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Help Me Choose a Horn

Help Me Choose a Horn

French horn lying on stones

When you first start looking for a horn, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. Do I want a fixed bell or detachable bell? Yellow brass, gold brass, nickel silver…?

Here are some ideas for where to start your search.

I am a…

We recommend:

Verus Scholar
It’s a 3/4 size horn, light and easily carried by small hands, but still plays well. This is a horn that won’t stand in the way of your advancement as a player.

Schedule an Appointment to try one out, or Contact Us for more information.

We recommend:

Paxman Academy
Light and easy to play.

Paxman Series 4
Singing and responsive with a clear sound.

Verus K
A ringing, colorful sound that projects well. Covered by a 5-year warranty.

Verus V and Verus VG
Free-blowing and robust. Covered by a 5-year warranty.

Fixed bell or detachable bell?
We generally suggest fixed bell horns to younger students. They are more durable because the bell cannot be dropped or misplaced while separated from the horn. There is no need to worry about warping the screw threads while taking the bell on or off.

Older and more responsible students might want to consider moving up to a detachable bell, because unscrewing the bell allows you to fit the horn into much smaller cases. They are much more portable and easy to travel with.

Lacquered or unlacquered?
Some people like lacquered instruments because they maintain that like-new shine for years. Long-term, though, the lacquer will start to wear off and pit and the horn may need to be delacquered.

Many of our professional musicians at Houghton Horns prefer unlacquered instruments because they sound freer and more open. However, an unlacquered instrument will start to tarnish immediately after purchase.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference either way.

Yellow brass, gold brass, or nickel silver?
Gold brass is the softest metal with the most mellow sound. Yellow brass is in the middle, so it’s mellow at softer dynamics but brassy at higher dynamics. Nickel silver is the hardest, brightest-sounding metal, usually found on large horns to balance out the sound. It has the best dent resistance.

This is also a matter of personal preference. Consider asking your teacher for their recommendation, or choosing a metal that best matches the sound of the other musicians in your ensemble.

Schedule an Appointment to try one out, or Contact Us for more information.

We recommend:

Finke Westfalia
Light with a complex sound.

Hans Hoyer G10
A great fusion of American sound and European quality.

Paxman Series 4
Singing and responsive with a clear sound.

Stomvi Elite
European-made quality at an affordable price.

Verus K
A ringing, colorful sound that projects well. Covered by a 5-year warranty.

Verus V and Verus VG
Free-blowing and robust. Covered by a 5-year warranty.

Verus VII
Big, open sound in a compact wrap. Covered by a 5-year warranty.

Yamaha 671D
Compact and colorful sound, backed by Yamaha’s rock-solid reputation.

Fixed bell or detachable bell?
We recommend detachable bell horns for older and more responsible students. There is a higher risk of damage to the bell than with a fixed bell horn, yes, but once a student gets serious about carrying their horn around with them every day a detachable bell horn is much less awkward and bulky to travel with.

Lacquered or unlacquered?
Some people like lacquered instruments because they maintain that like-new shine for years. Long-term, though, the lacquer will start to wear off and pit and the horn may need to be delacquered.

 Many of our professional musicians at Houghton Horns prefer unlacquered instruments because they sound freer and more open. However, an unlacquered instrument will start to tarnish immediately after purchase.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference either way.

Yellow brass, gold brass, or nickel silver?
Gold brass is the softest metal with the most mellow sound. Yellow brass is in the middle, so it’s mellow at softer dynamics but brassy at higher dynamics. Nickel silver is the hardest, brightest-sounding metal, usually found on large horns to balance out the sound. It has the best dent resistance.

This is also a matter of personal preference. Consider asking your teacher for their recommendation, or choosing a metal that best matches the sound of the other musicians in your ensemble.

Schedule an Appointment to try one out, or Contact Us for more information.

We recommend:

Engelbert Schmid “Golden Cut” Double
The most responsive and easiest-to-play horn available.

Finke Legacy
A superb fusion of modern technology and classic design.

Lewis & Dürk LDx5
The perfect fusion of American design and German craftsmanship.

Patterson Geyer R
American-made craftsmanship at its best.

Paxman 20M
Compact British sound.

Paxman Centenary
The pinnacle of British-made quality.

Ricco Kuhn W 293 European Model
Open, pure, compelling sound.

Yamaha 871DU
Big and free-blowing with a colorful sound.

 

Schedule an Appointment to try one out, or Contact Us for more information.

You might find our article “How do I choose a French horn?” helpful.