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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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I don’t know what special about this, is this not a regular 50M?

It has to be one of the most common saxophones out there



often found for half that price
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well apart from the body the "rest" is Vito - of Kenosha variant me thinks

VKAS-1B.jpg .
 

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there is lots of information and even more speculation about all of these

unfortunately the best reference for Vito saxophones has disappeared from the internet since Kim Slava, Dr.Sax retired and shut his site.


According to the best information source on Vito saxophones , run by Kim Slava, Dr. Sax here (article on the Conn-Vergence of models)




“....
Conn's original "shooting star" was the 14M with the shooting stars and the wire Mercedes key guards, based on the Pan-American. Conn took over the original Vito, called that the 50M and also put their shooting star stencil on the bell. The 50M had the sheet metal type key guards and the different F# tonehole placement. Over time, these models melded a bit, with the 14M taking on the 50M's keyguards (which might have been easier to install than the Mercedes cage type, and easier to replace for sure.
To the best of my knowledge, only altos of the 50M type were made...no tenors, whereas the 14M model type had a tenor big brother, the 16M.

UPDATE - I have seen some 60M Tenors.

The 14M and 16M started life in the mid-to-late 1950's, made in Elkhart. Production moved to Nogales in the mid-60's and ended in the early 70's.

One fellow states categorically that contrary to common belief, the Conn student lines began the move to the ex Best Manufacturing plant (Art Best, Coin-Art) in Nogales as soon as Conn acquired it c. 1959/1960 NOT 1968.

The 50M started production in 1961, also moving to Nogales around 1966 (perhaps as late as 1968). Production also ending in the early 70's.
After production of the 14M and 50M ceased, I think the 20M came on the scene sometime in the 70's. I've never met one of these that I particularly liked.

I'm not sure that if Art Best was making 50M's in 1961, whether that meant he had stopped making Vitos for LeBlanc at that point. I thought the Kenosha Vito's persisted well into the 60's and paralleled LeBlanc's continued importation of Vito-branded Made In France horns. Per the information given above, it is possible that some Vito horns were assembled in Nogales and sent to Kenosha for quality control and correction.
It'd be good to get a date as to when LeBlanc started outsourcing to Yamaha. I HAVE seen some Vito horns with Yamaha bodies and Kenosha keyguards. Hybrids, if you will.


The 50M was a great little horn, held up well and some played really well. I am guessing the body tube had the same specs as the alto's that LeBlanc originally imported from France.
The 14M was an old school design out of Conn, a good design without getting ridiculous.
Both these can be good quality horns if made before the move to Nogales.
The quality control of the production of the Nogales horns was spotty at best....."
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That pressed metal bell to body brace is clearly Conn while the mechanics are clearly Vito. Hey I have one - pictured. My understanding is this - towards the end of the Kenosha period, and to utilise what ever was left of their parts inventory, Vito sourced some bodies from Conn, who had moved 'just down the road' to Nogales, and made whatever they could. Obviously these will sound like Conn's but have the Vito feel.
 

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I see these very often not only here in the NL but around the world. They are not uncommon in the NL too, nearly impossible to sell. Right or wrong, their reputation isn’t stellar (despite the shooting stars!). I know that ere will be those who will say how great these are. I have had one or two years ago and wasn’t terribly impressed.

I wanted to put some youtube film of the many offered for sale but most are all played by mediocre players and therefore display bad sound but that’s unfair to the horn.
These horns are generally owned by players that are not very good players.

this is about the best I could find ( don’t think that because he plays it well the sax will play equally well in everyone’s hands)

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey Milandro - as always, thanks. I, along with many others, have always considered the Conn Director to be somewhat of an underated horn. Mine from 1959 is just fabulous. Yeah sure their reputation slipped a few degrees after moving to Nogales but the inclusion of the Vito mechanics I think is a good thing. My post was in attempt to perhaps educate those who had not been aware of such seldom seen instruments. As rare as these may be deemed they'll neve be collectable but the Shooting Stars aka Director is a decent instrument if set up well and I only see the Vito mechanics as a bonus.
 

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Cheers, " seldom seen" perhaps in Australia, but they are plentiful around here, I have seen and keep seeing many and they are not “ rare” at all


The sad reality is that there were tons and tons of medium quality saxophones made from all kinds of brands, they were all good for the money and still are but with the cost or repair skyrocketing (at least in most parts of USA and EU) these are still sold ONLY by someone who bought them for $100-150 then refurbished them changing only the necessary pads ( the entire overhaul would make them simply too expensive) and then sold ( as in the video above) for $495...

We have seen many people , especially in recent times, buying this quality horns and then wanting to repair them themselves, I predict that the majority will be “ repaired” and still be less than “ perfect” ( the one in the video doesn’t seem to be judging from the player’s surprise when he hits certain notes.

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey Milandro - I doubt the Conn Vito hybrid is any less common in Australia than it is in Europe - not that this matters. The only thing of importance, if anything is of impotrtance, is that the members of SOTW get to learn something they may not be aware of. Nothing more.
 

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It is an interesting bit of sax history. The Vito name is stamped on so many different horns made by different manufacturers in different places that you really need some sort of score card if you want to keep up. I suspect to most it simply isn't worth the trouble.

Overall I agree with milandro. There are a few folks both skilled an efficient enough (like 2nd Ending Vintage Musical Instruments) to patch these horns up well enough to make them useful to kids, doublers, and dabblers but with costs what they are I'm not sure how much longer that will last. I'd also agree that the vast majority that are "repaired by owner" don't end well either.

Worse yet we're going to go through the whole process over again in the coming years with lots of the off-brand horns from East Asia some of which play pretty well but economically won't be worth fixing. And these are neither made as well nor have any story or history that most people would find interesting or compelling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It is an interesting bit of sax history. The Vito name is stamped on so many different horns made by different manufacturers in different places that you really need some sort of score card if you want to keep up. I suspect to most it simply isn't worth the trouble.

Overall I agree with milandro. There are a few folks both skilled an efficient enough (like 2nd Ending Vintage Musical Instruments) to patch these horns up well enough to make them useful to kids, doublers, and dabblers but with costs what they are I'm not sure how much longer that will last. I'd also agree that the vast majority that are "repaired by owner" don't end well either.

Worse yet we're going to go through the whole process over again in the coming years with lots of the off-brand horns from East Asia some of which play pretty well but economically won't be worth fixing. And these are neither made as well nor have any story or history that most people would find interesting or compelling.
The course of the Vito sax "ain't that difficult" to decipher and I struggle to "decipher" your post. Once one is "aware" it ain't so confusing or complex. The origins of this post was based upon a "hoped" education of those who perhaps had not been previously aware of the relationship between Vito and Conn. Well actually I don't consider there was a relationahip other than or beyond Vito's acquistion of some bodies from Conn for reasons previously mentioned.
 

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I had one of these Kenosha Conns a few years back. Now I considering getting one as my backup for my Martin Com III.
 

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The course of the Vito sax "ain't that difficult" to decipher and I struggle to "decipher" your post. Once one is "aware" it ain't so confusing or complex. The origins of this post was based upon a "hoped" education of those who perhaps had not been previously aware of the relationship between Vito and Conn. Well actually I don't consider there was a relationahip other than or beyond Vito's acquistion of some bodies from Conn for reasons previously mentioned.
I think you have it backwards. The tale you note in #5 is incorrect, I am pretty sure.

Vito did not acquire Conn bodies.

Conn inherited Vito bodies, and an entire sax design, when they took over the Coin-Art facility in Nogales AZ, which was a plant making the Vito altos. As the facility was tooled for that design, Conn simply dropped their previous "Shooting Star" design (the 14M Director, which was previously the PanAm)...and replaced it with the Vito design. (Kim's article, noted by Milandro above, is great and mostly accurate - but had THAT detail wrong there: no 14M's were ever made again once second-shelf alto model production moved from Elkhart to Nogales).

So yeah, Conn DID have a Nogales, AZ plant....Coin-Art...but it was the same plant which had been owned/run by Vito previously; not a different facility.

This isn't really 'speculation'. It's clearly what happened, and there's enough of a trail to conclude that.

Over the 18 or so years the 50M existed (it seems to have vanished during Henkin ownership '80-84, replaced by the 18M and 20M) very little changed from the Vito design. The lacq changed, the alt F# keycup moved location, the roller design on the pinky table changed a bit, the strap eyelet changed, and the sheet keyguard design changed. That was about all.

Yup, plain' ol MX-made 50M. When gone over by a tech to correct some factory precision issues, just as good as an American made one and as good as the Vito USA branded ones.
Certainly a valid competitor in the used, sub $500 alto arena, for reasons already mentioned here.

As also noted by @KeithL ...as these cost around $150 as a project horn, usually requiring around $300 of work...and maybe sell for $350-400 in serviced shape....bringing these back to speed isn't 'sensible' for most people.
 

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The course of the Vito sax "ain't that difficult" to decipher and I struggle to "decipher" your post. Once one is "aware" it ain't so confusing or complex. The origins of this post was based upon a "hoped" education of those who perhaps had not been previously aware of the relationship between Vito and Conn. Well actually I don't consider there was a relationahip other than or beyond Vito's acquistion of some bodies from Conn for reasons previously mentioned.
Really - well I didn't mean to anger you which somehow I seem to have done. This specific twist of using the Conn bodies I wasn't aware of and found quite interesting.

My point was that there are Vitos made by Beaugnier, Vitos made by Yanagisawa, Vitos made by Yamaha, Vitos made by LeBlanc, etc.. Now, reading your post, I've learned there are these crossover horns that I wasn't aware of that are associated with Conn. It just seems like the Vito name is associated with more different manufacturers than just about any other brand.
 

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I picked up a Mexiconn alto at a yard sale a couple weeks ago. The yard sale-ist asked if we were looking for anything in particular, I gave my usual response "snare drums, saxophones and ham radio stuff".
She says she might have a saxophone. After several minutes of digging around in the house she came back with her son's horn from high school. The octave key pad on the neck needs replaced and the side C key needs bent back where it belongs. Other than that it plays and sounds pretty good.
I won't put money into it, but for $100 I have a horn I can take out and not worry about getting a dent in it.
She through in a Vito clarinet.
 

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.....edit....
this is about the best I could find ( don’t think that because he plays it well the sax will play equally well in everyone’s hands)

That could be said of any musical instrument ever made. :)
 

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there is lots of information and even more speculation about all of these

unfortunately the best reference for Vito saxophones has disappeared from the internet since Kim Slava, Dr.Sax retired and shut his site.
I noticed that! I really liked his site for Vito info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think you have it backwards. The tale you note in #5 is incorrect, I am pretty sure.

Vito did not acquire Conn bodies.

Conn inherited Vito bodies, and an entire sax design, when they took over the Coin-Art facility in Nogales AZ, which was a plant making the Vito altos. As the facility was tooled for that design, Conn simply dropped their previous "Shooting Star" design (the 14M Director, which was previously the PanAm)...and replaced it with the Vito design. (Kim's article, noted by Milandro above, is great and mostly accurate - but had THAT detail wrong there: no 14M's were ever made again once second-shelf alto model production moved from Elkhart to Nogales).

So yeah, Conn DID have a Nogales, AZ plant....Coin-Art...but it was the same plant which had been owned/run by Vito previously; not a different facility.

This isn't really 'speculation'. It's clearly what happened, and there's enough of a trail to conclude that.

Over the 18 or so years the 50M existed (it seems to have vanished during Henkin ownership '80-84, replaced by the 18M and 20M) very little changed from the Vito design. The lacq changed, the alt F# keycup moved location, the roller design on the pinky table changed a bit, the strap eyelet changed, and the sheet keyguard design changed. That was about all.

Yup, plain' ol MX-made 50M. When gone over by a tech to correct some factory precision issues, just as good as an American made one and as good as the Vito USA branded ones.
Certainly a valid competitor in the used, sub $500 alto arena, for reasons already mentioned here.

As also noted by @KeithL ...as these cost around $150 as a project horn, usually requiring around $300 of work...and maybe sell for $350-400 in serviced shape....bringing these back to speed isn't 'sensible' for most people.
Now we know Conn's facility was in Nogales - and the Kenosha made Vitos were made in Kenosha so - two facilities must have existed at some point.

Also JayeLID, while I have the opportunity to ask - which Vito had the O-Ring in the tenon receiver?
 
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