Bell Flares

Bells for Ricco Kühn horns are made by a spinning process on mandrels of their own design.

Different shapes and special manufacturing technologies offer individual characteristics in response and sound, suitable to the different horn models.

When the same metal and bell size is used, horns with hand-hammered bells have a somewhat lighter response, are reacting more sensitive and admittedly, sound somewhat brighter in ff. Horns with spun bells have a somewhat higher but at the same time agreeable resistance, the sound is fuller and in ff firmer.

Both manufacturing methods have their advantages depending on model and bell size.

On some models, it is possible to supply bells with a gusset inserted. This even more expensive technology enables the production of hand-hammered bells that are almost the same thickness right up to the rim. This means it is possible to make them with very thin walls and yet still retain sound stability in ff.

We use four sizes of horn bells, which we make in different thicknesses and designs depending on the model.

Size ML(1-3)

That complete new developed medium large bell is designed for using three different bell flares with the same throat. With that, each horn model is useable in a wide range of sound. Compared with the former ML bell, the throat is slightly smaller and the bell flare is curved smoother. The sound is more flexible, nevertheless focused and safe.

The new ML bell is used for model W 293 since end of 2017. In the meantime, almost all single horns and double horn models are made with that bell. 

Here an overview of the three size of the new ML bell flares:

ML1: clear sound in the high, offers a typical horn sound also in piano, recommended for chamber  

          music or as descant bell for Bb/highF or triple horns

ML2: universal bell flare for all horns models, in all ranges very even, maybe a bit more resistance   

          than ML3, recommended for W 273/ W 283

ML3:  very nobly sound in the low, easy response, warm sound in piano and mezzoforte, good   

          focused in forte, recommended for model W 293/294.

size ML(X)

The ML bell was the most used bell for Ricco Kühn horns until 2018.

The size and the design of that bell is still a really successful construction, in points of respond, playability, focusing an carrying of sound.

size L:

This is the original size of the Reissmann/ Börner models. The design corresponds with a large Vienna form or later bohemian models. In difference to U.S. L size bells, this bell has a larger shank and the flare is build slimmer.

Particularly the sound in lower and middle range is fantastic. In the higher range there’s an easy response with a safe tone but also more sensitivity on hand position.

Currently the L bell is used for the W 293-L “Reißmann” only. 

size M

Currently, the lightly smaller medium bell is used for children-horn only.


For some horn models it can make really good sense to try a bell with a garland. Unlike with trumpets the effect of a garland on a horn bell is not easy to describe. A garland affects the weight and the way a bell resonates i.e. both its response and sound.

A garland makes good sense for thin hand-hammered bells which sound too bright in ff otherwise. If you want a somewhat more powerful and centered sound with your standard bell you could try a garland on a standard bell.

But as a basic principle the bell should fit the horn. Usually you can achieve similar results using different bells without garlands.


All Ricco Kühn models are built using valve sets made by Meinlschmidt. Over our many years of close collaboration we have developed precisely tuned valve sections for each model.

Some of the valve sections for our “Custom” models in particular are of very complex construction.

Numerous innovations such as the small, lightweight switch valves with full tubular cross-section, special air passages for the triple horn valves, light and yet very stable linkages and – last but not least – the lubrication groove, are the result of this intense collaboration.

For some horn models we still use string linkages only. Although modern double ‘Minibal’ linkages are very precise and true there is still something to be said for string linkages.

String linkage:            

Advantages: even pressure along the line; no mechanical

noise when the string is taut; lever heights simple to adjust

Disadvantages: strings require more attention; they need to be replaced regularly (at least once a year and as soon as any wear is detected); loose strings produce indirect pressure; string mechanisms take up more space in the horn

Mechanical linkage (Minibal):

Advantages: mechanically very robust; it wears very little; when the correct oil is used there is no mechanical noise; it requires less space in the horn

Disadvantages: pressure is somewhat firmer but very direct; the height of the levers is dictated by the length of the metal arms; lubrication required

Tuning Slides

As usual in the construction of modern horns all valve extensions are made a bit shorter than theoretically necessary. Depending on the position of the right hand in the bell and personal habits as mouthpiece and kind of playing there is no one correct length possible.

As a starting value for pulling your valve slides we recommend these values (443Hz):

F/Bb main slides                                             appr. 1.0cm (0.39 in.)

main slides F/Eb alto                                      appr. 0.5cm (0.2 in.)

additional slides F/Bb                                     appr. 0.5cm (0.2 in.)

valve slides Bb horn                                       appr. 0.5cm (0.2 in.)

valve slides F horn                                          appr. 1.0cm (0.39 in.)

valve slides F alto/Eb alto horn                       appr. 0.3cm (0.12 in.)


Over the years Ricco Kühn has developed many different leadpipes.

There are currently three sizes of leadpipe in use for the ‘big’ horns and other models are used for the descant horns. Altogether there are seven different cones available. However these are only used sometimes for individual models or for tuning models made by other manufacturers.

Unlike with trumpets however it makes little sense to try different leadpipes on mature models. The leadpipe in a horn is much more part of the instrument than part of the mouthpiece. Nevertheless it is possible to meet individual requests.

Mouthpieces should fit in the mouthpiece receiver between 17 and 21mm (in theory, the aperture should be 19mm). It is possible to customize mouthpiece receivers.