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8 years 3 months ago - 8 years 3 months ago #1574 by Brandon Corfield
Hello all,

This is my first post. Just a bit of background; I've been playing horn for roughly 4 years now, around grade 4/5 and looking to upgrade my instrument. I bought a second hand King double about 2 years ago, and am now looking to get a new instrument of my own (I know the merits of buying second hand, but I'm set on buying new in this case).

My question is about choice of material, and bore size. From what I know, nickel silver with a large bore offers the darkest sound, whilst yellow brass with a small bore will give the brightest. I play mostly in a community orchestra of between 12 and 16 instruments so it wouldn't be appropriate for me to get a particularly loud horn (I've heard Conn are one of the major brands who manufacture 'big' sounding horns), but on the other hand the main quality of the French horn I want is a thicker, more mellow 'horn-like' sound.

So basically:

1: Is there a combination of material and bore size which would achieve a mellow tone which isn't too strong/loud?
2: Are there any particular brands that fit what I'm looking for?
3: Am I overthinking this!!?

Thanks in advance

Last edit: 8 years 3 months ago by Brandon Corfield.

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8 years 2 months ago - 8 years 2 months ago #1577 by Chris Crawley
Replied by Chris Crawley on topic Brand/Alloy/Bore?
This is a problematic area. You say, ".... nickel silver with a large bore offers the darkest sound..." but some disagree, saying that nickel gives a bright sound. Certainly the wide bore gives a big sound and some would say the nickel adds a little hardness, thus compensating for a certain lack of focus. The Conn 8D certainly has a reputation as a big-sounding horn and some Holtons similarly so. I've always thought that gold brass, as we call it over here, or "rose" brass for you over there, gives the darkest sound.

As for small bore instruments, I don't think these are made any more - the description applies to historical instruments often referred to as "pea-shooters". The choice is really between various bell tapers that would be described as large, or even extra-large, and medium (e.g. Alex 103).

For chamber music, players sometimes prefer a narrower bore for a relatively smaller, more focused sound. However, there are other issues. A wide bore typically has low resistance and needs a lot of air to fill. A narrower bore has considerably more resistance. Some players adjust well to more resistance, but it's not for everyone. (Incidentally, the King you have may be very free-blowing, especially if it's the Eroica.)

Are you over-thinking this? Possibly. The best advice is to try different horns. This may be easier with second-hand instruments, even if you buy new eventually. Take the horns to your community orchestra and to your teacher and involve him/her in the process. Ultimately, however, you - and you alone - have to be comfortable with the horn you end up with.
Last edit: 8 years 2 months ago by Chris Crawley.

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8 years 3 weeks ago #1582 by
Replied by on topic Brand/Alloy/Bore?
I think Chris "hit it on the head." You need to try a variety of horns before you purchase.

I would really consider looking at bell throat size. The big "American" sound comes from the large bell throats. Bore size is getting to be pretty standard these days. Conn/UMI uses a .468 and Yamaha uses a .472 (last I looked). As for nickel vs brass -- that's a personal taste issue. Things seem to be swinging towards brass lately, but again, it's up to your preference.

Merker 189/King Eroica -- extra large bell throat
8D/668/Holton 179 -- large
9D/11D, 667 -- medium
10D -- small

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