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Cornets in their standard form are pitched in Bb as trumpets. However they differ from trumpets in that cornets have a conical bore (which gets gradually larger throughout the length of the instrument), where as trumpets have a cylindrical bore (which is the same from lead pipe to the beginning of the bell flair). In addition the different layout and configuration of the instrument allows for a different and distinctive mellow tone.

However, in terms of technical specifications and choices, many of the factors and options discussed in the trumpet section relating to materials, lead pipe, valves and so on equally apply to cornets.

Long/Short Model

In the UK the normal cornet layout is a short model (compact shape with a "shepherd's crook" design). Long model cornets are more "trumpet like" in shape and the norm in the USA. These are seldom seen in Britain and all the models listed are short model.

long and short model cornets


Besson offer their Sovereign and Prestige models in both medium and large bore, however practically every instrument we sell is a large bore model.

Finger Rings and Triggers

To aid in tuning, cornets have finger rings or triggers, which enable the first and third valve slides to be extended. As instruments become higher in specification they move to having one finger ring on the 3rd slide (Elkhart and Jupiter student models), to two finger rings (Yamaha YCR2330), to one trigger on the 3rd slide (Besson 700), to two triggers (Besson Sovereign, Prestige and Yamaha Maestro).


The finish (lacquer or silver) makes little or no difference to the tone of the instrument. We recommend choosing Silver for all Besson products, (as both options are the same price, silver is harder wearing, easier to repair, and less prone to manufacturing defects). For Yamaha instruments we generally recommend choosing lacquer, (as silver comes at a premium, availability can be sporadic and the quality of their lacquer is exemplary).

Eb (Soprano) Cornets

In addition to the standard Bb cornets, Eb (soprano) cornets are also used in brass bands and these are considered separately.