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Boosey & Hawkes english horn?

I have been wanting to buy an english horn and found someone selling a used Boosey & Hawkes.

B&H don't seem to be selling english horns any longer, so I am wondering if I should go ahead.
Any opinions on the quality and playability of these would be appreciated.
Also a price range as to what it may be worth...

I am new to playing double reeds. I have a oboe but have a difficult time playing on pitch.
It is really the english horn I would love to play and am thinking the lower pitch of the instrument may make it easier to play in tune. Is this the same as the difference between a soprano sax which I have hard time playing in tune vs an alto?



Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
Greets Dan. Off topic I just had to look up your handle "Madoues" which means porcupine from Acadian origin. Is there a backstory? ;)

While not a double reed player, there is nothing inherently wrong with buying an instrument that isn't made anymore. I would think that how it plays to be the key thing. You might have a teacher or a pro play it first to check it out as it is very frustrating to try to learn to play a new instrument that has serious faults. As far as intonation for instruments, are you working on long tones to help you zero in on the correct pitch and sound?

Both oboe and English horns are hard instruments to master. Good luck on your quest.
Hi Gandalfe and thanks for the reply.

Yes madoues does mean porcupine, but originated in first nations language.
I come from Madwaska county in Canada which has the same origin, meaning " land of porcupines".

I was just wondering if Boosey and Hawkes stopped maikng english horns because of problems with their instruments, or if the quantity sold just wasn't worth their investment. I am hoping the later.

I would not be playing anything complicated and hoping I can learn enough for slow melodies.
If you know of songs of Chris Spheeris featuring the english horn you will know what I mean.

Hi Madoues:

I bought a Boosey and Hawkes English horn in 1973 and played it semi-professionally on occasion until I retired several years ago. I usually played second oboe in the orchestras. It is a lovely instrument with a very rich sound but you do have to work hard developing a strong pitch sense especially around the B and C. I purchased excellent bocals from Loree and Laubin and they helped immensely as did excellent reeds which were always a challenge to find or produce. Unfortunately, I can no longer play so I, too, am looking to sell my instruments.

Good luck,
Thanks for you replies. It has helped me decide to buy that Boosey & Hawkes english horn which I have finally purchased.

It was the son of the original owner who was selling it for his father who hasn't played in decades from my understanding. He was an oboe player and by the condition of the horn had hardly played the english horn.

So I am very happy with the transaction.

It will need to be overhauled, but I have been trying to play it anyway and am feeling confident I can make use of it. It is much easier to play than an oboe for me.

However, it didn't come with an owners manual and the fingering seems to be a bit different than the charts downloaded from the net. I will be writing other posts to inquire about details for the fingerings.

Anyway, thanks again for your posts, it has made me a proud owner of an english horn. I have been searching occasionally since about 4 years ago to find an affordable one.

Thanks for the link, Dave. This fingering chart is better than the ones I had, closer to my instrument.
There is one major (I think) difference however. I include a picture to help me explain.

On the fingering chart(C#) in the middle, there is a key on the left that I circled in green.
I take it this is an octave key as in a saxophone. However, my english horn has another key,
where you would find the thumb rest on a sax, circled in yellow. There is no equivalent key on the fingering chart.
It seems to operate all the keys of the left hand, except it does not cover the ring finger hole, of course.
Do you know what this key is for? Of course, I have a tendency to use it as a thumb rest, i.e. always pressing it.

All the other keys are the same as my instruments.



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Hi Dan:

It is hard to tell from the photos but it appears that the key circled in red is for notes from A to C above the staff and for some extremely high notes. The one in green is the octave key from 4th space E to Ab above the staff.

You mention the sax thumb rest. I presume you are referring to the right hand in which case it would be a right hand octave key as used in the military system to automatically switch between octave keys.

I don't have the yellow key on any of my instruments but suspect that it us used to correct tuning for certain trills and grace notes (for example Ab - Bb trill using the middle finger of the left hand and for the A sharp B trill to avoid the very awkward normal trill) since it lowers all the left hand keys. You will have to experiment.

Good luck,
Thanks for the reply, Dave.

I meant the thumb rest of the "left" hand on the sax, which is adjacent to the octave key.
It is the one in yellow, which you have commented on.
I should be OK with that; if it isn't present in most other english horns, it can be likely disregarded in the beginning.

Thanks again


College Student who likes wind instruments & music
Bit late to this, but the key that you have circled in yellow is a thumbplate! Your Cor Anglais is the old style English thumbplate system-basically one holds the key down on all notes except for B flat 4 and C 5, and lifts from it on those two notes. (and their counterparts an octave up, above the staff.) They're not very common in the USA nowadays on Oboe or Cor, I'd imagine they're about as rare nowadays in Canada.
Apologies if you've already figured this out in the intervening week!
(Amusingly though I know an oboist from Alabama who started on thumbplate system, though! They're not horribly common though, so a teacher might not know how it works.)
Wow, thanks for that! No, I hadn't figured that out.

This is more a long term project and I still need to bring the instrument to a tech.
Some notes are hard to put out and I believe at least one or two keys are out of alignment or otherwise defective.

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