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Thread: A Tale of Two Willsons

  1. #1

    A Tale of Two Willsons

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times... sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Anyways, I work at a local music store and amidst the school shutdown this spring a few schools sent in all their school owned instruments to get cleaned and sterilized. One such school dropped of an instrument in a very familiar Willson case, as I have for mine. The horn inside was also a 2950, like mine, which I thought was exciting on it's own. Then I checked the serial number, only to find it was ONE digit after of mine. Mine is Wxxx3, theirs was Wxxx4. So we asked the band director about the history of the horn, which I thought it was an interesting perspective on the paths instruments take in life.

    My horn's story is pretty straight forward. Bought it online in the summer of 2005 before college and have owned it ever since. Willson confirmed it was built in July of 2005, which would have been very shortly before I got it. I've played it on the few freelance gigs I've gotten, mostly my college alma mater when they need ringers, church gigs, and a musical or two. Otherwise not an exciting life, but a great musical partner.

    The school horn originally had a military background (though I don't know where or which group it served). It was purchased at auction through a base here in Ohio (again, no official date or location), and has served as a school instrument since then. Unfortunately I can't trace the history any further, but it did have larger finger buttons which I assume were the military player's preference (or replacements).

    To me it's absolutely fascinating to see two horns that most likely started out close together in the factory in Switzerland 15 years ago, now together again. I'll attach an image of the two, taken quickly on my phone. Mine is on the left (sorely in need of a good polishing), and the school/military horn on the right (pre-chem clean, which cleaned up nicely, and before rolling out the bell).

    Click image for larger version. 

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  2. FWIW, while the finger buttons on your horn look like standard Willson, the ones on Wxxx4 look like the "Bauerfeind" buttons from my 2009 Sterling. They would be interchangeable since for many years, Bauerfeind made Willson's valvesets.

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

  3. #3
    That reminds me of another old commercial, this one for Timex. "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

    Willsons are built to be used. I know schools are hard on them, but service-band life can be as well if it is a travelling unit. They seem to hold up about as well as any brand could, similar to the classic Bessons. Heavy metal and plenty of bracing!
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece (DC4)
    YouTube: dwerden
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  4. If Charley Brighton were to get his hands on the right hand horn, it would look brand new!! They clean up nicely.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Hidden Valley, AZ
    Posts
    805
    I played a 2950 for 6 months, courtesy of my local guard unit.

    I really appreciated the loan! But;

    I was very happy to get me ol' Besson back from Oberloh ...
    1966 Besson 181 highly modified New Standard
    1918 Hawkes & Son euph 3&1 original
    1915 York Bb tenorhorn original

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by daruby View Post
    FWIW, while the finger buttons on your horn look like standard Willson, the ones on Wxxx4 look like the "Bauerfeind" buttons from my 2009 Sterling. They would be interchangeable since for many years, Bauerfeind made Willson's valvesets.

    Doug
    Interesting about the buttons. I've owned two Willsons, a 2950 which I bought new from WWBW circa 2003 when it was still a real store, and a 2900 that I believe was from the mid-90s (I can't remember exactly now). Both had the same buttons as the horn on the right. I always figured the ones in the photo on the left were the "newer" style, but maybe not?
    Sean

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Farmington Hills, MI
    Posts
    316
    Quote Originally Posted by davewerden View Post
    That reminds me of another old commercial, this one for Timex. "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking."

    Willsons are built to be used. I know schools are hard on them, but service-band life can be as well if it is a travelling unit. They seem to hold up about as well as any brand could, similar to the classic Bessons. Heavy metal and plenty of bracing!
    Definitely true in my experience. My 2900 was purchased in 1981. A very early model and it’s still in great shape. Kudo’s to tech supreme Kevin Powers for his great work over the years.

  8. Quote Originally Posted by spkissane View Post
    Interesting about the buttons. I've owned two Willsons, a 2950 which I bought new from WWBW circa 2003 when it was still a real store, and a 2900 that I believe was from the mid-90s (I can't remember exactly now). Both had the same buttons as the horn on the right. I always figured the ones in the photo on the left were the "newer" style, but maybe not?
    Willson started making their own valvesets a few years ago. Don't know when. However, I do agree that the buttons on the left are the "newer" style.
    Sterling Virtuoso 1065HGS & Adams E3 Prototype 0.70 Top Sprung valves
    Sterling Virtuoso 1050HGS baritone
    New England Brass Band
    Winchendon Winds/Townsend Military Band

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