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What is a French Horn Made Of?

A French horn is usually made of brass. It is occasionally made out of nickel silver. It has several parts, including tubes and a mouthpiece.


The French horn is derived from early French hunting horns. These horns were made from a solid tube of brass with a flared bell at one end. They had no levers or any moving parts.


A French horn is made of tubing, valves, levers to operate the valves and a mouthpiece. The individual tubes can be moved to adjust pitch. Additionally, the tubing has a large, flared bell that the right hand fits into to change the pitch and sound. The left hand operates the levers to change the notes.

Types of Metal

Beginners' horns are made from brass. Most commonly, they are made from yellow brass, which has a bright sound. Yellow brass is generally 70 percent copper and 30 percent zinc. Less frequently, French horns are made from gold brass or red brass, both of which have more copper. There are also nickel silver horns, which are generally 70 percent copper, 20 percent zinc and 10 percent nickel. Nickel makes the instrument stronger. Many French horns use more than one type of brass because the instrument has many parts.

Types of Linkage

The levers operate the valves by "linkage," which can be made of string or metal arms. String linkage is quieter but may break or need adjustment. Mechanical linkage may make clicking noises, but it lasts much longer.


A French horn may be silver-plated or lacquered with an epoxy finish. Generally, beginners' instruments are silver-plated.

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