Primus Inter Pares Custom Horn


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The Primus Inter Pares (First Among Equals) is a custom Geyer-style horn, made to order only.  Fully customized version priced at $17,760. Please contact us for more details. 

​​​​What is a Primus Inter Pares?

The Primus Inter Pares is a true custom horn.  Ion Balu has extensive experience playing and he has been privileged to work on all brands of high end custom horns as well as some of the best horns in the industry over the last 15 years in his repair workshop.  By observation of what works and what doesn’t, Ion has taken the positive attributes of many horns and combined them into his Primus Inter Pares horn.  

He has paid special attention to ergonomics which is a crucial aspect to horn construction and player comfort which is frequently overlooked.  Other custom horns are “one size fits all” but that really means “one size fits none”.  A Ion Balu Primus Inter Pares is truly made to order for the individual and their style of playing….a perfect fit.

This is a custom Geyer-style horn made in brass with nickel slides. Our primus horn features a one piece F branch which is an exceptionally hard to bend tubing.  Ion bends his tubing using cerrobend, an alloy that supports the tubing while it is bent so there are no wrinkles and the tubing stays very round. The importance of having a round tubing cannot be underestimated. If a tubing is not perfectly round (a variation of 15-25/1000” is very common), the sound wave will have different characteristics when it passes through the oval part, then back to round, which is one of the reasons some horns are not very consistent.  Most high end horns have the F branch made out of two pieces. Ion is the only custom horn craftsman to have a one piece F branch bent with the precision of cerrobend and it is a great source of pride for him and his workshop.

The truly exceptional aspect of this horn is the personal time you get with master horn builder Ion Balu.  Purchase of a Primus Inter Pares includes a 2 day individually focused fitting and adjustment of your horn by Ion.  Ion presents you with several variations of his custom lead pipes and together with you will choose what works best with your horn playing attributes.  Additionally, you select your bell from many options.  A backpack style flight case is included.

The Fitting Process

This personal fitting takes approximately 8-10 hours over the two days. The first day of the fitting is to determine the precise optimum lead pipe and bell for you.  The second day of the fitting will include further testing and refining the horn for you.  Once fitted your horn ultimately maximizes your individual style of playing.


The Primus Inter Pares comes with custom braces, abalone valve caps, a hand hammered bell and a BAM flight case.  If standard braces (-$600), standard valve caps (-$400), a medium bell (-$1170) and no flight case (-$1240) are desired, those costs will be deducted from the price of the horn.

A place in line on the waiting list is available for a $5000 deposit.  This deposit is applicable to the cost of the horn and fully refundable prior to the start of the horn fabrication.


“Ion has that rare ability to dream up innovative solutions while delivering exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail.  I am 6’6” and have always struggled with postural issues while playing.  Ion solved my problem overnight by adjusting the angle of my lead pipe to perfectly hit my lips while sitting up straight with my bell on my leg.  I cannot put into words how much impact this had on the relaxedness, health and enjoyment of my horn playing.  Thank you, Ion!” Michael Wright (Muskegon, MI)

“I purchased from Mr. Balu one of his custom horns.  Beautifully made, custom designed, hand bent tubing, heavy bell with custom abalone valve caps, and a brushed brass finish.  A truly gorgeous horn with a velvety dark sound encapsulated with a brilliant finish.  I was able to test out mouthpieces specifically designed to match his lead pipe.  He spent multiple days with me testing micro-adjustments to multiple leadpipes to ensure the perfect response, comfort, and sound.  A truly world-class experience, matched only by his expert craftsmanship and customer service.  He works hard to make you sound good.  You’ll love your new Balu horn from his Briz models to his Primus custom.  I’d stack his craftsmanship up against the best of the best.” Jack Levoska (Michigan)

Weight 18 lbs
Dimensions 24 × 20 × 20 in
Primus custom horn

Primus Custom Horn, Waiting list deposit

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Primus Inter Pares Custom HornPrimus Inter Pares Custom Horn
$5,000.00$17,760.00Select options
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