Boosey & Hawkes 78 customised trumpet

Boosey & Hawkes brass instruments were once one of the finest available for brass band and orchestral (early to mid part) of 20th Century. They also produced an intermediate range, with the 78 trumpet being one such instrument.

This particular model arrived at my workshop in quite a sorry state. The bell was bent back and other ‘bits’ were falling off. However the valve section had good compression and the bell and slides had no red rot.

I therefore completely took the horn apart and began to repair piece by piece. The slide bows had been plated; these were cleaned off and repaired. The bell itself worked very nicely. The rim was made into a ‘flat rim’ which heightens the ‘ping’ on the sound and thinned by hand. I added my own custom lead pipe, new brass top / bottom caps and buttons, plus a new rounded main tuning bow.

The result was not only beautiful, but plays with a bright, focused sound.

The instrument is currently in the hands of a budding young professional trumpeter!

Yamaha 561 complete overhaul

Yamaha 561 Complete overhaul and lead pipe change.

This instrument arrived at my workshop, looking rather sorry for itself. It seemed that the horn was used somewhere hot and humid, as there were deep pitted areas all over the instrument. Finger and thumb plates bore deep sweat erosion scars…

The customer wished for a bell chop and complete overhaul, so I set out to strip the lacquer and completely dismantle the instrument.  Fortunately the 561 was considered a ‘student’instrument and therefore made with thicker material.  This was useful as it allowed me to thin the bell and flare (after the chop!”) and to rebuild into something more responsive!

I repaired and reused what I could; carefully restoring and refitting. However the branch was too damaged and replaced with another salvaged 561 part, but the F tube had to be hand made from straight tube. The original lead pipe was also badly damaged, so I also fitted one of my own pipes. The other addition was making a removable B flat slide, as per 666 design.

The valves had been plated at a previous point, so compression is good.

The result was certainly impressive, as the horn now looks ‘like new’. …..and also plays rather well!


Walter Monig ‘Geyer’ model

This instrument was originally owned and played by Hans Schmidt in Netherlands Radio Orchestra, and was later bought by it’s current owner, who after playing it for a period of time, wished for a more open responsive feel and sound.

At a previous point another craftsman had removed the stopping valve, which was standard for this model of Walter’s instrument, adding a small bow to link the tubing.

The instrument was quite heavy and in order to achieve the customer’s wishes, Armen completely dismantled the horn and piece by piece worked to lighten the spout, flare. He then rebuilt the instrument with a different configuration of stays and supports, finishing off the build with gold brass AH3 mouth-pipe.

The result was quite interesting….

The horn indeed played with a more open feel and sound, but it still retained it’s original warm tone and character.

This horn is now played regularly around the London musical scene, by a player who previously only used an Alexander 103!





Artisan Horns customised  Alexander single horn.

This project is the sort of work my business is based on. To create something from an original instrument which was in effect discarded.
There is no date as to when this was originally constructed, but Alexander built this single horn (presumably on customer request), which was quite unusual!
The horn was designed to play in B flat, but with a very flat stopping valve, plus an ascending valve which took it into D horn.
It was awkward to operate the thumb valves and the tuning was most peculiar. The tubing was in different bore sizes; it seemed that the instrument was experimental and somewhat thrown together…?
My customer therefore asked me to transform it into a B flat / C instrument. I’d built a model 13, whilst working at Paxmans, so I had an idea of what to do.
The valves themselves were in good condition, but the bell and branch were in poor state. In order to get the best result, I repaired the spout and flare, but then handmade a new branch, to match the bell taper. I also designed a new mouthpipe to match the Alexander bell taper.
The result was quite staggering!! We now have an instrument that not only plays in tune; it also has a warm, centred tone, on both the B flat / C sides of the instrument.
This project was really enjoyable to complete; not only from the point of fabricating the new parts, but also for the fact that it will now be played by a professional player, to enjoy for many years to come.

Artisan Horns customised Yamaha 561

Yamaha 561 was the ‘student’ version of the 666 design, which (along with the 666) was produced  for only a short few years.

The instrument arrived from the US and was on the face of it OK, but the valves had been mistreated and were very worn. The bell was serviceable, but not ideal and other parts had  worn through with player’s sweat. Armen therefore proceeded to completely dismantle the instrument and began to rebuild with what is the pinnacle ideology of Artisan Horns. “New life for old horns”

With this in mind, the following works were carried out:

The valve block itself was in very good condition (including the slide bows, but not legs) Armen has close links with UK engineer; therefore a brand new set of valves were CNC machined and hand lapped in, for exact tolerance and all slide legs replaced, to allow smooth and secure fit.

Brand new hand made US bell, cut and fitted with Alexander ring. The bell and flare were then hand thinned and polished to allow better resonance.

Bell branch, internal tubing and Armen’s AH3 mouth-pipe were hand bent to  replace all the worn parts.

The result of this work, is an instrument that plays with a clear bright sound; all notes centered and focused.

Conn 8D fitted with custom AH1 mouthpipe

This is what my customer said, after new AH1 pipe was fitted…
“I have a 70 year old Elkhart Conn 8D which I have always found the higher register lets say unsecure. A friend John Peskett put me on to Armen Boldy at Artisan Horns explaining that he had been studying the concept of how different lead pipes affect the pitch, sound and overall effectiveness of the horn.
I attended Armen’s workshop and was warmly greeted. Armen asked me a whole range of questions around my horn and also how I play including me playing in front of him.
We then went to his workshop where I was able to try out numerous Lead Pipes of various lengths and diameters. Sadly my favourite was already owned by one Tony Halstead.
What I really liked was Armen’s passion knowledge and understanding of the importance of the lead pipe and how numerous factors make a subtle or major difference to the end result.
We made a decision on what pipe I should try which is where I went home leaving my Conn with Armen to create my lead pipe from scratch.
Throughout the week Armen kept me up to date with pictures and the progress my lead pipes development.
I returned the next week to sample the new Lead Pipe. I could not believe the difference in range, tone and interanion in my playing. The great Andrew Joy was also in attendance and mentioned how it sounded.
Since bringing it home I have been relearning how my horn responds and how my playing including lips, diaphragm and breathing can relax that little more.
The whole experience has transformed my 70 year old Elkhart CONN 8D and given her new life for many years to come. A complete customised 1-1 personal service from start to finish.
Would I recommend Artisan Horns? You bet I would !”

Artisan Horns customised Single B flat horn

Continuing on the success of Armen’s single B flat single horn design; this instrument was constructed using a salvaged Paxman medium bore bell.

In the early 90’s Paxman Musical Instruments Ltd. moved premises from Covent Garden (Langley Street) to Union Street, South of the River Thames. During the process, the company either scrapped or gave away a number of bells, which for various reasons were not used in constructing new horns. At the time, Paxman bells tended to be on the thicker side to modern trends. Therefore any which were deemed ‘too thin’ would have been discarded.

The medium bore bell used in this instance appears to be thin (not by modern standards) and was in excellent condition, after the patina was cleaned off. A new genuine branch was provided by Paxman’s and coupled with a complete reconditioning of an ‘F.E. OLDs valve set (new rotors and bronze top caps) and AH1 mouthpipe, this horn has turned to be an excellent instrument.

The resistance and tone quality could be equal to a good Alexander 90. The range is even, with upper register notes just ‘ popping out’.

Armen built several single horns , whilst working for Paxman Ltd. However there was always a question of “can I make this better?”. It appears that the combination of the iconic Paxman bell and Artisan Horns mouthpipe and wrap…the answer is “Yes!!”

Artisan Horns customised F.E. Olds Geyer

This instrument is the latest addition to Armen’s customised Olds instruments. The original was constructed around the 1960’s and was sold as F.E. (Frank Ellsworth) Olds version of a Karl Geyer horn.

The original ‘wrap’ was not at all in keeping with Karl Geyer’s famous design and was a ‘variation on theme’ created by Olds. The instrument played well, but the F tubing section was built in a tight loop and unlike Karl Geyer instruments, Frank Olds also used nickel brass to make his instruments, instead of the more common yellow brass, still used today in modern versions of the design.

As an experiment, Armen therefore decided to rebuild the horn using the original bell and valve sections, to construct a true Geyer design instrument.

The result has been staggeringly good! Olds definitely got his smaller bell design sorted, as this horn not only has a rich sonorous tone, there is also more point to the sound. Although not as bright as the current Germanic horn sound trend, this instrument easily blends in with a section of of Paxman / Alex players.

Sadly there were far fewer of the Olds/ Geyer horns built, as Olds predominantly produced numerous numbers of his iconic 6D model. As far as Armen knows, this particular instrument appears to be unique as a true Olds / Geyer model French Horn.

Artisan Horn – B Flat Single original concept horn

This instrument was one of the earlier instruments built by Artisan Horns, for a customer based in Texas and incorporates the unique Artisan Horn wrap, AH1 mouth pipe, built unto F.E OLDS bell (Paxman screw ring) and rebuilt valve set.

Thumb valve lever was also hand made to suit customer requirements, as were the hand machined slide leg beads, to elevate the aesthetics of the horn to more traditional look.

The horn was supplied with two sets of slides; the original set and a modern set with German made bows, which creates a brighter more responsive sound.

Artisan single horns are proving to be robust sounding instruments; with surprisingly open and ‘fat’ lower register. Control of the “feel” of the horn is achieved by fine adjustments to the hand made mouth pipe.

‘New Life’ Artisan Horn – B Flat Single Horn

The development of this instrument was the inspiration in the creation of Artisan Horns!

The bell originally was built onto F.E OLDS ‘Geyer style’ double horn, which had been very much ‘unloved’. As a player Armen has always favoured single horns; so there began the experimentation with F.E OLDS single valve sections and then subsequently the wrap and mouth pipe design, with intention of keeping everything as free and open as possible.

This horn was originally  built with red brass Conn mouth pipe, as it was something to hand.  The instrument played well but with less focus. However having now been fitted with the original AH1 mouth pipe; this large bore single produces a much more focused and sweet sound!

The bell itself is nickel brass and was made around the 1950’s. As part of it’s history it still has inscription of the US High school where pupils would have used the original double horn!

There is misconception that the brass in older instruments may be ‘worn out / brittle, etc. This is case by case however Artisan Horns have a ready supply of instruments with excellent potential to continue as ‘ New Life’ horns.

Horns are built to order and can be made to custom configurations.

FE Olds 6d Double Horn

This double horn began life in the early 1960s in Fullerton California. F.E. Olds had determined to emulate the Conn 6D but to also make it even better.

This 6D copy was customised by Artisan Horns to incorporate not only a hand thinned flare and spout, but also a more open wrap around the thumb valve and branch. Along with the custom AH1 mouth pipe, the instruments now blows freely with a rumbling low register and secure, slotted upper.

Valves on our ‘New Life’ are assessed for wear and leaks. If required, new valve are made here in UK  and hand lapped to close tolerances, to create a professional standard instrument.

Conn 8d Customised Horn

When this Conn V8D arrived to us, the instrument appeared very ‘tight’ when played; it also lacked the famous rich Conn 8D sound.  The horn was purchased from new by the customer, the predicament was therefore odd?

The horn was subsequently fitted with our AH1 mouth pipe. Main tuning slide was also levelled to balance the instrument’s aesthetics. This customisation resulted in the V8D now blowing freely with the classic rich and dark 8D tone. Notes became slotted, especially in the upper register, with the middle and low registers now able to ‘boom’ when required.

Yamaha 663 full restoration

This Yamaha 663 arrived at Artisan Horns for a full restoration, after many years of reliable professional use.

The instrument was completely repaired and rebuilt using  Artisan Horns AH1 mouth pipe (which is proving itself very flexible). The flare was hand thinned, to reduce the overall weight and to allow a more responsive feel and , ‘ringing’ tone when playing.

As expected the Yamaha valves were beautifully machined, requiring only minimal work to allow fast and smooth operation.

This instrument should serve it’s new owner well for many years to come.

Paxman model 40M (1968)

This instrument was one of the 1st Generation Paxman model 40’s. It was (and probably still is) one of the better designs of B flat / F alto descant horns.

Having lain unplayable for years, the now owner asked for a “bit of a clean up!” So……

An inspection revealed  that there was a split in the mouthpipe. The whole lower section of tubing leading towards the tuning slide was quite misshapen (not round..) and there were cracks at various points. I looked to patch the split areas, however the metal was very brittle, with crack continuing, when I tried to de-dent and make round!

I therefore hand bent new two sections of tubing, as the purpose of the project was to bring the instrument back to life. I also made a longer ‘chamese’ to cover over the mouth pipe crack. The rest of the instrument was then carefully repaired. The valves were not perfect, but very much serviceable.

The result was not only a very looking horn, but one that played rather well, despite it’s age.






Yamaha 667V – Detachable mouth pipe customisation

This Yamaha 667V arrived at Artisan Horns for detachable mouth pipe customisation.

The owner wished for a mouth pipe to enable a ‘more open’ lower register; we therefore created and fitted our dual taper AH2 pipe as a detachable system, so that they could switch between the original and custom pipes.

The result was not only an open low register, but a better slotted upper.




Holton 105 – custom detachable mouth pipe

This instrument was bought by the owner with a missing second mouth pipe; as it would have originally been supplied with.

The customer therefore contacted us to custom fit one of our AH1 mouth pipes. The existing mouth pipe gave a very open feel, but as a contrast they wished for a ‘tighter’ feel, specifically for playing chamber music.

The result was an  interesting contrast;  with some adjustments to the receiver end, we managed to (in effect) to make the instrument feel as if a smaller bore. The tone still rich but somewhat ‘tighter’ in feel to the original pipe.

The same pipe worked wonders in opening a previous Conn 8D; which shows the flexibility within the mouth pipe design.

Kruspe double horn restoration

This iconic instrument dates from the 1960’s and was brought in for a general restoration. Although in overall good condition, there were signs of poor repair work and soldering.

A good result for ‘sympathetic’ repair work involving minimal metal removal from polishing, etc.

Artisan Horns customised OLDS 6D

Continuing from the success of our first Olds 6D customisation, this instrument has consolidated the design ideas of converting a intermediate instrument into a professional model!

The bell and flare are hand thinned to promote a better response, all internal tubing are hand bent to allow free air flow around the instrument and with our developed AH3 mouth pipe, the horn has a easy response, rich tone with slotted notes in the upper register and (if desired) booming open middle and low registers.

This particular instrument is our ‘pattern’ horn with detachable mouth pipe. This allows a ‘test bed’ instrument for our continued mouth pipe development work….

Anthony Halstead Conn 8D detachable mouth-pipe Conn 8D

Since the inception of Artisan Horns, Armen has been working closely with World renowned horn player and teacher, Anthony Halsted in the development of Artisan Horns custom mouth pipes.

Their combined knowledge and experience has not only produced a range of mouth pipes which can alter the ‘sound scape’ of an instrument, they also enhance playability by helping to ‘slot’ and secure notes throughout the range.

These two examples are from Mr Halstead’s personal collection and have been customised to accept three of Artisan Horns current  mouth pipe selection.

AH1 – medium bore pipe

AH2 – dual taper bore; although this is a large bore pipe, notes are slotted and still have a ‘front’ to the tone.

AH3 – medium large bore pipe. This pipe is standard on our customised  Olds 6D instruments.

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