Sterling Virtuoso Tenor Horn

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by squeakyonion, Aug 3, 2017.

  1. squeakyonion

    squeakyonion New Member

    Hello all, I am an American looking to upgrade from my current 1980s Willson Eb horn that has significant intonation and valve issues due to damage. There aren't too many tenors for sale this side of the pond, so I am considering buying from UK dealers, but of course this means I can't try it before I buy. While I would love to get a Sovereign, Prestige, or Neo, I don't think I can afford one. My budget is around 750-1100 GBP.

    I was wondering if anyone has experience with the Sterling Virtuoso model of tenor horn?

    I have played a Virtuoso euphonium and cornet that other band members have, but was wondering if the Sterling will blend well, and have similar intonation tendencies, to the Sovereigns and Prestiges that my section mates have. I would also welcome other suggestions. Thanks!
  2. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Good evening, Squeaky Onion

    sorry that nobody else has been able to help you out with the direct advice you were hoping for, but I've been browsing around the net, and have come across quite a number of endorsements by top players who have switched to various Sterling Virtuoso instruments. One which is directly relevant was in an advert on the website, 4 Bars Rest, dated 12th December, 2011 (link below):
    Sterling Musical Instruments has announced a ground breaking expansion of their musical partnership with North West champions, Foden’s. Over the past months many of the band’s leading players have chosen to play on Sterling instruments, including the award winning euphonium duo of Glyn Williams and Mark Bousie, who have joined David Thornton as part of the Sterling stable of world class euphonium performers. Such has been the remarkable impact of the instruments that other leading players are now making their way to the Sterling factory to try out the bespoke products hot off the state of the art production line. And so impressed have they been that star soprano player Richard Poole will now perform on the Sterling Virtuoso soprano cornet, whilst Lesley Howie has taken delivery of her Sterling Virtuoso tenor horn.

    Sterling founder Paul Riggett told 4BR that the links with such world class players can only be of huge benefit to other players too.

    "The quality of the range of Sterling instruments is shown by the decisions made by the players of such a fantastic band. We cannot ask for a better endorsement of our products than for them to be heard in action with the likes of Glyn, Mark, Richard and Lesley—and of course David Thornton. The players were especially impressed by the service provided by Sterling, the attention to detail and the quality of the product. They also play like a dream too!"

    Paul also revealed that Foden’s have now taken delivery of a full section of Virtuoso tenor horns.


    Advert: Sterling Musical Instruments

    HTH, and best regards,

  3. gbb md

    gbb md New Member

    Atlanta, GA
    While I am not overly familiar with the Sterling you are asking about, I suggest you also consider one of the newer Geneva models. The Symphony and Cardinal will be over your stated budget, but the Mentor is also a fine option and closer to the price you are looking to spend. If you are used to a Willson you may find the Mentor a bit more basic, but it plays very well for around $2K new. I don't know of anything new in your price range that would be directly comparable to the Willson. You're correct that there is not exactly a huge tenor horn market in the states, but Salvation Army Supplies in Atlanta (for whom I am the purchasing manager) stocks Besson, Geneva, and Yamaha tenors and sells to the public. I currently have the following horns on the shelf: Geneva Mentor, Geneva Symphony, Geneva Cardinal, Besson Sovereign, Besson Prestige, Yamaha Neo, and several student or intermediate models. Message or email me at the office if I can help.


    ROBTHEDOG Member

    If you're on Facebook check out Heather Horsley. She's just got new Sterling and is very very happy.
  5. squeakyonion

    squeakyonion New Member

    Thank you all for the responses. I thought I would follow up with the review of the Sterling Virtuoso that I did indeed buy used, sight unseen from the UK.

    I am overall extremely satisfied with the horn I received. The valves are great and never stick. The trigger works smoothly and is easy to operate, and really helps get a few problem pitches down with ease. It has not been difficult at all to incorporate it into technical passages; I often use it on eighth notes or longer, but typically not on sixteenths. Build quality seems good, plating seems good, and the mouthpiece seems to be at a good angle. LOVE the sound I am getting out of this horn, though one note causes a slight sympathetic vibration that I can't put my finger on.

    I have two primary concerns with the horn:

    Firstly, the low open written C is quite flat. I've gotten used to it now, but it sometimes makes quiet entrances difficult to strike in tune, resulting in a slight 'scooping up' to pitch.

    Secondly, the horn overall played quite flat with both of the bands I play with! At my first two rehearsals, I had to lip everything up significantly, and it was very tiring. The horn plays at-pitch A=440 with the main slide all the way in, but often my bands tune on the high side, and slide sharper as rehearsals progress. To compensate, I shortened the instrument by about 8 or 9 millimeters (1/3 inch) at the main slide, and was much happier at my last rehearsal. I plan to also shorten the 3rd slide about 5mm, as all the 2+3 notes are a bit flat.

    I currently play the instrument with a Wick 2A, but plan to switch to the 1A with more time and practice. The wooden Wick straight mute gives a good sound and only negligibly effects intonation; the Wallace aluminum made the horn play way sharp ( ~35 cents), so I've stuck with the Wick.

    Unfortunately, I think you just missed me! I didn't see your message in time, otherwise I may well have driven the 775mi/1200km to Atlanta to play some horns. It's great to know that such a place exists; I will stop by if I am in that neck of the woods.
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