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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I managed to pick this up unseen for 200 australian, thinking it was a much later stencil horn.

I was excited when I opened the case, thinking it was a new invention. Despite a few prominent websites suggesting it is, I believe it's a wonder improved.

I'm thinking of dropping the money into getting it overhauled- has anyone played one of these in good condition and can comment on their sound, reaponse, response, etc? I think it
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would have been sold unlacquered, so I guess it was done much later.
 

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Yes, it looks like a Wonder Improved, made in 1914. It's low pitch, has front F and probably has the famous big Conn tone. It it was mine I'd give it an overhaul, just for the hell of it — but these antediluvian Conns have bugger-all value on the resale market, so don't expect to get your money back, selling it. Have fun with it !
 
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I agree, it is fully keyed so nothing 'anachronistic' about its functionality, other than the metal touches if that matters. So, a completely usable, everyday horn when in play-shape.

As Mike notes, it is still slightly on the 'wrong side of the timeline'...the market doesn't consider Conns seriously prior to the NWI, really. But still, given Vintage American Horn Scarcity down under, it will have its aficionados, perhaps.
 

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I really hope you do decide to get this set up. Looks beautiful. Myself I would also fancy taking the lacquer off, just as I love that look on these Wonders. Would love to hear how it sounds once it is set up. Hope you share a report.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'll admit, after 25 years of playing pearled horns, the metal touches are pretty weird, but the keywork doesn't feel as awkward as my 1926 True Tone or my 1948 Martin Comm III, to be honest.

I'm intending to do it but am a little concerned about the intonation but I won't really take it to gigs. Will post here once I get it done.
 

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I'll admit, after 25 years of playing pearled horns, the metal touches are pretty weird, but the keywork doesn't feel as awkward as my 1926 True Tone or my 1948 Martin Comm III, to be honest.

I'm intending to do it but am a little concerned about the intonation but I won't really take it to gigs. Will post here once I get it done.
I cannot tolerate a horn with poor intonation - don’t know that I would want to chase a mouthpiece that would make it work.
 

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I just restored a silver plated version of this horn earlier this year, 32xxx serial. It has the same brass key touch points. Intonation is very usable, at least on mine. It goes sharp on the top end, High A on up, you just have to adjust your embouchure, but very doable. Large chamber mouthpieces are recommended, and even then you will be way out on the neck (my otto link needs to go on a inch though). Sound is comparable to a NW1, big fat and spread. If you have the control, you can shape the sound like nothing you have played on. I have a Conn Transitional 251xxx serial to compare this to, and I prefer this horn. It is also more ergonomic then later Conn's as the Bis Bb is alot closer to the B key. You'll need palm key risers to make it more comfortable. Also the tone holes are soldered on, you will most likely have leaks, I had 8 that needed fixing.

Mouthpiece recommendations: Brilhart's (especially the Tonalin), Otto Link Tone Master, Get A Sax GS Reso
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Obie, thanks for the insight- can I see a photo of yours?

My mk VI tenor is a 66k and plays sharp from high A on, so it sounds like I'll be at home on this thing. I've been meaning to try a GS Reso, this might be the perfect excuse!
 

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That’s one. Gorgeous tenor ! I don’t think I’m going to go as far as re-plating this project.
Did you take pictures of the restoration? Would love to see those.
 

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Would an old "Velvet tone" (Conn Stencil) fall into teh same time zone? I have a very bad looking Velvetone Tenor - underneath all the dirt - it seems to be Silver plated.
But I also ask myself if will be worth investing money into restauration. Thx
 

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I didn't document it step by step but here are some "before" photos of this horn. It had body bend that had to be slowly taken out, and lots of mechanical work. 8 of the toneholes had to be re-soldered due to leaks. Fortunately, it didn't have many dents. Polish process: Hot water wash with soap, sprayed horn with Hagaerty's Silver polish and hand ragged polish with flannel, 2nd hot water wash with soap, rubbed red rouge on flannel and hand ragged for final polish.

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Took a minute to find a good picture. Saxsquatch plays a NW 2 (Chu Berry). Key indicators, nail file G# and the high Eb touchpoint is normal looking, not tiny and circular. Best picture proof I could find from Saxsquatch's Instagram:

View attachment 112594
I’m thinking it is actually Wonder with alts. It has the post under the palm keys. Doesn’t a Chu have feet on the palm keys?
 

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They got rid of the posts under the keys later in the Chu run, some still had them (eg. s/n 171121 still had them, ). My '33 Tranny has feet and no posts. Also, looking at other pictures this horn appears to have rolled tone holes which happened after the Wonder Improved, but my eyes could be deceiving me. The real way to know would be to see the serial.
 
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