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I've had trouble identifying this old Conn. I've had conflicting information about the serial number; it doesn't help that there is no model name. There is only the brand patent on the bell and the serial number. Could really use some insight. Also, if anyone does identity it, is it worth playing? I'm happy to send more photos if needed. Thanks!
 

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It's a low pitch C melody, probably in nickel plate. I'd estimate 1918-1925. Given the condition of the pads I can see, it definitely needs all pads corks and felts replaced and a re-regulation. There may be mechanical repairs required as well.

Basically no one wants C melody saxophones; the supply far exceeds the demand. What you've got there is worth about $100 as is, and if you have it completely refurbished it'll be worth about $100.

If you did have it refurbished you'd have a good horn, but one that is almost totally useless in any modern context. Being low pitch, it WILL play properly in tune; it's just that no style of music uses the C melody any more.
 

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What do you mean "worth"?

The cost of materials MIGHT be recovered if you were to sell it. The cost of your labor or someone else, no. So on a pure ROI there's no ROI, not even just for pads corks felts regulation and a low-intensity polish.

If you fix it up and get it playing, it will play in tune, it has a complete key range, and the action will be similar to any other Conn of that vintage. So it's a better use of your time and money than, say, refurbishing a high pitch C melody that's only keyed to high Eb.
 

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1918 C melody before the straight neck model. The case may be worth more than the horn. In good playing shape and cleaned up with new pads, may be worth $200-250. Cases are hard to find.
 

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I’m able to refurbish it myself. Just for fun is it worth fixing up? I think a saxophone in concert pitch would be fun to mess around with.
welcome to SOTW,
If you’ve never worked on a saxophone getting one like this to play again it’s not a simple task. You’re going to need a couple hundred dollars of tools and supplies just to start. Yeah they play good. The patent number is for the drawn tone holes. This one was made between 1918 and 1919. If the purchase does not include a mouthpiece plan on spending a couple hundred dollars for a C mouthpiece. A tenor or alto mouthpiece will work but you’re going to fight it.

look over this project I recently did. I don’t think yours will be so extreme but be prepared.
 

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C saxes can play and sound terrific - you just gotta' play the right music eg: stuff written for piano (in concert pitch aka C) and not stuff written for woodwind instruments. Find brlow a couple of clips of the renown Aquilla C sax being put through its mations by the ever remarkable Micahel Ausserbauer.....enjoy



 

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I regularly see nicely restored C melody horns listed for $1000 or more. What they actually go for I don’t know. If you can do the work and if you want a C melody horn then go for it.
 

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I’m able to refurbish it myself. Just for fun is it worth fixing up? I think a saxophone in concert pitch would be fun to mess around with.
That's what a lot of people think when they find out C melody saxophones existed. Should they scratch the itch, they then spend the life of the horn trying to legitimize it to others.

Remember. The "C" stands for cult...
 

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Ahhh, that explains why he was playing a C-melody. He was high.

But seriously, I absolutely love my C-melody as I do all my saxes. It's great being able to look over a piano or guitar player's shoulder and read the same chart without transposing, which is exactly what the horn was made for. It's a beautiful instrument with its own distinctive sound. Of course I never gig with mine, but when visiting friends and making music for fun, it's perfect. A C-soprano is also on my bucket list.
 

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Ahhh, that explains why he was playing a C-melody. He was high.

But seriously, I absolutely love my C-melody as I do all my saxes. It's great being able to look over a piano or guitar player's shoulder and read the same chart without transposing, which is exactly what the horn was made for. It's a beautiful instrument with its own distinctive sound. Of course I never gig with mine, but when visiting friends and making music for fun, it's perfect. A C-soprano is also on my bucket list.
Any idea what is it about the concept itself, building the horn in C that de facto made it have a tonality that didn’t become popular? Something intrinsic to the key makes a C saxophone have to be less resonant or something, compared to Bb and Eb? Or just no manufacturers put much effort into it and it didn’t catch on?
 

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Any idea what is it about the concept itself, building the horn in C that de facto made it have a tonality that didn’t become popular? Something intrinsic to the key makes a C saxophone have to be less resonant or something, compared to Bb and Eb? Or just no manufacturers put much effort into it and it didn’t catch on?
Oh, but it DID catch on, and it was VERY popular. Everybody wanted to play sax in the 20's (like everybody wants to play electric guitar today), so this was the industry's answer. They sold lots of C melodies to amateurs who wanted a parlor instrument to play all the tunes of the day at home. Problem was when the bottom dropped out of the market due to the depression, the radio, better phonographs, etc., it dropped to nothing. It was a lot easier to play a record or listen to the radio, especially when you didn't have any money. So the Bb and Eb versions which had long established themselves among pros survived, but the parlor instrument for amateurs did not.

Some say the bore of the instrument is too small, giving it a weaker sound than other saxes, which is probably true to an extent. But I love the way mine sounds. I don't agree that it's a bad instrument or a bad design.

The C melody is a lot like a dinosaur. There were lots of them and they were very successful. But when they disappeared, they did so suddenly and never to return.

In any case, there's a lot of history and a lot of speculation about what sealed the fate of the C melody. I'm just reposting what I've read about it. I wasn't there. But those theories make sense to me. I'm happy to have one in my collection in addition to my soprano, alto, tenor, bari and bass. Each has its own unique character and is fun to play and to look at. I'll probably never gig or record with mine, but I don't care. I enjoy playing it and owning it.
 

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Any idea what is it about the concept itself...
Well, the target market consisted of those who couldn't put in the time or effort to learn how to transpose music. You know... quick and easy...short cuts. That's generally not the required frame of mind conducive to mastering a musical instrument. Probably looked down upon by other players to boot.
 

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I'll probably never gig or record with mine, but I don't care. I enjoy playing it and owning it.
Fascinating history! But I think this is the part that intrigues me most— what about it makes you feel this way? Something about the sound, all fads and fallibility of historically popular tastes aside, doesn’t make it as worthy of recording to you, despite your liking to play it. Seems like something inherent in making a C saxophone doesn’t make as good a tone?
 

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Well, the target market consisted of those who couldn't put in the time or effort to learn how to transpose music. You know... quick and easy...short cuts. That's generally not the required frame of mind conducive to mastering a musical instrument. Probably looked down upon by other players to boot.
Hmm.. is this logical? If so no one would be any good on any C instruments. Flute, oboe, trombone, violin— there’s obviously more to mastery than ability/willingness to transpose! And, honestly, you can play tenor and alto without learning to transpose too. Either play in a different key while reading concert, or read already-transposed saxophone charts.
 
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