Which Sop to buy?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by BenDuke, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. BenDuke

    BenDuke New Member

    I have recently decided to take the plunge from Bb cornet to Sop and was thinking about buying my own instrument. I know the same instruments will keep coming up like the Schilke's and the Xeno and i was wondering if anybody could give a few pro's and con's of them.

    Also does anybody know of anywhere in the North West that offer a 'try before you buy' scheme or anything similar?
  2. kennywenny

    kennywenny Member

    Most brass shops will let you try them out and some may let you take on approval ... As for which sop, yep Schilke for me.
  3. Got to be a Schilke, Consistant throughout range, no major tuning problems, lovely valves and great tone.
    Might be a bit biased but it works for me.
    Good luck.
  4. John_D

    John_D Member

    I'm lucky as the band has a Schilke which I can use and I have a Xeno of my own. With me on the end of it the Xeno has a more 'cutting' sound. If possible, try both and see which you prefer. Many people seem to prefer Schilke although an increasing number of people seem to now be switching to the Xeno. If you get the chance you should also try a Blackburn, rare, expensive but fantastic.
  5. Vegasbound

    Vegasbound Active Member

    INHO you should try the various Eb cornets and buy the one that suits you and your playing style....that said the Schilke is a handbuilt instrument....and as with anything you get what you pay for!
  6. DRW

    DRW New Member

    I spent a good couple of hours in Band Supplies in Leeds trying the Xeno and Schilke side by side. I went with the expectation that the Schilke would win hands down, but it wasn't like that at all.

    I played the Schilke first which was ok, but the tone was a disappointedly 'scratchy'. Tuning and tone was good throughout the range, but the tone made me disheartened.

    First blow on the Xeno brought a smile to my face; it gave a really polished sound from the word go. It was sweet, clear, in tune and sounded how a soprano should. (more so than the Schilke). The expression on my friend's face said it all really.

    That was my first 10 - 15 minutes and had I left it at that, I would have walked out with the Xeno.

    However, as I continued trialing them, the Schilke's tone improved significantly. Grumpiness from my first impressions started to subside and I started to warm to it. But when I swapped to the Xeno, it still sounded best. And so the cycle went on; the Schilke improved and improved, but still the Xeno sounded best and was effortless.

    By the time my lip started to tire, therefore time to make a decison, I was torn. I was still getting the better tone from the Xeno, but something was telling me the Schilke was the one for me. I couldn't ever imagine getting a poor result from the Xeno, there wasn't a duff note in all the time I tested it. I couldn't say this of the Schilke. So why did I feel like the Schilke was calling me? I was concerned that my heart was ruling my head based on the Schilke's reputation and the fact that it was the one I expected to buy before trying them.

    Then it occurred to me. All the time that the Schilke was improving, the Xeno stayed exactly the same. The consistency and stability of the Xeno was outstanding, but with me playing it, there was no desirable variety in tone. It would be very good at creating the sweet 'glazing' that sopranos provide to brass bands, but to really cut through or create a different type of texture such as imitating a piccolo trumpet just wasn't going to happen with me playing it.
    Whereas, the Schilke had character in a range of tones. I was yet to produce the clear sound that I wanted, but I could see (hear) much more potential with this instrument. It was a gamble as to whether I would be able to achieve a clear tone on the Schilke, but what I did know is that the Xeno would never give me the range of textures possible from its rival. I therefore took the gamble and walked out with the Schilke. This met with the approval of my friend / advisor who remained impartial (and quiet in the main) and let me discover the instruments myself. From a listener's point of view, she had come to the same conclusion as me.

    It was a decision I haven't regretted. Over the course of the following months, I tried 4 - 5 different mouthpieces, all of which had very different characteristics, with a Sparx 4E being the one for me, closely followed by a Schilke 14a4X.

    The Xeno is a great instrument; quality built, has the benefit of an attractive case and is £500 cheaper (the gap was £700 when I bought mine 18 months ago!).

    As always, it's a case of seeing what is best for you.

    I found that different mouthpieces had drastically different results on my sound; more so than on Bb cornet. Also bear in mind that a mouthpiece that sounds the best while playing alone, may not be the most suitable when playing with the band. E.g. Playing a Denis Wick S alone gives me a lovely rich brass band sound. However, when playing with the band, it struggles to let me 'soar'; it seems to blend with the cornets too much. My preferred Sparx 4E, is slightly thinner in tone and rides on the top much better.
  7. foxyflug

    foxyflug Member

    Perhaps you should consider a Sterling too (as chosen by Richard Poole at Foden's)?
  8. The best advice I've ever been given about buying any instrument is - "You don't know what it's like 'till you play it on stage."

    I've played sop for over 30 years and tried virtually every soprano cornet to come out... Sterlings, Cortouis, Getzens, Bessons. I had a similar experience to DRW with a Xeno - played one at Band Supplies for half an hour or so and was initially really impressed. Playing the Xeno with a band however completely changed my mind. It felt constrained and much harder work than the Schilke I usually use and needless to say I didn't buy one.

    Personal preference is more important than anything and you'll get more notes on an instrument you like than any other. As you may have guessed my recommendation would be a Schilke, ideally with a berillium bell. Like all the others sops it's not perfect but it is an instrument which I find consistent over the whole range, both dynamic and register.

    Above all, whatever you do, do try at least a couple of rehearsals with an instrument before you commit to buying it.
  9. blue juice

    blue juice Member

    Always a Schilke for me
  10. BenDuke

    BenDuke New Member

    Do you know of any shops that would possibly lend/rent instruments out for trying over a couple of weeks before committing to buying?

    Thanks for the replies everybody
  11. DRW

    DRW New Member

    We recently had 2 trombones from John Packer on a trial basis, but only for a week. I wasn't the person that organised it so I'm not sure of the terms. May be worth giving them a call.
  12. DRW

    DRW New Member

  13. BenDuke

    BenDuke New Member

    Thanks DRW. I managed to get hold of a Schilke Beryllium Bell and a Xeno last week from Band Supplies Leeds who were fantastic. The instruments were at my house within 36 hours of me giving them my address.

    I tried the Schilke in rehearsal last night and found the tone a bit 'thin' for my liking but having played it at home tonight with various mouthpieces, like you said in your first post the tone changes far more than on a Bb cornet. I was very impressed with how easy it was to play especially in the quieter dynamics.

    I'm going to try the Xeno at rehearsal tomorrow night to see how that goes and decide if there is a clear winner between the two.