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.
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.
Who’d say the Conn 8D is the best French horn?
Those 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!
2: Holton H379 double French horn
Sorry – but you cannot discuss the best French horns without at least touching on the H379 by Holton. A horn that’s (there’s no other word for it) the result of exquisite craftsmanship.
See, unlike a lot of French horns, the H379 is manufactured in the USA, not China. A key difference that really does shine through, both in regards to sound & build. Get hands on with the Holton & from the first blow, you’ll immediately sense its impressive tone. While some French horns can sound a tad bright, the Holton is the reverse. The sound is rich and swimming in depth… the H379 has great puts a LOT of budget horns to shame!
And it’s the same story when you consider build quality. Then again, being a pricey horn with an RRP in the £1000s, you’d expect that. For us, there’s 2 stand out features of this horn’s build. One being the seams, which use a different (more durable) technique to those you’ll find on most horns; the seams on the Holton are overlapping seams, opposed to butt seams. A subtle, but albeit obvious sign of quality.
The other being the rotor valves, which aside form being hand fitted are also designed with longevity in mind. Unlike you’ll find on a lot of French horns, the rotors on the Holton are tapered. Yet another nifty detail that’s direct proof of the brand’s reputation for quality; tapering the valve rotors enables them to seat regardless of wear. So if you’re searching for a reliable workhorse, Holton pretty much have you covered.
Who’d say the Holton H379 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.
3: Levante HR 6515 F double French horn (with case)
When it comes to professional-grade French horns, the HR6515 is certainly a front runner.
Made of 100% gold brass & varnished to high heaven, this horn both feels & sounds like a quality instrument. At just over 2.5kg, it has a good weight to it & out of all the horns on this list, was (for us) the most comfortable to hold. All of which makes unleashing this horn’s party-piece (it’s unique sound) a joy too. We can’t get enough of the silver-plated mouthpiece you get with this horn. Give it a blow & you see why.
The sound of this horn has a distinct character to it. One you’ll struggle to find in any other horn. It’s warm & brassy, yet full of character. For jazz musicians, it’s certainly one to consider; the HR6515 allows you to work some real attitude into what you play!! And what’s more, for a horn with a detachable bell, the sound is strong & projects a great distance. A rare occurrence that should have purists raising an eyebrow.
Heck, even the case is something to shout about. Having reviewed many French horn cases & gig bags in the past, we expected this (one you get included with the horn) to be sub par at best. But how wrong we were. The inner is nicely padded & the case overall seems very plush – more than sufficient at protecting the horn from dints & scrapes.
A pleasant surprise which makes the argument that the Levante 6515 is the best French horn, actually quite a convincing one. #JustSaying
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, especially in relation to its price. So if you’re an Intermediate French hornist or above, don’t pass this by!
4: Hoyer Hans 6802 double French horn
As far as double French horns are concerned, the Hoyer Hans 6802 is a solid choice – 100%!!
We says so because for professionals at least, it ticks a LOT of boxes! We’re particular fans of the sound you get with this horn, that’s slightly more dark & studio-sounding than that you’d find with other horns on this list. So, if you’re looking to create a real atmosphere when you play, this instrument isn’t one to overlook. It has some real presence!
However, what really stood out to us about this French horn was how easy it is to play. Unlike a lot of cheaper intermediate or beginner French horns, the 6802 gives you a serious amount of control over your sound – to play, it’s no on/off switch! Even the smallest breaths creates an input, allowing you as a player to really regulate your sound & form a lot of warm, yet delicate tones.
Then again, we suppose that’s to be expected, because Hoyer Hans developed this horn in association with some of the globe’s most renowned French hornists. And aside from having the build quality to match, this French horn is also joy to hold. While some horns have a fixed finger hook, the one of Hoyer Hans is adjustable – a small, yet useful easter egg! In fact, the only real complaint we’d have about this horn would be the case.
For the price, we’d have liked some form of hard-case, opposed to a gig bag, but eh – you can’t have everything right. Could that make the 6802 the best French horn for sale today? Potentially.
Who’d say the 6802 is the best French Horn?
In the eyes of either a seasoned pro, intermediate player or at the very least, an advancing student, this horn has serious potential. Call it a slightly more fine-tuned Conn 8D (above).
5: Yamaha YHR 567 geyer double horn
If what you look for in a horn is something lightweight, yet responsive, then you’d be a fool to overlook any Yamaha French horn, especially the YHR 567.
And we don’t say that lightly. See this French horn stands out for a reason – as far as playability’s concerned, it’s near-on the perfect recipe. The stand-out feature for us is those valves, which are very much ‘Yamaha’ in nature – they really do move like lightening! So playing jazzy or slightly skittish tunes on this horn, takes very little effort.
We’re also fans of the Bb slide, which is slightly thicker than that you’ll find on most French horns. Then again, you have to expect some differences with the 567, because unlike most doubles, it’s actually a Geyer horn – i.e. the Bb rotor sits directly underneath all the other rotors. A small quirk that almost instantly = bragging rights. Speaking of which, the sound of the YHR 567 is also noteworthy too, especially when equipped with a custom Ron Pinc lead pipe.
The high end on this Yamaha blows that of the YHR 667 out of the water. It’s smooth, punchy & yet not overly sharp. A characteristic you struggle to find on even (quote on quote) the ‘best French horns’!! In fact, our only real niggle with the 567 would be the trigger, which can be a tad slow to respond during fast-paced play.
But then again, 90% of the time that’s not really an issue – the Yamaha YHR 567 is exceptional value, to the point that writing this review has made us a tad reluctant about selling ours. From an owner to an owner, this is 1 special horn!!
Who’d say the YHR 567 is the best French Horn?
The person who buys this Yamaha French horn, is likely chasing a quality horn that’s designed for frequent use. Few players of the YHR 567 do so as a casual hobby. They also understand the fundamentals of French horn & appreciate how the YHR 567 can make everyday play so much more involving.
6: Jupiter JHR 1100D geyer double horn
When in search of the best French Horn, you simply have to consider the JHR 1100D from Jupiter. Why is simple – this horn is all about precision. In fact, it uses Jupiter’s state-of-the-art instrument know-how to make the sound one of the malleable (& accurate) of any French horn to date! A major reason for which, comes back to the brass formulation used to create the horn’s body.
However, it’s the rose brass lead pipe that’s (for us) the star of the show, as it gives this horn a real warmth & tonal colour that you don’t find in every horn. So as you’d imagine, when played as part of a group performance, the Jupiter’s almost instantly recognisable. And yet, being a geyer horn with a big bell, its somewhat delicate sound, projects really far. The 1100D is one of the best double horns when it comes to volume & register!
Combine that with this horn’s smooth rotary valves + the fact it’s super comfortable to hold, & for any budding soloist, it’s pretty much ideal. Its sound is one of the best in class, that lacquered finish makes it proper durable & when it comes to £££, it won’t set you back as much as you might think.
Yes, you only get a wooden case if you opt for a fixed bell (detachable bell models get a gig bag), but when you consider the figures in comparison to the equivalent Hoyer Hans or Yamaha French horn, the 1100D suddenly becomes an incredibly convincing argument.
Who’d say the 1100D is the best French Horn?
Performers and soloists alike, gravitate towards the 1100D. Its bold, but rounded sound really does set it apart during a professional live performance. Although with that being said, this horn is also a great starting point. For any beginner, the 1100D is a great way to transition into a double horn.
7: Stagg 77-FHD/FC Double French Horn (with case)
SPOILER: While there are some Stagg instruments that we’re (let’s just say) not too fond of, that’s thankfully NOT the case with their French horns. If anything, it’s the reverse! Ask us & as an intermediate player, the 77-FHD is pretty much all you need.
So yeah – there are more pricey French horns out there, that offer slight improvements in build or sound – the Conn 8D & those horns by Hoyer Hans & Yamaha, for instance. However, as far as all-round packages go, Stagg French horns are (to us at least) quite appealing. Take this geyer horn for instance.
Despite the price, it’s lacquered, has a strong set of valves & produces a really inviting warm sound. And what’s more, to play this horn is surprisingly easy. Regulate your breathing & you can eeek out an incredible amount of delicate & rich tones. Something we really didn’t expect from a double horn at this price range. Even the valves on the 77-FHD are noteworthy too – their fast action giving you a lot of flexibility when it comes to fast-paced play.
The high end is also something worth mentioning, as while it does take a bit to master, when you do, WOW does it sound the part. Couple that with the fact that Stagg include a really plush case with this horn, & as far as we can see, there’s little to complain about. If we had to though, we’d say that you do get slightly more valve noise than you would on perhaps a Hoyer Hans or Yamaha French horn, but really that’s just us being picky.
For any intermediate player, the 77-FHD does the job… & then some
Who’d say the Stagg is the best French Horn?
That’d be someone who’s likely making the leap up from a beginner French horn to a double, without setting themselves back £1000s. In many ways, Stagg have done what a lot of French horn brands have failed to do. They’re created a budget all-rounder that doesn’t feel ‘budget;’
Other notable mentions…
We could go on days about the best French horns, but unfortunately that’s time we don’t have.
So while we’ve reviewed our top picks in detail, there were also a LOT of other worth contenders that we’d also encourage you to check out before making a purchase. Keep reading for a peek at our other notable mentions…
8: Holton H378 double French horn
9: Conn 6D double French horn
10: Yamaha YHR-668NII crosspiece double French horn
11: Holton H179 Double French Horn
Here’s the best cheap double french horn for beginners…
In the case you’re new to French Horn & fancy trying your luck with a double, then you’d don’t need to spend a lot of £$€
Because when it really boils down to it, you’re buying a French Horn to get a feel for it – less so sculpt a professional-grade sound straight out of the box. Point being that beginner french horns DON’T have to be perfect!! Think of them more as a learning tool, than a super serious instrument.
Hence why if we were a beginner looking to play a double French Horn, we’d opt for something affordable that’s got solid reviews & produces a fine sound. Ask us & if this sounds like what you’re after, the following horn will likely fit the bill…
12: Mendini Double French Horn
Are you a beginner who wants to start on a double horn? Or just want to get a feel for a double before investing in a more pro-grade instrument? If so, then this budget French horn by Mendini, would make for the ideal starting point.
See, aside from being a fraction of the £££ you’d pay for a Jupiter or Yamaha French horn, on the whole, it actually plays pretty well. Now granted, the sound is nowhere near as rich in depth or sculpted as that you’d get on a more professional double, however for a keen beginner, it’s certainly – i.e. for learning the French horn & finding your feet, it’s good enough. And surprisingly, this same trend continues when you touch about build quality.
We were pleasantly surprised by how solid this Mendini horn felt. Considering the price, we expected it to feel a lot less ‘sorted’. The bell for instance, doesn’t feel overly tinny – it’s made of brass. The lead pipe also feels solid & even the valves have a good weight to them. Although with that being said, if you do buy this horn, remember that it’s a budget horn. So to get the best out of it, you need to treat it with care.
Valve strings for instance, are liable to snap pretty easily if you play rough & in comparison to more professional double horns, the Mendini is more liable to dints & scrapes. Then again though, when you consider that learning the French horn only takes around a year (2 for a casual player), this horn does seem like a wise choice, especially if you’re a fast learner.
Who’d say the Mendini is the best French Horn?
The typical player of the Mendini would be someone who’s (A) on a budget, or (B) after a horn which they can use to get a feel for a double horn. Basically, a beginner or lower intermediate player who’s looking to make the leap to double 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….
Best French Horn for professional players = Conn 8D double nickel French Horn
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…
Best French Horn for intermediate players = Jupiter 1100D Double Horn
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 this review of the best double french horns & eager for more? Be sure to jump inot all our Advice On Brass Instruments, as well as our extensive Musical Instrument Knowledge. Recently, we also published an article on the Best Pocket Trumpets + another on the Best Plastic Trumpet, which may also be worth a read.
Or if you want to continue with our best French Horn review, be sure to dive into the FAQs below…