As I write this post, I was able to try out a new model horn several weeks ago from one of the best custom horn makers working today – Dan Vidican. Dan is fairly well-known for his excellent Lukas horn, and this new horn will likely become just as popular as his flagship instrument.
This new horn is a Geyer-style instrument in yellow brass, designed by both Dan and Ron Pinc. Ron is a very popular maker of leadpipes for a wide variety of horn models and knows what makes a horn play and sound great.
Dan brought the instrument to Louisville, and I was able to play it for a bit and pick Dan’s brain about the new Lukas/Pinc horn as well as his Lukas horns.
The Lukas/Pinc Horn
As you’d expect from a maker like Dan, the instrument was very well put together, with a yellow brass corpus and bell, brass (I believe) inner slide tubes, and fairly standard bracing. The bell is detachable with a standard Alex ring, and the trigger is adjustable. As expected, the instrument looks great!
Talking with Dan, it was clear that he wanted to make an instrument that fit the individual who bought it, instead of making a one-size-fits-all “custom” horn. Dan (who is 4th horn in the Memphis Symphony) plays each horn before it goes out, to make sure that it’s a quality instrument.
As far as playability, the horn plays quite well – as you’d expect. Here are some of the things that stood out to me (keep in mind I normally play a Paxman 75M):
- The horn’s weight seems fairly middle-of-the-road. It was definitely lighter than I’m used to, but I normally play a fairly heavy triple horn. It didn’t feel too light or toy-like at all. Some ultra-lightweight horns seem to lack a little bit of “mass” in the sound at loud volumes. This horn had no such issue.
- The articulation was quite easy. It felt like the point of articulation was “closer” to the mouthpiece, rather than the left hand. This made articulation very quick and easy, and pp attacks had a hair trigger.
- There was a nice resistance to the blow in medium and louder dynamics. That helps (me, at least) keep the notes closer to the center of resonance of the horn and not run out of air so quickly.
- While we weren’t playing the best room, the sound was very good. It was nice and round at quieter dynamics and got a bit zingy when pushed.
- I liked the bell size – it felt pretty close to my horn (Paxman Medium taper). Maybe a tiny bit bigger, but nothing that interfered with hand stopping or my normal hand position. I’ve played a few custom Geyer horns that had much bigger throats that made my right-hand position a bit nebulous and also made hand-stopping difficult.
It was also great to have Dan so open about the difference between the Lukas/Pinc and his normal Lukas horn. He didn’t have a Lukas on hand to try (and I’ve never played one), but he did say that playability-wise, the two instruments are comparable. The main difference he noted was the Lukas had a bit more projection and resonance and may be more suited to larger ensembles. I can’t speak to that personally, but the Lukas/Pinc did feel like it made a nice “present” sound at medium and louder dynamics.
If you’ve been looking around at custom Geyer-style horns, make sure to give the Lukas/Pinc (and Lukas) horn a try. You can read more about Dan and the Lukas horns over at his website.