The Cornet Comeback?`

Discussion in 'Vintage Trumpets / Cornets' started by Cornet, Nov 29, 2003.

  1. Cornet

    Cornet New Friend

    Nov 9, 2003
    Sydney, NSW Australia

    You'd better believe it! I'd suggest getting that old Besson done up ASAP so that you don't get left behind!

    What sort of information do you want on it? The following link will tell you when it was made:

    I play cornet about 98% of the time. Mainly in a couple of "British" brass bands I'm in.

    One of these bands is accompanying Roger Webster next year when he tours here. Roger is one of the finest cornet players around and he is currently Principal Cornet with the Black Dyke Mills Band in England. If you haven't heard him play I'd strongly suggest getting hold of some of his many recordings.

    I play a ZeuS cornet. Yes, I'm a dealer for them, but the cornets are very good instruments. Mine is the polished copper model and it has a beautiful sound. I actually just replaced a short model Wild Thing with it....The Wild Thing was very good, but in a band setting the ZeuS actually works better for me. Of course as a dealer I should be playing one as well, but I wouldn't if it made playing any more difficult. I was the one who "commissioned" the reviews which can be found elsewhere on the TM. After he'd finished trying them out he sold his Smith-Watkins and bought one of the ZeuS cornets off me! He is playing it in the Australian Open solo championships early next year.

    Vive le cornet!
  2. Larry Gianni

    Larry Gianni Piano User

    Nov 11, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Hi Tm,

    If you would like information on your Besson cornet there are 2 guys out here on the west coast that are excellent references.

    One is a national known repairman and excellent brass restorater by the name of Robb Stewart. He is one of the most honest guys I know and will tell you if this instrument is worth putting any money into. For a total overhaul, he has a waiting list of about a year, but will do samller jobs as they come.

    Besson's have had quite a history including being shut down by the Nazi's invasion of France during WW II ( that's why you usually hear Bessons described as pre-war and post-war Bessons ) , plus they had a breif terms being made in England. These Besson are considered not to be very good models or quality.

    For Robb check out from Nick Decarlis's site:

    Robb doesn't have a site but his phone number is:


    He sends me a " for sale " list every month so I might as well post it here incase you see your model on it and will know about what it's worth.
    He's very fair in his trumpet and cornet priceing - It's 4 pages long

    "Hi Larry

    I've just updated my for sale list and you can see it at

    Robb "

    The other person that really knows Bessons is Zig Kanstul. When he copied the line for his own company, he bought up as many quality old pre-war Bessons as he could find and measured them to get the specs. He does a small amount of repair work when the shop has time , but being it's a Besson , he'd certainly would have the parts or could fabricate any duplication for the repair.

    He doesn't have a personal e-mail address but here's his office number.

    1-714-563-3323 - ask for Zig

    Do yourself a favor and play your cornet. Clarke studies and even Schlossberg take on a whole new meaning played on a cornet, plus all the great music written primarily for cornet is wonderful. A cornet is a very fun instrument to play and certain passages are much easier to execute on a cornet - Good for the self-esteem.

    See Ya,

  3. Emile

    Emile New Friend

    Nov 20, 2003
    I would like to buy an old cornet (around 1900) but I have never played one. I am hesitating to spend a lot of money and don't know what I will get.

    Does anyone have any experience with these? Are they still playable on a professional level? What about the tuning?


  4. drKmod

    drKmod New Friend

    Nov 9, 2003
    Okla. City, OK
    Speaking of Besson Cornets, does anyone know who makes/manufacturers the BE2028 Prestige Cornet? This one seems to be the one that has taken over the position from the Sovereign928/7 series.
    I would really like to know something about this instrument.
  5. tom turner

    tom turner Mezzo Forte User

    Oct 25, 2003
    Georgia, USA

    Hi Emile,

    Although you must be careful to get a model with a great reputation, as well as a specimen in great condition, a quality vintage instrument can truly amaze you!

    The workmanship on many is not seen today and you must remember, they were made in the "glory days" of brass instrument popularity!

    I've played my 1911 Boston 3-Star (which was so nice it only needed a mild restoration and valve rebuild) on many gigs. I'd put it up against the finest cornets today. Doc S. uses an identical model Boston 3-Star (his is goldplated), for the cornet of choice, on his concerts. They are that good!

    Nick DeCarlis (of gigs exclusively on his favorite vintage cornet, an early '30s Olds model simply called "The Olds." Last time I played with Nick he said he is very picky what cornets he'll play on gigs, but added that my Wild Thing short model would be on a very, very short list for him.

    Jim Callum, of Riverwalk Jazz fame on the US radio program on Public Radio, has gigged for years on his '20s era Conn 80A "Victor" cornet. I have a pristine 1939 Victor in original frosted and bright silver w/ goldwash bell that is a truly wonderful cornet with an even blow from the petals past its easy Double C!

    Old cornets and trumpets can sometimes be really worn out and surely not worth playing seriously on at a professional level. HOWEVER, a "very low miles" type vintage cornet will amaze you if it is a great model.

    THE KEY . . .
    The key is to find a specimen that was well taken care of (by adult standards) and rarely played. THESE HORNS EXIST and come out of closets after 50+ years on e-bay occasionally. Avoid the ones that are bent, rough or have obvious repairs. These horns will only be liked by your local repair man for the money they'll make off you fixing it up!

    THE CASE . . .
    I love finding a great vintage horn in a great condition original vintage case. These horns were probably bought by adults who babied them or kids who quit really fast. Best is to find a "kit," (a complete instrument with case, original mouthpiece and all original accessories. A fine original case will add about $100 to the value of a great old cornet. Complete accessories? Add another $100 in some instances. No, it won't add $200 to the value of a nice but less desirable make . . . but for the really desirable cornets or trumpets it will!!!

    WHERE YOU LIVE . . .
    I don't know what cornets were most popular where you come from but look and ask around.

    A=440hz (called low pitch) was not standardized until well into the 20th century. However, low pitch was the way most horns were primarily made from about 1900 forward. Beware of turn-of-the-century horns WITHOUT both high and low pitch tuning slides (and in some cases double sets of HP/LP valve slides too). If the original case is obviously missing a set of slides, I'd pass on the horn unless absolutely sure that the slides in the horn were for LOW PITCH!

    "High Pitch" was about a full 1/2 step higher than used today, and high pitch was what was used around 1860-1900 on many instruments. Again, a world-wide standard was not used, to my knowledge, so many bands in the 1860s would have to buy a complete set of instruments from a single manufacturer sometimes!!!

    Usually, many cornets/trumpets made from about 1910-1925 would still offer the high pitch slides also . . . just in case one was playing with some musicians using 30-40 year old horns that might be in high pitch.

    BTW, my 1911 Boston 3-Stars (I have two) have both high pitch and low pitch main tuning slides. Unless I ever possibly play with an entire group of instruments made in the mid-late 1800s I'll NEVER need the high pitched slide.

    Hope this helps a little!


    Tom Turner

    JACKKANSTUL Pianissimo User

    Or all you have to do is get one of my father's brand new 1530 cornets. Some of the finest players in the world have recorded on this instrument. But for that information you'll have to call or email me.

    To The Cornet-It has a sound very similar to the 1500A trumpet. (You'll have to call or email to find out why on that one also)

    Jack Kanstul

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