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Stick with old Besson or get a new cornet?



 
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Cola89
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:14 pm    Post subject: Stick with old Besson or get a new cornet? Reply with quote

Hi!
Newly registered user although long time guest to these very helpful and interesting pages! I am hoping for some advice on what you would do.
I have only been playing trumpet and cornet for about 2.5 years, I am a flautist originally (I know I know!) but have come to the dark side 😀 and with the help of a good teacher have got up to about grade 5 standard and a solo cornet chair in my local community brass band (albeit i think just to make up the numbers and that was before almost a year off due to covid!)

When I started playing I bought a second hand yamaha 4335 gii trumpet and get on really well with it - I play with a bach 1 1/2c MP.

My uncle then kindly gave me his old Besson New Standard cornet for my 30th from when he was solo cornet in a good old northern brass band about 40 years ago. And whilst I love the sound as in tone that it makes, I find it so much harder to play. It is in pretty good condition and I did have it serviced and the guy said it was a good example so I don't think it's maintenance issues/age causing the difficulties. I recently bought a Denis wick 3B mouthpiece which has helped range a little but it is still like night and day in terms of ease of playing. I have tried not playing the trumpet for a month or so to really get accustomed to the cornet but it still feels easier as soon as I pick up the trumpet to the extent I actually ended up keeping playing a harmonic above everything at first as i was over compensating!

I can't seem to find out much about the new standard model from 40 years ago in terms of how they compare to current models.

So my question is: would you stick with my old Besson New standard cornet or do you think it would be worth getting a new cornet? Budget wise max would be c. £6-700

Thank you so much in advance for your advice or thoughts
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There shouldn't be a "night and day" difference in playing different horns. So, with that description, I would expect there to be some mechanical issue with the cornet. Since you had a tech check out the cornet I wouldn't expect there to be an obstruction but anything is possible. Maybe the valves are way out of alignment. Maybe the the valves have poor compression. Maybe there's a leak at a water key. The problem sounds like it could be any of these things.

Another possibility is the differences between a trumpet mouthpiece and a cornet mouthpiece. Maybe that's the explanation. Your trumpet mouthpiece won't fit all the way into the cornet's mouthpiece receiver but it should go in a little ways. So try the cornet with the trumpet mouthpiece and see if it's "night and day" easier with the trumpet mouthpiece compared to the cornet mouthpiece. There will be an intonation difference with the trumpet mouthpiece but if it's "night and day" easier to play the cornet with the trumpet mouthpiece then the problem is the cornet mouthpiece or the way you're trying to play the cornet mouthpiece. If it isn't "night and day" easier with the trumpet mouthpiece then the problem is the horn.

If the cornet is in good working condition there is no reason/need to replace it. However, from your description, it sounds like there may be major mechanical issues with the cornet which need to be checked out and fixed.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 1:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to say, the mechanical issue with your cornet is... the cornet itself. They are stuffy, with poor intonation and get progressively tighter the higher you go.

The very best thing you can do is go get a good cornet. Which is not a B&H or Besson. Getzen, Schilke, Bach, B&S, the are many many options.

Cheers

Andy
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy Del wrote:
Sorry to say, the mechanical issue with your cornet is... the cornet itself. They are stuffy, with poor intonation and get progressively tighter the higher you go.


I have 3 cornets: A 1939 Holton Stratodyne, a 1934 King Silvertone Model No. 2 and a Bach Strad. I use the same mouthpiece with all of them (a Reeves 43B cornet mouthpiece). The above comment doesn't accurately describe any of them.

What is the source of the comment?

Herbert L. Clarke, Del Staigers, Bobby Hackett, Ruby Braff and many others made playing the cornet look effortless.
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JayKosta
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HERMOKIWI wrote:
Andy Del wrote:
Sorry to say, the mechanical issue with your cornet is... the cornet itself. They are ...

---
I have 3 cornets: ... The above comment doesn't accurately describe any of them. ...

------------------------------
I read it as "your cornet" , meaning that particular model - not necessarily about ALL cornets.
And I have no idea about whether the comment is correct or not.
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HERMOKIWI
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JayKosta wrote:
HERMOKIWI wrote:
Andy Del wrote:
Sorry to say, the mechanical issue with your cornet is... the cornet itself. They are ...

---
I have 3 cornets: ... The above comment doesn't accurately describe any of them. ...

------------------------------
I read it as "your cornet" , meaning that particular model - not necessarily about ALL cornets.
And I have no idea about whether the comment is correct or not.


Maybe you're correct. Maybe he was referring just to the OP's cornet. If that was the case, what is the basis for applying that description to all Besson New Standard cornets?
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Cola89
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy Del wrote:
Sorry to say, the mechanical issue with your cornet is... the cornet itself. They are stuffy, with poor intonation and get progressively tighter the higher you go.

The very best thing you can do is go get a good cornet. Which is not a B&H or Besson. Getzen, Schilke, Bach, B&S, the are many many options.

Cheers

Andy



Thanks all for your comments so far.

I would be interested to explore this comment further - are the Besson New Standards indeed known for being "stuffy" does anyone know? That's quite a good description of how it feels to play compared to my trumpet it's like having resistance there all the time.
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Andy Del
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to those who choose to not think about how answering a question may be done without repeating every single detail from the OP...yes, I am referring to an English Besson cornet. Or B&H... silk purse from a sow’s ear is the thing to consider.

Get a good cornet and don’t worry/waste time on something which will never work very well.

Cheers

Andy
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royjohn
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Cola89,
I can add some FACTS to this discussion. I had a Besson New Standard back in 2011...I don't even know if it is still around here or not...it's been a while since I have played cornet, so it may be on the shelf or I may have sold it. However, I did some research on those horns here on TH and found out that one of the cornet experts here on TH (Bob Stevenson) told me in a discussion here at that time that the New Standard was a second line horn to the Sovereign. It was produced from after WWII until at least 1975, because my horn, serial #534,xxx was produced in 1975.

As far as my horn was concerned, there was nothing wrong with it. I was comparing it at the time to a Yamaha 631, which was Yamaha's top of the line cornet when it was produced and I felt it was somewhat more open than the Yamaha. I had/have a number of other cornets, two 1905 Yorks, a Yamaha 231S, and a Besson 10-10. The New Standard was not notably inferior to any of them. I like high notes, so if it were inferior or stuffy as you go up the scale, I would have noticed.

I'm puzzled because you say the cornet was serviced, but I agree with those who say there is something wrong with the horn. At least some of these horns originally had a removable leadpipe, so you need to check out whether there is something going on with the leadpipe. I would also pull the valve slides and look at the alignment with the valves depressed. You will easily see the second valve, and perhaps can see the others with a penlight flashlight. While your tech should have seen any misalignment, maybe he didn't. It is also possible the horn is blocked somewhere, so you should snake the whole horn at the very least and run some water thru it and look at how the water coming out looks. Possibly have it cleaned. Perhaps some soapy water would help you look for leaks, which you should also do. The person who told you to try your trumpet mpc in the cornet was also onto something...your cornet mpc (Wick 3B) has an ID of 16.75mm, while your Bach 1.5C has a diameter of 17.0mm. The throat of the Bach is 27 drill, or 3.66mm, while the cornet mpc has a throat of 4.3mm. The larger throat for the cornet is pretty normal and probably isn't the complete answer to your problem, but I would try to find a mpc that is larger in ID to try...the Wick 2B would have the same 17.0mm ID as your Bach, altho the cup shape and depth would be different. If it's a mpc issue, I would think you would know it pretty quickly.

I am betting that there is something out of whack with your particular Besson New Standard, because there isn't anything wrong with the design itself (and your Uncle played it OK, right?). But I suppose it could be a mpc issue, too. I play on a very large mpc diameter and have problems with things backing up on me with smaller mpcs.

Good luck figuring this out and let us know what happens.
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royjohn
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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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2021 9:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Stick with old Besson or get a new cornet? Reply with quote

Cola89 wrote:
I am a flautist originally (I know I know!) but have come to the dark side 😀

Funny how other musicians often describe the trumpet section. From our perspective, we're simply 'the cool guys' playing 'the best instrument ever'. Yet for some reason, people rarely want to sit directly in front of us.
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Cola89
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So little update - I've tried swapping the mouthpieces but unfortunately the cornet one is far too small to put in the trumpet and the trumpet one won't even go in at all it's too big so without buying an adaptor/s I can't properly tell.
The cornet is actually due a good bath so I am doing that this morning but I don't think it's the full answer as I am usually quite regular in the baths and have noticed the difference even straight after but it could be exacerbating it which has led me to get to the end of my tether with it.
Next steps - I think I will take it somewhere else to get it serviced but they have a huge backlog due to being closed so long and get their opinion, and also perhaps see if I can borrow a friend's cornet to compare if they don't mind with a bit of quarantining before and after for covid.

The technical info about the mouthpieces differences was really interesting I do find it all a bit mind blowing the choices and what the differences mean in practice so thanks!
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royjohn
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2021 11:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again, Cola89,
I think if I were you I would try to get the borrow of a Wick 2B for a little trial from a friend or maybe at a store, if that is possible there. Mpcs easily sterilized with hand sanitizer and/or soap and water and boiling if you are very careful...and a trial of a bigger mpc on your cornet would either solve things or eliminate that variable. Trying someone else's cornet would tell you that it is definitely a problem with your particular horn...

As I said in my prior post, the Besson New Standard isn't known for being a stuffy design, so if it isn't the mpc, it is down to something going on with your particular horn. If it isn't a blockage or a valve alignment problem, then it is probably a leak somewhere in the tubing, which is a possibility. Blockage not likely if you clean regularly and see water coursing thru the horn well. Valve alignment would have to be pretty far off to make the horn really stuffy and you should be able to see the down position of the valves, at least. So that would leave a hairline crack somewhere at a tubing joint as all I can think of.

Keep us posted as to the solution of your little mystery. I hope you can enjoy that cornet when it is solved, as they are nice horns.
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royjohn
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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Dennis78
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2021 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Over blowing an older cornet can cause them to back up on you. Ease up a little and that may help
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Bflatman
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems to me that some testing is needed.

You dont need a bunch of conflicting opinions what you need is a way to discover where the problem really lies.

Give your cornet to another musician who plays cornet and knows how to play cornet and get them to give an opinion on it how it plays and how resistive it is.

Try out other cornets and compare how they feel compared to yours.

I am in england as well and if you are near enough to me to commute you can borrow my yamaha 2330 if you want and I can try yours. I have a range of mouthpieces you can try as well. Are you close to manchester.

Play your instrument in front of other musicians and let them comment on how you play it and how much air you are putting through it.

I know this may be difficult in our lockdownand even after we have emerged.

There is nothing wrong with B&H or Besson instruments they have been the cornerstone and foundation of british band instruments for 100 years. If they were too stuffy to play well I think that would be known by now.

B&H make great instruments in my opinion and the besson sovereign is known to be a great cornet.

B&H and besson have been the target of fakers for a hundred years and fakes of both B&H and besson instruments are pentiful that play very badly. This has led to the fakes destroying the reputations of B&H and besson unfairly.

Other members who have contributed that B&H and besson make poor instruments may have simply experienced some of these bad instruments and are reporting their findings honestly. Lots of these bad apples and lemons do exist.

Your instrument could be fine or it could be problematic so you need to discover which it is.

If however you play your cornet like many players play a trumpet - strong loud and projected, then you may well be running into problems caused by that and find it stacks up and becomes over resistive to you as you ascend.

The more developed and stronger we become as players the less of a problem this over blowing becomes.

It is reputed that Louis Armstrong changed from cornet to trumpet because trumpet is naturally easier to take into the upper register than cornet.

Having said all that, some besson and some B&H instruments are badly made and some instruments like the getzen eterna are said to blow the B&H and besson offerings out of the water.

Do the tests and discover how yours plays compared to other cornets and try to discover if you are playing it sympathetically or a little too strongly.

If the instrument is a little tight and you also slightly over blow this could perhaps be the problem.
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p76
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2021 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of things, that have already been stated, but can be re-iterated. A Besson New Standard is an old cornet, and they were played differently back then, with very different mpcs than a Wick of any size.

So, there could be issues with the horn, and definitely with the mpc/horn combination.

An old cornet like that needs a completely different approach to your Yam 4335, much more delicate with the air. As a flautist, you would be used to pushing a LOT of air - you definitely won't need that much in the cornet, you'll be over-blowing if you do, and that will definitely make it stuffy. Less is more with a Besson New Standard.

If you are thinking of playing at any great level in a Brass Band, I'd be thinking of getting a more modern cornet, and a Yamaha (Maestro, Xeno, Neo) would be an easy, cheap-ish and good choice. They are fairly common in Brass Bands, blend well, and would be a better match with your trumpet than a newer Besson.

Cheers,
Roger
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Cola89
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2021 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry all for the slow reply - I just discovered the new post notifications were going into my junk mail 🤦‍♀️
I will definitely ask one of my friends to swap cornets for a bit to do some comparing. Thank you bflatman for the offer but I'm in Reading so bit of a trip to Manchester! I did try a 2b,3b and 4b when I chose the 3b.
I am also hoping to be able to restart lessons soon now restrictions are easing and will get my teachers advice on my technique as it sounds like (as is often the way especially in my case) that the issue could be with the player not the horn! I have always taken my trumpet to my lessons but will take my cornet and get his help.
Thanks all for your advice
Nicola
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