Advice on a Sovereign Euph

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by cshimmon, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member

    I've managed to persuade our band master to let me take home the sovereign that he considers scrap. Apart from a couple of stuck slides and not being able to get the valves out- both easily solvable of course- he says that it goes out of tune above about an F, and reckons that there's something fatally wrong in the valve block. It is also filthy inside of course, but without being able to remove the valves first, I daren't bath it.

    Does anyone have any advice? I think it's beautiful. Sounds lovely when I play it- and that's on a baritone mouthpiece as I can't find my euphonium one anywhere!

    Also, can anyone help me on the age of it? It's serial number 582***

    Thanks in advance! :D
  2. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    Offer him £50 for it!

    then get it overhauled and finally enjoy playing it!
  3. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member

    tried that! That's how I persuaded him to let me bring it home, he realised I wasn't taking no! He wants to take it over to mcqueens, then give it to someone else in the band who'd rather keep playing the one she's on. I'm gonna explain to her what he's planning and hope she can persuade him not to, I know she doesn't want it- but I do!

    We can do all the obvious work on it ourselves without needing to take it to mcqueens, but I'm wondering what people think about his suggestion that there's something fatally wrong with the valve block? We just don't think it's likely.

    I don't half enjoy playing it though!
  4. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    According to the information here it is an early one dating to about 1975 - 77
    Should be a good instrument as they were well made then and I would've thought worth restoring.
  5. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member


    Thank information is really interesting! Just what I'd been hunting for and unable to find!

    I don't think it even needs 'restoration' as such, just opening up and given a good clean, the band master however thinks the whole valve block will be irreparable. Has anyone come across an instrument like this with a similar issue? ie, tuning above F at the top of the stave.
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    All Sovereign euphs have lousy tuning in that range. F, F#, G are naturally way sharp. A in particular is flat, although there is a tendency to flatness above that too. Constantly having to bend the pitch is a nuisance and tiring on the lip.
  7. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Tuning issues are far more to do with tubing than valves. If the valves all move, and it doesn't leak anywhere, then there's nowt fatally wrong. I've heard euph players complain of poor tuning up top on sovs of any age, so It's possibly no worse than many others. I suppose if it's WAAAAY sharp and there's any massive dents that could be it....

    Edit - Moomin beat me to it!

    A good professional overhaul is obviously a great way to go - but if the cost is putting you off, there's a good few things you can try yourself first.

    As for getting the valves out, best tip I've ever had is to wrap them in a cotton dishcloth, and then use mole-grips to get the valve-tops off. Adjust them VERY carefully so they get just enough purchase but don't squeeze the valve tops. Once they've moved, it's likely you can use your hands. The valve pistons will have a small hole in the top and bottom to allow air through, so make sure these aren't blocked. (pipecleaners are good for this.)

    Boiling water and vinegar will help remove any caked deposits and loosen stuck slides, often best helped with an old toothbrush. Then a bath in hot water and soap flakes will help shift any old grease/oil/slide-cream. A small bottle-brush or pull-though works wonders on the inner tubing too.

    New felts, corks (and if necessary valve guides) a few squirts of valve oil, and some vaseline on the slides, and you're good to go.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
  8. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member

    That's some brilliant advice! I'm cracking on!

    No massive dents just a few that little ones that you'd expect to give an instrument this age it's character, and some worn plate, again where you'd expect it. I really do love it- I so need to persuade him to let me keep it!
  9. Beesa

    Beesa Member

    The advice above is good, but for a half decent Sov, before doing anything I would get an estimate from the professionals. With this internet thing you can send photos or even show the instrument on Skype or whatever whilst chatting about it.

    There's a lot of satisfaction in bringing an old instrument back to life yourself, but this one might deserve the professional treatment.
  10. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member

    I have come to a dead end on trying to get all the valves out, other than heating, which obviously needs to be really carefully done.

    I have got all but one slide out, one valve out and two valve bottoms off. From what I can see, it's really badly scaled up (and a little smelly!) .

    I haven't got the equipment to do anything else with it right now, so I'll put it back together and drag the poor thing back to the bandroom tonight. Then I'll see if I can get any sense out of the BM!

    Beesa, thanks for your advice. I don't think I'll be able to stop him taking it to mcqueens himself anyway, but if I can, then I'll be going down the route you've suggested!
  11. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    If you've got the valve bottoms off, then the pistons might tap through with a soft-faced mallet if you have one? Note: DON'T use a steel hammer! Only a soft faced one like a panel-beater's mallet, or you'll wind up damaging it.

    If truth be told, if it's in that bad a state, a pro overhaul is probably the way to go. Unfortunately as you're in Lincs and I'm in yorkshire, I can't recommend anyone local....
  12. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

  13. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member

    Thanks! I've had a little progress since, (I'm not keen on giving up!) I've now only got the third valve still stuck as I can't get it's to off, the bottom is off though. Not really sure what I can do to get that off!
  14. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Like I said, Mole grips, with a cloth to protect it. They don't crush like pliers do because you set the minimum width with an adjuster screw, and they're very precise. No toolkit is complete without them and they're only a few quid.
  15. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member

    Thanks Andi, I'm afraid that's what I was using, but getting nowhere. The gap to get them in just doesn't leave enough space to get purchase on the cap, so it's going nowhere.

    What worked on everything else was hot water and a silicon sheet for grip. Took a lot of attempts, but got there. Nothings helping this one though, I think it's been too badly damaged in a previous attemt to release it and may be the only thing that actually might need replacing.
  16. Neillyboy

    Neillyboy Member

    if you get a soft mallet (not metal or anything damaging) and give it a firm hit anti clockwise a few times, sometimes the impact is enough to shock it into moving. But dont go heavy handed on it!!
  17. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    yes. and I think the remedy is practice. we had a euph player who thought he could pick his euphonium up once a week and make a good job of it and complained all the time about upper register tuning.
    My Grandfather was a Euphonium player of some reputation back in the 40's and 50's. He practiced daily. Long notes and scales and then played one hymn tune at the end for the neigbours. and they used to look forward to the hymn tune because it would be one to bring a tear to the eye. There is no Substitute and the instrument sounds like it would be a good one. But get it properly serviced by a technition. who will move all the stuck valves and slides without damageing the instrument. That can be tricky at home by yourself and you could cause more costly damage. Valves that have not been removed for a long time have a ring of Verdigre at the top of the housing and that would be what is stoping it coming out.
    Good luck with it.
  18. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    Repairers use a small wooden mallet for this. Mole grips ( From Earlier Post ) NOT GOOD ADVICE even with something to protect them they will get Damaged. Small wooden mallet is ALL you should ever need and don't go overboard with it. Shame my repairer is so far away. he would open that up as a favour and not even charge for it.
    I have a good relationship with my repairer because I take all the Band instruments to him for repair and have learned a lot of tips and hints. If you can't move thet valve top call in the experts and save yourself the greif.
  19. cshimmon

    cshimmon Member

    Thanks again for the great advice. I agree it's probably just a case of practice, I think they're just too used to their specific instruments. From the little chance I've had to play it I think I could learn to work with it's character (which is what I think it is) quite happily.

    Unlike the people who've tried to open it up previously, I have been very careful not to damage it Aussietuba. If you ask me, then there are an awful lot of people who simply need to learn to respect their instruments, and that is where the previous attempts have gone wr
  20. Aussie Tuba

    Aussie Tuba Member

    I tend to agree. As Band sec I get to take the damaged instruments to the repairer. I had some parent put sewing machine oil on a cornet valve. took the best part of his lesson time to have me clean it off so he could play it, because it was sluggish and I mean realy slow moving both up and down.
    Made sure I spoke to a parent before my student went home.

    My Grandfather would not let me take an instrument home until I knew how to stand it down properly with out damaging it,( against a chair so it wouldn't fall ) and a promise that if a valve stuck I would do nothing but give it to him to fix.