Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by djpw7702, Mar 26, 2016.


Which is the better cornet (Bb)?

  1. Besson Sovereign 928

  2. Besson Prestige

  3. Geneva Symphony Cornet

  4. Getzen 3850

    0 vote(s)
  5. Eclipse Large Bore

  6. Yamaha Neo

  7. Smith-Watkins Professional

  8. Smith-Watkins Artiste

    0 vote(s)
  9. Schlike XA1

  10. Willson 460 Celebration

    0 vote(s)
  1. djpw7702

    djpw7702 New Member

    I am looking to buy a new cornet and was wondering what the popularity of my shortlist was.
  2. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Only one of your list I'd avoid is the Geneva...

    Personally Eclipse first, Smith-Watkins 2nd, then the rest... But you may not agree - you have to try them yourself.
  3. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    Hmm...not exactly a crystal clear question. The Eclipse is a couple of hundred more expensive than the Prestige, and north of a grand more than the Getzen. So, if money is no object to you, then consider the Stomvi and the Willson as well. Be cautious though, some of these instruments can be tricky. I read a review of the Stomvi that said it is sublime, but damn hard to tame. Much will depend on your ability as a player, as well as the size of your wallet
  4. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't rule out a Schilke either, if money is no object. They can be difficult in terms of blending with a section, however it's easier if you can get one their Symphony 'V' range cornet mouthpieces (again, assuming money is no object)
  5. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

  6. andy;-)

    andy;-) Member

    If you are close to York, why not book a few hours with Richard Smith (Smith Watkins) and try the different options on lead pipes and tune the instrument to what feels comfortable for you rather than having to go with what someone else thinks should be fitted. The different lead pipes really do give a noticeable difference to how the instrument plays both in tone and also how free blowing it is. And if you go with the Soloist model you can change again in the future.
  7. Lozzer

    Lozzer New Member

    I too would like to know what people think particularly if based on first hand experience.

    @Tom-King what is it that you don't like about Geneva?
  8. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    My advice is simple - play everything and see what works WITH YOU playing it.

    Purely personally (and it is a very personal decision) I would be buying an Eclipse if I played cornet more often (I already have a trumpet from them - as well as a flugel and piccolo trumpet) sadly I don't play cornet often enough to justify the expense.
    When I have got students looking to purchase a "decent" instrument my advice is to contact a decent shop and arrange a day/time to go to them and try as many makes/models as they can (tell the shop what your budget is). If they are able to afford the extra expense of an Eclipse then I would definitely advise taking a trip to Luton and visiting Leigh - if nothing else it gives me a chance to accompany them and have a play on his lovely toys :)

    Of the ones you list, I would recommend trying:
    Besson Sovereign
    Besson Prestige
    Yamaha Neo
    Eclipse (if in your price range)

    I am not a fan of the Smith-Watkins, although I know a lot of people like them - purely a personal thing.
    As Gareth said, feel free to try the Schilke, but it is not for everybody. I have had a couple of students have these and one sounded like a cornet player, the other was given the instrument and it was never the "right" one for them. They swapped to a (borrowed from a band) Sovereign and everything changed for the better.
    Like Tom-King I would avoid the Geneva - too many horror stories from Geneva owners about the quality of the instruments (have seen some of them for myself - quite appalling)

    Of the students I have had purchase cornets over the past few years the majority have gone for a Prestige, with a couple of Neos and a Xeno in the mix too.

    But YOU need to try them for yourself.
    PeterBale and Accidental like this.
  9. GISBand

    GISBand New Member

    Don't forget Sterling! We just bought 4 for the band. (Doubtless someone will tell me what an earth shattering mistake we've made) Make sure you go direct to them, much better prices and in our experience the demo models in retailers were not at all representative of the newest cornets they sell.
  10. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I can agree with much of the above save that I once had a post-lottery Prestige and whilst a lovely instrument, it was too difficult to tune with the worm-gear on the main tuning slide - I believe later ones are different. I can recommend also the York Eminence (not the Preference - I didn't like that personally). Yes, the Eclipse is a lovely cornet with a very short throw on the valves. The only issue I had with it was the wrap (where you put your left hand). It was just too tight and I don't have particularly large hands. When I last saw Leigh he had a new cornet in the offing, I don't know anything about that one.

    I'm on my second Smith-Watkins having passed my original K2 Professional model on to my daughter and now have a Soloist. I went to see Richard Smith and tried out the whole range of leadpipes before settling on couple that I liked. I wasn't tempted to go for an Artiste with a fixed leadpipe though. What I find with the S-W is it warms up quickly due to being lighter than an equivalent Sov and mouthpieces that work well with other cornets don't suit me on the S-W. I use a Sparxx 3 and that seems fine.
    My S-W needed more time for the valves to bed-in than for previous cornets I've owned - there was the odd sticky moment but by keeping it clean and using a light oil it has settled down nicely now.

    The Xeno is nice - very easy to play quietly, I found. Having heard a Neo played superbly at Butlins I'd love to try one someday.

    As trumpetmike says, try everything. Be prepared to be slightly adventurous with mouthpiece choice (ie: 3B instead of DW4B) and see how it feels.

  11. djpw7702

    djpw7702 New Member

    I am planning on going to Phil Parker and trying cornets at Whit so will take your advice. Out of interest, is it worth paying the extra few hundred for the SW Artiste cornet and having a leadpipe fitted, as opposed to the SW professional cornet?
  12. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I wouldn't worry about that at this stage. See if you like a Professional at Phil Parkers first. I bet you come away with a Sov or a Xeno ;-)

  13. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    When you review new instruments, make sure your testing uses a mouthpiece you're familiar with. That way you know it's the cornet making the difference.

    Play blind if you can - get someone to hand the instruments to you.

    Take someone (preferably another cornet player) along to stand in the room, as the sound you hear is not the same as what other people hear. If you can, don't decide in the shop - see if they'll let you take the instrument(s) away to try out with your regular ensemble. You may find the tone colour doesn't fit in with others in your section, or some of the notes may have poor intonation that takes too much work to play in tune with others. Also, your choice of bore size can affect how much physical effort is required for playing - you'd only discover that playing at extremes of dynamics.

    And don't assume that an instrument is automatically better because it's more expensive. Above a certain price, any differences are very small, although the manufactures would love you to think there's a night-and-day difference between theirs and their competitors. Some manufacturer claims are voodoo. See this article, admittedly by a saxophone maintainer, but it shows how manufacturers make claims that can't really be substantiated.
  14. djpw7702

    djpw7702 New Member

    I will use my 4B mouthpiece and like the idea of 'playing blind', unfortunately, I will not be able to take the instruments away, and I agree with you about how some claims can be made to sound good. What difference does the bore size make, I know you touched upon it however I am curious as to what changes can happen.
  15. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    There's a discussion about the effects of cornet bore size here. Some time ago I did try out a large bore Besson 928 but although it sounded lovely I found it much more tiring to play. I've always played ML bore instruments - and I've learnt how much physical effort I need to put in to get a certain volume out. With the larger bore cornet I found I had to put more physical effort in to get the sound I was aiming at.
    mjwarman likes this.
  16. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Would be interesting to hear why?
    Until I played Leigh's latest Bb cornet the SW was in a class of its own - the Smith-Watkins sound is brighter than the Bessons, but is simply miles better to play (for me), much more responsive and better above the staff. The Eclipse is as good a player but with a slightly less bright tone and the best valves out there - if I played more Bb, I'd really want to swap my Smith-Watkins for one.

    This is why I said I wouldn't touch them - like the old courtois if you get an old one they can play nicely but build quality seems patchy at best..

    Bingo - this is the key point.
  17. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    The reason I play an old Maestro is that the tighter blow balances out my big open mouthpiece (Wick 2). If I was playing a Sovereign I would play a different mouthpiece. There are a number of factors like this to consider.
  18. Hsop

    Hsop Member

    Hi Gordon

    Are you referring to the bore sizes of the two cornets? According to the Yamaha catalogue the maestro has a bore size of 11.9mm (0.469") and the Besson sovereign cornet seems to have a 11.84mm (0.466"). I personally have a York Eminence cornet which is a good instrument although no longer made.
  19. GordonH

    GordonH Active Member

    The Maestro has a tighter blow due to the way it is wound and the way it is braced. However, the blow seems more even throughout the register. The quality of the sound in the low register is particularly good (something a lot of cornets struggle with). I guess what I like most about the maestro is the evenness of response across the register.