Boasting a history that goes back 4000 years, the cornet is an integral part of any brass band. It can also be seen within windbands and occasionally in orchestras as well. Given its popularity, it is an interesting choice for young enthusiasts looking to play a brass instrument. Ideally, it should be a precursor to the somewhat larger trumpet since it is smaller in size but shares the same fingering as the trumpet. Being physically shorter in length, it is a more suitable instrument for shorter arms.
The best cornet suitable for any player will depend on their skill level. For instance, the standard Bb model is recommended for first time players until they can upgrade their skills to playing the even more compact and niche Eb soprano version. That is why when choosing a cornet, it becomes important to look at its important features including the pitch, material and finish, bore size, weight and warranty information. These will help you find a piece that complements your skill level and the kind of sound you are trying to achieve.
Top 5 Cornets Review 2020
To help you out with the choice of finding the best cornet, we have put together a list of the five best products according to performance and feature ranking in the table below. To get a better idea of what each piece has to offer, look at our in-depth product reviews and then read on to find out everything you need to know in our comprehensive cornet buying guide.
RS Berkeley CR614 – Editor’s Choice
- Key: Bb
- Material and finish: yellow brass, silver plated
- Bore size: .470’’
- Weight: 4 lbs
- Warranty: not specified
More features: case and mouthpiece included, 5’’ bell, monel piston valves, trigger slide adjusted 1’st and 3’rd valves
The RS Berkeley CR614 is an intermediate-level silver-plated cornet. The silver plate gives a strong, firm tone when played. As this is an intermediate leveled instrument, you can expect quality materials to be used in this cornet.
The bore is sized .470 inches, narrow for the right mellow tone to create. The bell is made out of yellow brass, 70% copper and 30% zinc. Together, they help create a decent bright tone when used. The yellow brass effect also stretches to the leadpipe which helps contribute to the pleasant bright tone. This cornet has Monel piston valves, the first and third valves triggering slide adjustments.
Included in the purchase of this cornet are a mouthpiece, customary case made specifically for the cornet, premium valve oil for maintenance, and an inclusive cleaning cloth. The casing is plush lined, fabric covered, and comes in a backpack style for easier carriage.
The magnitude of this instruments deep, dark, mellow sound does not stop at its voice, but extends to its appearance, which makes it the Best All Around Cornet. With a fine, silk silver finish, this piece is made to impress with its looks.
There are two water keys on this cornet for an efficient cleaning and maintenance. This model is a Shepherd’s Crook style.
In its performance, there’s no competition for its quality. What makes this cornet irritable is the exclusive audience that can get it. It’s very limited in stock and hard to get online.
- Comes with accessories
- Clean, alluring appearance
- Quality intermediate level instrument
- Very few in stock
Blessing BCR-1230 – Best Student Cornet
- Key: Bb
- Material and finish: yellow brass, lacquer
- Bore size: .460’’
- Weight: 3 lbs
- Warranty: 3-years limited
More features: 4.8’’ bell, 1’st valve slide hook, stainless steel valve, case and mouthpiece included
A helpful instrument to adjust to if you’re new at playing the cornet, this is the best student cornet to purchase. It’s styled in a Shepherd’s Crook design. Since this model is smaller and more compact than a trumpet, it’s perfect for smaller hands.
As a base, this cornet provides users with a simplistic warm, colorful tone to understand in their first steps. It is a suitable instrument for building a strong foundation of understanding brass concepts and maintenance.
This BCR-1230 cornet is made to replicate the size and fitting of a professional cornet while still remaining child-friendly and easy to comprehend. Made from yellow brass, this cornet withholds a calming brilliant tone when played. This tone is level and easy to work with, especially at a beginner’s level.
The diameter of the bore is .460 inches and it has a bell diameter of 4 inches. The yellow brass parts are the lead pipe, body, and two-piece bell. As a customizable benefit, you get either a lacquer or silver-plated finish based on your preference.
Included is a 5c cornet mouthpiece. It comes with a wooden case with leather cushioning for your cornet pieces. The valves are made out of stainless steel, and first valve saddle. There’s a fixed third slide finger ring. There’s an included valve oil with this purchase.
For complaints, the finish on top of this cornet comes off quite easily. The lacquer is much more delicate and comes off when not cleaned normally and properly. The silver-plated finish comes off after much more time than the lacquer finish, but once more, if it’s not taken care of properly it can come off and ruin the sound of the cornet.
- Perfect for students/beginners
- Imitates the build of a professional cornet
- Comes with accessories
- Finishes can come off easily
Yamaha YCR-2310III – Best Professional Cornet
- Key: Bb
- Material and finish: gold brass, gold lacquered
- Bore size: .459’’
- Weight: 6 lbs
- Warranty: 5-year limited
More features: two-piece bell, monel alloy pistons, third tuning slide with fixed finger ring, thumb saddle on first sliding tuning, mouthpiece and case included
Yamaha makes game with this exquisite cornet piece for professional players and beginners alike. With an elongated Shepherd’s Crook design, and a newly designed rounded lead pipe, this model takes an interesting twist on your standard cornet.
The bore measures .459 inches in diameter, the bell 119 mm for the optimal vibration with material thickness. The bell is two-pieced and finished with a gold coating. There are Monel alloy pistons, newly designed piston buttons for uniqueness as well as bottom caps. The thumb saddle is located on the first tuning slide. The fixed finger ring can be found on the third tuning slide.
The finish on this cornet is a lacquered gold for the fine appearance and high-quality tone, which is why this cornet from Yamaha is nominated as the best professional cornet. The materials used inside of this cornet specifically are; brass, gold brass and gold lacquered. All of these together yield the deep, smooth tone that is cherished by professional musicians.
Included in the primary purchase of this cornet come the mouthpiece and a case. This affordable instrument is eye-catching and reliable for your musical projects and work.
The only complaint with this cornet is that it’s quite heavy due to the added weight near the bell of the cornet. Granted, it does not reach the weight of a trumpet, but it still nears the heavier scale for cornets.
- Professional grade golden lacquered finish
- Unique design
- Accessories inclusive in purchase
- Heavier than other cornets
John Packer Smith Watkins JP171SW – Best Silver Plated Cornet
- Key: Bb
- Material and finish: brass, silver plated
- Bore size: .460’’
- Weight: 8 lbs
- Warranty: 2-year limited
More features: case and mouthpiece included, first and third slide rings, monel piston valves
Specialized John Packer model JP171SW presents its finest quality as the heavy-duty, silk-like silver-plating which is why it fits best as the best silver-plated cornet.
The cosmetics on this cornet create a very appealing appearance that can attract anyone towards it, but cosmetics can fade. Even if they do, this does not change the sound that comes out of the cornet.
This cornet model is one more popular with students as it helps students understand the basics of using this brass instrument. It’s designed to specifically satisfy the uneducated fingers of new students and musicians. The 3rd valve slide ring and thumb hook are ergonomically placed to make handling this cornet easier and more comfortable in longer practice periods.
The tone is modest and attractive, one that coordinates with the capability of young students. The semi-large bore offers a good resistance for new students to practice with.
The casing that comes with this is styled as a backpack, including shoulder straps. It has an outer pocket for music sheets, a mouthpiece quality Ultra-Pure valve oil and a guide for the maintenance of this piece.
Constructed from yellow brass for a mellow, bright tone, this cornet is best for standard beginners to learn to love their instruments.
The only problem associated with this instrument is the high maintenance needed to take care of the silver-plated finish. Silver finishes are generally harder to take care of which can make cleaning them a bit of an issue.
Especially for beginners, the idea of a high maintenance instrument is not a very attractive one.
- Beginner friendly for new students
- Ergonomic design
- Accessories inclusive
- High maintenance instrument
Ravel RCR102 – Budget Pick
- Key: Bb
- Material and finish: yellow brass
- Bore size: .460’’
- Weight: 6 lbs
- Warranty: not specified
More features: nickel tuning slides, case and mouthpiece included
To conclude, there is the budget pick of the list, the Ravel RCR102 Cornet. This cornet has a very bright tone that compliments many musicians.
Made from yellow brass, this cornet is standard and perfect for an either experienced or beginner hands in the industry of cornets. The Ravel RCR102 has nickel tuning slides for a smooth and steady performance with quality materials to make the best out of your cornet.
Naturally, this is not a professional grade cornet and there are some drawbacks to the expertise you can apply over this instrument. For the price though, this does pack a decent deal that makes it an intermediate qualified instrument for new and old users alike.
Included in the purchase is a mouthpiece for the cornet, a casing for transportation, and a polish cloth for cleaning and maintenance. The case included with this purchase is not a hard one but a soft case. This may not be pleasing to everyone since this could result in the cornet getting damaged or dented. The valves are made out of Monel alloy for a better, longer-lasting performance.
This is a Shepherd’s Crook styled model cornet with an elongated lead pipe that leads onto the bell. The coating over it is lacquer and easier to maintain, making it a wiser choice for beginner players who still haven’t gotten managing an instrument into their schedule.
Appearances make the best first impression and in Ravel’s case this is no exception. The only problem that hides behind the good looks are the valves, which can be slow in response and in some occasions, a little stiff. There’s nothing a decent oiling can’t fix but since this purchase doesn’t come with any, you’ll have to get the oil on your own.
- Intermediate-grade instrument
- Easy to maintain
- Beautiful appearance
- Valves can be stiff and slow in response
Cornet vs trumpet – know the difference
The main differences between a cornet and a trumpet are the shape. The cornet has a more conical shape than a trumpet and the trumpet is longer and slender.
Cornet, quite similar to the trumpet, is an instrument that is easy to adjust to for both beginners and intermediate level players. These instruments are easier to hold than trumpets.
They sound the same, belong to the same family, and for reference for beginners, can be considered the same instrument.
Cornet playing techniques
The first thing is to know how you hold the cornet. When you first buy your cornet, remove the mouthpiece and practice the placement of your lips over it. The upper should be on the upper part of your mouthpiece and vice versa.
Buzz your lips on the mouthpiece, you should hear a vibrant buzzing noise when you do so. After you’ve created the sound, you can place your mouthpiece back on and practice some notes. Your pointer finger should be on the first key, your middle finger the second, and the ring finger the third. This is the formation of your hands when you play your cornet.
For further breathing tips to get different sounds, here is a video for directions and tips:
Features to consider while buying the best cornet
There are always features to consider when buying any product. In this case, the more selective you become, the better. You want to find the right instrument that speaks to you, not a generic cornet that can work for anybody but specialize to no one.
Consider material and finish
There is a considerable amount of choices when it comes to differentiating cornets through their materials and finish, so this will briefly go through each.
Yellow brass cornets are made 70% copper and 30% zinc, producing a very bright note. Most of the cornets on this list are yellow brass but they also come in combinations.
Gold brass is made out of 85% copper and 15% zinc. These produce the darkest tone.
Rose brass or red brass are made of 90% copper and 10% zinc and make warmer tones.
Nickel-silver is made of 60% copper, 20% zinc, and 20% nickel to produce the warmest of all tones.
Then there are the finishes of your instruments, lacquer, and silver. Lacquer gives you a mellower tone, is easier to take care of but loses its finish quicker. Silver gives you a brighter tone, is harder to take care of but proves to be a long-lasting finish.
The level of the player using the instrument will change priorities and price range drastically. The precision of the sound will not matter much to you if you’re a beginner, you’ll just want something easy to maintain and play and therefore head to the beginner models which are cheaper.
If you’re a dedicated professional in search of a cornet, then everything that can alter the sound to perfection is worth taking into consideration. The craftsmanship and materials are all important factors and must be quality, which is what raises the price tag.
The most professional level cornet on this list is the Yamaha YCR-2310III.
Shape and weight
There are two basic shapes to look for in a cornet. Firstly, there’s the Shepherd’s Crook, which is curved intensely in the region located underneath the bell. The second shape is known as the Trumpet-Style cornet shape and is closely similar to the shape of an ordinary trumpet. The narrow curves underneath the bell help in creating a brighter sound.
The weight of your cornet has to suit you. You don’t want something lopsided when you hold it, nor do you want something so light it feels like you’re holding a toy. The weight can also help add depth to your tones depending on where the weight has been put.
The bore is the diameter of the cornet’s piping interior. The shape of the bore is conical, but the tone created can vary based on how narrow or broad the diameter is. Narrower bores create a mellow sound while broad bores create deep, darker tones.
Monel valves are what you want if you want expertise on your side. These valves combine nickel, copper, and zinc (nickel-silver finish) to make it non-corrosive but do tend to increase the price. If you’re being price-observant, then look for valves with at least a nickel plating.
For standard beginners entering the cornet field, Bb is the ideal choice. When you continue your pursuit with cornets, you can continue on this pitch if you want to enter concert bands, fanfares, or jazz.
Another pitch is the Eb Soprano Cornet. This is a more specialized instrument that can be found in brass bands. This cornet is known a more complex or more intricately tuned adaption of the Bb cornet.
The cornets on this list are all Bb keyed.
The bell size changes the sound of the cornet as well. When the bell is smaller, the concentrated sound is brighter. If the bell is larger in size, then you’ll receive a mellower tone from it.
There are three pieces of the mouthpiece you’ll want to consider.
The cup can either be shallow or deep. Shallow cups produce a very dim tone. The deep cup constitutes a brighter tone and is used more often in beginner and intermediate level cornets.
The rim is where you’ll place your lips. Wider rims are more comfortable for players to adjust to. The narrower rims though, enhance extreme notes and extends the sound range.
The throat is where the volume is controlled and sound is clarified.
Accessories can make maintaining your cornet much easier. You can get a bag to fit your cornet in. You can also get cleaning cloths, valve oil, additional mouthpieces, and brushes.
All cornets come with additional accessories such as cases and mouthpieces.
The warranty will allow you a period of time to test your cornet in all situations important to you. Try for a warranty that can go over a few months, hopefully, a year. Lifetime service is also an ideal deal to tap into.
If you’re looking for a beginner’s model, then you could expect the prices to start at $150. The more professional the models become, the closer to the thousands the prices go.
Cornet maintenance tips
Oiling your valves isn’t hard. You open your valves and place drops of oil inside it. Turn the oil in the valve so it touches all of the sides. Close the valve and repeat for the others.
For greasing the slides, pull them out one by one and grease them gently with a cloth.
This is enough to keep your cornet in check.
The best cornets come with monel valves. These valves are made from a mixture of nickel, copper and zinc. They are preferred because they are less likely to corrode, however, there cost can be prohibitive. At a minimum, try to find instruments that have nickel plating on the valves.
With their more petite size, cornets are easier for beginners to adjust to since these can be handled nicely with one hand controlling the valves. Cornets generally have a more mellow tone than the trumpet which is enjoyable.
There are some personal reasons for people to select either a used or new cornet, but if you want to divulge into the field intensely it’s better to start with a fresh, new cornet.
Simplistic Bb keyed cornets are the best option for beginners, such as the Blessing BCR-1230 with an ergonomic design.
Cornets can be played in jazz, concert halls, brass bands, and in orchestras.
For us, the final choice comes down to the RS Berkeley CR614. As an intermediate level cornet, this satisfies both the beginner and professional players who cherish quality and reliability in all of their instruments. This piece is made to behold and comes with all of the additional requirements needed to properly care for your cornet.
Runner-up to the best cornet is the Blessing BCR-1230 which finds itself in the hearts of students and teachers alike. This cornet is made to compliment the inexperienced hand and teach how to properly use and play a cornet.
And finally, there’s the Yamaha YCR-2310III which is made to impress even the standards of professionals. With a gold lacquered finish and finest quality materials, the emitting tone from this cornet beats the competition and is wholesomely admired.