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Article: Holton French Horns: Tradition Meets Innovation

Holton French Horns: Tradition Meets Innovation

Holton French Horns: Tradition Meets Innovation

Holton is one of the well-known and respected brands of brass instruments with a history that started in the early 20th century. Their French horns boast high-quality craftsmanship and excellent sound, as well as an aesthetic and durable construction. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of Holton French horns and why they are so beloved by musicians.

Frech horn accessories by KGUmusic

History of Holton French Horns

Holton is a brand that is part of the Conn-Selmer division, which is part of Steinway Musical Instruments. The original Holton Company was founded in 1898 by American trombonist Frank Holton. He played a principal trombone of the Sousa Band. The foundation of the company was laid in 1885, when Frank and James Warren York became partners.

Originally, the company was focused on trombones, but they expanded their lines to other brass instruments, including French horns, in the early 1900s. The company had two significant milestones. The first milestone was when Holton merged with Leblanc in 1964, which positively impacted manufacture capabilities and distribution network. The second happened in 2004 when Conn-Selmer, a subsidiary of Steinway Musical Instruments, acquired Holton. Since then the brand received a great attention and positive feedback. It established a reputation of a highly-respected brand in the brass instrument market.

Famous Models of Holton French Horns

The company offers a wide range of French horn models, aimed at players of various skill levels, from beginners to professionals.

Holton horns

Here are the most popular models:

  • H379 is a popular choice among aspiring musicians and intermediate French horn players. It’s available in nickel-silver finish and boasts a dark sound with a centered tone and projection.
  • H178, featuring a yellow brass and a medium-sized throat, is perfect for musicians playing in chamber orchestras.
  • H179 is a representative of the Farkas series, made of eye-catching nickel silver. It’s considered a professional horn and is favored by musicians for its consistent performance and the ability to produce warm sounds.
  • H181 aims at beginners and advanced musicians. Its bronze bell produces a rich, dark tone. This model is capable of a wide range of dynamic.
  • H180 is a yellow brass horn with a large throat that features resonant and rich intonation.
  • H179 is a professional model with high-quality nickel silver bell, enhanced sound quality and projection.
  • H105 is the finest model the company has ever made. It provides superb intonation and excellent performance. Its specially tempered red brass bell creates a rich, dark sound.

Advantages of Holton French Horns

The modern-day line of Holton French horns was created between 1956 and 1958, in partnership with Philip Farkas who was the principal horn of the Chicago Symphony. The Farkas models featured high range security and focus, which made them a number one choice of students. The H179 model with a large throat still holds the top favorite place.

Philip Farkas

While Farkas models’ popularity was increasing, Holton introduced new variations of these horns created in collaborations with Barry Tuckwell and Ethel Merker.

As earlier, these days the company pays great attention to the construction of their models, using high-quality brass for most of their products. This helps to guarantee exceptional acoustic properties and long life span of the instruments. The company also uses nickel silver, which helps French horns provide bright tone and stay resistant to corrosion. 

Barry Tuckwell

Holton horns feature rotary valves, known for their reliability and smooth action. Not the least important is precision engineering to provide musicians with quick response and minimal air leakage.

All Holton French horns feature a distinctive, warm and deep sound that matches both solo performers and musicians playing in ensemble settings.

Working on their student models, the company keeps in mind the beginners’ need to develop technique and confidence, so they make their instruments easy to play. Designing advanced models, they incorporate professional features such as detachable bells and adjustable hand rests, which results in improved comfort during performance and the ability to customize the horn. 


Holton is a prestigious and trusted brand producing high-quality French horns that are popular among students and advanced players thanks to their durability and reliable construction. The brand continues to blend quality, innovation, and tradition in their collections to deliver horns with excellent sound characteristics and comfortable performances. 

If you’re a French Horn player, you may also like our articles about tips on caring for your horn and our brief exploration of musical styles featuring French horn.

Also, check out our collection of accessories for French horn, featuring single and double horn hand guards, leather pouches for mouthpieces, trumpet adaptors for French horns, shelter bags and other things.


This is quite inaccurate. Also the modles listed are not the iconic models.

Dave Stoller

The photo you posted under “Advantages Of Holton French Horns” in this blog post is of Richard Oldberg holding his Reynolds Pottag Model horn. Richard was 3rd horn of the Chicago Symphony and did not play a Holton. I’m assuming you were intending to post a photo of CSO Principal Horn Philip Farkas. Please be more careful with your research before posting information found online in your articles. Thanks.

Jonathan Ring

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