Reynolds Pottag Model

Max Pottag, long time second horn of the Chicago Symphony, designed the Reynold's horn that bears his name. I am not sure just when he did this. Its layout is similar to the Holton Farkas Model, but it plays much better than any of the many Holton Farkas Model horns I've tried. The bore is .472 inches and the bell diameter is twelve inches.

The whole bell engraving, which is too faint to photograph, goes, line by line from top to bottom:




Pottag Model

  Under "Pottag Model" is a coat of arms/crest with "RMC" in it. "Pottag Model" is in caps and small caps; otherwise I transcribed capitalization as it appears. Each line is centered, including the crest. Reynolds expert ElShaddai Edwards says the serial number indicates that this horn was made near the end of the Pottag Model's production run, after Richards Music Company (the "RMC" in the crest) bought Reynolds.

Samuel Ramsay

One of my teachers, Sam Ramsay, shown at left in a characteristic pose, now deceased but formerly a member of the New Orleans Symphony, National Symphony, National Gallery Orchestra, and Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, played one professionally for many years. I got this one largely for nostalgia's sake. (It isn't Sam's old horn, just one like it.)

So how does it play? Very well, indeed! It is very free blowing, focused, good in all registers, with an especially easy top octave and a well-centered, easy-to-control low register. I recently played it and my Conn 8D at the inauguration of a recital hall some friends had built on their house. All present, me included, preferred the Reynolds to the 8D. It had a more focused, complex, warmer sound than the 8D.

However, it also requires a somewhat different technique than the 8D to get a big sound through the "break," roughly the sixth from written E on the bottom line to G below middle C. For me, anyway, the written B and B-flat below middle C are very "fragile." For example, on the Pottag I almost always miss the several middle B's in Kopprasch 45, but seldom do on my 8D.

In addition--and this is the real show stopper for me--the written F in the bottom space is very sharp. No matter what fingering I use (and I've tried them all) I can barely get it down to pitch by covering almost fully with my right hand and lipping down as far as I can. This may be owing to the several dings in the leadpipe (not visible in the pictures). Or not. I don't remember this problem with Sam's Pottag, but I last played it when Nixon was President and won't vouch for the accuracy of my memory. This is the only note that's unreasonabe to tame. I have had reports that this is not typical of Pottags, but cannot vouch for it myself.

It is easily worth what I paid for it (well under $1000). I consider it a decent backup horn for my non-professional purposes. I'd recommend this model to anyone needing a double horn who cannot afford a new one. In particular, it is a good alternative to the oft-recommended (and for good reason!) Conn 6D for those who need to get a lot of horn for their money. However, before purchasing one, especially for professional use, be sure to check the intonation carefully.

Pictures of Damage to the Horn

The pictures of the damage were taken with a Nikkormat FTn and 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor-P lens on Kodak Max 400 film. The camera was mounted on a copy stand and a cable release operated the shutter. The pictures of the front and back of the horn on a plaid blanket were taken with a Leica and 50mm Leitz lens, exact models uncertain.

Learn more about Reynolds Contempora instruments, including the Pottag Model at

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Created 22 Jun 2002.
Revised 19 Aug 2005.