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Keep the Conn 11M or get something else?

  • Keep it and get it overhauled

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • Find something else

    Votes: 6 66.7%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been looking at some new baris this past week. But before I throw in the towel on my old Conn, I wanted some opinions.

I do like the Conn 11M. It has a big sound. It plays well and in tune, but I am not crazy about the left-hand pinky keys. I know I can have them adjusted more to my liking, but they are small and stiff. The big issue is that this was an old school horn that was retired and it has a lot of dents and dings in it. I just don't know if I am going to be really happy with it after spending the money to get it overhauled because the dents have been there a long time and the metal memory will make it hard to get them straightened out. I got it for super cheap and that is probably about what it is worth as-is.

Should I drop $1300-1500 on the overhaul or give up on it and go ahead and get something newer? I'm looking at a Yanigasawa and a Cannonball B5; maybe a used 52. Budget for a newer horn is up to about $8,000.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
It won't play any different with the dents removed. You'll just end up with a $900 horn that looks slightly better and cost you > $1500.

If you want a pretty horn with modern ergos, sell this one and buy that. I got a near mint Kessler Solist for $1600 and couldn't be happier. Sounds and feels like a Yani costing many times more. The horn I had before that was a Conn much like yours. It sounded great too, but was clunky and poorly made.

Reading between the lines, someone with an $8k budget is never going to be happy with this old clunker no matter how good it sounds. Conn fans will tell you to hold onto it no matter what, but to me, there's nothing magical about Conns from this era. They sound good, but they're still low quality horns. There are lots of horns out there that sound just as good. You can do a lot better.
I had not considered the Kessler, but will do some research on it. Just because I have the budget for more horn does not mean I will spend it. I have also considered the Singer's Day after watching Jay Metcalf's in-depth review of it. I have gone to purchase a much more expensive horn in the past only to come home with something much cheaper after playing both in-person after not being able to justify spending thousands more for only a seemingly small difference.

I went to purchase a Mark VI tenor about a year ago and came home with a Cannonball T5, which I absolutely love. I had a Mark VI when I was much younger and wanted another, but after playing a couple of Mark VI's in-person versus the Cannonball, I could not justify the $5k difference in price ($7,500 vs $2,500, both were used horns), so I decided to go with the cheaper and use some of those funds to go towards a bari instead.

You guys are helping a lot. I appreciate the input.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was in your same exact shoes about 8 years ago.
I had an 11M as beaten up as yours, probably more (school battle horn), that, for some miracle, played really well but mechanically was a disaster.
Unfortunately, at the time, I overpaid for it ($1,800 Canadian) and an overhaul on top of that would have made no sense at all.
The horn was sold 2 years later at a loss and ever since I had: Yamaha YBS61, Selmer Mark VI, The Martin and Vito Yanagisawa.
The Yamaha and the 11M were sold to finance the Mark VI which I still have, as well as the Martin and the Vito.

My advice to you is: get a new horn and find a spot in your closet were you can lay your 11M.
Since you got it for cheap, keep it. Selling it will not significantly lower the investment into your new horn.
History may re-evaluate these horns in the future. You never know.

Once in while, when I miss that 11M (and I miss all the horns that I sold.......sax greed), I listen to the recording that I put together to promote the sale of the horn and I realize that, in the end, it was a decent horn, for what it was.
Yep, that's the big, fat sound I love from the 11M for R&B and funk playing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
M52082
If I recall correctly from previous research, it was manufactured in July 1969. I haven't thought of what I would sell it for. As someone suggested, I was considering just putting it away for now, but I am open to selling it if you would like to make an offer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have no insights about any bari, but I'd feel a lot more stressed handling a big sax if it didn't already have a good supply of dents (and worn lacquer). I once read that the first thing people should do with a new car is to scratch the door so they can be relaxed about leaving it next another car in a parking lot.
Ha! I had a big gig in Mobile last weekend and in light of my bari situation, a GOOD friend let me use his brand new Yamaha 82Z bari. I was as nervous as a cat at a rocking chair convention with that pristine piece of artwork!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I want to tell you something; you sound good on that low A Conn. Look at the size of that huge bell! I have a radical suggestion for you - go ahead and spend the money for an overhaul on it and keep it. Now I also have a Kessler 'Solist' that I love, but I only double on bari. My old Martin was not a good fit for me ergonomically and it didn't have low A. I'm happy with the Solist (had it since 2015 and has not needed any repairs that I couldn't handle), but if I only played or mostly played baritone, I would want that 'character' in the sound of that old Conn more than the better ergos of a modern baritone. I think you are right on the verge of a special sound with it and should put it in good condition so you can take it to the next step. If you do this, tell the repair person that you want to have the spring tensions re-set and any mechanical problems taken care-of to facilitate the operation of the key work and particularly table keys.
That's not me in the video, that was someone showing me his 11M. But I was definitely leaning this direction before I made this post. I keep going back and forth in my head about it. If I get it overhauled, I would definitely be keeping it long-term. I am not opposed to doing that. It definitely has a nice sound to it and it would save me a ton of cash to do that. It really is a tough decision.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I’ve had three Conn baritones all 12ms and still own two of them. They all played great, of the two I still own one is an almost pristine “closet queen “ and the other a former school horn with all the dents one would expect, both approximately the same vintage (1963). In a horn as big as a baritone body dents are fairly inconsequential, at least judging by my two examples, the dented one plays just as well as the pristine example. These old Conns are tanks, I’d spend the money on getting the pads covering and skip the dent work, just my 2 cents!
I am not concerned with the cosmetics as long as the dents don't affect the sound, and they really don't. The dents and patina on a horn add character and can tell a story IMHO.

I think pads and some key work, as well as softening the springs on the left-hand pinkies, if possible, would go a long way. I may start with that and if we need more work let him dive in further. I do like the feel of the horn and honestly preferred the layout of the left-hand pinkie keys over the 82Z I borrowed. Imagine that. They are just stiff and that can probably be adjusted.

These comments are really helpful! I was 60/40 leaning towards a new horn, but I'm about 70/30 towards keeping this one now.
 
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