Cornet Advice Please?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by cargo, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. cargo

    cargo New Friend

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    Sep 27, 2009
    manchester, UK
    Hi all,

    as you will see from my initial introductory post in the greetings area, I have never picked up a cornet in my life, prior to a few days ago. I have always dreamed of one day getting around to learning a little jaz trumpet or cornet and last week I came across a beat up old Besson Sovereign at a car boot sale.

    Now, as soon as finances permit I do intend to find a tutor, if only to get the basics down. For now though I have a bunch of questions which I am sure would be easily answered by any number of people on TM if somebody wouldn't mind? The questions I have will sound really dumb and backward to anybody who is even slightly familiar with a cornet or trumpet so please forgive my ignorance.

    Firstly, what is the slide all about? I understand it is to tune the instrument but it has spring loaded catches (if that is the right description) so when released it goes back to it's original position? Would one hold the slide open throughout playing a piece should it be required?

    Secondly - am I right in thinking there is a Bb and C cornet? If so how do I tell which one I have? I can't fnd a stamp anywhere or anything like that?

    Okay. I have about a million questions but I wont ask them all here at once. Also, I am slightly embarrassed by my own ignorance and can already hear snickering out there ha ha. Any help and advice, prior to me finding a tutor, would be very much appreciated :)
     
  2. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Sovereigns are good horns, hopefully the one you found is not too beat up -check the plating of the valves, slides (if they move freely) etc. Without tutor it can be difficult if you have never played a brass instrument.
     
  3. cargo

    cargo New Friend

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    Sep 27, 2009
    manchester, UK
    Hi Nick. It is not too beat up at all. However, it has a patch about an inch in diameter on the front part where it looks like the silver has been rubbed clean away fro some reason, in a totally random spot. Other than that it is in very good shape.

    As far as the plating on the valves goe - there is a letter L stamped on the middle one but I dont see anything other than that and the name Besson etc anywhere? Does that mean anything?
     
  4. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Vidin, Bulgaria
    Cargo,

    All sovereigns I ever saw had a logo saying:
    Besson
    London
    Sovereign
    Example:
    [​IMG]
    People older than me on the forum may know better if during the last 20 years the logo has changed...Make sure it is not some cheap indian knock-off

    Sovereigns were indeed a benchmark for British Brass Bands since they were introduced, I believe some 20 or 30 years ago.
     
  5. cargo

    cargo New Friend

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    Sep 27, 2009
    manchester, UK
    That is the exact logo. But hwo do I tell what key it is?
     
  6. trumpetnick

    trumpetnick Fortissimo User

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    Vidin, Bulgaria
    It is in B flat. I don't think that Besson has ever produced a cornet in C, unlike schilke, yamaha etc. There is some vintage cornets with triggers and slides to play in a,b and c, but that is not the case with sovereigns. Besides, C cornets are not very often used except for some very specific symphonic and chamber music literature (Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat comes to my mind), which is quite playable on B flat cornet. To your initial question, the pitch of an instrument is usually determined by the lowest possible note (on brass instruments open, no valves) which is a B flat for your instrument.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2009
  7. cargo

    cargo New Friend

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    Sep 27, 2009
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    Excellent info. Thanks for that. So I am now further ahead than I was when I woke today :)
     
  8. ComeBackKid

    ComeBackKid Fortissimo User

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    May 11, 2009
    Yorba Linda, CA
    I am not familiar with that particular model of cornet so what I am going to say may need to be modified a bit to apply to you. But, here are the basics:
    Most common trumpets and cornets have 4 slides. Each of the 3 valves will have a slide which basically forms a 'U-shaped' loop attached to the valve casing. The 2nd (middle) valve has the smallest 'loop', the 1st valve (nearest the mouthpiece) has the next longer loop and the 3rd valve (near the bell) has the longest loop. The length of the loop determines the change in the pitch that occurs when you press that valve. So, due to the length of the slide loops, the 2nd valve drops the tone 1 semitone (1/2 step) from the note with all valves up (called the OPEN position). The 1st valve drops the pitch 2 semitones, and the 3rd valve drops the pitch 3 semitones. At the end of each loop is the moveable portion referred to as the 'slide'. For most playing, the 3 small tuning slides are kept in the 'in' position (pushed as far in as they will go)....(for more, see note 2, below)...

    There is also a 4th slide called the main tuning slide. Depending on the design of your cornet, this slide may have a larger radius than the valve slides. If you start at the mouthpiece and follow the pipe around, you will come to a place where the pipe joins the slide. That is the only slide that is used for normal tuning. You pull it out a bit to lower the pitch of the instrument and you push it in a bit to raise the pitch.

    Note 1: Some older instruments are designed to play in 2 keys - generally A and Bb. Since A is a lower pitch, all of the slides need to be pulled out to a pre-determined (marked) position to play in A, or some instruments actually have a second set of slides which are longer to play in A.

    Note 2: Some instruments have a mechanism attached to the 3rd valve slide and maybe also the 1st valve slide. These are for temporary use only on certain notes. Some of the mechanisms are spring loaded to return to the 'in' position when the pressure is released. These types are referred to as 'triggers'. The other types have a ring or U-shaped saddle attached to the slide that you use to manually push/pull the slide into position. But, for starters, don't worry about these devices. Simply keep all slides except the main tuning slide in the fully 'in' position for playing.
     
  9. Dale Proctor

    Dale Proctor Utimate User

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    Heart of Dixie
    So the slide you spoke of, is it the main tuning slide, or one of the valve slides? Triggers are sometimes found on the 1st and 3rd valve slides, and are used to "fine tune" certain notes as you play. Some model Bessons have a trigger on the main tuning slide, for whole-horn tuning adjustments as you play.
     
  10. dpritchett

    dpritchett New Friend

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    Aug 26, 2009
    OH,CANADA...eh!
    The besson is a great instrument. I've played on one for many years. The L on the valve casing means large bore...just an F.Y.I.. This horn would also be considered a professional series instument. If it's in good shape, it's a great find...depending on what you paid of course.
    You will definitly need a good teacher to get started on the right path.
    best of luck!!
     

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