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Early 60's Salvation Army Cornet

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Veteran Member

Joined: 30 Oct 2004
Posts: 159
Location: Hannibal Missouri

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 3:04 pm    Post subject: Early 60's Salvation Army Cornet Reply with quote

I originally posted this in an old thread, but did not get any replies, so I’m reposting it, this time by itself. I believe your experiences and insights are always a good resource, so I think you in advance for sharing them.

I recently cleaned up a “Bandmaster” Salvation Army cornet from the early 60’s for a friend. The owner of the cornet said it was given to her many years ago, and that she played it for quite some time, but that the horn was always hard to play. When I gave it a blow, and it felt like there was a sock in the horn someplace. After a thorough cleaning and reassembling of the horn, it seemed that the slide on the opposite end of the tuning slide was pretty loose, and all three valves seemed to have an excessive amount of wiggle to them. I used heavy grease on the slides, and Hetman #3 oil on the valves. It played better, less stuffy, but it still isn’t up to par. My unprofessional opinion is that it needs a valve rebuild and at least one tuning slide refitted.

The silver plate and overall physical condition of this cornet is good. There are some small dents in the bell bow, and a few others here and there. I’m guessing that it would cost $500-$600 dollars to have the dents removed and the valves rebuilt. In your opinion, would this be a poor investment? I know this cornet has sentimental value to my friend as she is a Salvation Army Officer, but it’s not really useable in it’s current condition.

Here is a personal story of my own. I am the second owner of a Conn 12A cornet. In 2000, the original owner sent it back to Conn and asked them to make it look like it did when his father purchased it for him in 1952. It really does look that good, but the valves were so worn that it was not a dependable player. I sent the horn to Anderson Plating for a valve rebuild, so I now have a total investment of around $1000 in a cornet that in reality is worth well under that. I play this cornet about once a week, so I figure that is worth something. I am not a buyer/seller; in fact, I still have all the horns I have acquired over the years. For me, having a nice cornet that is a dependable player was worth the investment, even though my wife will probably not be able to recoup my investment when the time comes.

Should “The Bandmaster” cornet just become a wall hanger, or should it be given another chance to make beautiful music?

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Heavyweight Member

Joined: 28 Feb 2015
Posts: 547
Location: Cincinnati

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately it would probably not fit the sound profile of today’s brass bands. And intonation would probably be a lot more work
a few different ones
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Joined: 12 Jan 2005
Posts: 2049
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree with Dennis78 that the sound profile of cornets has, perhaps regrettably, moved toward something darker since the 60's, so this relic wouldn't fit into a modern brass band. If your friend just wants to play it in a non-British Brass Band setting, it might be fine...on the street in America with some pickup Salvationist musicians, it would probably be fine.

I noticed that a cornet like this went on ebay for $180 recently...one could possibly find another for less than the repair bill, but the question then would be whether it would play any better, since it possibly would have just as much wear on the valveset. With a return privilege or a chance to try one out, maybe that would be a better option.

It probably would depend some on how much the owner wants a Salvation Army Cornet and whether this one in particular holds some sentimental attachment. Most vintage horns of that age are going to benefit from a valve job and some judicious de-denting. I think I would be tempted to get some quotes and see whether you could come in a bit south of $500. Five hundred bucks is not an exorbitant price to pay for a completely reworked horn, which it would be if the plate is in decent condition. And it is always possible to spot plate a few worn spots, too.

I don't know much about these horns, but probably one of our premier restorers would...I wouldn't want to spend $500 on a horn that isn't likely to turn out well. That said, I don't think these have a bad reputation.

If the owner doesn't have to have a Salvation Army horn, there are loads of nice vintage cornets and probably some with fairly tight valves, which would play nicely and sweetly.

So there are pluses and minuses and only the owner can decide. Five hundred isn't too much to pay for a player in decent shape...
Trumpets: 1928 Holton Llewellyn Model, 1957 Holton 51LB, 2010 Custom C by Bill Jones, 2011 Custom D/Eb by Bill Jones
Flugels: 1975 Olds Superstar, 1970's Elkhardt, 1970's Getzen 4 valve
Cornet: 1970's Yamaha YCR-233S . . . and others . . .
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