Best Baritone Horns

Updated December 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

17 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
231 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best baritone horns

Last Updated December 2019

Maybe you have a child who has decided they want to play the baritone horn in the school band. Maybe you have decided to take up the horn yourself. While it is true that professional musicians who play for a living often spend thousands on their instruments, you don’t have to do that to get a quality baritone.

There are some factors you need to examine before deciding which baritone horn to buy. Baritone horns have different configurations depending on whether they’re made for concert play or marching performances. Some horns are heavier than others, depending on their base materials. There is also some confusion regarding an instrument that is very similar to the baritone horn — the euphonium.

That’s not all. In addition to choosing a horn, there are some other products you may need if you’re just getting started on the baritone, including valve oil, a mouthpiece case, and possibly even a mouthpiece. We will discuss these concerns and more in the following buying guide for baritone horns.

Baritone mouthpieces are metal. It’s easy to give yourself a swollen lip by banging it against your mouth too hard. This is especially true in a marching band.

Key considerations

Baritone vs. euphonium

When you’re shopping for a baritone horn online, you may get results for euphoniums as well. They look similar, leading many people to believe that “baritone” and “euphonium” are two different words for the same thing. They are not.

Baritones and euphoniums are both 9-foot-long horns in the B♭ range. Baritones have a smaller and more cylindrical bore (the internal air chamber) than euphoniums. They also have a tighter wrap and smaller bell. The primary difference, however, lies in the way they sound. A baritone has a lighter sound than the loud, brassy tone of a euphonium.

In short, the way around this confusion is to pay close attention to the labeling on any instrument you’re considering. Euphoniums are great, but they sound different than baritones, and if you’ve set out to purchase a baritone, you probably don’t want to end up with a euphonium instead.

Weight

The average baritone horn weighs 8 to 12 pounds. Weight within this range is determined by the horn’s material, thickness, and finish, as well as the size of the bell. Weight is a particularly important consideration if you’ll be using the horn for marching.

Concert horns vs. marching horns

A concert baritone horn is designed to be held in your lap with the bell facing the ceiling. The valves face the same direction, meaning that each time you push a valve, you push down. The leadpipe curves around the lower part of the bell, providing a place for the mouthpiece to attach. Because the horn sits in your lap, you don’t have to support it in your arms. Therefore, weight will have very little impact on your choice.

However, if you’ll be marching while holding your horn, its weight is a critical factor. When marching, the bell faces forward. The valves are at right angles to it, and the mouthpiece comes straight back to the rear of the horn. To play, you must hold the horn up in front of you. Both hands are required to support the weight and keep it pressed firmly against your lips while playing and marching. Even when you’re not playing, the horn still has to be held in front of you with the bell facing down. Again, both hands are required to support the weight.

Twelve pounds may not sound or feel like much, but after 30 minutes of carrying the horn around in the hot sun, it can feel like you’re carrying a cannonball. If you’re looking for a horn for marching purposes, pick the lightest one you can. Practice carrying it until you can comfortably hold it, march, and play for a minimum of 30 minutes without interruption.

EXPERT TIP

When you play a brass instrument, your breath condenses inside, and a pool of water collects in the curves of the instrument. A spit valve (or water valve) is included to eliminate that excess moisture.


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Features

Material

Brass: Most baritone horns are made from brass. It is lightweight and strong, and it provides a clear sound that, with proper care, should last for many years.

Silver nickel: For a little extra weight, a silver-nickel alloy is available that adds to the appearance of the horn, giving it a more modern look. Silver nickel is popular with marching bands and drum and bugle corps. The alloy provides a flashy look as the horns move side to side and back and forth.

Mouthpiece

The mouthpiece for baritone horns is technically classified as an accessory, even though the horn can’t be played without it. The mouthpieces included with most baritones aren’t as high in quality as the horn itself. For this reason, many professional players purchase their mouthpiece separately from the instrument.

Case

Hardshell: Cases come in two general varieties; hardshell and soft. Hardshell horn cases are exactly what they sound like: a hard outer case with a soft velvet or velvet-like cutout on the inside.

Soft: A soft case has a soft outer shell. Inside the soft case is a hard inner shell and a cutout for the horn to nestle in.

EXPERT TIP

Emptying a spit valve onto the floor is standard procedure for a horn player, but if you’re playing in a carpeted area, place a towel on the floor to catch the moisture. It’s mostly just water, but it’s still a good idea to keep things clean.


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Accessories

Mouthpiece: GLORY Silver-Plated Mouthpiece
As mentioned, the mouthpiece included with a baritone horn might not be of the best quality. If you’re looking to purchase a mouthpiece separately, consider this silver-plated one from GLORY. It’s not as expensive as some alternatives, yet it provides a nice sound for intermediate and advanced players.

Lyre: Yamaha Lyre for Baritone
To hold your sheet music when you’re marching, you need a lyre. Designed expressly for baritone marching music, this lyre from Yamaha can hold music secure, even in windy marching conditions.

Valve oil: Blue Juice Valve Oil
You need valve oil to keep your horn’s piston-style valves moving freely and smoothly. Valve oil also helps keep the horn clean internally. This two-pack from Blue Juice is a good value, and when your first bottle runs out, you’ll be glad to have a second one on hand.

Mouthpiece pouch: ProTec Padded Mouthpiece Pouch
Dents and scratches will change the sound of your mouthpiece. Protect it when it’s not in use with this padded nylon pouch from ProTec.

Baritone horn prices

Inexpensive

The budget price range for baritone horns spans from $300 to $400. These will be concert baritones with a mouthpiece, a cleaning cloth, and a case. If you’re not sure that you or your child will play the horn for long, a budget horn like this could be a good choice. On the other hand, a cheaper instrument is harder to play well. A beginner could get a false sense of their potential on an inexpensive and/or poorly made horn.

Mid-range

Expect to pay $400 to $500 for a baritone horn in the mid-range. The quality will be higher, with lacquer finishing and smoother action on the piston-style valves. The sound will be better, and with proper care, these horns can last for many years. If you’ve got a beginner on your hands (or if you’re the beginner), consider purchasing a baritone in this price range. If it ends up that you discontinue playing the instrument, it will have a better resale value than a budget horn, so you may be able to recoup some of your costs.

Expensive

The high range on baritone horns is anything over $500 and up to $2,000. With these horns, the included mouthpiece will be on par with the instrument. These are horns that will last a lifetime. Like mid-range horns, they too have a better resale value, and the higher quality of the horn gives beginners a better chance for success.

EXPERT TIP

Don’t twist the valves unless you’re cleaning the horn. You could inadvertently loosen parts inside them that would interfere with the way the horn plays.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Baritone horns are pitched similarly to trombones and can play music written for them.
  • Empty the water out of the horn every time after you finish playing. Ideally, this would occur after each song.
  • Dents anywhere in a horn will change the timbre of the sound. Be careful not to bang or drop your horn.
  • Between musical pieces, baritone horns can be placed on the floor with the bell facing down. The wide bell will support the horn and keep it from tipping over.

Other products we considered

We like the OPUS USA by Ktone High Quality Gold Bb School Baritone. This is a decent concert baritone horn that has a gold or yellow finish with a 9.25-inch bell. It comes with a hardshell case, white gloves, and a cleaning cloth. The included mouthpiece is decent, though you still may want to upgrade it.

We also like the Kaizer 2000 Series B Flat Baritone Horn. This is a beautiful horn. It has a lacquered yellow brass body, a rose brass leadpipe, a silver-plated mouthpiece, and pearl inlay valve buttons. It comes with a hard case, a polishing cloth, and a pair of gloves. Best of all, it has a lifetime warranty. The steep price reflects those advantages.

Cylindrical bores, such as the ones found in baritones, maintain the same diameter throughout the length of the horn until it reaches the bell. This is what accounts for the lighter, brighter sound of baritones as well as trumpets and trombones.

FAQ

Q. How often should my baritone horn be cleaned?
A.
It should be cleaned at least once a week. Wash the mouthpiece with warm water and soft soap, then rinse it with cold water. Inspect all the slides on the valves make sure they move up and down smoothly. Oil them if they don’t. Wipe the bell out with a clean cloth, and polish the outside as well.

Q. Can I use hot water to clean my baritone horn?
A.
No. Never use hot water to clean your instrument, as the expansion and contraction of the metal could gradually alter the sound it makes.

Q. How often should the valves be removed and cleaned?
A.
That depends on how often you play the horn. If you play it on a daily basis, it should be taken apart for a thorough cleaning every two or three months.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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