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Advice on buying a Vintage Cornet


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dladore
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Joined: 09 Oct 2019
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Location: Ocean Isle Beach, NC

PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:11 am    Post subject: Advice on buying a Vintage Cornet Reply with quote

Hi all. I’m a 64-year-old “comeback player” after 50 years. Picked up a used Bach TR300H2 to get “re-started” then recently upgraded. I got really lucky in finding a brand new Getzen Eterna Proteus for a great price and I’m loving it.
I'm now taking lessons and recently joined a local New Horizon’s band. I’ve asked here about either selling the Bach, keeping it as a back-up or getting another horn as a backup. I got a lot of good suggestions.
I've been doing a lot of researching and reading and am thinking about a vintage Cornet to be used both as a back-up and a change of pace. I really like the deep, dark sound of old Jazz. I’ve put the Bach up for sale on Reverb and Facebook Marketplace. I don’t want to spend a lot of money, since I did just buy a new horn and am paying for lessons each month.
I’m seeing a lot of good things about vintage Olds Ambassador’s. Would love to get an older Getzen cornet, but don’t think I can afford it. Depending on what I get for the Bach, I’d be looking at spending around $200 - $350. Thoughts are appreciated!

Dan in NC
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Dayton
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have a specific recommendation regarding make/model. Instead, I'd recommend that you carefully evaluate the playability/mechanical condition of whatever cornets you look at in that price range.

The most important consideration, for me, would be whether the valves are reliable, smooth and fast. If not, you might need to spend much more than you paid for the horn to get it in reliable enough condition for a performance.

I have a 1950s Holton Super Collegiate, which is a nice cornet -- not as nice as a Getzen 800 or 3850, but definitely adequate. I inherited it from a relative. If I had purchased it, it probably would have been in the price range you mentioned. I spent over $600 to replate the valves -- which were unreliable -- and to reverse the pipes in the third valve slide so that it was tunable. Make sure you factor potential repair costs into whatever you decide to purchase.

Good luck!
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JonathanM
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think an Ambassador may be a very good idea, but I wouldn't limit your search to exactly that. I've had an Olds Special for about 15 years, and I think it's one of the best cornets I've played. It's designed much like the Ambassador, but has a Nickel-silver bell with a bronze bell tip, and it produces a very rich tone.

As mentioned above, when looking at older horns, it's good to inquire about compression/valves, all slides pull, and check pics very carefully for red-rot (usually in the leadpipe area, but occasionally down to the main tuning slide).

While I originally enjoyed buying vintage Olds horns, I've found that I've had slightly better luck with vintage Conn's for compression. The 'Crysteel' valves that Conn used many years ago have proved, to my experience, to be extremely long-lasting.

Also, I'm sending you a pm with some other thoughts.
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Jonathan Milam
Trumpets: King SilverSonic ('55), CarolBrass 5000L-YLS, Conn N Y Symphony Special ('37), 12B ('39), King Silvertone ('50)
Cornets: Olds Special ('59), King SilverSonic ('62)
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spitvalve
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got a beautiful 50-year old Getzen Capri cornet last summer for 250 bucks. Needs a fairly deep mouthpiece to keep from sounding trumpet-ish, but with the right mouthpiece it gets a nice velvety sound and it's very agile. I find the first valve trigger a little annoying since I'm used to saddles, but for that price I can't complain. I'm seeing newer Capris (70's-80's-90's) on eBay averaging around $400. If it's more than that you'd be better off with the Eterna cornet. I've seen older ones in good shape go for $800-1200.

The Olds Ambassador cornets, if you can find one in good shape, are a great bargain and produce a beautiful sound, even with a trumpet-style cup. Hard to believe there's so much quality in an old student cornet. I bought beat-up one a couple of years ago for 70 bucks and put about $120 into parts and repairs. It was fun to play and had a darker sound than my Getzen. I gave it to my trumpet-playing son for Christmas because every time he came to visit, he'd start playing it and couldn't put it down.
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1969 Getzen Capri cornet
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connicalman
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conn's 80A, the one with the 'opera glass' tuning near the bell -- that is a ready-steady cornet for jazz. They are longer than your typical cornet, yet are not trumpets. You can get many shades or timbres from adding your choice of mouthpiece. Generally, those do hold good compression as mentioned already. Also, definitely, the older the better. Prior to 1956 or so the cornet mouthpieces were a bit shorter than the industry standard that Conn and Olds accepted later. These tapered steeper. They fit correctly and sound best in the old plumbing. Last, "The Conn Loyalist" website has a load of info and pics. enjoy your passion
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kochaavim, csillaagkep, αστερρισμός, konnstelacji, connstellation... ...a.k.a. the 28A!
Other Conns: Victor 5A & 38A, New Wonder & 80A; 'stella 38A; 36A; 'quest 76A...
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adc
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Conn 80A is more like a trumpet. It won't do for what you want.
I would avoid an Ambassador and any of the Conn Directors and the King 600 series horns and the Bach 300 they are cheap horns that sound that way. Olds Specials and Studios are great. Conn 36A is great but impossible to get.

Any Conn before 1920 except for the New wonder (80-A) would be good but you are taking a chance.

I would keep an eye open for A King Master. It might be a bit over your budget but you get what you pay for. It and my 36A are my best "Vintage" horns.

I had a Capri and it is indeed very bright. I very recently bought a 1985 Shepherd's Crook Strad. It plays circles around any horn that I have ever played. You could try a Bach "A" or Yamaha "E" cup on your eterna. I have never played an Eterna.
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jon Arnold has a 1950s LA Olds Ambassador in the TH Marketplace for $275. The LA horns were the company’s best. Built like fireplugs with great valve blocks.
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"Music is not notes. Music is what notes do." David McGill
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JonathanM
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jhatpro wrote:
Jon Arnold has a 1950s LA Olds Ambassador in the TH Marketplace for $275. The LA horns were the company’s best. Built like fireplugs with great valve blocks.


Hard to be certain, but there's either a LOT of surface deterioration on that Ambassador or red-rot. Or both. The last pic certainly shows this. Classic example; I'd want the seller to confirm, which he certainly could, that there is no interior deterioration going on. At that point, if clean, it may be a fine horn. My Olds Special was in better condition and I paid $99 for it. Bad lacquer, and very dirty, but it cleaned up well and is a great player. Of course that price was at least 12 years ago. Vintage horns aren't getting cheaper, are they?
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Jonathan Milam
Trumpets: King SilverSonic ('55), CarolBrass 5000L-YLS, Conn N Y Symphony Special ('37), 12B ('39), King Silvertone ('50)
Cornets: Olds Special ('59), King SilverSonic ('62)
Mouthpieces: Reeves, ACB, Curry
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jhatpro
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 20, 2020 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don’t know anything about that specific horn but in my experience lacquer from the ‘50s is pretty easy to remove leaving a nice raw brass surface which I like. As for red rot, only a close inspection could tell for sure.
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connicalman
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin Dean, jazz prof at McGill, features several old cornets in his 'Jazz, Period' series on YouTube. He uses both a Conn Victor 80A (0.484" bore), and Victor Special 38A (0.468") along with others, each for separate compositions.

As he demonstrates and explains, each cornet wrap has a different voice. In 'Change of Heart' he plays the larger bore Conn 80A. The old version 38A is easily mistaken for the 80-series (which itself has several variants) yet has a slightly different wrap at the inverted u-shaped tuner near the bell bend.

As suggested previously, the Conn 36A Concert Grand is a good choice. It has a wide wrap front and back, and fits large hands easily. Enjoy!
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kochaavim, csillaagkep, αστερρισμός, konnstelacji, connstellation... ...a.k.a. the 28A!
Other Conns: Victor 5A & 38A, New Wonder & 80A; 'stella 38A; 36A; 'quest 76A...
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JonathanM
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin Dean is a pleasure to listen to; and very informative. I've found the 80A to be quite mouthpiece sensitive and more sound-shapable than most horns. I think Trent Austin agrees, but who is he anyway? It's bore size is a bit larger than I like, but that additional tuning wheel, making it a 'tuneable Bell' is just one more plus for it as a player.
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Jonathan Milam
Trumpets: King SilverSonic ('55), CarolBrass 5000L-YLS, Conn N Y Symphony Special ('37), 12B ('39), King Silvertone ('50)
Cornets: Olds Special ('59), King SilverSonic ('62)
Mouthpieces: Reeves, ACB, Curry
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dladore
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Joined: 09 Oct 2019
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Location: Ocean Isle Beach, NC

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all of the ideas. I'm starting to narrow it down to a few...or maybe a bunch! LOL. Still trying to sell my Bach before I make any moves though. In the meantime will still be searching.

Dan in NC
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rick.willoughby@cox.net
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2020 6:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was looking for the same sound and landed on an Olds Special Tri Color Cornet from 1964. a great sounding horn.
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adc
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2020 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rick.willoughby@cox.net wrote:
I was looking for the same sound and landed on an Olds Special Tri Color Cornet from 1964. a great sounding horn.

Yea that and the Studio are great.
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dladore
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Location: Ocean Isle Beach, NC

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 8:46 am    Post subject: Update on Cornet/back-up trumpet search Reply with quote

Getting close to making a decision on a back-up horn/cornet. I’ve got it “narrowed down”. All these are from Reverb.com and are in “Good” to “Excellent” condition. All are cornets except for the 1964 Old Ambassador.
Most are from music outlets and have been checked, inspected and in some cases refurbished. It's a tough call as most of these look like they are in pretty good to outstanding condition.

Olds Cornet Ambassador Model A-5 1963 Original Mouthpiece - $220
Holton Model 29 Cornet 1948 – Reconditioned - $325
Olds 1964 Ambassador Trumpet w Case and Mouthpiece - $295
Olds Special Cornet 1952-53 Lacquered brass - $325
Getzen 300 Series – 1965 - $200
Conn Cornet with Case 1960s Brass / Copper - $175
Martin Imperial – 1965 - $240
Cleveland Superior Cornet 1959 - Refurbished - with Case and King MC MP - $300
Buescher Cornet – 1948-49 - $285
1953 Conn 80A "Victor" Opera Glass Cornet - $249

Dan in NC
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Bb Bob
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Olds made a change to their cornet receiver in late 56. Prior to a large shank was used. Something to consider.

Taken from http://rouses.net/trumpet/cornetmpc/cornetmpc.htm

Prior to serial number 189,611, Olds cornets had a larger receiver than other standard cornets. See this factory instruction card provided with a 1959 Olds Special cornet (Thanks to Steve T. for the image of the card). In general, the nonstandard large shank is found on all models made by Olds earlier than September 1956. There are exceptions but they are relatively rare--probably custom orders or aftermarket modifications. Many students have played these large-shank horns with a common standard Bach mouthpiece (or other brand) by putting tape around the shank of the mouthpiece, or by simply inserting the mouthpiece too far and compensating with the tuning slide. Neither solution results in an ideal situation accoustically inside the receiver pipe. Many people, hearing of the great reputation of these horns, pick one up and suddenly find themselves on an unexpected quest for an appropriate mouthpiece. Here are a few I have tried, with my opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of each alternative.

rouses.net is a great resource for vintage olds information.

I have a 58 Studio Cornet which I really like. Have fun, vintage horns is a fun hole to fall into 😂😂😂

Bob
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khedger
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Advice on buying a Vintage Cornet Reply with quote

dladore wrote:
Hi all. I’m a 64-year-old “comeback player” after 50 years. Picked up a used Bach TR300H2 to get “re-started” then recently upgraded. I got really lucky in finding a brand new Getzen Eterna Proteus for a great price and I’m loving it.
I'm now taking lessons and recently joined a local New Horizon’s band. I’ve asked here about either selling the Bach, keeping it as a back-up or getting another horn as a backup. I got a lot of good suggestions.
I've been doing a lot of researching and reading and am thinking about a vintage Cornet to be used both as a back-up and a change of pace. I really like the deep, dark sound of old Jazz. I’ve put the Bach up for sale on Reverb and Facebook Marketplace. I don’t want to spend a lot of money, since I did just buy a new horn and am paying for lessons each month.
I’m seeing a lot of good things about vintage Olds Ambassador’s. Would love to get an older Getzen cornet, but don’t think I can afford it. Depending on what I get for the Bach, I’d be looking at spending around $200 - $350. Thoughts are appreciated!

Dan in NC


I no longer have it, but I bought a Getzen 300 cornet about 1 1/2 years ago and it was the bomb. Great little horn. I paid $300 for it and it was in almost perfect condition.

keith
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khedger
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

adc wrote:
The Conn 80A is more like a trumpet. It won't do for what you want.
I would avoid an Ambassador and any of the Conn Directors and the King 600 series horns and the Bach 300 they are cheap horns that sound that way. Olds Specials and Studios are great. Conn 36A is great but impossible to get.

Any Conn before 1920 except for the New wonder (80-A) would be good but you are taking a chance.

I would keep an eye open for A King Master. It might be a bit over your budget but you get what you pay for. It and my 36A are my best "Vintage" horns.

I had a Capri and it is indeed very bright. I very recently bought a 1985 Shepherd's Crook Strad. It plays circles around any horn that I have ever played. You could try a Bach "A" or Yamaha "E" cup on your eterna. I have never played an Eterna.


I had a Strad cornet from the early 80s with the shepard's crook and it was absolutely one of the best horns I've ever owned. I don't know how much one would sell for these days, but that horn rocked!

keith
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adc
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What model is the conn? If its a director, forget it.
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dladore
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2020 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ADC...I sent a message and the owner is not sure. Why is the Director an issue?

Dan in NC
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