Cornets

Schilke Cornets


Schilke makes eight cornet models. All are traditional shepherd’s crook design, with two models even shorter; five are in B flat, two are in C, and one is in the key of E flat. With the exception of the E flat, which is particularly popular among the brass bands in England, these horns are made in very small quantities, averaging well less than 10 per year.

They are highly regarded, as with other Schilke products, for their response, intonation and ease of playing.

The standard configuration horns in B flat are the following:

  • A1 – Medium large bore, large bell; introduced in 1965
  • A2 – Medium large bore, medium large bell, introduced in 1961
  • A3 – Medium bore, medium large bell, introduced in 1967

The A1 and A2 are identical, with the exception of the bells. Each is a step bore design expanding through a large bore tuning slide, similar to the B1 and B2 B flat trumpets. The A3 is a medium bore horn that expands to a large bore tuning slide bow, similar to the B6 and B7.

Two B flat cornet models are characterized as “English short models” with an even more radical shepherd’s crook and a bell that barely extends beyond the third valve slide. The X series cornets have medium weight copper bells standard.

  • XA1 – Medium large bore, large bell, introduced in 1978
  • XA7 – Medium bore, large bell, introduced in 1981

The XA1 is probably the most popular Schilke B flat cornet. Both are step bore designs, though the XA7 maintains the smaller medium bore through the valve casings. The XA7 is no longer in the catalog though it can be purchased upon special order. The production runs however are so small that the wait could be very long.

Schilke makes two models of C cornets, each made in very small quantities.

  • A2C – Medium large bore, medium large bell, introduced in 1978
  • A7C – Medium bore, large bell, introduced in 1980

The Schilke E flat cornet, which has no model number and is simply called the E flat or soprano cornet, has been the largest selling Schilke cornet, much prized by the English brass bands for its fine intonation and tone quality. It is a striking elegant design. It shares the mouthpipe with the Schilke P5-4 piccolo trumpet, has a 0.450 medium bore with slight expansion at the valve bows, and the small bell it shares with the E3L.

Howard Snell, former principal player with the London Symphony, who earlier had pioneered the use of the Schilke four valve E3L-4, was also present at the creation of the E flat cornet. Dave King, a former Snell student, tells the story of its origins:

I was playing for a brass band called Desford Colliery which was conducted by Howard Snell. At this time the national brass band championships were sponsored by Boosey and Hawkes. Howard had always used a Schilke three valve E flat trumpet in place of a soprano cornet as the tuning was much better. Boosey and Hawkes, fearing that this might catch on and harm sales of their own soprano (which was awful! ) banned the use of trumpets for the championship. Howard then phoned Mr Schilke himself and asked him to build a soprano cornet. Schilke said that he had never tried but would have a go. Nothing more was heard until a year or so later, wrapped up in brown paper and packaging, arrived the little gold plated soprano cornet. It was the finest soprano cornet ever built and Schilke soon started selling one to every major band in the country.

As with the smaller trumpets, many believe the Schilke E flat cornet to be the standard against which all others are measured.