The cornet is a french instrument designed in 1820 by adding rotary valves to a posthorn. 1
You may hear about it with other names like cornett or cornetto, but those 2 are different instruments for the woodwind category. Pronounced kɔrˈnɛt, from the Latin, meaning “horn” and called corneta in Spanish and Portuguese. A person that plays it’s called a cornetist.2
What’s the difference?
A good rule of thumb to distinguish between a cornet, flugelhorn, and trumpet is that the flugelhorn is ⅓ cylindrical and ⅔ conical, the trumpet bore is ⅔ cylindrical and ⅓ conical and the cornet is ½ and ½. The more cylindrical the brighter the sound and the more conical the warmer it is.
The Brass family meaning it makes sound from a vibration on the metal when you blow air.
The types are determined by pitch3:
- Bb: Standard
- Eb: Soprano
Bb is used for most songs and Eb is used for brass bands.
What is an echo cornet?
Is a type of cornet with an extra valve and second bell. It produces an echo effect on the second bell when you press the added valve.
What is a pocket cornet?
Compact cornets that play in the same range as regular cornets even though their size is 7-8 inches (17-20 cm).
The best for you
For a beginner, we suggest a brass Bb cornet since it is the most common variant, with the biggest repertoire of songs, and is easier to start learning.
For kids a plastic cornet can do, since it’s lighter in weight, less expensive, and is able to resist falls better, if the kid is not familiar with music theory you can also try a bugle or a plastic bugle since it doesn’t have valves or keys.
Famous players like James Shepherd and Harbert L Clarke had both Bb and Eb cornets, Halbert’s first cornet was a “Boston Musical Instrument Company” (that’s the name of the brand) that models are considered now outdated, so if you’re going professional, you don’t have any excuse with one of those.
It’s important to mention that you can play the instrument with 1 hand, because you only need that hand to press the 3 valves, so some disable people can still play! it’s also a better option than the trumpet because the cornet is smaller and if the weight is a problem a plastic cornet will do.
Don’t worry about brands and don’t worry too much about models and series. What matters is the store you buy them from, just avoid buying extremely cheap versions with cheap materials, they not only will last very little but won’t sound right since the beginning.
Now that you know, you can check on Ebay here.
Getting it another way
So far we have talked only about the physical instruments, but there are more options than that.
You can get an app for android or ios called virtual trumpet 2, if you want to play for free, right now, but of course, it’s no cornet and it doesn’t have all variants, but it will get you started.
If you are on a computer you can try “ecarddesignanimation trumpet online” on any browser, the website is old and the instrument is not that responsible, but it’s also free and it has preloaded songs that you can autoplay and then try to play yourself with your computer keyboard.
|Variant||Lowest price||Highest price|
|Brass Bb||$130 USD||$550 USD|
|Brass Eb||$1,000 USD||$2,800 USD|
|Plastic Bb||$99 USD||$118 USD|
For example, the cheapest we found was a plastic Bb cornet and the most expensive was brass with silver lacquer, a case, bag, and cleaning kit combo.
|Brass Bb||17 x 10 x 7 In (43 x 25 x 17 Cm)||19 x 13 x 10 In (48 x 33 x 25 Cm)|
|Brass Eb||19 x 7 x 7 In (48 x 17 x 17 Cm)||17 x 11 x 6 In (43 x 28 x 15 Cm)|
|Plastic Eb / Eb||15 x 6 x 5 In (38 x 15 x 12 Cm)||15 x 7 x 5 In (38 x 17 x 12 Cm)|
|Brass Bb||5.8 Lbs (2.6 Kg)||6.3 Lbs (2.8 Kg)|
|Brass Eb||2 Lbs (0.9 Kg)||6 Lbs (2.7 Kg)|
|Plastic Eb / Eb||1.1 Lbs (0.5 Kg)||2 Lbs (0.9 Kg)|
Brass (copper with zinc) and it might have a lacquer (layer) of gold, silver, or steel with some additional painted color on top of it. Material has no effect on sound but it does in price and durability.
How to play – first lesson
The cornet is easy and fast to learn. You start with the embouchure, learn to play each note one by one, some scales and intervals and then you can start learning full songs.
To learn to play each note you need a finger chart (or position chart).
We recommend learning to read sheet music or any of the different notations, (options for learning). Don’t forget all the details that combined make a big difference like the way you hold it, efficient warmups, correct tuning.
“What a waste of time it would be to insist that everyone develop each of the specialties we call upon to an equal level. We’d get bogged down in remedial training programs, trying to get the cornet players up to speed with the computer programmers, sacrificing the tends to be exceptional in so many individual situations in order to be average in all of them.”— Robert Watson