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Best French Horn For Brass Fanatics: Double Horns Dissected!

What french horns do professionals play? Which French horn should you buy? We reveal all...

Looking for the ‘best’ French Horn? Well, we hate to break it to you, but… there’s no such thing!

No – seriously! While other blogs may broadcast that the best French Horn is ‘Horn X’ or ‘Horn Y’, we prefer to take a more rounded approach. That’s because not only do we recognise that not all French Horns are made equal. But we also understand that not all French Horn players are carbon copies either. So naturally, what’s the best Horn for one, is going to be sub-par or potentially even the worst for another.

But with that being said, there is one area of buying a French Horn where virtually all players are in agreement. Double French Horns are by far some of the most complex to play. That being because unlike your single horns, Double French Horns have two tubes (opposed to one), both tuned to different pitches. Usually these are pitched to F & B Flat. Exactly why you won’t find many beginners picking up a Double Horn, unless of course they want to dive in at the deep end.

* If you are a French Horn newbie, you may prefer to check out our guide to the Best Single French Horns.

However, for those of you who’ve mastered Single French Horns, or just want to challenge yourself, keep reading and we’ll dissect 13 of the best French Horns that you can buy today + paint you a vague picture of who we think would play them.

Want to track down something specific about the best French Horn? Or want to learn more about the difference between a French Horn and a Double Horn? Use the menu below to find all the answers you need in 1 click…

The best Double French Horns @ a glance…

13 of the best Double French Horns you can buy

They say you shouldn’t stereotype these days. Which is most cases is completely true, however when it comes to tracking down the best French Horn, we beg to differ. That’s because (as hinted at above) every French Horn player is different, just like every French Horn you can buy. So if you’re to have any hope of tracking down the best French Horn for you, you’re going to at least need some form of guidance.

Exactly why we’ve decided to go against convention for this French Horn review and not only give you our honest opinion on these 13 Double Horns, but also give you a brief summary (vague stereotype) of the type of person who’d play them… you can thank us later :)

Best Double French Horns for professionals

1: Conn 8D (CONNstellation Series) double nickel horn

While this classic French Horn may make purists squirm, we’re HUGE fans of it. And that’s because while there is a certain stigma around this horn (many hornists despise the 8D as much as the Mellophone), when it comes to putting a finger on the best French Horn, we’d say the 8D gets pretty darn close.

The sound you get from this instrument is sensational! For any budding soloist, we’d say hand’s down that it’s the way to go. That’s because once you compare the 8D to other horns, you soon realise just how good of a balance it really is. The large throat bell of this Geyer horn allows for impressive levels of volume. As does its nickel silver construction, which we’re convinced helps to amplify the richness of its sound. Compare the 8D to a Yellow Brass alternative & you’ll soon sense a difference.

A sound that may we add, is pronounced, rounded and yet, isn’t too bright. Brightness being a major flaw of cheaper French Horns and a trait we’re pleased to say the 8D shies away from. Playing this horn is a joy too. The 4 valves are smooth to operate and the Conn 7BW mouthpiece makes funnelling air into this horn a breeze. That 311mm bell should also make any keen hand hornist very chuffed.

And that’s what makes the 8D a strong contender for the title of the best French Horn. It’s sheer amount of adjustability allows you to have real control over your sound. Then again, such a sound is something you’d expect, as the 8D isn’t a new addition to the French Horn family. Conn 8Ds stem all the way back to 1937, so really this horn isn’t just a musical instrument. If anything, it’s a slice of musical history.

  • This horn has a fixed bell.

Who’d say the Conn 8D is the best French Horn?

Thos who opt for a CONNstellation Series horn are usually seasoned pros. Those after a strong & pronounced sound, which you get with this horn thanks to its large throat nickel bell. Although this certainly be a bad choice for a beginner either. This horn really does sing!

  • Pro rating: 10/10
  • Beginner rating 8/ 10

2: Holton H379 Double French Horn

You are getting a stunning, high-quality original Holton double horn, with real silver plating. This Holton double French horn is the ultimate luxury model among good middle-class French horn instruments, with pure nickel silver plating and a beautiful design. 

On both the B and F sides, the reaction for the Holton H379 French Horn is light and excellent. The sound is rich and wonderful. The machine’s high performance provides for great levelling and depth. The well-known WMIW machine is whisper quiet and silky smooth. You can adjust the trigger valve to fit the size of your hand. It’s also possible to change the basic position from F/B to B/F. 

The basic tuning range of 438 Hz to 442 Hz has been perfectly tuned. No trouble with 4.5 octaves is not an issue, even 5 with sufficient experience and an excellent approach.

  • The bell on this instrument is fixed.

Who’d say the Holton is the best French Horn?

Buy this French Horn & chances are you’re after a consistent well-balanced tone that doesn’t perhaps come at the same premium as other French Horns. You’re also a fans of being subtle too, because unlike 99% of horns, it’s not golden brass – it’s nickel silver.

  • Pro rating: 7.5/10
  • Beginner rating 8/ 10

3: Levante HR 6515 F/Bb Double French Horn (with case)

Are you a musician looking for the best French Horn on the internet? One that is both durable and inexpensive, as well as producing wonderful tones? With this French Horn instrument, your quest has just been a lot easier.

With a key of F/Bb for warm and rich tones, this Double French Horn is a great choice. Longevity is ensured by the clear lacquered surface and nickel interior. You’re likely to need something that can withstand a few bumps as a professional player, and this French Horn will do just that.

  • With this horn, the bell is detachable.

Who’d say the Levante is the best French Horn?

Be you a seasoned professional or an intermediate player, the HR 6515 is a sound choice. We were pleasantly surprised by the tone of this horn, in relation to its price. So if you’re an expert French Hornist, don’t pass this by!

  • Pro rating: 7.5/10
  • Beginner rating 8.5/ 10

4: Hoyer Hans 6802 Double French Horn

Hoyer Hand Heritage also features F/Bb keys and can pitch A445. For the artist, the Holton is recognized for its deep and rich-sounding notes. However, it’s better suited to a dedicated player who has progressed from a hobbyist to a professional.

The smooth, mellow tones of the flared bell give a ringing feel to the Hoyer Hand Heritage. A screw-type bell is also welcome with this variant. The solid nickel also adds to the Hoyer Hand Heritage instrument’s artistic quality. So it’s no surprise that academics and professionals prefer the H179. The instrument measures 68.61″ x 45.7 cm” and weighs 14 lbs.

  • The bell on this instrument is detachable.

Who’d say the 6802 is the best French Horn?

This would be considered the best French Horn by either a professional or at the very least, an advancing student. Just like the Conn (above) this horn’s large bell gives it a lot of presence!

  • Pro rating: 9.5/10
  • Beginner rating 7.5/ 10

5: Yamaha YHR 567F/Bb horn

As per the specification of this French horn, it has dimensions of 33x33x53.3 cm, has 27 lbs weight, and is available in gold. The lead pipe’s taper increases responsiveness and intonation across the instrument. In addition, this Yamaha YHR model’s wrap provides a more comfortable hand position and improved airflow. 

Inner and outer slides are nickel silver. Because nickel-silver is tougher and more durable than brass, using nickel silver inner and outer slides ensures a superior fit and reduces the risk of corrosion on the Yamaha YHR. Tapered valves are designed to last a long time without leaking. 

The Thumb Lever for the fourth rotor can be adjusted from little student hands to huge adult hands. This essentially means that you can adjust the 4th rotor thumb lever to match any hand size. Response time is quick, and note centering is precise. The simplicity with which you can play this horn makes it excellent for various situations for students. 

  • This horn has a fixed bell.

Who’d say the YHR 567 is the best French Horn?

Those who’d buy this horn would put a heavy emphasis on brand and quality. Reason being that the build of this horn is exceptional, as is the way its kitted out – this horn is fully loaded! Many of its features are actually handed down from Yamaha’s most prestigious models!

  • Pro rating: 8.5/10
  • Beginner rating 8.5/ 10

6: Jupiter JHR 1100D Double Horn

When in search of the best French Horn, you simply have to consider the JHR 1100D from Jupiter. Why? Well, that’s because this horn is all about precision. In fact, it uses Jupiter’s state-of-the-art instrument-making tech to make it one of the most accurate French Horns that you can buy, both in terms of scale and playability. A major part of which is down to the brass formulation that’s used to create this horn’s body.

That Rose brass lead pipe, really does give this instrument a warmth that you don’t find with every French Horn. Not only that, but its tonal colour is especially unique! Play this horn as part of a group performance and you’ll almost certainly be able to tell it apart. Being a Geyer horn, its strong in terms of volume and has a real resonance to its sound. Characteristics that if you ask us, makes the 1100D ideal for budding soloists.

Combine this with this horn’s rotary valves, which are especially smooth, and you’re left with albeit a rather pleasant playing experience. Plus, we really like the fact the 1100D comes fully lacquered, as not only is it protected, but it’s also super easy to maintain. Yes, all this convenience comes at a professional price, but when you consider just how much this horn stands out, it’s a figure that we’d be willing to foot.

  • The bell on this French Horn is fixed.

Who’d say the 1100D is the best French Horn?

Performers and soloists gravitate towards the 1100D. Its bold, but rounded sound really does set it apart during a live performance. Although with that being said, this horn is also a great starting point. For any beginner, your first double can’t get much better than a 1100D.

  • Pro rating: 8/10
  • Beginner rating 9/ 10

7: Stagg 77-FHD/FC Double French Horn (with case)

Best French horn has 71.1 x 48.3 x 43.2 centimeters and 14 lbs weight with a gorgeous warm yellow tone and a brass lead of the same color. The firm ‘Revel’ creates wind instruments with the players in mind; the brass used in their manufacturing is suitable for long life and great-sounding notes.

They’re terrific for blending in with an orchestra, but they’ll also sound fantastic on their own. Stagg 77-FHD/FC Double French Horn with Case is great for serious learners studying this instrument. The polished paddles for fingers and the rotors fixed with a string linkage are excellent.

  • The bell of this instrument is detachable.

Who’d say the Stagg is the best French Horn?

The Stagg is the best French Horn for you if you’re after an all-rounder. A horn that covers all the basics, comes with all the trinkets and actually doesn’t set you back all that much. In other words, the best of both worlds.

  • Pro rating: 7/10
  • Beginner rating 9/ 10

Other notable mentions…

8: Holton H179 Double French Horn

9: Holton H378 Double French Horn

10: Double French Horn

11: Yamaha YHR-668NII Double French Horn

Here’s the best cheap double french horn for beginners…

12: Mendini Double French Horn

Which french horn is the best? Our editor’s choice

If we had to narrow down the best French Horn for sale, we’d find it quite hard to reach a solid conclusion, because (as we said earlier) there isn’t really a ‘best’ French Horn. All French Horn players are different, and have a unique relationship with their instrument. So to dub one as the best would be a bit naive. Although we have come to a conclusion…

When shopping for a Double French Horn, you’re likely one of two people: either a seasoned pro who’s out for an upgrade, or an intermediate player looking to step up from a Single F Horn. In which case, we’ve decided to split our conclusion down the middle and reveal our top 2 French Horns in relation to who you are. So without further ado, we’d say the….

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Reason? This French Horn is arguably the best of both worlds. Not only is it incredibly flexible and gives you the scope to really grow your sound, but the actual sound itself is really balanced. Out of all the horns on this list, the Conn 8D sounded (to us) the least bright. The tone of this horn is rich, punchy, but can also be rather mellow too. That’s because the response of the Conn 8D is its real party piece.

Blow into this horn and you can almost always predict the sound that’s going to come out the other end. We’re proper fans of the relationship between this horn and its player. In fact, that explains why this horn has been so popular over the past centuries. Yes, it may not have the best reputation – Conn made a fair few slip-ups to get the 8D to where it is today. But without those ‘slip-ups’ the 8D wouldn’t be a patch on the horn you can pickup today. One that we’d be tempted to say is the best French Horn any pro hornist can buy.

But if you’re not a seasoned pro, then you may want to consider our next option. Because if you ask us, the…

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A horn that we think is ideal for intermediates due to its accuracy. Just like the Conn, this Jupiter French Horn is really easy to gauge. So much so that playing this horn doesn’t turn into guesswork. Blow into this horn and you can be confident of the sound you’ll produce. there’s none of this ‘crossing your fingers’ and ‘hoping for the best’ malarky. Exactly what you want if you’re looking to make a smooth progression from a Single to a Double Horn.

What’s more, in terms of build and overall fabrication, we found the Jupiter really quite impressive. The welding work is done on par to that you fiond with the Conn (above), and the actual sound only differs slightly too. We found the Jupiter to be a little less soft, but equally as balanced. And yet, when you look at the figures, the Jupiter is going to be the clear favourite.

So while it doesn’t perhaps have the heritage or nickel silver finish of the Conn, it is in many ways the same. A high-end horn that performs well & offers a really solid response, yet comes in at near-on half the price. Ask us and for any intermediate player in search of a quality, this is pretty much the winning combo. But does that make it the best French Horn for sale today? To the right person – yes!

Enjoy what you’ve read and eager for more? Be sure to check out all our latest advice on Brass Instruments, as well as all the latest on Musical Instruments. We recently also published an article on the Best Pocket Trumpet, which you may also find a good read.

Or if you want to continue with our best French Horn review, be sure to dive into the FAQs below…

The lowdown on double french horns: price, sound & more

Much as the name suggests, the main difference between a French Horn and a Double French Horn is their level of difficulty.

For beginners, Single Horns are ideal as they only have one tube, which is usually tuned to F. Whereas for professionals (but also intermediate) players, Double French Horns tend to be a better bet. This is because a Double French Horn comes with 2 tubes, tuned to F and B flat. So as you can imagine, they’re more complex to play.

This also means you can easily tell the difference between a French Horn and a Double Horn by their sound. The F of a Single Horn will sound far lower and have more bass, than that of a more high pitched double. Aside from Single and Double Horns, you can also get a Triple Horn. However, you rarely see these being used, even by professionals.

In the eyes of most, the best French Horn is either a double or single, depending on their level of skill and capabilities.

The value of a Double French Horn can vary quite substantially.

Shop smartly and you can pick up a decent Double for around £700. However, depending on how much you have to spend + the sound you’re after, this can differ. And by ‘differ’ we mean rise; some of the most prestigious Double French Horns can set you back over £10,000!! But with that being said, there is reason behind that substantial gap in price. Three include…

  • Breed of horn – There are two distinct breeds of horn: a Kruspe and a Geyer. Usually you’ll find that Kruspe Horns will be made of Nickel Silver, while your Geyer Horns will be made of yellow Brass. So therefore, your Kruspe Horns will give you a bigger and warmer sound, while your Geyer Horns will create a sound that’s slightly more bright.
  • French Horn Brand – As much as material and manufacturing technicalities play their part, Brand can be a HUGE driver behind the price of a French Horn. Fact is, if a brand has a reputation for quality and has had their horns featured with professional orchestras/ notable public figures, then chances are that there’ll be some sort of ‘brand premium’ behind the price.
  • Detachable bells – Yep, if you’re the ‘on the go’ type of musician, you can even get your hands on a horn which has a detachable bell. All of which makes the chore of transporting your horn 10 times easier. And while of course the sound from horns with this modification can differ, there’s little evidence to suggest that fixed bell horns sound better than those with a detachable. In fact, it’s something that’s got French Horn purists at lock-heads!

While single horns are great for beginners, Double Horns (thanks to their dual tubing) allow you to have greater accuracy over across the scale. Therefore, with a Double Horn you tend to get a more rounded sound, yet also have more range to play with too.

So as you can imagine, whether you’re in an orchestra setting or going solo, a Double French Horn is always going to be better suited than a Single F Horn. And that’s the whole point + why Double French Horns are such a hit with Brass fanatics. As far as French Horns go, they’re the gymnast – the most flexible of the two.

Single French horns are by far the most common because they’re very much the entry-level option.

Being aimed at beginners means that while these Horns tend to be more popular, they’re more of a ‘transition’ instrument than anything. Your average F Horn will last a student around 1-2 years. So yes, the reason you see less Double Horns is partially to do with the price, but also due to the fact that only a certain amount of those who take up the French Horn actually stick it out to the point at which levelling up to a Double `Horn makes sense.

Exactly why if you’re a Double Horn player, you’re one of a rare breed!

Spoiler: A Double French Horn isn’t the lightest horn that you can buy.

Being made out of metal (usually a form of Brass/ Nickel), French Horns do have a fair weight to them. Especially Double Horns, as compared to a Single F Horn they have near-on twice as much tubing – the only real potential drawback we can see of that added B flat.

But then again, whether that extra weight presents an issue, is merely a matter of preference. So while the weight of a Double Horn could prove problematic, you could also say that it tones your arms. Hardly a bad thing if you’re not a fan of the gym.

Depending on what French Horn you buy, the material it’s made of can differ. Although it will be some form of metal. The most common three are…

  • Yellow Brass – This is an alloy made up of copper & zinc. Usually Yellow Brass contains in-between 60-70% copper.
  • Rose Brass – This is the form of brass which has the highest copper content, at around 90%! French Horn players opt for this as it’s said to create a warmer & more mellow tone.
  • Nickel Silver – Don’t be mistaken! This metal has no silver content whatsoever. It’s merely nickel that’s dubbed as ‘nickel silver’ because of its silvery complexion.

However, it’s not always clear to tell which metals a French Horn is made of, due to the fact they can also come plated, as well as just bare metal. What’s more, you can even get French Horns which are lacquered or unlacquered too. As you’d imagine, unlacquered horns require more care, especially those which are made of Yellow Brass. Fail to care for these and your French Horn could soon start to turn green!

So while that does make lacquered horns appear the more obvious choice, some experts do maintain that this extra lacquer can dull the sound. Consider the protection it provides thought and we’d say it’s a trade-off worth making.

Out of all the brass instruments out there, there French Horn has the widest tonal range!

The actual sound is known for being warm, but equally rich and soft. And this goes for both Single F Horns, and Doubles too. The difference with the Double Horn comes when you compare the tonal range. With two notes (F & B flat) opposed to just F, the Double is also capable of reaching a higher pitch. A characteristic that all-in-all makes it a more flexible instrument.

Ask us and the best French Horn when judged on sound, simply has to be a double horn!

The French Horn doesn’t just face backwards to be different – there is an actual purpose behind its shape.

The main one being sound. You see, originally the French Horn wasn’t designed for the orchestra. It’s actual purpose was to be a signalling instrument that you’d find in the hands of a fox hunter (vegans cringe). A blow of the horn would often signal the direction of the hunt to the hunting party, or be an order for them to pounce. Hence why the French Horn faces backwards.

If you’re hunting the last think you want to do is alert your prey directly in front of you to the fact that you’re poised with a shotgun & about to pounce. Over the years, hunters also found that by putting their hand inside the horn’s bell, they could alter the notes. This technique was dubbed as ‘hand horning’.

Want to know more about ‘Why French Horn Players Put Their Hand In The Bell?’ Click that neon link for the full lowdown.

While French horn players don’t quite experience the same level of fame that guitarists, drummers or singers do, that’s not to say there aren’t any who’ve gained ‘worldwide’ status. There are. Here’s 3 French Horn players that are known worldwide for their skills with a Double Horn…

Radek Baborak – You could say that being born into a musical family meant that Radek was almost destined to become a prestigious horn player. He started playing the French Horn at just 8 years of age! To date, he’s played as part of many influential orchestras from across the world.

Hermann Baumann – It was only in his late teens that Hermann decided to make the transition into playing the French Horn. Previously he’d specialised in vocals & playing the jazz drums. From taking up the French Horn at 17, Hermann got the opportunity to perform alongside various orchestras, before turning his love of playing he French Horn into a fully-fledged solo career. Today, he’s commonly regarded as one of the best French Horn players.

Sarah Willis – Willis is a French Horn player who can often be spotted playing with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and hosting music events. She’s one of the few French Horn players to gain influence across Europe and began playing the horn at just 14!

Students tend to stay on Single F Horns for somewhere around 1-2 years, so you could call them more of a short-term purchase. However Double Horns are virtually the reverse.

In terms of playability, a professional could stay on a Double Horn for the rest of their career. Yes, you could go one step further and upgrade to a Triple Horn, but really we’d only advise that if you’re a full-time horn player. Triple Horns are the most expensive French horn you can buy, with the majority of high quality Triples costing well over £10,000!!

And as for wear and tear, all sizes of French Horns can last a long time – 10+ years – if you keep up to them on a regular basis. It might sound like a petty chore, but making the effort to clean your horn regularly can have a substantial impact on its lifespan. We’d always recommend you invest in some form of Ultrasonic cleaning at least once a year, on-top of regular maintenance.

To learn more about the importance of cleaning your French horn (especially a more pricy double), be sure to check out our recent blog on the Best French Horn Cleaning Kits.

Out of all the Brass Family, the French Horn is that kooky alternative cousin, who wears oversized glasses and has a slightly mysterious side to them. And nope – we haven’t lost the plot. Check out these kooky reasons why the French Horn is different…

  • Despite being Brass, the French Horn doesn’t feature in the majority of brass bands.
  • When uncoiled, a double horn amounts to a whopping 18ft of tubing!!
  • The player’s hand inside the French horn allows them to alter the notes + keep in tune.

Buying a French Horn, be it Single or Double, is a BIG decision.

Let’s face it, Horns aren’t the cheapest of instruments. Neither are they the most common, hence why being clued up on what to look for in a French Horn is vital. So with that in mind, here’s 2 things to consider when buying a French Horn….

Value for money – When you’ve got a whole world of French Horns to sift through, the first (and easiest) way to cull your options is to know your budget. But don’t be fooled into thinking that any horn in that price range is right for you! You see, the price is only half the story. It’s the value that you get for the price that really matters. So when searching for the best French Horn, be sure to make a lot of comparisons.

A quality brand – Now, we know it sounds a bit snobby, but the brand of a horn can actually make a substantial difference! Why? Because it’s usually a good indicator of quality. Go for a brand that’s known to make Horns for professional orchestras and you’ll likely get a better build than a cheap unbranded knock-off made in China. In most cases, even a professional brand’s budget horn is likely to be on par (or potentially better) than that of an unknown brand. Moral of the story: buy quality!