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Do you want to perform in Carnegie Hall or in a massive orchestra? The French horn can be a great instrument to play to help reach your musical goals, but you should know how to find the best French horn mouthpiece.
That way, you’ll have to best setup for you and your playing. Soon enough, you’ll be able to improve and play the music necessary to perform in an orchestra or as a soloist.
Bottom Line Up Front: I’d recommend trying as many mouthpieces as you can, such as the Holton Farkas H2850MC. That way, you can select one that works for you and your lips.
How to Find the Best French Horn Mouthpiece
When you’re looking for some good French horn accessories, the search for a mouthpiece may come up. A mouthpiece can make a huge difference in your experience playing the French horn.
Fortunately, a lot of French horns come with a mouthpiece so that you can play the instrument immediately. However, you may not like the feel or sound of the standard setup.
If so, consider the following tips and steps to help choose the best French horn mouthpiece for you.
Test Your Current Mouthpiece
Before you buy a new accessory, you should consider what you currently own. Test your current mouthpiece on its own and with the body of your horn.
Consider what you do or don’t like about playing your current gear. For example, you may like the smooth tone, but maybe the rim is a bit rough on your lips.
Testing what you have can help you verify that you should get something new. And you’ll be able to narrow your search for new mouthpieces that will meet your needs.
Consider Your French Horn Brand
You may also want to verify the brand and model your current French horn is. Now, you can play any brand of mouthpiece with any brand of horn, but some combinations may work better than others.
Playing the same brand of mouthpiece and instrument will make for a natural fit. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give other brands a try because you may like something else.
Either way, prepare to try at least a few models so that you have plenty of options. Then, you’ll be able to settle on something that works well for you and your specific playing style.
Start Researching Options
When buying anything musical, from an instrument to accessories, do a bit of research. You could buy the first French horn mouthpiece you find, but the odds of it being a perfect fit for you are slim.
Research brands, such as Yamaha, Holton, and Schilke to get an idea of what’s on the market. Look at what’s in stock, especially if you need to buy a new mouthpiece soon.
You should also look at how much the models will cost. A good mouthpiece isn’t nearly as expensive as a new horn, but some models aren’t exactly cheap either.
Focus on Reputable Brands
As you research available models, try to stick to popular brands with a history of producing good quality accessories. I’ve seen a lot of gear on Amazon that may be okay.
However, I haven’t heard of the brands, so I can’t recommend them without trying them myself. You can take a risk on some cheaper brands, but remember that you get what you pay for.
If you want a good mouthpiece that will last you for years, it makes sense to pay a bit extra. Then, you won’t have to buy another model in the next year.
Set a Budget
The next step in how to find the best French horn mouthpiece is to decide on a budget. You can find some good options for $30 to $40, but others cost well over $100.
If you’re a beginner or casual player, you can get away with a smaller budget. But if you want to go to school for music or perform professionally, you will probably need a more expensive option.
Either way, knowing what you need in a mouthpiece can help you settle on a good budget. Then, you’ll be able to compare at least a few models before you have to select one to purchase.
Choose Some Trial Music
When trying a new mouthpiece, you need to do plenty of tests to learn how it plays. Selecting some music or exercises for your trial is a great way to test a lot about a model in a short period.
You should choose music that covers the low, middle, and high registers of the French horn. A good selection will include slow, lyrical excerpts and fast, technical passages.
It’s also a good idea to choose music with plenty of slurs as well as staccatos. That way, you can test how the mouthpiece will respond in almost any scenario, and you can avoid surprises after you purchase it.
Select a Few Mouthpieces
If possible, set up a trial of a few mouthpieces before you make your choice. That way, you will be able to compare a few back to back, which might help you choose between a couple of similar models.
When I’ve tried instruments and gear, I don’t think I’ve ever selected the first setup I tried. You should try at least two or three mouthpieces, but try more if you can.
Going to a music store with plenty of models in stock is a good option. However, you can outright order a few mouthpieces online if you have the money, and you can return the ones you don’t like.
As you play the different mouthpieces, use your phone or another device to record the audio. When you play-test, it can be easy to focus too much on getting the right notes and articulations.
You could then miss a lot when it comes to the response and overall tone of a mouthpiece and horn combination. An audio recording can reveal small nuances that you may not pick up on as you play.
So be sure to listen back to the recording after you finish testing a mouthpiece. You can also use recordings to compare models that you can’t try right after another, which is nice if you can’t try a few at a time.
Ask for a Second Opinion
You may try mouthpieces and find that one stands out as the best one for you. Before you finalize your decision, ask a horn player or teacher for their thoughts on the model and how it sounds when you play it.
Send them the recording or ask them to visit you in person to hear the accessory. Ask them what they think of each model you try, and you can keep the brands and models vague to avoid bias based on what someone else plays.
Of course, you can ask the sales representative for their thoughts if you go to a music store. But they may try to get you to buy something so that they can earn a commission, so they may tell you something sounds great when it really doesn’t.
Compare Your Current Setup
Even though you tried your current mouthpiece before shopping, try it again once you get your hands on some potential models. That way, you can make sure a new mouthpiece you’re looking to buy is actually better than what you have.
Be sure to use the same music to test your current gear with other options. Record yourself playing it, and ask for a second opinion from friends or a teacher.
I did this when instrument shopping, and a couple of friends liked my current setup better than a couple of the other accessories I was trying. You may find that nothing beats what you currently play, so you might decide to keep shopping.
Find a Used Mouthpiece
Another thing to consider before you buy your next mouthpiece is to look at the used market. You may be able to find a much better model without having to spend full price.
However, it’s even more important that you try a used mouthpiece because the seller probably won’t accept a return. Ask to meet the seller in person, or look at used options on consignment at a music store.
Then, you’ll have a chance to run the mouthpiece through plenty of tests before you buy. If you find one you like, you’ll be able to purchase it knowing that it’s the right fit for you.
Best French Horn Mouthpieces
It’s one thing to know how to find the best French horn mouthpiece. But it’s a whole other thing to know which models are worth your time and money and which to ignore.
You can find dozens of options online and at music stores. To help you choose the best model for you, I stuck with reputable brands, and I looked for mouthpieces for different levels of playing.
I also considered different materials, shapes, and sizes. That way, you should be able to find at least one option that you want to try from this list.
Holton Farkas H2850MC
The Holton Farkas H2850MC is an excellent French horn mouthpiece for serious players. It uses brass with silver plating, which is pretty standard among brass mouthpieces.
This model is very durable, so you can use it a lot without wearing it out. Students in band can get a lot of use out of it, so it’s a nice upgrade from whatever comes with your French horn.
It has a medium cup, so it’s pretty versatile and can work for a lot of players. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a case, so you’ll need something to protect it.
- Easy to play
- Good materials
- Nice for advancing players
- No case
Holton Farkas H2850GMDC
Another excellent mouthpiece is the Holton Farkas H2850GMDC. It’s a good choice if you like the other Holton but want the warmth of the gold plating.
The rim is a bit smaller than the rim on other Farkas models, but that can help you focus your sound. Its bore is the same as other models, though, so you can get the same amount of air through it at the same time.
Of course, the gold plating does make this mouthpiece relatively expensive. However, it can be worth it for some players with a silver allergy or who don’t want to deal with tarnish.
- Warm tone
- Good for serious players
- No tarnish
- Focused sound
- Nice design
- A bit expensive
The Blessing MPC11FR is another amazing mouthpiece, especially if you’re on a budget. Professional horn players helped with the design, so you know it will work well.
This company also only makes mouthpieces in the US and Germany, and it follows strict quality standards. If you want a simple model, this is a great one to try no matter your level of playing.
Its rim is a bit thick, which can be difficult for some players to play. But this model is very durable, so it’s great to use in different settings.
- Good design
- Nice materials
- Easy to play
- Great quality
- Not for every player
This model features a standard U cup, so it’s pretty easy to use to get a sound. It also has extra thick silver plating that makes the instrument durable and long-lasting.
There’s a standard backbore and a semi-flat rim, so it may not be super comfortable. But it’s worth trying to see if you like the design and sound you can get from it.
- Good quality
- Nice design
- Lasts a long time
- Standard features
- Not the most comfortable
The Yamaha HR30-GPR is another fantastic mouthpiece from Yamaha. It features silver plating over most of the model, while the rim has gold plating to add some warmth to your sound.
You can get low and high notes easily thanks to the deep V shape and a shallow U cup. Its inner rim diameter is smaller than some, which may help you focus your tone.
This model is versatile, so it’s perfect for playing solo, in chamber groups, or in a full orchestra. However, you may need to save up to afford it since it’s quite expensive.
- Warm tone
- Large range of notes
- Good design
- Gold and silver plating
- Somewhat expensive
Yamaha James Sommerville
If you want plenty of flexibility, you should consider the Yamaha James Sommerville mouthpiece. The inner rim diameter is much smaller than other models, so it can help you focus your sound throughout the horn’s range.
Its rim has a semi-flat design that can help make your sound more clear. Meanwhile, the cup has a V shape that helps you get a good sound in the high register.
You can use this mouthpiece to get a rich sound no matter what notes you’re playing. It’s an amazing choice for advancing players who need to upgrade their current setup.
- Easy to play
- Good design
- Sounds great
- Helps with focus
- Not for beginners
The Schilke SFH31 is yet another great French horn mouthpiece to try. It works well with French horns from different brands, such as Conn, so you can use it with the instrument you have.
You can use it as a beginner or as you advance, and you can get a great sound out of it. Schilke makes fantastic brass instruments and accessories, so you know you’ll get a mouthpiece of quality.
While it’s not the cheapest, it’s also not the most expensive model out there. The silver plating helps you get a good sound, and it’s pretty durable.
- Works with different brands
- Suitable for various levels of playing
- Nice sound
- Not too expensive
- Not the best for professionals
FAQs on How to Find the Best French Horn Mouthpiece
Answer: Having the best French horn mouthpiece can help you get the best possible sound from your instrument. It can also make playing easier, especially in the extreme low and high registers.
The right mouthpiece may also feel more comfortable on your lips than what you currently use. And it’s a nice upgrade if you can’t afford to buy a whole new French horn but want to change your sound.
Answer: Unfortunately, the French horn and trumpet use separate mouthpieces. French horn mouthpieces are smaller, and you place them in a slightly different spot on your lips.
French horn mouthpieces also tend to have a narrower design. So if you’re switching from the trumpet, be sure to get a mouthpiece specifically for your horn.
Answer: A good mouthpiece may help you play without as much stress or tension. If it has a good design, you won’t have to work as hard to buzz your lips and move air into the instrument.
But you also need to have the right foundations for forming your embouchure. That way, your lips can work with the mouthpiece to provide a good sound.
Answer: At the very least, you need one French horn mouthpiece so that you can play your instrument. However, you may want to use a couple so that you can have one for solo playing and another for use in a group, for example.
Then, you can get mouthpieces that work well for one style of performance. You won’t have to compromise on anything, but you will need more money to pay for all of that gear.
Final Note on How to Find the Best French Horn Mouthpiece
When looking to learn the horn, you should determine how to find the best French horn mouthpiece. That way, you’ll get the right gear for you and your preferences.
I’d recommend starting with the Holton Farkas H2850MC because it’s great for many players. But if it doesn’t work for you, check out Yamaha or Schilke models because choosing instrument gear can be very subjective.
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