  9. #9
    I have a neo and a 955 sovereign. The sound is very similar, but the Neo is more resonant and has better intonation. I bought mine sight unseen, and it’s great.

  10. I have a 956 - agree with the comment that it's a design mess in general.

    If I was to play more baritone I would spend some money to trade it for a newer 955 or Neo.

    The Prestige baritone is a super instrument but it's closer to the euphonium than what I want from a baritone.

    Regards,
    ted
    Ted

    Besson Prestige BE2052-8G-0 Euphonium
    Besson Sovereign 956 Baritone

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