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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I got an alto Conavay-McCoy Masterlay mouthpiece in an eBay grab bag. It is also marked "Springfield, Ill." Has anyone ever heard of these or does anyone know anything about these mouthpieces or Conavay and McCoy? Mine is built on a blank very similar to the old round-chambered Geo. M. Bundy / Selmer Elkhart blank. There was an eBay auction of a tenor model with a photo (incorrectly labeled "Masterplay") here. There's a clarinet model for sale cheap here - hmmm, it's also incorrectly labeled "Masterplay."

Edit: the link to the clarinet mouthpiece is broken, I presume because I purchased it. I'll post a photo of it when it arrives.
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #2
I was a little cavalier in describing this mouthpiece as "very similar to the old round-chambered Geo. M. Bundy / Selmer Elkhart blank." Those blanks, at least the examples I have, are different. Here's a pic of four similar mouthpieces...





From left to right:

1) Geo. M. Bundy with silk-screened signature that is almost completely worn off.

2) Geo. M. Bundy with engraved sig.

1) and 2) are otherwise identical as best I can tell. They have medium round chambers with gently scooped sidewalls.

3) Selmer Elkhart-New York with a 3 stamped on the side.

4) Masterlay, Conavay-McCoy, Springfield Ill. with M 3 stamped on the table.

3) and 4) are nearly identical to each other. The chamber is a little larger than the Bundys, but the general design is close enough that I wonder if this is just a different generation of the same blank.
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #3
Hmmm, here's a transcript of an oral history with Les Conavay (1917-1998) who played the clarinet and conducted the Springfield High School Band. He mentions a friend Mel McCoy and the two of them played clarinet in the Springfield Municipal Band. Sounds like likely candidates for the Conavay-McCoy mouthpiece team.
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
OK, a couple of developments (is anybody beside me interested in any of this?)

First, I forgot about another mouthpiece in this lineage, a Buescher. Here's a pic that displays 3) and 4) above along with the Buescher on the far right.




OK, now here comes the really fun part. I found Kevin Cox, aka Bob Katt, on the web, and sent him an email inquiry. His website said his band director in high school was Leslie Conavay, but in response to my email he said he had never heard anything about him making mouthpieces. Kevin was kind enough to contact his repairman, Fred Greenwald, who said indeed Leslie J. Conavay and Melvin A. McCoy were the Conavay-McCoy of mouthpiece fame. It turns out that Mr. McCoy is still alive, he's 99 years old, AND I JUST SPOKE WITH HIM ON THE PHONE! He was a little slow but definitely VERY lucid, and his daughter was delighted to hear from someone who was still interested in Conavay-McCoy mouthpieces after all of these years. They thought it's been 40 years since they stopped selling mouthpieces, and they did indeed reface blanks, not manufacture them from scratch. She said they'd look around to see if they have any sax mouthpieces remaining and get back in touch with me to let me know.

So, there you have it folks, the story, albeit in abbreviated form, of Conavay-McCoy Mouthpieces - straight from one of the horses' mouths.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/ Forum Contributor 2009
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Sure, I'm interested. They all seem like similar or nearly identical early Babbitt blanks, labeled and finished by whomever sought to market them. Great mouthpieces.
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #6
A little more information.

First, here's a tenor version of the alto pictured above. Identical round chamber/scooped sidewalls design, just missing the 40-50 years of oxidation...



C-M made mouthpieces for (at least) alto and tenor saxophone and Bb, alto and bass clarinet. They also had a plastic line of mouthpieces, with the Ebolin-style slanted sidewalls. Here's a picture of a few of those.

 

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I think these blanks (double line on the shank, w/ medium-large chamber) were made by either Woodwind Co., from as early as the 50s. They are also the same blanks that Dukoff/Zimberoff used. Considering the metal Dukoff's/Zimberoff's also came in a metal Woodwind Co. versions, it would only make sense to me that they were all produced by Woodwind Co.

Great blanks!!!
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2012
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Great thread, Glenn.
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #9
I think these blanks (double line on the shank, w/ medium-large chamber) were made by either Woodwind Co., from as early as the 50s. They are also the same blanks that Dukoff/Zimberoff used. Considering the metal Dukoff's/Zimberoff's also came in a metal Woodwind Co. versions, it would only make sense to me that they were all produced by Woodwind Co.

Great blanks!!!
Similar logic leads me to think they are Babbitt blanks. I got the "professional" HR tenor mouthpiece and the cheapo plastic ones directly from Melvin McCoy not long before he died. The plastic, Ebolin-style ones sure look like Babbitt products, and I assume he'd have used the same source for both the HR and plastic models. But either assumption could easily be wrong.
 

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Similar logic leads me to think they are Babbitt blanks. I got the "professional" HR tenor mouthpiece and the cheapo plastic ones directly from Melvin McCoy not long before he died. The plastic, Ebolin-style ones sure look like Babbitt products, and I assume he'd have used the same source for both the HR and plastic models. But either assumption could easily be wrong.
My last post originally said Babbitt or WW. Co., regardless, there aren't many people around that know for sure.

The plastic pieces would definitely h e been sourced from Babbitt. Sometimes companies change suppliers too, and do we know if the plastic pieces were produced at the same time? Or we're they to replace the HR blanks (maybe a cheaper alternative to HR)?
 

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Discombobulated SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 201
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Discussion Starter #11
My last post originally said Babbitt or WW. Co., regardless, there aren't many people around that know for sure.

The plastic pieces would definitely h e been sourced from Babbitt. Sometimes companies change suppliers too, and do we know if the plastic pieces were produced at the same time? Or we're they to replace the HR blanks (maybe a cheaper alternative to HR)?
Don't know, that's certainly another possibility.
 
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