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Discussion Starter #1
So, my 10yr old wants to play tenor sax. Band teacher suggested old Conn's (before 1990) would be good. I bought one off of Craigs list for $75 from a lady who was moving. She said she bought it used in 1969. She said she can still get a tone out of it (today). I figured if nothing else he can test the waters over the summer before school starts. Sax rental in my city runs $65/month; so, in my opinion, it was an okay deal.

I've read literally about a hundred posts now on whether this is going to suck (for him and me) or not due to the cheap manufacturing.

Here is what I do know:
- Conn USA engraved on bell in Shooting Star Logo.
- Sheet metal guards
- Left side bell keys
- SN 11831 (which DOESN'T match anything, making me think it's a Mexiconn)
- NO dents, but is tarnished; she cleaned up the engraving and serial #
- It came with a Selmer mouthpiece
- Likely needs to have new pads, be adjusted and cleaned.
- I read one of the posts suggesting that the metal on the Mexiconns was so flimsy you could bend the bell with your hand. So, I tried, but she didn't budge.

What I don't know...
Is it a Mexiconn?

I only care if it won't stay in tune. The woman who sold it to me used it when she was in high school, so who knows.

Thanks
 

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OK....so....first question (just to be sure, so forgive me for how basic it is): That horn IS a Tenor, yes ????????? You are certain you bought a Tenor, there ?

Because...IF it is.....what you have there....is a bit of a.... Conn......Unicorn.

If it is a Tenor.....that is NOT a Mexican-made 16M Director. That is an American-made 60M. This horn is the big bro of the '60's American-made 50M altos.

60M Conns have been said to exist...but there have been more sightings of Bigfoot than of a 60M ! (maybe not so much because they are rare or highly sought-after, but because the likelihood is... folks who had one thought they had a 16M Mexiconn Director Tenor because of the shooting stars and the sheet keyguards).

Go to my thread below entitled "The 50M" and read it. Basically.....this is what you have. An Vito/LeBlanc horn with Art Best design tweaks....which was left in the factory in Nogales AZ (not Nogales MX) when Art Best folded and Conn bought the factory (and thus the horns in it).
MexiConns were never engraved 'USA' on the bell. Also, the serial # doesn't coincide w/ Conn's..... because it's not a Conn body.

In the instance of the Altos, people mistake the 50M's for Mexican 14M's daily. And while I don't dislike the 14M's and 16M Mexiconns at all.....the 50M alto is a much better horn ; setup nicely they are worth $350 or so. So...this being the Tenor version of it.....I would guess this is also a better horn. Vito/LeBlanc really never made bad horns....they were consistently solid, made with good materials, and big-sounding.

The Q becomes how much work it'll need (?)...because its market value in good playing shape with a nice clean body is only about $400-500 tops.

If you take it to a tech...they may well say that it needs an overhaul (which includes all new pads and a complete cleaning) which will certainly cost $500+, depending on where you live (around here the pricetag is more like $800-900.....but SF is not in the reality zone of the rest of the planet). In which case, you may wanna ask him/her "can you bring it back into decent playing shape for $XXX ?" (because many techs wanna give you the hard sell on their deluxe package first, but will gladly drop it down to what is really just REQUIRED...should a customer have the wiles to ask). Sometimes a tech can do some "triage" work (replacing maybe half-dozen pads, adjusting the key heights, taking out some leaks, replacing a few corks and felts) to get it playing decently for about $200-300.

If the dollars and cents don't seem to be working out for you...lemme know....because if a Tenor, I'd buy that horn in the shape it is in now, and you can put the proceeds to one all set up to play...
Thanks for finding the Forum...and welcome !

 

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The proportions of the keys to the body made me posit that Q, yes. Just sold a 50M and a 16M this past week so I could not turn around and compare 'em to the pic.

If an alto, then she's a 50M. Nice instruments...worth putting $200+ into it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
She's an Alto. Thanks for the input. I'm taking it in this week to see what the local shops here tell me the $$ to re-pad, etc.

I did see one of the older posts mentioning that if it's a Mexiconn that it's a good learning sax to take apart and clean myself.

How do you even know about the Unicorns?
 

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Aaaaaaw....you had my heart all a-flutter there for a while ;) But really, 50M's are nice horns.

Hehehe...if you go to the thread entitled 50M it links to an article there on another site. The author of that article actually claims (in an edit) that he has really seen one. I swear, I comb eFlay and C'list all the time...more often than healthy for me...and I have NEVER seen the so-called 60M. Can't find any such mention of 'em in any old catalogs, either. 50M' are fairly prevalent...like I said....people often confuse 'em for 14M's. But apparently that factory never produced many Tenor versions (if any).



 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here's a tickle. So I took my sax to a local music shop. He pulled out another Conn Alto. The detailing on the flying stars was slightly different. It was made with a swirly sort of cut/stamp. Where mine was made with a V or a W looking stamp. Mine looked like it was possibly hand done due to the number of stamps/cuts and the USA was kind of scrunched between the CONN and the bottom of the ribbon. The Conn Alto he had had a standard serial number starting with an M. Then he pulled out yet another one that actually had Made in MEXICO on it. He said they were repadded and worth about $300. He said it would be about $350 to clean (in ultrasonic) and then repad and reassemble it. The lady I bought it from polished up the serial number and the detail work. And, according to this fella, she took off the patina AND the lacquer..but only in those spots. So, I can either leave it half shiny or take all the lacquer off making it a bare brass instrument (then leaving danger of metal exposure to my son, not a good choice) or doing a simple lacquer spray (on a regular basis) or sending it out to have it relacquered costing an additional $350!

I of course think the story behind this one seems interesting...unless I misread your post about it being two different body parts...so it's got a story to tell.

Thoughts on what to do about the finish?
 

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Hi. The first horn is an 18M. They feel decent but sound horrible. The second is probably a 14M. They feel decent and sound better than an 18M.

The 50M is a better horn than both....significantly.

90% of folks playing vintage horns are playing horns which have lost a substantial amt. of lacquer. $350 for an ultrasonic cleaning and repad for your horn AIN'T a bad deal at all (damn, around here that'd run 7 bill$)

Now...you could ask 'em this: can they disassemble and do the ultrasonic cleaning on the BODY, and just do some padwork on the keys to get the pads to seal and the horn to play up and down (so...omit the ultrasonic cleaning of the keys and replacement of ALL pads...just replace maybe 6 pads or so. Would that be an option which would save you $50-100 ???)

The cleaning will make it look much, much better, and you can keep the bare brass areas from patina'ing just by using a silver-polishing cloth on it once in a while (like once every 6 weeks or so).

Don't meess with relaquering or stripping this horn. Just have 'em clean it and do padwork/keywork.

Even if you go for the whole-hog $350 work....you will have then put a total of $425 into the horn....which is a tad over its market value....but not much, really. $425 really cannot buy you more horn than a nicely worked up 50M. It can buy you a hella lot LESS horn, though.

I say that is the ticket. Go for the work and keep the horn.

The alternative would be to sell it for maybe $75-100 and buy one of the rehabbed ones from the shop. You would save a BIT of money, but you wouldn't have as good a horn.....basically you save $125 or so in cash ...but end up with a lesser instrument. Ssssssoooooo......one of those judgment calls.
 
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