What cornet to buy?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Richard_Brigg, Jun 24, 2005.

  1. Richard_Brigg

    Richard_Brigg Member

    I know this question has come up a thousand times before...

    Im looking to buy a new cornet shortly, but cant decide between the prestige or the maestro -
    which would you advise? Plus - which mouthpiece's better accompany the two cornets? I'm playing of a DW3 at the moment and i would like to maintain a fairly 'deep' tone...

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

  2. impycornet

    impycornet Member

    Stick with the DW3 - But buy a Smith-Watkins
  3. persins

    persins Member

    I currently play on a Maestro. It has a lovely free blowing feel to it but the sound is a bit brighter than a Besson Sovereign or Prestige. Smith and Watkins are good but make sure that you get one that suits you. If you get the professional models, they are customised to you so there are lots of variables to think about eg. Lead pip length, bore size, bell size etc.

    I am thinking about changing to a prestige but have heard a lot of horror stories on the quality of them. Nearly everyone I know who has bought one have had to send it back for one reason or another. I have never had any problems with my maestro.

    It is it the dark sound that you are after, the Bessons are perhaps the way to go but the Maestro is a fantastic instrument.

    With regards to the mouthpiece, I would stick to the DW3! At least then you can tell the difference between the cornets, as the other variables remain the same. If you change too much at any one time, you have no idea what is influencing the change in your playing!
  4. Richard_Brigg

    Richard_Brigg Member

    Thanks for the replys guys.

    Ive heard some fantastic riviews of the prestige, and some awful ones, from what i can tell, you have to be lucky to find one that isn't dodgy. Ill keep the mouthpiece, its done fine so far - and i dont think its healthy swapping around with mouthpieces!

    As regards the smith-watkins, are they available at local (yorkshire for me) stores, or do you have to contact the firm in london? It seems like a cornet that would need a personal consultation, to decipher the various options that are available...

    thanks again
  5. Bob Stevenson

    Bob Stevenson Member


    Its worth pointing out that there are 2 new and important cornets about to launch;.....that made by the Swiss company 'Willson' of euphonium fame,...this has been designed with the help of UK players........And, also a completely new cornet from the UK maker 'Eclipse' who are fantastic trumpet and flugel designers and builders. Both cornets will be aimed at the 'Prestige'/Maestro market.
  6. Richard_Brigg

    Richard_Brigg Member

    I shall keep my eye out, when are they due to be on the market?

    Thanks Bob
  7. brassybabe

    brassybabe Member

    Hi I play on a maestro and absolutley adore it. i used to use a DW3 which gave me a really lovely tone, however didn't help my upper register so after a chat with Dave King at uni i moved to a DW4 which has kept my nice sound and has helped loads with upper register work.
    I have tried a prestige too but much prefer the valvue action on the mastro, I think the instrument just suits me.
    I suggest u should try them both and see which one u feel most comfortable with, don't buy a cornet without trying it out first.

    Good luck, let us know what ur final choice is. :D
  8. lottie4744

    lottie4744 Member

    I used to play on a prestige and got stuck with a few of the "horror stories" so I moved onto a maestro.
    Absolutley adore my maestro, never had a problem with it in almost 3 years! In comparisson to the numerous one's I had in 6 months of having a prestige.
    If I was you I'd wait for the new model of the maestro to be released. My cornet teacher's testing one at the moment and I've played on it a few times- absolutley gorgegous! :tup
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2005
  9. Kerwintootle

    Kerwintootle Member

    I've played on a Courtois for nearly ten years and would highly recommend it. Give Jonathon Webster a call at Fred Rhodes in Oldham and they should be able to help you.
  10. Richard_Brigg

    Richard_Brigg Member


    Thanks everyone, will let you know about the final choice... i may well bide my time and look out for the new maestro, im not going to rush into anything!

    cheers again
  11. colin pilky

    colin pilky New Member

    I agree with kerwintootle.Courtois would be my 1st choice by a mile.Next best would be a yammy.The only good use of a prestige would be as a plant pot.Speak to glyn or jonny at rhodes
  12. Incognito

    Incognito Member

    It all depends how much you want to spend.

    Others worth looking at are the Flip Oakes wild thing, Wedgwood (but you would need to go and see him in Cardiff for a "fitting") and Taylor.
    You could also consider Monette: if you have the cash and can stand a years wait for one to be made.

    The last time I bought a cornet I felt i was buying one for the next 30 years so I was happy to spend a bit more to get one that played the right way for me.
  13. persins

    persins Member

    interesting point Bob,

    While on tour of Switzerland with Woodfalls band, I was lucky enough to have a quick test of the new Wilson cornet. It seemed very similar in style to the Maestro in that it had the bright tone and waas very very easy to play. I still stand by the besson sound but as I said before, have issues with the quality the recent models.
    I haven't heard about the Eclipse that you referred to though. I would be interested in any further information that is kicking about regarding them as I am potentially looking to change mine again.

    To those of you who seem to love the Courtois, wait a few months and you'll possibly find that you will get a better sound out of a toilet!! (bit of an exaggeration!) I found it good for certain things but the finish on it was rubbish. The valves rattled, there were tuning problems, the finger loop broke, the laquer came off etc. Apart from that, it was alright!
  14. Kerwintootle

    Kerwintootle Member

    Yes, it is an exaggeration.
  15. impycornet

    impycornet Member

    A personal visit would be best - BUT Richard Smith has now moved from London to somewhere in Yorkshire ( near York I believe ). So should be within travelling distance for you. Give him a call.
  16. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I've recently been round this particular loop and speaking to Richard Smith I learnt that the Professional with the K2 leadpipe was proving to be the most popular model (the Soloist being outside my budget). I ended up ordering one on trial from a very well known South-West England dealership and I've been very satisfied with it. It has the slickest valves of any instrument I've ever picked up. People with large hands might find the position of the finger hook a little too close to the valve-set but that's a very minor point.

    I obviously can't name the dealership in question but suffice it to say that they stuck with me as I went through a couple of unsatisfactory Prestiges first and their customer service has been second to none - very refreshing to find in this day and age.

  17. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Active Member

    I have read all the horror stories about the Prestige, I have read reviews on many sites about many of the cornets currently available. I have played the vast majority of the top level cornets (Besson, Yamaha, Smith-Watkins, Courtois, Taylor, Kanstul, Bach, B&S - I make it my business to know how all of these instruments work). What follows is my honest thoughts on these instruments (specifically the ones you have already had mentioned) - take them or leave as you feel fit. I approach each of these instruments from the playing perspective of someone who makes a living from teaching and playing.

    Bach - a great orchestral cornet, but not the traditional brass band sound I expect you are looking for. Basically an instrument for trumpet players who have been told they need to be holding a cornet, but the sound doesn't matter too much. Having been talking to the Bach guys this past week I would suggest looking out for a new cornet from Bach in the near future - they have finally realised that their instrument is not the greatest brass band cornet and are in development of a new Brass Band cornet - could be interesting.

    Kanstul - considering that this is coming from the States, they have a very respectable cornet. A good tone with good intonation. I found it to be a little bright for me, but I like things dark.

    B&S - A Besson Sovereign by any other name. If you compare the two, they are virtually identical to look at. They play virtually the same as well. Good intonation, good tone. I have heard that these are now being used in many of the military bands, but I am not a military player, so cannot vouch for the authenticity of this information.

    Smith Watkins - excellent instruments, although I must admit I didn't like the valve action on the past couple I have played (which is surprising, considering that they come from Kanstul - who are usually very reliable). Intonation varies depending how you have yours set up (especially true if you are using the assorted leadpipes), but is generally good. The tone was what I would expect from the man who designed the original Sovereign - it would fit in with any brass band.

    Courtois - these intrigued me a great deal, having heard some great stuff about them before I had the chance to play them. It wasn't for me. I found the tone to be ok, but nothing special. To achieve what I wanted, in terms of traditional cornet tone, I found I had to work quite hard. It was achievable, but I needed to do the work, the instrument didn't make it easy for me. Intonation was very good, but suffered at times when I was having to work harder on the tone.

    Yamaha - this is what I play on (so I might be biased). I find the intonation to be generally very good, although some of the upper register needs alternative fingering to achieve perfection. I love the tone I get on mine and it doesn't take much effort to transfer from my trumpet to my cornet - I don't have to work hard to sound like a cornet player.

    Besson Sovereign - The Sovereign has been the benchmark for so long, it has to be mentioned. I love the sound of the Sovereign, but do find that the intonation is a problem, especially above the stave. They work fantastically for some people, but I would leave this one on the shelf, if it were me.

    Besson Prestige - I tried one of these when they first came out and was very impressed, then I started reading about the problems. Less than a fortnight ago I was invited to take a trip up to Besson (long story which I'm not going to be getting into) and had the chance to play some Prestiges straight off the production line - before final finishing, before Roger Webster tests them (yes, he really does test them all - if it is signed off by him, he tested it). I was shocked and stunned. Each of the instruments did have some plating issues (some areas where it hadn't taken as well as others - but these were all seen BEFORE final finishing), but each of these was marked and known about. The shock part for me was the ease of playing. I found each one of them to sound fantastic and they had notes on them which I have very rarely discovered on ANY cornet - I am talking about notes above high C, in fact I am talking about notes above double C! The prestige cornets were playing up to 2 octaves above the stave!!!! I am not saying that you can increase your range by going onto a Prestige (I have this range on my trumpet, so it was nothing new - just revolutionary for a cornet), but it is nice to know that these notes do exist, just in case any cornet player ever gets the insane urge to explore the heights.
    The way these cornets are produced has just undergone a major overhaul (Besson are taking note of the number of problems) and I foresee good thing in the future for this instrument, with the new quality control programme that has been instigated. DEFINITELEY worth considering.

    Taylor - my absolute favourite cornet for solo playing. The big problem Taylor has is that his instruments don't look like a Sovereign and don't have "Besson" stamped on them. I have noticed how reluctant many brass banders are to change (like so many other people), which is a great shame. The Taylor Zeus cornet is simply the finest cornet I have yet played. The intonation was spot on (even up to the heights) and the tone was as pure as you can imagine, even at the extremities of the range. It could cope with dynamics from ppp to an orchestral fortissimo (and it STILL sounded like a cornet!). In short, it is an astonishing instrument. I am certain it would blend beautifully in a brass band setting (although you might get a few looks from the more traditionalist players), but as a solo instrumet I don't think it can be beaten.

    Please note - this is one person's opinions and thoughts. Any instrument purchase should be made with the benefit of playing the instruments you are considering BEFORE you pay any money. It is also worth playing more than one of each, if you are able to - just because they have the same make and model stamped on them, doesn't necessarily mean that they will play exactly the same.
    If you decide that one make works fantastically for you - that is the one you should buy. If your favourite player plays brand x, should you automatically assume that it is the one for you? If you answered yes to that, please ignore everything I have just written - you are not yet thinking like a musician but a sheep. If you don't care who plays what, you are interested in how you sound, you are on the right path, in my opinion.

    There are a wealth of instruments to choose from, find one that works for you, with your embouchure set up, your mouthpiece (don't change instrument and mouthpiece at the same time - that will cause more problems than you wish for), your situation and your expectations.
    If anybody ever says to you "you should play brand x," my suggestion would be to ignore that advice - they are just telling you how good they find the instrument that works for them, but it won't necessarily be the one that works for you.

    To those that have already posted their favourites - nice to know you know what works for you - the joy of us all being different, we all like different things.

    Enjoy your cornet quest
  18. Incognito

    Incognito Member

    Pity you don;t live closer and could have a go on my Wedgie.

    You would notice a huge difference after playing for an hour as it really improves the stamina.
  19. persins

    persins Member


    What a fantastic post full of interesting and worthwhile information. I must admit that I hadn't heard of a few that you mentioned but will certainly look out for them in the future.
  20. By the way, the Willson instrument is still being developed and improved. Theres a thread on here discussing some points about it.

    Yes its very easy to play, and now slightly easier since last week. We're aiming to get a good sound out of it now too, but sound is down to the player. I'm lucky enough to be able to get a good sound out of a knackered old student model, so I wouldn't read too much into what a cornet 'sounds' like, that might be more to do with your mouthpiece. Anyway, I don't do boc threads so I'll leave you to it! The Willson will be very nice once completed though.

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