Re: Conn Shooting Star - Age, Serial Number, mfg site and quality questions
The Conn company was sold in 1969 to MacMillan, a book publishing company. Prior to the sale, Conn aquired the Best Instrument Manufacturing company in Nogales, Arizona, where they had originally planned to expand production of instruments other than horns. Unfortunately due to financial problems, this never happened. The quality quickly went down-hill after the MacMillan buyout.
If you follow most of the Conn Serial number charts, N marks the year 1970, and most charts are very vague from that point until Conn was purchased again by Daniel Henkin in 1980. Apparemtly under MacMillan's ownership, the letter "N" prefix was used more than one year. The earlier horns that bare the "N" prefix that are NOT stamped Mexico are most likely made in Nogales, AZ. IF the horn IS stamped Mexico, then it was most likely made sometime between 1972 and 1980, and was made in Mexico.
As for the quality of the Mexican made Conn horns, they were not the greatest, but when you compare them to some of the junk student horns that are made today, they weren't so terrible. Not a horn that I would recommend, but if the price is right and the horn is in good playing condition, enjoy it as long as you can, or until you have the means to replace it.