Double Cornet in Eb/Bb with Echo Bell
I'm extremely fortunate to have a few customer who enjoy unusual instruments as much as I do (Tom Meacham in this case) and are willing to pay me to take on unusual jobs. This is an all new instrument and an improvement of a double echo cornet that I had made a few years earlier. It is German silver with engraved Sterling silver trim. The bore measures .460", allowing me to utilize mass produced crooks and slide tubing. The open bell was supplied by Zig Kanstul after testing many for acceptable acoustics in both Eb and Bb. I had to make the echo bell myself, of course.
All six of the valves had to be custom built just for this instrument. I started with the advantage of having been given the remaining stock from Bernie Marston who made all the rotary valves for Olds in the 1950s and early 1960s. Included was dozens of various French horn valve assemblies in all states of completion. Most of the casings were drilled and threaded but without the knuckles silver soldered in place yet. I was able to place the knuckles at the exact angles and spacing that I needed for this project. For the three change valves, I shorted the double casings to single, retaining the threaded ends. I was also able to use the partially made change rotors by cutting the same end off and silver soldering new stem and bearing on. I then silver soldered the knuckles in place in the casings to fit the layout of my design. Engineering the valve levers to fit both the compact design of the tubing and to conveniently fit the hands was a little bit of a challenge. It is fairly comfortable to hold, but rather a heavy cornet.
The three main valves function the same as in a double French horn, the lever for the left thumb changing the pitch from Bb to high Eb and switching to the shorter valve slides at the same time. The sixth valve, actuated by the right thumb, switches from the open bell to the muted or "echo" bell. Unlike the common echo bells seen on historic cornets, I provided a sliding tube inserted in the sounding end. This functions the same as in a Harmon mute, giving different timbres, depending on being fully inserted, extended or removed.
To tune this cornet, the player would first tune the Eb cornet by setting the sliding mouthpipe shank. Then the Bb cornet is tuned with the long slide that is seen between the mouthpipe and first valve assembly. There is a second Bb slide on the opposite end of the valve section which is used primarily for convenience of cleaning and oiling. Lastly, the echo bell is tuned with the short slide with pull ring that is situated between the valve levers and valve slides.