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Thread: If you had to recommend a "second best", upper-mid to pro level euphonium.......

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Valley City, North Dakota, USA
    Posts
    369

    If you had to recommend a "second best", upper-mid to pro level euphonium.......

    Most are biased towards what they own and/or the associations they have with certain brands. (for example, Matonizz recommends Adams, but used to recommend Sterling (and whatever other brands he primaried on along the way). Followed up with a guys that had a ton of videos and posts on an Adams E3, but now recommends The Shires Q41 (happens to be an S.E. Shires artist now, go figure!).

    Anyways, I'm just looking to see what folks recommend if they CAN'T recommend their "go to" brand/model.

    - Willson
    - S.E. Shires
    - Geneva (GVL Cardinal)
    - Sterling
    - Besson
    - Adams

    Adams seems to be, by far, the most recommended here. And, honestly, I'm about to pull the trigger on an E3. Just would love to hear more about these other pro horns...
    Larry Herzog Jr.
    Adams Custom Series E3 euphonium (Selected model, silver-plated)
    Denis Wick SM4U mouthpiece (gold-plated)

    Twitter: iMav
    Facebook: iMav
    Email: me@imav.org
    Founder of geekhack.org

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    All things EUPHONIUM! Guilded server

  2. Since 1980 I have owned three Bessons (a round stamp 967, a German 2051 Prestige, and a late English 967), one Sterling (a 2009 Virtuoso), an Adams E3 with prototype short action valves, and have had a fair amount of playing experience with Besson New Standard, Willson 2900, current Geneva, Yamaha 321, 641, 642, and 842, and various Chinese mfg'd horns from Wessex and others. In terms of all around flexibility, intonation, and ease of playing, I rate my Adams E3 as the best I have ever had. It is my preferred instrument at the cost of some very slightly inferior tone quality to my Sterling. I would put the vintage Sterling in the same category as my three Bessons in that the sound quality is superb, but each suffered from intonation issues and various mechanical foibles over a period of years of ownership.

    There is much more to say, but the net result is always the same.

    Doug
    Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS
    Concord Band
    Winchendon Winds
    Townsend Military Band

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2020
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Posts
    165
    Besson New Standards from the 1960s up to 1974…but you’ll need to be patient in your search, and I will agree whole-heartedly with Doug’s statement, “…was just the most lovely, natural playing horn I had ever experienced. I could make that thing sing!”

    http://www.dwerden.com/forum/showthr...159#post156159
    Last edited by Shinn; 09-30-2022 at 12:49 PM.
    David Shinn
    Peninsula Concert Band
    Yorktown, Virginia



    1971 Besson 181 ‘New Standard’ Euphonium (4 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1960 Besson 180 ‘New Standard’ Euphonium (4 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1971 Besson 176 ‘New Standard’ Euphonium (3 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC3M
    1979 Besson 755 'New Standard' Baritone (3 valve compensating) ~ Alliance DC5S

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    229
    personally I think the large-shank Willson models (2950TA(-UK) and 2960TA(-UK)) are a tad overlooked. They have an incredibly dark, round (but not tubby) sound that you can still make sing beautifully. They are built like tanks and their intonation is incredible (6th partial is only marginally sharp, no other real bad outliers), and the response across the registers is very good.

    Yes, it's one of the instruments I have myself, but I always have a tough time choosing between my Round Stamp Sovereign (easier to express myself, ergonomics more suited to my body) and my Willson 2960TA (better intonation and more consistent/even in response), so I can't really call either my 'primary' horn. I know that USA-based players have more of a tendency to the 2900-style horns with a more focused sound, but the large-shank Willsons really are not bad at all, and are seriously worth looking into.
    Euphoniums
    Willson 2960TA Celebration
    1979 Boosey & Hawkes Sovereign (Globe Stamp)
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick SM4
    Baritone
    early 2000's British Besson Sovereign 955
    Mouthpiece: Denis Wick 6BS

  5. #5
    I assume you are not looking for a definitive answer at some point, because NO horn is perfect! When people ask for recommendations, I give them my opinion, but that doesn't mean that the horn I chose is right for them. That has been my belief ever since I started giving my opinion (which was before I was officially associated with any company.

    I played Besson before there was any choice in compensating horns. Once the choices started showing up, I stayed with Besson because no other horn gave me the sound I wanted. THAT part is to some extent personal choice, and to some extent it is more universal. That is, I want a horn that has a flexible tone, so it can be bent or can fit different styles. Anyway, within a couple of years I approached Besson to be a clinician, and I stayed with them for 10 years. I grew less attached to them during that time because the company had increasing quality control problems and did not seem to be listening to its customers. When I learned about Sterling, once again I approached them to be a clinician because A) they had a similar sound quality to the Besson, and B) they were working to improve on the current instruments. I played Sterling for over 20 years.

    I first tried an Adams at ITEC in 2010 and became interested. The response and intonation were great, as was the spirit and creativity of the company. But I was not convinced that the tone was what I wanted. I asked them for a loaner so I could play it in familiar situations/surroundings. Still, I was not convinced. That was partly due to the sterling silver bell's characteristics at my ear. In my basement practice area, an A/B comparison seemed to favor the Sterling. But when I got it into a large room, the Adams had the advantage. To make sure, I asked my church brass group to listen to me play both horns. They all agreed that the two horns sounded very similar in tone, but that the Adams had a bigger sound. After 20+ years, I was still unsure, so I did an A/B tape of several excerpts (recorded in my "patented way" so I was sure I was playing both horns properly), which I sent to several pro players whose opinions I trust and who were familiar with my sound and style. The Adams won.

    So I approached Adams to be an official clinician.

    Important to note: I chose each of the 3 because I thought they were the best of all the horns I had played, which includes every brand mentioned except for Geneva (they have never been at and conferences I attended, including the one in Europe in 2012). I could appreciate certain features of the other brands, but the overall mix did not appeal to me. Having said all that...

    The German Bessons are nicely made and good, solid horns. But the sound is not the same as it was for the old British-made Sovereigns, and that was a deal breaker.

    Sterling still has a very fine sound, but not better than the Adams. Sterling's response and intonation, while good, are not as good as Adams. My current horn allows me to play better and more easily than my Sterling did.

    Willson 2900. I don't like the inflexibility of the sound. However, that is perhaps when some folks like (that it always sounds the same). Response is excellent and the tone is very consistent from top to bottom. Willson 2975 had a sound I like better than the 2900, but does not seem to have the same "charm" as the 2900 as you blow it (that is the best explanation I can give). In any case, it is not as popular as the 2900. The newer 2960 is the closest Willson comes to what I want, but the sound is not quite there for me (closer, though) and intonation is not as good as Adams.

    Shires Q series... you have my previous comments and review. I have not yet had a chance to play the new Custom series. At the regional ITEC in Iowa, where I played in May, my hope was that Eastman would have one there. But the Eastman truck broke down on the way! Anyway, I can't comment on that series.

    Every time I am around euphoniums, I will play what I can. At conferences I always take time to make the rounds and see how each brand is doing. I have also tried horns in music stores when I find them, and have asked stores to get one in for me to try. There is no way to count how many horns I have tested. My exposure has been at ITEC regional, national, and international conferences, music stores, Tubonium conferences near me, and of course the Army Band conferences. That gives me pretty good confidence for WHAT I THINK is best for ME.

    I have had the luxury of always playing on the brand I think is the best of the breed. And that makes it easy for me to discuss things. If BrandX offered me a free horn and support to go to conferences, I would not switch. If BrandX offered me a 6-figure annual stipend to play their horn (which does exist for certain players), I might switch! BUT I would no longer say BrandX is the best; I would say what I like about it (and there is something I like about most brands).

    FWIW, of the 3 brands I have represented, Adams provides the least financial help in getting to conferences. Such help is nice, but Adams puts more of their funds into horn development than artist maintenance.
    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

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Summerfield, Florida Sturgis, SD (previously)
    Posts
    1,653
    My second choice after my Adams would be the Miraphone M5050. It is a BIG horn, probably the largest bore among the top brands. But it is a honey of a horn. Especially if you have good lungs. I had that horn prior to my Adams and only went to Adams because the horn required more air than others. I was a lifelong smoker (quit about 10 years ago) and have diminished/damaged lungs because of it. I quite frankly thought the Adams would be a great horn, but I did not know for certain if it would be "better" than my Miraphone. Turns out I do like it better, but I also really, really liked the Miraphone. It had a great sound (my absolute first requirement for any horn). It also has the best high B natural among ANY horn I have ever played. Excellent build quality. A nice case once you get used to it. A unique grime gutter (drip catcher that goes under the three valves). Excellent valves. And a pretty good dealer network. I got mine through Taylor Music in Aberdeen, SD.

    I don't have any videos with me playing it unfortunately. But I think Rick Floyd does and Don Winston has some great things to say about the M5050. Rick and Don are forum members (RickF and djwpe). The M5050 is the horn that Demondrae Thurmon plays. I still to this day use the Demondrae signature mouthpiece that comes standard with the M5050.
    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 (KOS) Concert Band, Ocala, FL (Euphonium)
    KOS Brass Quintet (Trombone, Euphonium)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Valley City, North Dakota, USA
    Posts
    369
    Thanks for feedback.

    The funny thing about brand artist relationships is that, at least for me, it ends up being a caveat instead of a plus when reading comments about the brand. When I see a non-affiliated (but yet, well-accomplished) artist talk about their preferred horn, that holds more weight for me. I've been on this forum for a little over a decade or so (even though absent for a lot of that time)...so this is less so with you [Dave]...you have always seemed to put a lot of stock in to trying to be as fair and balanced in your reviews as possible. I appreciate that.

    As an side note...the artist I talked with that was a long-time Adams owner and now Shires artist DIDN'T say the Shires was the best...and DID say the Adams were still great horns.
    Larry Herzog Jr.
    Adams Custom Series E3 euphonium (Selected model, silver-plated)
    Denis Wick SM4U mouthpiece (gold-plated)

    Twitter: iMav
    Facebook: iMav
    Email: me@imav.org
    Founder of geekhack.org

    Linktree: iMav


    All things EUPHONIUM! Guilded server

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Valley City, North Dakota, USA
    Posts
    369
    I'm often surprised that I don't hear more about the Yamahas. It seems MANY stencil horns copy the 642. I see them a lot in the academic "world" (well, my only experience is what I've seen at UND (North Dakota) and UW (Wisconsin-Madison)...I see low-to-mid tier horns at my local state college).

    Before embarking on some research, it was my assumption I'd probably be choosing between a Yamaha 642 and a Willson 2900. Boy was I wrong! LOL
    Larry Herzog Jr.
    Adams Custom Series E3 euphonium (Selected model, silver-plated)
    Denis Wick SM4U mouthpiece (gold-plated)

    Twitter: iMav
    Facebook: iMav
    Email: me@imav.org
    Founder of geekhack.org

    Linktree: iMav


    All things EUPHONIUM! Guilded server

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Palm Beach, FL
    Posts
    3,606
    I love my Miraphone 5050 and don't think I'll ever change horns. Coming from a Yamaha 641 it took me a couple of months to get used to the Miraphone. The 641 slotted too well in my opinion so I had to be sure to buzz the right pitch. My M5050 does not have a trigger and I don't think it needs one. The concert 'G' on the staff is the worst note on the horn so I use 3rd valve. I don't have any videos of my playing but there are a couple of examples of me playing with band here on the forum.

    Lead Me Home:

    Suite Forty-four -(excerpts of two movements):


    The Lord's Prayer - Malotte: (solo with piano)

    ...
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (recently sold)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    El Cumbanchero (Raphael Hernandez, arr. Naohiro Iwai)
    Greensleeves (arr. Alfred Reed)


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2022
    Location
    Perth, Western Australia
    Posts
    16
    I'm in Australia, so when I recently bought a new Euphonium I didn't have the chance to try an Adams (no dealers down here) but I did try a number of instruments. I ended up buying a Gold Lacquer Besson Prestige. Close seconds were the Besson Sovereign 967T and the Shires Q41. If I had to pick between the Sovereign and the Q41, I would probably have purchased the Q41 to be honest and then swapped in some mead springs. Whilst there are things on the Q41 that could be better, it's hard to ignore the amount of bang for buck. Note that I'm only playing with a Brass Band, no other ensemble types.
    SE Shires Trombone (1G Bell, TB47 Slide, Tru-bore valve), Bach 5GS Mouthpiece
    Besson Prestige 2052-8G, Alliance DC3 Mouthpiece
    Yamaha YCR2330 Cornet

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