Choosing a French Horn
The proper selection of a quality French horn is a major consideration in the student's progress as a player. There are two major categories of French horns: the single and the double. A third type, the triple, is sometimes used as well. Normally the beginning students will start out on a single horn and progress to the double horn as they improve.
As with all instruments, there are different levels of quality and features on French horns. When selecting a horn, look for the following:
High quality brass – Japanese & German forged brass is the best. Also look for good fit & finish. Try to avoid instruments with poor soldering – joints where pieces are connected should be smooth and seamless. Avoid instruments that have a textured finish (the finish will look like the outside of an orange – not to be confused with matte finishes), and worn areas if you are purchasing a used instrument. Try to gently wiggle the underside of the rotors where you’ll find the stop screw. It should be tight. If there is any play, the instrument is either poorly maintained or the rotors are worn.
Tuning slides that fit firmly but still pull out smoothly – improperly fitting slides prevent correct intonation and may even prevent a sound from being produced at all. Firmly fitted slides are essential for the instrument to respond to its fullest potential.
Valves that rotate quietly and smoothly – smooth valve action is essential to optimal technique in rapid passages as well as response in slow solo lines.
The instrument should be responsive in all registers – the horn should play easily and cleanly from the low notes to the high notes at any volume level.
We at Summerhays Music Center have spent many years developing relationships with major French horn manufacturers throughout the world. As a result, we are able to provide our customers with a wide variety of horns of the highest quality and accommodate any budget. An experienced French Horn Specialist is on staff for consultation and to help in the selection process.