French Horn/Purchasing Dilemma


QUESTION: I have recently decided to purchase a French Horn rather than renting and had my heart set on a Holton H179 but when I went to order it at a local shop it has been placed on a pretty far out back order so we ordered a Holton H189 with a small scratch at a discounted rate. That horn should be in for me to try next week. However, I came across a Holton H179 on Craigslist and have been speaking with the seller. It is 11 years old and the rotors need to be oiled and it appears the slides are stuck. I know this are simple problems that can be fixed with a cleaning, but I can not tell from the images if the soldering is holding up or if there are any dents. The horn is also a 5 hour drive from where I am. Do you think it would be worthwhile to check out? It would save me about 1500. I am most concerned with the age of the horn and buying it used. Are there any standards when it comes to buying a used french horn that I should be aware of? Thanks!

ANSWER: Hi, 11 years is fairly young in horn terms, unless it's really been badly treated or heavily used then the secondhand one will have plenty of life left in it. A bit of tlc and maybe a visit to a repairman to unstick some slides (althoguh you may manage to free them some persistence and manipulation) and you'll have a good horn. Holtons are normally not too prone too solder joints coming apart, and the H179, being a nickel-silver horn, doesn't dent easily either. So I can't really see a problem with the secondhand one. What exactly is the price?


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The new, Holton H189 has been reduced to 4k and the used Holton h179 is 2500, but a five hour drive away. She is offering it with mouth piece and a standard mute as well as a hand guard. Thoughts? Thanks!

Well, $2500 is maybe a bit overpriced for a horn with work needed. And the H189 is meant to be a superior instrument to the H179 - I haven't played one but it's had a redesign (in collaboration with the legendary Ethel Merker) in a similar way to my H104 (Tuckwell model) and that's far far better than the comparable H181. So if you have the $4000, I'd go for the H189. Certainly go and try it - I expect you'll come away $4000 poorer but happy...


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Alan Jones


Can answer just about anything on playing the horn, repertoire, buying instruments, repairs, care and maintenance


25 years of professional playing and teaching in the UK


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