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French Horn/New Conn 8D - tight E and F

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Question
Hi - In July I became the owner of a new Conn 8DR made in the Eastlake Ohio factory. I traded in my King Eroica.  I like everything about my Conn  except for E (top space on staff) and F (top line on staff) which always came out clearly on my King Eroica.  There just doesn't seem to be a clean "slot" for either note, whether I'm playing it on F Horn or using the Bb key.  The notes above and below those two are easy to get.  Those notes almost feel sort "closed up."  Any suggestions?  I read in the latest issue of the Horn Call that valves need to be broken in. I play the horn about 8 hours a week. (I play in a community band and brass quintet.) Could it be that it's not broken in after 7 months of playing?

Answer
Hi, I'm not quite sure what might be broken in on a valve... it's just a mechanical device for switching tubes. Reading horn magazines was never a good idea, some valid stuff but also a lot of hot air.

However the overall response of a horn does have the ability to change according to how it's played. I think Conn horns generally have a duff note or two, which is why I play a Holton. I had a Conn 28D for the first ten years of my professional career, and although it wasn't new it had hardly been played outside the middle octave. The C# was extremely flat on 2&3 on Bb horn and the top A on 1&2 (which being in the UK you have to use, open is just too flat) was almost non-existent unless played exteremely sharp. I sat in a practice room for various hours and hammered out top A, where I wanted it and very loud, and it definitely improved, although it was never as good as top Bb/B/C. The C# was improved by the old trick of a matchstick placed cross-wise in the 3rd valve slide - which can alter the formation of the nodes of the sound waves. In the 1940s or 1950s UK horn players often used this kind of trick to partially cure duff notes, but in the 21st century manufacturers should have ironed these kind of problems out - maybe you should get a professional opinion on your e & f (get a pro to blow them) and then claim under guarantee and get it replaced??? It might make an interesting test case. Otherwise, keep hammering at these notes and they may improve...

AJ

French Horn

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Alan Jones

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

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25 years of professional playing and teaching in the UK

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