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French Horn/Buying used Holton horn, how important are dings


Hi, I am looking to purchase a used beginner French Horn for a 9-yr old son in beginning band.  I have questions as to whether a single F, single Bb, or double horn would be best.  Also, how do the "dings" affect the sound?  Are some smaller dings OK on a used instrument? Is the location of the dents/dings a factor?  Here is an example of the listings I am seeing:

Hello, thanks for your question.

If you're looking for a cheap starter horn then in my opinion an F single is the ideal thing. A single horn is lighter to hold for a young child, and it's always best to start on the F horn if possible. In the UK we use smaller-wrap "Kinder" horns but I'm not sure how easy these are to come by in the US.

Then if your son takes to it, he can move on to a double horn at a later date. Depending how fast he progresses this might be after a couple of years or longer.

You don't need to worry too much about dents in the larger tubes of the bell, they're only a cosmetic issue. Try to avoid horns with damage to the leadpipe. Feel free to send me any listings you come across and I can have a look at them.

The one you've attached looks a good horn, it is an F single, nice case, apart from the one big dent the condition looks ok. If you would like to know the age you could try asking the seller for the serial (stamped on the bottom of the 3rd valve casing) and then I can tell you which year it is from. I'd guess from the pictures it's a 1980s horn.

You might find older horns for less than this but for this one I think it's an ok price - but generally there are quite a lot of F singles around, so don't pay too much.


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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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