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Leave it to Ethel Merker
Leave it to Ethel Merker and Holton to challenge the ‘big horn’ status quo
Hornists seeking an instrument with great volume and big sound have traditionally chosen an American-made Holton competitor that has become “status quo” among extra-large-bell models. While their horn does indeed provide the sought-after sound, those who play it find that they sacrifice upper-register control and tone as well as playing comfort.
Holton recognized the need for a French horn with a deep, centered hall-filling sound that also provides effortless response and even tone throughout its entire range. Holton brasswind engineers turned to the design enhancements created for the Holton H175 and H183 “Merker-Matic” French horns. By combining an extra-large bell and branch with the innovative Merker dual bore, they crafted a horn equal in power and depth to the status-quo brand that yet allowed the artist to reach those difficult high notes with greater ease, accuracy and efficiency. Unveiled in 2000, the H189 has since been garnering much attention from hornists who are seeking a better, more easily playable alternative to their current instrument.
Because of its dual-bore design, the H189 gives unprecedented evenness of tone and response from Bb to F, combined with upper-register control that single-bore French horns just can’t achieve. The H189 also benefits from the versatility of Holton’s independent Bb/F tuning system. Along with the adjustable finger hook, standard equipment on all Merker-Matic horns, the H189’s short-stroke valves with closer center lines make the instrument extremely comfortable to play for hornists of any age or size. Also present are the domed heavyweight valve caps that allow the horn to be played at great volume with no breaking up of tone.
The Holton H189 is well on its way to becoming the new standard for the “big horn” player.

Key: F–Bb, Bb–F
Pitch: A445, with reversible 4th valve to Bb–F
Bore: F: 11.89 mm (.468") Bb: 11.68 mm (.460")
Bell: Nickel-silver, extra-large-throated hand-hammered
specially annealed with overlapping seam
Mouthpipe: Newly developed taper with .296" venturi
Lever action: String action with stainless steel springs
Valve rotors: Tapered hand-lapped brass with nickel-silver outside casings
Bearing plates: Tapered brass
Material: Solid nickel-silver
Finger-Hook: Adjustable
Waterkeys: One on mouthpipe and one on 3rd slide
Case: Deluxe wood-shell double case
Options: Available with detachable bell as H289; with mechanical linkage,
fixed bell as H189M; with mechanical linkage, detachable bell as H289M