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Thread: Variance in the same model

  1. #1

    Variance in the same model

    Most of us like to try new horns - I certainly do (even though I've settled into what I consider the perfect setup for me currently). And when shopping and testing, and shopping some more and testing some more, we'll often play on several examples of the same make and model. Theoretically, modern instruments coming out of a factory SHOULD be pretty consistent from horn to horn, but we know that's not always the case.

    That got me wondering - what exactly are all the variables that can make such big differences from horn to horn, most things being equal? What kinds of things in the manufacturing process can make one euphonium a dog and the very next one amazing?

    To quote Peter Venkman: "Pretend for a moment that I don't know anything about metallurgy, engineering, or physics, and just tell me what the hell is going on."
    Sean

  2. Parts can get misaligned and/or forced into place while being assembled, which can cause extra solder, or no solder, or tension. There's also stuff you can't see, like maybe a batch of parts wasn't heat treated in the same way as the rest. Or maybe a part got dented, and then repaired, and the work hardening wasn't annealed out enough, or maybe it was annealed too much. Or maybe there's a crack or lack of a solder seal on the compensating circuit at the second valve and it makes your horn just buzz or play stuffy at the couple of notes that use that. Or a pencil or dead mouse in your horn.

  3. #3
    yep, hyperbolica is right on the money. Especially with rotary valves, they can be easily misaligned in assembly. Big globs of solder can accumulate inside the bore at joints and go unnoticed. subtle leaks or poor compression in the valves can do a lot. tension in assembly. And absolutely just the way the parts are worked when they are forming them.
    --
    Barry

  4. #4
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    "Or a pencil or dead mouse in your horn."

    Had a pencil fall into the horn, but not mouse (yet)
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    The San Diego Concert Band
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  5. #5
    A famous brass technician of yesteryear was well known for improving Bessons (the only game in town at that time, along with B&H). Sometimes he would replace the leadpipe with his own design, but that doesn't apply to your question. Most of the magic he did with the horn's response, and even intonation, was to take apart the joints and put them back together smoothly and well aligned.

    Some factories do a better job than others of getting that right. Those will produce the most consistent horns. But for a production, compensating 4-valve euphonium, I don't think any of them can assure the buyer that all joints are perfect. It takes a lot more time to do that, which would result in huge price increases.

    One of the highest level trumpet makers is Resonance (they make Sergei Nakariakov's horn, for example). Their trumpet costs about 3x what an Adams trumpet costs. I suspect the multiplier might be higher if Resonance make compensating euphoniums, which are vastly more complex to assemble. So I suppose if Adams were to charge about $25-30k for a euphonium they could assure a higher level of care than they already deliver. Any takers?

    In the meantime, we are VERY LUCKY to have so many fine instruments to choose from that are in the $1k-10k range roughly. We have discussed most of them on the forum and several makes have their own enthusiastic fans. As far as I can tell from all the testing I do, the top brands today are much more consistent than the Bessons of the olden days. That's not to say that the old Bessons don't have their charm and their fans (including me), but they were less consistent than we see today.
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
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  6. Quote Originally Posted by tonewheeler View Post
    "Or a pencil or dead mouse in your horn."

    Had a pencil fall into the horn, but not mouse (yet)
    I bought a tuba that sat in a guy's barn for years, and it actually had a desicated mouse and its nest inside. I played the instrument for a week before I found it too.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by hyperbolica View Post
    I bought a tuba that sat in a guy's barn for years, and it actually had a desicated mouse and its nest inside. I played the instrument for a week before I found it too.
    That's....very disturbing

  8. #8
    I suspect like others have said, it's small variances in the way the horn is soldered together.

    I have 2 identical model besson baritones, and they play wildly differently from one another, despite both being post 2010 German manufacture. Go figure, right?

    I agree with Dave that devoting an incredible amount of time to making sure every joint is perfect would make the cost of horns go way up. I guess we're still in the "play one until it feels good to you". Sadly, there aren't many places you can try a bunch of horns and take one home (even outside COVID times). Makes for a difficult journey if you don't know someone that works at the distributor, and can't go to the factory to play the lot and take one with you.

    Quote Originally Posted by spkissane View Post
    Most of us like to try new horns - I certainly do (even though I've settled into what I consider the perfect setup for me currently). And when shopping and testing, and shopping some more and testing some more, we'll often play on several examples of the same make and model. Theoretically, modern instruments coming out of a factory SHOULD be pretty consistent from horn to horn, but we know that's not always the case.

    That got me wondering - what exactly are all the variables that can make such big differences from horn to horn, most things being equal? What kinds of things in the manufacturing process can make one euphonium a dog and the very next one amazing?

    To quote Peter Venkman: "Pretend for a moment that I don't know anything about metallurgy, engineering, or physics, and just tell me what the hell is going on."
    Mike Taylor

    Illinois Brass Band
    Fox Valley Brass Band

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