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Thread: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

  1. #1

    Question Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    We bought a used Conn shooting star tenor sax tonight, and I'm hoping it's all they said it is. I don't know much of anything about saxes and trusted the salesman. My son plays in the school band. Is this a nice intermediate tenor sax for a 13-year-old? If not, any suggestions?? We traded in a Jupiter alto for this Conn tenor and paid $450. It has new pads and is in decent shape with limited dings, some scrapes (from the chair he told us). Your help, encouraging words or advice are all appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    SOTW Administrator SAXISMYAXE's Avatar
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    Renee,
    I sent you a Personal Message.
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    Hey Renee,
    My first horn was a shooting star Conn. It's a great horn. I have used mine all the way through middle school and high school. I even find myself using it through my first year of college, while I save up to get my King Super 20 fixed. When he gets older, don't let him sell it because he could use it as a great backup horn. If you want to learn more about the horn's history you can go here: http://saxpics.com/conn/director.htm
    Hopefully your son will enjoy the shooting star as much as I have, and will continue playing saxophone for many years to come.

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    Distinguished SOTW Technician tbone's Avatar
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    Renee, there are shooting stars and then there are shooting stars! Here's something to look for: The S/N (under the thumb hook) does it start with the letter"N"? not good. Now look at the engraving on the bell. You'll plainly see the Conn name. Now look below the name for "USA". No USA? Real bad. (Mexican made)

    If you post the S/N we can give you a specific date of manufacture.

    BTW, I've seen some late fifties versions that really screamed.

  5. #5

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    Thanks for your help. I have been reading others' messages. Thanks, again...

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    Forum Contributor 2007 jacobeid's Avatar
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    I'd trust everything saxismyaxe told you. He'll let you know the shpiel.
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Even some of the Mexican "N" series Conns are respectable student horns. I have a wonderful silver Chu alto, and also a Nogales (Mexican) shooting star alto that I started on. They have a similar tone etc., the Chu is definitely nicer in any way you could compare them, but I've played them side by side recently and the Mexican horn still holds its own, and is still on its original pads. There may of course be some variation in quality; if so I'd say I probably have a pretty good one...

    revdrjim, the Mexican Conns that are so scorned all have serial numbers starting with the letter N, if I'm not mistaken. If it plays well and you enjoy it, I would say just play it and don't even think about it, just play. I played this shooting star I have, which I inherited from my brother, for years before I got lured into older Conns.

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    Forum Contributor 2010 Grassiknoll's Avatar
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    I had a 1957 16M (shooting stars) and I seriously regret selling it... Had a great sound and was solid like a tank.

    I hope your son enjoys it!!!

    p.s' I second Jacobeid on trusting Saxismyaxe's opinion!

  9. #9
    More horns than I'm worthy of . . . Mick Stuppguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Well said, Mark. I test-played a Mexi-Conn alto just recently for a pawn-shop-owner friend of mine, and I expected it to be awful in tone, intonation, and playability.

    I was wrong. It wasn't blow-me-away fabulous, but definitely serviceable in all aspects. Again, it reminded me that each horn is different. This was a 30+ year old horn that had obviously been played, but managed to hold up and be quite workable. So if the OP thoroughly tested the horn (especially against others) and liked the sound and the feel, then he's fine.

    Personally, I think $450 plus an alto was a little steep, but in the long run it won't really matter much if the horn is one that the kid can grow on and enjoy for a few years.
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    Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009 HUTMO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Don't worry deal is done. Is the Conn a nice player? It will outlast the Jupiter quite easily. These things play well and are built well.



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  11. #11

    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    I'm a noobie to SOW (and the sax itself) so I wasn't sure whether to start a new topic or post here. I bought a Conn Director tenor on eBay for a little over $200 in a crap shoot. It plays, so maybe I lucked out. When I tried to dry the body inside, the cloth kind of dragged as I pulled it through. I looked inside and there's a small brass tube extending perpendicularly into the chamber. None of the YouTube etc videos on cleaning say "Whoa, watch out for that little brass thingee" so I'm perplexed. It appears to come from the hole beneath the key that lifts when I play an upper register G.
    So my question is whether this is normal for a tenor sax, peculiar to my Conn (Shooting Star USA 16M E29656) or some freakish repair job in which a spent .22 shell was welded inside this sax.
    I am trying to learn on my own because I'm unemployed and suddenly have the time to learn, but no cash for a teacher. I'm sure the best answer is to take it in and have a professional look at it, but I'm hoping to make another couple of months before I spend any more.
    Ultimately, I will have to get the dreaded J-O-B and a teacher, which will lead to getting a better sax, either by maintenance on this or by getting a better horn. Knowing whether this has a botched repair job will help answer that question.
    I think I could probably light it inside enough to get a picture.
    Also, I'm interested in thoughts on the age of this tenor. I've seen conflicting info online. Some say the last two numbers indicate 1956. Another account put it in the early 60s.
    Thanks in advance
    Jon

  12. #12
    SOTW Administrator SAXISMYAXE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Welcome to SOTW and the saxophone Desertenor,

    That is the body octave pip internal vent tube that you are talking about, and yes every saxophone has one. It is suppose to project into the body tube as you have observed by design.

    Your horn dates to a manufacture year of 1965.

    BTW,

    The criticism leveled at the Director model isn't about a lack of good tone or comfort of playability as mentioned earlier in the thread, rather it is against the sloppy workmanship on later models, insufficient quality control, and the propensity for the keywork to go out of adjustment with unacceptable regularity, especially for a student model.

    The earlier the year manufactured with these (starting with this model's inception in 1955/56), the better in general with regards to the quality of workmanship and fit/finish. The 1970's Mexi-Conn era being the low point for Conn.
    Mike S.
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    indeedy - a '65 ? - don't sell it short ! You already are assuming the eventuality of 'having to' upgrade. Not so fast though- you admit you lucked out - (and if she plays up and down - indeed you did ! ) But the 16M's of your vintage are pretty darn solid most of the time and quite honestly - newer contemporary horns sound downright wimpy by comparison. A nice $200-250 worth of tech work down the road sometime will probably make her pop ! An old 16M can last a good long time.

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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Hi Renee,
    As you can tell by my screen name I really like the Conn Shooting Star Saxes. They are real sleepers. Any sax made before Conn's move from Elkhart in the mid 60's has real potentioal. I've been doing specal overhauls with modifications on them for several years now and have some guys in town here that play them on gigs every week. You can really get that 6M or 10M sound out of them without breaking the bank!!! Check out this youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/results?searc...rch_type=&aq=f

  15. #15

    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Thanks for the responses guys. According to a repair slip that came in the case it got new pads in 1986. I assume some maintenance is coming up after 24 years. That's what I meant by an upgrade, spend some money on this one if it checks out, or go to plan B.
    I've only been playing for three months, so I don't want to blame the horn for the sounds coming out at the moment. It sounds like I probably have a horn worth tuning up.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Take care of the leaks and have the tech adjust up the action a bit and it will serve you very well. Figuring that shouldn't cost you more than a couple hundred $. In most cases if the horn hasn't been abused or neglected, it may need a half-dozen new pads tops and some straightforward regulating.

    If any tech tries to talk you into a repad and expensive work (beware - because around here, that's the FIRST thing they will all try to do), just listen to the spiel and then politely ask him/her for a more reasonable alternative to get it into a condition where you don't have to fight the horn.
    Then here....they would say yes but dissuade you from doing the cheaper method - to which you would again politely reply "I understand and thanks...but the $100-200 repair ?...it sounds good to me".

  17. #17

    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    I just got a Shooting Star Tenor 151xxx despite it's N-designation serial # charts date it to 1981 and made after move back to USA from Mexico.It is a closet horn with so little playing time on it,looks like new.It is Gold lacquered even the felts and corks look new.The pads are all dried out so I am re-padding her,just don't know whether to use flat metal reso's or domed metal.I want a darker sound any suggestions?I played one of these in High School,a 1976 Mexi-conn always regretted selling it,this is an awesome find!Before stripping down to rebuild I played her the sound is rich and robust,much like a 1936 10m I had at one time.The friend I got her from said it played much like her 1960's 10m.I am changing springs to blue steel.
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    Quote Originally Posted by SAXISMYAXE View Post
    Renee,
    I sent you a Personal Message.
    I'm considering a Conn Shooting Star tenor as a second horn. My main sax is a Selmer MKVI alto, but I can't afford a comparable tenor. Can I get a Shooting Star that won't embarrass me with my mates in the big band? What should I be looking for, or looking out for? Should I limit my search to horns made before 1969? Thanks!

  19. #19
    SOTW Administrator SAXISMYAXE's Avatar
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    You are going to notice quite a difference between your MKVI and a Conn Director student model. Perhaps if you post your budget limit, we can suggest your alternatives, which might well include some horns that will fill the bill more handsomely.
    Mike S.
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    Default Re: Information on Conn shooting star tenor sax

    dalegregg,
    I would look for a 1960's Conn 10M. These have the octave key slung UNDER the neck, and they range from roughly 1961 to 1969. I owned a 1968 and it really screamed. These are the same horn as the famous "Ladyface" but the lady is missing, and the neck is underslung as mentioned previously. Some of us prefer these 1960's 10M tenors (and the 1950's ones, which are not underslung, have the lady, but lack the rolled tone holes of the earlier, now more expensive models) rather than the 1930's and 1940's 10M.
    Failing to find a 1960's underslung 10M, then I would look for a 1950's Buescher 156, which is also a superb horn. Failing that, a Martin Committee 1 (late 1930's), 2 (beginning around 1939), or 3 ("The Martin", from the 1940's until the late 1960's) would be a fantastic alternative as well. Any or all of these would be better than most of today's horns, and they are all available for less than today's pro tenors. If you exclude the Martin Committee 3, all the other horns I named would be under $1,000 in fine playing condition (but not in fantastic cosmetic condition).
    Sax Magic

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