Book Review: The Essential Guide to Horn Maintenance, by Glen Perry

The subject of maintaining and performing basic repairs on the horn is obviously very important, but to my knowledge it has not been discussed previously in a single, dedicated volume. Glen Perry, a freelance horn player and professional repair technician, takes on this daunting task in his new book, The Essential Guide to French Horn Maintenance. Drawing on his thirty years of experience, Perry – whose Hornworld website predates my own by several years – has put together a fantastic and very user-friendly guide. Although I have produced some tutorial videos and other materials for students on this topic, I am by no means an expert, and it is great to see something published by a professional repair technician. After reading through the book a couple of times, I am very impressed with his thorough (yet straightforward) explanations.

All of the major issues are covered, including several basic but frequently misunderstood tasks like oiling valves, greasing slides, and changing strings.  More detailed procedures such as removing and re-seating rotors and replacing valve and water key springs are also given plenty of discussion. One of the most fascinating chapters for me is “Repair Tools and Supplies.” It contains very handy checklists of equipment and supplies, as well as instructions for fashioning tools for replacing springs and removing and re-seating rotors. Good repair professionals tend to be very busy, and it is extremely rare (and welcome!) to see these tricks of the trade explained in detail. Another chapter is devoted to evaluating the condition of a horn, and covers everything from finding loose braces to testing valve compression. Though widely applicable, chapters on temporary repairs and long term storage of the horn will be especially useful to band directors and other music educators.

Though self-published, the layout and overall appearance of the book is very professional. One minor criticism is that  I would have liked to see spiral binding instead of glue binding so that the guide could be laid flat on a music stand or work table. In addition, while I know it would have been more costly to include color images, explanations of some of the more detailed procedures might have benefited from color (or at least higher-resolution) photos. However, these are very small issues with an otherwise excellent guide. It is highly recommended for music educators and horn players at all levels, and should be considered essential reading for all horn teachers and band directors. Bravo and thank you to Glen Perry for producing a terrific book!

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2 Comments

Hi James,
As always a useful & informative blog but in this instance I have to disagree with you on Mr Perry’s book. It may of course be that my disappointing is because I had hoped for rather more than the book gives. I had hoped for more information and advice than the many times I came across, seek advice form your nearest professional repairer. For me the whole reason for buying the book was to enable me to do repairs myself since I do not have a decent brass repairer near me. I was hoping for far more than the book delivered which while there are some great hints & tips turned out to be covering only the most basic of repairs.

There is of course no pleasing everyone and the book is titled maintenance but on the whole, disappointing.

Kind regards
Phil Maguire

Hi Phil,
Thanks very much for reading! I also appreciate your thoughtful critique of Mr. Perry’s book. For me, the book presents a fair amount of information, without getting unwieldy. It is true that Mr. Perry could have covered many more repairs, such as dent removal, valve lapping/rebuilding, chemical/ultrasonic cleaning, etc. But from what little I know of brass repair, these more extensive procedures require years of experience to be executed properly and also thousands of dollars in equipment. I don’t want to speak for Mr. Perry, but perhaps he was hesitant to delve into these areas precisely because they are so involved.

Sincerely,

James

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[…] Water Key Tension Tool/Installer:  This little device is meant to hold tension on the spring as you install it, and seemed like a very handy item to have. However, I wasn’t able to use it for this particular job because it simply wouldn’t fit in the space without hitting the tubing. Should you wish to make one of these yourself, you can find detailed instructions in Glen Perry’s The Essential Guide to Horn Maintenance. […]

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