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Thread: Is Wessex worth the extra over other Jinbaos?

  1. Is Wessex worth the extra over other Jinbaos?

    I've been looking to get a horn to upgrade from the YEP321 that I share with a rather reluctant guy. My lesson teacher is a fan of the Accent 757 but the horn I've been used to is a YEP642 over the last two years. At first I was looking at the Schiller Elite since it has good reviews at a very good price, but the Wessex horn also came to my attention with its improvements. My question is, is it worth the extra over the Schiller? I'd want to go for the silver/gold trim if I can on either horn, but Schiller's site doesn't have the price listed for the Elite (no numbers) in that color scheme.

  2. #2
    I personally would avoid the Schiller and go with Wessex. It is worth the extra money. They have made several improvements over the Schiller and also visit the factory to play-test every horn before it ships. Here is the Wessex owner's description of the process:

    For quality checking, I believe Wessex is second to none - we now fly to China BEFORE each shipment leaves factory and carefully inspect and play test every single instrument against a check list. We will not accept any that are not up to standard. Any that require corrective action go back to the factory floor for attention. That can be to the extent of stripping lacquer/silver and completely reassembling, or changing components (happened on 6 euphoniums). They then have to come back to us to check again. The serial number of each instrument is noted, so we can check that problems really are fixed. Once approved, signed checklist is put in bag with instrument for customer assurance. Once in the UK, or USA we will then check again and oil valves before shipping/collection by customer. I am sure our new checking process will ensure that quality standards will ever rise, as the factory will realise what is not acceptable and take measures so we do not reject for same reason in future orders.

    http://www.wessex-tubas.com/euphonium/
    Last edited by davewerden; 12-08-2015 at 06:05 PM.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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  3. #3
    I can't speak for Schiller's line, but I love my lacquered Wessex Dolce. Have had it for close to 10 months now, and for the money I put into it, I'm a happy customer. A section mate of mine also purchased one in silver after he tried mine out, and he also really enjoys his. I don't think you can go wrong with the Wessex, between the warranty, modifications, and Jonathan's well-regarded customer service. I'm sure Jim Laabs' Schiller line is fine too, but you know what they say, you get what you pay for.
    Michael Lajeunesse
    Wessex Dolce in Lacquer, Dennis Wick 4AL with DW 'tone booster' MP sleeve
    Cosmopolitan Music Society of Edmonton, euphonium section

  4. #4
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    Your question can be reliably answered only by someone who has had and used both instruments. And I don't think I've seen anyone here who has done that (though there has been a recent thread comparing the Wessex to the Mack Brass in that way.) The next best thing is to look at what people have said who have owned one or the other instrument -- not just a Wessex or a Schiller, but a Wessex or Schiller of the exact model you're contemplating. The next best thing is to look at what people who have owned some Wessex and some Schiller have said. And sometimes (often?) it's not just about the instrument, but with things like warrantee, return policy, etc.

    I have a Wessex tuba, a Schiller bass trombone, and a Mack Brass euphonium (of the model you're considering). You could probably do well with the Schiller, and various people have. But their return policy is that they will provide only an exchange and not a refund. And you're taking a bit of a chance. Mack Brass and Wessex sell fundamentally the same instrument as one another (look closely at the descriptions and see if there are any differences that may matter to you. Mac Brass has a full unconditional guarantee for this particular instrument -- meaning that if there is ANYTHING you don't like about it you can return it for a full refund including shipping: http://www.mackbrass.com/Euphoniums.html. Wessex also offers a full money-back guarantee, but it's not clear that it includes shipping, and they offer a 3-year warranty against defects. Mack has a 2-year warranty on defects.

    In general, I don't buy that "you get what you pay for" in a highly competitive market since in such a situation there will be price differentials you can take advantage of in the context of the dynamic competition. And sometimes you can get a really good deal if you're careful or get lucky.

    Whether the Wessex is worth the extra money over the Schiller depends on exactly what you want in terms of some of the comparative features (again, they are basically the same horn with a few differences and the promise of better quality control) and whether you're willing to take the chance that the horn will not have any problems. Whether the Wessex is worth the extra money (a couple of hundred dollars) over the Mack is a closer call and depends in part on how much the couple of hundred dollars means to you. The Wessex has some nice features. I bought my tuba from Wessex (paying about $500 dollars more at the time) because of the single feature of the raised lead pipe -- it mattered that much to me. So a big part of your question is "What matters most to you? Price? Features? Quality? Warrantee? Return policy?". Consider all that together, and go for it.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  5. #5
    Disclosure: I have not had a chance to play a Mack Brass.

    However, I have personally tested both a Schiller and a Wessex and found the latter more impressive for tone and response.

    And, on a broader concept, I like that Wessex is holding the factory's feet to the fire with each batch of instruments. That should do a lot to increase the quality, and as Gary said, the extra quality may become one of the competitive things that improves the breed among all the makers.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
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  6. #6
    I own a Mack Brass Tuba and Euphonium and just recently purchased a Wessex Bass Trombone and Tenor trombone. I am happy with both companies and don't feel you could go wrong with either. I personally would avoid Schiller for two reasons. The first is the return policy that Gary mentions. Second is the deceptive attempt to make the uninformed purchaser believe the instruments are German made when they are not. I personally don't like the labeling of "Frankfurt Germany" when all the equipment is manufactured in China. Others may not care but it bothers me. I don't think there is any type of quality check on the Schiller side but I could be wrong. Best wishes with your choice.
    John 3:16

    Mack Brass Euphonium
    Conn Victor 5H Trombone
    Yamaha 354 Trombone
    Mack Brass 200S BBb Tuba

  7. As posted in another thread recently, I've played the Schiller 3 valve compensating baritone and the Wessex back to back, and there was no contest. The Wessex ran circles around the Schiller. I haven't compared my Wessex Dolce euph to any other euphonium (other than my Olds) but I really love it...it feels like a hybrid of the German Bessons and the old Yamaha 642 and I'm looking forward to comparing it against the top shelf euphs at the army conference next year.

  8. Sounds like Wessex is definitely the way to go and worth the extra. Also got the lesson teacher interested. I'm going to try a Tuba Exchange horn at TMEA to get a feel for the Jinbaos but if it's good I can tell the Wessex will be even better

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidus1 View Post
    ... the deceptive attempt to make the uninformed purchaser believe the instruments are German made when they are not. I personally don't like the labeling of "Frankfurt Germany" when all the equipment is manufactured in China. Others may not care but it bothers me. ...
    Well, to be perfectly accurate, what it says on the bell of my trombone is just "Frankfurt". When it arrived I showed it to my wife and said "Hey, look. It actually says 'Frankfurt' ON THE BELL!" Maybe there is a Frankfurt in China, although I can't seem to find one with Google. At this point in the history of the Schiller "brand", I think it's more in the category of being hilarious than in the category of being deceptive and offensive. Kind of like "Yeah, sure this is a genuine Rolex. I can give it to you for $100." And Schiller/Laabs isn't the only source that bends the truth in terms of their Chinese instruments although they've stuck with a fairly high degree of bending and some very carefully crafted marketing language.

    I don't think there is any type of quality check on the Schiller side but I could be wrong.
    I don't think you're wrong. But like I say, if you go into this with your eyes open, then you actually can get more than what you pay for -- depending on what you want and realistically expect. In my case I got a double-valve bass trombone that's a faithful clone of a King 7B and has had a couple of fit/finish problems (one of which is still being worked out) for $585 delivered to my door. This is about 25% of what a similar model horn in similar condition (like a real 7B) would have cost me -- even used, if I could find one. But I knew what I was getting. Would I recommend this path to the parents of, say, a middle school or high school student? No -- though maybe for some of the Schiller instruments and for some of those parents and students, depending on their financial situations. Definitely not for everyone.

    And in ALL cases, caveat emptor.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (Denis Wick 3XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba, modified Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K9/112 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

  10. #10
    Thanks, Gary. Your opinions and mine sometimes converge and sometimes diverge, but I think you speak in the language of reality with this phrase:
    if you go into this with your eyes open...

    and this one:
    And in ALL cases, caveat emptor.

    That is partly what I like about this forum. We inform people with a variety of opinions, which should help open eyes a little wider. When I go shopping I like to be armed with facts, and I like to think we all help others achieve that same goal.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
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