Should I buy the Virtuosi Soprano?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Ray Woods, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. Ray Woods

    Ray Woods Member

    I want to buy a Soprano cornet. My choices are:
    1. Buy a new Virtuosi Classic Soprano (about £660 I think)
    2. Wait for a 2nd hand Yamaha 6610T to come up again on Ebay (about £400)
    3. Sell a kidney and buy a Schilke (£2500)

    What should I do?

    Any Virtuosi Classic Soprano experience out there (players and those who have to listen to it!). It looks shiney.

  2. blue juice

    blue juice Member

    In my experience, the Schilkes are the best in terms of longevity and quality. Each to his own though so its best to have a blow and pick what suits you
  3. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    The Virtuosi instruments offer very good value for money. I havent tried the Sop but I have a Cornet and a Picc. Trumpet which are both incredible (for the price).
    I'm sure you could get one on approval - or you could always sell that kidney.
    Good luck - Andy (Royston Town Band 1972 - 1978).
  4. pagliacci

    pagliacci Member

    If you can, do try a Smith Watkins soprano cornet; not a cheap option, but fantastic build quality and good intonation and comes with different leadpipe options to suit you.

    I bought one in 2000 from Richard Smith and it's still serving me brilliantly; and Richard was incredibly helpful.

    As my playing developed I was able to buy an additional larger bore leadpipe which means you can tweak the cornet as your needs change.
  5. bannisa

    bannisa Member

    Sell a kidney immediately!!
  6. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Ive had the privalege to own and play on about 5 different types

    B&H Imperial
    Besson International
    Besson Sovereign (Dual reciever)
    Yamaha Xeno
    Schilke Beryllium Bell

    The Schilke is better than the Xeno, which is an upgrade of the Yamaha you are thinking about. I find it easier to blow, it has superior projection but I found the Xeno slightly better intonation wise. The Xeno goes on ebay for approx £900 so if money was an issue, then I would consider that

    I prefer my Schilke but I managed to get mine dirt cheap on ebay, but I was scouring ebay daily for a year to find one.

    If you are looking for something cheap, then I thought the International was a cracking instrument. I had a Sovereign, but I dunno... I must have got a bad one as it had very little going for it. I havent had such problems with other sops!

    My current band have a Getzen, but its pretty hard work as its not as free blowing as the others, so I play my own Schilke.

    The Courtois is supposed to be pretty good, close to the Schilke, and cheaper, but the guy who bought my Xeno played one, and on comparison, he says Xeno is miles better, Courtios wasnt great intonation wise for him. He had also tried a Blackburn, said it was lovely, but its even more expensive than the Schilke!

    At the end of the day, you pay for what you get! You wont regret buying a Schilke as it is worth the money, but if you want a very underrated sop then keep an eye on ebay and get a xeno for under a grand. I havent tried Virtuosi so cant comment on them!

    Sorry for the ramble and hope its of some use!
  7. Kjata

    Kjata Member

    I play on a cortois sop, which is lovely to play and feels good.
    However the common consensus is that shilkes are the best. However if you don't want to have to sell a kidney then virtuosi do a sop that is supposed to be a shilke copy, just cheaper!
    I do recommend the cortois!
  8. I've had a play on a virtuosi sop and was impressed. Gives a lovely mellow sound which will blend in nicely rather than stick out like a laser beam. Great value for money. Top Bs and Cs are a tad harder work but I'm sure with more practise that will come.
    It all depends what it is your after and at what level you wish to be at.
  9. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member

    Try before you buy.. and buy whatever works for you and is within your budget..

    I've played a Courtois for years and like it. I haven't played Shilkies for a long enough period to really judge, the ones I've played play different to the Courtois, then, so do other Courtois.

    Did play a prototype Sterling at the weekend which was very different to the Courtois.

    There are plenty to choose from! but as I said, try before you buy!
  10. Ray Woods

    Ray Woods Member

    Which Virtuosi Soprano has the mellow sound?

    I like the sound of this. Do you know which version of the Virtuosi sop it was? (the laquer, silver plate, Rose Bell?). I think sop should sit delicately on top of the band sound, rather than scream "I'M HERE!!!".

    It occurs to me that if lastability is the achilles heel of the Virtuosi, I could buy 3 of them so I can change when I wear the first one out, then the 2nd, and still have more money in my pocket than buying one Schilke!!

    I must find out how I can try one of the Virtuosi's out......given I am in Scotland.

    Thanks for all the advice. I m really confused now though (not your fault)...Smith-Watkins, Schilke, Virtuosi, Courteous, Xeno..

    ...eeny, meeny, minor, mo.....

    Oh, I forgot to mention I currently play using a Kelly plastic mouthpiece - the best investment I ever made - it improved my tone and stamina in one easy step (I think it mates better with the cornet, grips my lips better and i less irritating). Shame they only come in 4B I understand. Would like sop one.
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Speak to a custom mouthpiece maker about having one in the size you want made with a screw-on plastic rim. Will prob cost you £100, but if it's the right mouthpiece, it's worth the investment...
  12. andywooler

    andywooler Supporting Member

    Ray, I never had you down as a wannabe sop player! Welcome to the world of Gods Instrument!
    I have a Viruosi picc and the quality is surprisingly good - give their sop a try!
    Don't sell the Kidney though as you'll need to sell the other when you move onto Flugel! ;)
  13. Ray Woods

    Ray Woods Member

    Andy, I have joined a band (Callander Brass) that if you do not turn up early enough at rehearsals, there are so many cornet players that you are lucky to get a seat. I noticed though that there is no resident Soprano cornet player, so switching to Sop would mean a guaranteed seat on the end whether I turn up early or late for rehearsals(note I do not condone being late for rehearsal). All this will cost me is the price of a new/old soprano cornet and a hernia operation (after I try and hit top C).

    I contested on Sop once, a long time ago with Royston Band in the Regionals; I remember nearly passing out in the opening passage, but can't remember the piece (could be Stantonbury Festival or Prism). This was on a brand new Schilke that I selected on behalf of the band from John Myatt Woodwind in Hitchin. This was around 1989 or 1990 and I do not think the Schilke had been around long then. I couldn't rehearse with the band (in Hertfordshire) because I was at college in Wales (and playing Bb Rep then 'bumper-up' with BSC Port Talbort); on the day of the contest, I turned up, shiney Schilke in hand and tuned up with the principal cornet in the toilets! In the 10 minute blow before going on Stage I played through the piece with the band for the first time! Some of them nearly fell off their seats because they had never heard to Sop part before.

    Having always been a team player in Brass Bands and a robust Bb player the opportunity never arose for me to venture onto Sop. I still may never because unfortunately at the last band rehearsal I was bumped forward from 3rd Cornet at the MD's request because only 1 front row cornet player turned up (this was very unusual) and the MD heard me and liked what he heard (the Kelly Mouthpiece miracle!) so I may have to stay on Bb in the end.

    Another reason why I wanted to buy a Sop is because I have worn my old original 928 Sovereign cornet out - it is 27 years old!!! Sadly my sweaty left hand has eaten two pin holes through the knuckle tube between 2nd & 3rd valves. It is currently patched up using blue-tac with kitchen foil on top!! Nobody can tell and is plays OK (well I think so). So I need a new cornet so I thought I would try Eb again.

    There may be another reason other than the plastic mouthpiece why my lip is better than it ever was, because I took a short break from playing and gave it time to recover from the intense workouts it got week in week out at those famous Andy Wooler Mid Sussex Brass Band rehearsals. They were good times.

    So I now see in this Thread only one Virtuosi instrument owner (Andy with his Picallo trumpet - that he likes) and Stan Van Lager who has had go on one and liked the mellow sound.

    Please could anybody who sits in front or near a Virtuosi Sop player try their best to tactfully tell me what they think of the sound coming out of the end, thanks.
  14. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    All I would say is be careful when listening to recommendations from existing owners. Its amazing how paying for something brand new out of your own money will colour your perception. I remember Lada and pre-VW Skoda car owners raving about how good they were but history and the second hand market told the exact opposite story.
  15. sop 1

    sop 1 Member

    Schilke every time!!!!!!!!!
  16. smh36

    smh36 New Member

    I think the cheapest way to get a Schilke is to import one straight from the US -- thing is you are taking a gamble as you won't be able to play it before buying.

    A standard Schilke sop can be bought for about $2200 add on some shipping and that's about £1400. Customs will hit you for something, but I can't believe it would be £900! Still not cheap, but much less than £2500.
  17. Ray Woods

    Ray Woods Member

    The Xeno is looking good now

    OK. I have spent several hours on the Internet now, some of it researching Soprano cornet opinion. I found this link covering the 4BR review of the Yamaha Xeno Soprano, scoring 92/100 in their 4 part review:

    4BR also compared the Schilke Soprano against the Courtois:
    With Schilke losing out to Courtois 86/100 to 87/100 (leaving the Xeno on 92 out in front). Schilke lost some points due to value for money though.

    "You pay for what you get" has often been quoted. So following the tip to look at a USA website I found the Yamaha Xeno is $500 more than the Schilke in the USA!! (must cost more to import there I guess)

    So despite the Schilke owners club recommendations for Schilke, I think I will be saving my (few less) pennies for the Xeno, if I can find somebody who has one in stock.

    This is unless a whole bunch of Virtuosi Soprano players and listeners surge forward with their glowing recommendations for cheaper cornet.....
  18. David Mann

    David Mann Member


    If you want to "give it a go" why not get an Imperial off eBay - mine cost me £150 and it plays better than the band (pre Xeno) Yamaha, and I can always resell it for around the same price. With regard to Virtuosi, I haven't played their Sop but have a Regency trumpet and love it.
  19. Ray Woods

    Ray Woods Member

    Imperial Eb - a Legend


    If I could find the mythical and legendary Imperial Eb beast on Ebay, still holding its solder joints together, I would bid, bid and bid again. But sadly these rare much heralded sopranos hardly ever surface and are probably smothered in baby oil and put to bed in cotton wool every night by their lucky owners.

    If you here of one up for grabs, please Private Message me.

    On another note, I just 'Hovered' over your experience and if I am correct, the only brass band instrument you have not played is the Tuba (and Percussion). Have you ever thought of multi-track recording yourself into a complete one man brass band?
  20. bannisa

    bannisa Member

    I bought mine from Rayburn music in the US. You do get hit with import tax but still cheaper than the UK.

    Not really a gamble not to play a Schilke before buying - they are always perfect.

    Andrew Bannister