What to do with an old Conn 10M…

Couldn’t resist this picture (courtesy of Sotw’s enviroguy) – now that’s a great way to get a patina.  All it’s missing is a bird nesting in the bell !


Reminds me of those joke books that used to come out – “101 uses for a dead Conn”


I’ll bet someone somewhere, with a neck-less vintage Conn tenor,  desperately in need of a neck, is thinking to himself “Just where is that wall, they’d never miss the neck…


I know that I should be horrified, but, to me, the picture looks quite eerie – far from looking neglected, the sax almost seems proud, like a survivor from a long-gone era !  An artistic statement if ever I sax one.

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9 Responses to What to do with an old Conn 10M…

  1. lewis Pelham says:

    It has a majestic appearance…but retains the clumsy “pinky” table regardless.

  2. Helen says:

    As someone who just got their first 10M a few days ago, I gotta’ tell you…this picture hurts! I think if it had been a Mexi-Conn, it would be OK.  😀
    And clumsy pinky table? Sure it isn’t a Mark VI or spin-off type, but compared to the Martin Handcraft I’ve been using the last 6 months, the Conn is heaven!  8)

  3. Mal-2 says:

    There’s only so much that can be done to make the pinky table more comfortable. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that the more modern cluster with the longer lever arms (and axle on the other side) just doesn’t take as much pressure to operate. You can adjust the angle of the touchpieces (and I have on my Buescher C-mel), and you can add the G# interlock to horns that don’t have it (presuming that doesn’t make the keys so stiff as to be inoperable), but there’s not a whole lot you can do to make them “softer” unless you want to move the post and fabricate new, longer levers.

    This is a significant advantage of moving the bell keys to the right-hand side — it puts the axle on the main stack side rather than the far side, and allows for better leverage. It also allows for an articulated low C#. Sure it can be done with left-hand bell keys or a split bell, but it’s mechanically complex. Doing it with right-hand bell keys is relatively simple, and probably a major reason this has become a more or less standard feature in the last 20 or 30 years. Along with (not having) improvements in the octave key mechanism and the near-standardization of high F#, this is one of the things you just have to accept if you want to play a vintage horn.

  4. lewis Pelham says:

    As you say, it is the reverse movement with the axle on the “wrong” side which is the main contribution to a clumsy “pinkie” table. Particularly the action of low C#.
    On all my American horns, all with this deficiency, I link together the G# and the Low C#…they operate together, both operated by the accessible G# plate.
    Why this is not a standard modification I cannot understand.

  5. Mal-2 says:

    I am in the habit of holding the G# key down whenever possible when playing in sharp keys (admittedly not as much of a problem with a C-mel as with an alto), and would not particularly like what an open low C# would do to the pitch of D. I would like to have the link operate as it does on a modern horn, where every key (C#, B, and Bb) open the G# also, but this would render the C# horribly stiff. I know because I’ve tried pressing both at once to get around the issue.

    Linking G# to low B would not cause too much trouble by itself, but that would make low Bb even stiffer than it is as well. I just have to accept that this horn just doesn’t do that, short of some significant re-engineering. If I were going to go to that kind of expense, I’d be better off starting over with a modern horn.

  6. lewis Pelham says:

    No real expense or problem connecting G# to low C#. On my Big B, it was simply a matter of fabricating a small piece of 2mm silver plate, suitably corked, which I soldered to the back of the G# plate, & which extends over the front of the low C# key, thereby operating the latter simultaneously. Even with the combined spring weights of G# and low C# the action is light because of the leverage of the long G# plate…far lighter than the standard, & awkward low C#.
    This coupling does not interfere with the pitch of any other note as low C# is shut automatically by operation of any of the RH keys.
    The modification took perhaps an hour to complete & it transforms the feel and fluidity of the horn….especially in the sharp keys, where I am usually forced to play….it’s action is as a modern horn, so why would I be better off starting with a modern horn? I can enjoy the tone of a vintage horn without the keywork limitations of a vintage sax….the best of all worlds.

  7. Mal-2 says:

    I didn’t say YOU should start over with a modern horn, I said *I* should, if an interlinked G#/C# is that critical to me. I fail to see how closing the RH keys closes low C# though — or you’d be unable to play a low C#. If you mean the RH keys close G#, of course, even on my horn the G# is part of the right hand stack for this exact reason. But that still means if I’m playing in A, holding G# open results in D going sharp. It doesn’t matter much in E (using D#) or D (not using G#), it’s just A or to a lesser extent, F#m. This horn is not well suited for the more typical “C#, B, and Bb all open the G#” of a modern horn, the action is too tight and the levers too short. It would probably be OK for B, which has a reasonably long lever and not a lot of spring tension, but then playing Bb would mean fighting three springs instead of two.

  8. lewis Pelham says:

    Sorry, I meant G#, of course, which is closed by the R/H keys.
    Low Bb is not a problem as I have arranged that it does not take low C# with it, only B.
    As I never hold down the G#, however sharp the key,  your D problem never arises. I use the G# when I need it.

  9. Mal-2 says:

    Now that I’m using a C-mel as my primary gigging horn, I don’t find myself playing in sharp keys all that much. Out of a 60-something tune book, there’s one tune in A major/F# minor, two in D major or B minor, and a handful in G. Some of the tunes we play have been transposed from a bad-key original though, mostly to accommodate vocal ranges rather than horn section preference. (Mostly EM/C#m and AM/F#M to one step lower.) So your reasonable hack would have a negative effect on exactly 1 and 2/3 percent of the tunes we play, and that’s a stupid-easy tune anyhow.

    I have to plan on replacing my car before I can worry about replacing my C-mel. I have backup horns, I don’t have a backup car.

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