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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK. In my typical fashion, I've gone over the top and ended up buying two vintage conns. (They are being shipped. One is a 1923 or late model New Wonder - The second a 1925 first year New Wonder 2 or Chu Berry. Since I am waiting anxiously for both of these I thought I'd ask your opinions. One will be flipped (sold) and I'll keep my favorite but I'm interested in hearing you folks thoughts on both. The are both recently overhauled and in (supposedly) good to very good cosmetic and working condition.

I currently play an SA80II but it is way too modern for my Jump blues gig which is becoming very regular. The other players are playing period correct vintage instruments so I thought I'd go along if it doesn't hurt my playing in the long run. Are the ergonomics on these saxes that much different. I adapt fairly easily because I play many different instruments so I don't think I'll have too much of an issue. What can I expect to find / hear that's different? I realize I'm giving up my high F# key but that doesn't bother me. What else do you think?
 

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I was in the market for a VI as an upgrade to my VII tenor some years ago when I first tried a Chu/Transitional tenor. My first thought was wow... this is a rock and roll horn. I immediately ended my VI quest right there and then and soon bought a 10M as my number one tenor. I've tried a couple of the old Wonder tenors since then (and own a Wonder Bari), and to me they're pure honkers (which is a good thing, for me at least). As for keywork, I prefer vintage Conn tenors, as with larger hands I'm more free to put my fingers where I'd like. Modern ergonomics tend to force my fingers in places they don't necessarily want to go. The keywork will seem clunky in comparison to your Selmer, however... but it should be well worth getting used to.
 

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Simplest answer: you will have both...so play both.... and pick the one which suits you best.

Please DO post your impressions of one vs. the other. That would be some interesting feedback I would love to hear.
 

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Are we talking altos or tenors? For me, the series one alto is more bendable and warm and the two is a bit more centered. I play a series one as my main alto out of about 20 I have. For tenor, I like the series one better as it is just easier to handle. I find the two to be a great horn but the LH table is just too much for me. The bis is too far away (fixable) but the LH pinky table is just too far out there. If you like a ballsy take no prisoners tenor, the Chu can't be beat. Great R&R horn but can be a bit hard to control at times. For the price these go for, you may just want to have both. The tranny tenors may be one of the best made too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
These are tenors - grumps words are encouraging. It's a ballsy rock kinda sound I'm looking for in addition to simply being more "period correct".
 

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What can I expect to find / hear that's different?
Oh boy.

Congrats, man! You got yourself something! Chus are the most underrated horns, with a special sound and quality. It is another world, in every way. They can either bark or be mellow like no other horn. Find a mouthpiece that works well with it, and you'll have a great setup.
 

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Yes congratulations!
The NW and 10M's and are the Big Daddy tenors great
for older R&B styles. The NW a little more darker, mellow and jazzier sounding but
both can be very brutal and loud when pushed. It might take some more control if you want to play a lush ballad. They are definitly no French sounding horns like Selmers and the like.
They shine with large chamber pieces and really rip with
higher baffle pieces. You need to put in lots of air though.

Unfortunatly I have never had the oppertunity to play a 'real' Chu era NW II so I can't comment on the differences between the I and II but I can't imagine they differ that much. I hope you will post your experiences here.
Anyway I am hooked on those horns and the big Conn sound. Ironically I have a Buescher Super 400 coming to meet a more lush Webster-like side of the spectrum (at least I hope it will).
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've read everywhere these saxes are, "Hard to control". Being the optimist, I'm hoping that could just as easily be read, "they are more flexible"....??

Anyway...I'll certainly post my opinions on these instruments. I've held some vintage saxes but really have no experience with them so this is a first for me.
 

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I've read everywhere these saxes are, "Hard to control". Being the optimist, I'm hoping that could just as easily be read, "they are more flexible"....??

Anyway...I'll certainly post my opinions on these instruments. I've held some vintage saxes but really have no experience with them so this is a first for me.
I do not think they are hard to control at all. I like the keywork and it has
never been a problem for me. I can only speak for myself though.
What I meant is the tone of both the NW and 10M can be rather big and
as these big bore horns need some serious air to be filled the tone can sometimes be a little too present for a sensitive ballad. So you have to control your airstream a little more. That said if you get to know the NW better you will be able to play
as lush and whispery as you'd like.

Please keep us posted.
 

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I recently had the chance to try NW I & II side by side. The Chu was in slightly worse shape which made comparison a little difficult but I would agree that it was the more "centered"-seeming tonewise of the two. Both totally badass horns though... I really loved the NW I in particular. HUGE sound, very dark but also really punchy - I felt like I could really exaggerate the articulations and inflections, it was just so expressive.

My one issue with the NW I was that the palm keys were consistently flat and it took some effort to lip them up - part of that may have been that I was coming from a Yamaha 82Z which is pretty much the opposite in terms of palm key response, but even after spending some time with the horn it was still a struggle. I don't mind it so much actually, I actually prefer it when the upper register is very slightly flat, but of course YMMV.

With both of them I actually found the ergonomics to be totally fine and actually slightly preferred the NW I. I play a 6M so I'm used to the feeling of Conns, but if you're coming from a Selmer the pinky table will definitely take some getting used to haha... Selmer pinky tables (especially modern ones) are rotated about 70 or 80 degrees from where the ones on Conns are =P. However for me it was not that big of a deal. low Bb - C# is never really easy on vintage Conns, but it's rare enough that you'll need to make that note transition that it probably won't be a big deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
OK. The New Wonder II or "Chu Berry" arrived yesterday. After playing for a while last night and then doing a rigorous 2 hour comparison this morning I have the following observations.

1. They are both great horns!
2. Intonation is somewhat better on the II but that may be the set-up. The fork Eb pad has the spring reversed on the NW and functions well on the NWII. That might
3. I could hear very little difference in tone - both are set up with new pads with metal resonators and new springs but by different techs. The pads are not the same but very similar. The NW is a little brighter in the higher notes. The NWII speaks more easily in the low register but there may be a slight leak from shipping. I wouldn't say the NW is fuller in tone but it might well be a bit "edgier".
4. Ergonomics are better on the NWII. In addition to the nail file G# which is tilted to angle a bit below the other left pinky keys, the octave key is a bit more manageable than the teardrop shaped key on the NW. The action in general is pretty smooth. IT takes a very light touch - more like the old MKVI I held once than other saxes I have played. This too is probably the way the instrument is setup.

I seriously considered selling my Selmer SA80II for a moment and keeping both of these (One as a back-up) but the SA80II is a great horn and also beautiful to boot. It's hard to justify owning three tenors so I may just continue to "evaluate" these fine instruments for a few more years before I decide which horn to sell. I'd hate to make a hasty decision. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You might try swapping the necks. Sometimes you get surprising results...
Tried that. They both seem best with the original neck. I did take them both to my tech today though and she spent some time with both. I didn't think the CHU could get better but it did. We worked on intonation issues and pretty much fixed them on both horns. The New Wonder also had some other issues / leaks she fixed. Now after an hour with each - I'm thinking the New Wonder sounds a bit "beefier" than the CHU. The CHU is marginally quicker but thats about it. Much more evaluation (possibly years) is need before I can make the final cut.

My wife caught me leaving the house and asked where I was going with the saxes. When I told her the tech, she said - "If you're going to sell one of those, why take them both to the shop?" ::Gulp:: I pretended I had an incoming phone call. Then of course the phone rang. IT's a good thing she really, really loves me.. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I bet you have not told your wife your tech is a 'she'.
No biggie there. My tech is also a fan. The two have met more than once. Besides - she is a "band" wife. I have been asked more than once in the past few months, "Did you come home last night?" I am an early riser with little need for sleep so I sometimes get home after three and will still be out the door by 9:00. She on the other hand can sleep 10 hours with no problems....
 

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Fader, maaaan.
Maybe you don' believe, but I used to have a similar story.
I used to play Conn New Wonder tenor of 1923 (s/n was 131***) in silver
And now I own the Chu Berry tenor of 1925 (s/n 151***) unlaqued now ))) Now I'm waiting for it from the tech, who is repaddingit in this time.
I dont have the serie 1 now, but the sound is still in my head.
So when I recieve Chu I'll write here.

'Bout the serie 1. The ergos was comfortable enough for me, the sound was (!!!) I've never played better.
I've owned this sax for about 3-4 years and I loved it so much.
And now why did I sell it... I've started to play along (with minuses) and here the intonation is the basic thing. I should say that the into's problems wasn't criminal, but cent here, cent there. But with Conn I didn't have the exact intonation, so I've sold it and took Yani. My wife was crying when I gave it to a new owner. This moment was so sentimental )))

Now I hope the Chu has the better intonation (I've ordered 10M and Buescher Aristocrat too, and then I'll choose))).

So I'll write to you when I have the serie 2.
 
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