The Conn 30M. If you’re reading this, you probably know what this is already. It’s the more deluxe version of the best vintage tenor by Conn, the Conn 10M. The 30M is a 10M plus lots of keywork upgrades including ‘permadjust’ screws throughout, rather than traditional adjustment materials between key linkages; solid silver key touches on spatula and side keys, and a newly designed pinky table and neck octave key. This is the saxophone geek’s dream horn. It is also one of the best sounding tenors ever produced, without any doubt.
This particular example is refinished, obviously, and then it got a recent overhaul done by the good people at SaxAlley in Colorado. They used a wide, flat pad that looks like a Conn Reso-pad, but is solid throughout, so it feels snappy and positive instead of the soft, squishy feel of a normal reso-pad. This is an improvement. There is some kind of dark leather sealant on the pads that makes them look weird, but hey, they are sealing well, and the horn feels quite good under the fingers, so I’m not going to mess with success here. The response is quick, and the tone is saturated throughout. The low register is particularly nice. Subtone and ballad playing is very easy, and this Conn 30M can play softly while still sounding full and rich. There is really no upper limit to the volume. You’re the only limiting variable here.
If you’re looking for a great player’s tenor that is much cheaper than a normal 30M even though it is in good playing condition, and that sounds great all-around, then this may be the horn for you. It came to me in a pretty worn old Conn case, so if you want to upgrade the case, I’m happy to cut you a good deal on a new case for it. I like the BAM Classic for Conns, as the foam is great quality, and the cut out in the interior allows the bell keys to fit without a whole lot of squishing necessary.
Just for fun, here’s Dexter Gordon putting a 10M from the same era through its paces. (The mouthpiece is a Hollywood Dukoff, which I also have for sale, if you are looking.) The sound mixing guy who recorded Dex always had to dial him back a lot. There really is no limit to the volume on a Conn 30M tenor.