Tried a different Cornet today...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Phil3822, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    Hi all, I am a bit of a collector of things I like and I came across a very good deal on an old B&H Westminster (Imported) model. The person selling it was local knowing nothing about brass. Anyway, as the price offered I negotiated a little and was happy so got it.

    I have a John Packer 371 cornet with Smith Watkins lead pipe with a large bore which is what I normally play and find this has a lovely broad sound and is very free flowing. I do however have a poor ish range on it. This is lacquered brass.

    I also have an Elkhart 100 which my son now uses. I had this to start with when I getting back into playing. Although ok I was not keen on it and found it stuffy and restrictive. Also was not keen on the sound in comparison to the JP. This one is also lacquered brass.

    The one I have picked up today, the B&H Westminster feels nice to play. It is certainly less free flowing than the JP however is not stuffy. Instantly my range has increased and it sounds nice although not as mellow or dark as the JP. This one is silver. It is lighter and simple like no first or third triggers etc.

    Anyway, is it me, the instrument, what characteristics make up what? Probably not the best way of phrasing the question as not sure what I am asking. Is there an optimal instrument for an individual set up wise?

    I have just found the differences interesting as a newb ish.
  2. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    The biggest difference is probably that your 371 is a large bore and the Westminster will probably be MB. Since the instrument will offer more resistance, then your range will likely increase, but your stamina might suffer and your tone almost certainly will. That said, a lot of pros do say that there is an optimal instrument for each player. However, the default in brass bands is almost always for LB cornets. Interestingly, the old greats going back to Arban himself and Clarke could produce absolute fireworks on instruments that we wouldn't give to a junior band these days. Depending on the age of your Westminster, you might want to check its pitch. Old cornets are unusable in modern bands because they are higher pitched.
  3. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    Pitch wise seems reasonable but I will test this more thoroughly in the band room. How does stamina suffer with more resistance? In some ways I would have thought conservation of air due to resistance would have minimised some areas of fatigue. On the other hand I guess resistance just makes it plainly more difficult and therefore tiring? Thanks for your response.
  4. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    I'm no expert, but I believe the physics of playing are something like this. The player forces a column of air through the instrument. If there was no resistance then it would be like blowing down a four-inch piece of plumbing pipe. However, due to the narrowness of the tubing on a brass instrument, the force that the player exerts from their body cavity is reciprocated by the instrument. This sets up a standing wave, and that's what causes they instrument to resonate and a sound to be produced. The narrower the tubing, the more resistance offered then the higher the pitch of the resultant note (bigger and longer tubing, lower note (tuba)).

    Now, the valve controlling this two way pressure is created by the lips, which, through buzzing, creates the sound wave. If there's more resistance, then the lips are working harder to control things and will therefore get tired more quickly. The trade off is the same as changing to a shallower cup mouthpiece: what you gain in increased range you lose in stamina and sound quality...this trade off is the one all cornet players in particular have to reconcile themselves with
  5. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    This doesn't quite add up, especially the bit about mouthpieces.

    Shallower mouthpieces (generally) will give better endurance in the upper register and more comfort/security in the high register, not "increased range" (being able to play a note or two higher).
    The tradeoffs for this are more difficulty with quiet dynamics and note production (its harder to get notes to speak cleanly, especially at lower dynamics, for most players) and you do get a definite shift in sound (not necessarily losing sound quality, but changing it) with a brighter and thinner tone which isn't generally desirable (even on sop, IMHO) in brass band contexts as it doesn't blend very well.

    Where LB-MB is concerned, there are no set rules as there are so many other design factors that will affect the overall resistance - it can just depend on what suits the player better.
    Just for one example - my Maestro Bb has a bore of .468", my SmithWatkins K2 has a bore of .470 and is noticeably freer blowing.

    When JP say some models have a "Smith Watkins designed Leadpipe" they just mean Richard Smith (the man behind SW instruments, and also the designer of the old Sovereign cornets) designed the leadpipe - I presume it'll be made in the same place as the rest of the JP cornets and subject to the same QC standards on them. I've heard they're decent, I have no idea if they are. Without knowing what that leadpipe was designed to do (is it an allrounder like the K2 or a big backrow pipe like the T4? They don't seem to say?).
    I'd be very surprised if the leadpipes are made by Kanstul (Kanstul builds ALL the SmithWatkins instruments, among others).

    There's certainly something to be said for LB's as the default in brass bands - there's a certain stigma associated with medium bores.

    What Mouthpiece are you using with these cornets? Are you using the same one and if so what is it?
  6. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    I am using a 4B mouthpiece and use the same one on each instrument I am trying. Other than a heritage which I tried this is the only mouthpiece I have tried. I would be interested in trying more combinations but knowing me this would equal loads more questions and uncertainty.

    Regarding the leadpipe, I think Smith Watkins has some design element in it but I am pretty sure its made where the rest of the cornet is made.
    As you guys say, LB is the mainstay although I will take this as the mainstay for contesting bands as the band I belong to there are only two LB cornets, the rest are large/medium bore.

    I will see how the cornet blends in with the rest this weeks practice. I have just become rather interested in the generalised differences. In particular as until today I had not managed to get consistently a top C. (I still cant on the JP but can on the BH everytime.)

    Many thanks for your response.
  7. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    As I say, I'm no expert...just going on what other cornet players have told me: the more resistance an instrument offers, the harder they feel they are working and the more quickly they tire. Personally, I'm such an average player that the bore of the instrument is the least of my worries.
  8. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    On the subject, if someone has a free blowing rather open cornet but wanted more resistance what should they do? I assume a different mouthpiece is the obvious answer but what one of say the denis wick range for example. (There the only ones I know.) I am looking to learn more in this area in order to experiment and reach maybe an optimal set up. (If there is such a thing.)
  9. DS2014

    DS2014 Active Member

    The Denis Wick 5B will probably tighten things up; check it out here:

    The Lewington McCann (there's only one type) is also one that apparently offers more resistance and will push back more than your DW4B

    I think the cup diameter and back-bore sizes are the most relevant for you: shallower cups and narrower back-bore will likely offer more resistance.
  10. Phil3822

    Phil3822 Member

    Thanks DS2014, I am really looking for something to make the John Packer 371 a little easier to play the higher notes. I know my chops need to build up but since having had a play on the Westminster I am still shocked at how easy it is to play high. The JP however sounds nice and looks nice plus is more in tune so want to keep with that.

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