*
banner

Instrument review: Besson BE120 Prodige cornet

The student model market place is highly competitive, so has Besson struck the right balance on cost and quality with its revamped and upgraded 'Prodige' cornet?


The student instrument market place has been revolutionised in recent years. 

In particular, lower production costs in China and India and the advent of direct on-line sales have made it highly competitive.

Customers have become better informed and financially savvy.  When looking to purchase an instrument that forms the important development bridge between the beginner and the established player, they are now led as much by price as they are by comparative build quality and inherent musical characteristics. 

Buying culture

Like washing machines and televisions, it has led to a different type of buying culture – one far removed from the traditional reputational consumerism of years past.  

The main instrument makers now sit side by side with ‘own brand’ retailer imports. Then of course there is the second hand market place to consider - from ‘Cash Converter’ stores to long established retailers and private sellers. 

Like washing machines and televisions, it has led to a different type of buying culture – one far removed from the traditional reputational consumerism of years past.  

If you want something cheap, but are not worried too much about long term durability then there is plenty to choose from – with ticket prices to match.  If however you are looking for something that places a premium on quality then that adds to the bottom line at the checkout.

Into all of this Besson has reintroduced its revamped student entry level model.  


Rebranded and revamped

What was the 1000 series and BE1020 has now become the 120 New Standard ‘Prodige’ – updated and upgraded (Besson now has direct factory control), rebadged and rebooted to appeal to customers willing to place a greater emphasis on quality rather than price alone.

So is there substance and value behind the new product line (which also encompasses trumpet, horn, baritone, euph, tenor trombone and tuba)?

Well tailored looks

Besson has always retained a sharp eye for good looks (think of the frosted 180th anniversary instruments and the tasteful gold trappings on the marquee ‘Prestige’) and the ‘Prodige’ cornet certainly cuts a well tailored aesthetic line. 

Besson
Well tailored lines

Elegant robustness

Compact and balanced, it has is an elegant robustness to its build quality.

The slides fit snugly into place and the first slide saddle push and the adjustable third slide ring push triggers work well, although perhaps a first slide trigger (much like that on the Sovereign 924 G soprano) would be a better option.

The stainless steel top-sprung valves are slick and facile and the valve tops and bottoms, waterkeys, lyre screw and mounting certainly feel as if they will do the job intended for more than just a few months. 

Compact and balanced, it has is an elegant robustness to its build quality. 

The instrument we had came in excellent silver plate finish - although it is also available in clear lacquer.  

Besson has long prided itself on the traditional ‘British’ tonality of its instruments - clear, defined and rounded. 


The Besson looks to balance build quality and price

Rewards

Although the ‘Prodige’ is a medium bore instrument (.460”/11.68mm) we found it free blowing, especially in the lower and middle register (the upper register is understandably a little more restricted).  That rewards solid technique; producing a warm, well centred sound that has flexibility.  

Youngsters will of course try and occasionally overload it, but that’s not a bad thing when exploring things as a developing player.

The instrument can take a bit of volume abuse without screaming too shrilly. At the other end of the spectrum it also retains centred warmth when the carpet slipper dynamics are required.

The instrument can take a bit of volume abuse without screaming too shrilly.     

Intonation was admirably accurate throughout the range – although judicious use should be encouraged of both the push triggers down around the plimsoll line of the stave.

Customer aim

As for value for money?

This is an instrument aimed at a customer who wants to pay for high quality spec and build.   

It is also one that you suspect will appeal to those familiar with the Besson brand and feel they are also investing in the young player themselves.  

Besson is very good at promoting a lineage ‘brand loyalty’ - and if the player is already showing signs of a longer term commitment to playing rather than an occasional Saturday morning hobby, then the next step up in a few years time is to the ‘Sovereign’ and ‘Prestige’ models.

Besson is very good at promoting a lineage ‘brand loyalty’ - and if the player is already showing signs of a longer term commitment to playing rather than an occasional Saturday morning hobby, then the next step up in a few years time is to the ‘Sovereign’ and ‘Prestige’ models.

That ‘branding’ has been cleverly enhanced here – not just with the quality and looks but even with the excellent case (although any mutes need to carried separately) – which is really well padded, robust but light, with two separate pockets for accessories and shoulder strap with plenty of room for A4 size music.    


Added extras...

There is also a bottle of valve oil, cleaning cloth, white gloves (just in case you need to do some part time snooker refereeing) and maintenance manual and guarantee.

There was no lyre though and the mouthpiece that comes with it is a bit like having a spare key for the car – only needed in emergencies.

A good quality Denis Wick 4 or 4B for instance makes all the difference. 

Bang in the middle

As for price?

If you shop around you can certainly save yourself a fair bit, with retailers all cutting margins to encourage customers to part with their cash.

For those firmly placing an emphasis on cost then the likes of the Sonata student cornet at around £160, or Elkhart’s 100 series at roughly £200, offer cut-price options. 

The Odyssey ‘Debut’ cornet is about the same mark, whilst the John Packer JP071 and JP171SW come in at around £170 to £250 respectively.

Updated and upgraded, rebadged and rebooted, Besson has given its rivals in the student market place plenty to ponder.

Further up the price ladder and you are looking at the Jupiter JCR700Q which is about the £520 mark or Yamaha’s YCR-2330III which retails around £540.

The ‘Prodige’ has been neatly slipped in at around £350 (silver plate).

That’s right bang in the middle for an instrument that offers a great deal of quality for the price. 

Updated and upgraded, rebadged and rebooted, Besson has given its rivals in the student market place plenty to ponder.


Technical specifications:
Further information: https://www.besson.com/en/instruments/cornets/prodige-be120/

Key: Bb

Bore: .460" / 11,68 mm
Bell: Yellow brass 5" / 121 mm

Valves: 3 Stainless steel top sprung pistons
Waterkeys: 2 lever-style forged

Weight : 2lb, 2oz (950g)

Features:
Shepherd's crook
1st valve thumb saddle
Adjustable 3rd valve slide ring stop

Single soft compact case, valve oil, cleaning cloth
Finish: Clear lacquer or silver-plated

Models:
BE120-1-0: Clear lacquer
BE120-2-0: Silver-plated

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    



Black Dyke Band - Cory - Brass on Sunday Gala Concert

Sunday 13 September • Symphony Hall, Broad Street, B12EA


Black Dyke Band - Swiss Nationals Gala Concert

Saturday 19 September • KKL, Europaplatz 1, 6005 Luzern, Switzerland 6000


Contest: scaba Own Choice Test & Hymn tune

Sunday 27 September • The Hawth in Crawley, West Sussex RH10 6YZ


Contest: Swiss National Championships

Saturday 28 November • Stravinski Hall, Montreaux. Claude-Nobs 5, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland 1820


Contest: Swiss National Championships

Sunday 29 November • Stravinski Hall, Montreaux. Claude-Nobs 5, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland 1820


Cheltenham Silver Band

July 9 • Cheltenham Silver Band is a 3rd section band looking for a new Musical Director.. We would like an enthusiastic conductor who will work closely with the band, committee and the training band MD to foster an enjoyable, supportive and creative atmosphere.


Newbridge Band

July 5 • Newbridge Celynen Brass Band are a 4th section band based in South Wales who have vacancies for the following seats:. . Front Row Cornets, Horns. Baritone, Euphonium. Bb Bass, Eb Bass. Tuned Percussion


Chadderton Band

July 3 • Chadderton Band is a non-contesting band playing at various events throughout the year. We are a friendly band looking for players of all ages and abilities on all sections EUPH and percussion. Come along to one of our rehearsals most welcome.


Duncan A. Beckley

BA, MA
Conductor, adjudicator, band trainer and teacher


               

 © 2020 4barsrest.com Ltd