Conn 4M New Wonder Bb Soprano (1925)

The Story

I bought this beautiful silver-plated curved soprano saxophone from my friend Tony of Magginisupplies. I’d already bought a couple of horns from him and he’d asked me about other instruments I was looking for. Well he rang me up and said he had this. After looking at the photos he emailed to me I decided it was well worth acquiring. He charged me a very reasonable price – well under normal shop, or even eBay levels, at the time. As usual I had it checked over by my local sax fixer-upper.

The Instrument

It’s a Conn 4M Bb Soprano, part of the original New Wonder range and according Dr Rick the serial number dates it to 1925 – right in the middle of the Jazz age. It has rolled tone holes (that’s what the ‘PATD DEC 1914 1119954’ refers to on all Conn’s with these – not to be confused with the serial number). The serial number itself is M141607 and it is stamped ‘L’ to indicate low pitch. On the bell the instrument is marked ‘MADE BY C G CONN LTD. ELKHART.IND U. S. A.’

The G# is not a ‘nailfile’, the pearls (including one on the octave key) feel warmer than the metal. In addition to the crook loop, Conn have included a ring of metal to put your right hand thumb through.

This is a ‘clapper’ as the bottom Bb is on the right and the B on the left. For those who want to play in marching bands, the music stand holder is just under the bottom Bb, rather than near the neck on larger instruments. Although this was made 10 years after the Colonel was forced to sell up his company (hence the ‘LTD’ in the company name), this is a very high quality horn.

The Player

Well this is a lot nicer to play than the Hawkes C Soprano I also own. The fingering is well balanced and the keys are excellently spaced for such a small instrument. It plays reasonably in tune in both registers – at least it would for someone better at blowing sopranos than me. I’ve included a video clip from our Saxachronic Chamber so you can hear what it sounds like.

In terms of mouthpieces, this won’t take the Dukoff metal or even the Meyer ebonite ones I use on my Yanigisawa. In the clip I used a much narrower bore and a shallow lay – although the mouthpiece is unmarked, so I can’t tell you more.

Saxifications

  • Make – Conn
  • Model – 4M New Wonder soprano
  • Serial Number – 141,607
  • Date of Manufacture – 1925
  • Place of Manufacture – Elkhart, Indiana, USA
  • Finish – Sivler plated
  • Weight – 2lb 2oz
  • Sound – Bright and mellow, the curve makes it less direct than a straight Soprano
  • Ease of Blowing – Not too constricted
  • Ease of Fingering – Very well balanced for a horn of this age

More about Conn instruments and history can be found at The Conn Loyalist and saxpics covers the company as well as the New Wonder I very well of course. 

Do you own a Conn Soprano? What do you think about playing a curved Soprano live? As always please let me know by commenting on this post.

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