Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

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DouglasJB
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Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by DouglasJB »

Okay guys, I've thought for a while, CC and F or Eb, and I think at this point I am going to pick up an Eb in the next few months and get back into playing. (My last horn was a MW2141). The horn I am looking towards in the Willson 3400 FA (the big one Marty Erikson plays), so for those of you have played and/or owned this horn, what are some notable things you have noticed about the horn. What mouthpiece did you settle on? (For my MW2141 I tried a PT65, which did not work for me, and a Parter Titan which is larger and worked well). Are there any tubing issues you have noticed with the horns (such as low F 2345 pull slide). Where did you use this horn, what type of ensembles. And any other thoughts (good or bad) on the horn.

Thanks guys!!
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by GeoffC_UK »

Geoff (me) is an aging (decent amateur) Eb player from the UK having been brought up on B&H 3+1 horns.
He would only play Besson/B&H horns in brass bands and bought a 3400FA5s a couple of years back to use for orchestral and wind band work.
He found that the Willson is very well made and is a thing of beauty.
Pros: very responsive and focussed in all registers with a particularly gorgeous low register.
Cons: Heavy. Not enough water keys. Not cheap.
MP used: Bach 24AW, PT64 and PT65, Hellesberg 7B, Yamaha 66, Curry 124G, and Breslmair F3B (Std Euro and American shanks).
Overall the horn suited bigger, deeper bowled MPs, rather than shallow and funnelled.
Example: PT65 is a good start, but found it fell on personal preference in the end - for me the F3B.
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Ken38
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by Ken38 »

I have been playing on Willson 3400FA-5S for 3 years now, moved from Besson 983. 3400 is a great horn, it can be used for anything. Sweet sound with a lot more core than 983, good response and stable low register. 3400 however needs more power to play, particularly high note; it requires more concentration and air to hit above high Eb (983 is much easier to get there). Since I also play CC tuba (Willson3050 previously and PT-6P currently), I wanted to try F tuba as well. Then now I am testing B&S 3099 (borrowing) besides 3400 - obviously they are quite different. Although I think 3400 is also great for solo works, B&S is in a different world. After playing B&S for a while, I felt 3400 is similar to a small CC tuba... it depends on you, but if you need an instrument which has clearly distinct character than CC, choosing F might be a better choice. In case you want to use an Eb as a main instrument, 3400 is a perfect choice.

Me? Considering to "add" B&S3099 to my collection ;-)
Willson 3400FA-5S
B&S 3100
B&S PT-6PS
Michael Grant
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by Michael Grant »

The Willson 3400 has been my main horn since 2000. Most of that time it was my only horn. So, needless to say, I’ve used it for pretty much all playing. The sound is amazing. Blows free and easy in all registers. Solid tuba. I’m not an orchestral player so I have not used it in that setting but I know players that have and loved it. For brass quintets and brass ensemble (large and small) it really shines. Great chamber work horn as well. If you don’t have a water key added to the 3rd valve slide bow you’ll need to do a little spin to get the water out. Intonation is great. I use the 5th valve for one note and one note only. The low E. That’s it. Everything else works great with just 4 valves. Comfortable to hold and play. You can play it soft and lovely and you can let it rip. Because it is such a thick walled horn and heavier it can take it. The weight doesn’t bother me as I play sitting down (ha! Don’t we all). It sits comfortably on my lap and ergonomically is easy to hold. Overall, I love this horn. I really don’t play it as much as I used to as most of my work is done in a small early jazz and blues ensemble. I picked up a King 2341 for that and that is pretty much my main horn now. However, the 3400 is such a great horn I hate to get rid of it. If nothing else, it’s just plain fun to play. I’ve use the Marty Erickson designed ME1 that came with the horn for the first 21 years. It felt and sounded great with it so I never had a reason or desire to try anything else. On a whim, I recently started using my G & W Willowaw. That is the mouthpiece I use on the King and it’s feels and sounds great on the Willson as well. Since it also works very well with the Willson I figured why change mouthpieces between horns if I don’t have to. I highly recommend the 3400.
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by Sousaswag »

I love the 3400. I own the big 3200 in F, and really love it, but I’d bet the 3400 has better pitch.

Compared to the 2141, definitely better pitch. Like, 100% better. Much heavier, but that’s what we get with a Willson. You’d be able to use it wherever you want. The 2141 I (we?) both owned at one point was a DOG with intonation. Every Willson Eb I’ve played has been great.

Go with the Willson. You won’t regret it.
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by DouglasJB »

Yes, we owned the same 2141. I think at this point the Willson is what I'm going to be looking for.
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by Jess Haney »

I also have a 3400 and I love it. I have owned mine since 2010 and I use it almost exclusively for anything that is small ensemble. I have used it in small chamber orchestras and it is great. My 3100 I use in brass band and concert band and that seems to be the only thing I use it for as everything else is the 3400.
Brass Band Tacoma
Puget Brass
Willson BBb 3100 FA5
Willson Eb 3400 FA5

..and a miriad of other JUNK not worth mentioning.
DouglasJB
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by DouglasJB »

Jess, if you didn't have the 3100, would you feel comfortable using the 3400 in those ensembles?
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by Jess Haney »

DouglasJB I pretty much use the 3100 in brass band only. I may use it in a concert band or large orchestra but I have used my 3400 for 90% of what I do.
Brass Band Tacoma
Puget Brass
Willson BBb 3100 FA5
Willson Eb 3400 FA5

..and a miriad of other JUNK not worth mentioning.
Ken38
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by Ken38 »

I have been Eb player for many years (YEB321S > BE981-2 > BE983-2 > 3400FA-5S). 3400 feels like a horn between typical Eb and F tuba; it has a rich tone with a core. Its low tone sounds like a C tuba, so no problem to use it for large ensemble and even wind orchestra. Yes, this horn can be used for anything. I, however, found that playing high notes above high Eb which are used in solo repertoires is a bit tough. In addition, its sound is kind of similar to 4/4 C tubas, so if you need more clear sound you may feel rotary F tubas would be needed. In fact, I recently added B&S 3100 F tuba to my instrument list. I will mainly use 3400 but for solo and orchestra B&S would be a new main weapon and for larger setting PT-6P is the one. Anyway 3400 is quite versatile and I LOVE the sound. B&S cannot replace 3400.
Willson 3400FA-5S
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B&S PT-6PS
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by BTripp »

Ken38 wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 6:35 pm I have been playing on Willson 3400FA-5S for 3 years now, moved from Besson 983. 3400 is a great horn, it can be used for anything. Sweet sound with a lot more core than 983, good response and stable low register. 3400 however needs more power to play, particularly high note; it requires more concentration and air to hit above high Eb (983 is much easier to get there). Since I also play CC tuba (Willson3050 previously and PT-6P currently), I wanted to try F tuba as well. Then now I am testing B&S 3099 (borrowing) besides 3400 - obviously they are quite different. Although I think 3400 is also great for solo works, B&S is in a different world. After playing B&S for a while, I felt 3400 is similar to a small CC tuba... it depends on you, but if you need an instrument which has clearly distinct character than CC, choosing F might be a better choice. In case you want to use an Eb as a main instrument, 3400 is a perfect choice.

Me? Considering to "add" B&S3099 to my collection ;-)
Last edited by BTripp on Sat Nov 19, 2022 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by BTripp »

Michael Grant wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 9:14 pm The Willson 3400 has been my main horn since 2000. Most of that time it was my only horn. So, needless to say, I’ve used it for pretty much all playing. The sound is amazing. Blows free and easy in all registers. Solid tuba. I’m not an orchestral player so I have not used it in that setting but I know players that have and loved it. For brass quintets and brass ensemble (large and small) it really shines. Great chamber work horn as well. If you don’t have a water key added to the 3rd valve slide bow you’ll need to do a little spin to get the water out. Intonation is great. I use the 5th valve for one note and one note only. The low E. That’s it. Everything else works great with just 4 valves. Comfortable to hold and play. You can play it soft and lovely and you can let it rip. Because it is such a thick walled horn and heavier it can take it. The weight doesn’t bother me as I play sitting down (ha! Don’t we all). It sits comfortably on my lap and ergonomically is easy to hold. Overall, I love this horn. I really don’t play it as much as I used to as most of my work is done in a small early jazz and blues ensemble. I picked up a King 2341 for that and that is pretty much my main horn now. However, the 3400 is such a great horn I hate to get rid of it. If nothing else, it’s just plain fun to play. I’ve use the Marty Erickson designed ME1 that came with the horn for the first 21 years. It felt and sounded great with it so I never had a reason or desire to try anything else. On a whim, I recently started using my G & W Willowaw. That is the mouthpiece I use on the King and it’s feels and sounds great on the Willson as well. Since it also works very well with the Willson I figured why change mouthpieces between horns if I don’t have to. I highly recommend the 3400.
Last edited by BTripp on Fri Nov 18, 2022 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wilson 3400 FA thoughts/opinions/experiences

Post by BTripp »

Michael Grant wrote: Thu Oct 06, 2022 9:14 pm The Willson 3400 has been my main horn since 2000. Most of that time it was my only horn. So, needless to say, I’ve used it for pretty much all playing. The sound is amazing. Blows free and easy in all registers. Solid tuba. I’m not an orchestral player so I have not used it in that setting but I know players that have and loved it. For brass quintets and brass ensemble (large and small) it really shines. Great chamber work horn as well. If you don’t have a water key added to the 3rd valve slide bow you’ll need to do a little spin to get the water out. Intonation is great. I use the 5th valve for one note and one note only. The low E. That’s it. Everything else works great with just 4 valves. Comfortable to hold and play. You can play it soft and lovely and you can let it rip. Because it is such a thick walled horn and heavier it can take it. The weight doesn’t bother me as I play sitting down (ha! Don’t we all). It sits comfortably on my lap and ergonomically is easy to hold. Overall, I love this horn. I really don’t play it as much as I used to as most of my work is done in a small early jazz and blues ensemble. I picked up a King 2341 for that and that is pretty much my main horn now. However, the 3400 is such a great horn I hate to get rid of it. If nothing else, it’s just plain fun to play. I’ve use the Marty Erickson designed ME1 that came with the horn for the first 21 years. It felt and sounded great with it so I never had a reason or desire to try anything else. On a whim, I recently started using my G & W Willowaw. That is the mouthpiece I use on the King and it’s feels and sounds great on the Willson as well. Since it also works very well with the Willson I figured why change mouthpieces between horns if I don’t have to. I highly recommend the 3400.
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