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Saxophones Anyone know the Conn Director or "Shooting Star" Alto sax from the '50's

DavidUK

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:confused:

More research on Conns since almost buying the (con) Pan American, but I can't quite work out if the Director/Shooting Star is a good vintage sax of the intermediate variety or something undesirable?

Anyone had/have one and care to comment?

Thanks for your help.

:thumb:
 

Jamesmac

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I had an Alto that had a wonderful sound, Vintage Conn like, a bit less dark than the 6m Ladyface that i had earlier. I couldnt wait to sell this on tho. The top octave was way sharp and i sort of blame my self for not taking it to a good tech to see if it could be adjusted to play better in tune, but they are sort of like owning a skoda. A car you will have for life because you cant sell it. But saying that i believe they dont deserve the bad press they get.

PS. David you will be pleased to know i made a small profit. Paid 170 from a cash converters, and sold it on ebay for 240. I believe the guy is still trying to sell it.
 
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jonf

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I've played a Conn shooting star model. Frankly, it was rubbish. Tone was a bit thin, and the whole thing felt like a cheap lash-up trading on what was once a good name. Nothing really to recommend it, and not a patch on a modern cheapo Chinese alto. That was just one example, so it might not be representative of the whole breed of them, but that was my experience.
 

jbtsax

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The ones made after Conn moved the plant from Elkhart to Nogales Mexico in 1968 had some serious construction quality issues. Poorly fit keys, posts in the wrong position, poorly fit springs are a few of the things I remember from working on them. The common wisdom is that if the serial number had the prefix N it was made in Nogales Mexico. This is only partly true. The Shooting Star models with serial numbers starting with M, N, P, R, as well as serial numbers from 83,000 to 128,000 were all made in Mexico before the plant was moved back to Elkhart in 1980.

My experience is that once repaired, they actually play quite well similar to the vintage horns, but repairing and maintaining them is a real headache making them not worth the bother.
 

DavidUK

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The ones made after Conn moved the plant from Elkhart to Nogales Mexico in 1968 had some serious construction quality issues. Poorly fit keys, posts in the wrong position, poorly fit springs are a few of the things I remember from working on them. The common wisdom is that if the serial number had the prefix N it was made in Nogales Mexico. This is only partly true. The Shooting Star models with serial numbers starting with M, N, P, R, as well as serial numbers from 83,000 to 128,000 were all made in Mexico before the plant was moved back to Elkhart in 1980.

My experience is that once repaired, they actually play quite well similar to the vintage horns, but repairing and maintaining them is a real headache making them not worth the bother.

Didn't production move to Mexico around 1960? If so, regarding serial numbers, this list says differently: http://cderksen.home.xs4all.nl/ConnSerialsConnWW.html

:confused:
 

thomsax

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My first sax (1968) was a used Mexico alto. I had that sax to 1973 when I bouhgt my first tenor. I can't say if they were bad or good because I was not able to play in tune or at the right pitch in those years (BTW, still struggling!). But I remember that the sax was often at the tech for (key)adjustmens. The keys were "swampy"! One of my Saxheroes, Noble "Thin Man" Watts played a Coon Shooting Star on his late recordings/performances. I think he sounds great?!?!?! They say that Shooting Star saxes were based on Conn's second line brand, Pan American, which was based on a Chu Berry model???? So this is an old construction.

Conn did their one millionth instrument 1962-1963 and after that they added a letter prefix A, B, C, ...... up to R (which was around 71-73) plus five digits. After that Conn's saxes had five or six digits.

Conn had small production in Elkhart as well during the 60's. The low A 11M bari is a result of this. Conn sold thier Elkhart buildings to Selmer US in 1970 and thier production moved to Abilene, TX but thier student saxes were made in Asia (Japan?). The Nogales, AZ was later during the UMI era?

Conn Shooting Star can be nice saxes. But buy them at the right price. And save some money for your tech as well, beacause they needs adjustments often?
 

Fordee7

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I have a Conn Shooting Star serial N115580. I played this in middle school about 30 years ago. I believe my parents bought it used. It has been in its case sitting in a closet since I was a kid. Can anyone help with what you think would be a fair price to sell it for? There are minor scratches from the neck strap but no dents. I don't know how it plays since I can't remember how to play it now.
 

griff136

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I have a Conn Shooting Star serial N115580. I played this in middle school about 30 years ago. I believe my parents bought it used. It has been in its case sitting in a closet since I was a kid. Can anyone help with what you think would be a fair price to sell it for? There are minor scratches from the neck strap but no dents. I don't know how it plays since I can't remember how to play it now.

here you go these should give you an idea. http://www.ebay.com/bhp/conn-shooting-star-alto-saxophone
 

saxismyaxe

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Didn't production move to Mexico around 1960? If so, regarding serial numbers, this list says differently: http://cderksen.home.xs4all.nl/ConnSerialsConnWW.html

:confused:
Production of Conn's student line of horns (i.e. the Director models) moved from Elkhart, IN to the newly acquired ex Best Novelty Manufacturing plant in Nogales, AZ c. 1960. They further descended into Conn's waning era by moving production across the border to Nogales, Mexico in 1969. Those later horns are marked MEXICO, thus spurring the nickname "Mexi-Conns".

The earlier, 1950's Director models with the wire keyguards are the best of the bunch. As John and Thomsax mentioned, they can sound good, but the keywork (especially on the later incarnations) isn't the greatest, and can be a hassle to keep adjusted and sealing.
 

gtriever

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The Conn Director series (Alto, 14M and Tenor, 16M) were "intermediate" horns based on the 6M and 10M. As long as they are USA-made horns, I've found them to be excellent players with that big Conn sound. Hint: mouthpiece selection is important. They definitely prefer a medium to large chamber mouthpiece, otherwise the tone does get thin in the upper register.
 

DavidUK

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The Conn Director series (Alto, 14M and Tenor, 16M) were "intermediate" horns based on the 6M and 10M. As long as they are USA-made horns, I've found them to be excellent players with that big Conn sound. Hint: mouthpiece selection is important. They definitely prefer a medium to large chamber mouthpiece, otherwise the tone does get thin in the upper register.
Would a Metalite M7 be a good match with the 14M?
 

saxismyaxe

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Native of the Lone Star state.
The Conn Director series (Alto, 14M and Tenor, 16M) were "intermediate" horns based on the 6M and 10M. As long as they are USA-made horns, I've found them to be excellent players with that big Conn sound. Hint: mouthpiece selection is important. They definitely prefer a medium to large chamber mouthpiece, otherwise the tone does get thin in the upper register.
They were based on, and replaced, Conn's Pan American line, and are not identical to the "Standard" (later "Artist") series 6M/10M body or keywork. By the 1960's, they were also marketed and classified as Conn's student line in a decade when such a concept as "Student" level horns began to become the norm.
 

DavidUK

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They were based on, and replaced, Conn's Pan American line, and are not identical to the "Standard" (later "Artist") series 6M/10M body or keywork. By the 1960's, they were also marketed and classified as Conn's student line in a decade when such a concept as "Student" level horns began to become the norm.
It is suggested that the 6M, Pan Am, and Shooting Star (14M) are identical in all but the length of the 6M neck (by 2mm) in post #6 here: http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showth...Pan-Am-s-acoustically-significant-differences
This was from measurements of the three horns compared.
The poster is a Conn "guru", tech, and re-seller.
He also suggests in post #12 that the tenors are the same too.
Discuss?
 

C_Claudemonster

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Just seen this post. Funny enough at the top it says it was on eBay for £240 round about may time last year. It may have become my sax but I can't be certain! I got mine under the description it was 'gig ready' which was a joke basically! Ill fitting pads and a total bodge job by a novice wannabe repair tech, however, even tho I consider I paid over the odds for mine I still took it to my technician that I use and he did a fantastic job of sorting the whole thing out and he said on a number of occasions that he did indeed like the sax very much! I have to say it is a lovely sax and I do have my old Pan am alto that is of course a heap but you just can't beat them for sound. The shooting stars is a few years younger than my pan am but still 1950's and they are identical all but for the engraving. Just a wonderful sax that I don't intend to part with! I am keeping both but feel sorry for the Pan american sitting in the case as they both sing really nicely
 

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