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Thread: Sinfonico review (an Amateurs perspective)

  1. #1

    Sinfonico review (an Amateurs perspective)

    I am on day five of ownership of a Sinfonico, so I will share my initial impressions.

    My background, I have a degree in music, and played in championship bands, so professional standard, but not career building good if that makes sense… but haven’t really played for the last 8 years and only spent the last few weeks getting my lip back in, so I am very rusty…

    Played on 1920s Solbrons, 70s imperials, lottery funded and globe/round stamp sovereigns Besson Prestige’s Yamaha Neo’s and a sterling virtuoso, so will compare the Sinfonico to these past experiences.

    This is an amateur and rusty embouchure based review, so please bear that in mind…

    All my previous Euphs were built before 2008 and it is likely that new instrument advancements in other brands offerings has since changed.

    Build:

    Seems as good as any other euphonium, I think that people confuse a lack of weight with poor quality, but all new instruments are lighter than the oldest ones, my 1920s euph was much heavier than even the much lauded 1970s Imperials, I expect that improvements in machinery and silver application is a big factor in the reduced weight in newer instruments. The Sinfonico is about the same weight as a Neo, so it’s not something that concerns me.

    Threads for valve screws do seem a little harder to get on compared with any other instrument I have used, non have which have been factory new, but if I use my left hand to screw they go on fine? I think that will improve over time, but to be honest it’s not something I would send the euph back over.

    Finish on the silver was to my eyes perfect, seems as thickly plated as newer instruments.

    Compression is insane, it’s actually quite difficult to pull tuning slides even after plenty of slide grease, never experienced this before on other euphs, even on a 6 month old sterling virtuoso, I assume this is a good thing.

    Valves are good, but put some Mead springs in them as the standard ones are plain metal and noisier than the Mead ones. The tolerance is so tight so will require more breaking in and cleaning etc. before they are as smooth as I would like.

    Ergonomics: the Sinfonico is narrower than other Euphs, which my short arms are loving, especially when standing.

    Intonation:

    It comes with two main tuning slides, I have to use the bigger slide to be in tune, I can have every note in the lower register perfect, but the dreaded sixth partial F F sharp etc is currently 20 cents flat!

    I have a theory that my embouchure is so used to compensating for Besson sharpness that I will have to get used to the instrument and then it will resolve itself enough to lip it when back in ensembles.

    After a 8 year break I resumed playing 6 weeks ago on an borrowed 80s Imperial that had been abused by students, within a few day I was getting top Cs, my range had never been higher than a top D on any instrument including cornet, so I was really surprised when on the Sinfonico I got a super C! Albeit it was extremely weedy, but it was refreshing to not have the instrument fight me to get there…. I am guessing this responsiveness comes from the handcrafted single sheet brass?

    Or is it just generally new instrument have improved that much?

    Tone:

    While the design of the Sinfonico is very unique, I would liken it to the core of an 70s Imperial, with some of the slightly extra resonance the globe stamp sovereigns have, I really like it because of the uniqueness, but if your idea of a sound profile is vastly different you might not.

    That resonance isn’t consistent, but I blame my rusty embouchure for not being used to this instrument.

    I have not played it in any ensemble so can’t comment how it blends in a British brass band, though I have heard cornet sections all on Prestiges that didn’t blend, so I would say that blending is more down to player than instrument….

    Will it last long term?

    I don’t see why not, if you look after it. I will let you know in 50 years time…

    Final thoughts:

    How did I find the other professional euphs?

    Note all borrowed from being in bands, never owned one, except the 1920s one.

    Besson prestige’s: stuffy and very resistant to being played

    Neo: loved this instrument easy to blow, didn’t have it for very long, if I had a bigger budget it would have been a contender…

    Virtuoso: adored this, felt familiar to other besson designs, it was what the prestige should have been, if I had the money for new this would have the number one choice.

    Lottery sovereign and globe stamp: lovely, both of them, I think I had very good examples of both, only the logo seemed to be the only difference?

    80s imperial: leaky air bucket hadn’t survived the abuse from students

    70s Imperial: heavy, marching was back breaking! But loved it…

    20s Solbron: A literal Tank, got me through the last year of uni with a distinction in final performance, originally in high pitch, red rot killed it hence the new purchase.

    Why did I buy a new Sinfonico rather than an equivalent 3k sovereign?

    COVID means you can’t drive around having a go on instruments to find good examples, especially used ones which need more care to find a decent surviving example of.

    Instrument wear and loss of compression on an older instrument, so you would pay 3k then possibly need another 2k to get it restored, and full restorations including rebuilding valves can go well, or badly and not liking how it plays afterwards with no way of telling until after the work is done and paid for, expensive gamble, not prepared to risk it. If your experiences of restoration instruments is different from mine, you might disagree here…

    Improved range… super C! Pieces that have top Fs and Gs should be possible once my embouchure is restored, never really realised how much my older euphs restricted my playable range, I guess from air leakage??

    Returns policy: if I decide I don’t like it in a week or so it can be returned, used instruments don’t have that policy, so this was a good gamble.

    With a much bigger budget I guess I would have had different options, Geneva, Sterling Neo etc. But saying that, I do think that the Sinfonico is shaping up to be a unique, and dare I say it , a professional level euph. I hope it breaks in the way I think it will, then I can keep it and enjoy it.
    Last edited by Jharris; 06-19-2021 at 02:07 PM.

  2. #2
    Jharris, welcome to the forum!!

    Happy to see that you have just acquired a new Wessex Sinfonico. Thanks for the nice review and perspective! I found the valve caps and bottoms much easier to screw in than on my Wessex Dolce. They are not perfect yet, but much better than some other models. I don't quite understand why it seems to be so hard to figure out the threads and valve caps on euphoniums. That remains a total mystery to me.

    I experienced the tight slides as well. I put grease on them, slightly better, but still pretty tight. Now compare that to my Adams, for example, the first valve slide is so free moving that it moves on its own. I had to do a little something to make sure it didn't fall out when playing. Two extremes, I guess. I would think that Wessex would want to perhaps lessen the tightness a wee bit on the slides on the Sinfonico.

    I would like to hear from you in a few weeks or months about how the horn is working for you. I only had one for maybe 10 hours of playing, and I really liked it.

    Thanks again for the nice review and welcome to this great euphonium/tuba community.
    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)

  3. #3
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    Welcome to the forum JHarris! Thanks for writing a through review. Good read!
    Rick Floyd
    Miraphone 5050 - Warburton Brandon Jones sig mpc
    YEP-641S (on long-term loan to grandson)
    Doug Elliott - 102 rim; I-cup; I-9 shank


    "Always play with a good tone, never louder than lovely, never softer than supported." - author unknown.
    Symphonic Band of the Palm Beaches
    Russian Christmas Music (Alfred Reed)
    El Relicario (Jose Padilla; arr. R. Longfield)

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Jharris View Post
    Threads for valve screws do seem a little harder to get on compared with any other instrument I have used, non have which have been factory new, but if I use my left hand to screw they go on fine? I think that will improve over time, but to be honest it’s not something I would send the euph back over.
    Welcome to the forum, and thanks for your thorough review!

    Here is a little video I did 4 years ago, which might help you deal with this more easily:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhMzkgQQtSw
    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. #5
    Thanks for the video pointer Dave!
    John, I think that overly tight slides at this stage might help in twenty years, if speculation about longevity is something Chinese instruments have to contend with, perhaps Wessex have made some design decisions like that deliberately?

    Will do a revisited, as it is extremely likely I am keeping it, are there anything’s in particular I could be watching out for as the Sinfonico breaks in that would be useful to know?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jharris View Post
    ...Will do a revisited, as it is extremely likely I am keeping it, are there anything’s in particular I could be watching out for as the Sinfonico breaks in that would be useful to know?
    Stay on the valves, clean them frequently and keep them well oiled. Give the horn a good thorough bath at some point to flush out anything lurking inside. Get a good instrument cleaning kit with snakes and such to help with cleaning (not live sakes, brush snakes).

    Cleanliness and real clean and properly oiled valves is key to keeping the horn and you both happy.

    Other than that, watch out for wrong notes, unless you intended to do that.

    I am curious about your main tuning slide. You stated that you used the longer one. When I recently reviewed/tested the Sinfonico, I only had the shorter main tuning slide, and I had to pull it almost all out to have the horn play in tune. I suspected that the longer tuning slide would be a better choice on this horn. Did you try the shorter main tuning slide? What kind of results did you have if you did try the shorter slide?
    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)

  7. #7
    Thanks for all the posts on this horn. I've been interested in it. Sounds like a solid horn. I like the copper plating as well. Different!
    John 3:16

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

  8. #8
    I did try the shorter main tuning slide and was very sharp, over 30 cents across the board, but I am aware that:
    1: My embouchure is not what it used to be.
    2: Years of fighting an increasingly leaky 100/50/40 year old instruments, mean my instinct is to push so much it could easily affect tuning.
    3: I haven’t adjusted properly to this instrument yet, nor has it broken in completely.

    Basically, I am blaming myself more than the instrument at this stage, I have been putting an 60-90 daily practice routine in for 6 weeks after an 8 year break and only 5 of those day have been on the Sinfonico.

    The larger MT slide has still ended up just a smidge above the bottom bow, so I am not pressing the water key by accident.

    It actually looks more like the 1920s Solbron MT slide, after it had been converted from high pitch.

    I think as I adjust to the instrument, which means making a conscious effort to put less effort/airflow through the mouthpiece and allow the instrument do the work, then it might end up being retuned.

    Instrument has been washed once, greased twice and valves oiled daily, I expected more visible factory gunk, but other than slightly murky water I didn’t see anything come out.

    Perhaps the Wessex check includes a thorough clean to get the worst of it out? It was pregreased and valves were ready to go out of the case…

    The copper detailing is far more muted than the website imagery would suggest, which I am greatly appreciative of.

    A gold mouthpiece would go with it, but I prefer silver…

    Does anyone know if the copper, particularly in the bell colours the sound significantly?

    The logo/bell engraving is not what I thought it was going to be, I half expected a massive Wessex Dragon, I am sure that I have seen that on one of their instruments at some point… but instead it is detailed and artistically delicate, not like the boring logos, that are just initials or the written name of the brand.

    The wife (a cornet player) and my mum both have said this is a “pretty” instrument, which I agree with, but my decision behind trying the Sinfonico was that its 11 inch bell and handcrafted aspects, might mean it was like the first Euph I ever played soundwise, a 70s imperial, that made me fall in love with the euphonium, a different 70s imperial landed me a decent chair and favourable comments from Professor David King at Uni.

    The cost of buying an Imperial and then restoring it was comparable to buying a Sinfonico, yet I would have been missing out on the advances a modern instrument brings, freer blowing, and unbelievable high range…

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by John Morgan View Post

    I am curious about your main tuning slide. You stated that you used the longer one. When I recently reviewed/tested the Sinfonico, I only had the shorter main tuning slide, and I had to pull it almost all out to have the horn play in tune. I suspected that the longer tuning slide would be a better choice on this horn. Did you try the shorter main tuning slide? What kind of results did you have if you did try the shorter slide?
    Hi John, if I remember correctly, you did have the longer slide but it was damaged so you couldn’t test it. You made mention of it in your review:

    The tuning slides all move well, and the tolerances are very close. It takes a bit of effort to pull them out and push them in, but this probably eases up with use (and cleaning and greasing). Regarding tuning slides, the Sinfonico comes with the standard main tuning slide and another main tuning slide that is about an inch or so longer. I found when playing the horn and using a tuner, the standard main tuning slide needed to be extended to its maximum pull for the horn to play in tune (and using my mouthpiece on the large shank receiver). The longer main tuning slide I believe would be the appropriate slide for this horn, however the one that was shipped to me did not fit in the horn (the alignment was off a bit, and I did not want to force it).
    Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick SM3 Ultra mouthpiece.

  10. #10
    Yes, I did have the longer tuning slide. I don't think it was damaged, it just did not quite fit into the the horn, was off just a wee, wee bit, and I did not want to force it and be out of luck and out of business with the horn I was testing and evaluating.
    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)

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