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Adams Euphonium Overview: E1, E2, E3

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Adams has a long history of making fine musical instruments, which began about 50 years ago with their percussion line. Roughly 15 years ago they began adding brass to their line. Euphoniums started appearing soon after. Adams numbered their euphoniums 1, 2, and 3 based solely on the order in which the models were designed - the numbers are not a hierarchy or indication of relative quality. They are all professional instruments, but made for different tastes.

All 3 models come with the Adjustable Gap Receiver as standard. This helps you adjust the feel of the instrument to match your taste and mouthpiece. All models have the same bores: 15mm (main loop) and 16mm (4th valve loop). Intonation on all Adams euphoniums is the best of any euphonium I have ever played. The response on all 3 models is very free and smooth.

Here I must create a sidebar. Even within a single model, such as the E1, there is a great variety of options available. You can choose alloys of yellow, gold, and red brass. A sterling silver bell is available. Different thicknesses of metal are available. Different finish options are available (raw brass, lacquered polished brass, satin-lacquered polished brass, lacquer over brushed brass, bright silver plating, gold-colored lacquer, copper lacquer, and an antique finish. The changes in alloy and thickness will affect sound and feel. However, those options are part of the "Custom" series, which is for professionals or discerning amateurs. Adams offers a "Selected" model for each of the 1, 2, and 3 models. The Selected option saves on price and is what most players will probably want.

The E1 Selected is made with .60mm yellow brass. It has a 305mm bell diameter, with an unsoldered steel bead. The Custom models offer many of the options above, and the price will vary for some of those options. The E1 is a good choice for playing within small ensembles or a full band. It can be used as a solo instrument, but for me the E3 is a better choice for soloing in front of a large ensemble (not all players will agree, and some very high-level players have chosen the E1).

The E2 is made of .80mm brass only - no lighter choices are offered. It has extra bracing, a 310mm bell with a soldered steel bead, and a heavier valve block. This helps give it a very centered, solid core. In some ways it seems like a combination of the better qualities of the old (British) Bessons and the Willsons. It is not quite the type of tone I want, but it is a powerful, authoritative tone.

The E3 is what I play. It has the options of the E1, a 305mm bell with unsoldered bead, and is usually sold in .60mm brass. But the design has a more open bell throat and changes in some of the other large tubing, giving it a larger sound with great volume handling. For some reason that is not intuitive, it is every bit as easy to play in very delicate passages as the E1.

All the euphoniums are now sold with a Marcus Bonna hard, backpackable case that offers very good protection.

The instruments are hand assembled from sheet metal, which has several advantages. Most easily noticed is that the whole horn resonates as you play it, so that it is not just passing your tone though but energizing it along the way. I find that when I am supporting well and playing with a good center, I can better feel the vibrations in my hand (it's kind of a gauge for me while I'm playing to keep me cooperating with the instrument instead of working against it). The hand assembly also means the metal stays the same thickness from beginning to end. An unseen advantage is that hand assembly makes it much easier to make incremental improvements over time (rather than having to create new and very expensive hydraulic forms). Adams euphoniums seem to get better every year, which is all the more impressive considering I found them to be the best on the market 10 years ago when I decided to switch to Adams!

For what it's worth, here is a video of me playing the E1, E2, and E3 at GPRTEC. However, note that the E3 was made with gold brass, which is a couple hundred buck more than the Selected model. It also had lots of engraving, but would not affect its sound. Also note that the E1, for some reason, had a little more room sound (reverb) on the recording. Perhaps as the camera operator moved with me, the acoustic perspective changed a bit.

To show the options a little bit, here is my own E3, in .60mm with a sterling silver bell with an E3 in .70mm yellow brass (with satin gold lacquer). The added thickness on the yellow brass helps it sound more similar to the (expensive!) sterling silver belled horn.

And here is a video with a robust comparison between an E1 with sterling bell and an E3 with sterling bell:


  1. randy711's Avatar
    Thank you for this timely post as I am trying my hardest to play each of the models myself! I believe I would be happy with any of the models but I do really love the valve block and design of the E2. Iím having more of a hard time figuring out if I want to go with a custom with special finishes or if I should just go for the select and call it a day.

    Iíve listened to you, and a couple others, play the different models and there isnít much of a difference (via YouTube) in the sound. I used to play a Willson 2900 but I want to get an Adams now. I was sold after I bought one of their Flugelhorns, which is just an amazing horn.

    I attended NAMM last weekend in hopes that Adams would be there but they werenít. I have a local-ish shop that has an E3 and Iím going to try and play it to see how it feels. Thank you again for posting your thoughts!
  2. bayoung36's Avatar
    One of the big reason I decided to switch from Yamaha to Adams was the tuning! Yamaha has a lot of partials that are super sharp, however on the Adams E1 I now have, they’re nearly perfect. Also the weight is much easier for me to maintain while playing long recitals. As my old 642S would leave me physically exhausted due to the hefty weight. They are extremely well made horns, and I cannot think of any true negatives about Adams craftsmanship.

    Updated 06-06-2022 at 08:38 PM by davewerden
  3. davewerden's Avatar
    bayoung36: I didn't mention this (directly), but it is generally assumed that a Willson player would like the E2. Its characteristics have the same advantages as a Willson (to me, anyway), but (to me anyway) has a more flexible sound and a little better response and intonation. I hope you can try one, and if you do please let me know if I'm on track!
  4. randy711's Avatar
    So I got ahold of my local shop (Horn Guys in Pasadena) and he got me a list of the different Adams horns they had at the factory that were ready for sale. I had originally intended to just put in a custom order BUT Adams had the EXACT horn I was going to order! It’s an E2 with Gold Brass, antique finish with engraving, and polished accents (this is my favorite part). So it is already on its way and I am scheduled to pick it up on Tuesday! Thanks for giving your opinion of the horns. I will post my thoughts after I have played it.
  5. davewerden's Avatar
    Congrats, Randy!