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Thread: Looking for info on F.Besson Euphonium

  1. #1

    Looking for info on F.Besson Euphonium

    After a 25-year break I've decided it's time to find a Euphonium again and pick up where I left off. I've found an interesting one on eBay, but I'm in the dark about "French Besson". The horn looks in pretty good nick but I'm having trouble dating it from the serial number, which is 97xxx. According to 93000 relates to 1911 and 10200 to 1914, but then that's for London and the bell is stamped Paris and Made in France, in which case my last data point for extrapolation is 87001 in 1934, putting it around 1957, which seems more likely. The other thing of interest is that the valves protrude above the upper loop, making it more baritone-like - though I have seen other euphs with this design. I've seen a discussion about saxhorns on this site but I don't think this is one as it doesn't seen old enough (early 1900s) and the 3rd valve loop looks like a regular 1.5-step rather than 2-step. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    You might take a look here for more info:

    That horn looks pretty good for it's age. Definitely not modern production, and the 3rd valve is 1.5 steps.

    I have several horns from the early 1900's, and all of them have more intonation hassles than my modern one.

    They are, however, fun for certain occasions.

    If that eBay Besson is close to $1,400, I'd pop for a Wessex Dolce and play it without reservation.

    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original

  3. #3
    It's currently standing at around $1,000 given current exchange rates. Unmissable bargain?

    As for intonation issues, I haven't played for a quarter of a century, so will anyone notice?!

  4. #4
    Kbro, I've recently returned after a 30+ break and believe me, you will notice.

    It will be fun and frustrating but enjoy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    A tip:

    Euphs with leadpipe tuning slides never seem to play well with others...

    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original

  6. #6
    Thanks for the vote of confidence! So a Jupiter or any of the £250 horns on eBay are likely to frustrate me quite quickly. Whatís better for me then, a 1950s F.Besson or a Besson 1000, given that I donít have the budget for the Sovereign that Iíve always wanted since I played Sam Lydallís some time in the early 80s?

  7. #7
    Look at Wessex Dolce for about $1250. It is a four valve, compensating horn that is a very good horn. How do I know? I own one. And I also own and have owned very good, top of the line horns in several major brands.
    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
    Wessex TE-360 Bombino Eb Tuba
    Rapid City New Horizons & Municipal Bands (Euphonium)
    Black Hills Symphony Orchestra (Bass Trombone), Powder River Symphony, Gillette, WY (Tenor Trombone)
    Black Hills Brass Quintet (Tuba)

  8. #8
    Yes, wrapped like a baritone, but fatter bows like a euph. I've seen Cuesnon bari/euphs that are very similar.

    I'm with the consensus, a so called "lower grade" import (compared to true besson euphs) will likely play better in tune. No risk to have to have valves redone, and you get compensating. Maybe make a drive to Michigan to play the Wessex.

    I say, for a student, community band player, german group fanatic, or hobby player.....or actual pro, get the best playing horn you can afford. If you are fighting the horn to play in tune or get the sound you want, you'll hate it and be de-motivated, and quit. Even after 30 years, you'd be back in the saddle faster with a good playing horn. If you're not into the Chinese made horns, there is always the Conn baritones, which are still solid horns and ubiquitous.

    If you have nostalgia for the old horns, great! Get a wall hanger, because here are plenty of cheaper antique options that are unplayable for that.

  9. #9
    I'm thoroughly convinced that a low-priced shiny thing off eBay is going to be a disappointment from the moment I peel off the bubble-wrap. I'm not averse to a "Chinese horn", and given where I live in the UK (sorry, should probably fill in a few Profile details!) I've only got a 30-minute drive to Wessex Tubas workshop in Andover. However, my thoughts are currently swaying towards another British-badged Chinese brand - John Packer - based on a few things:

    (1) price - a JP274S comes in online at £1000 vs £1400 for the EP100S (yes, I could save £100 on both by going for lacquer, but I do have some standards :-)
    (2) sound - does a very good comparison of the JP274S and a Schiller Elite, which if you believe Matonizz is from the same Jinbao cookie-cutter design as the Wessex and Mack lines. Others have commented that the JP sounds more like a Besson and the Jinbaos more like Yamahas, and the review supports that view. I much prefer the fuller, rounder sound of the JP than the brighter, thinner sound of the Schiller. (I played Imperials and Yamahas in my previous life - though never my own! - and I always preferred the former)
    (3) build quality - maybe I'm putting too much store on the review, but the JP seems to be constructed much better than the Schiller - especially the valves (but, yes, it isn't a Wessex despite the similar parentage)
    (4) recommendation - my former bandmates who now run have nice things to say about JP - and they stock them, but not Wessex

    So that's where my thoughts are now, but I'll definitely take the trip to Andover before I make a final decision.

  10. #10
    Do tell us your findings! I am interested in knowing.

    Found out a dealer in Taiwan (none in my country, so I gotta travel to some other country nearby) selling JP , but somehow it's more expensive compared to Wessex, a few thousands (in my currency of course, probably around 200-300 Pounds after conversion) even.

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