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Yet another newbie seeking first horn advice!


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kbenn
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:37 pm    Post subject: Yet another newbie seeking first horn advice! Reply with quote

Hi all!

A little background on myself: I started on woodwinds many many years ago and hopped onto brass to play mellophone in my high school marching band, which I then went on to play casually for about 10 years in various marching ensembles/pep bands etc. I haven't picked up a brass instrument in about 5 years and I figured although I've never played the trumpet in any serious context it would be a solid instrument to ease myself back into brass playing. At the moment I would just be looking to putz around at home on something that will be solid and playable throughout its range for someone who is used to an alto voice instrument (aka doesn't have the chops of a screamer by any stretch.) Obviously with Covid I won't exactly be playing in any groups any time soon, but a horn that could be used as a casual performance instrument in a jazz or concert setting would be a plus.

One catch is that I have a micro budget ($150 at the top top end) and am therefore looking in the range of second hand/beginner horns that might fit the bill. After a few days of searching I've found a couple decent available options I've been considering, but I would love any input from the far more experienced folks on this forum.

There's a Besson 609 which appears to have been dropped on it's bell but is otherwise in good shape going for $125, and a 1977 Olds Ambassador going for $80 which appears to be in quite good condition. I know the late 70s models of the Olds Ambassadors are considered past the prime of the manufacturer but I'm wondering if the trade off for being in better condition and considerably less expensive is worth it (though I'm personally down to spend the higher price if the Besson is a better horn overall.)

Thanks in advance, and if anyone has any better tips for horns that I should look at in this price range I would appreciate that as well!

tl;dr I'm a mellophone player who hasn't played in 5 years and has a small budget, trying to decide between a Besson 609 with a banged up bell or a late 70s Olds Ambassador in good shape for 2/3 the price.
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arthurtwoshedsjackson
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is the Besson made in the USA? If so, I believe it was made by Kanstul. I’ve owned a bunch of Ambassadors of different vintages and have been happy with all of them. I’d probably go for the Olds considering it’s in better shape.
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jondrowjf@gmail.com
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 7:08 pm    Post subject: Trumpet choice Reply with quote

Both are student trumpets. Don't buy the Besson 609. As a musician you will want to fix it.
The ambassador is a decent trumpet I owned one.
My suggestion is to not buy either one. My recommendation is to buy a cornet. My favorites are the a Getzen 490,Getzen 590, Jupiter 520m. Though not needed, get a 1st slide thumb saddle ring or a trigger.
If you buy on eBay, do a best offer bid. Low ball the price, you may be surprised.
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kbenn
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2020 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

arthurtwoshedsjackson wrote:
Is the Besson made in the USA? If so, I believe it was made by Kanstul. I’ve owned a bunch of Ambassadors of different vintages and have been happy with all of them. I’d probably go for the Olds considering it’s in better shape.


The Besson is made in the US and from what I've read it's one of the Kanstul made horns, which is the main draw for me.

That's good to hear about the Ambassadors being decent horns throughout the years! I've seen mixed reviews but as a beginner to the instrument I'm not sure that the difference is something that will be noticeable enough to be a deciding factor.
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hibidogrulez
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Late Olds trumpets have a poor reputation when it comes to quality control (especially the student models, which includes the Ambassador) which understandably affects the price quite a bit. However, not all of them are junk but it's recommended to try them first if you can (I've recently playtested a 1970's Ambassador that was actually very good).

Personally, I'd go for the Olds as well because the bell-drop sounds like something that may seriously affect the horn's playability. I trust that you understand that with your budget, you can't realistically expect to buy a high quality horn anyway, but at $80 you can probably re-sell the ambassador quite easily without loss if it turns out to be unplayable.
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AJCarter
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 5:56 am    Post subject: Re: Trumpet choice Reply with quote

jondrowjf@gmail.com wrote:
My recommendation is to buy a cornet.



... Why?
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wilder
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would get back in shape on the Mellophone first. jw
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Goby
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd recommend the Besson 609. If its a USA/Kanstul made horn, it should be good. I had one and thought it was a great horn for the price. The Getzen 300 and 400 series should have the outstanding Getzen valves. You could even get a Getzen student horn and have it modified at a later point. Save a couple bucks and throw a new bell, leadpipe, and tuning slide and essentially have a custom horn.
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trumpet_cop
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

wilder wrote:
I would get back in shape on the Mellophone first. jw


I don't believe OP owns a Mellophone. Simply said that's what he played when he had access to them. Not really sure why folks can't stay within the confines of what OP has asked about. OP doesn't need to find a getzen, OP doesn't need a cornet. OP asked about two specific models he found within his budget. Go from there based on the info you have.

The Kanstul made Bessons are great and IMO are better horns, but if the bell is trashed then it won't be as good. I agree with another poster that you would end up wanting to get the dent work done, but it can be done down the road.

Olds horns are tanks. But they don't always play well and age can be a factor for valve tolerances, red rot, etc.

Go with your gut.
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nowave
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don’t overthink it - between these two, just grab the Ambassador (as long as the valves have good action and decent compression) and go. It’ll hold you for at least a year or two while you get your chops together.
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kbenn
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goby wrote:
I'd recommend the Besson 609. If its a USA/Kanstul made horn, it should be good. I had one and thought it was a great horn for the price. The Getzen 300 and 400 series should have the outstanding Getzen valves. You could even get a Getzen student horn and have it modified at a later point. Save a couple bucks and throw a new bell, leadpipe, and tuning slide and essentially have a custom horn.


I've seen quite a few horns labelled as "Getzen 300 series" in my price range but I don't know much about them, are there any identifying features or time periods I should look out for that indicate better horns?
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AJCarter
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kbenn wrote:
Goby wrote:
I'd recommend the Besson 609. If its a USA/Kanstul made horn, it should be good. I had one and thought it was a great horn for the price. The Getzen 300 and 400 series should have the outstanding Getzen valves. You could even get a Getzen student horn and have it modified at a later point. Save a couple bucks and throw a new bell, leadpipe, and tuning slide and essentially have a custom horn.


I've seen quite a few horns labelled as "Getzen 300 series" in my price range but I don't know much about them, are there any identifying features or time periods I should look out for that indicate better horns?


Getzen instruments are solid. Fantastic valves. To my knowledge there is no period to outright avoid.. maybe Adam or Brett will see this and chip in
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kbenn
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has replied with thoughtful advice so far, I really appreciate it!

To address a few posts, it's correct that I do NOT have a mellophone, and as much as I loved the instrument buying one wouldn't be feasible considering they don't have much application outside of a marching setting, from which I am most decidedly retired.

I set out to buy a trumpet because of the greater availability of resources/music/material etc. as well as sharing the fingerings I'm already accustomed to. I'm not against a cornet if one were to come by in my price range but that seems like a whole other set of considerations that I have little knowledge about.

I'll amend my original post slightly by specifying that what I'm looking for right now is something to play while I'm stuck at home/something to help get my chops back and to give me an outlet for music after many years without. A good solid learning horn that isn't too difficult to play well throughout it's range (user skill aside) and will suit me to a point that I get more serious and invest in a nicer instrument or setup when/if I get back into the swing of things.

To give additional context: my first and only foray into playing the trumpet was in a casual jazz band for a single semester in high school. I had a cheap off-brand "student" horn we rented from out local music shop (mostly guitars, drums, and amps with a small corner dedicated to wind instruments, you know the place) and the inconsistency in playability and intonation really discouraged from sticking with the instrument. I'll concede part of that was certainly the failings of a 16 year old with a more humble playing proficiency, but I really wish I had access to a horn made with a bit more care that made feel like I could grow on it.

In short, I'm hoping that I can find a horn that will be responsive and playable enough across the board as to not discourage me from picking it back up, that will sound decent in the meantime and hopefully get me to a place where I can confidently upgrade in the future.
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Winghorn
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I were you I would ask the opinion of a reputable teacher or acknowledged fine player for equipment advice, rather than rely on the advice of posters on this site you may know nothing about.

A couple years back a poster recommended a Jet-Tone Maynard Ferguson mouthpiece for a rank beginner (ugh). So much for good advice.

Clearly, there are fine players and teachers who regularly post on this site. You just have to be discriminating...

My opinion, anyway, and because you almost certainly don't know me, feel free to disregard it.

Steve
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OldSchoolEuph
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have laid-out quite a challenge.

That budget is not enough to buy two mouthpieces, so options for a "decent" horn are beyond limited.

Most Ambassadors I have encountered have been worn to the point of needing work (valves), and in your price bracket, that will very likely be the case. The student Besson clearly has care issues in its past. I wouldn't touch either.

Vintage student horns in that range abound, but the valves are almost always in need of a $600 rebuild.

This next is going to initiate a ____storm, especially coming from me, but if your budget cannot at least double, then I suggest you take the low road and look at a couple of options in the, typically Chinese but also German made, super low cost "student" horns that typically fall apart in a couple years. Find a used one that is at least 4 years old, not seriously damaged, but shows clear wear at the contact points and other signs of having been used. I have come across a couple Allora AATR-125s, and Eastman 400 series that were 5 years old, mild wear from use, and solid (I am sure others can suggest additional such brands) that were within your budget (just). I would steer clear of a lot of these horns period, but the two examples I mention are decent, somewhat dead responding, but playable horns (watch out for some other Allora models though - especially plastic - junk!)

I also picked up a used Jupiter JTR-600 for $170 that was surprisingly nice - but the intonation was rather rough. Not one I would recommend unless you have a strong ear and chops to match already.

This wont get you anything to perform in public on, or even build your technique beyond the basics, but if you choose carefully from the junk pile, you can find some viable "starter horn"s out there.
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gwood66
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you just want something to play on to get started you may want to consider some other student/starter horns as well. If you search eBay you may find a King 600/601, Conn Director or Blessing student model from the 70’s or early 80’s. They will all serve the purpose of giving you something to get started on and allow you time to save for a decent horn. I started my comeback on a Conn cornet i found for $60 on Craigslist.

Once you decide to stick with it, find a newer professional level horn. Older/vintage horns all have their quirks that become frustrating once you are playing regularly with a group.

Good luck and have fun!
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giakara
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 10, 2020 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Find the best Getzen you can buy .

Regards
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ghelbig
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:01 am    Post subject: Re: Yet another newbie seeking first horn advice! Reply with quote

https://www.trumpetherald.com/marketplace.php?task=detail&id=123691&s=Kanstul-Besson-609--300

Everything you need, nothing that you don't. Spend a little more up-front to get one that hasn't been abused.

No, it's not me selling it. I've had a couple of them, and they are good horns. I still have one that's my "keep in the trunk in case of emergency" horn.

Gary.
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spitvalve
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AJCarter wrote:

Getzen instruments are solid. Fantastic valves. To my knowledge there is no period to outright avoid.. maybe Adam or Brett will see this and chip in


Last year I picked up a Getzen 380 cornet from the mid-1960's that was totally thrashed--looked like someone had use it for a catcher's mitt. The main tuning slide was frozen and I cleaned a frightening amount of gunk out of it. But the valves! The valves were perfect and the horn had a beautiful sound in spite of the ugly.


You can't beat Getzen valves.
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jondrowjf@gmail.com
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:57 pm    Post subject: Trumpet Reply with quote

Kbenn
A Conn Director, Holton 602,Getzen 300, 400 Jupiter 600 trumpets are good choices for used student trumpets.
The Conn 17 A coperian cornet is a good choice too,it sounds like a trumpet. It has a beautiful copper color.
The Getzen 400, Jupiter 600 trumpetd have 1st slide thumb saddles. The others don't.
You should be able to find any of these trumpets in this price range on ebay.
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