Welcome to the Second Blog in the series on Finding Affordable Quality Double Reed Instruments. This week’s blog will focus on the English Horn.

Sneak Peek: Next in the series is Finding an Affordable Bassoon for $5000 or less!

If you joined us last week- you got to spend a bit of time with the Principal Oboist of the  Atlanta Ballet, Erica Howard. She again joins me for a fun chat through English Horn Options and we finish the YouTube video with Sound Clip Examples so you can decide for yourself which instrument you like best.

If you are interested in a Nobel Instrument– they are available through Miller Marketing and can be purchased with the Discount Code: ERYNOFT via phone or email. 

1(800) 323-3216 or miller445 AT aol DOT com



I think it is safe to say that we fell in love with the Nobel for two reasons: the Sound AND the Price Point.

A quick comparison chart of English Horn Body Types, Key Systems and Price Points. All prices are in US Dollars and Reflect the ERYNOFT Discount Code.

It is also a nice addition to have a wood composite English Horn on the market, limiting the potential for cracks in instruments that may not be played everyday. Yet the wood composite offers a density rich sound not found in plastic. And we loved the option of a wood composite upper joint combined with a wood lower joint and bell for the more advanced daily performers.

If you are curious to know more about Instrument Body Types and How it can Alter the Sound or Potential for an Instrument Crack, take a moment and review the end of last week’s Blog on Finding an Affordable Oboe. In the blog Erica shares her knowledge about each of the Body Types with a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of each.

Our chart also focuses on Key Work Differences. You may have noticed the lack of a Split Ring D on the Fox Renard.

A quick location guide- where to find the Split Ring D on the English Horn.

So! Split-Ring D… Do you need it? 

We’ve mentioned the Split-Ring D a couple of times in the videos and on the blog. Today we wanted to go into a bit more detail about what the key exactly does to help you choose the best instrument to fit your needs.

 First Off- The Name of the Key: Sometimes it’s called a Split Ring D and Sometimes it is called a Split Ring E. It’s the same key regardless of name. It is played by the third finger of the right hand.

Some people call it the D Key because it’s the last key you add to play a D. And Some people  call it the E Key because it’s the first open hole on the instrument when you play an E and therefore where most of the Air and Sound come out.

There are 3 different Key Styles that you may come across for this key.

key collage-3.jpg

 The advantage of the solid key is that there is no worry about covering a hole if you have smaller hands. On some instruments, the solid key can make the E sound muffled and stuffy, this tends to not be an issue on better quality instruments.

For the instruments that do have a hole in the key, the E sounds exactly the same regardless of key type because the hole is the same size.

The Split Ring E has One Function: to trill from D-Sharp to E.

This is done by pressing down the left E-Flat key, the inner ring is depressed so that you only have to trill your third finger. If you try this on an Oboe/English Horn without the split ring- the E will be very sharp.

It isn’t too hard to play this trill on an Oboe/English Horn that doesn’t have a split ring, though. Just trill the third finger and pinky of your right hand together (at the same time).

The split ring key is a bit trickier as far as Instrument Repairs. This is due to the cork thickness. It must be very precise to keep the rings aligned. Any swedging (tightening of the key tubes on older instruments to reduce clicking noises) must be done in such  way that the rings stay centered. This is one of the reasons some manufacturers opt for the single ring instead.

In short, it’s nice to have the split ring to make the D-sharp to E trill a little easier, but it’s not an absolutely essential key (like some of the others we mentioned in the oboe blog) and you’ll still be able to play everything regardless of which style key you have.

Now Let’s Dig into Bocals!

Each Nobel English Horn has TWO Bocals. The two bocals included with purchase differ in length to offer intonation adjustments. A longer bocal can lower the overall pitch (make it flat) a shorter bocal can raise the overall pitch (make it sharp).

If by chance you accidentally lose or break a bocal, it can be replaced for as little as $149-199 through Miller Marketing with the ERYNOFT Discount Code.

I think it is safe to say that we had only one challenge to Justin Miller at Miller Marketing regarding Nobel English Horns- adjust the manufacturing of the Instruments to include a universal Bocal Well.

Currently the PVNEHH fits all standard bocals but the PVNEH Bocal Well was a bit larger.

This meant that we could not interchange the Nobel PVNEH Instrument with Howarth, Fox, or Nobel PVNEHH Bocals. We would need to add extra cigarette paper or plumber’s tape to the cork of the bocal to try different bocals, the well was too large.

A side by side comparison. The base (cork end) of the Top Bocal is wider than the Bottom Bocal.

Justin assured us that he will use our constructive feedback and look into production adjustment in the manufacturing to create a Universal English Horn Bocal Well.

This is the second time we offered suggestions and he took them to heart. 🙂

As manufacturing shifts, I will be sure to add updates on my blog. Be sure to subscribe to not miss out on up to the minute production alterations.

The accessories included: cork grease, Nobel cleaning cloth and double tail swab in cobalt blue.

Unlike the Nobel Oboes, the Nobel English Horns do not come with a reed case as part of the accessory package.

If you’re looking for a great Oboe and English Horn Reed Case- we love the case by Oboes.ch available at Hodge Products. The example we linked features a sturdy clasp, ribbon reed holders and holds 5 English Horn Reeds and 6 Oboe Reeds.

If you would like to keep your Oboe and English Horn Reeds stored separately Hodge also has a 3 Reed English Horn Reed Case. This Reed Case has great outside print and color options. Although we have yet to try it, we believe this option would fit into the reed case well of the Nobel English Horn Cases. It, too, features ribbon reed holders and a sturdy clasp.

If you’re stuck waiting for your new reed case to arrive with no place to store your English Horn Reeds, we have a solution. Some Oboe Reed Cases can fit an English Horn Reed if You Place the Reed in the Oboe Reed Case Upside Down.

A quick peek into Erica’s Oboe Reed Case with an English Horn Reed Placed Upside Down.

If you are in search of a good English Horn Reed you might consider ordering from Erica, especially if you enjoyed the sound clips in the YouTube video. To purchase, send her an email at oboeeh AT gmail DOT com. Each handmade reed is $20 plus the cost of shipping, easily purchased via PayPal.

I hope you are enjoying the Affordable Instrument Trial Adventures in this Series. My goal is to help everyone find quality double reed instruments that are accessible for your individual needs.

I know from my own experiences buying an English Horn for JSU- that prior to the release of the Nobel Instruments, it was impossible to buy a quality English Horn for under $4000.

Previously there was not a manufacturer on the market that fit the needs of many band programs, community orchestras, churches or musicians on a budget. Many musicians were unable to own their own English horn due to financial challenges. Hopefully this series will end the financial elitism! 🙂

Be sure to join me for the upcoming blog: Finding a Bassoon for under $5000. I will be blogging about both mass market AND used instruments. The pros and cons of each in this price point.

Happy Shopping, Everybody!


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