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YSS 675 vrs Old Conn

4806 Views 12 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  WindMachine
I just joined this forum and hope to become a contributing member and get some answers for some things that I have going on here.

After playing on Yamahas all my professional life I finally decided to venture out. I got myself an old Chu Berry Conn alto and love it. I then got a Soprano of about the same vintage and it has it's quirks.

My basic question is - Is this a good horn when set up right, and is it better sounding than my 675. Both horns need work and are really not in 100% playing condition. As they are now the Conn seems to have more - what shall I say, heart. However it seems very picky about the mouthpiece. I couldn't play my Meyer in tune on it With my Vandoren V5 it plays much better, however there seem to be issues with the octave key, the high C doesn't speak very well sometimes (esp when slurring notes up to it, but when tongued it plays OK except for the fact that more of the tongue sound seems to come out, really weird, and it does that on the B also), and whoever repadded it did a real amature job, I think, because the pads always sound like they are sticking. Also, with the Meyer sounding so out of tune on this horn, it makes me wonder wether or not it really needs a mouthpiece from it's own era.

My YSS really needs a total overhaul. I've had it for about 7 yrs and have never really been happy with it, but everyone always says it sounds great. One day I played it against a Mark VI and just about tossed it out the window, the VI just totally shamed it. Since then I've been looking for something better and that's why I got the Conn.

So, the big question, which one should I have overhauled and keep. All comments are welcome.

Thanks people
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If both horns require overhauling no comparison you make now is going to mean very much.

But if you want an opinion ... I've owned an old Conn sop for about 13 years, and before that I had a Yamaha (62) for about 6. To my ears the Conn made the Yamaha sound like a toy. Once I'd played the old horn there was no pleasure to me in playing the YSS62 at all.

In some ways the Conn is harder to play, e.g. ease of fingering at the top, or getting a homogenous sound across different registers. Intonation is not a major problem -- I mean, playing in tune can be a challenge on any soprano, but my horn seems to work OK with various modern mouthpieces (Lawton, Pillinger, Link, Brancher). But individual examples of 20s Conns may differ in this respect.

High C, particularly cross-fingered, can be a weak note on all sorts of horns. Different mouthpieces, tip openings and reed strengths can all affect the response. I'd spend a little while finding a setup which minimises the problem, and then keep practising ...

Good luck.
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Windmachine: I have owned and played various Conn sopranos and altos over the years. I have never played a Conn with solid intonation. Every one of them had their intonation-foibles. On the other hand, every Buescher soprano and alto I've owned/played had solid intonation and just felt to me like better players by feel, response, and tone.

I've also owned/played Yamaha saxophones (sops and altos) and to a one, their sound was adequate but bland, albeit they felt good and had good intonation.

Of course, my observations cannot be applied to every Conn, Buescher and Yamaha, they are only my experiences with a limited number of examples.

As far as mouthpieces go, I've written this many times . . . when I find a good mouthpiece, it will play on any horn I own, modern and vintage.

My advice would be to tear into the Conn sop and have a competent repair-tech do it. Without knowing either horn, my money would be on the Conn for a more satisfying experience. DAVE
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I own both a Conn New Wonder from 1928 and a brand-new Yamaha YSS-675. They are both great instruments with their own personailities and quirks.

The Conn is definitely more mouthpiece-sensitive in my experience. I can't use my Meyer 5 with it, else the intonation becomes, um, "flexible". It really plays well with an old Conn microtuner mouthpiece I got for cheap. I use the Conn soprano now mainly for trad jazz.

Most of my soprano playing these days is classical in nature, and I found that the Yamaha works better for me in that vein. It seems to like my Meyer and HR Link 5 (for a brighter, jazzier sound), and my Selmer S-90 170 (for a darker sound) equally well. Besides, the Yamaha seems to play like a small version of my 1980-era YTS-62, which is the tenor I play most often.

There are great players playing either horn. I'd personally go with whatever feels best to you. But yeah, if both horns need work there's no way to really make a sound judgement.
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I would go for the Yamaha fix. It would be the safer bet on getting closer intonation and consistent action. Mouthpieces, reeds, ligatures, and serious practice can chase away the blahs. I've made the Conn fix on a vintage curved soprano and was dissappointed. Just my opinion. Mike
Thanks for the responses, guys.

The one main thing that I feel is important in this decision is the sound. MY Conn alto is not as comfortable as my Yamaha alto, but I don't care. When I blow on it it gives me a sound that I really feel, whereas the Yamaha gives me a sound that is just a sound, no feeling or personality. I really want the same with my soprano. The keywork is funny, it doesn't look good, but I don't care because I just want the sound. That's what it's all about, right, the sound. I've played on Yamaha's exclusively for the last 12 years and have always felt wanting, a kind of self-denial, I guess. The only Yamaha that I've felt happy with is my silver tenor. But I think even that's going to go cause I've got a Silver Sonic waiting for me.
I don't have experience with Conn sopranos but I have a Yamaha YSS62 (1975). It plays homogeneous, in tune and stronger than a tenor saxophone. It's really a pleasure for me to play that saxophone but I belive the Conn sopranos could have a more complex big and wonderfull true american sound. I am not sure they will play in tune as the Yamaha sop...
I also played a YSS675 but IMHO the oldest 62 plays much better...

Just to open your thinking...since you've never really been happy with the Yamaha, why don't you sell it and buy something else. You can easily get $1300-1400 for the Yamaha, and you could likely find the following:
Older Buescher in good conditinon $1200-1300
Yanagisawa 901 $1000-1200
Yanagisawa 99x $1500-1600
Keilwerth SX90 $1500-1600

then decide whether to keep the Conn and what to invest further in. I had an older Buescher that I liked but sold it when I had elbow problems to buy a curvy. The Yanis and Keilwerths have two necks.

Just thought I might be able to open up your options to consider...

e.g. I sold my Buescher (in perfect shape) for $1200 on eBay. I bought a Cannonball curvy for $1200 on SOTW. I also have a Selmer SA80 that I would sell for $1700.
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Yeah, Shmue, I was thinking of going that route, but I'm hoping to do some recording this November and feel that I'm running out of time about this decision.

I've been trying to spend a lot more time with both saxes. I just can't make the high F on the Conn speak well, and when I actually do get something it's outrageously sharp. It's all the way to F# on the 675. I think I'm going to give this another week of consistant playing before I make a decision. In addition to the saxes themselves not being in good shape, I'm afraid I haven't spent much quality time with them the last few months.
I have a conn new wonder sop with quite good intonation.Dont forget that the octave key operates a small pad just above the high B key which should be about half closed when the octave key is pressed. If it fully closes it can flatten the top end and visa versa if not closed enough.
My mpc of choice is a metal dukoff M10. No problems with this mpc at all and the sop really speaks with this baby
Also i have just fully re-padded and set this horn up correctly and i used flat metal reso pads
I completely agree with Dave Dolson; I have tried a sparkling new Yamaha YSS475, but I soon went back to my Conn soprano. The Yamaha was cold and industrial...lots of sound with no nuance. My 1928 Conn, on the other hand, had character and personality. It's certainly quirkier than the Yamaha, but it has life.

Of course, as Dave also notes, if you want a terrific vintage horn, sell the Conn and get a 20s Buescher. You won't look back.
I've been hearing a lot of good things about the Bueschers for a while. I know of one for sale here in Japan, gold-plated, but it's about $3,000. I also track some Conn's and Bueschers on a Japanese internet site like eBay and they just don't seem to sell, maybe because the asking price is usually rediculously up there.

I've heard that the 475 is quite different from the 675, the sound being duller and just not up to pro use. I've heard some people say that they really loved their 675's but to me it just seems to lack personality. On the other hand, no-one ever said anything bad about my soprano sound and intonation. Still, this is me and my identity, which is what music is all about.
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