Switching to tenor horn

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by SometherebecallmeBob, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. I've been using a flugel to cover french horn parts in a quintet. Some time in the next month, I plan to try switching to a tenor horn, so that I can cover the range a little better.

    Here's the problem: I'm in a semi-remote part of Canada. I don't know any tenor horn players. There are no horns for sale around here. Buying a horn will involve either a road trip or mail order. I'm really, really reluctant to buy one off eBay, (or anywhere) without trying it first. (It may surprise you to know this, but there are some really bad horns out there.)

    I have several questions:

    I have a shot at a Wessex-tubas tenor horn, by mail order (with an approval period). Does anyone have experience with their product? I know of a couple of places that sell John Packer and Besson horns, which I'll be near next month. What's the word on their horns?

    Most generic brass "comes-with" mouthpieces are pretty poor. Is there a standard beginners' mouthpiece on the tenor?

    What should I know? What do you wish you had known when you started? What should I avoid like the plague?
  2. theMouthPiece Related Searches

  3. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    Wessex Instruments offer excellent value for money although I haven't tried the Tenor Horn.
    The John Packer JP272 is an excellent instrument - we bought 2 for our band.
    The generic Wick type mouthpiece which comes with them is also good and will give an indication of what you might prefer once you get established on the instrument.
  4. second_horn

    second_horn Member

    Hi there, I have played tenor horn always and can only imagine living in a remote part of Canada without tenor horns! However, the only advice I can give is in our brass band we only have either Besson or yamaha. Besson sovreign is supposed to be on a par with yamaha maestro. I myself play a yamaha and find it excellent. We have a junior band and our young horn player has a John Packer, which are considerably cheaper (new). I have been informed that it is better to buy a second hand quality instrument than a new cheaper model. As for mouthpieces, you can't go wrong with a dennis wick, besson horns (I think) come with these, although yamaha don't. I bought myself a dennis wick heritage 2 mouthpiece which is excellent!
  5. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    A good quality S/H instrument is nearly always a better option but it sounds like it's not an option easily available to you.
    However keeping in mind your location and that you aren't playing in a brass band you might like to look out for a S/H US made instrument.
    One of the loveliest blowing Tenor Horns I've ever owned was an old Buescher with front action valves. Not quite as upright as British instruments and so might blend better in the Quintet as well. There are often similar Conn models available cheaply on Ebay.
    Just a thought....
    2nd tenor likes this.
  6. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Why do you want to use a Tenor Horn rather than a French Horn to cover French Horn parts?

    French Horn players can play in Orchestras as well as Brass Quintets. I suspect that in Orchestras French Horns are the most used member of the Brass family. French Horns are pitched in F - sometimes they have an Eb crook (converter) available - and F/Bb. As the Eb Horn is typically a Brass Band only instrument might you find it easier to buy a French rather than a Tenor Horn in North America? Ebay USA lists many French Horns and few Eb Horns (Alto as they seem to call them).

    From what I read (on social media) Yamaha made instruments have a very good and perhaps the best reputation for being supplied fault free - really important if you are buying without the support of a local instrument repair facility. That reputation matches my experience of the brand. Buying a market leading brand in the U.S. might help you secure spare parts at some later point in time.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  7. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    Switching to Tenor (Alto) Horn will be much easier from Flugel than switching to French Horn.
    The fingering is the same, valves are played with the same hand and you don't have to learn technique for the right hand (in bell).
  8. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    That the fingerings for French Horns are different from those standard on (all?) other valved brass instruments is a surprise, but better to know than not. Thanks.
  9. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Not arguing with your point re. quality, however you have to be aware that in the US, Yamaha is a very expensive brand.
  10. Euphanasia

    Euphanasia Member

    They are a little different (they correspond to the ones an octave above on brass band valved instruments, if you get me) but, having done it, the difficult part is playing them with the left hand....
  11. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    The US social media sites that I have read over the years have not picked up on that point, they have picked up on poor and or variable quality issues with some US made brands and the good QA employed by Yamaha. It's a good point that you make about price but I guess that local and international costs are something for the OP to check out as well as which countries he might be able to import an instrument cost effectively from.

    On balance I suspect that Andrew Norman has the best idea with the US instruments he suggested above. Just be extra careful about who you buy from, what the description says and what the photos show - and then hope for some luck.
  12. theMouthPiece Related Searches

  13. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I had a look at one site that suggested that the harmonics were C, F and A rather than C and G. It looks like the valves have the same positions (as standard) in terms of pipe extensions. Overall it looks far too complex an option to follow up, I'd go with the Tenor Horn. I wonder if the intended music is 'in' F or Eb.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  14. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Out of curiosity I did a quick comparison on a few US retail sites, and it appears my information may have been a little out of date. There seems to be virtually no difference in price nowadays between a top-of the range Vincent Bach Trumpet and a similar professional-grade Yamaha trumpet. (I chose the trumpet for comparison because there are no mainstream US brass manufacturers making tenor (alto) horns that I can see. Around 10 years ago when I was trying to buy a Schilke trumpet online, there was a massive difference between Bach/Schilke prices and Yamaha - an American trumpet player I was corresponding with told me it was because of punitive import duties imposed on Japanese imports to the US at the time; seems to have changed now ...
  15. Euphanasia

    Euphanasia Member

    To be clear, I was referring to valve combinations (not harmonics) relative to a transposed (not concert pitch) diatonic scale for a horn in F.
  16. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    If you play a single F horn this is true - however most players use the Bb fingering for at least some of the time.
    Playing with the left hand is not difficult - learning to use the right hand in the bell is certainly different from other brass.
  17. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    The C,F, A harmonics are related to fingering using the Bb instrument (or side of a Double Horn).

  18. The critical difference for me is price. (There's also the hand-in-bell technique, finger with left hand, different embouchure, etc, but price is the killer). For the price of a usable second-hand double horn, I can buy an awfully nice new tenor.

    edit: fixed formatting
    Also, I can already do the Eb transpositions, and I just think the tenor horn is way cooler.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015

  19. The embouchure is also more similar to trumpet/cornet/flugel than the French Horn embouchure.
  20. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    How about this Classic Beauty - KING F ALTO HORN SILVER AND GOLD UNIQUE BEAUTY!
    Not sure if it really will be in F but they were made with Eb and F slides so might just be perfect for what you need.

    NB British Brass Banders avert your eyes......
  21. Andrew, it looks absolutely lovely, but I'm pretty leery of buying stuff this expensive off eBay. It may come that, so, thanks for reminding me.

    Edit: Holy cow! I'll be less than three hours away from him later on this month. It's starting to look like a plan. Not plan A or plan B, but as plan C, it's very much up to spec. Blessings on you!
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2015
  22. Andrew Norman

    Andrew Norman Active Member

    Could be worth an offer... not sure how many people would want it - and it's only about the price of a new student horn.
    If it wasn't for the shipping I'd be very tempted.

Share This Page