Questions about Maestros

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Offbeats, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. Offbeats

    Offbeats Member

    Hi all...

    I'm studying music at university next year, and as such i need to get myself a better cornet, preferably new... i have been looking at the following options

    besson sovereign
    yamaha maestro
    courtois chambord II

    what does everyone recommend in their experience...being from australia, i have mostly worked with/ played amongst i guess my question is how do the other brands compare?

    for example...i have heard whispers that the maestros are too 'bright' in tone quality to be used in a brass band setting...what are peoples thoughts/ experiences in this area? maestro owners - have you found your instruments blend well with the section, and are their still able to produce that dark cornet tone (which i guess is the convention)?

    any help at all would be great...

  2. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Well-Known Member

    Farnham, Surrey, UK
    Are you in a position to try these instruments out before you buy?

    Instrument choice is a very personal thing, what works for one person is quite likely not to be the best choice for everyone, you need to find what instrument/mouthpiece combination allows you to achieve the tone, intonation and playability that you are looking for.

    Of the ones you mentioned:
    Sovereign - well, it's the classic. Saying that I haven't played a Sovereign (built in the past 10 years) that I have enjoyed playing. I have always found the intonation to be "squirrelly" at best - I found finding the centre of notes very difficult. The tone is the redeeming feature, but FOR ME, the intonation was just too much to cope with.

    Courtois - Terrible intonation. It made the Sovereign look good. The tone was lighter than the Sovereign - I would have enjoyed this as a solo (with piano) type instrument, but I found it very difficult to achieve my desired tone from it - combine that with the intonation and I would place this last, from MY experience.

    Maestro - I own and play one. I find the tone not to be as dark/warm as the Sovereign, but the intonation is much better, with me on the end of it. It is a very decent cornet, although it did take me a while to find a mouthpiece that allowed me to achieve the results I was after.

    What is your budget?

    If I was playing cornet more often (as you can probably guess from my name, I am primarily a trumpet player) I would probably be looking for something that was even better - probably either one of Andy Taylor's or the new Eclipse cornet (when it is available - I've played the prototypes and I found it to be vastly superior, in terms of intonation and even tone throughout the register, to any cornet currently available). They are the only two cornets that I feel play with the combination of both sound and intonation that would allow me to achieve exactly what I want in terms of playability. But that is just my viewpoint, I would doubt very much that everyone (or indeed anyone) would agree.

    Whenever someone asks a question like this, the replies you get are going to be based upon individuals personal feelings about certain instruments. In other words, none of us are you, we can say what works for us, but eventually the decision is yours. Anyone who says "you should buy brand x" is either a rep for that company or they don't really know what they are talking about. There is only one instrument that you should think of buying - that is the one that works with you on the end.
    If you can get hold of as many instruments as possible - try them out, trial them in the situations you are going to be playing it (sometimes what works as a solo instrument in the store doesn't work as well in the band context) and choose what works for you.
  3. Adrian Horn

    Adrian Horn Member

    Offbeats, I have to say trumpetmike's is the only reply you should need to read. As he says, each instrument plays differently for each player, so the only way to find the one for you is to try as many as possible until you find one that you would feel secure playing anything on.

    Don't just try the established brands either. There are many quality manufacturers out there, who just don't have the marketing clout of the big boys so do a search for brass instrument manufacturers on Google! I'm definately with trumpetmike when he says try the Taylor cornet. It is without doubt the best cornet I have ever played (it was the Taylor Orpheus in Bright Silver Plate). If I wasn't primarily a trumpeter then I would have no hesitation in buying the Taylor as my main instrument.

    Just keep trying until one jumps out and says 'Buy Me!'
  4. lottie4744

    lottie4744 Member

    If you can, also try the Yamaha Xeno, and if it's out by then have a go on the new Wilson, both very nice instruments, give them a try.
  5. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    Are you going to be studying music in Australia? Have you checked out bands local to your campus to see what models they play and whether a place is available? (... if you want to use banding as a hobby). This could save on costs of buying a new instrument and save any wastage if a band insists on using their own instruments rather than your personal choice.
  6. mandy

    mandy New Member

    I used to play a besson sovereign, It went in for repair and I borrowed my friends Maestro. I could not believe the difference. The maestro gave me a much bigger sound and was really easy to play, as well as good with tuning.

    I decided to try lots of different cornets out, I tried new sovereign's, courtois, bach's, shilkie's. Out of all the masetro for me was the best cornet I have ever played. However, everyone is different, but thats my recommendation.

    You could also try a Smith Watkins, I dont personally know what they are like, but have been told they are good?
  7. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Ive owned a Maestro for 3 years (i think) and its been a bit of a bumpy ride =(
    The valves seem to stick badly on hot days, moreso than Sovereigns (and yes they are clean and oiled before anyone says that)
    The third valve trigger doesnt return properly - the spring isnt really strong enough (a repairman told me the slides were too airtight and so wouldnt return properly when valves werent down)

    then again it sounds nice =)
  8. persins

    persins Member

    Reading, England
    Right then!!

    I own all 3!! Sort of!

    My primary personal instrument. The sound IS brighter than the sovereign and is very free blowing. There is very little resistance and is a super cornet. It will however, stand out in a section if it is the only one there. It can and does blend with a brass band sound if the player can make it do so.

    This one is actually owned by Woodfalls but is the instrument that I play the most. It is massive. You can really give it some stick without managing to blow it straight. I find that it can produce a really huge fat sound and has a good tone. Intonation is an issue with it but for a big sound, its the one for me.

    The old ones are fantastic but the recent ones have really dropped off in terms of the quality. It is the "standard" for the brass bands that I know of but does not therefore mean that it's the best. The dark traditional sound is a definite plus point but the intonation and weak top A is certainly a weakness. If possible, the Prestige would be the besson cornet of choice.

    The others are correct though. All responses will be highly subjective. It may be orthwhile looking at some of the other manufacturers. I was very impressed with the Wilson when I had a little tootle in Switzerland but haven't tried many of the others mentioned.

    You will know which one suits you when you find it. Don't just go for the name, but the one that fits best.
  9. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... isn't that going to be the case with instruments maufactured for the mass market, that build consistency is going to be always an issue? In an ideal world we would just visit the factory, try a few out (with the help of an experienced playing friend) then pick one! Another thing to consider when buying your own instrument is the availabilty of spares and cost of mods/repairs.
  10. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    Wouldn't recommend the Cortouis, too heavy, you could beat someone to death with it , however it wouldn't sound any better afterwards (valves would still work though unlike the Besson).

    Haven't tried the maestro but we have ordered some intermediate Yamahas for our junior band. Super little cornet for the price, no annoying triggers for them to play with and a nice easy bore size, not so large that they overblow yet not too small. Crackin little cornet.

    Tried a Prestige... yuk. Sounds dull as ditchwater, and what on earth were they thinking with the stupid tuning slide effort? (some sort of screw adjuster on the main slide).

    Mind you I'm a Sop player and play a Shilke so what do I know? :D
  11. brasscrest

    brasscrest Active Member

    Washington, DC, USA
    The valve issue isn't just with Yamaha cornets - we have two Yamaha professional model baritones that have the same sort of issues. My personal opinion is that the problem is with the plastic valve guides, which seem to be much softer than those in other makes, and apparently are very sensitive to temperature.

    trumpetmike said it all in terms of instrument selection. You're making a major investment and starting what will (hopefully) be a long-term personal relationship with your new instrument. Make sure it feels right to you before you buy.
  12. Craigsav83

    Craigsav83 Active Member

    These are actually the 3 cornets I have played in recent times, and I must agree with everything there. Personally, I would avoid the Sovereign if possible, where I could get a beautiful tone, the top A is certainly a huge issue - I honestly thought it was me, and had spent ages trying to rectify it, until I moved onto the Maestro, and found it so much easier in the upper register, although I am having a slight problem with the 3rd slide.

    But as has been mentioned, try as many different makes and models as you can, and find the one that best suits, as every player is individual.
  13. Flugelmahorn

    Flugelmahorn Member

    I'm probably in the minority of players who favour the courtois (106XLR). As already pointed out it's a monster cornet to fill but you get a very big sound with it. Yes it's a bit heavier than the Yamaha or the Besson but it feels very solid and in time I've got used to it (been playing it for about 6 years). Never had any problems with intonation or blending in with a section which is mainly besson cornets.

    One of the cornet players in my band uses a Yamaha and she doesn't have any problems blending in with the rest of the section. From my experience the Yamaha is a very fine instrument with excellent build quality and is very free blowing and produces a very warm sound.

    Haven't used a Besson for quite a while but after all the problems with the new sovereign line over the last few years I've stayed well away. The ones that I have used however I've found to be a nightmare to blow and much much harder work than either the Yamaha or Courtois.

    Just my thoughts..... ;)
  14. imthemaddude

    imthemaddude Active Member

    West Midlands
    Ive just brought a xeno and to be honest for a nice traditional warm sound I would never play anything other than a yamaha but if you want a jazzy sound the besson are good for that.
  15. RussQ

    RussQ Member


    I've got 2 maestros!! My own is a silver plate, but I play on the bands' laquered cornet which is much easier to blow than mine.
    Everybody has their own favourites and it is really a case of trying a few instuments to see which one suits you.
    Incidentally I used to play on a 15 year old sovereign, which I part exchanged for a maestro. Big mistake, not one cornet since then has matched it for ease of blowing, sound quality and intonation. If you can get hold of a 20 year old sovereign, you will not be disappointed!
  16. Offbeats

    Offbeats Member

    Hi all..thank you for your posts so far...the sad thing about this affair is that right now i play on a large-bore B&H sovereign (round-stamp), however it belongs to the band i play i will be most likely moving away next year to continue my music studies, im not sure the band will let me take it...

    i love this cornet, and while it has a few issues like a few dents and such, it really is an excellent instrument... my only gripe is that i believe the valves are starting to there a way to fix this? if so it could be an option that i buy the cornet off the band (again i'm not sure if they'd let me do this? what are your thoughts..

  17. Di

    Di Active Member

    If you've become attached to it, yea, I'd go along with trying to make a decent offer for it. You'll never get owt if you don't ask. ;) Do they have an ample supply or is buying one going to leave them short for a replacement player once you've gone?
  18. flower girl

    flower girl Member

    Ammanford south Wales
    i've got a sovereign n my valves leak too but i havent found out how th fix it yet
  19. imthemaddude

    imthemaddude Active Member

    West Midlands

    I totally agree
  20. Offbeats

    Offbeats Member

    hi all..thank you for your help...i was priveleged to be able to test out 2 maestros and two courtois chambord II's (one a 106XL and the other an 106XLR) recently..and ended up getting the courtois 106XL..its was the best instrument of them all...although perhaps a goldbrass bell is in theory a better choice, i found this particular instrument to be not as good as the standard 106XL..i will let you know how the horn gets on..thanks again for your help..

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