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M/Pieces - Ligs Need mpc recommendation for Conn Pan American

AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
Just bought a circa-1950s Conn Pan American Tenor. I have to pull the neck out about 4mm from the body and pull the mouthpiece all the way out and still lip it down to play in tune. Its a new Cannonball hard rubber mouthpiece which is very nice other than the tuning problem with the old Conn.

When I was a kid I had a 1960s Conn Director (same shape as the Pan American) and I noticed that the shank on the mouthpiece that came with it was at least 2cm longer than any other mouthpiece that I tried. Maybe the mouthpiece extended farther out, lengthening the neck and lowering the pitch to easily tune it. All other mouthpieces that I tried were very sharp relative to the mouthpiece that came with that horn.

Some saxophone blogs say the old Conns had short necks and need mouthpieces with long shanks and large chambers but I'd really appreciate any first hand experiences. Thanks.
 
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jonf

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1950s Conn

Hi Andy

I used to know a guy who played a Conn of similar vintage. He used a Berg Larsen stainless steel mouthpiece, which worked great. It was a Duckbill model, which is pretty long.

However, this may or may not work on your sax, and they're pretty expensive, so try before you buy. In fact, the best advice I could give would be to get to a decent sax shop with a wide variety of mouthpieces and play a load of them until you find one that works, and that you like.

Jon
 

Pete Thomas

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I have noticed this with Conn baritones and with older Conn tenors, but not the newer ones like this. A good tech will be able to extend the neck if you are really wanting to use that mouthpiece, but I would also advise to try more mouthpieces.
 

Morgan Fry

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There's something funny going on here. The cannonball is a medium cahmberred piece, right? It shouldn't be terribly sharp on any horn. You might have to put it nearer the end of a wider neck but needing to pull the neck out at the tenon as well is most unusual. Are you sure that this is the right neck for that horn?

Try some large chamber pieces, some old ones if your local shop has any. And have a tech who knows his acoustics well take a look at the horn. If a medium chamber piece like the Cannonball doesn't play somewhere near in tune on it, pretty much no modern piece will. Extending the neck so that it behaves like a proper saxophone may be the best fix.
 
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AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
There's something funny going on here. The cannonball is a medium cahmberred piece, right? It shouldn't be terribly sharp on any horn. You might have to put it nearer the end of a wider neck but needing to pull the neck out at the tenon as well is most unusual. Are you sure that this is the right neck for that horn?

Try some large chamber pieces, some old ones if your local shop has any. And have a tech who knows his acoustics well take a look at the horn. If a medium chamber piece like the Cannonball doesn't play somewhere near in tune on it, pretty much no modern piece will. Extending the neck so that it behaves like a proper saxophone may be the best fix.

Yes, it is the original neck and I have a 1965 16m Shooting Star thats exactly the same way. I bought a Tonalin mouthpiece for it in 1972 and it tuned a full half-step high when positioned on the cork the same as the stock mouthpiece (maybe a Runyan?).

I read a recommendation to use the Meyer G for an old Conn with this tuning quirk because it has an extra-large chamber compared to other models. Someone even had multiple Conns and said some tuned this way and some didn't and they had to use different mouthpieces on them. I'm going to try that and see. Some say the JodyJazz ESP is especially made for old Conns but its too pricy for me right now.

The horn was totally refurbished by Marsh Woodwinds in Raleigh NC and they are top notch. It is so unbelievably tight for a 50+ year old horn.

PS. Thanks for the input everyone.
 

Morgan Fry

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Well I don't have a lot of experience with old conns so if you're hearing from someone that does that this is a common problem, I guess it it. As far as what mouthpiece then: the ESP isn't a large chambered piece, I wouldn't expect it to inprobe the pitch on this horn. If you're looking at new pieces, try Otto Links -- hard rubber and NY STM. Those are the largest chamber currently produced jazz pieces I can think of. If you want larger you'll have to look at classical pieces, but they'll generally have a shorter shank so you'll have the same problem. Look at vintage pieces -- maybe even short facing baritone pieces. In the 80's the Otto Link STMs had a longer body than before or since, one of those might work for you.
hth,
Morgan
 
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AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
Well I don't have a lot of experience with old conns so if you're hearing from someone that does that this is a common problem, I guess it it. As far as what mouthpiece then: the ESP isn't a large chambered piece, I wouldn't expect it to inprobe the pitch on this horn. If you're looking at new pieces, try Otto Links -- hard rubber and NY STM. Those are the largest chamber currently produced jazz pieces I can think of. If you want larger you'll have to look at classical pieces, but they'll generally have a shorter shank so you'll have the same problem. Look at vintage pieces -- maybe even short facing baritone pieces. In the 80's the Otto Link STMs had a longer body than before or since, one of those might work for you.
hth,
Morgan
Thanks Morgan. The Link NY STM is one that several people have posted that works well on the 10M type Conn horns as well as the Meyer G. I am just not familiar with metal mouthpieces and since I have Meyer 6M on my alto, I was hoping the Meyer G would be comfortable. How does playing a metal mpc differ from hard rubber?
 
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AndyB

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Meyer G mpc test

The Meyer 6 G tenor mpc came in and it is a really wonderful mpc - far better than the Cannonball. Perfect, in fact, as far as I can tell. But the Meyer is as sharp as the Cannonball on this Conn tenor.

I did a double-check of my embouchure and I was spot on pitch on my alto with the mpc pushed almost all the way onto the cork. I play with a pretty relaxed embouchure on the alto. Because the middle C# on my alto is very flat, I tune to that note and relax my embouchure to lip everything else down.

I guess its a problem with this Conn tenor. Unless I pull the neck out of the receiver a bit, to play it in tune I have to lip down over a full half pitch (according to my chromatic tuner) until I'm almost breaking my seal of my mouth on the mpc.

Are metal mouthpieces longer then hard rubber? Maybe the extra length would bring the pitch down. I really love the sound of the horn and it plays very well for its vintage. Its just way sharp.
 
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AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
I have noticed this with Conn baritones and with older Conn tenors, but not the newer ones like this. A good tech will be able to extend the neck if you are really wanting to use that mouthpiece, but I would also advise to try more mouthpieces.
Hi Pete. 1950 new? I tried a Meyer G and had the same problem so I'm thinking of trying a metal Link. Do you think the longer shank would act like extending the neck?
 
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AndyB

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Holy cow! Google this: sharp conn 10m

Looks like Pete's idea of extending the neck or else finding a compatible vintage mouthpiece is the best solution.
 
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AndyB

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Durham, NC, USA
Hi Andy

I used to know a guy who played a Conn of similar vintage. He used a Berg Larsen stainless steel mouthpiece, which worked great. It was a Duckbill model, which is pretty long.

However, this may or may not work on your sax, and they're pretty expensive, so try before you buy. In fact, the best advice I could give would be to get to a decent sax shop with a wide variety of mouthpieces and play a load of them until you find one that works, and that you like.

Jon
Thanks Jon. Any recommendations for tip, chamber and facing?
http://tinyurl.com/nqruw9
 

jonf

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Thanks Jon. Any recommendations for tip, chamber and facing?
http://tinyurl.com/nqruw9
Depends on the sound you want aand whether you prefer wider opeinings/softer reeds or vice versa. I've got a duckbill and it's a 120/0 SMS. That's a bit extreme, but is great for blasting out a bright rock and roll tone. The 0 refers to the tone chamber, where 0 is the brightest, then 1 and 2. A 3 is available on special order and is the most mellow. Most people like about a 105/1 SMS as a good compromise.

One thing, though. They can be a bit inconsistant. I've had four metal bergs over the years. One great (the duckbill) two pretty good and one virtually unplayable. So, try a decent shop such as sax.co.uk and try a bunch of them. A decent one should be very punchy and a bit of a screamer on your Conn. :sax:
 

Pete Thomas

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Hi Pete. 1950 new?
I meant that the Conns quite a bit older than this (ie 1920s) have presented intonation problems to me. 1950s is sort of mid period Conn, though just later than what some people refer to as the golden age (with rolled tone holes)

I tried a Meyer G and had the same problem so I'm thinking of trying a metal Link. Do you think the longer shank would act like extending the neck?
Yes. May improve tuning overall, may only improve tuning on some notes.
 

thomsax

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Sweden
Try a Rico Royal Graftonite A-chamber (big) mouthpice on your Pan-Ameican but before you buy a new expensive mouthpiece maybe you should let a tech look at your sax. Mouthpieces like Caravan, Bilger, some Morgans ... plays well on both older and modern saxes. They're pretty expensive as well. I'm not familiar with Pan-American more than that they were made by Conn. But I guess a Pan-American is based on a sax that was constructed and designed in the 30's or 20's. They were constructed and designed for the musical demands and needs for those days.

All four American manufactors have their own second-/student-line saxes. Conn - Pan-American, Buescher - Elkhart, King - American Standard and Martin - Indiana. The second line companies were seperate with their own organisations. The quality of these saxes varied. The good saxes are still playing. There was less quilaty controlle when it came to an Indiana comparing to a Martin. It was cheaper to give the costumer a new sax instead of having them tested before they rechead the shops. The student line saxes were often from old inventories and they extended the lifecycle of the tools. This doesn't mean that it's bad saxes. You can find very good saxes among second-/student- line horns. I have some Indianas from the 50's. They are playing well but I had to fix them before doing so. On my Indiana, that´s more or less based on a Committee I from the (30's), the neck didn't fit properly to the tube, the edges of the tonholes was uneven (leaked), the keycups was uneven (leaked) and some were´nt centered over the toneholes (leaked), the tube and the bell was poorly soldered on the bow (leaked) ..... . Eveything can be fixed it's just a matter of money or/and time. I have seen Indiana saxes on e-bay announced as "vintage" and the prices are nearly as high as for a real Martin. A second-/student-line sax should be cheaper. They were compromised before they reached their players. But you can find good players among this saxes, if you can stand the ergonomics.

Sorry, off topic again!

Thomas
 
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AndyB

Member
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210
Location
Durham, NC, USA
And the winner is...

7* Otto Link Super Tone Master New York.

Tried out a bunch in the music store and the Link was the only one that I could get to play in tune on this old horn without extreme effort. In fact, after adjusting to trying to lip down the others, I was actually FLAT on the Link instead of sharp!

Second place was a huge chamber Vandoren. It was close enough to being on pitch that I could have probably adjusted to relaxing my embouchure more. But the Link was ideal.

I still like the sound and playability of the Meyer G better than any mouthpiece I tried but this horn is too sharp for it just like I found with the others including a Jody Jazz HR, Cannonball, vintage Tonalin, etc.

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions folks!

PS. I went there to try a couple of vintage Berg Larsen metal mouthpieces but they had been sold already.

PPS. If you like old horns have a look at these. This is where I got my Conn Pan Am Tenor and mouthpiece. Its the tenor labelled Pan American Tenor Sax #57xxx http://www.marshwoodwinds.com/
 
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Michael Squires

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I have a Pan American which is probably from the 1930's. I live in Indiana (USA) and there's a lovely store that's been in business since the 1940's and which still has staff trained by Conn many years ago. After they overhauled the horn it plays perfectly in tune with a Link NY STM or with a Brilhart Level Aire stainless steel (older model). My teacher has a Selmer Series 54 which is in need of some work (he's a young rock-and-roll tenor player, not much money) and the Pan American does better againt the tuner than the Selmer.

I also have a 1953 Conn 12M in silver plate which would not play in tune with modern mouthpieces (for example, a 1970's Berg Larsen stainless); I'm currently using another Brilhart Level Aire with it, and it's now playing very well.
 
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