PSA: Why did my horn come with two main tuning slides?

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Owners of Hoyer 6800 series horns may have noted that the horn is supplied with long and short main tuning slides. I noted in lessons last year that among my students several were using the shorter slide on their horn, but one student was using the longer slide. With the shorter slide, pitch tends to be a struggle, the horn is sharp. It helped them all to use the longer slide.

Why is my horn so sharp?

This brings up a question a lot of people wonder about. The plain fact is some horns are just made sharp. For some it is as simple as being made for a European market and performance at A=442. The Yamaha 667 is well known to need the main slide pulled more than an inch for most players in a USA performance context. Also, the Conn 8D as produced since the late 1950s** is a rather sharp horn for many players today. In the case of the Conn, it has to do with changing trends in horn playing, people don’t generally use really deep mouthpieces and rather covered hand positions such as were common back in the 1950s, when this model was so dominant in the market.

Then there is an additional issue, some teachers feel that your main slide needs to be a certain place, and if it is not, you are doing something wrong. Don’t fall into the trap of people of authority telling you things and they must be correct. This is not good teaching, it does not consider that individuals will blow the horn differently and will have a different overall pitch level on the same horn compared to other individuals.

The smart thing Hoyer did with the 6800 series was provide a standard tuning slide and a longer one. The shorter one imitates the pitch level of the typical 8D. My observation is that you will most likely want to use the longer one.

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The two slides are seen in the photos. If you have the Hoyer, give your longer slide a try, it will likely help your overall pitch issues, and is yet another part of why this horn is a great horn at the price point.

As to other brands of horns, longer slides can be made or created. I have two sets of main slides for my big triple, for example, described further in a prior article, and on some horns a repair person can shift around slide tubes to make a longer main slide.

To close, I know someone who tried my big triple horn at one point had on it when it came back to me an unmatched pair of these slides (one being the “double horn” main slide and the other the high F main), the two matching main slides were not both on the horn. I don’t think they felt that the tuning was working for them and of course it was not, they were not going to get the horn in balance unless either the two shorter slides were used or the two longer slides. On an unfamiliar horn, be sure you know where the slides go and which ones to use, and be ready to experiment a bit as you get the slides set correctly. 

**Curiously, older, “pre-letter” Elkhart Conn 8Ds have a longer tuning slide than the horns produced in the letter series and beyond.

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