The French horn is a big, beautiful, and bold instrument that plays an important role in orchestras and bands.
So how much does a french horn cost? They usually come with a big price tag, ranging from $300 for beginner instruments to upwards of $5,000.
If you’re interested in taking up the French horn, whether, for your enjoyment or to be part of a group, you may wonder why the instrument costs so much.
In this article, we’ll explain the different prices of French horns, why they cost what they do, and the cost of buying versus renting.
Table of Contents
- How much do French Horns cost?
- Cheap vs Expensive Horns
- Used vs. New Horns
- Types of French Horns and Their Cost
- Where to buy a French Horn
- Renting a French Horn
- Tips for Buying a French Horn
How much do French Horns cost?
French horns come in a range of prices starting around $300 and going up beyond $5,000. Why the wide range? The pricing is based on three categories: beginner, intermediate, and advanced or pro level.
Within these categories, several things determine pricing.
- Material: Models for beginners are usually made out of durable nickel or silver and brass, while more advanced models contain more gold brass. Prettier = pricier here!
- Condition: Newer instruments generally cost more than used. Used instruments can be well-cared for, but it’s like a used car – the value goes down once you drive it off of the lot.
- Brand: The brand matters because some manufacturers use higher-quality materials, while some use lower-quality that is harder to repair.
- Features: The number of features on a French horn will determine its cost: whether it is single F or double F/Bb, if it has hand-lapped rotary valves or slides, hammered or annealed bells, etc.
Cheap vs Expensive Horns
When you’re looking for a French horn, you should consider whether it’s worth it to go with a lower-priced one versus a higher-priced one.
There are pros and cons to each, so weigh each one and decide what’s best for you and your budget.
While you can sometimes find a good-quality used horn for a low price, very often lower-priced horns are manufactured in China and have questionable quality control.
You may find with these that the parts don’t fit together well, have poor soldering, and poor sound quality.
On the other hand, a more expensive horn is usually carefully hand-made by a craftsman and will have better attention to detail as well as better sound quality. Be sure to check the brand and reviews when buying a horn and see if it is worth the money.
Used vs. New Horns
Used prices are usually lower than those of new horns. Very often you can get a high-quality instrument for a fraction of the cost that it would be new.
Other benefits of a used horn are that it has already been broken in and is more responsive, or may have additions and improvements made to it.
Types of French Horns and Their Cost
The single F horn is a great horn for beginners. Single horns are very sturdy but still small, so are great for younger students. They can handle the rough treatment of children without throwing a fit. A drawback of the single horn is that it has a lower degree of accuracy.
Generally, students only stay on the single F horn for a few years, so this horn would be a good one to rent, or you could see if your local music store has an upgrade program.
The single F horn starts at around $300 and can be found used for a wide range of prices. Some good brands to look for are Conn, Yamaha, Holton, Hans Hoyer, Jupiter, and King.
The double horn contains two full horns in F and Bb, which the player switches between with a thumb lever. This is a common horn for more advanced students and professionals as it has a much richer and more beautiful tone than a single horn.
The double horn has a bigger and wider price tag. You can generally expect to pay at least $1,000 for a good-quality intermediate horn, and at least $4,000 and up for a professional level horn.
Where to buy a French Horn
The best place to start is your local music store since it is always best to buy an instrument in person. But if that’s not an option, there are good options for buying online.
Renting a French Horn
Renting a French horn can have its benefits. When you’re ready for the next level up, you can usually just trade it in for the same or a slightly higher price per month.
Sometimes you can rent higher-quality instruments for a low price.
The downside of renting an instrument is that you’re just putting that money into a rental when you could be putting it towards buying. But that’s only really an issue if you’re not a growing student.
Most music stores rent instruments of all kinds, and many offer services such as repairs and upkeep along with the rental.
Rentals generally range from $25 to $100 or more, depending on the type and quality, but the price will depend on the specific store.
If you’re interested in renting a French horn, check with your local music store and see how much they charge per month. There are also options for renting online. Some trustworthy online rental companies are:
Tips for Buying a French Horn
Know what you’re looking for
Chances are, you already know what you want, but if you don’t, spend a little extra time researching different kinds of horns and their pros and cons.
If you’re going the used route online, make sure to check the seller’s profile and reviews before purchasing.
Try out Your Horn!
Whatever price point you choose for your French horn, always make sure to try before you buy. You want to make sure you and your instrument are a good fit for each other.
Many music stores offer a trial period for a deposit or the cost of shipping.
Try playing it in a variety of environments to see how it sounds. If you are a student, show it to your teacher. It’s often a good idea to take it to a horn technician if you have access to one so they can look it over for problems.
Don’t Get Discouraged
While your initial response to the price tag on a French horn can be a shock, just remember that buying an instrument is a great investment and that this is a purchase that will last you for many years. The French horn doesn’t have an expiration date!