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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone- I recently acquired a Conn 12M Bari with a serial number that dates it to 1958/9. I got it from a seller on Reverb. The sound is amazing, but I find that compared to my H Couf Superba Ii Bari, the keywork is very heavy and the 12M is much heavier. I had read that adjusting to vintage keywork can be somewhat of a challenge, but didn't think it would be an issue. Plus, I just love sound of a vintage American bari.

I recently started playing in a community band and tonight I had to use the Conn during rehearsal because my Couf needs an adjustment to G# articulation. After playing about 2 hours, my right hand was in pain, and I could feel the strain of the additional weight, even though I use a harness. It even seems like the spread on the keywork feels like it is farther apart, which could be due to the height of the crook and neck; it comes at me much higher than my Couf does, which makes me have to adjust the harness to bring it down.

For those that play the 12M, how have you found the ergos and the weight? Any issues in transitioning from other baritones to the Conn? Any pointers/advice? - thanks
 

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Reading your story I think of two things.

1) You may be hanging the horn too low and without realizing it, trying to lift it up with your right hand. I had this happen one night when I had just gotten my bass sax and I didn't have the harness adjustment sorted out.

Your comment about needing to make your strap longer than with a Keilwerth/Couf does not ring accurate to me, as all my Conn saxes tend to require very short straps. However, the long neck and low Bb shape of the Conn are very different than the short neck and low A shape of your other horn. It may take you a while to get the positioning just right.

My own Conn has a little plate added to the octave key because when it's adjusted correctly the neck is turned quite a bit.

2) The keywork may need adjusting, cleaning, removal of sources of friction, etc. You may also have leaks and be pressing harder unconsciously to overcome them.

I have played my Conn 12M since 1984. I can play as fast on it as anyone else can on their Selmer copy. The keywork is not as light, of course, as a tenor or alto, but it is reasonable. I have overall medium-size hands and I have no trouble making any of the stretches.

I doubt very much whether there is any design change between my 1946 conn and your 1958 Conn, although the execution may be different. I would definitely suggest the mechanism probably needs to be gone through. You may find it beneficial to do some mild bending of key touches where possible, to bring the keys more under your fingers. I can't think of a single saxophone where I haven't had to do a little bit of that.

Personally I prefer the key design of the Conn to those Selmer copies with the abhorrent tilting low Bb key that always seems to fall away from your finger just when you need it to be stiff and consistent in placement; plus the Selmer baritones I've played on (been a long long time now) all had such wispy keywork that the whole thing was just dozens of flexures and you never could really tell whether the key was fully depressed or not, there was so much flex and give in the mechanical chain.

Yep, Conn baritones are heavy. See above on the wispy keywork of so many of the competitors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Reading your story I think of two things.

1) You may be hanging the horn too low and without realizing it, trying to lift it up with your right hand. I had this happen one night when I had just gotten my bass sax and I didn't have the harness adjustment sorted out.

Your comment about needing to make your strap longer than with a Keilwerth/Couf does not ring accurate to me, as all my Conn saxes tend to require very short straps. However, the long neck and low Bb shape of the Conn are very different than the short neck and low A shape of your other horn. It may take you a while to get the positioning just right.

My own Conn has a little plate added to the octave key because when it's adjusted correctly the neck is turned quite a bit.
- thanks, I think you are right. I am hanging the horn too low, which is making me lift it up with my right hand, which is causing the pain. But I think more of the issue is where the neck strap ring is on the horn. Because of where the neck ring is, I have to bring the horn lower (I'm playing sitting down) in order to bring it to my face. Without making the adjustment it's making the neck and mouthpiece come too high to my face. I asked my tech today about putting one of the 3-ring neck rings on the horn to make it come to me at more natural position. I'm also considering a different type of harness, the Vandoren one looks like it would be good based on the reviews/videos that I've seen.

2) The keywork may need adjusting, cleaning, removal of sources of friction, etc. You may also have leaks and be pressing harder unconsciously to overcome them.

I have played my Conn 12M since 1984. I can play as fast on it as anyone else can on their Selmer copy. The keywork is not as light, of course, as a tenor or alto, but it is reasonable. I have overall medium-size hands and I have no trouble making any of the stretches.

I would definitely suggest the mechanism probably needs to be gone through. You may find it beneficial to do some mild bending of key touches where possible, to bring the keys more under your fingers. I can't think of a single saxophone where I haven't had to do a little bit of that.

Yep, Conn baritones are heavy. See above on the wispy keywork of so many of the competitors.
My tech did go through it and the horn and clean it, so it's in great condition, no leaks or anything like that. Some of it is just me adjusting the additional weight and getting used to the keywork. When I get it positioned properly, I'm sure these issues will go away. Thanks for the advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Reading your story I think of two things.

1) You may be hanging the horn too low and without realizing it, trying to lift it up with your right hand. I had this happen one night when I had just gotten my bass sax and I didn't have the harness adjustment sorted out.
The other thing that I will probably have fixed is that the octave key pearl is very uncomfortable, but I'm sure that can be taken care of easily
 

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The other thing that I will probably have fixed is that the octave key pearl is very uncomfortable, but I'm sure that can be taken care of easily
If you are referring to the little convex pearl left hand thumbrest, it's not "very uncomfortable", it's damn bloody painful! Yes, you definitely want to put something bigger and flatter there ASAP. I have cork there.

I think that when you get the horn hanging at the just-right height and angle, it will take almost all fixed load off the right hand and you will find that the keywork is not that stiff. If your right hand is full of tension because it's subconsciously trying to hold the horn up or turn it to a good position, everything there will seem stiff and hard to work, because of that tension. I predict you'll have it sorted shortly.

Welcome to the ranks of the Con(n) artists!
 

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relatively recent 50s 12M owner here, and coming from a 70s? Keilwerth King Tempo stencil.

A couple of things right away. The "arrowhead" octave key is stupid...the tips of the arrowhead are too easy to touch and cause problems. The answer to that is a buildup around the octave key with epoxy or similar...to let you come farther away from it AND get some comfort. something like this: Musical instrument Bicycle part Rim Motor vehicle Bumper
this is NOT a 12m but you get the idea. All of these small button style octaves can hurt older thumbs after a short while.

Then the G pearl is so low that you can easily tap the high F key!?!; I did a build up on the G pearl which helped alot.

I find the keywork to be "OK"...but the sound is so great, you have to just say "oh well..." ! esp for R n B. I don't find the weight much of a problem but I use a one shoulder sling thing that I made; can't imagine going to a standard neck strap, and don't like the whole harness thing..
 
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