The French horn can trace its origins back to the early 17th century. This instrument is known to be able to produce a wide range of sounds. A French horn can be smooth, blaring, soft, or mellow, because its a very versatile instrument. A standard French horn is 18 feet of tubes that are rolled into a specific, round shape that has a large bell on the end.
French Horns are especially popular in the orchestras because its sounds pair well with many other instruments. It’s not uncommon to find 6 to 8 horns playing harmony, rhythm, and melody.
Picking the best French horn for you can be really difficult if you are not well-versed in the many options that are on the market. In this article, we will explore of the French horn world and we will arm you with all that you need to know about the best French horn brands.
While Mendini, Holton, Jupiter, and Levante are known to make some of the best French horns you can get, Yamaha takes the title of best French horn brand. Yamaha offers an unmatched level of quality with the highest value for your money. The only thing better than a Yamaha French horn would be an expensive, high-maintenance custom solution.
The French horn was extensively used during 20th century to produce some of the best classical music. In more recent times, the French horn can be heard in many film scores.
What Exactly Is A French Horn?
A French horns is a brass instrument that uses acoustics to generate its bold and refined sound. The energy to produce the sound is sourced from the player’s lungs while the lips are used to control it.
The French horn has become much more complex in modern times. This is because as music and technology has evolved, so has the French horn. Each generational iteration of this popular instrument has its own distinct components and plating materials that provide the huge variants in range and tone that the instrument is known for. The most common configuration of the French horn is known as the ‘single French horn.’
These following list is our pick for the top French horns by the best French horn brands on the market:
Top French Horn Brands
Yamaha is well-known for making high quality musical equipment and accessories. So, as you would expect, this company is one of the best French horn brands in the world. Yamaha makes some of the most popular French horns including the 567 and 567D, which are used on college campuses the world over.
Take the Yamaha YHR567/D, for example. This instrument is a full double horn played in the key of F and Bb. Its constructed of yellow brass and has a wide range across all registers and offers excellent tonal flexibility.
Corrosion will never be a problem with a Yamaha brass instrument. This is because the company clads its instruments in nickel and silver. Both of these French horns have a clear lacquer finish, but the 567D is the only one that offers a detachable bell.
Both models have a gold brass body version that has a sophisticated mechanical linkage, while offering a more simple string linkage with the standard body.
Most people would agree that the Yamaha YHR567/D is one of the best French horns that you can get. This is because this instrument is known to be constructed with the utmost attention to detail. Also, the YHR567/D is known to be one of the most versatile French horns available. It’s got some of the best tonal characteristics, and while its not cheap, the asking price is more than fair considering the instrument’s level of quality.
Mendini MFH-20 is one of the most popular French horns you can get, so its no surprise that Mendini is on of the best French horn brands. Mendini is world-famous for making some of the highest quality music instruments. When you buy a French horn from Mendini, you get everything you need: The mouthpiece, a premium case, gloves, and even a tuner.
Like other high-quality French horns, this one is made from a brass construction can last a lifetime. It has a full 12″ bell and has a .450″ bore. This French horn is equipped with three strong rotors, which gives this horn a bold sound that has fantastic projection. So, this makes it great for beginners.
French horns by this brand are considered to be among the most professional you can get.
Holton French horns are just as much a work of art than they are an instrument. Holton is world-renowed French horn brand that has established a name for itself by making some of the top professional French horns that are available. One of these high-quality horns is the Holton H179.
This horn has a .468 inch bore with a bell that measures 12.25 inches. This horn is designed to be able to produce a A445 pitch and includes F and Bb keys. Holton French horns are famous for their ability to produce throaty, deep notes with ease.
Holton is one of the best French horn brands, so any horn that you buy from this company will be able to produce an excellent sound and will have a long lifespan.
Jupiter horns are known for their high level of consistency. This French horn brand makes dependable, high-quality instruments that are dependable and reasonably priced. Jupiter’s JHR1100 is one of their intermediate-focused models, but it features several features that are typically only found on professional French horns.
JHR1100 will produces a rich and full tone thanks to its rose brass lead pipes and lacquered brass body. Its also got tapered rotary valves to make playing a lot easier. Jupiter generally makes horns that have an excellent response and provide one of the best French horn playing experiences that you can get.
Jupiter is a French horn brand that crafts its instrument bodies with pitch accuracy and playability in mind. The JHR1100 is an excellent example of this due to its ability to produce impressive projection and volume. This makes the JHR1100 a fantastic addition to just about any musical ensemble. As an added treat, this horn includes a unique wood carrying case.
Levante is an upcoming brand that took the market by storm with this double French horn. It is an elegant work of art, and it’s almost impossible to go unnoticed with it. The great-sounding instrument provides bright sounding tones, and whether you are a beginner or an advanced learner, you’ll be in safe hands.
The Levante double horn is also very durable. This horns nickel silver slides show that its built to withstand the test of time. Unlike brass, nickel doesn’t corrode nearly as quickly. It has a clear lacquer finish and a relatively standard-sized 12-inch bell. This combination of features gives the LV-HR4525 an excellent volume and outstanding projection.
This horn has a .468″ bore, so there are no problems with airflow resistance here. Another thing players of this horn often exclaim about is its excellent amount of control and intensely precise intonation.
Most beginners are sort-of afraid to learn the double horn. This is because double horn is generally perceived\ as being more difficult to play. This Levante double horn, however, is an exception to this rule. That is because its much lighter than most double horns.
What makes it special? Levante maintains a reasonable price point for this double horn’s top-notch performance and high-end features. It is a pretty solid investment, especially for a beginner or intermediate player. It holds its value superbly over time thanks to its durable nickel silver construction. The sound quality and excellent volume projection makes it a worthy consideration.
It’s not all perfect, though. The bell on this horn does not move, so for some players, that is an area of concern.
6. [BONUS] Custom Horn Brands
If you have anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000 to burn on an instrument, then you could consider a custom-made French horn. When you are paying this much for a horn, you are going to get the best there is. It is important to note, however, that with these expensive horns come the need for extra care in handling and maintenance. This is because a custom French horn is often more delicate than its factory-made counterparts.
Here is a list of a few of the most respected custom French horn brands:
Since many of these horns are handmade by one (or a few) individual(s), the used price can vary from less than to more than the new price. Rauch, for example, recently retired — so his horns will likely appreciate for the foreseeable future. Lewis, Hill and Berg are, I believe, mostly one-person operations and so often have multi-year waiting lists for new instruments, so used horns made by these makers don’t depreciate nearly as quickly (if at all). If you get your hands on one of these — take care of it!
Depending upon the maker and the exchange rate (several of these makers are located outside the US) the new prices for horns by these makers can often exceed $10,000, and many make a wide variety of models. Paxman, Alexander, and Schmid, for example, each make more than 10 models of horns, including single horns, double horns, descant horns, and triple horns, all in a wide variety of materials, configurations, and sizes.
How Heavy is a French Horn?
A single French horn generally weighs about 18 pounds. A double French can weigh as much as 27 pounds. While you may expect a double French horn to weight double as much as a single French horn, its important to consider the fact that not every component is doubled.
The Single French Horn vs Double French Horn
So, what is the difference between a single and double French horn?
Single French Horn
The single French horn has just one tube that is capable of playing a single scale chromatically. You can get them in F horn, the Bb horn, the alto F horn, and alto Bb horn configurations. Complexity is drastically reduced when designing a horn around a single tube. So, a single French horn will always be smaller, lighter, and therefor much more portable the a double horn.
There is, however, a major drawback that comes with using a single tube. A single tube limits a French horns tonal range, so that is why most professional players use a double horn.
Double French Horn
Unlike the single horn, the double French horn makes use of 2 tubes that allow a single instrument to be capable of producing 2 totally different scales. This is made possible by each tube having a different length. The most common configuration for a double horn is the F/Bb horn. In this configuration, one set of tubes is tuned to F while the other is set up for Bb.
There are several other types of double horn, including but not limited to the F/F alto horn, the Bb/F alto horn, the Bb/Eb alto horn, and the Bb/Bb soprano horn.
A double horn different from its single-tubed counterpart by more than just the extended range. One of the other differences is that the double horn is a lot heavier than the single horn. This extra weight comes from the additional tubing that is required to make a double French horn. Because there is more tubing, maintenance is made a bit more time consuming and difficult than compared to a single French horn.
What French Horns Do Professionals Play?
Professionals generally use the Double Bb/F French Horn. This horn is extremely popular among the professional music community because unlike a single horn, a double horn has a large range of options that make ideal as a versatile, professional instrument.
Picking out a French horn can be a difficult process if you have no experience with the age-old musical instrument. There are many options on the market, so having an idea of what each brand brings to the table is a crucial component of the purchasing process.
Holton, Mendini, Jupiter, and Levante really do make some of the best French horns on the market, but Yamaha is hands-down the best option you can go for. This is because the Japanese company offers a level of quality and value for the money that you simply cannot find elsewhere. Sure, a custom solution may sound a little better, but it will also cost a lot more time and money to maintain.
With so many French horn brands out there to choose from, it can be rather difficult finding the best instrument for you. When looking for the best French horn brand, its helpful to know a little bit about the instrument and about the various French horn brands out there. A lot of what makes the best French horn comes down to a players own personal preferences. We hope this article helped you make an informed purchase!