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So my Mark VI needs a $1200 overhaul. 25 years of hard gigging has taken it's toll. It's been bent 3 times now, once from a drunk bass player sitting on my case (original 60's zipper case, too soft to sit on,) once from dropping it, and most recently from falling down a flight of icy steps with my SKB case slung over my shoulder. Yes, SKB cases will not protect your horn from everything. As I play music for a living in one of the most expensive US cities, it's a miracle I ever was able to acquire a pro horn in the first place (another story,) suffice to say I can't afford to fix it now, as with serious health issues I'm unable to work a day job and what little extra I do make is going into fixing my decaying teeth.

So I did what no professional sax player would ever consider. I replaced my Selmer Mark VI with a 1970 Conn Director, the infamous "Shooting Star" model. It was $250 with extras and in brand new condition, a closet horn. The seller was glad to get rid of it. He bought it thinking he'd learn to play and couldn't get much sound out of it. When I test drove it the first thing I noticed was that most of the middle register notes were muffled, squirrely and unpredictable. I also noticed that contrary to what I'd heard, the notes that did come out right had surprisingly great tone, and that the octave mechanism didn't look right at all. On a hunch, I took a chance and brought it home.

I don't do any serious repair, but after a couple hours I figured out the reason this horn had never been played more than once or twice. That octave mechanism I mentioned had a serious manufacturing error and the post that lifts the neck mechanism sat way too high, causing both octave vents to remain open from middle D through G. I was able to fix it by bending the neck mechanism about 2 cm up, a crude fix but it worked like a charm and the horn played perfectly after that. I took it out and gigged with it that night. Everyone commented on how great my tone was. I am sure to get a lot of crap for saying this, but this "chupacabra of saxophones" sounds better than my bent, worn out Mark VI, and blows far more freely than it ever did.

The action of course is awful. My hands were hurting by the end of the night and I misfired a lot of notes, but overall I am happy with this horn, glad I bought it. Of course, it might fall to pieces in a few months and then I'll come back with my foot in my mouth. But for now I have to say I think this horn doesn't deserve it's extremely bad rep.
Obviously, Conn had serious quality control issues at the Mexican plant. But it's still a horn designed by Conn and it sounds and plays like a Conn. And it's lucky for me it's so universally hated, because I would have never gotten such a great sounding horn in such pristine condition for that price otherwise.

Go ahead and tell me I'm full of it. Bring on the avalanche of hate. I'm happy with this horn so I just don't care!
 
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