Wessex Baritone Horn - any opinions?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Jack E, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Having (finally!) got my breathing problems sorted out, and reverted to playing baritone, I'm saving up to buy my own (currently using a Besson New Standard, on loan from my band). I doubt it will be this side of Christmas, so it's not a rush job. The one I have my eye on, which would be within my limited budget, is Wessex Tubas Bb compensated 3-valve, Model BR.140.
    Bb Compensated Baritone (3-valve) - BR140 - Wessex Tubas

    I haven't managed to find a published full review of this one, so any advice/ alternative suggestions would be very welcome.


  2. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I’m currently playing a rather expensive instrument belonging to my band, but I have several others of my own. I have found value in having my own instruments but really only for a 'few' scenarios:
    1) The Band Instrument is hopeless and holding you back.
    2) You might want to change Band and don’t want to be without an instrument.
    3) You like to have a spare in case your normal player is in for repair.
    4) You have a personal preference for a particular instrument.
    5) The Band that you want to join doesn’t have any instruments.

    IMHO all of the above are satisfied by a decent learners' instrument and it’s daft not to expect and use one supplied by the Band instead. My advice is save your pennies, do something else if you can and don’t buy a nice shinny instrument expecting it to make you a better player. Perfect practice, good tuition and natural talent are required for that hence I’m still a rubbish player. The above ‘advice’ is a bit rich on my part in that I suggest one thing and do another, but my comments are made with the benefit of hindsight. Unless any of the scenarios above apply to you then I respectfully suggest that you - and anyone else in a similar position - save your cash and be happy with what the band supply for you.

    If you are dead set on buying something brand new and nice then the thing to do is visit Wessex with lots of music and have a blow for a couple of hours. Take a pal if you can (the companionship is nice and the comments of a second player can be a help) and I would want to only buy a particular instrument that I have blown yourself (not one just the same from the stock room ‘cause you should expect instruments not to be completely identical).
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
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  3. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    In response to your list of points:
    1. the band instrument is not hopeless, and is certainly capable of being played far better than I can do at present;
    2. I don't want to change bands, but I could well find myself not good enough to join our main band (which is first section), yet wanting to go a bit further than I can with our training band - in which case changing bands may be my only option;
    3. I wouldn't spend that much cash for a 'just in case' scenario (I'm not that well off);
    4. Nope;
    5. That doesn't apply, BUT we have a lot of learners coming through the ranks - including at least one other on a loaned baritone - and I don't think the band has another spare; that being the case, if one loan instrument needs repair, or if another learner comes in who wants to play baritone, we're stuck.

    In fact we have so many learners joined this year that the MD had to put out a request last week for more people to help with the tutoring, as the present team is at full stretch - so it's a fair assumption that the supply of loan instruments getting tight, too.

    As for "don’t buy a nice shiny instrument expecting it to make you a better player. Perfect practice, good tuition and natural talent are required for that" - do you take me for a total idiot, that I need to have that explained to me?
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  4. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    I know that many within the Brass Band movement expect instruments to be provided for them but as someone who has always played in several bands/orchestras/ensembles there is a great advantage to having your own instrument(s).
    My preference is to buy S/H instruments as there tends to be good value there however the new Chinese instruments do offer really good value for money.
    I don't have experience of the Wessex baritone but the EEb Bass and Euphonium that our band bought have been excellent.
    Wessex are "Players" developing instruments for other "Players" and I'm sure that the instrument would serve you well.
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  5. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Sorry Jack, no offence was intended. The comment was more intended to be factual and applicable to anyone rather than you as an individual. My post was intended to be supportive to your thread, prompt responses from others and share my own experiences in the hope that they would be of value to others. Sorry if that’s not the way it was received.

    You did say that “ any advice/ alternative suggestions would be very welcome“ and that is what I supplied. I suggest that if you were to share your objective(s) it would be helpful to others who might be willing to support your thread.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    If you are able to travel over to Andover in Hants to see the Wessex showroom, I would recommend doing so. Give Jonathan Hodgetts (he is the company) a ring before turning up so that he can have out any baritones he has in stock. Jonathan usually goes a good job QAing the stock that comes in, but this will let you personally inspect instruments for any defects and check that you like the blow before committing (or not) to a purchase.

    FWIW, the one example of this model I once tried was a decent-blowing baritone. A very good option for the price-point.

    A general consideration on purchasing a baritone - I would always suggest buying a 3-valve compensator (as here). The tuning compensation works well and there's no need to carry around the extra weight or fork out for the extra cost of a 4th valve. Check traditional Sovereign baritone bogey notes (this model being a copy of the traditional Sovereign model) - is top A in tune? How about D on 1st valve?
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
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  7. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I meant 'advice/alternative suggestions' in the sense of other makes of instrument in the same price range which might be better.

    My objectives are two-fold; to have my own instrument, and to free up my current instrument so as to be available as a spare for the main band (in case one of theirs needs repair) or for loaning to other learners. Plenty of others here, including yourself, own your own instruments; I can see no objection to my wanting the same.

    2nd tenor likes this.
  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Andrew. I did find a review of either the bass or euph (I can't remember which) which was very favourable - though, obviously, bearing in mind the limitations of what you can get in that price range. But at my stage of learning, a top-flight model is unnecessary, and a decent student-level bari will take me a very long way, as long as I put in the time and effort - and that's all I'm looking for.

    With best regards,

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  9. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    It's about a three and a half hour journey from where I live - but a round trip is do-able in one day; alternatively, I have some friends down that way who also play brass, so I could collar one of them to come with me and give me their opinion.

    And that's all I'm expecting - you can't get an Austin-Healey 3000 for the price of a Ford Escort! :)

    I've been doing some background research on baritones, and a number of other posters have said the same - including one who had a 4-valve bari, and said he never used the 4th valve at all!

    That's very helpful, Dave - just the sort of advice I need, and I'll be sure to check those notes out. Another poster suggested I take along an iPhone with a tuning app on it. I'm afraid my mobile does phone calls, texts and takes pictures - and that's all! But I'm sure I can borrow a tuning meter from our MD.

    Thank you again, and best regards,

  10. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Unless new is your over-ridding concern then you might like to consider second hand instruments. They typically represent better value than new and something worth testing and buying is likely to be nearer to you than the Wessex show room.

    To me there is no logic in an older learner spending £800 plus on a new instrument, but if that’s what someone really wants to do then that’s entirely their own business. My most expensive instrument cost about half that amount (second hand), has been played in many Concerts and the only impediment to it sounding better is the driver. The less expensive ones have also performed well for me in Concerts too, etc. With luck I might get another twenty years of brass band playing but I’m not sure that I’ll have had my money’s worth out of the several instruments that I own. For additional context the total cost of my several instruments isn’t much more than the price of one Wessex Baritone.

    Thank you for the clarification of objectives. I hope that things work out for the best, good luck and best wishes.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  11. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    20 cigarettes and 2 pints of beer a week for a year would cover the price of the Baritone....
  12. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member


    Yep - before I retired from working as a volunteer signalman on the East Lancs Railway, I was spending over a grand a year on petrol alone . . . :( . . . and the damn horse in my avatar was costing me over three grand a year :( :( :( (till I found him a new home - when my wallet breathed a sigh of relief . . . )

    Still, as Don Henley points out in his song 'Gimme What You Got':-

    "You spend your whole life pilin' it up there,
    You got stacks and stacks and stacks,
    Then Gabriel comes and taps you on the shoulder,
    But you don't see no hearses with luggage racks . . . "

    And I should know - I used to drive a hearse :cool: (and they are faaaaaast!!)

    With best regards,
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  13. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    That really did bring a smile to my face. At roughly £15 per week for about a year it’s not too much to be concerned about, well perhaps not for us. Now I must go and have a word with Mrs 2T and find that Rath catalogue .
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  14. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    I must say that I kind of disagree with you on this, 2T. Two of my bucket list items were to own my own instrument and to have a brand new car, both of which I achieved. In fact, as mentioned elsewhere, I treated myself to TWO new instruments. Although, in one regard I am not an older learner, we never actually stop learning until we're dead!

    My favourite saying is "It's a poor day when you don't learn something new!" :-D
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  15. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

  16. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Gosh, Fourth Cornet - somebody must have caught me on a happy day!
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  17. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Ha ☺️

    If I had more time I'd have made a picture using the same photo with the caption "I outlived my new baritone, that showed them!"
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  18. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Great idea - I'll see what I can do!
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  19. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I don’t have a bucket list, they just don’t appeal to me but we all have our own choices and that’s fine as far as I’m concerned. I still can’t see the logic in an older learner buying a new instrument (at £800) but I am only considering that in terms of return on investment over time. What’s not being considered is the emotional value of buying and having a new instrument.

    You’re a learner!? Well, if you say so though I wouldn’t have thought that was the case when relative skill is considered. We are all learners at life and I definitely agree that it’s a poor day when you don’t learn something new - sometimes I struggle to remember what I’ve learnt, but that's nothing new to me and I anticipate the bulk of the population too.

    I hope that you’re enjoying your new Wessex Euphonium and feel sure that you have the skill to make full use of such an instrument. Skill is part of the purchase valuation process for me, you have the skill hence there is value.

    If there is logic in an older learner spending £800 plus on a new instrument then I’d be glad to hear it. They might be true but statements like ‘because I can’, ‘because I want to’ and ‘because it’ll put a big smile on my face’ aren’t what I’d call valid reasons. Logic is what I’m looking for and nothing else, if there is one then let’s hear the logical case.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
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  20. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    1) Nothing wrong with wanting your own instrument in any situation. If you can afford it, why not? Putting a smile on your face makes you live longer. Perfectly valid reason.
    2) £800 is not a lot of money for a tenor-size valved brass instrument. At that price you'll find everything from junk to treasure.
    3) A more functional instrument makes it easier to make progress.

    Now I agree that one will find better value in the second-hand market - but then one can sometimes wait months for the desired item to happen by (years even, if you get into something a bit specialist). And it may not be very clear if one is early in one's learning curve which items to avoid. New stock is immediately available and clearly labelled.

    Also - yes, we're all learners. Been doing this 30 years, since childhood, played in some good groups and even at times impressed some people. There's still more wrong with my playing than right!

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