For serious horn players, obsession over the horn model and mouthpiece is only the beginning. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular French horn extras–both necessary and nice to have– to help you identify the best options for you.
Called for often in both band and orchestral pieces, it’s one accessory you should never forget. Our pick: The Dennis Wick Wooden Straight Mute. While you can find cheaper mutes, this one wins praise from professions for its solid playing both low and high along with a built-to-last wood finish.
Yes, you can play stopped horn with your hand, but most players will find the specialized stop mute will significantly improve ease of playing and tone quality. Our pick: Tom Crown 30FH. This is a lower cost model but plays as well custom stop mutes costing over two times as much. Widely used and recommended.
If you live in an apartment or shared housing, travel, or just want to be more respective to your spouse, a practice mute is a must. Our pick: The Yamaha Silent Brass. Not only is this a well designed practice mute, but it includes something no other mutes offer: electronic amplification via ear buds that produces a true-to-live sound. This helps keep your air and chops more natural with all the benefit of the mute.
Hand grip & straps
Sometimes our hands get clammy and its nice to have a better grip on the horn. Our pick: Protec L227. For the price, you are unlikely to find a better leather hand grip. It fits most models.
If you play with the bell of the leg or standing up, a hand strap can go a long way toward making your body more relaxed and fingering more facile. Our pick: Leather Specialties Horn Holding Strap (Velcro). Cost effective and easy to fit on, without any need for a pro shop to custom configure to your horn.
With a plethora of oils on the market, it can be difficult to know which one works best. We recommend keeping it simple. Our pick: Al Cass oil. A basic, slick oil that’s very popular among brass players. Hetman 11 is another good choice but can be harder to find at a reasonable price in the USA.
Keep your slides moving with monthly if not more frequent application of grease. Our pick: SuperSlick TSG. As the name implies, this stuff is super slick and will get the most stubborn slide moving in no time.
If you haven’t invested in a cleaning brush, you may be socked to find out what’s living in your horn — especially if you play after lunch or dinner! Our pick: American Plating 364VS. Made from nylon, it is tough but less likely to scratch your horn vs. other metal snakes.
When you don’t have your horn
As much as we’d like, we can’t keep our horns with us all the time. If you’re traveling a lot without the horn, you’ll want to keep your lips in shape. While a mouthpiece is great, you can do better. Our pick: Berb BERP1 French Horn Buzz Extension. This can attach to your lead pipe or be stowed in a carry on, just plug in the mouthpiece and buzz — you’ll get a level of resistance that’s similar to the horn itself.