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Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
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Discussion Starter #1
I was once told - by a well known and entirely honest vintage sax dealer - that all Conn 6Ms in a certain serial range (25x,xxx = 1932-'33) are fundamentally out of tune. The dealer offered no further details, and being on the phone, I didn't press the issue.

Has anyone else ever heard this? Where did you hear it? Is there anything to it? If so, what intonational tendencies are involved? Has it anything to do with mouthpieces, and if so, what kind?
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Technician
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You may be thinking of the 18M long soprano. I have had Conn altos from NW I, NW II, Tranny and several 6Ms and some have been "near" that range and no issues for me.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2009
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You may be thinking of the 18M long soprano. I have had Conn altos from NW I, NW II, Tranny and several 6Ms and some have been "near" that range and no issues for me.
+1 here
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've never even seen an 18M in that serial range. They may not even exist.

The dealer and I were talking 6Ms because I was thinking of consigning a 254k 6M. Said dealer agreed to take it on, but it took a year to sell.

Made me wonder whether the out-of-tune 25xk business might be widely believed, at least in classical circles, where this particular dealer travels widely (and where nobody much plays 6Ms of any vintage).
 

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All horns play out of tune. The trick is getting used to the horn that you choose to play.
I don't have problems like that with my 6m, though. Without embouchure adjustments, it plays out of tune just like any other horn would.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I know where you're coming from...I play several makes and models and are pretty well used to their tendencies. I was surprised to be told about the 6Ms, as the 254k I was selling didn't have especially quirky intonation.

There's probably no more to this than rumor. Just interested how it could have gotten started.
 

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Once I almost swapped a really smokin' Balanced Action for a 26M VIII, the owner of the 26M wasn't "so into the balanced action"... :rolleyes: and I was really diggin the 26M. I offered him a square trade since I was loosing money but I liked his horn. He said "I tell you what, let us both have one another's horn for a week and then we'll discuss it again" After a week he was aching for confirming the deal, and after 2 rehearsals I coulnd't stand the radically different intonation tendencies of the Conn...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Tell me more about these radically different intonation tendencies.

How would they compare with (say) a Buescher New Crat or Series 1?
 

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Well, I find the Conn horns to be the closer to Yamaha horns as intonation tendencies ballpark. I mean the middle's flat and above A2 it's flat flat. This is for my standpoint of view after a life dedicated to other horns such as Bueschers (mainly) and vintage selmers (Ba, SBa, early VI's). I have to struggle to get C2-G1 in a comfortable place for me and above A2 I just have to bite so much that get tired after one song. I just can't play on Conns... I guess that there must be some sort of bore/impedance mismatch with me. I get this vibe that's an instrument made for be played in a different way in wich I naturally play. This is alto specific. On tenors I can get along with COnn's, I hate the 23x-30XK serial range (wich is considered the best of the best by many) because of the intonation issues I have with them and they have back at me. I just don't care for Conn's ergos on the tenor.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hey, to each his own. At least you're not pushing your findings as some scientific breakthru. You recognize they apply to you - not necessarily to everyone.

The difference with the Conn rumor may be that it might have come from a teacher or professor to their students. If true, they would have strong incentives to buy in.

Here's a thought...you mentioned impedance. Aristocrats are resistant altos. 6Ms are not so resistant. Who knows what might happen, tonally, intonationally, etc., if you played one the way you played the other.
 

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Played and owned a number of 6M/Tranny/U/Slung Conn Alto's up to 1960's "Non-Ladyface" and never even queried or, had any issues with tuning.
Mostly section work where the cats have been playing a whole cross section of makes, models and vintages. Always used a med chamber rubber piece usually a Meyer 5MM/6MM.
 

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Yeah, I totally agree it's something that has more to do with me. And a funny thing is that if I record myself it's fine. I just don't hear what I want to hear when I'm playing them, and I feel like I have to adjust too much.
 

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I collect Martins but find that for alto, I like the older Conns like the NW best. Since all saxes are somewhat out of tune, I go for the sound and just live with it. We need someone here to reply with a horn or two in the aforementioned serial number range. As much as I like my NW altos, I just can't play a NW tenor. Still like the Martins on tenor and bari.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015
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so given three words which one doesn't belong?

sax, banjo and motorcycle?

obviously the motorcycle the other two can't stay in tune.
 

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OOT but the motorcycle will eventually go out of tune just like the others if proper care is not given.
 

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granted, but the banjo and the conn will ALWAYS get ut of tune no matter if proper care is given. Plus, motorcycles have a greater dynamic range and they sound cool in small groups, combos and ensembles.
 
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