A Knopf - Yamaha Hybrid Horn

I have always loved the playing qualities of older Knopf horns. They are a close relative to the Geyer / Reissmann horns that are so popular in the US and Europe right now. The only difference being the F extension entry into the first valve (on the right side of both photos below) and the change valve exit branches as shown below ( the left side of both photos ). I also find the Knopf design looks more graceful and aesthetically pleasing.

You can also see that there is a difference in the Bb-1 slide as well. In the top photo, the Geyer horn has a traditional Bb-1 design. It is hidden below the F-1 slide. The lower photo has the design used by Yamaha and others to make the Bb-1 slide to the right of the first valve. The advantage to this design is that the Bb return branch is about 3.5" shorter on this version. This gives you another 3.5" of common tubing ( Tubing used by both the Bb and F horns ) that can be added to the leadpipe or the first branch. In general, the more co…

An Historic Horn Reproduction

Recently, Jonathan Ring, our Second Horn in the San Francisco Symphony, put together a winter term intensive course at our Conservatory on the French school of Horn playing. It was a very fun and informative week of all things "French" Horn. I personally learned a lot as did everyone attending.

The first part of the class was devoted to valveless horn work. The group started with Trompes-de-Chasse classes - narrow bore hunting horns that are very bright and noisy! Later we graduated to piston horns and some of those were the interchangeable horns called Sauterelles.

Our guest teacher from Paris,  Emanuel Padieu, shared his knowledge about all things "French School"  and about the Paris conservatory around the turn of the 20th century. At that time, Sauterelle horns were ubiquitous and students were required to perform on them. Works like Bozza's En Foret and Dukas' Villanelle were written as Paris Conservatory performance tests of the horn students. Those …

Small Hands dealing with a Schmidt Horn

A longtime friend of mine owns a beautiful  Schmidt that his uncle bought in 1928. He has the original sales receipt for $280 USD! This is a very unusual circumstance: a friend of mine has such a rare, documented instrument and wants me to enhance it for him. In 2016, I had replaced the original piston with a new, reversible piston from  the  German valve maker Meinlschmidt. I also rebuilt the F extension and made a new leadpipe and main slide configuration. Below is a photo of what it looked like when I completed it in 2016. It is just like the Schmidt 2.0 posting I did some years ago. This horn was a pleasure to play: great slurs, complex sound, very agile and a great example of why these horns were so popular in the first half of the 20th century.
After playing the horn for a while, my friend said the grip was hurting his left wrist.  This is a common problem that I have discussed in other posts but in this case I had made the problem worse. The new piston is slightly longer than th…

The Best Little Tool!

Most horn players will end up playing a "factory made" instrument. This means, in theory, they will all be built the same way with no personalizing qualities for the individual player. This is a necessary but undesirable result of mass production. If you want a horn that suites your exact playing needs then you must work with a small shop that is willing to customize to your wishes. Without exception, you will pay a pretty penny for this type of horn and not everybody can afford this.

So, what can you do if you don't have the funds but are particular about what you want in a horn?

I would like to offer one possible solution to this dilemma and the nice part is its relatively inexpensive!

First, if you are looking for a new horn, find the maker that best fits what you are looking for. If you are like most, this will be a factory horn. Once you own this horn and have played it for awhile and know it well, ask yourself: what are its good qualities and, what needs improveme…

A new Design for a Bb-3 Slide

One of my primary goals in building a horn is to reduce the change in resistance between different fingerings. I have done this in the past with slightly larger bore tubing and reducing the number of bends, or make the bends larger. This becomes more of a problem with the longer additions of tubing.
When one adds a minor third to the horn, the resistance is increased. Now, take a look at your Bb-3rd slide. A typical slide has about 540 degrees of bends in that one slide and some slides have even more. If we can reduce the amount of bends it will reduce the resistance of that slide.
Below is a comparison of two Bb-3 slides. The one on the lower right is my Geyer Bb-3 slide that came with the horn.  Next to it is my design for the same length slide. The total amount of bending on the original Geyer slide is 540 degrees (three 180 degree bends).  The total for the upper slide is 270 degrees (one 180 degree bend and two 45 degree bends) and the bends are gentler.  So, I have removed 27…

The Schmidt 3.0.1 design

After publishing my post about the Schmidt 3.0, I got some interest in creating another design using a piston change valve in the middle of the horn.  This new challenge was to use an existing horn and redesign it from a Geyer wrap to something close to the Schmidt 3.0. They wanted me use use the valve cluster, bell and whatever else might be usable from the Geyer version. As you will see in a bit, this horn looks nothing like the first Schmidt 3.0. That is largely because I am using the straight set of three double valves that were on the Geyer model. In the original Schmidt 3.0 I used a set of triangular valves like the ones shown below.

At this point if you are unclear about why anyone would want to do this, go read my post about the Schmidt 2.0 and Schmidt 3.0. This will explain much that I have left out of this post.

In the photo below you can see the original horn with some temporary modifications in place to see if they are feasible. Some of these ideas, like the first slide de…