Horn Dilemma

For those of you who have read some of my posts, you may remember that the Bb side of my Hoyer has played sharp since I bought it. At IHS Hoyer agreed that the horn was sharp and finally sent a new tuning slide two weeks ago. A few pros have tried my horn since then and have deemed the intonation ‘playable’. Not ‘fixed’ exactly. They have told me that I should be able to learn how to play it in tune; that Hoyer has done their part and I shouldn’t expect them to replace the horn.

I don’t know what to do. Right now I can’t play this horn in tune with any consistency. I’ll play the same passage several times in a row and sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it’s flat and sometimes it’s sharp. The F side of the horn now tends to be a bit flat when I play it even with the F tuning slide pushed all the way in. I have my Yamaha 668, my teacher’s Conn 8D and a loaner Dieter Otto horn at home and I play all of them mostly in tune. The slots on the Hoyer are big which isn’t helping and I have a lot of trouble centering the notes. Tom Greer (Moosewood) played my horn at IHS and said he couldn’t center the notes. Would a tuning slide fix that problem?

So do I keep the Hoyer and learn how to play it in tune? Should I have to learn how to do that? Shouldn’t a horn play in tune or very close to in tune once the slides are set? I know there are always some notes that are typically flat or sharp and I’m not talking about making sure the pitch is correct when playing with an ensemble. I like the Hoyer a lot except for the intonation.

One of my options is to send the Hoyer to Jim Patterson of Patterson Hornworks. They do custom work on Hoyer horns and he seems to think he can make mine a lot better. Another option is to put the Hoyer up for sale at the dealer where I bought the horn and buy the Otto I have on loan or one of the other horns he has in stock. Do I just sell the Hoyer myself and then buy some other horn? Should I keep the Hoyer and live with it? Will I actually learn to play it in tune relatively quickly? I do play in two community bands and there are occasions when the horns play in unison or I have an exposed part so good intonation is important especially in one of the bands.

Any answers, comments or suggestions are most welcome!

Bits and Pieces Part 2 –>

4 thoughts on “Horn Dilemma

  1. One person’s view: If it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work. If you have had other horns for trial for a week or more and can play them in tune, but not the Hoyer, I suggest getting rid of the Hoyer. I am an amateur now, formerly a semi-pro freelancer. The worst mistake I ever made as a horn player was holding on to a horn that had some bad notes. Life it too short, and sometimes it actually is the horn.


    • Hi Fred,
      I agree. I am at the 99% mark for unloading the Hoyer. Right now my challenge is which horn to get to replace it. I really like the Otto that I have on loan and it has to go back next week. Several pros have cautioned me against getting that horn and I am taking their comments very seriously. It’s going to be very hard to leave it at the dealer but I want to make sure I am getting the right horn for me. In the end I’m going to get a horn that I truly enjoy playing. Once I realized that this is the most important goal, deciding to unload the Hoyer becomes a pretty easy decision.


  2. I recently found your blog and have been reading it from the beginning, so I know you wrote this entry month’s ago. I’ve been very interested in your experiences with the Hoyer. We bought a Hoyer for our daughter when she was a senior in HS and have had similar issues with it. We originally bought her a Holton, which is what her high school has, but we (meaning my husband, a HS band director, myself, a horn player, and our daughter) were all unhappy with it, so we took it back. A friend of mine who is a professional recommended the Hoyer. I LOVED the valves. My husband was not sold on the sound. Our daughter liked it. It turned out to be very uneven in intonation, even after we had it worked on, and it had a European sound. As it happened a Geyer came up for sale at a good price. By that time our daughter had gone from “I like playing horn,” to “I want to play professionally,” so we bought it for her. It’s a wonderful horn. The Hoyer is now for sale.


    • Thanks for writing! I agree with you about the Hoyer valves. They are amazing and it’s the one thing I miss. My Hoyer is also for sale. I was hoping that it would sell for the holiday season but no luck. Congrats on finding the Geyer. I’m sure your daughter is thoroughly enjoying playing it and it will serve her well for years to come.


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