Band Instrument Choice

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by brassneck, Jul 16, 2006.

  1. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Out of curiosity, I wonder why certain brands and models of instruments have failed to take a stronghold in the band market despite their obvious quality. Is it to do with the home grown marketing convenience of Besson that has dominated the market for so long? Yamaha and Courtois have only captured so much of the market but still are a long way short of Besson.

    Is it because instrument parts and service provided by Besson were more accessible than others that they became so popular? The only exception seems to be trombone, soprano and flugel choice for bands ... a free hand to try other makes seems to be okay. For cornets, I wonder why the Bach, Schilke, Getzen, Kanstul etc. brands never made a real foothold? Horns, baritones and euphs ... would your band buy Willson or Miraphone models? Basses ... huge selection to consider.

    Are things likely to change since Besson have been bought out by Buffet Crampon? Would you band research and spend cash on another brand?
  2. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    We've just bought 2 Willson Euphs, and if the chance came for Basses I would look at any affordable 3+1 model for either key!
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Here's a question then ... has any band got a full section (not including troms) that uses instruments that are not Besson, Courtois or Yamaha? I do remember some bands in the past that had cornet sections using Getzen but never Bach Strads,Kanstul or even Eclipse (... I think Soli Brass use Kanstul though!). Any bass sections use Willson or Miraphone 3+1 tubas?
  4. tam-tam2

    tam-tam2 Member

    I may be wrong but years ago I think Cory may have had a whole set of Bach cornets....somebody prove me wrong? Quick calculation in our cornet section we have 1 Shilke, 1 Bach, 1 Courtois (mine:biggrin: ), 4 Maestros (the band have a full set too....what does that tell you!!) and three of the old type Sovereigns when they produced good instruments!! All of our trombones are Bach Strad too but I don't think they like them very much!!
  5. AT a rough guess then... it's probably the home advantage. Much like Vauxhall used to have every corporate fleet in their pocket, when they produced good quality, good value cars (the old cavaliers).

    Another factor could be that they produce a range of instruments, so a band could have a few Besson 600s and a few Sovereigns, tailoring their budget to suit the players without losing a coherent sound.
  6. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I believe the Amsterdam Staff Band have a full set of Smiths-Watkins cornets.
  7. Bungle

    Bungle Member

    I am guessing that you may get a bigger discount the more instruments you buy from one manufacturer, or the sales person/shop got the biggest commission from Besson. It might be even simpler than that, just the risk of having a different overall band sound from the rest of the bands you may be in competition against.
  8. GingerMaestro

    GingerMaestro Active Member

    Another question for you.

    Who will be the first band to kit themselves out and become the [Name] Virtuosi [Band] like Fodens and Courtois that could be the next big thing
  9. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    Personally, I don't think there's any one manufacturer who can provide "the best" or near enough of every type of instrument.
    Even bands with Courtois in their name didn't exclusively use them, and famous Besson associated bands recently weren't all Besson!
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2006


    Our band has a complete set of gold/laquered Sovereign instruments, made when they were good, apart from the sop. The band's sop is a gold schilke with some sort of spec bell and we in the troms have all manner of instruments. Solo trom has a Conn, I have a Getzen Custom and the 2nd trom has some custom made thing with loads of engraving on the bell. We do have a VB Bass trom in the back room, but the mechanism is too big for my widdle pandies to manage.

    Only things is, now that we have some new members, they seem to prefer using their own instruments, especially on the cornet line. Can play havoc with the tuning and balance at times.
  11. 007ish

    007ish Member

    Can anyone update me/us on the position of Besson/Buffet.

    Are they producing band instruments?
    Did production cease?
    Is there a new manufacturing site?
    Are they using the same tooling?
    If production is happening, have the quality issues been resolved?

    Maybe there's someone out there from Besson/Buffet who can answer these questions?
  12. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Production of Besson instruments has ceased.

    According to an interview wiith Roger Webster and Steven Mead in the June edition of Brass Band World, they are starting up production again in September. Cornets and horns are to be made at the Courtois factory in France, baritones, euphoniums and basses are to be made at a factory in Geretsreid, 70 miles South of Munich.

    They will not be making flugel horns and trombones, at least as part of their top of the range models.
  13. persins

    persins Member

    At Woodfalls we have a full set of Courtois cornets and a flugel. Most of us have stopped using them though in favour of other models.

    In my opinion, I'm not sure that all playing on the same model is such a great thing. Although it may give the opportunity for a more blended, consistant sound, I believe that the individual players influence that more than the instrument.
    Having said that, with everyone playing on different makes and models, it does make it harder to blend the sounds within the team.

    We currently have a Schilke sop, four Courtois', two Yamaha Maestros, a proper old Besson sovereign, two Besson 928 sovereigns and a Besson prestige in the cornet team.

    That doesn't even account for the rest of the band!! No idea what most of them are!
  14. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    Ed Kleinhammer, bass trombonist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for many years, said the same thing in an interview I read once, pointing out that, in the legendary CSO trombone section of the 1960's, which was famous for its consistant, balanced blended sound, each player played a different make of instrument.

    Flixton Band have a set of silver Besson sovereign instruments , except for flugel horn and trombones. The flugel (I think) is a Bach (I could be wrong), the trombones are a Conn 88H, a Conn 88H-O (both band instruments), and the band has a Holton TR181 bass trombone, though I mostly use my own Rath R9. Some of our cornet players use their own instruments as well (I know that one uses a Courtois, one uses a red-belled sovereign, and one I think uses a Yamaha, it's laquered anyway).
  15. Yamaha horns r ****.... i like bessn sov.
  16. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    A few questions...

    Do different instruments have more impact with less experienced players - where they cannot adapt as easily to different instruments - or more experienced players - where there are less other factors affecting their tone?

    How many of us can truthfully say that the main influence on our sound and tone is down to the instrument? what about style of playing, mouthpiece, experience, amount of practice etc.

    In my experience, the biggest factor when going to different bands and playing on different instruments, is the quality of the slide (I'd assume the same is with valves). A large number of bands don't have the luxury of enough money to buy new instruments, and often older ones get left in poor condition. So is one reason for the success of some instruments their relative cost to reliability?

    Finally, how many of us really know about different instruments. I tend to come on here to get everyone elses views on different makes, but before tMP I could name about 4 makes of brass instruments (Yamaha, Conn, Bach and Besson). Even then I couldn't really compare them.


    I think that you are quite right in what you say... to a point. A large number of the members of my band are quite young. There would really be little difference in the sound that they made if you gave them a besson 1000 in comparison to a prestige! Yet some of the cornets in our collection are old imperials or well before their time. We also have some old tenor horns that should be melted down as no matter who played them they would be out of tune and generally sound horrible. I don't really know a lot about cornets as most of my experience has been with trombones and basses. A lot of student trombones are built to withstand the impacts that a student trombone would get whereas a "pro" model is made with a thinner bell for example to resonate better and produce a certain sound depending on the material. I would presume that the same is the case for other instruments, though I have not heard any difference between silverplate cornet and one with a rose brass bell, so maybe the difference is more subtle.

    When I played at Granite City Brass, The Musical Director at the time (David James) had the entire cornet section playing with Stork Mouthpieces so that they blended more with each other. I do not know if it was the change of mouthpiece or the constant threats that they received ;) , but their sound improved 10 fold over the next wee while. Maybe that is a more ecconnomical solution for a band.

    Going back to instruments I have played on a couple of stinkers of basses which no matter if the player was Steve Sykes or Steve Davis the same horible sound would come out. but the band at the time did not have the money to buy a new bass of any type a the time. We just had to make the most of what we had.

    I would be interested to hear from anyone with alternatives for Basses as I have never really seen alternatives to the sovereigns in the better bands.

    Anyway, enough of my inane wittering.


  18. squirrel

    squirrel Member

    Would that be David "I'll bite yer bum" James then? He was a real character, we need more of them in the brass band world I reckon.


    The one and only. It was a privilege to play under him: always managed to coax more out ouf you than you thought you could.

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