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Thread: Willson 2950 vs 2900

  1. #1

    Willson 2950 vs 2900

    Hello all,
    Iíve recently received both a used 2950 and a used 2900 through Baltimore Brass, with the intention of shipping one back. Iím a musician in a Marine Corps fleet band and have auditioned for the last couple of premier band spots, without success(Iím not blaming the equipment though, Iím not at that level of musicianship yet).

    They both play well and I could see myself playing either comfortably and consistently if I had the time put in on them. The 2950 is more compatible with a large sounding more ďtransatlanticĒ dark sound. With the 2900 having soo much core and clarity (I didnít fully grasp what Dr. Bowman meant by having core to the sound until I played it). Iím leaning towards the 2900, but Iím not sure if thatís due to internet research and the sheer number of endorsements inside and outside of DC or because the smaller horn is actually better for me. Iím curious what the opinions of the forum members are.

    *if anyone wants to my strongest sound influences theyíd be :
    Jukka Myllys (the linkola is my favorite euphonium piece and recording)
    Col. Colburn (im upset he only has one album, itís perfect)
    MSgt Jenkins (that excerpt CD is great)
    Ben Pierce
    and many more, but those are the strongest.

  2. #2
    Welcome to the forum!

    I like your descriptions of the 2900/50. We have similar impressions. The main asset I find in the 2900 is that it is very, very consistent sounding from low range to high range. However, that for me is also its main drawback. The sound is always "this." But supposed I want the sound to be "that" for a while. I'm not saying I can't make it be "that" but I have a very hard time doing so. It interferes with my overall concept of what a euphonium should be. I want a horn that allows me to color the character of the sound a bit depending on the character of the music I'm playing.

    The 2950 comes closer for me. It seems a little more flexible, and I can get closer to an open, singing sound when I want it. The horn would still blend pretty well with a section of 2900's. But if your goal is to win an audition run by folks who play 2900's, the 2950 might be a disadvantage.

    Another factor is ease of playing. I love the way my Adams horn makes it easier to play things that were difficult to play on previous instruments I've had. In the stressful audition situation, that can come in handy! In that regard, the 2900 might be the better of the 2 Willsons, as long as you accept the sound it wants to provide. It is pretty darned consistent and dependable in its response to your input.
    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

  3. #3
    Thanks for the timely and helpful response!
    *update for the posterity of people who may have the same question in the future.

    I ended up getting the 2900. As a person who had tended towards larger equipment for years, this surprised me. I was lucky enough to get to play both horns in rehearsals with Marine Band San Diego and with colleagues in the band and the 2900 is designed exceptionally well for wind band playing. I ran the opening to Holst 1 with a tuba player and, while they both played well, the 2950 sounded like it was fighting for sonic space with the tuba and the 2900 fit right in with the sound making a richer sound with a nice shimmer on top, this took both of us by surprise as we both thought the larger horn would blend better. In fact the compact sound really payed off during rehearsal. I felt like I could fit in better with whatever section I wanted, add depth to the trombone, warmth to the clarinets, darken the horns up a little, basically just be the jack of all trades that wind band euphs need to be a little easier. I feel as if i also need to remark that the high register consistency is a bonus. With some horns I feel like I have to do tricky things with my air in the higher registers and as if there's unnecessary (almost dead) weight. With the 2900, faster and higher pressure air works perfectly and there's no fight, nothing tricky at all.

    I'm sure that a fair bit of my decision also has to do with listening to the Mark Jenkins CD nonstop for months, with a large percentage of my listening being 2900 players that has steered my sound concept considerably. Both horns were lovely, and were I in a different spot in my career where I could make use of the extra depth, width, and sonic colors I could see myself getting the larger Willson, or a larger horn in general. Yet, for where I'm at now the 2900 is a solid choice and there is no shortage of exceptional players in exceptional bands playing them.

    Alex S.

  4. #4
    For a while (many years ago) I was skeptical of the tone capabilities of the 2900, but then I sat next to Roger Behrend for 4 or 5 years. While I don't like everyone's 2900 sound, Roger made it sound better than anyone I've heard. Like we always say here, ya gotta find the horn that fits YOU.
    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

  5. I'd like to add a couple of things. Charley Brighton plays a 2900 (different leadpipe and receiver than the typical US military band horn). He also plays a HUGE Doug Elliott mouthpiece. His sound is very different than what is typically expected from the 2900. Two FINE euphonium players play in the New England Brass Band on 2900s. Aaron Rivkin (our solo player) studied at RNCM under Steven Mead and uses a largish mouthpiece (not Schilke 51D or BB1) on a medium shank 2900. Dr. Danielle Van Tuinen (soon to be prof. of tuba/euphonium at Univ. of Florida) uses a large shank 2900 with an Alliance DC3. Their sounds could not be more different. Both are great. Danielle's is VERY dark, rich and full. Aarons is very sweet and singing.

    These are three examples of really wonderful euphonium players who each have a different sound using the same (or very similar) horns. My point is that the uniformity of sound in some of the military bands where the performers all play 2900s (and generally use a variation of BB1 or 51D) is by design, but not necessarily required.

    OTOH, listen to Brandon Jones in the USAF band and you hear a VERY different sound coming from his Adams E3.

    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  6. #6
    USAF band did a really interesting concert a couple of months ago with David Childs - on one of the numbers featured four soloists -- Mr. Childs, playing on a Besson Prestige, John Cox (Adams E3), Eric Lundquist (Willson 2900) and Brandon who was playing a Yamaha Custom. I have to say that Brandon had my favorite sound out of the four of them that night! Hard to keep track of what instrument Brandon is using since he changes his mind so often... I'm sure he'll chime in. But anyways, I guess my point is that Doug is right that one's sound concept, embouchure, physiology, and mouthpiece have more to do with sound than the instrument which I'd say is maybe the last 20%.

  7. #7
    This is so fascinating, thank you for sharing your experiences on the different sounds by different euphonium players! It has definitely been enlightening and I definitely need to check all those names and recordings of them out
    "Never over complicate things. Accept "bad" days. Always enjoy yourself when playing, love the sound we can make on our instruments (because that's why we all started playing the Euph)"

    Euph: Yamaha 642II Neo - 千歌音
    Mouthpiece: K&G 4D, Denis Wick 5AL

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Harrisonburg, VA
    If you're looking for something more akin to Demondrae or Ben Pierce, then the 2950 would likely give you a sound closer to what you're looking for. The Miraphone they both play is a really big horn that can be super dark. Combined with Demondrae's big Warburton mouthpiece and Ben Pierce's 51D (at least that's what he was playing when I studied with him) then the sound could skew even darker and fuller. However, both of those guys make the horn sound small and brilliant at times, so the equipment obviously isn't the biggest factor in the sound you create. Sure it may help influence, but everyone plays differently and works better with different equipment.

    There's a guy in my studio that had a Willson 2900 and sold it for a Yamaha Custom series, and he sounds way darker and more consistent on that horn than the Willson. So really, your results may vary.

  9. #9
    Roger Behrend is another big influence. I'm even doing the "Nautical variations" that was written for him, with my band.

    Honestly the smaller equipment is good for me. I've studied with nothing but tuba players and got pretty good at copying that sound. My last teacher called me "a tuba player trapped in a euph player's body" and joked that if I kept playing the way I did in one lesson, he'd make me switch to tuba. On my last excerpt recordings the last half of Holst 1 sounded as if it could have been a smallish bass tuba (which was done on a government yamaha 842 in a probably too reverberant room). I personally prefer rich and resonant over big and dark as sound concepts, as I've went overboard on the latter two in the past. I also like to think about how easy and effortless guys like Demondrae, Ben Pierce, Lance laduke, and Jukka Myllys sound. The 2900 and 51d is definitely a battle tested combo for military band and if I can't make it work thats on me.

    also, those are some splendid players that I've never heard of, Doug. Again, thanks for all the input, everyone.

    Alex S.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2017
    Burke, Virginia
    If it's worth anything, for all of his recordings and his top recommendations for his students, Roger has always said that the Willson 2900 and Schilke 51D was the way to go. For me, there is just a classic and wonderful sound and response with that equipment set. Hope that helps!
    Michael Baker

    George Mason University Class of 2023

    Willson 2900 and Schilke 51D

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