Join me for a look at possibly the most popular make and model of saxophones made in the US, the Conn New Wonder. In particular, I want to look at the so-called “Series II” or “Chu Berry” version of the New Wonder, which was produced between approximately 1924 and 1930.
Note the rather interesting looking G#/C#/B/Bb cluster, which is significantly different from Conn horns in other pitches. Buescher’s solution to this really tiny keywork was to eliminate the G# key entirely. You’d use the C#/B/Bb. Also note that the keyed range is to altissimo Eb. Some modern Eb sopraninos only go this high to try to improve intonation.
An all-around beautiful horn. This is original silver plate: you can even see where it’s been polished in a few places. Again note the keyed range to altissimo Eb.
I strongly encourage you to look at the full gallery of this horn: it has an almost flawless finish, even before it was restored. (Again note the G#/C#/B/Bb cluster.)
I knew that C sopranos were uncommon, but it took awhile for me to find a horn in the “Chu Berry” serial number range. I found a lot more earlier horns — and ones in astounding shape.
There are a lot of reasons why I like this horn: Quinn takes a lot of very high resolution pics from a lot of angles — including pics of the neck, this is a very, very well preserved horn and there’s an original case.
Quinn actually has (had) an even nicer horn than this, too. There are still a couple hundred of these horns out there and value is extremely variable: I’ve seen horns in poorer condition than this fetch $30,000.
It’s getting very hard to find these horns in original plating. Some of the replated horns I’ve seen, though, are extremely nice. I’ll probably do a post on those at some point.
One of the fun things about this gallery is that there’s a picture that shows a cork in the bell.. No, that’s not standard equipment, but you could recommend it: tossing a cork in the bell — or a PLASTIC mouthpiece cap — “breaks up” the airflow and can make the lower notes easier to play. Selmer even experimented with “airflow diverters” in the bow on some Mark VIs.
This horn is right on the cusp of the “Transitional” era, which starts around s/n 237xxx. However, the thing that ended the transitional era was the Bb tenor switching to single-side bell keys around s/n 263xxx (1935). Besides, this is too nice of a horn to quibble.
I’m cheating, here. I have a good reason: the baritone switched to single-side bell keys around s/n 220,xxx and that’s very close to the “Transitional” horns. I could not find a 12M in this tiny serial number range with the New Wonder-style engraving that had original finish.
I’m again cheating a bit, but just with the serial number range. At approximately s/n 220,xxx, the bass got a redesign: a new neck and single-side bell keys. Note that the keyed range is from low Bb to altissimo Eb.
The 16V Eb contrabass Sarrusophone was Conn’s Eb contrabass sax equivalent. The first Conn 16V was made in 1917 and there were about 325 made. They were available until at least WWII. I’m again cheating a bit with the date, but the only two things to ever change on the 16V were the engraving and the addition of pearl keytouches.