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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy all -

My son has recently (like, this week) started playing alto saxophone, and I am looking to purchase a reasonable used instrument here sometime soon (full disclaimer - I'm looking forward to playing it also). There is a local CL ad for a "1962 Conn 7m" alto, for sale by a clarinet player who no longer needs a sax - $225. Seller indicates slightly one leaky pad, and some wear in the lacquer. He reports the serial number as B8xxx.

I have been reading a bit about the 7M, and have been left a little confused. I'm not super concerned with the horn's "worth" in terms of resale opportunities or market value, but rather would like people's opinion about the playability (for a student and a hobbyist) of this model. Compared to the rental price, it would be great - but will it be as fun and satisfying for a student as the Yamaha advantage we're renting? Also, can a pad be adjusted to not leak, or is a complete replacement required. Finally - "finish wear" - this is just an aesthetic consideration, and not something that affects tone, right?

The other options are some armstrongs, Bundy II, and a blue-lacquered Conn from a high school kid. Thanks in advance for any input - I've been reading these forums all day, and it's been fun already.

Cheers,
LW
 

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Your kid has been playing for a week and you want to get them a 'vintage' sax. Um, I'd hold off at least till mid term before starting to shop. Just to make sure the kid is really going to stick with it.

The Conn will feel and sound a little different. They may have trouble with the left hand pinky cluster as it isn't as 'kid friendly' as the Yamaha.
As for the 'leaky pad'. It may be able to be adjusted, and then again maybe not. It depends on the condition of the pad/s.
It may in reality be in need of a complete overhaul and that, depending on the tech, will exceed the price/value of the horn. Something you have to think about when buying used from a private party. As with any instrument it's always best to try before you buy.
Finish, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with tone or playability. That being said I would avoid the blue Conn that the high school kid has for sale. That's just screaming 'beat my kid up'. :)

Now if you continue to rent the Yamaha for your kid and get the horn for yourself... That's something different altogether.
 

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I believe the Conn 7M was Conn's last attempt to build a pro horn in the 1970's in Mexico. Also New Wonders from the 1920's/30's were labeled 7Ms. I think the altos circa 1962 were marked 14M or 50M and 949xxx serial range. If it is a 1970's 7M -a recent SOTWer gave a great review of this horn. Pad- depends on what is causing the leak. Misalignment of key or pad itself. "finish wear" is lacquer coating and does not affect tone. Some vintage horns have been worn to bare brass and are great saxes. Best to see and play the horn before you buy if you can. $225 is about right for this horn.
 

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I have no issues with beginners playing 'vintage' horns. When I started playing at age 25 (1975) when I was a teacher, I would practice with the grade school band at my school. All the kids had vintage horns, usually passed down from their parents, grandparents or older siblings. One kid in particular I remember was playing a Buescher tenor. My own son played a 1955 King Cleveland alto from grade school through senior year in high school. He had a great tone and was always first or second chair and also used it in marching band. It occasionally needed a new pad. When I retired 6 years ago I donated that horn to our band program where I taught (elementary school) and they immediately put it to good use for a kid who couldn't afford to rent. Each horn is different, so check them out before buying. But don't let a "vintage horn' be a sale stopper.
 

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I hope JayePDX will chime in here as he has sold several, (one to me) but a 7M is not a student horn. It is also not easily classified, IMHO, as a vintage horn. Some call it an intermediate but I think it is a pretty great pro horn. He keywork is much more modern than that 6M and it is built like a tank. The pinky cluster is very easy to navigate and, while the upper and lower stack are not offset, ergos still feel great. At $225, it would be a great deal even if it needs work. I am really enjoying mine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everybody, for the input. To clarify, I wasn't seeking out a vintage sax in particular, but rather shopping for a used model that (even if it required some work) would be more economical than renting. We're in it for the year for sure, so even if we sell a $400 instrument at half what we payed by the end of the year, we've saved half the rental (rentals are pricey here). Maybe that's the wrong way to think about it, but, well.. I'm cheap and always looking for a deal. That said..

I actually haven't been able to put my kid's horn down, so I imagine this will be a longer investment anyhow!! I am going to look at and try out the sax this evening. I have to say, I find the serial number stuff rather confusing - A "B" prefix doesn't seem to make sense based on the serial number charts I've seen. I'm not overly concerned about this, but I wonder if the seller could have mistaken an "8" or an "E" for a "B"? I guess I'll see for myself soon enough.

Thanks for the suggestion to avoid the blue-laquered "target" sax - that would be a drag for sure. One other question (if anyone reads this again) - if the pinky cluster is tricky for a child's hand, would that be a function of key size, or were the keys arranged other than the sort of "cross" pattern that I'm used to? What, in your experience, trips kids up on that?

Thanks again for all of your thoughts!
 

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Well, hi ! ...I sold one to RClosson as well as ThadNoland, and they...like I...both have very favorable opinions of these 7M's. I would also argue it's a pro-calibre horn. The body tube is that of a 6M, and the belltube is redesigned to place the holes on the right side. The knock on them has been the quality of construction, although I have had 4 thru here and have seen no evidence of shoddy build at all. So, having had four, which would be a full 10% of all ever produced (ba-dum-bump)...I think it's fair to say that criticism might be a bit specious.

Also, as RClosson mentions...sorta grey area to describe it as a "vintage" horn...because the keywork was a total redesign of the traditional Conn keywork so really, if one can say that selmers or Japanese instruments of the same time had 'modern' keywork...then the 7M is more along those lines that it's older cousins the 6M and 14M/50M.

So...$225 is a good price if the horn has no significant damage and if it mostly plays up and down. Investing up to $250 to get it to sing is well worth the $ spent as the horn is certainly worth being put into solid playing shape. If, in fact, the work required is just what the seller states, that should only run you $100-ish....unless you live in California in which case it will cost $700....

Of the others in the bunch, the 7M outclasses 'em all, unless the blue Conn happens to be a 6M...which I sorta doubt...

Regarding your other questions: lacquer wear is just that. Aesthetic. If it really bugs you, you could have a shop chem-clean or sonic-clean just the body for around $60-100.

Regarding the pinky table...no, all are still more or less in the same place, it's just that the 'reach' tends to be a bit more comfy. Also, the misnomered 'modern' style table tends to be skewed upward a bit. Many older horns required a bit of an extra wiggle in the wrist to hit the pinky keys; overstated, IMHO. All the key touches will produce the same notes as you are familiar with. (BTW I really find that whole argument a bit of a joke...there are great pinky table designs on horns which are 70 years old and just as comfy and responsive as any contemporary horn. Some old designs ARE clunky....but many are also NOT).

Regarding "B" serial #...wow...DO tell me if THAT'S correct, because if it's a 7M...this is a first. All 7M's I have ever seen or heard of had N prefixes. If it's a B or an 8...it actually makes me wonder if the seller has made an error in the model.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi -

know this is an old thread, but I wanted to at least try and reply to the last enthusiastic post. First, the sax was in as good a condition as advertised, and my kid actually sounds quite nice on it - pretty mellow, able to sustain an even tone, and seldom squeaks. The lacquer was perhaps more beat up than advertised, and that caused a little embarrassment for my kid, compared to the nice shiny rentals, but we spent some time watching videos of bands playing "beat-up" saxes, and now everything is cool.

The serial number was in fact an N. That part of the bell was a bit scratchy, so maybe hard to see if you weren't expecting it. I ended up paying 180, and would have got it for 150 had we not had a little miscommunication. My loss, but oh well...

Anyhow, it's sounding just great for "hot cross buns", "jingle bells", and "au claire de la lune" If we stick with it, I'll have it looked at by someone who can actually service it.

Thanks again everyone, for the input.

Cheers!
 

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Excellent, that is a very good deal on a good horn. And most of the really good pro players I know around here are playing on pretty worn-looking old horns.
 
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