A golden age for French horns


At the end of my recent article looking at Lechniuk horns I commented that

We kind of forget what a golden age of horn production we live in today, back in the 1970s there were very few people making custom horns and now not only are they plentiful but also the top level factory horns (typically smaller makers) are built essentially at the same level of quality!

When I think back to the 1980s, when I was studying the horn very hard, too many horn players were playing on junk compared to what you can buy new now. We made them work, but really there are quite a variety of high quality instruments available today.

Lechniuk-hornLast year I had an article published in the May issue of The Horn Call, “A 1982 Horn Right Hand Position Survey: Tips, Notes, and More.” The article summarizes the raw data left me from a survey done in 1982 by one of my ASU horn professor predecessors, Ralph Lockwood (more here). One item in that survey was a question that asked what kind of horns and mouthpieces the respondents used. Of the over 100 responses (mostly from professionals [orchestral players and professors], with responses from the USA, Europe, and Asia) the overall result reported in the article was that in 1982

The Conn 8D was number one by far with 40 instruments reported, the nearest competitor being Alexander with 15 double horns reported. Horns are listed below by frequency of ownership.

• Conn 8D
• Alexander double
• Holton
• Geyer
• Conn 28D
• Alexander descant
• Kruspe
• Paxman descant
• Lawson
• Lewis

Today, if you did a survey of a similar group of players would you find this same result? I think not, and I doubt any pro would want to go back to the choices we had in the 1980s either. We are in a golden age.