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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Just got the Conn transitional 251xxx (with an option to buy) in the house and used our >current TOTM< to play test it against my 1952 Selmer SBA . Not much preparation as usual, so the keywork of the Conn didn't really feel comfortable after the 10 minutes testing before hitting the record button.

Here is a mixed take made out of three single takes: Conn solo at 0:37, SBA solo at 1:40 and chase chorusses starting at 2:41. Conn is right in the mix, SBA left. Used my Ponzol 120 mouthpiece and a La Voz medium reed. Added a slight amount of reverb.

- 'It Don't Mean A Thing' (Ponzol 120 - 1932 Conn - 1952 SBA): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12670972

And here are the two original solo sax takes (without effects, just as recorded):

- 'It Don't Mean A Thing' (Ponzol 120 - 1932 Conn): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12670984
- 'It Don't Mean A Thing' (Ponzol 120 - 1952 SBA): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12670985

I have my opinions about both but want to do some more play testing and listening to the clips I recorded before making my final conclusions.

Also very curious to the opinion of others here on SOTW :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Here is the first recording I did on the Conn, just recorded a few minutes before above faster takes for the main TOTM. Below tune is a much slower number ('Black Coffee'), it's the current TOTM in the Beginners/Intermediates thread.

You can hear in the below Conn take how I struggled my way through the difficult application (compared to my Selmer SBA that is). Especially had some issues with the octave key that I couldn't avoid hitting when playing in the lower register, making it sound like the sax has some leaks (it became better half way the take and in the faster take posted above). Also played the SBA to compare the sound, that sax feels much more trusted after years of playing (I own it since 1995). Both takes have a little reverb added and are quite long, so don't feel obligated to listen :).

- 'Black Coffee' (Ponzol 120 - SBA - La Voz medium): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12672126
- 'Black Coffee' (Ponzol 120 - Conn - La Voz medium): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12672125
 

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Just listened to all takes. Yes, you sound to have more confidence in the SBA (which is no surprise); but going from "Black Coffee" to "It Don't Mean A Thing" I can hear your familiarity with the Conn increase. The Tranny has that big Conn tone, all right. To my mind the SBA was the best-sounding tenor Selmer made. (I could never understand the cult of the Mk VI; its tone is too waspish, too centred — I've always preferred the SBA with its bigger, broader tone, approaching that of a Conn.) When you get to know the Tranny better you'll be able to dial in a tone which is broader still.

That problem you were having with the octave key is due to the fact that the LH thumbrest is too small: get your technician to put a big Selmer-style black plastic "pearl" over the thumbrest — he'll need to cut the brass octave touche down very slightly to fit the "black pearl" under it, but you'll have no further trouble with the octave key. (Kris Wanders put me on to that modification. It has worked well for me.) You'd be mad not to buy the Tranny - and the best of luck with it ! I can envisage you telling us in a year's time that you're now using the SBA as back-up horn to the Tranny…
 

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That problem you were having with the octave key is due to the fact that the LH thumbrest is too small: get your technician to put a big Selmer-style black plastic "pearl" over the thumbrest - he'll need to cut the brass octave touche down very slightly to fit the "black pearl" under it, but you'll have no further trouble with the octave key. (Kris Wanders put me on to that modification. It has worked well for me.)
I just got home from a big band gig...the tenor player next to me had his NW II tenor modified this way. He also had the right thumb hook replaced with a modern plastic one that swivels. Judging from his (considerable) skill getting around the horn, it works well for him, but I never considered doing that to any of my Conns. I have done this mod for others, though.

I agree that this is an easy mod, probably within the scope of a DIY project for a lot of people. You could grind off some of the bottom of the octave lever with a rotary tool and clean it up from there.

Without rehashing my entire post from the TOTM thread, a lot of Conn players use a different left hand position - wrist somewhat lower - to navigate the octave and palm keys more easily.

As far as the gap between the B and bis (mentioned here and on the TOTM thread), first check the pad cup alignment to the tone holes to make sure the gap isn't larger than it should be. You'll still have a gap even if the pad cups are aligned correctly. If it's still too much (probably), you (with your tech's assistance) can move the pearl holders closer together. On my NW I alto, the B pearl is in the center of the pad cup so there's a pretty significant gap. I can still slide B to bis Bb, but it's not as comfortable as I'd like. I'm going to move them closer together on the next overhaul...although I might have to do it sooner...
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Mike T and SFT, thanks for your comments and input :).

The LH thumbrest adaption and the relocate of the strap-ring downwards are things I would consider if I keep the Conn. The Bb and LH table are things I could get used to I guess. I hope to find some more playing time coming weekend, still want to test some of my vintage Otto Link's on the Conn before making my final decision. I for sure like the tone of the Conn, but I don't find the difference with my SBA that big to cover for the application differences.

I also have to consider that I don't have much time to play the horn, only a few hours a week on one evening Big Band rehearsal, about 5-10 gigs per year and only a few hours a month extra to record some STOW TOTM stuff (I can't play in my house due to long working days and close neighbours). The money is no issue, but having two great tenors not played that often is maybe a bit of overkill. To be continued :).
 

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I think a better fix for the thumb rest is to build out to the left of it with two part epoxy. I've done it a couple of times and it's really great.

You simply create a crescent the extends from about "7'oclock to 10'oclock" and out and up a bit, where "the rest" of your thumb is sort of hanging off the edge of the round pearl. It takes some skill and confidence, technique but if get it right it has a nice continuity with the pearl if done reasonably well. Very very nice feel that way.

One thing, don't get any under the key, duh. and try create a slope away from the gap between the epoxy and the actuation of the key. You can create an annoying pinchpoint via that gap with a more vertical end. I've done that and had to file down some to fix it.

Re moving the strap hook/loop, I did it on one Conn and not the other, and frankly it's questionable that it's an absolute improvement. It makes some things nicer but others somehow worse.

But a plastic comfy thumb hook,,,yeah where do I sign up? BTW, on the thumbhook cushiiong thing: is you put anything but the thinnest material in the hook, you make it shallower. Pro_tec makes an nice thin silicone one that really hits the sweet spot of "taking the edges off" and being too 'dimensional' which screws things up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Thanks for the additional information HIgh Fly :).

If it comes sofar that I buy I will discuss the options with my tech. I remember that I had some issue with my Selmer SBA thumb rest too back in 1995 (coming from a Selmer SA80), he than used epoxy to make the LH thumb button a bit higher and that solved it for me.
 

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Mike T and SFT, thanks for your comments and input :).

The LH thumbrest adaption and the relocate of the strap-ring downwards are things I would consider if I keep the Conn. The Bb and LH table are things I could get used to I guess. I hope to find some more playing time coming weekend, still want to test some of my vintage Otto Link's on the Conn before making my final decision. I for sure like the tone of the Conn, but I don't find the difference with my SBA that big to cover for the application differences.

I also have to consider that I don't have much time to play the horn, only a few hours a week on one evening Big Band rehearsal, about 5-10 gigs per year and only a few hours a month extra to record some STOW TOTM stuff (I can't play in my house due to long working days and close neighbours). The money is no issue, but having two great tenors not played that often is maybe a bit of overkill. To be continued :).
I know what you mean.
Even more overkill: two Conn tenors :)
By the way I like listening to your sound clips. Hard to decide which one I prefer
but then again I am biased to Conn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I know what you mean.
Even more overkill: two Conn tenors :)
By the way I like listening to your sound clips. Hard to decide which one I prefer
but then again I am biased to Conn.
Thanks JNB :). Did you modify something on your old Conn tenors, or do you play them fully original?
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Did some further play testing with the 1932 Conn today. Getting more used to the horn now, but it will never be a SBA of course! Posted some takes in other threads (TOTM and EMC2) and post them also here for the completeness of this thread.

- 'It Don't Mean A Thing' (Conn - Ponzol 120 - La Voz medium): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12680062
- 'It Don't Mean A Thing' (Conn - Tone Master 8 - La Voz medium): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12680063
(both played with a medium tempo backing track instead of the fast one posted before)

- 'Sun Dance' (Conn - Tone Master 8 - La Voz medium): http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12680065
(free improvisation on an unknown guitar backing)

Also did some takes on 'Just Friends' on four different mouthpieces (1940's Tone Master 8, 1950's Florida no USA 9, 1980's Ponzol 120 and a modern Berg Larsen 150/2). Have to find some time to mix them into one not too long take. I think they all sound good on the Conn.

Next Tuesday will be the 'live' test for the Conn during Big Band rehearsal. After that I will make up my mind about the horn (buy or not!).
 

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My $0.02

The horn itself has a rich fat 'vintage' sound, and the Tone Master just puts a nice wrapper on it.
The Ponzol adds more to the genre that might be needed for most gig settings. IOW, too fat or too spread. I suggest the TM diet for that excess around the middle and bottom.

Some nice playing in there too, btw.

(I have an ~29 that's a beauty, now that its been in the right technician'a hands- see prior post- Im playing one of Matt Marantzs HR Legacy and his modified OL NVS pieces and different reeds. Mostly Marca Superiere and RJS Gonzales, depending on vibe /needs /whim)
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
My $0.02

The horn itself has a rich fat 'vintage' sound, and the Tone Master just puts a nice wrapper on it.
The Ponzol adds more to the genre that might be needed for most gig settings. IOW, too fat or too spread. I suggest the TM diet for that excess around the middle and bottom.

Some nice playing in there too, btw.

(I have an ~29 that's a beauty, now that its been in the right technician'a hands- see prior post- Im playing one of Matt Marantzs HR Legacy and his modified OL NVS pieces and different reeds. Mostly Marca Superiere and RJS Gonzales, depending on vibe /needs /whim)
Thanks High Fly:).

I have a lot of options for mouthpieces, owning a big vintage Otto Link collection with all metal types ever produced. I also have an original Otto Link NVS 7*, great piece as is (a bit brighter than my Tone Master 8), but I'm used to bigger tips.

I always have to be loud and fat in my big band, it's also the sound I like (love the Texas Tenor style). I always used (till recently) a Florida no USA 10* or 9 (depending on the hardness of the reed) on by SBA and was/am quite happy with that sound. Recently got the Ponzol 120 from a pro player friend here in NL and I love that piece, but found it a bit too bright on my SBA. That's what started the curiousity to a darker horn (my pro friend playes a Buescher 400) to temper the brightness of the Ponzol a bit.

Without really having to search for such a horn the former second tenor player of my Big Band mentioned that he would let his Conn Transitional (the horn I'm now testing) go if it gave me what I'm looking for. The Conn for sure tames the Ponzol a bit in the upper register, without loosing it's agressive attack. I could get the Ponzol a bit less fat/spread by blowing with a lower air stream or using a slighly harder reed. It than will sound very close to a (vintage) Link, but it still has the option to genereate much more buzz in a much easier way compared to a Link.

Good grief, I certainly hope not !!
Lol! I would like to have a horn with the sound of the Conn and the ergonomics of the SBA :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·

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listened to all you recent takes and can hear the sound coming on really well. I`d have to do something about the Bis key if I were keeping her but ultimately you`ll either bond with the horn very soon or shes gone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Thanks Clive. The bonding with the Conn already started, so if it helds up well in the upcoming Big Band rehearsal I think I will buy it.
 

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get a Blashaus black pearl Conn new wonder II, but cost would be a factor there, over 12,000 us dollars.
So .... These guys are charging (roughly) $10,000 to make a Conn New Wonder play more easily??? Seems like you could build a whole new horn for that. What on earth could account for that cost??? I can't tell, it's all in German.

Turtle
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
So .... These guys are charging (roughly) $10,000 to make a Conn New Wonder play more easily??? Seems like you could build a whole new horn for that. What on earth could account for that cost??? I can't tell, it's all in German.

Turtle
Here you can see what they do for that money (click on a picture just below: Bilder: Converted Conn Chu Berry "Black Pearl II"):
http://www.blashaus.ch/bilder/

I guess the fact that it's done in Switzerland on it's own accounts already for the high costs (expensive country, high wages, like in Germany and in my country).
 

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Thanks for that link .... Yeah, it's interesting. I'd be curious to play one like that, to feel the difference. I wonder though, if all the changes all over the horn, and all the new hardware that goes along with it (including a new heavy brace), wouldn't effect the sound.


Turtle
 
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