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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just picked up a Conn 20M for a steal. The Conn wasn't something I was actively looking for, but it was so cheap, and in such good condition that I couldn't pass it up. Being a student horn I'll probably give it to one of my kids.

Regardless, any time I get a new horn I give it a standard 'oil change' and once-over. This typically involves a disassembly and cleaning, pad inspection/replacement (where necessary), and upon re-assembly any necessary adjustment. Here are my observations:

Before disassembly:
--Horn sounds nice, even with the generic MP it came with.
--The action is effortless and is quiet (with the exception of the one key missing a cork).
--Chrome on some of the palm keys is beginning to wear down (so the horn has seem some play time)

During disassembly:
--I was happy to see that I didn't have to deal with any of the pivot set-screws. Anyone who's dealt with stuck set-screws knows what I'm talking about here.
--The funk I'm cleaning off of the tone-hole rims is green in color. This indicates a high copper content, which as I understand it is a good thing.
--None of the tone holes I've measured so far are wavy.
--The linkages are laid out in what appears to be a logical manner. The only linkage that might be slightly questionable is the Ab mechanism, where two springs compete with each other to open/close that pad. Seems to work.
--Pivots are tight, and so are the linkages that they hold.
--None of the rollers are stuck.
--Springs could be better, but appear to serve their purpose.

After assembly:
--Don't know yet -- haven't gotten that far.

I don't do this kind of work for a living, so I grant to those of you with more experience than I have in this arena that there may be much I don't know about this stuff. But it appears to me, after what I've seen so far, that this horn isn't as bad as the reputation it's getting online.

Is there something I'm missing? What is it that I don't know yet?
 

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welcome to the forum, you will find that many topics have already been opened before, continuing an old thread is not bad form, on the copntrary helps keeping information in one place and threads kept at great cost relevant.

This has come up before , there is nothing wrong in asking questions nor there is anything wrong in opening threads, again and again , on the same subject, but it just helps

just a somple for your information, there are more

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?76536-Is-the-Conn-Director-Shooting-Star-that-bad/page4

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?90344-Conn-20M-issues

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?8746-Conn-20M-alto
 

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Glad the horn is in good shape.

As to "why the bad rap" ?

Simply because....in the history of Conn models....the 18M and 20M's are pretty forgettable in most respects.

These were Danny Henkin's attempt in the early 80's to "update" their 50M Director models...and it is an update in the sense that it does have modern keywork mechanisms. Unfortunately, they also dumped the 50M body entirely, which was a big mistake. They could have just kept the neck and body tube and slapped right-side bellkey bells on those, then updated the keywork.

(This is what Conn MacMillan did with their 7M - the horn which for a short time replaced the legendary 6M - they kept the 6M neck and tube specs, and changed the bellpiece and some keywork - the result was a much, much better horn than the 18/20M. Henkin should have just resuscitated the 7M instead).

So, these...they have nothing of the true Conn 'pedigree' in 'em - do not have the Conn "sound", and they do not have the Conn "feel", really.

In fairness they were aimed solely at the student market....and in fairness I'd suggest one of these over a chinese cheapo any day (simply from a reliability standpoint)....so, while not a 'disaster', there isn't a whole lot to recommend them.

When UMI took over Conn in '84 - THEY discontinued these models and introduced a very GOOD model to replace them - the King Empire and the Conn 24M. Much better saxes. I'd even argue to categorize them as 'student' models would not be giving them their due.

So, one could characterize these as 'the most forgettable' models of the 'real' Conn (i.e. before Selmer Inc. bought UMI out in the early 2000's)....and that would be a fair characterization, IMHO.

So, yeah, as you (OP) say, give them to a student and the 20M will serve respectably for many years...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@milandro:
In most forums it IS bad form to bring and old thread back from the dead. Then again, I normally hang out in off-road communities. I will remember and apply what you said. Thank you for educating me.


I think I get it now. It's not a pile of junk, and it's not a bad sounding horn. It's the fact that it is a Conn in name only, and bears none of the attributes that would normally be associated with that brand name. Makes sense. If I bought a BMW and it didn't look or perform like a BMW, I might be a little upset too. I was really expecting a "Yugo" when I bought it. I was pleasantly surprised when I started taking it apart, and it's really not.

Now for re-assembly. I managed to lose one of the pivot screws. It appears to have been transported to another dimension to which I have no access, so I'll have to wait until I get a replacement in the mail before I can start tuning and playing. Bummer. Pretty sure it'll turn up as soon as I no longer need it.
 

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well, flomaster, on this forum not only is not bad form but it is much encouraged to keep information as much as possible easily searchable by search engines

We keep a huge amount of threads ( at great cost it would be a lot simpler otherwise to chuck it all out) and you can be sure that continuing old threads guarantees way more attention to your post, because every person open old threads will receive an alert and could respond

this thread, will disappear in a few days from the latest posts and will be seen by a certain amount of people , but if someone finds it, later on and ads to it, the responders will receive an alert and we could all benefit from previous shared knowledge plus adding to it.

We keep 20 years worth of shared knowledge, and that is to read but also to add to

Good luck

I just searched the term " archives" mentioned 43,500 times

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/gtsea...l=www.saxontheweb.net/&ref=&ss=3214j829634j16

Unbelievable- Google now (or maybe it always has) listed SOTW archives when I search for specific information about anything saxophone related. The information is awesome - It's seems the same questions just repeat over and over. Many knowledgable members patiently answer the same questions OVER AND OVER AND OVER- Thanks.

To everyone that keeps this site going. It's really a God-send for those of use who feel isolated in the electronic guitar world of our gigs.

Thanks

Tony
 

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I've said it before, and will say it again: SOTW is more than just another social media platform: it's a valuable archive of musical lore, historically unprecedented as far as the sax goes. As milandro observes, maintaining that archive is as much about preserving the past as it is a gift that we pay forward to future players.

I was very concerned about the Forum's fate when it was first acquired by VerticalScope a couple years ago, and somewhat relieved this week when the Canadian courts approved a purchase of TorStar, the parent company. There's still the risk that the new owner will streamline operations and kill all the forums, and that SOTW and all its archived knowledge will disappear into the ether forever.
 

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Glad the horn is in good shape.

As to "why the bad rap" ?

Simply because....in the history of Conn models....the 18M and 20M's are pretty forgettable in most respects.

These were Danny Henkin's attempt in the early 80's to "update" their 50M Director models...and it is an update in the sense that it does have modern keywork mechanisms. Unfortunately, they also dumped the 50M body entirely, which was a big mistake. They could have just kept the neck and body tube and slapped right-side bellkey bells on those, then updated the keywork.

(This is what Conn MacMillan did with their 7M - the horn which for a short time replaced the legendary 6M - they kept the 6M neck and tube specs, and changed the bellpiece and some keywork - the result was a much, much better horn than the 18/20M. Henkin should have just resuscitated the 7M instead).

So, these...they have nothing of the true Conn 'pedigree' in 'em - do not have the Conn "sound", and they do not have the Conn "feel", really.

In fairness they were aimed solely at the student market....and in fairness I'd suggest one of these over a chinese cheapo any day (simply from a reliability standpoint)....so, while not a 'disaster', there isn't a whole lot to recommend them.

When UMI took over Conn in '84 - THEY discontinued these models and introduced a very GOOD model to replace them - the King Empire and the Conn 24M. Much better saxes. I'd even argue to categorize them as 'student' models would not be giving them their due.

So, one could characterize these as 'the most forgettable' models of the 'real' Conn (i.e. before Selmer Inc. bought UMI out in the early 2000's)....and that would be a fair characterization, IMHO.

So, yeah, as you (OP) say, give them to a student and the 20M will serve respectably for many years...
I feel like I know what the "Conn sound" is on tenor, but not so on the altos, even though I have played them. Perhaps this post explains it. You seem to have a wealth of knowledge.
 

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I feel like I know what the "Conn sound" is on tenor, but not so on the altos, even though I have played them. Perhaps this post explains it. You seem to have a wealth of knowledge.
The 6M or Chu or NW Altos, even the Pan Americans, have as much a signature tone as do the Conn Tenors basically. More or less the same ballpark, just Alto-wise.

The typical "Shooting Star" alto was actually the 50M, which was primarily a '50's-60's Vito/Beaugnier design as opposed to a Conn one, but it was still an old-school sorta body so it retained a lot of that 'vintage' sorta tone. The 18 and 20M's were an attempt at competing with the Yamaha influx into the N. American market, so their design intent was that of a modern horn in all aspects.

Thanks, BTW ...

I think I get it now. It's not a pile of junk, and it's not a bad sounding horn. It's the fact that it is a Conn in name only, and bears none of the attributes that would normally be associated with that brand name. Makes sense. If I bought a BMW and it didn't look or perform like a BMW, I might be a little upset too. I was really expecting a "Yugo" when I bought it. I was pleasantly surprised when I started taking it apart, and it's really not.
It IS a Conn in respect to the fact that it was a 'real' iteration of the Conn, USA company which produced the horn, It isn't a Conn in respect to having a pedigree with the pre-1980 models, tho.

It WILL be a pretty reliable instrument once set up properly. It isn't gonna be falling apart or regularly going out of regulation or anything like that.

Henkin did some good things when he 'rescued' Conn from MacMillan Publishing Co. He re-established factory production in the US (whereas MacMillan had moved it to MX). He tried to 'update' the student line offerings; he re-introduced a few Professional lines of Conns (the DJH modified models, which were made by Keilwerth but nevertheless he did want Conn to re-establish a presence in the Pro echelon).
And he structured his little newly-acquired empire of Conn-King-Armstrong-Artley in such a way as to employ American workers mostly in the traditional location of Indiana/Midwest (at a time when the national political kings were beginning to open the floodgates to offshoring everything, which thus began of the final death knell of the US as an instrument manufacturing nation).

His work, although some of the instrument models were ephemeral, set up his conglomerate to be purchased by UMI, which kept all those brand names alive and competitive, and also kept manufacturing in the US.... for another generation, before Selmer (US) Inc. bought them out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I hit up the local music repair shop today. Thankfully we have one right here in Castle Rock. As luck would have it, they had the pivot screw in stock (probably had a whole box of them back there), and they sold it to me for 4 bucks. Totally worth it. When I got back to the house I re-installed the missing pivot screw and instantly had a playable horn.

Interestingly enough, it responds well to different mouthpieces. It came with some no-name mouthpiece, which has a large bore, and I get a really nice "fat" sound. Alternatively, I put an Arthur B Miller small-chamber mouthpiece on it and it sounds like a completely different horn. I fully expected to hear a difference, but not to this extent.

Overall I'm not disappointed. The YAS and Vito are slightly easier to play, but I like this one just the same.
 

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I've said it before, and will say it again: SOTW is more than just another social media platform: it's a valuable archive of musical lore, historically unprecedented as far as the sax goes. As milandro observes, maintaining that archive is as much about preserving the past as it is a gift that we pay forward to future players.

I was very concerned about the Forum's fate when it was first acquired by VerticalScope a couple years ago, and somewhat relieved this week when the Canadian courts approved a purchase of TorStar, the parent company. There's still the risk that the new owner will streamline operations and kill all the forums, and that SOTW and all its archived knowledge will disappear into the ether forever.
More potential disruption in the world of Torstar, which owns this site:


Hopefully SOTW will survive this latest coporate infighting. Maybe if the parent corporation is dissolved, we can convince the former owners to donate the contents of the forum to the Library of Congress.
 

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'[Torstar co-owner] Rivett has asked the court to appoint PricewaterhouseCoopers to manage an asset sale to resolve the 鈥渋mpasse鈥 between the two parties and says dissolving Nordstar is the only way to create a clear path forward for the companies under its umbrella, which also include Metroland Media Group and NorthStar Gaming Inc.....'

.... and SOTW! Better grab those used horns and mouthpieces now while the Classifieds forum is still up and running.
 

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