Almost everyone has heard of a Conn saxophone. School students who are taking band have probably seen a classmate playing one of these beginner horns, or are playing one themselves.
Older people may remember Conn as the brand name of the professional saxophones of the first part of the twentieth century. Can this be the same company?
Actually, yes. Conn Musical Instruments in Elkhart, IN, produced the first saxophone ever made in America. Adolphe Sax had invented the instrument in Europe, designing it to have the qualities of both a brass instrument and a woodwind instrument. Until the first American Conn saxophone, they were all made in Europe.
Collectors of vintage saxophones are happy when they can find an old Conn Wonder Horn that they can restore or still play. This prototype was used by professionals and in military bands from about 1920 to 1935. A unique instrument made during this era was a hybrid between a saxophone and an English horn, which Conn called the "Conn-o-sax."
The vintage saxophones are unique in that they have elaborately engraved bells. The bell is the lower opening of the sax. The engraving is on the front of the lower portion so that it points toward the front when the horn is played. Sometimes this decorative effect had color added. Flowers, leaves, birds, and more can be seen on the bell of a vintage Conn saxophone.
Since the 1950's, school band music instruction has greatly increased in availability, and Conn has been there to provide the instruments for these beginning musicians. Along with the student quality saxophone, Conn also makes trumpets and other instruments. They merged with the Selmer company, familiar for its student flutes and clarinets, in 2003. It is possible now to find a Conn guitar or even Conn keyboard instruments.
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