This is one of those super-rare Conn alto saxophones from when Conn was at the height of it’s manufacturing expertise. Conn had the most advanced saxophone manufacturing facility in the world, and it set the standard for quality for all other manufacturers. This alto would have been a special, top-of-the-line model. It has the most elaborate thick burnished finish that is also by far the most time consuming to apply. (Ever burnished anything by hand?) This is original (real, actual) gold plate. (People often think this can’t be real gold, but hey, welcome to the 1930’s where both gold and labor were cheap, and American craftspeople were the best in the world! And there’s the most desirable engraving pattern here also, or at least one of them. For just about a year and a half, Conn did this deluxe ‘art-deco’ geometrical engraving style on its nicer instruments. There’s a lot to see here – it’s a masterpiece of hand engraving that is no longer done at this level by any manufacturer today.
Conns from the early 1930’s are my absolute favorite There was a short burst of gold plate examples mixed in with other horns between 238k-252k, and they are the best of the best in my book. This is one of those. In addition, it is in very good condition, the only past repairs being a resoldered bell brace on the body side, visible here. (It was done well, and looks good. They just pop off sometimes and have to be stuck back on.)
Besides that, there are no other resolders or past repairs, and there are no dents or dings. The neck is in excellent condition, and is not pulled down. Bell flare has not been damaged. The gold plate is original – possibly some spot replating on the low C/Eb key touches?
The overhaul on this sax was done by Emilio Lyons a long time ago, for a collector, and then the horn was put away. So the pads are actually hardly played since new. And Emilio’s work feels nice and snappy and durable. The horn plays very well and should not need more than the periodic checkup in the foreseeable future.
The original case is also in nice condition and has the correct green interior (specially for gold plate Conn instruments.)
Tone wise, you’re looking at a loud, warm, wide-sounding alto that fills the room with pure 30’s jazz power. My favorite altos of all time are transitional Conns and early King Super 20’s. This early transitional alto is just so fun to play. It shakes in your hands, it whispers with saturation and power. It sounds sweet and lyrical, but projects at the same time. Just the best.
Only one available.
Just for fun, here are a couple of photos from Conn’s factory where this horn was made: