Thoughts on the Yamaha YHR 891 Triple Horn

If you’ve been reading my blog regularly you know that I’m in the process of trying out some new horns.  This week I had the opportunity to play on a Yamaha YHR 891 full triple horn, which was being sold used at a very reasonable price online.  The horn arrived in good condition, and although it had clearly been used, everything on it worked as it should.  To help me in my decision I put together a pros and cons list which sums up my impressions of the instrument.

Pros

  1. B-flat and high F side very even and responsive.  Less difference in tone quality between these two sides than on my descant horn.
  2. A similar “feel” to my Yamaha 667v double horn.
  3. High F lever(s) easy to use and reach.  This triple was set up so that depressing both thumb levers put the horn in high F.

Cons

  1. Although I’ve been told that Yamaha triples are among the lightest out there, compared to my double the horn was still a bit heavy.  This was no surprise to me, but after playing on it for a while I did notice some of the effects of the extra weight.  I didn’t notice the excess weight so much in my arms and shoulders as directly at the embouchure.  This sounds a bit weird, but I felt like the horn was pulling the mouthpiece down on my embouchure, a very unsettling feeling.
  2. Intonation on the low F side was difficult for me to adjust to.  Again, this is an issue with triples that I had heard about from numerous sources.  However, this may not have been an issue with the horn but with my own playing instead.  Regardless of the cause, I felt like I was having to work much harder to play down into the bottom range of the horn.
  3. In rehearsal with the faculty brass trio it was difficult to match articulations and projection with the trumpet and trombone.  I play with this group regularly, and this was an important factor to consider.  One of the members of the trio also commented that the horn sounded a bit “dead” in comparison to the double.  Again, this may not have been an issue with the horn.

If you couldn’t tell from my list above, I decided to send the horn back and keep trying some other instruments.  First let me say that this particular instrument was very well made, and it might be the perfect horn for another player.  For me though it didn’t seem like a good fit.  Adjusting to the horn would have probably taken me quite a while, and I’ve got several performances coming up over the next few months.  Also, the feedback from my colleagues wasn’t very favorable, and I respect their opinions.  One other factor was that I didn’t think I’d be able to “do it all” on this horn, and I can’t really afford to keep both a double and a triple right now.   My plan all along has been to sell the double when and if I purchase a new horn, be it a double or a triple.  All in all I’m very glad I tried the horn, and if nothing else the experience has given me some insight into what I’m looking for in a new instrument.  To be continued…

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