-Easy to play
-Popular with pros
-Spots can appear on bell
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.