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Conn C Melody Restoration


Connoisseur of applesauce
Café Supporter
Los Angeles
This is a 1922 Conn C Melody. Straight neck and micro tuner.

It all started when a friend sent me pictures inquiring about one on auction. SN#813xx. Asked what I thought about it and the cost of repair.
My reply. I don’t have a crystal ball. Better than 90% of these need a repad and be prepared for “other surprises”. It looks complete and doesn’t have any large dents or damage that I can see. The pads are older and mixed. It has a mouthpiece. Good luck !



Yeah my friend wins the thing and it ends up on my bench.
Case nicely cleaned on inside and out. Surprisingly no smelly sax either.

Typical for the case corners to be loose. Easy repair with some glue and brads. This case is worth saving.
A brief review of the sax and I’m seeing lots of issues. Long & short hinge rods. Springs that are to long. Some bent parts in upper stack.

Intresting looking rod end.

As seen in the listing pictures. Yep the pads are mixed and old. A quick pop test sounds like a pancake hitting the floor. A leak light reveals better than a half dozen leaks. None real bad. Maybe a clean, oiling and adjusting will do ?

Surprisingly the neck fits well. For giggles I give it a play test. It sounds awful. Has that old stuffy sound I don’t like. Squeezing the keys closed it does play somewhat in tune.
So I spend 20 minutes floating a few pads. I got a couple to seal but for the most part these pads are history. It’s not that the leather is gone bad. They’re just not installed correctly or somethings up. Like ancient shellac gone bad.
A phone call to the client with the bad news. Full repad + whatever discovery shows on disassembly. I already know the body is bent. A lot.
He wasn’t the least bit surprised or disappointed. I although he did ask if he could come over while I disassembled it. Not a problem on this one. 30 minute job and another 15 pointing out the issues as it’s coming apart.
I take off the RH side keys first. The intention was to take the upper stack apart first. I see lots of issues. Backing the rod out of the barrels the keys are flopping around. Lots of bent goods all binding on each other.
How many issues can you see in these first two pictures? I count twelve. Plus one factory blemish / oops that’s silver plated.


The rod end pictured in post #5.
This falls in the “other surprises “ category.

Many of these have tiny set screws in the posts. Be sure to loosen them first ! This unit has none. Picture is another Conn just for reference.

Disassembled with F# pad removing itself.

Not a good sign.
Here’s the 12 issues I found and the first two pictures of post five.
Front F touch is hitting the B touch.
Springs that are too long or marginally too short. One Spring has an excessive band adjustment. Likely to overcome binding ?
Hinge rods to long or to short. They are not original or properly made.
The one in the bell key looks like it’s too small a diameter for the hole in the post.
The upper stack back bar is bent.
Half of the support saddle for high E is missing. It’s completely silver plated so I assume this was a factory workaround ?
Excessive cork under side key.
The secondary barrel arm to G is bent. On the upper G barrel it’s tapered with a gap upside the post.
Not entirely awful but the A touch is regulated with cork.

Tapping on the key cups can sometimes reveal pad issues. Listen for solid or hollow areas. This sax was a mixed bag. Another bad clue.
Confirmed with customer listening too. He picked one key to remove a pad.
At this point you either put it back together and sell it or spend money on repairs. A COA is not going to rescue this one.
After a little conversation we make a agreement. He doesn’t want to pursue having service done due to expense. I take the horn for payment on what I just did. Also “ you’ve done a lot of favors for me”.
I’m going to fully work over the unit. Let him play it. Then decide to keep and pay the bill or I’ll just keep it.

So I attack removing the pads. No surprise. Besides the tape…. Houston we have white glue !:rofl:

I’m beginning to think the work was done pre internet.


The top row had massive leaks. The middle row was not much better. Actually the pads that didn’t leak were the bottom row of six.

Chances are the sax played ok when it left the technicians bench years ago. The work was not sloppy. More likely someone who understood instruments but not saxophones.
Key cups given a wash and brief once over. I then check fit of this pad set with dome boosters from Music Medic. They’ve been laying around awhile from another C that ended up as a parts donor. Some do not survive the 100 year journey.

Everythjing fits reasonably well. I’ll remove the flat springs in order onto my caddie. Then proceed to cleaning.

Meanwhile the work is stacking up !

This build was actually done in August. It was still hot here at 8:30 PM.

Even the sax body was warm.

At least my recently rebuilt fan works well
All the keywork tended to I have a visitor. Corkgrease for scale. I don’t see many here this big.

With everything clean it’s time to tend to the body. It’s got a good bend. Between C to D at bell brace there’s about a 10mm bend.

Time to try out my freshly made tool. Yes, I made this before I did the Holton if you read that thread.

A couple of smart hits into my rubber bench block and I’m in the game.
lol when I straightened the body on the Holton I didn’t take a picture. The picture I used was actually this one below of the Conn.

I didn’t take a starting point picture but another tap or two and this will be done. I’m just happy the bend was all one direction. working on pretzels is no fun.

All the posts aligned and keys fitted on both stacks. One new hinge rod for B/Bb.


Dry fit check on pads is done too. Time to install the pads.

Pay attention to small details and fix them. This horn is 101 years old. its had a few unrefined repairs. little things like this spring being to long.

Similar threads... or are they? Maybe not but they could be worth reading anyway 😀

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