What Are the Parts of a French Horn?

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French horns are made of bells, bell rings, mouthpieces, bodies, mouth pipes, slides, keys, valves and hand guards. Learn about the American invention of the string action valve with help from a horn player in this free video on musical instruments and French horns.

Part of the Video Series: French Horn
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Video Transcript

So, now we'd like to show you finally what all the pieces of the French Horn are actually called. Starting with probably the most beautiful part, which is the bell itself, and the bell ring, which is right here, which is a threaded, very thick piece of metal that allows us to take the bell on and off. So, there's the bell. Then, on the other end is the mouth piece, shaped like a little, small bell that generally comes in two parts. You've got the body, which is the bottom part of the mouth piece, and then the rim, which is also threaded and can come on and off. The first piece of tubing here is called either the mouth pipe, or the lead pipe, and then we encounter what is called a slide, of which this horn has eight, some have ten, twelve, depending on what type of instrument you're playing. Another slide here, this is a valve slide right there. Then, we have the valves themselves, here, and the valve caps, which also are threaded to allow for access, so we can oil them. All of those are threaded right there. These, contrary to popular opinion, are not the valves, these are the keys that actuate the valves in the back, and we can see how that works right there. This is a string action valve, which is an American invention. All the horns before this type of, of action was invented were mechanical actions, so this was invented in America about a hundred years ago or so. Let's see, and that's about it. There are other little less important parts. This is called the hand guard, generally made out of plastic or leather. And last but not least, the water key. Some, some horns have them, some do not. Spring loaded with a little piece of cork on the end to keep the water from coming out. It's important that it maintains a really good seal right there, while allowing us to blow out the condensation as necessary. And those are the parts of the French Horn.

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