Many people have asked me about my saxophone, how I get the tone that I do, and why I love my 1948 Conn 10M so much and refuse to part with it. I sat in and played a couple songs with a well known funk band here in the Flint/Detroit area. The sax players ears perked up when he heard my 10M. After I got down off the stage, he asked if he could try my horn. I agreed and he pulled his mouthpiece off his brand new Selmer and put it on my 56 year old Lady. This guy is one of the best tenor sax players I've ever heard and listening to him play my sax gave me chills! He wouldn't put it down and finished playing the rest of the night on my horn. He practically cried when he handed it over and even offered to trade me his new Selmer Super Action 80 to even up for it! He said it was the best sounding horn he'd ever played.
Some of you are probably thinking...why not go for the trade? The Selmer is worth considerably more than my non-rolled tone hole 10M. Well there's a very simple explanation for this. Giving up my 10M would be like saying goodbye to a really dear friend; someone who has been a part of my life for a long time. This 10M was purchased used by my grandmother for my father in 1963. Dad played it 2 years in high school and later at Michigan State. When I started band, he passed it on to me. I played it up through high school, and 2 years in a college Jazz band. By this time this horn was looking pretty rough and ready for pads again. I started playing my alto more, and locked the tenor away in the closet. A few years later I started playing with a blues band and wanted to play tenor again. I pulled it out of the closet, and got a few quotes as to what it would cost to have this horn relaquered and completely overhauled. At this time, I had no idea how to overhaul or repad a sax. I didn't really know what this sax was worth., but $950 seemed like a lot of money to put into an old saxophone. I thought about it, and considered buying a new horn, but this one had given me a lot of good memories. I spent the money and had the horn restored, thus also restoring my love for this old horn, and my love for Conn.
This badly tarnished 10M had carried both my father and I through thick and thin; had survived several cold nights marching on a foodball field, many band concerts, wind ensembles, and won me first place in band competitions 2 years in a row. It was time to give her back her self-respect. The horn was completely stripped. All the keys and springs were removed; the body submerged in a mild citric acid stripper. The old pads were removed and the nickel keys buffed. All of the mother of pearl inlays were still in tact. There were a few dents in the bottom that were removed. One from dad, where a neck strap broke and a couple from me; one when I slipped while standing on a chair in band class to play my solo (trying to impress a girl who played flute), and another from the time it had gotten knocked off a table by a fat clumbsy trombone player. The keyguard was missing from the side which covers the low B and Bb keys. A new one was fabricated out of nickel rod (looks exactly like the original only nickel plated like the keys). Luke Richmond at the Wind Works in Burton Michigan did all the work, and I don't think anyone could have done a better job! The laquer looks so good you would swear it was original. Luke is very careful not to over-laquer the horns, and he bakes the horns to seal the laquer. I bought a new SKB case to replace the beat up Conn case I used to sit on in Jr. high while waiting for the school bus!
Of course, I did all this without telling my father. I took tbe sax over to show him after I got it done. He looked at the case and the first thing he asked was "What did you do, buy a new tenor sax?" "Not exactly", I said as I took the horn out of it's case and handed it to him. He looked it over a couple times with tears in his eyes. He said it looked better than it did when he first got it, and then it looked like new. He played a few bars of "Girl From Impenema" , and commented that the old Lady still sounds as sweet as she ever has.
Since I've had this tenor restored, I've became a Conn collector and I have purchase several saxophones; most of them also Conn, and a couple others. Many of them I have repaired myself, learning many tricks from my now good friend, Luke.
This 10M is priceless to me, and even if someone offered me a million dollars, I really don't think I could part with it. Sure a million dollars would buy a lot of nice horns, but not the memories.
Jim, could you send me some pictures of your horn. I really would appreciate it if I could see what a gem you have! It would be really cool if you could possibly send me some pictures?