Conn 16M (1963)

The Story

I was originally just an alto player, but always been interested in tenors. Once I had enough money I bought a Conn 16M – but not this one. Eventually I traded it in for the Keilwerth SX90R reviewed on this site. Suffering from a long-term buyer regret, I saw this in a pawn broker shop in San Jose in 2001. I was escaped from a Sun analyst conference for an hour with my friend Peter. This was on a high shelf behind the counter, long forgotten I would imagine. Having asked the store-keeper to wash the dirty reed under water I played the instrument, which had a loud, clear tone. Having bought it, I got a real compliment, ‘I’ve often heard buyers play the saxophone, you’re the first one who proved it’.

The Instrument

This was named the Director by Conn, although it is more commonly known as a Shooting Stars model. Officially it is a student model, lacking the rolled tone holes and micro tuner of their top-line models of the time. It was made in 1963 in Elkhard Indianna, before production moved to Nogales, New Mexico. It comes at a very long line of fantastic saxophone manufacturing in the most important town in the world for horn production.
What Conn said in 1959:
“Professional in everything but price, this tenor designed for the student has many of the top improvements of the higher priced saxophones. Hydraulic expanded tone chamber and tapered bell bow adds to the full tone of this model. Features:

    • drawn tone holes, tempered nickel plate on all keys, adjustable pivots,
    • Automatic high F, LUSTRE-CONN finish.’

For a drawing from the 1959 Conn catalogue, see above.

The Player

This is a very good saxophone – a wide loud tone, unobstructed by the huge number of extra thick keys found on more modern instruments. I played it for ten years, before swapping over to my Buescher, which is heavier and more mellow. It has more ‘direct access’ than any other saxophone I’ve played.


      • Make – Conn
      • Model – Director ‘Shooting Stars’
      • Serial Number – C71324
      • Date of Manufacture – 1963
      • Place of Manufacture – Elkhart, Indianna
      • Finish – brass lacquer body with nickel-plated keys (Finish 25)
      • Weight – 7lb 4oz
      • Sound – Loud, open
      • Ease of Blowing – Open, takes big lungs
      • Ease of Fingering – Simple without the mass of big keys of more modern instruments

More about the Conn Director saxophones can be found currently on the Web from saxpics.

6 Responses

  1. […] Conn 16M (1963) – Saximus Maximus | The vintage saxophone … – Despite being listed as a student model, the Conn 16M is a truly great saxophone. Read Saximus Maximus’s review of this 1963 version. […]

  2. I got my n series alto in 1971, and that horn has been around the world with me. Overhauled twice, get well corked and felted I’ll put my conn 14m against any horn. Myhorn is a beast…it whispers it screams….vd jumbo java a45, vs traditional 2.5…yank metal 7 quiets the upper overtones and it sounds quite sweet, like paul desmond. Just picked up a 1964 conn 16m, can’t wait to get it back from the shop

  3. Webbster on 30.09.2016

    I bought recently bought a 1963 Conn 16M (Shooting Star) made in Elkhart Indiana USA a couple of weeks ago and its a great horn. Good, close to modern ergos as well as mouthpiece friendly. Its poor mans 10M as it uses the same tube geometry. To get the best out of it I would recommend a Otto Link Tonemaster metal 7* with Rico 1.5 blue reeds. Very responsive to link, mellows the sound. I recommend pads are set to level of 10M to get a more expansive sound. I play a 1925 Conn Chuberry and use the neck from this rather than the original neck as this mellows the tones of the 16M to my liking. Gives me that classic big American sound at the fraction of the cost of modern eastern made horns. Love that Dexter Gordon sound.

    • I find my 16M is quiet open to play in comparison with my other tenors, it’s lighter to carry as well. I like the chrome keys on the lacquered brass finish as well. I use a Rico Royal 3.5 with a Keilwerth mouthpiece on mine. Best wishes Martin

      • Ditto, love the light weight. My horn has had the nickel stripped and it makes for a nice contrast. Have recently purchased a Conn Pan American neck to replace the original. This is a good match and works well with a rubber link 7star mouthpiece. Lovely mellow tone but with that famous Conn wide and expansive sound projection. I really think that vintage Conn`s are such great value for that classic American sound.

    • I too Love my 16m, when I decided to start playing tenor all I wanted was the match to my alto, an early n series director, (14m, 6m), both underated great horns. I use a metal Yanagisawa 9 .110 on the 16m, very dark thick, which powers up nicely, and a Yanigisawa metal 7 .087on the alto, which plays very bright to begin with, the yani darkens the tone a little, but still give me all the power and edge I need. When I need to go bright, Vandy V16 T6 .098 on the 16, Vandy Jumbo Java a45 .087 on the 14m makes it a screamer. Using Steuer 2.5 on alto, various 3.0 and 3.5 on the tenor.

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