Saxophone Forum


by istan
(15 posts)
9 years ago

Vintage Conn intonation

Hi, I'm an amateur r'n b sax player from Greece. I own an old Conn tenor #115250 which I bought during my training in Boston and I think that (according to charts) was made in 1926. My problem is that while it produces a wide strong sound, it plays sharp, although I pull the mouthpiece all the way out, resulting in a continuous struggling to be in tune playing with my band. I recently compared its neck with the neck of a Selmer reference 54 and I found it to be shorter (by the way, the sound of the Conn was stronger and wider). Can anybody please share any experience or suggest a solution to this (annoying) problem?

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  1. by sax_maniac
    (984 posts)

    9 years ago

    Re: Vintage Conn intonation

    What mpc are you using? You might need one with a larger chamber. Also, if it has a microtuner on the neck, maybe adjust it "longer". Could also be the pad heights are too open. Lots of possibilities. Is there someone else that you can have play the horn to see how it does for them?

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    1. by connsaxman_jim
      (2336 posts)

      9 years ago

      Re: Vintage Conn intonation

      According to the list that I rely on (www.drrick.com/conn.html) Your sax is a 1923 Conn New Wonder Series I tenor. These horns were available in both hi pitch and low pitch, so first of all, I would check to make certain that your instrument is low pitch. Below the serial number and patent date should be either a letter "L" or a letter "H". The H would indicate hi pitch, the L would indicate low pitch. Low pitch is the standard that is still used today. It's nearly impossible to make a hi pitch horn play in tune. Lets hope that it is low pitch, otherwise what you have might make a nice lamp or wallpiece. As sax maniac said, with the Conn saxophones; especially the earlier ones, you need a mouthpiece with a fairly open chamber. I would suggest an Otto Link Tone Edge (hard rubber) or a Super Tone Master maybe. I would take it to a technition and have him check it out. Maybe he might have some ideas.

      Reply To Post Yahoo!


      1. by istan
        (15 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Vintage Conn intonation

        Thank God, the letter below the serial number is L. There is also a T below another smaller number below patent date, I don't know its significance. My mouthpiece is already open I think, being a metal Otto Link super tone master 8*. Since I play in tune with a modern sax (SELMER REF 54), I guess my problem looks difficult to solve. I would appreciate your suggesting me any other solutions, otherwise I may end up making a nice lamp or wallpiece afterall. Thanks a lot for your reply

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      2. by istan
        (15 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Vintage Conn intonation

        Is this horn considered a nice one, compared with other vintage or modern ones? How would you rate it for its performance? I would appreciate your giving me your opinion.

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        1. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Vintage Conn intonation

          Old Conns in good repair that are well set up are great horns. The trick is finding them in good repair and keeping them well set up...

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      3. by istan
        (15 posts)

        9 years ago

        Re: Vintage Conn intonation

        As for my mouthpiece, I think is large enough, a metal otto link super tone 8*. Also, I play completely in tune with the Selmer reference 54, so my embouchure shouldn't be the problem. The distance between the pads and the holes, however, seems long compared to the Selmer's. You think I should have the pads closer? Anyway, thanks a lot for your reply and suggestions!

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        1. by sax_maniac
          (984 posts)

          9 years ago

          Re: Vintage Conn intonation

          While I can't give you an exact measurement to go by, it is certainly worth trying to lower the key heights. Too low and the horn can become stuffy, so it is a balancing act to get the pad heights correct. yes - your STM should be open enough not to conflict with intonation. I recommend taking it to a professional unless you are more daring and want to try to do this yourself. Shimming corks is not terribly difficult, but you need to make sure your horn stays in good regulation (all the keys working together like they are supposed to). Good Luck.

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          1. by istan
            (15 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            I'll take it to a professional to see if lowering the keys helps. Again, thanks a lot!!

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          2. by Candyboy
            (75 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            I have a 115xxx Conn tenor And I know exactly what you are going through. I'm sure that the problem can be solved by using the right mouthpiece for the horn. Try using a 440HZ tuner on your low Bb then your high F you should be able to find a happy medium where the pad heights make no differance. This will tell you if your pad heights are screwed up or not. Try a Yamaha 4c mouthpiece and then you'll be way flat.

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          3. by istan
            (15 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            Thank you Candyboy for the suggestion. I don't know, however, what a 440HZ tuner is!! As for the mouthpiece, do you think that a hard rubber otto link about 8-8* would be appropriate?

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          4. by Dave Dix
            (421 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            440 hz is standard tuning and on all guitar type tuners and most of them have an integral microphone for acoustic guitars so they work well for saxophone and a H/R link would be perfect for an early conn though i use a metal berg or a D7 dukoff on my one with great results Dave

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          5. by Candyboy
            (75 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            Dave is right. you can buy a little pocket tuner on Ebay for less than $20.00 US. Make sure that you get a Chromatic tuner and not one only made for the guitar or you will only be able to tune to E,A,D,G,and B. Remember to start High F (all open palm keys) then low Bb. Set the mouthpiece, then you can test for open pad heights. With a lot of work, shimming and unshimming, you can get the intonation very close to perfect. The rest is up to your mouth and the mouthpiece.

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          6. by istan
            (15 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            Candyboy and Dave, thanks a lot for your suggestions! I just bought a tuner and discovered that while I am a little low on high F, my low Bb is a little high, and so are most of the tones, especially mid E (concert D). You think this is my problem or the instrument's?

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          7. by Candyboy
            (75 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            I own a lot of nice saxophones and I have never played a sax that has perfect intonation. Most saxes that I have spent a lot of time with tend to be a little flat on the top of the range and high on the bottom. I always thought it was just me, my mouth, my bite, the mouthpieces I like, the reeds I like, or something about me. The bottom line is this, you can only adjust the sax so much, then the rest is up to you, like playing a fretless bass, you constantly adjust your playing to sound in tune untill it becomes as natual as singing. Playing the sax should be about feeling not the science of intonation.

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          8. by istan
            (15 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            I totally agree, Candyboy, that's why I never bother to use a tuner or worry about sound checking etc. I always thought that I could adjust on stage and there would be no problem, as long as I got soul and ears. It's just that sometimes intonation problems become stubborn and don't let you be lost in the magic of the moment. Thanks for sharing

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          9. by Candyboy
            (75 posts)

            9 years ago

            Re: Vintage Conn intonation

            Oh I use a tuner but only after I have the horn warmed up. I usually set my mouthpiece while playing G2 as comfortably as possible. Then lip up or down from there.

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