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Saxophones Learning on a 1932 Conn Transitional

BeardOfFury

New Member
Messages
7
Hey guys,

I bought a 1932 Conn Tranny about 2 years ago when I tried to pick up the sax again as I heard it was a great instrument to play. However I'm finding now as I'm getting back into things that It's a bit difficult to play on with it's old ergonomics, and I guess controlling that big Conn sound? I'm also using a Vandoren Java T95 which I'm finding hard to swap between notes quickly. I guess overall the question is "Is this the right setup when trying to re-learn?". I have a feeling the vintage saxes may be more of a hobby for professional players rather than ones for learning (or re learning in this case), and in the case of the Java T95 after some research I reckon the opening may be a bit much for me at this stage (squeaking when moving quickly through octaves and having trouble holding a tone at the lower end without making it super loud).

I'm looking at replacing the mouthpiece first with an Otto Link NY and I was wondering what your thoughts were on the Conn? Any suggestions? Thoughts? Opinions?

(If it helps my end goal is to get a gypsy swing/gypsy blues sound like Tuba Skinny or The Swing Ninjas)

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

*EDIT* 1932 Conn Transitional Tenor
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
I guess you are talking tenor here.

A T95 is a bit huge for a beginner. I wouldn't get rid of it, though. Ottolinks are fine only if you can try before you buy.
Vandoren T75 could be a reasonable compromise.

Generations of musicians learned on old Conn horns....

Have fun!
 

BeardOfFury

New Member
Messages
7
Yeah thought the T95 was a bit big. Although I can't afford a brand new mouthpiece piece off the bat so I was going to trade in the T95 and a Yanagisawa Alto mouthpiece I have. So the Conn should be fine? I guess it just feels weird, I remember playing a beginners Selmer Alto in high school that was quite pleasant to use.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
Yeah thought the T95 was a bit big. Although I can't afford a brand new mouthpiece piece off the bat so I was going to trade in the T95 and a Yanagisawa Alto mouthpiece I have. So the Conn should be fine? I guess it just feels weird, I remember playing a beginners Selmer Alto in high school that was quite pleasant to use.
Any cheap student horn is likely to feel easier than a Conn. But a Conn is a Conn.
Please try not to sell the T95. You are very likely to regret the sale. Rather buy a cheap Yamaha to get your chops back.

I just remembered that I used to play a cheap Yamaha mouthpiece on an old Conn alto for a while, professionally. It played so in tune....
 

BeardOfFury

New Member
Messages
7
Any cheap student horn is likely to feel easier than a Conn. But a Conn is a Conn.
Please try not to sell the T95. You are very likely to regret the sale. Rather buy a cheap Yamaha to get your chops back.

I just remembered that I used to play a cheap Yamaha mouthpiece on an old Conn alto for a while, professionally. It played so in tune....
Hmmm maybe. Depends on how much I can get for the Yanagisawa. Hopefully going to see a local dealer Friday who has heaps of used mouthpieces at about half price. Is there anything you could recommend for a Gypsy feel? Or does that more come from the player themselves?
 

majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
486
I have a 10m, IMHO the ergos are great, if your referring to the LH pinky table I find the straight across C#, B, Bb easier to handle than the modern tilt.
 

Jeff Foster

New Member
Messages
5
Properly setup its ergonomics shouldn't be any harder to play than any other horn. In fact it is possible to set the action very light and fast on those horns. Once you get used to it a modern horn will feel strange in your hands. My 31 tranny fits me like a glove. And, no, your horn should not be any harder to control than any other horn.
 

BeardOfFury

New Member
Messages
7
Thanks for the feedback everyone. Looks like the Conn is the way to go, I actually had it sounding pretty smooth in the mid range last night and it sounded amazing. So now just gotta swap out the mouth piece for either a T75 or Otto Link NY unless anyone has any other suggestions? (Don't worry I also plan on trying these out first before making a final decision)
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
I'm learning on a circa 1927 vintage King tenor. Much the same problems. Some of the keys are decidedly awkward and strong. Also a big issue with cleanly and reliably hitting middle D and to a lesser extent D# and E which all have a decidedly fluffy/foggy tone. It came with an old Berg Larsen 110/2 sms ebonite mouthpiece which squeaked and squarked all over the place. I bought the sax over 30 years ago and never learned to play because of these issues.

Now the light at the end of the tunnel: I picked the sax back up 4 months ago and decided to try to learn in earnest. All the same issues. Then was told that the Berg is a pro mouthpiece and definitely not for a beginner to learn on. Bought a Yamaha 4c and the improvement (in terms of cutting out the squeaks and squarks) was instantaneous and huge. Shortly after I put the sax in for a small service (some slight tweaks, a couple of small pad replacements, and some new bits of cork here and there) and played an alto for a week while it was away (bought specifically so I could keep playing). When the sax came back I found all of a sudden I could play the Berg m/p without squeaks and squarks and in fact vastly preferred it to the tone of the Yamaha 4c. Whether it was an improvement in my embouchure after a week on alto, or something the technician did to the tenor I'll never know for sure.

The tenor still has big issues mainly in terms of the fluffy middle D but I love it and have progressed on loads since then. I'm looking for a modern tenor though and test blowing one this afternoon.

So to cut a load of waffle short (apologies), I think it would be well worth you trying a Yamaha 4c m/p (pretty much the standard quality beginners m/p) in the first instance. It might transform your tone. I'd do that straightaway without delay. Don't bother getting a clone of the Yam 4c - go for the real thing unless several people in the know have recommended an alternative. Otherwise they can be a complete lottery.

Once you've really settled down with the Yam 4c, if you are still having issues, I'd consider taking the Conn into a technician and asking for an appraisal and recommendations for action. I asked mine if I should go for a full repad or save the money and put it towards a new sax. To his credit he told me to do the latter although that was after I'd had the small and relatively inexpensive service mentioned above. Every now and then try your T95 again and give yourself a good session on it. Eventually you may well find you can suddenly control it and that you prefer it to the starter 4c.

Well that's my two-penneth based on my experiences as a fellow learner. Best of luck.

PS There's a slight chance that a different m/p won't fit your cork in which case you may need to use tape or paper to pad out your cork a bit, or sand it down a little, or get a new cork fitted, but hopefully not. Either way it should be worth it.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Fluffy middle D is often a problem on older saxes. Add the LH palm key when you play it.

Squeaks can come from small leaks, regulation issues as well as embouchure, there's a good chance the bits of setup your tech did will have helped a lot.

If some keys are heavy, see if the springs can be loosened off, or if it's a linkage that slides maybe ptfe instead of cork can be used to make things move better.
 

BeardOfFury

New Member
Messages
7
I'm learning on a circa 1927 vintage King tenor. Much the same problems. Some of the keys are decidedly awkward and strong. Also a big issue with cleanly and reliably hitting middle D and to a lesser extent D# and E which all have a decidedly fluffy/foggy tone. It came with an old Berg Larsen 110/2 sms ebonite mouthpiece which squeaked and squarked all over the place. I bought the sax over 30 years ago and never learned to play because of these issues.

Now the light at the end of the tunnel: I picked the sax back up 4 months ago and decided to try to learn in earnest. All the same issues. Then was told that the Berg is a pro mouthpiece and definitely not for a beginner to learn on. Bought a Yamaha 4c and the improvement (in terms of cutting out the squeaks and squarks) was instantaneous and huge. Shortly after I put the sax in for a small service (some slight tweaks, a couple of small pad replacements, and some new bits of cork here and there) and played an alto for a week while it was away (bought specifically so I could keep playing). When the sax came back I found all of a sudden I could play the Berg m/p without squeaks and squarks and in fact vastly preferred it to the tone of the Yamaha 4c. Whether it was an improvement in my embouchure after a week on alto, or something the technician did to the tenor I'll never know for sure.

The tenor still has big issues mainly in terms of the fluffy middle D but I love it and have progressed on loads since then. I'm looking for a modern tenor though and test blowing one this afternoon.

So to cut a load of waffle short (apologies), I think it would be well worth you trying a Yamaha 4c m/p (pretty much the standard quality beginners m/p) in the first instance. It might transform your tone. I'd do that straightaway without delay. Don't bother getting a clone of the Yam 4c - go for the real thing unless several people in the know have recommended an alternative. Otherwise they can be a complete lottery.

Once you've really settled down with the Yam 4c, if you are still having issues, I'd consider taking the Conn into a technician and asking for an appraisal and recommendations for action. I asked mine if I should go for a full repad or save the money and put it towards a new sax. To his credit he told me to do the latter although that was after I'd had the small and relatively inexpensive service mentioned above. Every now and then try your T95 again and give yourself a good session on it. Eventually you may well find you can suddenly control it and that you prefer it to the starter 4c.

Well that's my two-penneth based on my experiences as a fellow learner. Best of luck.

PS There's a slight chance that a different m/p won't fit your cork in which case you may need to use tape or paper to pad out your cork a bit, or sand it down a little, or get a new cork fitted, but hopefully not. Either way it should be worth it.
Thanks for the tips. Went to my local sax guy yesterday, we went through a bunch of mouthpieces they had and we wound up landing on an Otto Link Vintage Re-Issue 7. I've got much better control over it now and I'm able to produce a nice warm sound, really happy with the purchase(although a bit on the expensive side). He was also super nice and did a quick service(hammering down some pads, bending things back, fixing things the guy who sold it to me missed) for free as he is a big fan of Conns and owns a 10M himself. He also gave me tips about controlling my mouth pressure and tone. Overall a really good experience, now I'm back to loving the Conn.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
13,063
Ah! A Conn man. The right Mp for you and good regulation makes all the difference. All you need now is that perfect reed. :thumb:
 

AndyWhiteford

Senior Member
Messages
454
The otto link 7 has a MORE open facing than your VD T95 , i think.
the Conn transitional tenor is a very nice sax, you can get round the ergonomics, they're not as bad as people make out.
I gig with my own '32 tranny tenor regularly, and have a '32 NWII tenor that's a keeper too, for now.
I can't hear much of what I'd call "Gypsy" in your favourite bands, they seem more early swing / New Orleans.
But either mouthpiece will get you there. It's about what you play, nor than the gear imho....
-A-
 
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