So it was with a predisposition towards dismissiveness that I recently played an Edgware dating from about 1949 (if the serial number chart I checked is to be believed). The particular model I played was in excellent condition. The keys were beautifully preserved, and my general impression was that this horn had either barely been played, or wonderfully restored recently--perhaps both. Having said that, the keywork was not the standard of a top professional horn.
Of all registers, the Edgware chalumeau betrays its "student" status most. Comfortable, easy to blow, and somewhat open, the main problem is a lack of depth, power, and character to the sound when compared with a vintage Selmer or Fritz Wurlitzer (whose chalumeau is perhaps unsurpassed for power and timbral palette). Still, it yields a good, solid sound with considerable body--more than I expected, but difficult to project.
The first nice surprise was the clarion. On this particular horn, the clarion matched the chalumeau better than many Buffet R-13s I've played. Keep in mind that my biggest criticism of the average R-13 is the timbral shifts between every register (and many in the altissimo). The Edgware's smoothness would make some sense of players preferring it as a primary jazz horn--especially if they are coming to it from Buffets. Oddly enough, the higher I climbed on this horn, the better and more professional it sounded. Which brings me to the...
Who would have though that a student horn could handle real altissimo playing? Yet the Edgware does. The altissimo on this horn is very close to a good Selmer. Flexible, with good punch to the sound, this a horn to be reckoned with.
So it is with a certain amount of surprise that I now say, if you are a doubler looking for a jazz horn with a very limited budget, give the Boosey & Hawkes Edgware a try. They are by far he best student level horn I've played, and the altissimo handles better than many contemporary pro models.