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Smith Watkins B-flat Cornets - Soloist
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3 16870
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100% of reviewers $2,647.50 9.3


The 'Soloist' Cornet
Same specification as the 'Professional' instrument, but with the unique facility for swapping calibrated leadpipes, enabling changes in musical quality for varying playing styles and environment.
One interchangeable leadpipe is included and others may be tried and purchased at a later date.
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Website: http://www.smithwatkins.com/
Keywords: Smith Watkins B-flat Cornets Soloist
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Review Date: 5/27/2004 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: $2,895.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Hand made product and upper register easier to play
Cons: Don't expect a machine quality finish- its hand made!

When I auditioned the Smith Watkins I started off playing my Yamaha Maestro (an instrument I had played for about 7 years) before moving on to the SW via a flirtation with a Courtois.

My initial impression of the Smith Watkins instrument was how easy it was to hit an A above the staff in comparison to the Yamaha, a known difficult note with the Yamaha instrument.

In comparison to the Yamaha the SW felt very stable. Notes were where you expected them to be. Notes slotted in efficiently and easily. As you went up the register you felt as if you could play higher than ever before and as such the instrument gave you confidence in your own abilities. Possibly makes you a little over confident at times.

While the SW is a large bore instrument it doesn't feel like you need to push a lot of air down it. Which is completely different to my impression of the Courtois. The Courtois made me feel as though I needed another set of lungs.

While this would suggest that the SW has more resistance than a Courois I do not feel that this is detrimental to how the SW plays.

The tone of the instrument is slightly brighter than a Besson but there is not much in it. It is easy to blend the sound in with a section of Bessons.

As I am very much an amateur player I didn't feel that I had the experience or ability to judge the benefits or playing around with the many lead pipe possibilites so I chose a K2 lead pipe. As did the SA staff band. This I feel is a good all round middle of the road instrument which is perfect for a solo cornet in a brass band.

I would beg anyone in the market for a Bb cornet to go out of their way to audition a Smith Watkins instrument even though they could buy a "mass produced" Besson Prestige slightly cheaper. You won't regret the experience of playing on a fine hand made instrument.
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Review Date: 3/17/2007 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Used by NY Staff Band etc...
Cons: ????

I've been looking for several months...almost a year for the right trumpet/cornet. I've printed several reviews and underlined the important aspects of each horn. I have not found one that fits the need. I discussed things on several sites...to no avail...until this evening.

I want the british brass band sound...Salvation Army Bands...

another site had Smith Watkins as what I may be looking for and I looked it up and SEVERAL Staff bands from Salvation army have as their primary instrument, the Smith Watkins...I may have hit pay dirt on the source for my next cornet. No question it's the British Brass Band Sound so like the Salvation Army Music.

I'll keep ya posted at what my next step will be and when...
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Review Date: 3/31/2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: $2,400.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Ease of playing, excellent intonation
Cons: slightly brighter tone than Besson

I have owned and played many cornets, manufactured by Bach, Schilke, Getzen, Besson, Coutois, York, Conn, Benge, Winston, etc.
Most all cornets pale in comparison with the Smith-Watkins cornets. Richard Smith has been designing and producing cornets for 20 years, and understands how to build a cornet which plays exceptionally well, has a rich tone, and is impeccably in tune. Mr Smith designed the Besson Sovereign Cornet Model 928 (0.466 bore) back in the 1980's, which has been the standard cornet owned and played by more people than any cornet in history. His Smith-Watkins line of cornets takes this a step further, by designing a large bore 0.470 instrument together with a choice of leadpipes to suit any player. The cornets play best with a Denis Wick mouthpiece, usually a 4B, 3B, or 2B, but the deeper mouthpieces 4, 3, 2 also play very well with these cornets.
The leadpipes are confusing to many, but only a few really are practical with the large bore model. The K2 leadpipe is offered as the standard leadpipe for brass band playing; it plays very easily in all registers, but is a bit bright in tone. The T0 leadpipe has a richer and slightly darker tone quality, and plays similarly. The T2 is also good, especially for low-register playing, but gives the cornet a very large feel. The G0 leadpipe has the most resistance and is brighter, suitable for solo playing.
Playing a Smith-Watkins Cornet is a unique experience. Immediately one recognizes that this is a skillfully designed and constructed instrument, which plays better than any other cornet. With the K2 or T0 leadpipe, these cornets play easily in all registers, and impeccably in tune; they play as easily as a ML bore instrument, even though they are large bore, due to the leadpipe design. They have a beautiful rich tone quality, suitable for brass band or solo playing.
Lacquer probably gives a darker tone quality, although I recommend getting silver or gold plating for ease of maintenance and longevity of the instrument. The defaut finish is silver.
Although these cornets are manufactured in the traditional brass band cornet style with two triggers, Mr Smith will custom make a cornet with the American configuration of a 1st valve saddle and 3rd valve ring. I recommend the Amato water keys. I really don't recommend the interchangeable leadpipes, because one leadpipe is invariably the best playing, and it is better for one to just try out these cornets and decide which leadpipe is preferred, then get that particular cornet.
With the devaluation of our US Dollar, these cornets are very expensive at present, and it is difficult to find used instruments to purchase. However, at whatever the price, these cornets are worth it. Consider what our violin friends have to pay for their instruments, and our cornets are very cheap in comparison. . .
Ron Phillips at the University of Texas is the USA representative, and will be glad to ship a cornet to you on approval.
Best wishes to you in your cornet playing. You won't regret your purchase of a Smith-Watkins!
Robert Q
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