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French Horn Show-down: Geyer vs. Kruspe

What is a French horn wrap?

A French horn wrap is the way the tubes of the French horn are configured or laid out around the valve nest. There are two types of French horn wraps commonly in use today: the Geyer wrap and the Kruspe wrap.

The Kruspe wrap was invented by Edward Kruspe, a double-horn maker and pioneer who lived in Eisenach, Germany around the early/mid 1800's. The Kruspe wrap features:

  • 4th (B-flat) rotor located closer to the thumb position,
  • more bends in the tubing (hence Kruspe horns are also sometimes referred to as "closed-wrap" horns),
  • larger bell throats,
  • and can sometimes be found in alternate finishes.

The advantages of the Kruspe wrap is that there are more options for tuning on the Bb side (because of the extra tubing), it is easier to empty water from the instrument because the main pipe configuration allows for an extra water key, and Kruspe instruments tend to have a unique, somewhat darker tone. The disadvantage of the Kruspe wrap is that the bends in the tubing creates slightly more resistance. This increase in resistance can be somewhat counterbalanced by a larger bell, but a larger bell will also cause the tone to become more diffuse in larger halls.

The Geyer wrap was invented by Carl Geyer, a German-born American who set up shop in Chicago in the 1920's. The distinguishing features of the Geyer wrap include:

  • 4th (B-flat) rotor located in-line with other 3 valves,
  • fewer bends in the tubing ("open" wrap),
  • a smaller bell throat (than normally found on Kruspe models)
  • and are usually made only in yellow brass.

There is less resistance of the F-side of the horn due to the open layout and fewer bends in the tubing, and therefore the horn usually has a better balanced sound between the F and B-flat side. The smaller throat allows for more projection and a more focused sound, however, the notes can be more difficult to attack initially. Also, in terms of construction, the long lever mechanism leading to the 4th rotor can be a little more prone to damage than the more compact lever mechanism found on the Kruspe.

Professional musicians have long been split over Geyer and Kruspe, with the "Kruspe [being found more] in L.A., Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York, and elsewhere; while Geyer wraps have been used in the orchestras of Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, and others. However, Geyer wraps have been steadily more popular in the last 30 years, so that you find Geyer wraps now in New York and Philly - something that would have been anathema years ago."*

Accent Horn Features

Accent Horns

Wrap

Finish

Linkage

Bell Type

HRG782L

Geyer

Yellow Brass

Mechanical

Fixed

HR781L

Kruspe

Yellow Brass

String

Fixed

HR711L

Kruspe

Yellow Brass

Mechanical

Fixed

HR945GD

Kruspe

Gold Brass

String

Detachable

HR945GFX

Kruspe

Gold Brass

String

Fixed

* quote provided by Professor Jeffrey Agrell, Professor of French Horn at the University of Iowa