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French Horn FAQs

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French Horns come in a few variations, mostly relating to the key of the instrument. The french horn was originally constructed in the key of F which gives greater character to the low end of the instrument, but less so in the higher register. In order to support the higher tones horns were made in the key of Bb. To this end many intermediate and professional horns will be split between both keys, referred to as a double horn, with an extra valve to change key when needed. This is generally the preferred setup for the high school level and above

Wrap Types

French horns in a double come in two different kinds of wraps. In order to change the key, a rotary valve is pressed to divert the length of tubing used. The Kruspe wrap starts its path above the fourth rotary valve, leaving a shorter linkage of tubing. The Geyer wrap begins its rotor behind the third valve, having to reach further past the rotors. These wrap methods may be up to player preference

Rotary Valves

French horn valves use a rotary mechanism rather than the pistons typically seen on trumpets and cornets. These rotary valves come in two different types; mechanical and string pulled. They both have their own benefits and primary use in different regions. Mechanical rotaries rarely, if ever, need to be replaced or reworked. They’re a reliable system but can tend to make more noise, which can be undesirable during softer pieces. String mechanisms on the other hand are much quieter but can be prone for repair as they’re more delicate. Stringed horns are more commonly found in the U.S. while mechanical pistons are more standard in Europe.