Hello everyone - I am new here - my name is Richard.
I hope this is not a sore subject and I hope no one wants to take me out behind the shed to whip me, but I want to ask some questions about Chinese horns - and to admit that I am playing one now.
First, about me: I played trumpet in high school in the late sixties and got through university on music scholarships playing the trumpet in the seventies. I switched to the Euphonium to play in a community orchestra in the nineties.
Last year, I fulfilled a life-long desire to try out the horn - I always loved the sound. Having heard only horror stories about trying to convert over, and because of my age, I decided to make a minimal investment and I purchased a Chinese-made single Bb. I was told by almost everyone to buy a traditional brand only and to stay away from the Chinese horns, but I am stubborn and could not resist the bright shinny new single Bb for $250 (including shipping). Hehehehehe. Well, the Chinese horn has been great and I love playing it. But, having never had my lips on any other horn, I really have nothing to compare it to.
So, now, present day. I am satisfied that I have the ability to play the horn well enough to justify moving on to a double. I was not overly concerned about the $250 horn being useless - it was a small investment. But even Chinese horns are expensive when looking at a double. I have found another bright and shinny Chinese horn - a copy of a Holton H379 - for only $700 and I am so, so very tempted. Or I can get an old, used, dented, worn finish actual Holton H379 for nearly twice that amount ($1300).
So, now to come to the point that brings me here to your collective intelligence. I get it - I understand that the Chinese horns are not as strong and will not hold up as well as the name brands, but I am a careful and easy-going guy - I seldom throw my horn across the room or use it to poor drinks at a frat party, so I am not concerned about the horn's ability to take punishment. Yes, the valves may wear out more quickly or need professional treatment sooner than the name brand, but $700 + a $100 repair bill is still cheaper than $1300. I am never going to be hired to play my horn for money, so I do not need to impress anyone when answering the question, "What do you play?" (although I will probably - eventually - join a community orchestra - but my experience with that is that no one cares what a person plays - just showing up for practice and remembering your pants are enough to impress them).
So, please, tell me - what am I missing here? Why the general hatred for Chinese horns? If there is a reason for it that fits my circumstances, I will - grudgingly - empty my wallet for a nasty-looking used horn (while lusting in my mind for the Chinese copy). But I want some real answers and not just "take my word for it" or "they are crap horns". So, take me out behind the shed now - I am ready.
Thank you for your response, Michael. Really, I appreciate you taking the time to respond.
No one answered my question, so I went on a great info safari elsewhere and have learned a few things since I posted my question. To now answer my own question, it is the few little things that cannot be seen that can make the difference (as is usually the case with most mysteries in life). Using tubes in the construction that are not consistently the correct length - even just a little. Solder joints that do not completely seal a seem. Solder joints that leave solder on the inside of the tube which is not reamed-out correctly or completely in the clean-up process. Manufacturing materials that have been left in the horn - even small amounts of grit. There are probably more, but no one has explained those to me yet. These are the things that can vary from one horn to the next on the assembly line and can make one horn an excellent player and the next, from the same line, a total catastrophe (such as being untunable or difficult to blow).
Thank you again, Michael. I will leave this forum now and continue my quest elsewhere.
I have heard that cheap Chinese horns are just junk (New < $1,000).
BUT I just bought a brand new Briz 1000N @ Pope Music in Boston for $4,100. Chinese, yes, sorta kills me, but...tried a really nice used Holton, asked Ken if he had anything better for the price and he handed me a brand new Briz 1000N. This horn is a Conn 8C clone, nickel silver, very beautifully built(QUALITY), speaks very easily in all registers, all dynamics, has no wolf notes, has good intonation across all registers, a decent low register (not as powerful my King Eroica, but OK) and has a high b flat that SCREAMS. Quality that matches American Horns and is right up there with hand built German horns that cost 50 to 100% more. Turns out Briz learned about horn manufacture from Paxman who wanted a lower cost line, then learned even more from Ken Pope who sells this line. Looks like this Chinese manufacture is going to do quite well.
I've been shopping around for a horn and came across your post. In my opinion the difference between Chinese made horns and brand name horns can only be appreciated by seasoned professional horn player who can discern subtle differences if there indeed is any. If you think about the actual horn and what it takes to make one it is nothing more than metal alloy, casting, bending, and soldering. I find it hard to justify paying $8000 more for Alexander 103 made in Germany over good Chinese made copy for less than $1000. One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of companies in China that makes copies and you really have to find reputable company that does a good job. French horn is not like Rolex watch where most of moving parts are hidden and only outside matters. The only moving parts in French horn are 3 to 4 rotors. The rest are just sliding tubes and curves of long tapering brass alloy tubing. How hard do you think it would be to copy a real Alexander, Paxman, or Conn to 99.9% replica? And if such copy is made why should a copy sound any different than the real one? Physics don't change whether you are in China or Europe. It is definitely not out of the possibility to copy or even make it better than the original. And if such horn is made and sold 10x less? Then the premium you pay for real Alexander, Conn, or any other established brand is just that, brand name. And when it comes to instruments nothing matters, or should matter, other than the sound it produces. Brand name doesn't make a musician.