My Horns

Everybody has been wondering "What kind of horns do Al and Greg play?" Okay, maybe you weren't wondering. But, in case you were, here are the answers!

Al's Horns

I have a number of horns. Some would say too many. Though many get bought and sold, the ones I keep around fulfill different purposes:

This is the Carl Fischer American Model Mellophone.  Ironically, it was made in Czechoslovakia.  Surprisingly, it's an awesome horn!  It's a wide coil with a small bell, and it comes with slides for F, Eb and D.  Sounds great, handles well, valves are good, slides are good, plays amazingly in tune!
PROS:  The 5th partial is in tune!   What's better than that?!  Also, it comes with extra slides, which is always a plus.
CONS:  The case could be better.  Valves are weak.
This is Holton Collegiate Hatbox Mellophone.  Hatbox?  You see, the bell and lead pipes detach, and fit inside a case that look like, well, a hatbox.  This doesn't change the playing at all, which is quite good!  It has a very focused tone that doesn't wander much.  I particularly like that the valves are ever-so-slightly angled.  You can't really tell from the photo, but there is a slight angle outward, making it much more comfortable to hold.
PROS:  Better intonation than most.  Clear and focused tone.  Plus the whole hatbox thing makes it unusual in a good way.
CONS:  Tone is also a wee bit brighter than I'd like it, even with a huge mouthpiece.
This is the Cerveny CAH-502 circular alto (post-op).  Yes, it's left handed!  I had Chuck at the Brass Lab make this one convertible from F to E-flat.  In this picture it's in F mode.  Oddly, the center of this horn is lower than most Mellophones, but it still has a solid upper register.
PROS:  Great tone, can infiltrate a French Horn section, and it's left handed!
CONS:  Fifth partial requires alternate fingerings.  The lower center is difficult to get used to.  Also, not as easy to hold as I'd like it to be.  Chuck had to doctor it some so it would be comfortable and free my fingers.
Meister Franz Kaiser circular alto. I don't know a lot about this horn, but it's really quite interesting.  The lead pipe is a creation of the Brass Lab as I had the horn permanently altered from E-flat to F.  Why?  For those situations where I have to cover French Horn parts.  It plays like a dream!
  Very nice tone, comfortable to hold, good for covering French Horn parts.
CONS:  No more E-flat capability, but that was my decision.  Extreme upper register is a bit squeaky.
This is his Thibouville-Lamay. It's a beautiful horn that, again, was restored by Chuck at the Brass Lab. Its bell is very small, almost Tenor Horn size. Sadly, the intonation isn't too good.
PROS:  It's uniqueness.
CONS:  Intonation is very bad, and the tone is rather thin.
Finally, a Dynasty 3-valved G bugle!  The horn looks bigger in the photo.  It's light and tight and plays beautifully.  Of course, it has that Dynasty brightness to it, but a big mouthpiece can help with that.
PROS:  Light, easy and sweet!
CONS:  None, really.  This is a great G bugle!
Meet the Yamaha YMP 204 Marching Mellophone with the Patterson lead pipe.  The 204 has become almost the standard for Marching Mellos.  I took the chance getting the Patterson lead pipe and have never regretted it.  The new lead pipe dosn't compromise the strenght and power of the horn.  As a matter of fact, I feel it improves on it.
  Intonation is good, projection is awesome.
CONS:  No E-flat capability.  Also, notes about high G are a little squeaky, though less so with the Patterson lead pipe.
Never underestimate the King marching brass.  I was once devoted to the Yamaha YHR 302M Marching Bb French Horn until I picked up this baby.  Even with a few dents, this horn is superior.  The coil is a bit larger, but the tone is glorious, the range is full and the flexibility is a dream.  Though the Yamaha is a beauty, this moves ahead.
If you can play a Bb single horn, there is none finer.
CONS:  If you CAN'T play a Bb single horn, it'll mess with your mind.  Also, it only allows a French Horn mouthpiece, which can be bad for any Trumpet players.
No collection wouldn't be complete without a Conn 16E Mellophonium.  I was able to obtain this brushed silver beauty, complete with E-flat slide.  There was a crinkle in the throat of the bell, but that got ironed out.  There's a small scar, but it's in a safe enough place to not do any damage.  As far as 16E's go, this one is in great shape.
PROS:  Good condition, E-flat slide, plus that legendary 16E sound.
CONS:  Well, it's a 16E, so it's heavy, unwieldy and out of tune.
I always wanted one of these Holton MH102 Bb Marching Horns, and here it is!  I really have to stress that this is a Bb French Horn, not a Mellophone.  I plays and feels like a French Horn.  What puzzles me is that the receiver holds a big mouthpiece.  You'd think it'd be designed for a French Horn mouthpiece like other Bb Marching Mellos.
PROS:  If you're a French Horn player, it'll be comfy.  Also, it's just one funky beast!
CONS:  Unstable and unwieldy, both in construction and in sound.
Behold the Besson Sovereign Tenor Horn.  To many, this is, to date, the premiere Tenor Horn, and I agree (though I've never tried the Yamaha).  It plays like butter.  Truly.
PROS:  Plays like a dream.
CONS:  Keep those valves oiled, as they get sluggish daily.
This is the Conn bellfront Alto horn, also known as an Altonium.  It actually plays in both E-flat and F with the removal of some tubing.  It's in pristine condition and a joy to have.  Intonation could be better, though.  And how exactly do you hold the darn thing?
PROS:  Nicely packed and sleek.
CONS:  Uncomfortable to hold.
No modern Mellophone collection is complete without an old piston/rotor G bugle. This Olds Ultratone is a fine example of such a horn. I used to have a Getzen, but mello enthusiast David Dougherty highly endorsed the Olds over the Getzen.  This one plays quite well for a piston-rotor horn.  Granted, it has its characteristic thin sound.  But, it's a piece of art unto itself, and I'm glad to have it!
PROS: It's kind of cool, in a retro sort of way.
CONS:  No E-flat or F capability. And then there's that pesky missing third valve, and having to play with your thumbs. But that in itself can also be a "pro."
This is a German Alto.  I don't know the make.  It's a little banged up and it plays kind of harshly, but it's a find nonetheless.  Unfortunately, the keys make a LOT of clanking.
PROS:  It's a German Alto!
CONS:  Not the best sound.
This baby is my Holton H179, circa 1981.  I had a Lawson lead pipe put on, and you can see how I had the bell cut, so it's now sporting a Lawson Ambronze Brass bell in this photo, though I'm currently using the original bell.  With the Lawson lead pipe, a collegue once told me the horn is as close to a Conn 8D as you can get without being a Conn 8D.  Some take the H179's very seriously, some don't.  I believe you should.  The sound is huge and deep with lots of power and subtelty
PROS:  A rock-solid horn.
CONS:  The reputation.  Some look down on the Holton line.  The rotors tend to get worn, but a good technician can take care of that.
Behold the Paxman 40a double descant.  Like any horn, this one has a story.  First of all, the "a" in the 40a refers to Paxman's "New World" models, which is supposed to have the bore and sound of the celebrated Conn 8D.  Does it?  Not quite.  But this is one numble and smooth horn!  It's a dream to play.  This was actually jazz horn player Mark Taylor's horn.  He plays it on all of his CD's.  Due to a physical issue, he had to quit playing horn, so he sold it to me.
PROS:  Smooth, nimble and graceful.  A real beauty.
CONS:  The horn is a tad light, hence the heavycaps.  Still, despite Paxman's attempt to make a horn that has the Conn 8D sound, this doesn't get there.  The tone is good for jazz and chamber music, but too thin for big, thick orchestral and band playing.