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Holton Euphonium Norlan Bewley

Holton B490RS Euphonium

“The Holton B490RS euphonium is the same as a Weril H980, just made for Holton by Weril. It is very close in design to a Yamaha 321, which was always my favorite euphonium until I played the Holton B490RS. The Holton has a large shank mouthpiece receiver, which allows for the use of a greater selection of larger mouthpiece sizes than is possible with the small shank on the Yamaha. Even though the bore size is the same on both instruments, the Holton sounds and plays much more like a compensating euphonium. It has excellent pitch, tone, and response throughout the range. The 11 inch bell gives it a focus that projects well with a full, clear tone. I also have a Besson 968S, which, of the larger compensating euphoniums, plays the closest to the Yamaha that I could find. The Holton has a slightly smaller bore than the Besson, yet it plays surprisingly close to the Besson in feel and tone, which I like. Both the Holton and Besson are terrific euphoniums! Switching between the non-compensating Holton and the compensating Besson is not a problem, there are just some fingering changes in the low register and a few tuning adjustments in the upper range. A large mouthpiece on the Holton, which is possible with the large shank receiver, will go a long way long way towards getting more of the feel and tone of a larger bore compensating euphonium. It is a very flexible horn and a delight to play! Although often listed as a student horn, it is a professional quality instrument as far as I’m concerned. If you like the Yamaha 321, you’ll love the Holton B490RS!”

This instrument review was with a Monette BT 2 L  mouthpiece.

What is a compensating euphonium?

A compensating euphonium is a British design that "compensates" for the increasingly sharp pitch encountered in the low register. There is a second set of tubing for each valve that opens only when the fourth valve is engaged. This extra tubing corrects the pitch when playing low, without altering the tuning of the mid and upper registers. This allows the use of the mid-range fingerings (plus the fourth valve) to play low notes. On non-compensating instruments, low notes with the fourth valve are usually fingered one half step lower to compensate for the sharper pitch from low Eb down. This leaves low B without a fingering. With the compensating system, there is a fingering for low B, so you get a fully chromatic low range with only four valves. Non-compensating instruments, especially tubas, often add a fifth valve to correct this tuning problem.

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Key: Bb
Bore: 14.50 mm (.571")
Bell: Upright, 279.40 mm (11")
Action: Top-action
Pistons: 4, Nickel-plated
Waterkey: 1
Slide material: Brass
Mouthpiece: Medium-deep

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