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How Do I Choose the Best French Horn?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2014
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If you are looking to buy the best French horn, decide whether you would prefer a new or used instrument. If buying a used horn, it's important to inspect it carefully for surface scratches or dents. Severe damage could require resurfacing, which could be expensive. It's very important to try the instrument to see how well it plays and sounds.

Any used French horn advertised at a price that seems too good to be true, most likely is. A used French horn that has had several previous owners could have signs of wear and tear, influencing the overall performance. The best French horn you could buy would be one from a reputable dealer.

When considering the purchase of a previously owned French horn, the buyer should check the instrument's valves for signs of poor maintenance. If the valves have not been oiled properly, the instrument might not produce a desirable sound. Checking underneath the valve caps for signs of wear is also important.

One of the most important parts of a brass instrument is the mouthpiece. A good deal on a used French horn may not include a useable mouthpiece. If that component needs to be replaced, it's important to consider the cost. Making inquiries and obtaining price quotes on horn mouthpieces should be done prior to purchasing a used instrument.

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The best French horn for an experienced musician is generally a brand new instrument. Although typically more expensive than a used model, a new horn could be considered an investment. Obtaining a warranty for your horn is essential, however.

Another thing to consider when buying a French horn is what type of protection will be required. A hard case is essential for protecting the brass instrument against possible damage from impact. If a case is not included with your French horn, purchasing one separately might be expensive.

Beginners who plan on purchasing a used French horn should avoid buying a double horn instrument. The single horn is more suitable for those who have little experience. Another advantage to the single horn is that it is typically made with only three valves. A horn with three valves will be easier to maintain than the four-valve double horn models.

Depending upon your experience as a horn player, you must choose whether you'd prefer a custom horn or one that is mass produced from the factory. In most cases, a student will not need a custom-made instrument, and buying a standard factory horn can save you money. Overall, the best French horn will have excellent sound quality, be constructed well and not feel awkward in the hand.

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