French Horn Vs. Mellophone – What Are the Differences?

French Horn Versus Mellophone Guide

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a french horn and a mellophone, there isn’t much of one.

There are however some differences in size, shape, range, sound, and mainly in which situations they are played.

The regular French horn you see most of the time (the circular one) is an orchestral/band horn, while a mellophone is more like a trumpet or other similar jazz band instruments.

What is a Mellophone?

Several Melophones side by side
Several Melophones side by side

Mellophones are French horns that resemble trumpets.

They have a narrower bore and more tubing than a french horn, which is mostly circular. These instruments are primarily used in marching bands, but can also be found in jazz music.


What’s the Difference Between the Mellophone and the French Horn?

A french horn is an instrument that has been around for centuries. It’s mostly used in orchestral settings or marching bands, but it can also be used in jazz music.

There are two types of french horns: the regular orchestral/band horn, and the mellophone.

The regular French Horn you see most of the time (the circular one) is an orchestral/band horn, and a mellophone is a marching french horn/jazz band instrument that looks more like a trumpet than a french horn.

Mellophones come with some bells and whistles that other French horns don’t have (such as valves). If you’re looking for something cheaper or louder, then this might not be the exact instrument to look for.


How Difficult Is It to Play the Mellophone?

Mellophones are basically like trumpets with an elongated tube and a larger bell (or the main body of the instrument) that gives them more volume than what you would find in a trumpet.

They’re pitched between a Bb and Eb so they don’t require much effort on the lips as some other brass instruments do.

If you are new to band instruments, you may have seen an instrument called “the French Horn” around your school, or in a marching band.

However, if you’re looking for something cheaper or louder, then this might not be the exact instrument to look for. A mellophone is a great alternative to the french horn, but it might be difficult for someone new to instruments.

Mellophone players during a performance
Mellophone players during a performance (DCI World Championship)

This article compares the French Horn and Mellophone. We’ve concluded that they are both brass instruments, but the french horn is used in orchestras or bands while a mellophone is played by marching bands and jazz bands. If you are about to start in a band, the french horn is one of the most difficult instruments to learn, but if opting to play in a marching band, mellophone isn’t that difficult to play.

FAQs About Mellophones

Why is the Mellophone Used in Marching Bands?

The mellophone provides a brighter sound than other marching band instruments. It also has a wider range of notes and dynamics, which can be more useful for performances.

Who Plays the Mellophone?

Mellophones are played by musicians in marching bands or jazz bands who are looking for something with more volume and tone than what’s offered by a french horn.