So I'm currently playing on a Conn 6D. I'm a dedicated player and I've grown to believe my instrument is a little under what I aim to be (The instrument I play on is an intermediate Conn.)
In the south-east, we use the Conn 8D as the main symphony horn, but I've played a few and do not favor it because of the raspy high notes. Therefore, I was thinking about buying the Holton H179. I've heard a lot of reviews about it, but I thought it'd be nice to get a final head-count. I'd like to know which one could suit me as a high schooler and aid me throughout my career.
Also, I've seen these water key replacements known as the JoyKey. It's suppose to basically empty your spit valve while playing so it doesn't give you the gargle. I'm interested in that, but I have absolutely no idea how to attach it or how to replace a water key with a JoyKey (if I obtained the Holton H179, that is). I'd like to know if anyone has used a JoyKey and knows how they function.
Finally, I've used a Conn 6D from school for a while. I've noticed that it seems to have an airy sound that is like something is leaking. I've tried tightening the mouthpiece so no air can escape. I've sent it in to a shop. I've had three or four people experiment with my instrument to see if there's anything wrong with it. The only think I've found is that my Bb side's screw was loose, so I had to tighten it, but that didn't help. I've made theories; I think I'm either overblowing or my embrochure is horribly messed up. I was wondering if you guys might've had the same problem.
My response to what to play, I've never had good luck with any Conn. I actually like the 6D better than the 8D, but neither ever worked for me. I have a Holton in rough shape (181, no longer made) that I prefer to the nearly perfect shape 8D I just sold. The keys are faster, the notes better seated and a warmer tone over all. If you can get to pope horns they have some great used instruments. A very intriguing Olds from the LA years, affordable Alexanders and a Paxman 5.
Sorry, I have no info about the joy key.
I have had these "bubbles" of non-sound in instruments. Sometimes a good cleaning will get stuff off a node (at least I've noticed improvement when I've done this) but the King I played at school when I didn't bring in my own had issues on some notes that just seemed to drop out. Even my Geyer single has a horrid high A, every other note is great, really, and it has a destroyed bell (original, dented and patched) with about 9 patches on the main tubing. Many instruments will get these if a brace falls on a node, deadening the tubing unnecessarily. Good luck.
If you do not get the same "airy sound" when you play other horns, then the Conn 6d you are playing on has a leak-could be the valves. As for the holton 179 they are fine horns, although many people"the old school", are biased against them(my opinion).There are advantages to the Holton(notes slot easier,harder to overblow,price) and advantages to the conn 8d(big sound, can be pushed farther musically).The Holtons are more consistant while the conns can be hit and miss from one horn to the other. Consider a yamaha, Hans Hoyer, or atkinson-they all make quality instruments and in my opinion have the best characteristics of the holtons and conns(playablity and big sound when needed). Whatever your choice do not rule out the Geyer-style horns, they are gaining in popularity as many orchestra's are moving toward the brighter European sound. Whatever horn you go with your playing should immediately improve once you get away from that leaky 6d. It is not the model or type of horn you are playing on now, so much as it needs a major overhaul.
I tried two horns lately, both owned by other folks I play with sometimes, both nice and both with their own quirks. One was an old Alexander 103. Great dark sound and seated notes, the other was a dual bore Merker model from Holton. That Holton had a great high end, but I'd say the overall feel was a more penetrating "modern" sound. The dual bore seemd to help create a really even tone across the range. Try one of the Merkermatics and see if you can find a used one if you like it.