Lawson Horns has a reputation for producing some of the most well-crafted and acoustically “perfect” horns around. For those unfamiliar with Lawson horns, the company was founded by master craftsman Walter Lawson (1923-2007), who retired from horn making and sold his business to Kendall Betts in 2006. Lawson has recently updated its website http://www.lawsonhorns.com/ and the company seems to be in great hands. Although the website is of course geared towards Lawson instruments, there is also a wealth of information which can be applied to all horns. For example, the “Customizing Horns FAQ” includes the following discussion on horn tapers.
With two types of tapers, two thicknesses for the bell tail, two thicknesses for the bell flare, five alloys for construction, and five choices of alloys for the bell, you can customize your new Model 804 in two hundred possible combinations – just another reason why Lawson Horns is a leading maker of custom horns!
We receive many questions about how different aspects of our custom horns affect their instruments. Please take the time below to read as many of the most common questions will be answered.
What is the taper?
The taper, or bore of the instrument as it widens, is how quickly the horn moves from the small size at the end of the mouthpiece to the bell.
Why does the taper matter?
Many horns are built in similar fashion, but even a variance of .001 of an inch can have a critical impact on a horn. Our horns are built to the highest standard and years of research have been done to ensure that Lawson Horns are the most efficient horns built.
What is the thickness?
The thickness of the horn is how thick is the wall of tail (or last turn of the horn) and final bell flare. With most horns, this can vary in extremes from .005” on thin, small brass horns to .020” or larger for large orchestral horns. This thickness is very important to how the horn responds, and more detailed information can be found on our research page.
What are the playing differences between .020” and .016” (Lite) horns?
The thicker wall yields a little louder sound with a somewhat richer overtone series and certainly is more mechanically sound, while the lighter material seems to have a quicker, cleaner response, lighter tone and ‘locks-in’ a little better. Chamber or ensemble musicians may find a lighter instrument fits that style better; whereas, a heavier horn might make sense for larger classical groups, but it must always be kept in mind that the player has enormous control over the instrument’s characteristic sound.
Can I have my horn in one thickness, and the bell in another?
While many players prefer a matched thickness, we can make bell tails and bell flares in either thickness.
Does the alloy selection really make that much of a difference?
Yes, the material of the horn’s composition, particularly the bell tail and flare, has an effect on the sound, response, and feel.
What is ‘Ambronze’?
In 1979, Lawson introduced a new alloy which had been used previously in architecture but never was applied to musical instruments. The result was a strong, workable metal which became one of our most popular alloys called “Ambronze.”
What is ‘Nickel Bronze’?
A search for the alloy that the famous Kruspe nickel silver horn was made from yielded another new alloy to the musical instrument world: Nickel-Bronze. This is the closest alloy available now to the pre-WWII German nickel silver used by Kruspe.
See the links below for other discussions on the Lawson Horns website.