Euphonium vs. Baritone (What’s The Difference?)

For people who are not experts in the field of music, it may be confusing to tell the differences apart when it comes to the euphonium and the baritone.

It is very common to be confused with the euphonium and the baritone, even sometimes among music students and professionals. 

The euphonium and the baritone have a variety of differences but also a few similar qualities that are obvious when you break it down.

When looking at the big difference, it is the bore size, but what are some of the others?  Let’s take a look at euphonium and the baritone!

The Bore Size for the Euphonium

As stated earlier, the main difference between the euphonium and the brass baritone is the bore size. For the euphonium, it has a conical bore.

This conical bore has a gradual taper, and produces more of a mellow tone when playing the instrument. 

the euphonium bore is much larger compared to the baritone, producing a much darker and deeper tone when played.

Also, the euphonium has three or four valves. If there are four valves, then only three are played at top action.

The three are played with three fingers in the right hand and the fourth is played with the left hand. This is played with the left index finger.

As the euphonium is has a larger bell as well and the tubing of the instrument is conical, this means that the diameter of the tubing becomes larger as it extends and expands. 

The Bore Size for the Baritone 

For the baritone, it has a different bore size than the baritone. The baritone is in the category of a small-bore instrument.

The baritone, has a pitch in BBb and additionally has three valves. 

This pitch of the baritone is very similar to the trombone and can often play trombone parts in the orchestra. 

The baritone is also in the category of the British brass band. Its tubing is also cylindrical, which means parts of the instrument, such as the tubing, are the same diameter all throughout.

Additionally, it is more tightly wrapped and has a much smaller bell. Due to this, the instrument is much more compact which means easier for many to carry around and handle as a whole. 

What Family is the Baritone In?

The Baritone instrument is part of the saxhorn family. This family is part of all the piston valve brass instruments. These instruments also have cup-shaped mouthpieces.

What Family is the Euphonium in?

The euphonium is part of the tuba family. The name euphonium actually comes from ancient Greek roots.  This word translates to “well-sounding” or “sweet-voiced.” 

Are These Used in Orchestras?

In the modern-day orchestra, neither the baritone horn or the euphonium are played often in orchestras.

This also has to do with the fact that these instruments are relatively new. They were invented during the 1840’s, which is well after all the great composers of the 18th and 19th centuries. These composers did not write any parts for these newer instruments.

A big similarity between the two instruments as well is that they both became popular in brass instrument competitions and bands at the same time, especially in the United Kingdom. Both instruments are also very popular in military or marching bands. 

When it comes to the success of these instruments, there have been many very successful solo musicians on the euphonium. 

Tip When Learning to Play the Instruments

When looking at the instruments and deciding which one to play first, it is important to note that many euphonium players started to learn to play the baritone brass horn.

This is due to its much smaller size which is easier when one is younger and/or a beginner. 

Also, both instruments use the same mouthpiece, so it is very easy to switch instruments once mastered if desired.

When a younger player is learning to play either the euphonium or the baritone, it is important to make sure the children are comfortable holding the instrument as well as happy and enjoy playing it as they further their musical journey. 

Related: How Much Does A Baritone Weigh?

Where to get These Instruments

There are a variety of places to get baritone and euphonium, however, some are much better than others. A place that sells a huge variety of brass baritones and euphoniums is the Woodwind; Brasswind’s official store.

The are a variety of student, intermediate, and professional brass instrument options sold by many music stores and brands across the country.

However, there are specific things you should look out for when buying either your first euphonium or your first baritone.

A Guide to Buying Your First Euphonium 

When it comes to the euphonium, there are two to choose from: the three-valve or the four-valve euphonium. The three-valve euphonium is highly recommended by musical professionals for newcomers to the instrument.

This three-valve euphonium is built for economy and durability. The three-valve plays very well, however, there are no high-end features when compared to the ones used in orchestras.

More experienced players should seek out the four-valve euphonium.

This one comes in two basic types: non-compensating and compensating. In the compensating instrument type, these have extra ‘knuckles’ of tubing. This compensates, as in the name, for the tendency of the low register to be sharp. 

When there is extra tubing, it then lowers the pitch to assist in bringing the lower notes closer to tune. This is the non-compensating euphonium.

However there is one downside to the tubing; it adds additional weight, making it a little less easy to handle and carry around. 

What Else Should you buy with your Euphonium?

Besides the instrument, there are many “accessories” you may want to pick up to go with it.  One highly recommended item to purchase alongside your instrument is valve oil.

Valve oil is highly important in maintaining your instrument, especially when it comes to brass instruments. The Valve oil will help keep your instrument as a whole in tip-top playing shape and clean. It will also stop the valves from sticking or seizing completely.

There are many different valve oils you can use, and you do not have to stick to one brand. Another euphonium tool that you need with your instrument would be a euphonium stand.

Anyone playing these instruments will need a good quality stand to avoid any falls or accidental knock overs. However, even with the stand, it is important to put it back in the case after playing or practicing.

Next is a mouthpiece brush. This brush makes sure all cleaning is done quickly, easily, and correctly. 

Next is a silver polishing cloth, which has silver polish sewn into the cloth. This will bring so much shine back to the instrument.  

A Guide to Buying Your First Baritone

When looking for your first baritone, many professional players talk highly of The King 2266/2268. This instrument type is found in the hands of professionals as well as students learning to play.

As stated by many, this instrument type has the best balance of sound production, responsiveness, durability, and a great price compared to other instrument types. 

This type is also very easy to maintain, making it very durable. This is perfect, especially for those starting out and who need some time to learn how to maintain these instruments.

This type of baritone also has four front action piston valves that have excellent maneuverability and is very comfortable while playing as well. 

Tuning is also very simple, due to the keyrings and throw ring. 

It is also very important to make sure you are actually buying the baritone. For example, the alto horn looks nearly identical to the baritone.

While it may look the same, it plays extremely differently.  The alto horn, if accidentally bought due to its similar appearance, is not good at all for beginners. 

But, do not fear, alto-horns are not easy to get your hands on, as they are mainly sold in pawnshops. Alto-horns also have a very different pitch. The alto horn has a pitch in “E” flat.

Benefits of the Baritone

There are many benefits for learning, playing, and mastering the baritone. 

As the baritone is not as popular as other instruments such as the trumpet or the clarinet, this means less competition for players as fewer is playing the baritone.

Players who master the baritone and have obvious skills and a talent for it, are deemed extremely valuable by band teachers since there are not many of them at all. 

Baritone users also have many unique uses! Baritones can be heard very clearly in bands, ensembles, and even as solo. 

Benefits of the Euphonium

There are many benefits to playing the euphonium!

This instrument provides a beautiful sound in the tenor range of the brass section in an orchestra or ensemble.

The euphonium brings a very unique sound and quality to any performance put on by an orchestra.

Due to the conical bore and the large bell, it gives off a mellow, dark tone. It is very similar to the french horn sound. 

Due to this sound, the euphonium is absolutely perfect for all ensembles. The range it can provide makes this instrument able to tackle technically challenging melodies as well as rich chordal melodies. This instrument can really play everything!

How to Play the Baritone 

Once you begin playing and adapting to the baritone, it is not hard to learn. All it takes is a bit of consistent practice and time and patience to master the baritone!

First, you must make sure the baritone is rested in your lap with the valves facing up. Then you must make sure to support the instrument in your left arm.

It may be very heavy for a new player, but you will begin to adjust once you get used to it all. Then, your right-hand goes on the valves. 

Posture is very important when learning to play. You must make sure you are sitting straight, preferably in a straight-back chair. Then, place your feet flat on the ground and parallel to one another. 

Put your mouth softly on the mouthpiece and make a buzzing sound with your lips. While the sound it makes may not sound too pretty at first, all it takes is consistent practice. Just make sure to keep trying until you find that perfect pitch, do not get discouraged. 

When playing, take deep, slow and long breaths. Make sure to also exhale strongly. This will help you learn to get that perfect tone out of the instrument. 

It is also very important to practice with your fingers on the valves. Again, it may be difficult to learn and understand at first, but once you get the hang of it, you will become a pro in no time.

Make sure to remove the mouthpiece and put it back in the case. This is the same for the instrument as well. It is always important to handle it with care. 

How to Play the Euphonium 

First, it is very important to get comfortable while playing. You will not play well unless you are comfortable! Similar to the baritone, put the euphonium in the center of your lap with the valves facing up to your face. 

Again, as stated before, it is important to sit up straight, as straight as you can, in a chair. This posture fix will help with your breathing greatly. 

Then, it is very important to place your right hand gently on the valves that are closest to you and your left arm around the instrument. Put your lips together in the shape of the letter M and make a buzzing noise.

Then, it is important to find the range that you are comfortable playing in.

Expert instructors explain that it is important not to push yourself, as it may take time to find that right pitch. Beginners should start in F2. 

Overall, the key is to focus on breathing.

The Conclusion 

Overall, both are great instruments. The baritone and the euphonium have very similar aspects as well as different ones. You really can’t go wrong with playing any.

Either way, just remember, watch your breathing!

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