3 Valve or 4 Valve Baritone....

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by AndrewCrampton, Nov 4, 2011.

  1. AndrewCrampton

    AndrewCrampton New Member

    Which is better, 3 valve or 4?

    Also what is the best baritone you've ever played on?
  2. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    I have to say I don't see the point of four-valve baritones. Mainly because the four-valve versions seem to incorporate a wider bore, which makes them sound more euphonium-like and ruins the bridging position the instrument occupies at the bottom end of the horn section.

    Three-valve baritones are generally fully compensated on first and third valve (that's the extra bit of tubing that goes from 1 to 3) so unlike a cornet or horn, the low D (1+3) and C sharp (1+2+3) are fine pitching wise - whereas the four-valve ones are only compensated when the fourth valve is in use, the same as a tuba. So you are forced into using the fourth or the C-sharp and D will be very sharp.

    Since the primary value of a fourth valve is to correct tuning issues (which I've already outlined don't apply to a well-constructed 3-valve) and to fill in the gap between the lof F-sharp and pedal C (which is a range that a baritone player simply doesn't need in 99% of the repertoire) then the extra cost for a 4-valve isn't justified in my book - particularly when you're normally getting a woolier sounding instrument for your money, and a fourth valve is by no means a perfect tuning solution!

    My girlfriend plays on a fairly recent Sov at the moment which, though it is the ubiquitous 'vanilla ice-cream" of all band instrument selections, is strong in all registers and has held it's finish well - despite the regular inattention it has received as regards maintenance!

    I've heard good things about Geneva baritones too.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2011
  3. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    3 valves for me, and I haven't found anything better than a Sov yet although I'd really like to get my hands on a Geneva to see what they're like!

    For me, most 4-valve models have a bigger, fatter sound, which is fabulous for solos but doesn't work so well in the ensemble imho. I chose to play baritone horn instead of euph, so I want to sound like I'm playing one. There are a few odd notes and passages in some trickier pieces that would be easier with a 4th valve, but so far the only thing I've found that's totally unplayable on 3 valves is a few bottom F's in The Devil... which are covered by other instruments anyway - imo its not worth the compromise.
  4. eflatbass

    eflatbass Supporting Member

    I am an old stager, but for me the 3 valve 'Imperial', circa 1972, was a peach of an instrument - and it sounded like a baritone, not a euphonium. Even more recent, well cared-for Imperials, are very good.

    The Sovereigns I have played have been very disappointing to me, but perhaps that is just my personal response to the model, and to the kind of sound I expect from a baritone. Okay; I haven't played a 4 valve baritone, but could not envisage a time when the extra valve would have been necessary.
  5. euphymike

    euphymike Member

    After learning to play on a four valve Euph I know play lowly second baritone. I was lucky to get an old sovereign 956GS cheap. It played well but was a bit wooly sounding. That's until I got a Vincent Bach 3! The sound was open, big and tuning was better. I purchased a new BE 2056 four valve on a whim to go to nationals in 09. This is just a far superior instrument than anything else. First of all it's fully compensatedn and is so in tune with itself.
    You cannot play bottom Db with the euphs in tune on a three valve it's too sharp and about six inches of pipe missing.
    Yes you need the fourth for the runs in devil and the deep blue.
    As for sound its certainly not as 'parpy' as the older smaller bore.
    I try other MP's in it but can't beat the VB3 for open sound and tuning. I recently bought a new mead ultra 4. it's a nice feel on the chops but produces a thin sound and has a tuning malfunction mid range. Well for me anyway.
    Yep old stuff maybe good but I don't see most banders driving around in a 1965 ford Anglia. Technology work and certainly on instruments!
    But what do I know I play second baritone!
  6. NWBari

    NWBari New Member

    Its a 3 valve all the way for me! Played on a Sov for years and always thought I'd replace with another one when the time came. When it did come I tried a new sov and a York and found the York was just perfect for me and two years later still find it the best instrument I've ever played. I played on a 4 valve for a while whilst at uni as the band I played with lent me one but I really didn't enjoy playing it, I found the sound not what I expect to hear from a baritone and felt it was too near a Euph and to far away from a horn to be able to bridge the gap in the way I would like.
    I know some players can produce a phenomenal baritone sound on a 4 valve (Katrina Marzella CD is a fantastic example of this) but personally I feel the 3 valve is far better for what we are required to do 99% of the time.
    I am yet to see my part for Devil... but have no intention of getting a 4 valve just because there are bottom F's in the part. Having played in concert bands and covering bassoon parts from time to time I have had to learn to lip down to get bottom F's to Db's so will aim to do the same on this piece (if its possible- speed dependant). I'd rather have the 3 valve sound and instrument I trust for the rest of the piece tbh.
  7. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    There are a few bottom Fs in Devil, but they're all at the beginning or end of fast runs and the euphs have them too so (imho) they can be missed out without any dramas.
  8. euphymike

    euphymike Member

    I will say that from G downwards you can get a baritone to sound 'bigger' but that can be sometimes at the expense of tone quality. However from an acoustic and engineering perspective the more tapered bore of a baritone will always sound brighter and therefore more horn than the conical bore of the euphonium which because of the bell naturally has a more penetrating sound. That maybe why the majority of low brass solos are for euphonium. I remembering 'showing off' years ago and playing the grandfather clock on baritone at an open air gig. I think the solo got lost in outer space.
    Devil and the deep blue. For someone like me who uses the 'appendige valve' at every opportunity it will be getting a lot of use in this piece.
  9. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    If I might venture a mechanical opinion....

    A common misconception I'm afraid. As I posted earlier in this thread, four valve instruments are only compensated when the fourth valve is in use. So by employing a fourth valve you're actually further compromising the tuning on the third and first valves.

    That's actually not quite correct. Most three valve baritones have an additional section of pipe which fully compensates the instrument when the first and third valves are used in conjunction, but not separately. This flattens the instrument slightly on 1+3 and 1+2+3 and puts the D and C sharp in tune without compromising the 1+2 or 2+3 combinations - or any single valve on it's own.

    Of course, what you state is true if the instrument is completely non-compensating (like a tenor horn) but those instruments are very much in the minority - and six inches is something of an exaggeration! ;) In my experience most of the difficulties experienced in a band context on low D and C# between euphonium and baritone players is down to either the relative level of ability of the baritones as players (bands often tend to 'hide' less confident players, or players who's best days are behind them there) or the vagueries of tuning enherent in a Sovereign Euphonium. (Getting two of them in tune with each other is often difficult enough, let alone with a baritone as well!)

    True, but you want it to sound like a saxhorn. If it sounds like a euphonium, why not just put in a 3rd and 4th euphonium? The smaller bore is there for a reason. To unify the trombone, tenor horn and tuba groups while maintaining a distinct sound.

    Another old adage is that if it ain't broke you don't fix it.

    Again, it's a matter of opinion. As I've stated before I don't necessarily see any problem with incorporating a fourth valve on a baritone - I just can't understand why that always seems to come parcelled up with a needless widening of the bore of the instrument which causes a complete change of tone colour (almost to a euphonium) and a hike in price of a grand or so, for something that will be largely redundant to the player for 99.9% of the repertoire and will actually make the tuning worse. I'm not convinced that the 'update' to four valves is in any way an improvement.

    2nd baritone is one of those chairs in a band that you don't necessarily hear when the player's there - but you don't half miss when they're not. A good second baritone, like a good 1st and 2nd horn and a couple of good back row cornets is the backbone of your middle-sound as a band. All vital chairs. :)
  10. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I was going to write that when Mike wrote his original post! But then decided that life was too short... So I'll just lazily plus one it instead...

    For what it's worth, a quick calculation tells me that a non-compensating instrument is short on that C# by approx. 5 inches, which is not so far from Mike's assertion. However, we were talking about compensating instruments (as all decent 3-valve baritones are), and on one of those, an instrument that has its 3rd valve tuned to 3 equally tempered semitones is short on the C# by only approx. 1 inch. However however though... I believe that it was common practice to tune the 3rd valve on 3-valve compensating baritones a little flat in order to ameliorate this even further.

    Personally, I have always found a well-designed 3-valve baritone to be about as in tune with itself across its whole register as any valved brass instrument.


    Be proud of the baritone sound! Don't join the euphoniums in their mindless rush for the biggest and least interesting available sound...

    I suspect what happened was that some marketing department sent their engineering department a memo declaring that the time for a 4-valve baritone had arrived. The engineers grafted on a fourth valve to their existing baritone design, and I suspect strongly would have found that it made it blow noticeably more stuffily - hence the increase in bore to offset this hypothetical increase in resistance. I don't see why else a bigger bore would have got bound up with the extra valve in the way it has.
  11. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    Of course you can - you just have to use your chops and the 3rd valve slide! Its no worse a note for tuning than any of the other dodgy notes on the bari or any other instrument imho, you just have to know what they are and how to adjust for them.

    And just because (as usual!) these guys say what I'm thinking a lot better than I could say it myself...
    ^ what they said ;-)
  12. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Incidentally - it seems at least one significant manufacturer now prefers a non-compensating system and a main-slide trigger to a compensated 1+3 system. Can anyone explain the logic of that to me?
  13. nigeb12

    nigeb12 Member

    Can't say I agree with too much of this! Only part is the VB mpiece and I used a 3 and a 4. There's not that much difference and I would also say that VBs give a brighter sound overall (for me anyway). 4valve bari? whats the point? just have 4 euphs - lots of people out there will say hear hear ;)
  14. iancwilx

    iancwilx Active Member

    Ooh ! ~ A dagger straight to the heart.
    I'd put my tin hat on and take cover if I were you.
    I suspect you are just sailing close to the wind to stimulate debate ~ You're a brave man !

    - Mr Wilx
  15. NWBari

    NWBari New Member

    I agree with there being no point in 4 valve bari's! as for the rest of the quote I know us baritone players get some stick and are overlooked for the amount of work we actually do and add to a band by many, but get rid of us in favour of another 2 Euphs and you'll soon notice we've gone and be shouting for a return of us!
    We may not play the most glamourous instrument that grabs the headlines in concerts or contests, when you have a fantastic baritone player or your baritones are playing well it often goes unnoticed by many but the moment you have a bad day EVERYBODY notices it!
  16. halsasaurus

    halsasaurus Member

    I got carried away and did not think it through properly when I chose a 4 valve York. The instrument it great but the 4th valve is seldom needed. I tend to use it for occasional alternative fingering for d's and g's throughout the normal baritone range just because I am concerned that it should have at least some use in case it seizes up.
    Other than that it is just something to fiddle about with when not playing.
    Whether it sounds like a Euphonium or not I cannot honestly say.
    Incidently, we tested a new Yamaha last week and a brilliant Euphonium Player (ex Versatile Brass, Besses, Faireys and others) complained that it sounded like a Baritone. It seems that new manufacturers may be forcing the issue and trying to morph the two into one
  17. 2ndcornets

    2ndcornets New Member

    Wessex Baritone

    I took delivery of a Wessex Baritone Horn a few weeks ago. I would have liked a Sovereign, but they are making silly money even secondhand. So far the Wessex is doing very well for me. It's a definite step up from my Besson 700, is compensating, silver plated, and at £650 a good value buy. Made in Chine, but by a good manufacturer, and quality controlled by the owner of Wessex Tubas, so, well pleased thus far.:clap:

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