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Thread: Redesigning The Euphonium

  1. Redesigning The Euphonium

    Hello everyone,

    I have been thinking about how the Euphonium could be developed as an instrument. I often wonder what would happen if we pulled together a team consisting of musicians, engineers and scientists together to redesign the Euphonium and what the finished product would look like.

    I was wondering if anyone was aware of any research and development that has taken place for the Euphonium over the past twenty years which I could have a look at?

    I look forward to reading your responses.

    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons
    Best Wishes,

    Micah Dominic Parsons

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  2. #2
    I'm not aware of a group project such as you describe. It's an interesting idea. Here are some quick thoughts.

    For group members, at some point in the process some builders need to be involved to talk about certain limitations, practicality, etc. If an ideal design would cost $80k to build, the project might not be considered a broad success. And I think some medical professionals who are familiar with musicians' injuries would be helpful. But that brings me to the "goals" of such a group.

    What is the goal? Do we want a more ergonomic design? One that sounds better in some way (and if so, in which way)? Or one that has some specified practical advantages (easier to march with, less subject to room acoustics, more flexible with tuning than our current flatter-only triggers allow)?

    Also, we players would need an open mind to accept results. Frankly, I think some of the goals I mentioned above might be solved by the old American design with front valves and a curved, adjustable bell! It is ergonomically superior in some ways and the player can control the directionality. If such a design were the group's recommendation, adoption among existing serious groups could be slow because of the mismatch with current instruments, and brass bands might find them wholly unacceptable (unless the overall shape of tenors, baritones, and basses were to change at the same time).
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
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  3. #3
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    "If it ain't broke"...
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original
    2019 Wessex Tornister

  4. #4
    I expect if a group were to attempt to redesign the euphonium you would end up with something that looks very much like what we know as an euphonium - an instrument with 3 top mounted valves and a 4th round the side, with a bell that faces upwards to the right and proportioned like a small british-style tuba. It is those physical characteristics that give the instrument its sound afterall! I think this is an issue that manufacturers of most "classical" instruments face when they look at improving their designs. How we think about and idealise the sound of our instruments is very much borne out of the 19th and early 20th century, and all we are doing when we create new designs is try to perfect that. The details certainly could change and we would still get something we recognise as a euphonium: my York is from the time they were experimenting with leadpipe angles; Yamaha has changed the brace where you would rest your right hand near the valve block to be higher; most professional instruments can now come with a trigger. Bells have gotten larger (although I don't think you could go much larger than 12"), and on most professional horns the leadpipes are now "floating" and connected to the bell via braces rather than soldered directly to it.

    I think the next big thing is top-sprung valves, like the ones Adams are experimenting with. I assume these could shorten valve action considerably, which will make agile playing considerably easier.
    Harry Weir - Besson Sovereign 967-T | K&G 4D+

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by CousinJack View Post
    I think the next big thing is top-sprung valves, like the ones Adams are experimenting with. I assume these could shorten valve action considerably, which will make agile playing considerably easier.
    To clarify, the top-sprung system on Doug's horn does not shorten the piston travel. I suggested it for Adams to try out because it eliminates the issue of springs getting sideways in the bottom and causing noise (and also eliminates the need for plastic coated springs).

    The prototype ALSO had short-action valves, which could be done with the standard spring design as well. To accomplish this, the tubes have to go to an oval shape as they enter the piston. In the piston, the oval is horizontally positioned, which reduces the vertical space needed to fit all the holes in. That shortens the piston travel.

    I agree that if Adams can make them work without losing the horn's playing qualities, it would be a real boon!
    Last edited by davewerden; 11-24-2022 at 04:13 PM.
    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
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    If there's one thing that should be avoided imo, it's to make the instrument even *bigger* in general. Maybe we should actually go back again and make the bore size slightly smaller (back to the 14.7mm/.580" size of the old Sovereigns/Imperials?). This to prevent them from turning into actual baby tubas.

  7. #7
    The Wessex BBb 6/4 Compensated Tuba ‘Leviathan’ has a rotary 4th valve located by the 1st valve slide. I wonder if something like this be practical for euphonium and baritone. I still don't like in line 4 valves for non compensating euphoniums and tubas.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by euphlight View Post
    The Wessex BBb 6/4 Compensated Tuba ‘Leviathan’ has a rotary 4th valve located by the 1st valve slide. I wonder if something like this be practical for euphonium and baritone. I still don't like in line 4 valves for non compensating euphoniums and tubas.
    It’s good to see there are several 3+1 non-compensating options out there. (Yamaha and Besson both have them in their student lines). And several Chinese horns as well.
    Euphoniums
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  9. Quote Originally Posted by euphlight View Post
    The Wessex BBb 6/4 Compensated Tuba ‘Leviathan’ has a rotary 4th valve located by the 1st valve slide. I wonder if something like this be practical for euphonium and baritone. I still don't like in line 4 valves for non compensating euphoniums and tubas.
    This would be nice for more ergonomic handling, but with this set-up you need to place the horn on your lap, a stand or anywhere else. The left hand would be to far off the center of gravity for holding the thing up and right hand can only manage the tilt of the horn but not the whole weight without losing valve speed.
    IMHO it would be a step towards a comfortable horn to place the fourth valve between third valve slide and main bow like the Eb tubas and most non-comp euphs. This way you don't have to bend your wrist downwards for 90 degrees to reach the fourth valve. But I know, Besson invented the fourth-valve-in-the-backyard some 130 years ago so it will stay there forever. One reason why I prefer my Courtois 166 Saxhorn... (The Courtois comp euphonium had it on the front back in the 1980s, but they changed design around 1990. Same year they made the F-attachment on the trombones uncomfortable. When I asked P. Gaudet why they did this he replied "so it is like Bach and all folks buy Bach!")

  10. #10
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    Thoughts on the accuracy of this statement? (From a manufacturer rep I recently chatted with.)

    ”Don’t get hung up on this clone thing. At the end of the day everything out there is a copy of something. The Yamaha really is a copy of the besson that evolved. Even the besson that you buy today is a copy of the older models. When buffet bought besson out of bankruptcy there were no designs or tools so they just copied the old range in the B&S factory…other than adding a trigger there has been very little development of the euphonium generally in a very long time.”
    Euphoniums
    Sterling Virtuoso IV
    John Packer 374LT
    John Packer 274L
    S.E.Shires Q41s

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

    Linktree: iMav


    All things EUPHONIUM! Guilded server

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