Alexander 103 Review

4.1 Overall
4.6 Users (7 votes)
Pros

- Distinctive fat, dark tone that brightens with volume
- Widely used in Europe, especially Germany
- Good resale value

Cons

- Older models inconsistent
- Can sound stuffy to American horn players
- Relatively expensive

Summary

Alexander's most popular French horn designed over 100 years ago, the 103 is the de-facto standard horn used in Germany and many other European orchestras. Typically produced in either yellow or gold brass, its rich sound has a dark center that warms up to a brassy tone when played at full volume. It is built with a Kruspe-style wrap, but the sound's focus and brassy edge at high volume distinguish it from the popular American Kruspe Conn 8D, a horn critics may consider "tubby" sounding by comparison. The quality of Alexander horns can vary significantly for those produced >10 years ago. Some are absolute gems while others are stuffy and out of tune. The newer horns are much more consistent thanks to improvements in manufacturing processes at their new factory in Mainz, Germany. Check out this video of the Berlin Philharmonic's Sarah Willis trying different Alexander horns in their Berlin shop -- you'll see that even the new horns each of a unique character: some brighter, others darker. Less popular in American orchestras historically, the Alex 103 may not be the ideal choice for US players because the effort of blending in to a section of typical American horns may limit your flexibility. But even for some US pro horn players, the Alex sound is enough of a draw to overcome such hurdles. The new principal horn of the National Symphony, Abel Pereira, plays a 103 while his section play other horns. To hear the 103 for yourself in concert, view this video of Szabolcs Zempleni playing Strauss 2 on a 103. The 103 is an especially good choice for players in larger orchestras where a combined projection and precision are critical.



Also consider: Paxman's 23 model is a different design, but share's the Alexander's rich tonal core and professional build standards.

Tone quality
Playability
Construction
Value for money
What people say... 7 Leave your rating
Alex 103
There is no better horn
October 3, 2017, 2:04 pm
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction5
Value for money3.5
0
0
Alex 103 un beatable but be patient
Changed to a 1970 s built Alex 103 about 18 months ago. I love playing it and the sound is second to none...so rich and sonorous! If you buy one give it time though. It has taken me over a year to get to grips with it, the main problem being accurate pitching. I changed my mouthpiece from a Paxman 4b to a 4a and that has really helped. If you're not sure, get one and work hard to tame it!
August 1, 2017, 6:39 pm
Tone quality5
Playability3.5
Construction4.5
Value for money4
0
0
Best Horn
Great flawless intonation but need time to adapt its high note range. Once you can fully control this horn it will be the only best horn for you. The mouthpiece is deeper than those for intermediate level players. The design is also great, soldered perfectly. I used to have a Holton H378.
June 2, 2017, 2:07 am
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction5
Value for money5
0
0
Borrowed Alex 103
I borrowed my friends Alex 103 from like 1989 or so, and played it for about 4 months while my horn was getting a valve rebuild. It sounded phenomenal but was quite difficult to play. I enjoyed it enough that i looked into trading my horn to buy one, but the cheapest one i found was $6000 and needed work.
May 11, 2017, 5:35 pm
Tone quality5
Playability3.5
Construction4.5
Value for money2
0
0
103
Just changed to a 1960's built 103 - not easy to play BUT the tone quality is magical.
November 4, 2016, 1:59 pm
Tone quality5
Playability4
Construction5
Value for money4
0
3
Best Horn ever, but
not for amateurs
October 7, 2016, 7:34 am
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction5
Value for money5
2
3
103
Love my Alex, which I've played since 1984. Has a magical quality that you don't hear from other horns, at least those I've tested. Really zings!
March 2, 2015, 1:49 am
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction4.5
Value for money5
4
8
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