"Pawn Shop Prizes" -- Anyone find any "Gems

Discussion in 'Vintage Trumpets / Cornets' started by Robert Rowe, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. Robert Rowe

    Robert Rowe Mezzo Piano User

    Dec 24, 2004
    This topic always fascinates me.

    Along with the "eBay" discoveries, "trolling around" in regional music stores, perusing the Classified Ads, etc. -- it's cool, and fun, to stumble upon really great horns, especially at a great price. Sometimes, we learn that some of these horns are fine "players", that have never yet captured the attention of the general Trumpet / Cornet playing enthusiasts.

    I recently acquired a couple of Trumpets of this ilk, and was literally "stunned" to discover its' similarities to its' legendary "Big Brother", at a mere fraction of the price. I have a couple of the most famous vintage Trumpets ever made -- and they are truly outstanding instruments -- but the quality and sound of the "student line" horns is jaw-dropping! Could be only a few of the production years are of this quality -- I'll find out soon enough. Of course, I won't reveal the brand and model (for now ... until I score one-or-two more, before some others snatch them up).

    We now know about OLDS Ambassadors, and the Conn Coprion Directors, and the Yamaha 2300-Series. What have you discovered lately ??

    Robert Rowe
  2. Cornet1

    Cornet1 Pianissimo User

    May 22, 2005
    Essex, England
    Over the last couple of years I have become very impressed with what was for a decade or more the cheapest trumpet available here in the UK, namely the Bossey and Hawkes '400'. In the 80's and 90's B&H tried to offer a rock bottom student price instrument for schools and bands to equip beginners etc., but this meant that they were forced to source from the poorer parts of the world. during part of this period, around 15 years back, production was in Czechoslovakia and this instrument is, frankly, a superb classic for the money/value!....a MUCH better trumpet than the vast majority of people are trumpet players!!......And, much better engineered than most of B&H's UK made models!

    I have seen these trumpets refered to as "pieces of sh*t" and other very derogatory terms. Prices/values reflect this low image,...the instrument was only about £80 new when first introduced,....Nowadays, these change hands for a few pounds or even are given away!.....many have been hopelessly abused by their young wealders.

    The example which I am pleased to own came to me without any cash changing hands and has been used to teach several 'difficult' beginners who have now moved on to 'better' instruments. Before me it was used by my youth band to teach kids from scratch. It shows signs of its hard and thankless life to date but has stood up to this surprisingly well. it plays very well with nice tone, good response, excellent intonation and good high range. Valves are as good as any other B&H valves and slide fit is vastly better than the B&H norm!!....In fact they would grace an instrument costing many times the price.. The whole trumpet is neatly designed and assembled with minimum 'fussy' bits or redundant details.

    Regards, Bob
  3. tom turner

    tom turner Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Georgia, USA

    Sometime around 1993, while on the road on business, I stopped into a pawn shop in Augusta . . . not really expecting to find anything.

    They had a mid-late 80's Model 37* lacquered Bach Strad that had a few minor dents, but otherwise pretty decent. The price? $200!

    I put on my usual "poker face" as I looked all over the store at OTHER things . . . all the while hoping that no one would come in and snatch it up until I finished my "bluff."

    My heart was beating pretty bad, as I asked 'em about other things I really wasn't interested in. Then I got to the Strad and said, "My son needs an old trumpet to play, what would you take for that old dented trumpet?" "Oh, we'll take $150 for it," they said. I replied, "Nawwww, it has some dents in it." I then made my "ofer" . . . and GOT 'EM DOWN TO $125 ON THAT STRAD! . . . then bought it without playing in or anything!

    THE BEST PART . . .

    That ol' "ugly duckling" Bach turned out to be incredible . . . one of those "1-in-a-100" Strads that would slot accurately well past double C and play effortlessly!!!

    I spent only $25 getting the dents out . . . then another $250 getting it prepped and silverplated (at Andersons).

    It was the best Bach I've ever encountered . . . and now was beautiful too, so it became my main horn. I later put a gold trim kit on it and a custom Pilczuk pipe that opened it up to Triple C."

    I'd still be playin' it today . . . if I hadn't discovered that slightly used Wild Thing trumpet that I now play. Uh . . . it cost a WHOLE LOT more.

    Most times you won't find deals in pawn shops . . . but every once in a while you'll get extremely lucky . . . and this fact keeps ya checking 'em out!


    Tom Turner
  4. ScreaminRaider

    ScreaminRaider Piano User

    Apr 22, 2004
    San Antonio, Tx
    This wasn't a pawn shop story, but It's pretty close.

    A friend of mine was looking at garage sales with his wife, and he noticed a Mt. Vernon case with a $50 tag on it. He Slowly opened up the case, and sure enough, there sat a Bach Mt. Vernon in good shape, just needed some minor repairs. As far as I know he's still playing on it.
  5. brian moon

    brian moon Forte User

    What Pilczuk did you put on it?
  6. trumpetmike

    trumpetmike Forte User

    Oct 11, 2004
    Farnham (a place too smal
    I picked up a Besson Sovereign cornet in almost perfect condition for £150 - had a touch of work done on it, it played really well but I already had a cornet - I sold it for £500 :D

    I found a Getzen long model soprano cornet that was seriously banged up, in the darker recesses of Phil Parkers. It was priced at £150. They said that they would get it looking clean for an extra £50. I am nt one of those guys who minds doing some of the work himself, so I said it was fine, but if they could get the slides moving it would be useful (everything was frozen). They said that they would do this for no charge (apparently it was going to be an easy job) and that they would bring it along to a contest I was involved in the next weekend. They did, indeed, bring it along to the contest - spitting blue murder in my direction - they had been forced to take the majority of the instrument apart in order to get everything working properly - it had taken hours! The joy - because I had already paid for it, there was no charge! :D !

    Ah, the original Boosey & Hawkes 400 was quite a reasonable student instrument (not in the same league as a modern Yamaha student model though). As time went on, the quality of these instruments went downhill and the instrument ended up being nothing to do with Boosey & Hawkes. For many years, Boosey & Hawkes (Besson - The Music Group) tried to stop the makers using the B&H 400 name, due to them wanting nothing to do with those instruments - the quality was damaging their reputation.
    About 4 years ago The Music Group finally managed to stop the B&H 400 instruments being produced under tht name.

    I am one of those people who have said terrible things about those instruments, basically because I think they are total rubbish - I will never recommend them, in the same way I won't recommend the new student Buescher "trumpets" (they look like trumpets, they are called trumpets in the catalogue, but they don't play like trumpets) or the Amati instruments.
  7. Cornet1

    Cornet1 Pianissimo User

    May 22, 2005
    Essex, England
    Mike,...thats interesting about yamaha;.....

    "...original Boosey & Hawkes 400 was quite a reasonable student instrument (not in the same league as a modern Yamaha student model though)...."

    We are currently using 5 Yamaha trumpets bearing the number '1335',....apart from the fact that they are silverplated they are beaten in ALL departments by our remaining Czech made B&H '400's.
  8. pwillini

    pwillini Pianissimo User

    Mar 4, 2004
    Kalamazoo, MI
    My find wasn't in a pawn shop, rather in front of the town music store. The owner was closing up after almost 75 years in the same store front. During the going out of business sale he put several oaken barrels in front of the store, full of pieces, parts, etc. Anything in any barrel, 25 cents. I dug through all 5 he had out one day and picked out a silver cornet. It wasn't until almost 25 years later, after this cornet served as a wall hanging in our first house and was rather unceremoniously relegated to the outdoor storage shed, that I had it chem cleaned and polished it up. I called someone in South Dakota, at the American Museum of Music (at least I think that's what it was) and she told me my Conn Victor New Wonder, with tuning mechanism, is one of only a handful known in burnished finish. I told her about the bell crease, broken welds, etc and she still told me, 10 years ago, that is was worth around $500! Not a bad return on a quarter investment!
  9. Solar Bell

    Solar Bell Moderator Staff Member

    May 11, 2005
    Metro Detroit
    In 1977 I bought a Courtois 708 Sonic from Eastside music in Roseville MI.
    I tired it beside 2 Schilkes a Benge and 2 Bachs. It won.
    I played it until it wore out. Averaging over 150 jobs a year for over 20 years. That horn was GREAT. I finally sold it in 2001 on eBay to a collector. I bought a Schilke B1 then a Schilke B6. Great horns, but not my old Courtois. In March of this year I saw a Courtois 708 Sonic on eBay for $1100.00 nice, but too high. It was on again two weeks later for $1000.00. No location though. I looked through his feedbacks and found out he was only about 15 miles away from me. I called and asked if I could play it. I went to his jewelry/pawn shop and played it. It was like a new old stock horn. Absolutely perfect. Not even any mute scratches in the bell. The grey Supersuede case wasn't even scuffed. I gave a little concert and the guy's mother let me have it for $700.00!!! I would have paid a lot more. I took it back to Eastside Mucsic and we found an Eastside Music sticker in the case!
    They had bought 2 708 Sonics, 2 direct air large bore horns and 10 Courtois Flugelhorns in 1977. This was the other 708 I tried. It was 3 serial numbers away from my old horn!

    GREAT DEAL on a GREAT horn.


    BTW the Courtois 708 Sonic is the horn Al Hirt was playing in the famous Sass & Brass video with MF, Dizzy, Mangione, Don Cherry and Sarah Vaughn.
  10. tom turner

    tom turner Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Georgia, USA
    Great story!

    That second Courtois FINALLY made it home with you . . . after "trying" for decades!

    It looks like a "match made in Heaven."

    What a cool story!


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