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Paxman F/Bb/F 81 Compensating Triple Horn with Stop Valve, Used


Item Details

This is an interesting triple horn design made by Paxman in London.  It's an older model 81, built about 1982.  It looks like a 70M triple horn, but this is the compensating version.  A triple horn is a "French" style horn that consists of three "sides" accessed by two thumb-activated change valves.  Usually standing in Bb, one valve switches to the high F alto side, and the other switches to low F bass.  Three full sets of valve slides mean everything is in tune, but it's also a weighty instrument.  Enter the compensating triple horn.  The compensating system means that the low F side is made by adding extra tubing to the Bb side, so for low F side notes you blow through two sets of valve slides:  the Bb slides and the "extension to low F" slides.  In theory that makes an unwieldy instrument with too much resistance in the low range, but in practice it's less important.  Though a triple horn is a very useful instrument, few proclaim to be the perfect choice for the low-horn specialist.  We make allowances, and we compensate to work with the instrument, and rarely does a written low F# need to be played at all.  Thus for most triple-horning that people do, the distinction between full triple and compensating triple is minor.

What you do get with a compensating triple horn is a lighter weight instrument with more center and clarity to the sound.  There's less metal to lift and less to set in motion, which is a win-win all around.  The change between sides is done with one rotor each, keeping linkages simpler than a full triple horn.  The compensating design can be made without a tuning bit in the leadipe.  This particular instrument is made entirely of nickel, a slightly harder metal than brass, which also should contribute to a good center, brilliance, and a fast response.  Corrosion is hindered by the all nickel construction as well.

This Paxman also includes a fourth rotor with a slide length for stopping mute.  It's activated by the left pinky, and works on the Bb side.

The change rotors use adjustable ball and socket linkages, and the Bb/low F key is reversible should you wish to stand the horn in low F.  (Secret: standing in low F is too much thumb work.)  Rotors 1-3 use string linkage; all have fresh string.  Includes leather hand guard (not shown) and brazed-on mounting screw for said guard (shown).

This is a fascinating design.  As if it weren't difficult enough to fit 2, 3 and 4 meter bugles into one horn, this Paxman also features the Merewether system, whose design sends the airway into the rotors from the same side each time.  This way the rotor rotation can be set up so the rotor wall "falls away" instead of cutting in front of your air stream.  It's supposed to reduce turbulence and improve accuracy.  On this instrument, all airways enter the valve block through the third valve.

The change in resistance between the three sides of this horn may be less important than one expects.  Follow the airway through the horn from the photos.  How many valves does each side's air stream pass through for an open note?  4, 6 or 8...

  • Alto F=4 The F alto side goes through the F alto change valve and 1-3 F alto valves
  • Tenor Bb=6 The Bb side goes through the F alto change valve, the F bass change valve, the Bb stopping valve and 1-3 Bb valves
  • Bass F=8  The F bass side goes through the F alto change valve, the F bass change valve, 1-3 F compensating valves, 1-3 Bb valves

To be fair, on the low F side when you press the second valve key lever, you're now engaging two second slide crooks.  But in practice it's less crazy than it sounds.  Euphonium players do it all the time.

In lacquer finish with hard case, fully cleaned and restored by Paul Klintworth, this Paxman is ready for its next closeup.  Also includes four dimes soldered to the key levers, a $0.40 value, an extra spring, and Schilke 31B mouthpiece in gold plate.

Weight: 6.05 lbs.

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