Baritone review

Col M

New Member
Does anyone have any views on the Odyssey OBH1400 baritone? The horn looks good but how does it play?
What cheaper end horns do people feel are good value for money?
Many thanks C
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
If he doesn’t answer for himself then I suggest that you contact Jack E. IIRC correctly he used to play a Regent and then he moved onto a Packer (which he was even more pleased with). Not sure which Packer range though and some are better than others.
 

Col M

New Member
Thanks 2nd tenor. I've read good reviews about the JP373 Sterling horn. It's more expensive than the Odyssey and the Wessex but I guess the only way to find out is to try them - not very easy in the current situation though.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I’m not saying that they will be particularly helpful but suggest that you try (wade through) these threads:

I don’t think that Jack would claim to be a Star Player - neither would I - but IIRC he was pleased and it gives you a start point. My guess is that Wessex and Packers get their instruments from the same manufacture, you pays your money and takes your choice. For the more serious player I’d expect that Wessex would be the better option and for students Packer might deliver the goods.
 
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Col M

New Member
Wow thanks 2T. There's a lot to digest there and a lot of good banter too. I have been looking for S/H but like MoominDave says it could be a long time before the right horn turns up somewhere and you don't necessarily know what you're getting. I'll keep looking though and hopefully soon be able to get somewhere to try some out - as I say not easy in the current situation.
 

KenIrvin

Member
I’m not saying that they will be particularly helpful but suggest that you try (wade through) these threads:

I don’t think that Jack would claim to be a Star Player - neither would I - but IIRC he was pleased and it gives you a start point. My guess is that Wessex and Packers get their instruments from the same manufacture, you pays your money and takes your choice. For the more serious player I’d expect that Wessex would be the better option and for students Packer might deliver the goods.
I've played alongside Jack and for an amateur he produces a sweet sound from his horn. Worth contacting.
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Does anyone have any views on the Odyssey OBH1400 baritone? The horn looks good but how does it play?
What cheaper end horns do people feel are good value for money?
Many thanks C
Good evening, Col - I've never seen (or, to my knowledge, heard) an Odyssey, so I can't help you directly, and my Packer 173 Baritone is uncompensated; I presume as you're looking at the OBH 1400 that you want a compensated model.

What I can say for sure is that, albeit they are made in China, John Packer imposes his own quality control standards on his suppliers (and I understand that the boss of Wessex Tubas takes the same approach). And it shows! My 173 is definitely an entry level instrument, but the cost has been kept down by Packer's specifying medium bore and no compensation, not by making it cheap and nasty! You may see old threads referring to John Packer's range from quite a few years ago, where some people felt the quality was not as good as it might be, but I did a considerable amount of background reading before buying mine, and what I found was that as time went on, reviews by other people indicated that the build and finish quality steadily improved. Certainly, I have no complaints about mine, nor has anyone who's seen / tried it said anything to the contrary.

I've just checked on Packer's website, and it seems they are still open for potential customers to go and try their range. As the Packer 273 in silver plate is a couple of hundred quid cheaper than the Odyssey, it might be worth going to the shop if you aren't too far from Somerset - but according to their website they are also willing to ship them on approval (though there's obviously a shipping cost involved, whether you keep it or not).

Alternatively, if you live anywhere near me (Buxton, Derbyshire) and you'd like to try mine just to get a feel for how they're made and play, I'm sure we can come to a mutually agreeable (and Covid proof!) arrangement - send me a PM if you'd like to give it a go. But bear in mind that the feel of mine would be different to that of a Packer 273, as the 273 has both a larger bore and a larger bell, as well as compensation.
HTH, and best regards,

Jack E
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
I've played alongside Jack and for an amateur he produces a sweet sound from his horn. Worth contacting.
Thank you, Ken - I very much appreciate that compliment, and I hope that you and Jean are keeping well.

With best regards,

Jack
 

Col M

New Member
Thanks Jack for that comprehensive review. Things have moved on a bit. I'm getting a 373 sent to me for trial by Band Supplies in Leeds. I'm in the fortunate position of having a Wessex Euph to part ex and they've given me a good deal. Anticipating your next question, why am I trading in the euph which is a very good horn? I'm one of the 'older' players and the euph is now getting a bit too much for me, also my grandson is taking an interest and it's a bit too big for him too so I'm hoping a bari will satisfy us both. Thanks for the offer of trying yours but I live in Lancashire which is in more stringent lockdown measures at the moment so no non essential travel. I'll let you know how I get on when I receive the horn from Band Supplies.
Cheers, Col
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Thanks Jack for that comprehensive review. Things have moved on a bit. I'm getting a 373 sent to me for trial by Band Supplies in Leeds. I'm in the fortunate position of having a Wessex Euph to part ex and they've given me a good deal. Anticipating your next question, why am I trading in the euph which is a very good horn? I'm one of the 'older' players and the euph is now getting a bit too much for me, also my grandson is taking an interest and it's a bit too big for him too so I'm hoping a bari will satisfy us both. Thanks for the offer of trying yours but I live in Lancashire which is in more stringent lockdown measures at the moment so no non essential travel. I'll let you know how I get on when I receive the horn from Band Supplies.
Cheers, Col
Re. the euph getting a bit much to fill; I know how that feels, Col. About two and a half years back, after heart surgery, I got a lung infection which really messed up my breathing, compounding the fact that in my late teens I got exposed to phosgene gas which probably left some permanent damage (industrial accident, long story); after the chest infection, I could play no more than a handful of notes before I was knackered, and I thought I'd have to give up playing completely. Then a friend let me have a go on a tenor horn, and I found that I could play that - though it needs more pressure to play, the tenor doesn't need the volume required by a baritone (in my case, after five months of the docs trying me on various puffers, we found one that suited, and I was able to revert to baritone). I suspect that you'll find the same in switching from euph to baritone.

A point in your favour is, of course, that the baritone is in the same key as euph - so you won't have the problem of retraining your ear to adjust to hearing an Eb rather than a Bb when you play a written C. Some people can switch from one to the other with no trouble at all, but it took me a long time to get used to it - and I kept thinking I'd played a wrong note!

Do let us know how you get on, as I'm sure the problem you're dealing with will be faced by many more of us who are no longer spring chickens (such as me!).

With best regards,
Jack
 

Col M

New Member
Thanks Jack, yes I will let you know how I get on. I have played baritone before in my banding days so it won't be a total surprise to me. I'll be sorry to see the euph go, it's a lovely instrument but I can't justify having 2 horns.
Cheers, Col
 

Col M

New Member
Hi Jack, hope you’re well. I’ve had the JP baritone for a good few weeks now and can give you my opinion on it. Bottom line is that it’s well made and packaged, sounds good and stands up very well to more expensive instruments. Initially I found the valves a little dirty and the 3rd valve sticking slightly but after cleaning and oiling it’s fine. The spit valves are in a slightly different position to normal (or at least what I’m used to) but that’s no problem and may even be in a better position and one on the 3rd valve slide is a bonus. The feel and weight of the instrument testify to the quality of it. The sound I’m getting is more marching trombone than sonorous but I think that’s just me, it is well centred though and I like it. The case is substantial and well padded and the unit comes with an Ultra-Pure maintenance kit and a mouthpiece that is described as a DW6BS but has no markings on it and is probably a clone, and this is where I’ve been having a problem.

Before I got the JP I had, for a while, the use of an old Besson BE955 that came with a mouthpiece marked a Virtuosi 6. I have no idea what this was but thought it may be similar to a Wicks SM6 and it was ok with the Besson. The Wicks 6BS clone is way too small for me so I tried it with the Virtuosi 6 but it just doesn’t sound right. Some years ago I had a Courtois baritone and used a Wicks 4AY with it (essentially a small bore euph m/p) which I still have so tried that but couldn’t get a decent high range. So I bought a Wicks 4BS which I thought would be a good compromise but don’t get the depth of tone I get with the 4AY. I’ve also tried a 61/2 AL and a 9BS both of which don’t suit. I’m now back and persevering with the 4AY with which I seem to be getting better. All this has no bearing, however on the instrument which, as I say, I’m very happy with.

Hope you have a good Christmas and stay safe.
 

Jack E

Well-Known Member
Hi Jack, hope you’re well. I’ve had the JP baritone for a good few weeks now and can give you my opinion on it. Bottom line is that it’s well made and packaged, sounds good and stands up very well to more expensive instruments. Initially I found the valves a little dirty and the 3rd valve sticking slightly but after cleaning and oiling it’s fine. The spit valves are in a slightly different position to normal (or at least what I’m used to) but that’s no problem and may even be in a better position and one on the 3rd valve slide is a bonus. The feel and weight of the instrument testify to the quality of it. The sound I’m getting is more marching trombone than sonorous but I think that’s just me, it is well centred though and I like it. The case is substantial and well padded and the unit comes with an Ultra-Pure maintenance kit and a mouthpiece that is described as a DW6BS but has no markings on it and is probably a clone, and this is where I’ve been having a problem.

Before I got the JP I had, for a while, the use of an old Besson BE955 that came with a mouthpiece marked a Virtuosi 6. I have no idea what this was but thought it may be similar to a Wicks SM6 and it was ok with the Besson. The Wicks 6BS clone is way too small for me so I tried it with the Virtuosi 6 but it just doesn’t sound right. Some years ago I had a Courtois baritone and used a Wicks 4AY with it (essentially a small bore euph m/p) which I still have so tried that but couldn’t get a decent high range. So I bought a Wicks 4BS which I thought would be a good compromise but don’t get the depth of tone I get with the 4AY. I’ve also tried a 61/2 AL and a 9BS both of which don’t suit. I’m now back and persevering with the 4AY with which I seem to be getting better. All this has no bearing, however on the instrument which, as I say, I’m very happy with.

Hope you have a good Christmas and stay safe.
Hi, Col,
I'm glad you're pleased with your purchase. Re. the sound; I suspect that the 'marching trombone' sound may have two causes. One is that the bell on a JP373 is 9.5 inches in diameter, giving it the possibility of a much richer sound than my JP173, with a bell diameter of 8 inches - but compared to many modern large bore baritones, that's on the small size. In contrast, the bell on the Odyssey you were considering is a full 12 inches - the same size as many euphoniums! So compared to many modern baritones (which to my ear sound far too close to a euph sound), your 373 will have a brighter, punchier sound. Again, this is just my unhumble opinion, but I think a baritone should sound like a baritone, and not "almost like a euph", as a poster on a US put it, "because I prefer the sound of a euph!" - which seems pretty stupid to me. Euphs and baritones have different roles in the overall sound of a band (after all, that's why they were invented!), and trying to make baritones sound 'almost like euphs' sounds as daft as trying to make cornets sound like almost like flugels "because I prefer the sound of a flugel"!

The other possibility is that, having spent many years playing euphs, your ear may well still be adjusting to the very different sound of a baritone, as well as your embouchure adapting to the feel of the mouthpiece and the higher blowing resistance of the baritone - and that may take time. I remember when I took up tenor trombone - it took me far longer than I'd expected to get used to the radically different feel and sound of the instrument.

Re. the mouthpiece; many years ago, I read a book called 'Motorcycle Engineering', by Phil Irving (designer the Vincent 1000cc V-twins). He said that, regardless of whether you were designing a commuter bike, a sports roadster, a scrambler, grass track bike or racing bike (or, come to that, a lawnmower engine!), the aim was what he called 'proportional tuning' - i.e., all components of the power unit, from carb intake to the end of the exhaust, should be in balance with each other. For example, there's no point in fitting a huge carburettor to an engine with moderate sized valves, mild cam profiles, and a low compression piston - you'll get very little more power, at the cost of abysmal slow running and heavy fuel consumption.

To me, it seems that a brass player, the mouthpiece and the instrument have several features in common with an IC engine - and all three of them have to be in proportion, too. I found that out when I gave my Regent as a band loan instrument, and got the 173. With the Regent, a Besson 7 mouthpiece worked very well, suiting my embouchure and the Regent's medium bore and small bell. When I got the 173, I found the Besson 7 mouthpiece was too restrictive, and changed to a Wick 6BS. It took me a while to get used to the very different feel, but once I did, I found it much easier to play the higher dynamics without sounding harsh, and also easier to get a more mellow sound when it was called for (as in hymns and the like). I suspect that you are on a similar learning curve at the moment.

One piece of advice (which IIRC came from Tom King) was to persevere with a mouthpiece for a while, to give my body a while to get accustomed to it, before deciding whether to stick with it or change to a different one - as changing too much and too quickly would just leave me feeling confused. By sticking with the Besson 7 for a while after I got the 173, I developed a clear sense of exactly why it didn't suit the combination of myself and the 173, so then had a good idea of what feel of mouthpiece would work, and what to look for.

Hang in there, Col - Rome wasn't burnt in a day! (as I need to keep reminding myself . . . :rolleyes: ) - And a very happy Christmas to you and yours as well.

With best regards,
Jack
 

Col M

New Member
Hi Jack, Happy New Year, hope you had as good a Christmas and New Year as you could in these strange times. I thought I’d give you an update of my progress to date.

I took your advice and persevered with the 4AY mouthpiece to see if this really was the one to use since this was the one I used when I had my Courtois baritone. I bought that instrument from the euphonium player Glyn Williams at Fred Rhodes Music (now defunct) and that was the mouthpiece they recommended and gave me and I used the whole time I played that instrument. However, as you suggested the more I used it the more I realised it didn’t suit me anymore, the ravages of time have taken their toll on my chops! I’ve gone back to the 4BS and this seems to be the one.

On the Odyssey baritone I was surprised at the bell size as well, most euphs have a bell size of 11 or 12 inches. My Wessex euph was 12 inches which is a fair size and I couldn’t imagine a bari with that size bell and when you look at the photos of the instrument it doesn’t look out of proportion so you can only assume the instrument is larger than normal or the bell is very splayed out at the end. This is what put me off looking at the instrument further, I didn’t want a ‘pseudo-baritone’ sound.

I’m quite happy with the way things are progressing, I know at my age I will never achieve the ‘heights’ of my younger days but my ‘barometer’ is Wiederkehr by J Hartmann which I used to play a lot and I’m getting there (slowly).

Take care, stay safe,
Col
 

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