I’ve been writing a bit lately about my search for a new horn, and I’ve gotten some very helpful advice from lots of people. You can read my previous posts (and the resulting comments) here and here, but to sum things up at this point I have decided to stick with the double horn/descant horn combo, and look for a high quality double horn to replace my aging Yamaha 667V. The most recent horn I tried was Hans Hoyer’s newest model, the G10. After asking around a bit and getting some very positive feedback about the horn from reliable sources, I had one shipped out to me on trial. After playing on the horn exclusively for several days, I decided to send it back. As with the Yamaha triple I tried earlier, I’ve put together a brief list of pros and cons about the instrument.
- Great high range! This was in my opinion one of the best things this horn had going for it. The high range was clear, easy, and in tune.
- Well-balanced, comfortable grip. This is an often overlooked but very important aspect of horn design, and in this case the G10 was very easy to hold and felt great even after extended periods of playing. The adjustable pinky hook and thumb lever helped customize the grip.
- Good sound. I thought the sound of the horn was in general very resonant, and easy to produce. The amount of resistance felt just right to me, and I didn’t feel like I had to work very much to get a good quality sound.
- The lower middle range on the F horn was difficult for me to center and play in tune. In particular the pitches between middle c and first-line e were quite flat on the F side, and I had a very tough time bringing them up to pitch even after the rest of the horn was in tune. Many of these partials do tend to be flat for those valve combinations, but this is usually not a range I have to worry about being in tune with a centered sound.
- Although the horn was in general well-made, I could tell that it was a factory production instrument rather than a custom-built horn. Several small things became minor annoyances for me, such as having trouble removing some of the valve slides even after they were cleaned and greased. A brace on the horn even came loose in the middle of a rehearsal – this may very well have been a random coincidence, and not related to this particular model at all, but it was disconcerting nonetheless. During the entire test period I had babied the horn and treated it with the utmost care, and for a brace to come completely loose for no apparent reason made me think twice about this particular instrument.
Overall I did like certain things about this horn very much, and of course my perceptions of the instrument were influenced by my own individual playing characteristics. Also, having only played on one particular example of this model I can’t speak to the quality or reliability of these horns as a whole, but only the actual instrument I tested. Furthermore, I think the G10 should definitely still be an option for anyone looking for a more affordable, yet still well made instrument. Well, what now? I’m continuing to explore various options out there, but the more I think about things the more I’m considering looking at some of the higher-priced custom made double horns. As I was reading through some materials on selecting and trying new horns, I came across this wonderful advice from Dr. Nicholas Smith, Professor of Horn at Wichita State University and author of the new accuracy book Don’t Miss: Ideas, Concepts, and Exercises Designed to Increase Accuracy on an Inaccurate Instrument. His comments pretty much encapsulate my thought process on finding a new horn up to this point, and helped give me some confidence about any future decisions.
For most young, professional players there comes a point when they realize that their “warhorse” is getting tired…The player can stave off the inevitable change by having the valves plated, the slides expanded, and patches put on weak areas of their old horn, but, eventually, they will come to the conclusion that they need to buy a new instrument.
They begin trying-out different horns and usually gravitate towards one of the hand-built instruments, but are often galled by the cost of these instruments. It seems extreme to have to pay three to four times as much money as their first horn to get an added five to ten percent security or improvement in playing qualities.
Here’s the advice I give my students and former students. SPEND THE MONEY! IT’S YOUR CAREER. Besides, the horn will never get cheaper if you wait, and in the final analysis, it’s one of the few tax deductions we still have. In the long run a more efficient horn will make the job easier, decrease playing pressure, and can even extend your career. (p. 42)
In case you are taking suggestions…
I suggest the Lewis Durk X5 horn. I switched over almost a year ago now from an Engelbert Schmid double, and have never been more satisfied each day that I pick up the horn, because it continues to get better every day.
-Extreme Security of note centers in all registers (ESPECIALLY about the staff and in the middle C to 1st Space F range that you talked about with the Hoyer)
-Main, F Side, and B flat tuning slides.
-Traditional Geyer sound that can fit into most orchestral sections, sounds good as a solo horn, and works very well in chamber groups.
-Very detailed, and meticulous craftsmanship.
-Came brand new as a free blowing, resonating instrument and continues to get better each day.
The only thing I have found that is awkward on the horn is that if I am playing a blastissimo dynamic on the 4th line E the pitch goes very flat. This is a problem that happens on a lot of older Lewis horns, so the design must have something to do with it. I compensate by both nudging the B flat middle crook in a little and making all of those harmonics about 2 cents sharp (better to be sharp than out of tune) and I just make sure I am blowing DOWN in to the center of the pitches on them… and when the time comes to play a ridiculously loud 4th line E, I try to be aware of it. I’ve written a lot about that problem here, but it really isn’t much of a big deal, but it is something I have come across.
Thanks Nick! I was planning on trying one of those at the Southeast Horn Workshop this year. Does the LDx5 take an American shank mouthpiece, or a European shank?
The cool thing is, if you order it, you can do either one. I can’t remember which mine is (the mouthpiece doesn’t go in quite as far as the other one) but it DOES make a difference. You are welcome to play on mine at SEHW, as well. See you there!
Awesome – thanks!
Nick clearly knows more–but as far as I understand, the X5 leadpipe is made by Mr Lewis.
According to the Lewis & Duerk website, the LDx5 leadpipe is an “Original S.W. Lewis, nickel silver with a standard water key and engraved logo plate.” Since these horns seem to be played quite a bit both in Europe and America, it’s a smart move to have the option of taking either an American or European shank mouthpiece.
That is correct, James. The ldx5 horn, as well as its leadpipe, are all the original Lewis design. The design is constructed in Germany by Dietmar Durk. depending on where you are, the leadpipe is built to accept the correct shank. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure mine is the American shank. There was some confusion about it when I was at IHS in Brisbane so I got confused about it, but I’m pretty sure since I’m in the US they sent it over with the American Shank.
I am shopping for a Hoyer G10 right now and your comments are very helpful. Did you give any thought about trying another G10 to see if what you didn’t like about that horn was a problem with that individual horn and not the model in general?
Thanks for your question. Yes, I have thought about trying another Hoyer G10. My plan is to try a few of the pricier custom doubles out there and see how they stack up against the Hoyer. If the difference (to me) is negligible, then I would seriously consider trying another G10. By the way, Ken Pope currently has a used G10 on his website at a very reasonable price. http://www.poperepair.com/product/hoyer_g_10_double
One thing I can strongly recommend is to take a look at Patterson Hornworks (http://www.hornworks.com). I bought a stock Hans Hoyer 5801CK (the previous Geyer wrap model before the G10) from a classified ad on hornplayer.net a few years ago, and although generally happy with the instrument, it did have some issues. I sent it off to Patterson Hornworks initially with the thought of just having them install a new leadpipe they had introduced at the time, but then decided to have them do the full Hybrid Conversion process (described in more detail on the site). I’ve been incredibly happy with it since then – they describe the process as sort of giving you some of the benefits of a custom horn while still being a bit more affordable since you’re starting with a stock instrument (they can do this process on many horns, not just Hoyers).
I know they are doing this Hybrid conversion process with the new Hoyer G10’s, so might be worth looking into. Either way, I can highly recommend their work – great to work with, and for a pretty reasonable cost, I think I got a lot of value out of it.
Thanks for the recommendation Justin! I have heard lots of great things about Patterson leadpipes, conversions, etc.
Sorry to chime into your conversation here, but I’m a young hornplayer who recently got an ldx5 on trial to replace my old 57 year old paxman, and I’m having a pretty big accuracy issue when slurring up to a D from a fourth space C, it seems impossible for me to get a clean slur, and I was just wondering if this was something that would improve with playing it for a long time, or not.
Sorry for my delayed response. Having never played on any Lewis-Duerk horns, I can’t really say if the problem is common on those horns or not. Perhaps Nick or one of the other people who commented on this post can offer some information. One possibility may be the fit of the mouthpiece shank into the leadpipe.
Hi Bob… yes, as James said, check out whether or not your LDx5 has a euro or american shank and check what your mouthpiece is. That issue can really make a difference when you are talking about slurring large octaves like minor 7ths. I haven’t ever had a problem with note security and/or slurs on this horn. When I was younger I had them all the time, so I blamed myself! Check your mouthpiece first, and then find some great etudes with large slurs!
I bought my LDx5 from Siegfried’s Call last July. My observations are the same as Nick. I had some mouthpiece challenges to overcome that I wrote at length about on my facebook “notes” sections. Feel free to check them out: email@example.com
The solution for me was Tom Greer’s “Y” taper. Best of luck and let us know how things are coming.
Thanks Robert! I did complete my horn search – here’s the update: https://hornworld.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/horn-search-complete-for-now/
I recently received a Hoyer 7800 series for a play trial and also had a brace with a failed solder connection. The retailer told me they have been having this problem with others and that Hoyer has changed from silver solder to a cheaper solder and it is not holding up. Has anyone else heard this or experienced this problem? I also have one slide which is stubborn. Otherwise I love how it plays. Hate to send it back, but will I be repairing solder joints for the life of the horn???