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The Horn Guys

Josef Lidl Double French Horns

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"Wow, I haven't seen these for a very long time."  "That's an old company."  "These are very nice horns."  "I'd recommend them to my students."

These are some of the comments I heard when showing these two Josef Lidl French horns at the International Horn Symposium in San Francisco in June 2011.  I've been friends with the Lidl company for a number of years after meeting them at a German trade show.  I got hooked when I found they made a very nice bass trumpet for a reasonable price.  Their tubas, rotary trumpets and flugels are also excellent.  None of their instruments are quite top of the line when compared to some of the high-zoot custom German instrument builders, but their attention to detail is excellent, and all their horns are good players.  We've sold many Lidl instruments to adult hobbyists, jobbing players, and students.

We have not yet represented Lidl French horns, and they asked us to show these in San Francisco.  I was glad to do it, as lately I've been looking for the elusive reasonably priced French horn that's a better player than an ordinary Yamaha or Jupiter student model, or even better than the Conn 6D.  While the Conn 8D may be the standard in the business for a basic professional horn, at about $4000, many younger players are priced right out of the market.  That where the profusion of Asian horns enters the mix, but few of them are very good. 

Josef Lidl has been in business since 1892, and has always been a fairly small shop specializing in rotary instruments only.  After our success with their trumpets and tubas, I figured they know a few things about French horns.  They make single horns, compensating doubles, full doubles, and hunting horns as well.

We sampled two double horns, both professional models:

LHR-347  This is the basic professional double horn, 11.7mm (.460") bore, 4 inline rotors, brass bell and body with nickel slide, and a screw bell.  Lacquer finish, case is included. $2595  This is the "Schmidt" style horn, shown in the first five photos at left.

LHR-867  This is the new Philharmonic model, with similar specs to the 347: , 11.7mm (.460") bore, 4 inline rotors, brass bell and body with nickel slide, and a screw bell.  Lacquer finish, case is included. $2795  This is the Knopf style horn, shown in the last four photos at left.

Both have medium sized bells, both have screw bell flares for easy travel, both include excellent hard cases similar to the Ipac by Protec, the Bonna MB1 or the Mark Atkinson case.  Both have a slightly smaller than standard .460" bore, though no one commented on this fact, as if it wasn't noticeable.  The wrap is slightly different as the pictures show.  One ergonomic advantage to the pricier Knopf model is the superior finger hook, which is more easily adjustable to any position.  Other than that, players mused about which one was more open or tighter or brighter or broader of tone, and there was not agreement.  Both feel fairly weighty to me, at least as heavy as a Hans Hoyer.  That can help stability of tone, though the smaller or younger player may notice it.

If you have specific questions, please call or write, and we'll have in-house French horn player Matt Anderson help you figure it out.  I'll have him write more shortly...

Conclusion:  If you don't care to spend $3000+ on a double horn, you can hardly do better on a new instrument than with a Josef Lidl.  You'll get European heritage and craftsmanship rather than sweatshop laborers.  And that's worth the price of admission.  If your budget is higher, definitely look into the Conn 8D.  If it's not, and the other horns in your price range like the 6D, Yamaha and Jupiter seem ordinary, well...they are.  We think you can do better here.


Included:  compact hard case, Gewa (Faxx) 11 mouthpiece

Price: $2595 - LHR-347, $2795 - LHR867

Shipping:  $60 within the US 48, quote elsewhere