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The Trombone ForumHorns, Gear, and EquipmentInstruments(Moderators: tbone62, slide advantage) Euphonium comparison: Yamaha 321 vs Wessex Dolce
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Author Topic: Euphonium comparison: Yamaha 321 vs Wessex Dolce  (Read 1149 times)
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ntap
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« on: Mar 19, 2017, 02:17PM »

Has anyone played these two horns back to back? Would love to hear some opinions. I know the 321 has a very good reputation among doublers, and I've also heard good things about the Wessex.

Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: Mar 19, 2017, 03:16PM »

Depends on what you want, I think.

I like the 321,but I prefer a compensating horn. The new front valve action compensating horn was very good.
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« Reply #2 on: Mar 19, 2017, 04:06PM »

Depends on what you want, I think.

Pretty much. The Yamaha and the Wessex are 2 very different horns. The 321 is small-shank, non-compensating with 4 valves on top, and the Dolce is large shank, compensating with 3 + 1 valves (and also a trigger, if you want one).

Neither is necessarily better than the other. I played on a 321 for about 3 years and I liked it very much, but I've only blown a Wessex once (pretty good, IMO).

If you are just looking to do some doubling for fun or maybe play in jazz or church group, I'd say go for the Yamaha.

However, if you want to play in a wind band or brass band, I would go with the Wessex.

Just my 2 cents, though. Other (more knowledgeable) people will probably have more valuable input.
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« Reply #3 on: Mar 19, 2017, 04:56PM »

The Wessex is a fantastic horn. The price is even better. If it were me this is a no brainer. FWIW I am a former euphonium player.
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« Reply #4 on: Mar 19, 2017, 05:00PM »

How about the Miraphone 56A5 rotary valve.  I thought piston/spring type valves went out of style in the 1980's but what do I know other than getting a better sound with rotary valved euphs?      
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 19, 2017, 07:54PM »

Thanks so much for the replies.  I confess to knowing next to nothing about euphoniums; I have a beater 321 that has served for the smattering of work I have on it each year.  I just did a quick run of Urinetown, which has a very fun euphonium part, and it got me thinking about my options... 
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« Reply #6 on: Mar 19, 2017, 08:13PM »

I got the plug in 5th valve for my 321 a few years back and it solved most of the limitations i felt the horn had for professional settings. Might be worth looking into as well.
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« Reply #7 on: Mar 19, 2017, 11:05PM »

How about the Miraphone 56A5 rotary valve.  I thought piston/spring type valves went out of style in the 1980's but what do I know other than getting a better sound with rotary valved euphs?      
A rotary baritone/ruphonium has more in common with the German oval euphoniums or tenor tuba than with a regular compensating euphonium you'd find in a concert band or British brass band. Very different instruments.
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« Reply #8 on: Mar 20, 2017, 03:40AM »

Maybe so, I don't know.  I used one in school and when played I found I had more in common with the tenor sax's in regards to sheet music.  It wasn't a Miraphone.  It was a real nice King which I can't seem to find any info. on these days.  So I mentioned the Miraphone 5 valve, which appears to be a fine piece of work.   
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« Reply #9 on: Mar 20, 2017, 06:46AM »

I've played both instruments extensively, though I am primarily a trombonist, so that shades my perception.

Fundamentally, both instruments are solid, and I think it comes down to what you are more comfortable playing. Compensating vs. non-compensating makes a huge difference in my opinion. For me, the compensating horns are stuffier and pitch tends to be whackier than on the non-compensators.

Sure, if you're playing below the staff, the compensating system will offer you a full chromatic down to the pedal B-flat, whereas on the non-compensator you have to make a choice about sacrificing a half-step somewhere along the way down, and you won't have a low B just above the pedal B-flat, but I've never been in the position of needing a low B. A solid low C on the other hand, that doesn't have to be finessed, can be a real money note.

Dave Werden provides a comparison chart for a number of compensating horns, including the Wessex Dolce.

http://www.dwerden.com/Intonation/

You can see on the charts that all instruments, regardless of manufacturer, have some off notes that require lipping or alternate fingering, and by the numbers, the Wessex is one of the more even instruments in this regard.

For me, and I highlight that this is my experience only, YMMV, the Yamaha 321 does not have this wide variance of pitch center, particularly in the middle range. I find I have to use a LOT of alternates to play in tune on the Wessex. Don't get me wrong, the Wessex sounds great, but it's taken me some time to get comfortable playing middle C with 13 and the B below it with 123. The E above middle C is perfect with just 2, but the F a half-step higher has to be played with 4 as the open horn is just too darn sharp.

I think it's likely that most true euphonium players are comfortable lipping notes, but I've always had that huge tuning slide in my right hand as a trombonist, and I don't find it an easy or comfortable thing to do.
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 20, 2017, 12:24PM »

I could be wrong, but I believe Dolce is essentially (if not exactly) the same as Mack Brass 1150 (which is slightly even cheaper). I played it in a pinch for, you guessed it, Urinetown and it worked fine. I would agree with a poster above that for a doubling player that I am, I found tuning trickier on it than Yamaha 321 (which I played on the other nights of the run) which worked beautifully. That book didn't really have a lot that comp system would make a difference, so Yamaha was easier. I think for shows like that, jazz or pop music, etc. I find Yamaha fits better. It has slightly more direct, clearer sound, too. Wind band, etc. might be a different story.
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« Reply #11 on: Mar 20, 2017, 04:28PM »

I've been playing a Yamaha 321 for literally decades, it is a very capable horn.  I had mine modified with a Euro-shank receiver to accept a more typical euphonium mouthpiece and that made a huge difference (the big drawback of the 321 is it's small shank receiver).  The compensating system allows you to play some lower notes without alternate fingerings, and it gives you a couple notes that are nearly impossible to get on a 321 without using false tones.  The big advantage of the compensating system is it makes playing in the lowest register of the horn a little easier.  Very little literature actually requires you to play the notes you can't get on a non-compensating horn.  If I were a current Euphonium professional / soloist I would get a good compensating horn, but for the average player a 321 will suite you fine.  I've had some discussions with my repair tech and he tells me he has trouble finding repair parts for some of the chinese made horns, you won't have that problem with a Yamaha the 321 is such a common horn that repair techs keep things like valve guides on hand.
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 20, 2017, 05:23PM »

Thank you all for the replies.  A lot of food for thought!
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« Reply #13 on: Mar 20, 2017, 07:51PM »

I could be wrong, but I believe Dolce is essentially (if not exactly) the same as Mack Brass 1150 (which is slightly even cheaper).

Wessex and Mack started out with the same design but Wessex has made upgrades.  The bell material is different (thicker and possibly harder sheet?).  Wessex uses a floating leadpipe and an Amado style water key on the second valve slide.  Inclusion of a gutter for the valve cluster.  Etc.  They may use different factories.  My colleague has a Mack and tried a Wessex and thought the Wessex was a little better than the Mack.  Both fine horns for the price.
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« Reply #14 on: Mar 20, 2017, 09:15PM »

I'd rather have the Wessex which, incidentally, is tons better in a number of regards than its sisters from the same factory.

It'll be a bigger sound, it's a more professional instrument.
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« Reply #15 on: Mar 21, 2017, 05:39AM »

I'd rather have the Wessex which, incidentally, is tons better in a number of regards than its sisters from the same factory.

It'll be a bigger sound, it's a more professional instrument.

I ask because I am trying to be better informed: tons better in what regards, specifically? Large bore, and.......?
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« Reply #16 on: Mar 21, 2017, 01:47PM »

Well, the Wessex as compared to the YEP-321 will be a larger bell, large bore receiver, bigger bore, compensating, and 3+1 valve layout.

The Wessex compared to Schiller, Mack, and any number of other clones will have better functioning valves, better threads on all the valves (super important since you oil them all at least once a day. If you have to fumble with poorly cut threads every single time it gets very frustrating very fast), free-floating leadpipe, better valve alignment, and they just slot better and play bigger.
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« Reply #17 on: Mar 21, 2017, 07:57PM »

I have never played a Wessex, but I had a 321 for about 3 days 20 years ago. It felt way too constricted to me and I sent it back and got a Willson. Non-compensating, but it sounds great.
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« Reply #18 on: Mar 22, 2017, 04:06AM »

Depending on the price you can find them for, you can swap out the receiver on the 321 for a large shank (as someone has done for a Euro shank here).  You might be able to find a used one. I liked the one I had but I never played euphonium after I dropped out of my masters program a few years ago.  Wasn't worth the space of keeping around! I've never played the Wessex ones (I was hoping theyd be at ATW) but at some point when I have more than a one room apartment I'll probably pick up one of them, althoguh their Miraphone clone tuba is probably a more likely bet for me
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« Reply #19 on: Mar 22, 2017, 05:42AM »

I own a Dolce, but haven't played the 321. The sound of the dolce is nice, but I've had to work extra hard on the low range. In general, its not as solid as a Willson I've played. For a dooubler, theres no complaint. I've had mine for a year and a half and played it once or twice a month. Fun horn to play.
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