Holton Merker Matic Review

4.4 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Pros
- Nice consistency through range
- Compact design
- Strong high register
Cons
- Values can get sluggish
Summary
On first glance, Holton's Merker Matic series horns are hard to distinguish from the popular Holton Farkas line - but for the characteristic dome-shaped rotor caps. But pick the horn up, and you'll notice it's a bit smaller. Ethal Merker, former associate principal in the Chicago Symphony, designed this series to appear especially to smaller-framed players who want the richness of the Conn 8D without its size and heft. The dome-shaped values are not all show; they add extra weight to the value cluster, helping to add more richness to the sound. The Merker Matic series are dual bore horns, meaning the F and Bb sides of the instrument are different sizes: .468 on the F side and .460 on the Bb side. This helps facilitate easier playing in the high register without sacrificing richness in the mid range. Some players complain that earlier models have sluggish value action, so consider oiling this horn more often than others.

The Merker Series, now discontinued, come in several different models: the H175 (nickel silver), H176 (rose bronze bell), H189 (larger bell nickel silver), H183 (brass), H292 (Geyer-style). The H175 and H176 are the most popular variations.

To hear the Merker Matic in action, check out the following video: Gliere Horn Concerto, Steve Park.


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Schmid French Horn Review

4.4 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Pros

-Light
-Easy to play
-Popular with pros

Cons

-Expensive
-Spots can appear on bell

Summary

Engelbert Schmid horns have sky-rocketed in popularity over the last decade, with converts ranging from Phil Myers of the NY Philharmonic to Pip Eastop of the London Chamber Orchestra. What's all the fuss about? This German horn maker is quickly gaining a reputation for innovative manufacturing practices that are resulting in more efficient, lighter weight horns. This is especially beneficial for Schmid's popular triple horns. "Mathematics and physics were my favorite subjects in high school," says Mr. Schmid, who uses digital models to construct horns to exacting standards of measurement.


Schmid double horns are designed using Geyer/Knopf foundation, typically resulting in great smoothness of slurs at the expensive of some intonation issues on certain notes. Schmid has taken extensive efforts to solve the intonation inconsistencies, one reason why pros are gravitating toward these horns.


Another typical characteristic of Geyer/Knopf style horns is a brighter sound. Popular in many American orchestras, the brighter tone is less appreciated in Germany, where Schmid horns are made. Schmid horns have a sufficiently dark tone to win over 8D holdouts and tempt some loyal Alexander players, but have their own sound that is unique. "I wanted to tone down the often aggressive core of German horn playing and to produce a more noble sound," says Schmid. Schmid offers a number of customization options with bell and metal combinations, allowing players to make the ideal sound for them.


Schmid horns have one notable defect that may be especially apparent on used models: the lacquer around the bell may start to deteriorate resulting in small spots. If you prick them with a pin when you first notice them, it can help to reduce the spreading. While these spots don't affect tone quality, it is not expected for a horn in this price range. But spots or not, the Schmid horns are in high demand by top players and as a result hold their value very well.



Also consider: Especially within Germany, the Schmid's main competition is the popular Alexander 103 which has a stronghold on the market.

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Jupiter 1150 Review

4 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Pros

- Good value
- Newer model

Cons

- Not widely played
- Considered a student horn

Summary

Jupiter French horn line might be called the red-headed stepchild of the horn world, lacking the popularity and reputation of competitors such as Holton and Conn. Jupiter's sole focus is the mid-low price range market and as a result their horns are not taken seriously and are virtually unheard of in the professional world.


But while other more popular brands have been resting on their reputations without much innovation, Jupiter has recently invested in a new model that's starting to gain some attention: the 1150. A Geyer-style wrap, the 1150 shares many of the design qualities of more expensive horns but at a significant price discount.


The horn has a compact, warm sound that is clear and consistent through the ranges, especially the upper register where the horn really rings. To hear the Jupiter 1150 screaming some high notes, check out this video.The Geyer design makes slurs on this horn especially nice. And at loud volumes, the horn does not lose clarity giving it good projection in a concert hall. More mature players may consider this horn to be limiting in tonal flexibility, however it is a solid recommendation for beginning and intermediate students who want a new horn at a more reasonable price. The detachable bell version is especially attractive compared to competitor prices.


Cost: The Jupiter 1150 currently sells for $3,300 new.



Also consider: The most direct competitor is Yamaha's model 567. Another horn in this price range worth considering is the Holton H379.


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Holton H181 Review

3.9 Overall
4.3 Users (1 vote)
Pros

- Big sound with nuance
- Unique rose brass construction

Cons

- Sound can be dark for some taste

Summary

The Holton H181 (and its detachable bell counterpart, the H281) is a Farkas style Kruspe wrap horn, whose differentiating feature is a rose brass bell that helps the horn project and resonate with a richer sound compared to the nickle silver H179. The rose brass bell also adds some additional tonal nuance especially at louder volumes.


Because the H181/H281 have a larger bell which already results in a richer sound, some may advocate the "darkening" quality of rose brass exaggerates the already dark tone of the larger bore Farkas design. But for players seeking this sound, the H181 is a good option because it provides some more nuance and flexibility compared to other traditionally dark-sounding horns such as the Conn 8D in rose brass.


Overall, the H181/H281 is a great horn for an intermediate or mature player who is comfortable projecting a strong sound but wants some flexibility to play at a range of dynamics.


Cost: The Holton H181 sells for $4,350 new.


Also consider: The Holton H180 and H179 are similarly designed models with different levels of responsiveness varying tonal colors. See our Holton French horn guide for more models.


Tone quality
Playability
Construction
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What people say... 1 Leave your rating
Holton 181
Before i purchased the 181, I had the chance to try out the paxman series 4. I ended up with the h181. In my opinion, the paxman 4 is a great instrument, however i feel that the sound is rather thin and more to the bright side. It doesnt feel free blowing as the 181 did.
The 181 sound is dark and somewhat mellow but please be careful with the bell. Its rather thin, seriously thin.
I paired the horn with a breslmair wien mouthpiece and as a result the sound is more focused, tone clearer, pitch inproved and less resistance while playing.

I wouldn't recomment the 181 if you're a high horn player. I reckon the 179 would be better for high players.
April 24, 2017, 11:10 pm
Tone quality4.5
Playability4.5
Construction4
Value for money4
0
0
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Conn 11D & 11DE Review

3.8 Overall
4.4 Users (2 votes)
Pros

- Open sound with ease of control
-Strong low register
- Lower cost alternative to custom Geyer style horns

Cons

- Inconsistent manufacturing quality

- High Bb is hard to produce

Summary

The 11D is a medium sized Geyer style horn that provides a bit more openness of tone compared to its small-bell cousin the Conn 10D. Both of these "open wrap" Geyer horns by Conn contrast with the more widely known and larger "closed wrap" Conn 8D, emphasizing tonal focus and ease of control over the large sound produced by the 8D. Within the price range and style, the Conn 11D and 10D's key competitors are the Yamaha 667 and the slightly more expensive Hoyer G10. So how does it stack up? Conn's Geyer style horns--a design that's increasingly popular across all manufacturers-- have not gained the same popularity as the Yamaha 667 Geyer horns, in part because the Conn 8D overshadows them as Conn's legacy brand.


But they have developed some traction. Canadian Brass hornist Bernhard Scully plays on a gold plated 11D because Conn is now the official instrument sponsor of the Canadian Brass (just as Yamaha before them), we'll may see younger players gravitating towards these horns. If they're good enough for the Canadian Brass are they good enough for any professional? While the horn design is solid and quite similar to much more expensive horns, players say the build quality is hit or miss. Some have reported some sloppy manufacturing practices, as highlighted in this video from Houghton Horns.


Typical of Geyer-style horns, some notes in the high register are squirrely - a sacrifice many are willing to pay for other benefits. On this horn, the Bb above the staff can be difficult to produce with the standard trigger + 1 fingering. But lower horn players should be pleased with the 11D's comparatively open and clear sound below the staff, which is better than many higher priced Geyer-style horns. Learn more about Conn horns.


If transitioning from a Kruspe-style horn, we recommend trying the rose brass bell version which offers a more similar dark sound than the yellow brass.


UPDATE: As of 2015, the 11D has been replaced by the 11DE. Improvements include a redesigned F branch, offering a more open sound. Other cosmetic improvements a new adjustable pinky hook (a big plus for players with smaller or larger than average hands) and two spit values. Once we have a chance to play this redesigned horn and get player feedback, we'll update this review.


Cost: The 11DE sells for $4,459 new.



Also consider: A similar horn with fewer manufacturing complaints, the Yamaha 667 is a very popular Geyer style horn.

Tone quality
Playability
Construction
Value for money
What people say... 2 Leave your rating
Conn 8D to 11DRS
Definitely easier to blow than 8D. Love the sound and playability. It would be nice to have a spit valve which DE provides. With a new leadpipe I think this horn will be as good as more expensive models out there.
April 14, 2017, 3:32 am
Tone quality4.5
Playability4.5
Construction4
Value for money5
0
0
good geyer
I tested out a couple horns, 10d, 667 and liked the 11d best, but that could have been my own luck. Blends well in my section which has diverse horns. Have not encountered any manufacturing issues yet but only been playing it a year.
June 13, 2015, 5:16 pm
Tone quality4
Playability5
Construction4.5
Value for money3
0
2
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Hans Hoyer 6801 & 6802 Review

4.8 Overall
5 Users (4 votes)
Pros

- Centered tone with variety of colors
- Plays much like an original Kruspe
- Thumb key movable for different hand sizes

Cons

- Comparatively heavy

Summary

The Hans Hoyer 6801 and 6802 Heritage horns are copies of the original Kruspe horns, like the more widely known Conn 8D. Kruspe horns have achieved legendary status in the horn world for their beautiful tone quality. But since production discontinued, there are very few working Kruspe horns in existence today. Conn 8Ds made pre-1969 now carry on the Kruspe horn legacy, but even these Conn horns are getting too old to play and maintain. And whether it is perceived or reality, the consensus is newer Conn 8Ds don't have the same magical tone quality.


The Hoyer 6800 series horns endeavor to emulate the now legendary Kruspe sound but with the added benefit of more modern manufacturing and consistency. The owner of Hans Hoyer, Gerhard Meinl, set out to make this Kruspe copy by working closely with regarded professionals including Myron Bloom and Vince DeRosa who play in the Krupse horn style. The result is a very well made horn that to many is a truer copy of the original Kruspe than even the best Conn 8Ds. This especially comes out in the upper register, which sings more on the Hoyer 6800 horns and is easier to play in. The lower register is also strong, especially on the F side of the horn. The Bb side can be a little stuffier down there.


As a German made horn, the 6800 series horns sent to America are given a longer tuning slide to account for the lower pitch that US-based orchestras tune to. If you are an American horn player purchasing from Europe or vice versa, we suggest you make sure the tuning is in line with what you expect before buying. Buying a Hoyer 6801 used can be a challenge due to both the dearth of horns in circulation and high demand, but this also means the horn will hold its value well if you do choose to buy new.


An added benefit of the 6800s is the adjustable thumb trigger. Many players with smaller hands complain the 8D's thumb trigger is placed in an awkward position. On the Hoyer you can adjust to better fit your hand size.


The difference between the 6801 and 6802 is that the former has mechanical valve linkages while the latter has string. While some horn manufacturers have rather noisy mechanical linkages, the Hoyer horns are very quiet. Hans Hoyer also manufactures a 7801 and 7802 version of this model, the only difference being more specially made value caps and bell. We recommend the sticking with the 6800 series unless money is no object to you.


To hear the 6802 being played, see this video from Hans Hoyer featuring a Hollywood solo artist featured in a recent Star Trek movie.


Cost: The 6801 sells for $5,379 new.


Buy it New           Find it Used >>


Also consider: The Yamaha 668II is a similar Kruspe-style horn that is slightly less expensive than the Hoyer.


Tone quality
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Construction
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What people say... 4 Leave your rating
My Hoyer Horn
I have been playing on my 7802 for just over nine years. The only issues I have ever had with my horn are ones I have caused by dropping it, or mishandling it. It has been a very sturdy and reliable horn. The Bb side can tend to lean sharp, but is easily bent back down with some effort and a good mouthpiece. Great in all registers, and capable of many different tones and colors of sound.
January 29, 2017, 5:37 am
Tone quality5
Playability4.5
Construction5
Value for money5
0
1
6801 Heritage
I have been playing this horn for almost 4 years now and I love every aspect of it. It is balanced, has excellent tone, and high and low ranges speak clearly. An excellent horn.
July 11, 2016, 2:45 am
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction5
Value for money5
0
5
Simply Gorgeous
The tone that a half decent player can extract from this glorious instrument is the reason why we all love the French Horn. The operator said in B flat is effortless and it's only the pedal notes that you really need to play in F. All in all, this one is a winner.
April 18, 2016, 2:30 pm
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction5
Value for money5
5
6
Best horn i have ever played
Its amazing to play with this horn.
The greatest advantage is the awsome and beautiful sound.
Love it.
December 28, 2015, 7:39 pm
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction4.5
Value for money5
1
10
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Conn 6D Review

4.1 Overall
3.5 Users (4 votes)
Pros

- Good value for the money
- Eastlake models are well made
- Easier to play than Conn 8D

Cons

- Not considered a "professional horn" like the 8D

Summary

The Conn 6D is designed similarly to its more popular Kruspe-style cousin the Conn 8D, but the horn is a bit smaller and about 25% less expensive -- making it a popular choice for younger students who find the 8D too unwieldy and out of budget. Because of the smaller size, the horn can feel easier to play and respond. This is particularly helpful when playing quick passages where the notes need to come out right away, or in smaller ensemble settings where an 8D's sound might come across as too big and "woofy". While the 6D does have more of a student reputation, it should not be overlooked by even more advanced players seeking a more controlled tone and ease of playing. In fact, back in the mid 20th century the 6D was considered a more professional level horn. The original Star Trek movie solos were recorded on Conn 6Ds.


As with all Conn horns, you need to be careful about buying used. Manufacturing problems plagued Conn in the 1970s and early 80s when their plant moved to Texas. Any horns made prior to that time in Elkhart are extremely valuable. And those made after 1986, in Eastlake, are generally of better quality. There are many great used 6Ds on the market for a careful buyer at good value.


Bottom line: Because the 6D has not enjoyed the same professional lime light as the 8D, it is perceived as less valuable in the marketplace. Discerning players should use this perceived weakness to their advantage and pick up a well made horn whose ease of playing and strong sound belie its 25% price discount compared to the 8D. The 6D is featured on our list of best cheap horns.


Cost: The 6D sells for $3,300 new.


Comparing used horns? Check out our Used Horn Deal Tracker

Also consider: The Holton H379 is a comparably priced intermediate horn with a good reputation for consistency and playability.


Tone quality
Playability
Construction
Value for money
What people say... 4 Leave your rating
Awful configuration
This is the weirdest horn. It plays alright, but it gets condensation much faster than I'm used to. I wouldn't ever buy this horn on my own.
October 8, 2017, 3:23 pm
Tone quality3
Playability3
Construction0.5
Value for money2.5
1
0
Great Intermediate Horn
First things first the main flaw I find with the horn is that it's very hard to compete in a large concert band setting with when everyone else is conn 8d's and Yamaha 668s. So if you're going to honor band it's going to be a struggle to even be heard without sounding bright or blatty. Yeah, the blattyness aspect of the horn is pretty present and low notes don't speak quite as clearly as some would hope. But then again I am comparing this horn to horns twice its price. Despite all this, it does great at being a beginning and intermediate instrument. And on top of that, it blends so nicely within a smaller band and orchestras (not mahler-esque movements). It's a pretty sturdy instrument and one more thing to notice is that in solo works sound nice and focused on this horn. The B Flat side does play much more comfortably on the F side but for the skill group this horn is aimed at I don't think it matters too much. In short, It's a great horn for those early years when you trying to understand what is this contraption called music. It is a little bit pricey as you can find some pretty good horns of even less price. For example, Kessler and Son's offer a soloist series french horn for 1.2 K and it imo has a more solid build and tone quality.
February 17, 2017, 5:23 am
Tone quality3
Playability3
Construction4.5
Value for money2.5
0
1
Ultimately up to the player
First and foremost, this horn WILL NOT HOLD the player back given that the horn is in good condition. The medium throat does change how the horn plays compared to an 8d, however, any differences between the two horns can be overcome simply based on the player. The right amount of talent can make the 6d sing just as well as an 8d. This horn is quite a solid choice for a horn if you're perhaps a college/high school student. In short, Conn's mass produced "intermediate model" is perhaps just as strong as an 8d and sometimes even better in certain situations. Awesome construction, and will last decades when given proper care. Would recommend this horn!
October 28, 2016, 4:20 am
Tone quality4
Playability4
Construction5
Value for money4
0
4
Big Sound
I began playing the horn at the tender age of 12 and it was a fantastic fit. I played all through High School and went to college on a music scholarship (which are hard to come by). That was 15 years ago and I have recently picked up my horn again and started playing in the local community orchestra. I am not an accomplished hornist to say the least, but I do know my way around the instrument and feel confident in giving the 6D a review.

The Conn 6D has a BIG sound! This has a lot to do with the large wrap that is so common in American made horns. There is a relatively low amount of resistance when you blow through the horn which can be a good thing, and a bad thing. It offers very crisp responsiveness and as long as you know where you're going, it is a very friendly instrument to play. Don't let this fool you, because if you don't have an ear for where the next note is, you're not going to hit it. The 6D is very unforgiving in this respect. The tone of the instrument has everything to do with the individual horn, how much damage it has endured over the years, and quite simply how much stress there is on the braces. I recently picked up a used Elkhart M series that has been through its paces, and when I picked it up to play, I sounded like a middle schooler. I plan to have this horn reconditioned and cut the bell for a screw bell conversion. By taking out the stress on the braces, and offering a little extra mass to the bell I hope to improve the overall tone and resonance of the horn.

All in all, this is a solid horn to play and I am excited to add it to the ever growing family of instruments that I have.
August 8, 2016, 9:09 pm
Tone quality3.5
Playability3.5
Construction4.5
Value for money4.5
0
2
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Yamaha 567 Review

4.3 Overall
3 Users (4 votes)
Pros

- Small size ideal for students
- Well made
- Easy to play

Cons

- Tonal flexibility is limited
- Some notes require careful tuning

Summary

The Yamaha 567 is a Geyer-style horn designed for beginning and intermediate level students. Becoming increasingly popular with professionals, the Geyer design gives the horn a focused, compact and bright tone quality -- compared to the dark "woof" sound of Kruspe style horns such as the Conn 8D. These qualities can make the 567 easier to play than other horns. The smaller bell size is also an added benefit for younger students, whose hands can sometimes get lost in the larger bell horns.


While the 567 may be easier to play, every horn design has some trade offs. Some players complain the middle F on this horn is hard to tune and that the high range can be difficult to lock in on select notes. Additionally, the layout does not give the horn as much projection as a large wrap horn or more professional-level Geyer horn.


But within its price range, the 567 is a strong contender. With a level of durability that other models do not have, the 567 can last a good student through high school without major repair work needed. This build quality also extends to consistency in playability across these horns. Even the smallest manufacturing inconsistencies can alter a horn's playing dynamics, and Yamaha's manufacturing standards are among the best.


Cost: The Yamaha 567 sells for $3,350 new.

Buy it New           Find it Used >>


Also consider: we recommend Yamaha's step up from this horn: the 667. Within the same price range, we recommend checking out the Holton H379.


Tone quality
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Construction
Value for money
What people say... 4 Leave your rating
Easy pitching horn
Prior to this horn I was playing a Yamaha 664, a Kruspe horn. I must admit, the tone quality on the 567 is rather brighter and I if all the slides are pushed in, I often get a semi-tone higher than the pitched tone. Nevertheless, this horn should be able to last your playing career if you're not going professional.
March 22, 2017, 12:54 am
Tone quality3.5
Playability4.5
Construction3.5
Value for money4.5
0
0
Good Intermediate Horn
In this price range, this is a strong contender. I currently play one and with my mouthpiece I believe that this has a clearer and more projected tone than the Conn 8Ds and Yamaha 668IIs in my section. The middle F is very hard to tune and on my horn I have to pull out the 1st valve slide about 1 1/2 inches for that note to get in tune. Other than that, notes lock in very well, and can produce a clear, smooth sound. It had no problem projecting on a solo in a recent concert. Just note that the valves can get a bit sluggish sometimes.
December 8, 2016, 4:02 am
Tone quality4
Playability4
Construction4.5
Value for money4
0
4
Good Begginner's Horn
Great for learning, however I found that it can become rather restrictive to the more advanced player. There are also some major engineering faults in the design, I had issues with the solder connecting the tubing above the valves to the valves themselves coming undone. This horn was being hired however, and in relatively poor condition. Overall though, it made a great horn to learn on before progressing to something of higher quality.
March 28, 2016, 10:14 am
Tone quality3.5
Playability4
Construction2.5
Value for money4.5
0
0
happy with it
I have smaller hands and this horn is a great fit. Not quite as loud as the Conns in my section but I think it plays better and I'm able to get to high Bb with no problems. Happy I went with this horn.
April 4, 2015, 3:07 pm
Tone quality0
Playability0
Construction0
Value for money0
1
2
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Holton H379 Review

3.9 Overall
4.1 Users (1 vote)
Pros

- Easy to play

- Good value

Cons

- Harder to empty water vs. H179

Summary

The Holton H379 is the H179's less expensive sibling. In exchange for some relatively modest compromises, you can pay about $800 less for more or less the same horn. What are these compromises? Unlike the H179, the H379's auxiliary F slide is not removable. This can make emptying water and tuning a little less flexible, but most players will not notice it's gone. Additionally, there is no key built into the lead pipe to empty water from the horn. For more about playing qualities, see our review of the H179.


The H379 is recommended in our buying guide for students and their parents.


Cost: The Holton H379 sells for $3,450.

Buy it New           Find it Used >>


Also consider: The Yamaha 567 is a similarly priced horn, but with different playing qualities such as a brighter sound. For more on Holton French horns see our full guide.


Tone quality
Playability
Construction
Value for money
What people say... 1 Leave your rating
It\'s a real close cousin to the 179. The B-flat slide DOES exist on this horn. The auxiliary f-slide is soldered on the 300 series and there is no water key. That covers the main pieces.
November 12, 2015, 10:34 pm
Tone quality4
Playability4
Construction3.5
Value for money5
0
3
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Holton H178 Review

4 Overall
4.5 Users (1 vote)
Pros

Easy to play
Solid pitch
Strong high range

Cons

Limited tonal flexibility

Summary

The Holton H178 is ideal for both beginning and intermediate players seeking a well-rounded instrument that responds well in the high register while keeping notes locked into the correct pitch. The bell and "throat" of this horn are a bit smaller than the more widely played H179, producing a brighter tone but retaining the warmth of the classic Holton sound. Because of the smaller size, the H178 is a hybrid of brass and nickel silver material unlike the H179 which is completely nickel silver. The brass helps the darken the bright edge that the smaller bell can produce. The medium throat and closed Kruspe wrap can make the horn feel more restrictive than larger closed wrap horns like the Yamaha 668II or Conn 8D, or open wrap horns such as the Yamaha 667. But for someone with more average air support and strength, the H178 is a great option that will feel much more natural and easy to play than the bigger horns. Holton also sells a paired down version of this horn, the H378, targeting students. A few bells and whistles are missing such as a separate Bb tuning slide, but the cost difference is likely worth it for beginners.


Cost: The Holton H178 sells for $3,349 new.

Buy it New           Find it Used >>


Also consider: For players seeking a more focused sound like the H178, we recommend looking at the Yamaha 667. For more on Holton French horns see our full guide.


Tone quality
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Construction
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What people say... 1 Leave your rating
Holton h178
Play first chair on this horn in my high school band. It's great for high notes.
April 4, 2015, 2:00 pm
Tone quality5
Playability5
Construction4
Value for money4
0
2
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