There are a ton of beautiful altos on the site, but this one stands out from the crowd. It is the heaviest gold plate finish that Conn offered – basically sheets of thick (actual) gold rubbed onto the brass to give you a finish that will last for centuries with minimal maintenance required. Both gold and skilled labor were cheap back in 1920’s America and Conn could afford to invest an extra couple of days’ labor in applying all this gold by hand-burnishing, and engraving such an elaborate scene on the saxophone, and still make a profit. These days, it would be literally impossible to reproduce saxophones like this and market them. They would cost far too much. Just a thin layer of modern gold plate costs like $3500 to do.
So this horn is something very special. Not just as a piece of art, or a piece of exceptional craftsmanship, but as a musical instrument as well. William Morris, the influential artist, famously encouraged us to “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, and believe to be beautiful.” This alto sax just wails as a player, and definitely fits both requirements nearly as well as a saxophone could. The engraving features (probably) Apollo, god of music, with his harp, and an extremely ornate C.G. Conn logo and decoration.
This alto has very good pads, and plays extremely easily on the current, high-quality overhaul. It feels nice and snappy under the fingers, and the pad work is very good, flat and ‘dry’ feeling, which is a sign of high-quality work with rolled tone holes. The tone is pure 1920’s jazz power: wide, smooth, warm, and dark, but very projecting. This horn vibrates under your fingers even at moderate volumes, and is super fun and responsive to play. Low register is easy. Intonation is good, though you can easily bend notes around also. The keywork is vintage, so it will feel weird if you’re coming from a Yamaha, at least at first. But the tone and beauty you get in exchange makes it well worth it.
Only one available!