Posted by Tony E on April 27, 2002 at 23:32:04:
Recently, I’ve been thinking of acquiring a 6/4 BBb. Today, I had an opportunity to audition a 6/4 Holton BBb. Since it was an introduction through a mutual friend, I have the horn here for a few days to try out, and will be playing it next week in at British Brass Band. I’ve got some early feedback and some questions for you old timers/vets.
First, the basic facts. From the Holton book, it appears the horn is a model BB345. Four pistons in front. All original. Worn out lacquer, but great metal. (never over buffed). A few dents and dings to deal with. Serial number was 372,000 and change, which the Holton book puts at 1964.
I began my audition with Hummel’s Concerto I. Right off the bat: MY GOODNESS LORDY!!! Beautiful, colorful tone. This horn has a soul and a voice. Not quite the race car that my new King 2341 is, but DAMN CLOSE (how can this be?) I can’t imagine a passage that couldn’t be navigated due to the horn. Put a small, thin rim mouthpiece on it, and it just sings above staff. Put in an orchestral mouthpiece, go down low, and, well….the pictures on the wall actually rattle. Clean, consuming lows.
Here are the questions:
1. Price is 5K. With complete overhaul and refinish, I’ll be in over 8k. A new Gronitz 6/4 PBK is about 1500 less. However, with the Gronitz, you write the check and take ‘yer chances. I’ve heard terrific things about the big Gronitz instruments, but haven’t played one (there isn’t one around to play), and normally wouldn’t order an instrument without playing it. Is the price right for the Holton? Should I stop thinking about the Gronitz or save the $1500?
2. I’m just an amateur, and I’m not going to have 2 BBb’s around. This is just a personal discipline issue. So, there goes the King??? Wow…wouldn’t that be something. My “big horns in small ensembles?” post/question a few days is now exposed. Most people don’t pick a 6/4 for their sole battle-axe. I’m not worried about the solo pieces. A little concerned about small ensembles and quintet work. My sense after playing it is that the Holton could be dialed in appropriately with an intelligent mouthpiece selection. And, as I said in my earlier post, I have a sweet spot for the sound of the big horns. Any thoughts? The new 2341 is a pretty good selection if you can only have one BBb. I really like the King…but I’m in love with the Holton. Am I due for a check up at the mental health clinic?