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What is the Difference Between the Baritone and Euphonium?

The baritone and euphonium are among the more popular choices of instrument for children looking to join the school band. They are big and bold, but still manageable in size. And not as difficult to master as some of the more complicated instruments, like the French horn and oboe. But the one question we’re asked more than any other, when it comes to these instruments, is what’s the difference between the two? So, that’s what we’re going to be talking about in this blog.

Baritone vs Euphonium: What’s the Difference?

The shape

The baritone and euphonium share the same length of tubing, so the main difference in the shape of these instruments comes in their width. Although the tubing of the baritone does widen towards the bell, the main body of the tubing remains cylindrical. Whereas in euphoniums the tubing takes a conical form, becoming steadily wider, and resulting in a significantly larger bell.

The sound

The best way to get to understand the difference in the sound produced by the euphonium and baritone is to listen to them being played. But if you want to boil it down to the basics, the baritone is pitched in B flat and it is usually used for harmony pieces within the orchestra. Also pitched in B flat, the euphonium produces a fuller sound, thanks to the conical formation of its tubing. This means that although it is often used for the harmony, it is as frequently used for the melody, counter-melody, or an additional fifth part. The sound of the euphonium is softer and more rounded than the baritone, which is often described as ‘bright’.

The way it is played

The euphonium is slightly more difficult to play than the baritone. The conical formation of the tubing means that you need greater lung capacity and strength to produce a satisfying sound. Because it is slightly wider and heavier, the euphonium can also be a little more difficult to handle for younger players.

The valves

There is a common misconception that all baritones have three valves and euphoniums have four. While this is often the case, you can get both three and four valve models of both instruments, so it’s not a reliable way to distinguish between the two. The fourth valve can be positioned either on top of the instrument beside the first three, or on the side and controlled by the left hand.

Baritone and euphonium are often referred to interchangeably. And once you’ve learned how to play the one, you will be able to play the other. For beginners, and players of a smaller stature, the baritone can be a better first choice, simply because its size makes it slightly easier to master. But if you’re looking for an instrument that is a tiny bit more challenging but presents more opportunities within the orchestra, then the euphonium is a great choice too.

And the wonderful thing about renting your euphonium or baritone is that you get to try it out for size without the risk of losing any significant investment. Because if you start out with the one and decide that you’d like to switch to the other, you can do. Simply and without any financial implications. And if neither work for you, you can always try the violin., drum or flute!

If you’d like to find out more about renting a baritone or euphonium, please contact Rent From Home for more information.