Stepping Up the
Stepping Up the BARITONE
After playing baritone or euphonium for a few years, beginning players often start to look for ways to enhance the sound of their instrument. While a new mouthpiece can improve the sound initially, it may eventually be appropriate to consider a new instrument altogether. If a student is taking private lessons or playing more advanced music, it may be time to upgrade their student-level baritone or euphonium to a performance-quality, or “step-up,” euphonium. Designed for sound projection and better response, most step-up euphoniums feature a yellow brass, upright bell and larger bore. The addition of a fourth valve extends the range of the instrument and provides the player with alternate fingerings.
Characteristics to Consider
Fourth Valve: The addition of the fourth valve is one of the key features of a step-up euphonium. It adds extra tubing which extends the range of the instrument and provides alternate fingerings. In many advanced and technical pieces, the fourth valve is a necessary feature. The placement of the fourth valve may vary depending on the brand and model of the instrument. Some euphoniums are designed with the fourth valve in line with the other three. Other models have the fourth valve located on the side of the instrument.
Bell: Most step-up euphoniums will have a bell made of yellow brass. Yellow brass is popular because it allows for better sound projection, while giving the player a resonant, bright tone. Many upgraded euphoniums will also have an upright bell. This style is more suited to concert band than a bell that faces forward and allows the player to blend better with the ensemble.
Bore Size: The bore size of the euphonium is the internal diameter of the tubing. A step-up euphonium will often have a larger bore than its student-level counterpart. This requires a greater volume of air from the player but it also provides a more powerful sound.
Finish Options: While some upgraded euphoniums have a lacquer finish, many are silver-plated. Silver plating is a thinner coating than lacquer and allows for more resonance and a brighter sound.
It is important to decide which of these features is most valuable to you as a player, and the best way to verify this is to try a variety of step-up euphoniums. At Menchey Music Service, we have upgraded euphoniums from Yamaha and Eastman, and we are ready to help you find the right fit!