Saxophone Forum


by bjroosevelt
(47 posts)
5 years ago

Next Student Saxophone

My son finally motivated me to pick up an instrument again about 6 months ago....so I went down to the the local repair shop / music store and they had 3 tenor saxophones which interested me.  I settled a Conn USA 16M from 1959.  Reviews were excellent and the price was right.  I believe it is referred to as a tank.

6 months into this, I find there are some issues......like when I play high D the entire instrument moves to the right and the mouthpiece starts to tip out of my mouth.  There are other issues related to the balance of the horn which aren't too good for Dad who is approaching 50.   I went back to the shop to 'upgrade' a few weeks ago.  I tried out a Yamaha YTS 23.  After all of the Yamaha reviews, I got a bit of a shock when I discovered the Yamaha had no character.  Hated the sound. 

I love the sound that comes out of that 16M.  Are their any instruments out there with modern fingering that sound somewhat similar to the 16M - that it would make sense for a newer player to purchase.  I don't want my horn to sound like my son's trombone.  It's got to sound like a sax.  

Note:  I'm not a complete novice.  I played woodwinds prior to my 35 year hiatus.  I've been working on the sax 45 - 60 minutes a day since I got it.  Chops are slowly improving.

Thank you for any advice. 

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  1. by mijderf
    (282 posts)

    5 years ago

    Re: Next Student Saxophone

    This balance problem you mention is well know with the Conn saxophones.  The most commone fix is also reasonably priced.  Have a technician resolder the mounting ring lower on the horn body, or have him mount a generic 3 ring mounting assembly to the horn.  That way you get to keep the great Conn tone that you like.  If you like the Conn sound you will have some difficulty matching it with newer horns.

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  2. by GFC
    (842 posts)

    5 years ago

    Re: Next Student Saxophone

    There's a cheapo hardware store solution to both of your issues with the Conn.  The instability on high D is because of the low key height that forces players with less than very large hands to push away from the body somewhat with the knuckle, rather than straight down.  Make a key riser with marine epoxy putty, shaped exactly the way you want it.  If you want to you can cover it with nail polish so it doesn't end up looking grubby.  You will have plenty of epoxy putty left over, so you can do something about the thumb hook and left hand thumbrest, which are also sources of complaints.  

    This youtube guy has an elegant solution to the balance problem with parts from a hardware store.  Done right, it works extremely well.  You mainly want a nut and screw combination that holds the bracket snugly so it doesn't shift around.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBzeFgFhwfU

    Not all straps are compatible with the recommended balance fix, as they might not fit into the screw holes and the sharp edges can shred plastic hooks.  You definitely want a metal hook.  

    I also highly recommend a good neck strap for avoiding fatigue as an older player.  I had no idea what I was missing until I tried one.  The Just Joe's strap with the brass hook works for me.  The Cebulla strap is similar and also very popular.  There's also a shoulder sling type strap shich is unusual but intriguing because it gets the weight completely off the neck.  Then there's the Japanese "Bird Strap," which has a wide yoke to hold the strap at the slider.  The wider hang puts more of the weight of the horn on the shoulder compared with a conventional strap, especially in an up-adjusted position.  It is also kind  pricey.  It has a steel hook, which presents a wear problem for brass strap rings but not with a replaceable bracket as used in the balance solution.

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    1. by bjroosevelt
      (47 posts)

      5 years ago

      Re: Next Student Saxophone

      Thank you!  Thank you! Thank you!

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    2. by mijderf
      (282 posts)

      5 years ago

      Re: Next Student Saxophone

      I also use the Just Joe's strap with the brass clasp.  I added a short length of heat shrink tubing over the part of the hook that is in contact with the support ring on the horn.  I know that the brass clasp on the neck strap and the brass support ring are similar materials, and should not cause big wear problems, but the shrink tubing was very easy to install, and is holding up very well.
      And if you don't want to make your own key risers, the Pro Tec A351 Sax palm key risers are pretty good, and cost less than $7 at Amazon.

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