For years, I’ve said that students shouldn’t get a vintage horn. There’s just too much that can go wrong with vintage. However, when you’re ready to graduate to a better instrument, you’ll see that the cheapest horn on the market marketed as “pro” is a Taiwanese-made Cannonball for around $1500 and “intermediate” horns aren’t much cheaper. I was pretty sure I could take $1000 or so and get a really good vintage pro horn, throw $400 at it to get it close to good mechanical shape and end up with a horn any pro would love to have. The below horns are the results of my experiment.
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.
The “Transitional” period is the era of Conn saxophones where Conn was switching back to left-side bell keys. They’re also notable for having a beautiful, art-deco-style engraving.
One of the best known features of the Conn New Wonder “Transitional” horns is an elaborate, art-deco-style engraving. For Conn’s gold-plated horns, though, this was turned up to eleven.