Learn about the design of the famous double French horns. Read our guide for more facts and information…
The uniqueness of the double horn is that it combines the keys of the two instruments into one which means more ease and convenience. The design of the double French horn brings together F as well as a higher horn key, B. The fourth value is operated by the thumb which allows the hornist to easily switch from F to B.
The double French horn allows the player to move from to dark, warm tones to higher and brighter tones. These two sets are known as the sides of the French horn.
The fourth valve allows the basic length to be changed which includes the pitch and the harmonic series. Further it also allows the three main valves to use equal slide lengths.
Kruspe vs. Knopf style
Wraps or simply the common styles that the double French horns are available in come in two variations. They are named are the first instruments makers, Kruspe and Knopf. These two are responsible for developing and standardizing the instruments.
The Kruspe style or wrap has the B valve near the thumb and above the first valve. While the Knopf wrap is played near the little finger, the change valve is found behind the third one. The difference is that the air flows differently in both models.
While the bell throat of the Kruspe style tends to be larger than the Knopf style. The Kruspe models are usually made from German or nickel silver whereas the Knopf horns are made of yellow brass.
Both models have their positives and negative sides. You will usually find one of the two styles in an orchestral horn section which is usually due to their differences in response, tone and their projection. As far as individuals are concerned, personal preferences base the decisions.
In the US, one of the most mass produced instrument is the Conn 8D whose design is the Kruspe wrap. It is extremely popular in some places whereas since the early 1990s, owing to the change in preferences people are moving away from Conn’s new 8Ds. The Knopf model horns are popular in areas such as Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco etc.
If you choose to purchase a double French horn then it is good to know about the differences in the two designs as this will allow you to know what you need before you buy the horn. The two designs have more similarities than differences yet they do have an influence on the tone and preference of the player.