French Horn Buying Guide

An orchestra or ensemble is made up of many different instruments, all equally wonderful and essential. However, the French horn is second to none when it comes to uniqueness. The sound of a French horn is at once regal, recognizable, and warm. It lends a wonderful “golden” feeling to any piece of music. It’s a wonderful addition to any genre as well – everything from jazz, to classical, to contemporary standards.

If you’ve been a French horn player for some time, then it’s only natural that you’d be considering the purchase of your own instrument. However, it’s one thing to know that it’s high time you stopped renting or borrowing and purchased a French horn of your own. It’s quite another to understand everything that goes into a smart and sensible buying decision. Let’s take a closer look at some of the principles you should be considering when choosing an instrument to invest in.

Where to Buy Your French Horn

When it comes to checking out potential instruments to buy, you have a couple of options at your disposal these days. Each has its own unique advantages and drawbacks. You can go the traditional route and purchase from a brick and mortar store. This option will allow you to get up close and personal with each of the instruments you’re considering. You’ll get to hold them, feel their weight, and even play them to test their tone. You’ll have easy access to shop attendants that can advise you on your purchases as well.

However, you also have the option of buying your new French horn from an online vendor. While you won’t get to take the instrument for a test run first, you will most likely have a greater selection to choose from. You may be able to find the instrument you’re looking for at a lower price than you’ll find in the brick and mortar shops to boot. However, before you buy online, it’s important to make sure that you are certain about the decision you’re making. Some people like to do their browsing offline to begin with and then finalize their purchase online for that reason.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your French Horn

Like all musical instruments, French horns are so much more than just a product. Today’s offerings are what they are as a result of years of craftsmanship and history. That said, they’re quite varied. Every musician has to decide for himself which of the many options available to him will best fit his needs. Make sure you take the following factors into consideration when deciding on your final purchasing decision.

Experience Level
Some French horns are just fine for beginners or first time students that are just now learning the ropes. However, others represent more of an investment and are best suited to very serious and experienced French horn players.

Beginners that are interested in purchasing their own French horn should opt for the single horn option, as opposed to a double horn. A single horn involves only three valves, as compared to the double horn’s four. A three-valve horn is not only easier to play when you’re just starting out, but it’s simpler to maintain as well. Wait to invest in a more complicated four-valve model until you’re more seasoned and/or absolutely certain you’re ready to think of yourself as a serious French horn player.

Brand Name
You already know that brand names matter when it comes to other purchases – everything from blue jeans, to automobiles, to carpeting. The same principle apply to musical instruments, including French horns.
Make sure you give the heaviest degree of consideration to tried and true brand names like Yamaha, Conn, or Holton when considering French horns to invest in. If you find a particular option from an unknown vendor that seems like an unusually wonderful deal, resist the urge to put your money down right away and do your homework first. Research the brand, as well as the model you’re considering. See what other consumers had to say about their experience with the product before you spend your own hard-earned cash.
It also pays to ask other people you personally know for their recommendations. Ask your music teacher or the owner of a local musical instrument shop what they recommend for someone of your skill level.

Custom Built or Factory Made
Depending on your experience level, you’ll also want to consider whether you want a factory made French horn or a custom-built option. For most people’s needs, a factory-built horn will more than suffice, especially if it comes from an excellent manufacturer. However, experts and professionals may decide that they’d fare better with something custom built at some point.

Take Your Budget into Consideration

As much as other factors are important when it comes to the process of choosing a French horn, it’s impossible to gloss over the subject of budget. At some point you’ll have to consider what you’re willing to spend on your horn, but if you’re like most, you’ll want to save as much money as possible.

Beginners, students, and casual players might want to consider looking into their options when it comes to previously owned French horns. French horns hold up well over time, so if you’re careful to purchase instruments from well-known manufacturers and from people that took good care of their instruments, they can represent an excellent way to get a higher quality instrument for much less.

Only purchase used French horns in cases where you can personally evaluate the instrument. Alternatively, you can buy from a reputable instrument dealer that you really trust to sell you good quality instruments for fair prices. If you’re unsure as to how to evaluate the instrument on your own, take an instructor or a more experienced musician with you to help you with the process.

At the end of the day, choosing the right French horn for your needs is far from impossible. It just takes a little education, time, care, and consideration.