Beginners Cornet

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Lauren Bond, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. Lauren Bond

    Lauren Bond New Member

    Hi there!

    I'm an adult learner (aged 21), and started learning the Cornet in June and am taking my Grade 1 in December. I have been renting a Besson student cornet since I began learning but would like to get my own for Christmas as the Besson is a bit old and battered.

    I am looking at these 3 models and was wondering if you could advise which to choose?
    - Jupiter JCR-700-Q
    - Yamaha YCR2330III
    - Virtuosi Regency VB-121UKL

    I am really taking learning and playing quite seriously, I practice everyday and am in a few beginners brass bands which I love playing in. So I want a good one that will last for the first grades! As I'm a student I can only afford a beginners model.

  2. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Are we talking about new or second hand instruments, here?

    Personally I'd ignore the virtuosi and direct my attention to the Jupiter and Yamaha - they're both very solid student instruments made by excellent makers who build serious pro models.

    If you're looking at second hand, it's worth having someone knowledgeable play it (your teacher or whomever) to be sure you're not getting a duff one (it's no uncommon for student instruments to be abused and play poorly as a result)... On top of that, there are particular warning signs to walk away from some second hand instruments.

    All the best
    Jack E likes this.
  3. Lauren Bond

    Lauren Bond New Member

    Hi Tom, I'm planning on getting a new one. :) Thanks for your response!
  4. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    I would look round the band and see what other players are playing. If they play Besson, then get a Besson, (or York, Sterling made from the same design) If Yamaha get a Yamaha etc.
    The reason is different manufacturers instruments rise and fall in pitch at different rates with temperature changes and you need all the Bb cornets to rise and fall together. If not you will find you can play much better at home than in the practice room as it is much harder to play a piece in tune if your instrument is sharp or flat compared to the rest and that translates into missed notes if you have musical talent or sounding horrible if you don't. Don't start me on about the grade 6 player who couldn't play in tune and survived two weeks with our sub 4th section band.

    As a learner you don't really need triggers just tune 3rd valve to get a good G on 1st and 3rd as well as open and that should get your instrument in tune with itself, so assuming the band plays Besson instruments a good nick Besson 622 should be a good stop gap, plenty on S/H Ebay for £200 and less than an arm and a leg new.

    My favorite Cornet was the Imperial Besson I bought back in 1980, very similar to a Besson 700. I sold it to the band in 1990 when I got a sovereign but recently I started playing it again and it really is much easier to blow than the 920/927 Sovereign and flatters my now limited abilities and I can get well above top C again.
    I would save your money for a professional instrument in silver (They hold their value much better than lacquer) see eBay when you are ready for it, when you are in the principal chair and your no 2 is doing all the hard work and you just twiddle out the odd solo bit as their big advantage is tone quality and ability to be bang on with intonation. 20 odd years on from playing principal with spells on Euph etc between I lose out on high notes endurance , and crucially volume with pro cornets, great players can get full fff perfectly in tune on a pro instrument , I struggle to get a decent single f.
    I still quite fancy a Wilson so if you still want a real professional bit of kit to impress your mates I would look at one of those.
  5. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    This is interesting. I'd never realised this before. Do you (or anyone) know the reason for this?
  6. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I buy this, for several reasons - I assume you have some kind of evidence (or explanation) for that statement?

    Instruments of different sizes would be more affected (relative to each other) by such changes in temperature than instruments of the same basic size from different brands - but we don't see significant mis-matches between sections unless people are playing without listening... and if they're doing that, there are MUCH bigger issues than temperature changes.

    When we're talking about relative beginners then (without putting too fine a point on it) this is far from the greatest concern - even those with the ear to hear it and the musical experience (from other instruments/etc) to know whether they're sharp/flat themselves will not really have the ability to do much about it yet....

    Really, this is looking at the microscopic details of a very broad-brush painting - there's a heck of a lot else to sort out before this is significant.
    Odds are, to the extent that this ever becomes a real-world problem, it's one so easily rectified by listening and adjusting that it's dealt with subconsciously with basically zero issue - maybe we should call it a non-problem?

    For what it's worth, at band practice last night (champ section) the cornet section comprised of: 1x B&H sovereign, 3x Besson Sovereign, 1x SmithWatkins K2, 1x Yamaha Xeno, 1x Yamaha 4330, 1x Eclipse (sop).... zero issues due to temperature, despite the room being fairly chilly when we started and uncomfortably warm by the time we finished.

    Sure, an instrument that's out of tune broadly speaking will give you issues, so will one that's out of tune on certain harmonics... instruments that are out of tune on different pitches across the band will cause problems too - and that happens regardless of brand (top G on a Sovereign Euph is much sharper than the top G on a Sovereign Cornet - but they're both sharp, which the equivalent D on Sovereign Tenor Horns and most Sop's usually aren't, if anything they'd be slightly flat... just for example).

    Missed notes might happen if you've got the musical talent to spot the problems and compensate (at low volumes especially) but the rate at which it happens is to some extent dependent on ability - the miss rate for championship players is obviously much lower than the average 4th section player, and lower again than the average training band player....

    Sure, the ideal would be not needing to compensate at all (ever) but that's simply not how it works in the real world - the best you can do is find the instrument that's the closest to in-tune and do your best to listen and play in tune with the band around you (who are doing the same)
    You wouldn't pick, for example, a Besson Sop cornet just because all the Bb's were using Bessons (because historically the intonation on Besson sops has been AWFUL - not so much with the 924, but it's still nowhere near the best available instruments), you'd be far further out of tune fullstop than if you simply used something that was much better in tune in the first place.

    Without intending to punch down too much, the number of 4th section bands that can play anywhere near in tune is pretty small - sure, there are degrees of acceptability at any level, but lets not pretend that one players intonation is such a problem that they'd be kicked out of the average 4th section band (I've known plenty in 2nd and 1st section with awful tuning... heck, even in championship I can think of one or two).

    Except that the Besson 622's aren't that great to play - certainly not a patch on the equivalent Yamaha's.

    The Besson in this particular price range is the 1020... which is made in India, which would probably make secondhand buyers wary (such is the generally deserved reputation of Indian manufacturing generally, and Indian brass instruments in particular) - can't say I'd be too quick to recommend one myself, even if it played well.

    Even if the O/P hadn't confirmed she's looking at new ones, I'd have to sound the caveat that second-hand instruments can be a crapshoot, especially buying without having played them (or having had a very strong player play one).

    In what way is an Imperial (the top of the line B&H pre-sovereign) similar to a Besson 700?

    The 920/927 Sovereigns (B&H 920, Besson 927) are medium-bore, the 920 actually is quite similar to the Imperials that preceded it... by modern standards, the Imperials are tight and don't fit brilliantly in a section of more modern cornets for the majority of players (as a friend, a superb player, found out trying to play one at band - let's just say he didn't use it for long!).

    I have to say, I really don't see the point in advising a grade-1 learner start saving up for a pro model - a good quality beginner instrument would serve them really well for several years at the very least... there's plenty of time for pro instruments.
    To be fair with the value of new instruments gradually creeping up - buying one second-hand isn't likely to incur much of a loss... though I understand wanting something new.

    It's offtopic really but there are loads of excellent cornets out there - the Willson (double L) are really nice and you don't see too many of them, but they're not some magic bullet to perfect playing any more than any other excellent pro models are.

    Anyway, I seem to have waffled on a bit... all the best!
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
    Jack E, MoominDave and cornetblower like this.
  7. Hsop

    Hsop Member

    Hi Lauren

    Have you potentially found a new cornet yet? It's always difficult to find an instrument that you are happy with. When I was a kid I started on cornet with a student model Blessing scholastic. Looking back I think it is the worst instrument I have played in my 27 years of brass banding. After a year of playing I was fortunate to be given another instrument from the band which was a sovereign round-stamp 921 cornet. This made a huge difference to my playing, tone, intonation, volume of sound all improved dramatically.

    There does seem to be a little bit of a gap in the market between 'student' instruments and 'professional' models. Besson used to make an international cornet, model 723 I think, the one with the 3rd slide trigger only. That was a decent cornet for beginners and intermediate level but they don't make that model now unfortunately. Maybe there are some offers out there if you are a student. Some companies offer 0% finance which you could pay monthly to help with costs and would let you buy the cornet that you like. Has your teacher made any suggestions in buying a cornet?

    Good luck!
  8. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    I had exactly the same with my first motorbike - a Francis-Barnett 84, with massive fibre-glass panels which put far too much weight at the back, an equally massive fibre-glass handlebar fairing which made it top heavy, steel legshields and crashbars. Maybe a strong and experienced rider could have coped with it, but being a puny, undersized, rather clumsy and unconfident total novice, I had no chance - and I still consider it the most ill-balanced and worst-handling bike of the 27 bikes that I've had - (Honda 50 to Harley Davidson) and I'm sure that many learners have fallen into the trap the same way I did; they didn't know enough to recognise that it was a bad 'un, or even enough to know that they needed a more experienced player to check it out for them, and steer them away from it towards something which would help them learn, rather than making it needlessly difficult.
    And after a year of struggling to keep the 84 right-side up, and not pinning me to the tarmac, I traded it in for a BSA 250, and found (to my astonishment!) that I could actually handle a bike quite well.

    The moral is, Lauren, as has been so often repeated on teh Mouthpiece, don't be afraid to ask your MD, an experienced player from your band, or your teacher, to go with you and check it out before you buy. They will have every incentive to help you on your way, and should have both the ability and experience to be able to size up an instrument, and sort out not just whether it's a good one or not, but also if it's appropriate for you - where you are currently at, and what you want to do.

    HTH, and best regards,

    Tom-King likes this.
  9. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I don't follow the logic of this at all; all you will end up with is an instrument that plays a very flat Eb/Ab on 2nd+3rd.
    And personally, since moveable 1st/3rd valve slides (sprung or otherwise) are available on relatively inexpensive decent beginner cornets, I prefer teaching my students as early as possible that the correct fingering for low 'D' is 1st/3rd plus trigger, not just 1st/3rd. Telling people they don't need triggers is just plain irresponsible in my view. The technology is there, so learn to use it!
  10. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Just out of curiosity, Tom, why do you say that?

    With best regards,

  11. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Personal experiences with the brand (diff models) have been disappointing and I had a rather unsatisfactory experience with firstbrass online store which sours it a bit, too.
  12. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

    Right - thanks, Tom!
  13. Lauren Bond

    Lauren Bond New Member

    Thanks for all your tips guys! Seems like for now I should just go with a decent beginners model and then eventually I will upgrade, especially once I have more money anyway, I'm in my final year of uni so hopefully I'll have a job next year!

    I went into Forsyth's the music shop in Manchester and I think I am going to get the Trevor James Renaissance 4500. I tested it out along with the Yamaha and I preferred it, the valves felt much smoother especially. The guy there said a lot of people opted for the Renaissance, and it was on sale because it was the only one they had left so it was good value for money, so I have reserved it.
    Jack E likes this.
  14. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Whilst I knew that TJ were a flute maker, I hadn't heard about them making brass instruments until I depped with a band and the young principal cornet player was using one. She made a beautiful sound, nicely in tune, such that I enquired what she was playing because I didn't recognise it.
    I think she acquired the instrument rather than chose it, but seemed perfectly happy and in no rush to change. I hope that you enjoy yours as much. :)
  15. Hsop

    Hsop Member

    GJG has a good point about playing a cornet with triggers, it conditions a player into correct methods from the beginning and are a really useful addition on a cornet. Glad you managed to find a brand of cornet you liked Lauren. Just wanted to mention before you complete your purchase that a company called Gerry Birch music services have 2 Trevor James cornets listed for £295 each. The model number is CT6500 which has 1st and 3rd slide triggers. They are described as having a minor repair but in as new condition. If these don't appeal to you, good luck anyway. :)
    Tom-King likes this.
  16. Lauren Bond

    Lauren Bond New Member

    Thanks for the great tip - think I will get this one now, much cheaper than the 4500 I was going to get, and a more advanced model. :)
  17. David Broad

    David Broad Member

    If you want to demoralise learners from the word go give them a trigger cornet to start on, that jump from C to sort of a hybrid D/Eb without trigger is absolutely horrible. Much better to set it up to play a good D on 1/3rd and lip the C# and Eb which is what I do when carol playing and conducting at the same time. After all you have to lip E in the top space and the Eb,D and Db below unless you have a tuning slide trigger...
  18. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I'd have thought it more beneficial to provide an instrument with a trigger and teach the habit of using it when required. The only exception being if the learner is a small child that would physically struggle to manage it, which isn't the case with the OP.
    Jack E and Tom-King like this.
  19. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    This would only be a problem if they're getting sour looks and/or comments for that note being sharp - when they're actually in the beginner phase (say from the very beginning to about grade 2 or 3, maybe - broadbrush but it'll do fine) most of them won't necessarily hear that note being out of tune anyway (because everything beginner groups play together will have other tuning issues anyway, and the ear isn't necessarily developed enough to hear it whilst playing alone).

    There's nothing too demoralising in ignorance - it's almost as if we evolved that state of mind (ignorance) with respect to skills we were learning anew in order to prevent ourselves from becoming discouraged... anyway.

    Surely it's much better to be consistent... If you set your third slide out so that the 1+3 combination is in tune, then you have to lip DOWN to get the 1+2+3 C# in tune and lip UP to get the 2+3 Eb in tune - 9/10 learners don't know the difference in sensation between a lip-up and a lip-down, nor can they hear the difference in many cases (heck, I've met a fair few that were grade 5 ish who didn't even know whether pushing the main slide in sharpened or flattened the instrument... and they couldn't work the difference out by trial and error either, clearly it's not something innate in everyones ears).

    Except that open E harmonic is flat, rather than sharp - so triggering them would make them worse.
    There are instruments (some flugels, some soprano cornets... some less than stellar quality "learner" instruments) where that note is so far out of tune that you have to use the alternative fingerings to get closer to in tune (E on 1+2, Eb on 2+3, D on 1+3, Db on 1+2+3), despite the fact that the G harmonic they're on is usually sharp and these valve combinations only make it sharper.

    There's an awful lot going on here, but worrying about intonation with beginners is still missing the wood for the tree's, IMHO.
    Jack E likes this.
  20. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    To be fair, using it blindly can be no better than not using it at all - learning the patterns of where it's required and where it's not MIGHT (in many cases) be an unnecessary distraction.

    If able to multi-task and able to hear when that note is out of tune (a musical background from other instruments, etc) then it may well be beneficial... otherwise, it's just future-proofing for when this becomes an actual issue IMHO.

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