Care of Thin and Soft Bell
French horn bells are quite thin and soft. These two qualities have been found necessary to produce the peculiar velvety tone coloring and flexible response demanded by the finest horn artists. Such bells require more than ordinary care. Although dents in the flare of the bell do not seem to affect the playing qualities of the horn, these dents look bad and are unnecessary if the instrument is given the care it deserves.
If through your carelessness or an accident your bell does become dented you had better consider a moment before you rush to a repairman and have the dents removed. The repairman has only two ways of removing the dents and that is by rubbing them out or pounding them out. In either case, a hard spot is left in the bell where the metal is worked over, for when you bend or rub or pound brass or nickel silver you make it harder. Now, since softness of the metal is an important attribute in obtaining velvety tone quality, it may be better to leave the dents in, rather than to put hard spots in the metal. Professionals in the great symphonies usually prefer to leave all but the very worst dents alone.
Don’t lay the horn down on chair or table so the bell hits against a sharp edge or corner. Always lay the horn down on the mouthpipe side and so the valve keys are up. Most horns have a guard along the mouthpipe for this purpose. Don’t set the horn on its bell. Many horns will balance on the bell but it is a very unstable position and the least jar or knock will cause it to fall over. Be sure your horn is properly blocked and strapped in the case so the bell does not not take the impact of any dropping or jars.