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Double Bell Euphonium

Postby TravisKeller » Fri Aug 03, 2007 7:44 pm

Just curious, how many of you have a double bell euphonium and how much did you spend on it? Do you think it is practical to buy one or would it be better to save up and buy a baritone horn or alto horn?

Thanks in advance,
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Postby druby » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:44 pm

I already posted a lengthy reply to Mr. Keller on Dave Werden's TubaEuph web site here. However, I also would be interested in feedback on experience playing double bell's. I mostly use mine for Tuba Christmas and for summer pops events.

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Postby windshieldbug » Fri Aug 03, 2007 10:35 pm

I've never found any music written for double-belled euphonium, and the ones I have (AND the other ones I've played) were more like double-belled baritones; not great for euphonium music... NONE-THE-LESS, if you're soloing, especially doing 19th century solos, it gives you that much more of a palate to work with. (Carnival of Venice can be out of this world... ) :shock: :D
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Postby TubaTinker » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:50 am

I have a double-bell that I resurrected a while back. I ain't talkin' about what I have in it because I may want to sell it one day. for the time being, it's not much more than a curiousity... maybe for a TubaChristmas. Save your money for something a little more practical.
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Postby EuphManRob » Sat Aug 04, 2007 9:11 am

windshieldbug wrote:I've never found any music written for double-belled euphonium, and the ones I have (AND the other ones I've played) were more like double-belled baritones; not great for euphonium music... NONE-THE-LESS, if you're soloing, especially doing 19th century solos, it gives you that much more of a palate to work with. (Carnival of Venice can be out of this world... ) :shock: :D

I have long wanted to hear the Jan Bach Concert Variations done on a double-bell, 'cause he actually wrote it with that in mind as a possibility. On all the repeated-note "echo" figures that are normally done with alternating fingerings, he writes, "or switch bells on a double-belled euphonium."

I think it'd be really interesting to hear.
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Postby Rick F » Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:29 am

windshieldbug wrote:I've never found any music written for double-belled euphonium <snip>

"Light Cavalry Overture" (Franz von Suppé) has markings to play 'trombone bell' after about the first 16 measures. We have one player in our band who has a DB euph. We asked him to play it that way... once. Then changed our mind. His DB euph is a 1934 Buescher and the tromb bell sounded more like an alto horn -- too tinny sounding.
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Postby windshieldbug » Sat Aug 04, 2007 11:35 am

Rick F wrote:His DB euph is a 1934 Buescher and the tromb bell sounded more like an alto horn -- too tinny sounding.


Remember, trombones in 1934 were, well, much more tinny sounding, too! :shock: :D

(but thanks for the music reference!)
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Postby Evil Ronnie » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:34 pm

The Northshore Concert Band has a section of four euphoniums. For our Forth of July concert, an outdoor gig on a local golf course, one of the guys brought out his double bell horn,a nice looking four valve, silver, engraved U.S.N.,don't remember which instrument company made it.

Our four players include I think a couple of Willsons, a MW, and a Yamaha. We did the Holst Suite in F that evening, and have to say that we were all surprised that evening by the smaller sound of that horn rather than what we were used to in rehearsals and on other performances of the Holst.

But for a conversation piece, I'd love to own one.

I have a g bass trombone with no valve and a wooden handle, proudly displayed in my living room. :D

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Postby Bob1062 » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:38 pm

Double belled euphoniums are for midgets . You NEED one of these instead (double belled 621 F tuba) :D :D-
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Postby Bob1062 » Sat Aug 04, 2007 1:48 pm

In a serious answer, I probably would never buy a double belled euph. If I had the money, I would instead get a Willson/Getzen/whatever non-comp 4 front valve euph (my dream euph!) and a nice marching baritone (bigger change from the "big" horn than an English baritone or an American baritone).


Truthfully I've never played one and I'm sure the people who do have one LOVE it. It just doesn't seem that I would enjoy it as much as a regular big euphonium (been playing a small-ish 3 valve euph for quite a long time).


Now a G bass trombone is a different story (or even the slightly bigger G/D bass!)! :D :D I'd love to play through the Planets on one of those!
Last edited by Bob1062 on Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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More feedback on playing double bells

Postby druby » Sat Aug 04, 2007 2:01 pm

IMO, the only double bells that would sound reasonable in a modern concert band are the late vintage (1930's and 1940's) C.G. Conn 30I or 36I models. These were essentially 4-valve Artist horns with the double-bell attachment. These were the horn typicaly used by the D.C. military bands (in satin silver, gold-wash bells, and fancy engraving) just prior to their converting to Bessons in the 40' and 50's. The sound on the large bell would be similar to my 1968 Connstellation.

A couple of words about the sound and playability of my 1941 Holton. It is in superb original unrestored condition. The valves have never been replated and compression is good on all 5 valves. While this horn may not play as good as when it left Elkhorn, Wis. in 1941, it is darn close.

The small side does sound like a Bb Alto horn rather than a trombone. I suspect the sound is even smaller than a modern english baritone. This is typical of all double-bells since these horns are not AS cylindrical as a trombone, have larger bores, but very small bells (about 6"). They do not resonate like a euphonium nor do they project well like a trombone. So while it can blend with a 'bone section, it cannot replace a trombone on an exposed part. On my horn, the small side actually plays well in tune, but I have to pull the 5th valve tuning slide out all the way to match pitch with the Euphonium side of the horn (which tends to be flat anyway).

The large side of the horn has a few WAY flat notes which apparently are fairly typical of Holtons (low Bb, A, and Ab). These same notes are pretty well in tune on the small side (go figure). The tone of the Euphonium side is thin compared with a modern horn, even though mine is an upright bell. This is to be expected just by looking at the bell section that has a smaller bottom bow and a much later flare than on my Besson Euphonium (or even than on either of my Conns). I can darken the horn up by playing a Wick 4AY but it really hurts intonation (which is problematic to begin with) and makes the high range hard work. This horn plays best with a Bach 6 1/2AL or smaller. Then the high range sings and the horn plays better in tune. However, as Rick points out, it doesn't blend with modern "English-style" Euphoniums (most of which are now made in Germany or Switzerland anyway!)

It is good to hear there is some classical literature written for the horn, but my suspicion is that these tended to be used for their novelty effect by the band soloists of the first half of the 20th century or as doubling instruments in ensembles.

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double bell euphoniums

Postby Mark Heter » Fri Aug 17, 2007 5:34 pm

I have never been able to confirm this, but the legend is that when Simone Mantia passed away, the fifth valve (little bell) on his euphonium was still unused. The US Marine Band I believe now has this horn in their collection. Wouldn't surprise me if the fifth valve was peened in place.

Henry Crespi, who played with the Allentown Band for 65 years on a Conn double bell recalled no occasion in his years with the horn that required the small bell.

Karl King, who played one on the circus bands before he swtiched "down" to cornet as a conductor, told me played the Conn because of it was free-blowing. I doubt he ever used the small bell, either.

But - they LOOK GREAT!
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