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.
No Lawson website seems to exist. Are they still a functioning business?
Kendall Betts, who was the owner of Lawson Horns, recently passed away. Kendall’s artistry, wit, and unique sense of humor will be greatly missed.
Anyone know what became of the company? They must have had a large inventory of machines , jigs, parts , etc.. I wonder if any of the craftsmen will try to continue the firm. I was in NH back in October for a short vacation and drove by their address but it looked like they had moved out.
I am a former professional horn player who had to retire after a lip injury. I used a Lawson mouthpiece and am wondering if there is a way to acquire a new more comfortable rim as I try to work my way back to playing for pleasure.
There are lots of great mouthpiece makers out there. My suggestion would be to order several different types of rims on trial and see which ones you like. A websites to check out are:
You might be able to get Osmun to make you a rim with Lawson threads.
I have some questions about my Lawson mouthpieces….I have Lawson cups, F660 and S660, and was wondering what is the difference (as a former horn player, I cannot remember which one I used and why). I also have 2 Lawson rims, B23G-695 and P10G – 695, and again cannot remember which one I used and why. At one time I had the spec sheets on these but no longer……
Thanks for any info anyone can give.
Thanks for reading! You might contact either Ken Pope or Dennis Houghton. They may be able to provide more information to you. Also, I think Lawson Horns has been purchased by Aaron Beck of Beck Brass Works. http://beckbrassworks.com/
yes Aaron is busy getting set up for production so he isn’t doing other repairs etc. I recently chatted with him and he was quite enthusiastic. also got a referral for Alexander accoutrements from Phil Alexander, contact Ken Pope when you drive up to the Boston Area to see either Ken or Aaron