Smith & Watkins Cornets

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Briggsy IOM, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. Briggsy IOM

    Briggsy IOM New Member

    I'm making the long trek from the Isle of Man to London in August to try a Smith & Watkins cornet.

    Does anyone own one and have any comments/feedback.
  2. bladder

    bladder Member

    I don't know about the Cornets but I've tried the trumpet and flugel and they're truely awesome!!
  3. Active Member

  4. Sparky

    Sparky Member

    We have 3 Bb, 1 sop and a flugel from Richard Smith. I play one of the Bbs and it is superb. Richard has 27 combinations of bore and leadpipe available, mine is a large bore with a K2 leadpipe. This apparently is the most popular combination and I found it was the best for me. We bought the 'Professional' model with the fixed leadpipe rather than the 'Soloist' which has interchangeable leadpipes. Our band recently did a recording with Jim Shepherd as the guest soloist and he pplays a Smith Watkins, if its good enough for him then I'm damn sure its good enough for me. You can get some further info from 4barsrest, who did a review of the cornet.
    Best of luck
  5. rutribal

    rutribal Member

    I have a Smith Watkins trumpet and as bladder said, they truly are awesome. One of my best buys, don't think I'll ever be able to sell it lol.
  6. davidquinlan

    davidquinlan Member


    Briggsy, you going to call in and say Hello, we're not to far away (10 Mins) from Richard Smiths' place in Southgate (if that's where you are meeting him?).... ???

    Have tried his Trumpets and there as good as any top of the range models I've played (Bach, Schilkie, Eclipse, Conn, Yamaha etc etc).. hard to tell playing one for 5-10 minutes or so..
  7. Johan

    Johan New Member

    I have been told that the Smith-Watkins Professional is a good Bb cornet. I never played it myself, but some of my friends of the Amsterdam Staff band do.
    It isn't a very different from other top-cornets like the Besson Sovereign 928, Bach Stradivarius 184 or the Courtois 106 "Bandmaster". The difference seems to e the sound. It seems to be very easy to produce the same round sound in all registers.

    For all cornets visit the link below

  8. tootnbuzz

    tootnbuzz Member

    The solo in my band tried a Smith-Watkins and bought it. Afterwards, we heard that Smith-Watkins cornets are made by Kanstul. As I play on a Kanstul ZKC 1531 we compared them and sure enough they were identical except for the slightly different style of the braces, valve caps and bottoms. They both play beautifully.
  9. brass journo

    brass journo Member

    I have one - it's great for solo work but if there is only one in a section of other instruments it can be a bit hard to blend and tune exactly. It's a great instrument but for band playing I found a beatiful very old Besson 928 which is great.
    Just make sure you try all the options of lead pipes etc. when you are trying the instruments the slightest variable really changes the instrument and make sure you know exactly what sort of playing you want it for. It is very different picking one for solo work or band work. Enjoy though! Great instruments (even if mine is currently in the loft!) and Richard and Derek are great people.
  10. gmankb

    gmankb New Member

    I picked up my soloist cornet at the british open this year. Its an absolute beauty and well worth the VERY long wait for it!!! I think the main problem was that richard was moving up north from London at the time. I find it very easy to blow but difficult to overblow and intonnation much more secure than my old sov. If you have the chance (and money) to get one then do it. I use a T0 lead pipe which provides a darker tone. It's a belter!!!

    Gordon (G-man) Kyle
  11. SuperHorn

    SuperHorn Member

    We have a whole set of Smith-Watkins and they are great. I play on the Soloists / T0 - (leadpipe) version. It produces a lovely sound, easy to blow (upper register made easier) plays in tune and valves are superb.

    Richard Smith came down and spent hours ensuring the instrument was suitable for each person.

    Get one!!!!!!!
  12. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    erm,... what happens when a player leaves? Does the cornet get modified to suit his/her replacement? (they are custom made after all ;) )
  13. impycornet

    impycornet Member

    Depends if you have opted for the professional or Soloist Model !!

    The one I have has Interchangable leadpipes so can be modified to suit all tastes !!

  14. bennem

    bennem Member

    I have a smith watkins about 2 years old, large bore with the K2 lead pipe, and I have to concur with united co-op PR in that it can be hard to get it to blend with a section. In a previous band I was with a bunch of sovereign players and it was an easier blend than with the current band which has an eclectic mix of new and old Getzen and Sovereign.

    Also, just to compound the issue, I use a sparx 4 mouthpiece rather than a Dennis Wick, which the rest of the front row play, while the principle uses aLewington McCann

    Also, the smith watkins tends to play nearly in tune straight out of the case whereas a sovereign takes a while to warm up. This can throw the section badly first thing in rehearsal.

    The reason I bought the SW cornet was the ease of hitting A above the stave in comparison to the Yamaha maestro I was playing at the time. I also tried out the Courtois but found it to need a lot more air than I was willing to give it.
  15. nhrg

    nhrg Member

    I am lucky enough to be sitting next to Jim Shepherd as we play in the areas in Darlington tommorrow. Jim is playing on a Smith-Wesson with a Sparx mouthpiece (he assures me he normally uses an 'old' mouthpiece and is on the Sparx because he got it jammed in his cornet when he dropped it).
    When we started rehearsing I couldn't believe how out of tune he was until I realised that the nearly the entire front row (ok, me and the 2nd man down) were the culprits.

    It's been tough getting the tuning sorted out and it is difficult to blend with Jim, I would love to be able to blame the Smith-Watkins Jim is playing on but alas I think my own inferiority is the real issue, the mans just awesome.

    The only problem he's had with it, other than dropping it, has been the need to replace the 3rd valve felt which had worn down a little too easily. I've been gagging to ask him for a go on it.

    We have struggled on our front row for consistency in tuning, aside from playing ability I am starting to wonder if this is due to 3 different cornets and 4 different mouthpieces, surely shouldn't matter for good players should it? Maybe we should all get Smith-Wessons?
  16. Steve Marcus

    Steve Marcus Member

    Our Principal Cornet, Amy Nelson, loves her Smith Watkins cornet. The first time that she played a solo with that horn, our MD quipped to the audience that she was using the K2 leadpipe.
  17. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I've been following this thread quite closely since I decided to buy a new cornet earlier this year, and recently had a Smith-Watkins and a Besson Prestige out at the same time on approval. From everything that I'd read, I was convinced that the Smith-Watkins would be the instrument for me, but I wanted to make sure by also trying a Prestige.

    I was surprised to find that I preferred the Prestige. It was easier for me (as a back row player) to produce a good sound that it was on the Smith-Watkins. I also found the Smith-Watkins physically smaller than the Prestige and difficult to hold comfortably.

    I don't doubt that the Smith-Watkins is a superior instrument, it was just that I am not a good enough player to be able to master it. One of the things I noticed was that it was easy to 'lip' it up and down, which in my case resulted in being accidentally out of tune most of the time :-( The Smith-Watkins was also noticeably 'brighter' than the 928 Sovs the rest of our cornet section uses.

    Consequently, I bought the Prestige, mainly because I felt that I could produce my best on that instrument in the short term, whilst it would take me a couple of years to "grow-into" the Smith-Watkins and in the meantime I would not be happy with my sound.

  18. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    Well, what a difference a couple of years can make... I was just searching for info on sparx mpcs and came across this old post of mine and thought it would be a good idea to update it.

    The original Prestige I bought went back after I found that the supplied heavy valve base caps didn't fit - and neither did any of the lyres I tried. To top that the strap broke on the case. The replacement Prestige was a "flattie", which is to say that below G on the stave it played flat with all slides in and neither myself or our Principal could lip it into tune, so that went back too.

    By then I'd completely lost faith with Besson. Fortunately for me I was buying from one of the best dealerships in the UK (I won't name them here except to say they are West Country) and pretty soon a Smith-Watkins arrived to replace the Prestige and I settled down to try to play myself up to a superior instrument.

    Initially I found, as I've posted elsewhere on this site I think, that my Lewington-McCann mpc didn't suit the SW so I bought a DW RW3B which suited me very well as a back row player and made the cornet feel a lot less stuffy.

    However, now I've stepped up to Rep I'm finding the 3B a bit of a chore and wondering whether I should change. I've read elsewhere that the Sparx 3DV suits the SW very well so I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's tried this combination.

    Have I "grown into" the SW? Well, not yet. I don't doubt that it's a fantastic instrument and the valves are superslick, but in my hands it's bright, and the slightest miscue or bad intonation cuts through the band like a scalpel and I get "a look" from the MD (sorry Alan!). Totally my fault of course, I have a long way to go before I can make that instrument really work as it should do.

    Do I think I'd be better off with a different instrument? Well, probably; the one thing I loved about the Prestige was it's lovely deep, traditional, cornet sound. I do wonder if the new Buffet Prestige sounds like that and whether it can now be played in tune by someone with less than professional skills ;-)

  19. bennem

    bennem Member

    Hello AndyH,

    If you are finding the DW3b "a bit of a chore" as a Repiano mouthpiece then I think you will have a harder time with a Sparx DV. I have used a Sparx 4 DV in a Smith Watkins Cornet and it was a nice mouthpiece cornet combination but hard work above the stave.
  20. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    That's interesting, thanks. One thing I did wonder, in general with Sparx mpcs, is
    are they long-shank models? I find with the DW3B that my slide is out about 10mm
    so there's not a huge amount to play with if a Sparx mpc significantly flattens the

    My main problem with the RW3B is not so much above the stave (although yes
    it is hard to push above A) but in dynamics. I can play a lot softer with the McCann
    than I can with the DW3B, but the payback for that is I tire quicker. For some
    reason I can play a lot longer using the DW3B ! Oh, and before anyone else says
    it, yes the problem is 90% down to the person attached to the mpc ! I'm just
    looking for something with the back-pressure dynamics of the McCann and the
    comfort of the DW3B...


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