Posted by Paul Scott on January 01, 2004 at 08:53:59:
In Reply to: Re: Re: Re: Conn - vs. Besson- sousaphone posted by Then looks deceive on January 01, 2004 at 07:10:41:
I've heard this rumor of a Conn-Martin connection before and I contacted Dr. Margaret Downie Banks about this some time ago. She has written a wonderful history of the Conn company-has a great website too:
She told me that there is no evidence of a Conn-Martin stencil agreement, although Conn did make many stencil instruments. It is true that the Martin Mammoth sousa is very similar to the Conn, (let's face it, there are only so many ways to wrap a BBb sousa!) but 2 differences are bore size, (Conn is bigger, even on the long stroke models, I believe) and bell collar, (Martin is bigger).
I'm very familiar with both the Conn and Martin top action recording basses and they are actually quite different. You can always tell the Conns from the way the valve tubing arches up where it meets the valve. Bore size and bell collar are different as is the third valve tubing. Fred Exner played both models in the Guy Lombardo band in the 50s and when I see film of the band I can always tell which horn he's playing! I've seen those Navy horns too and they are 4 valve top-action Martins with a solid bell and a "tuning paddle" on the main slide, (love to have one of those!) A closer match is between the Martin and York top-actions which are nearly identical. That's a connection I've wondered about for years since Charles and Henry Martin worked in the York factory early on.
I doubt that Martin would be using old Conn tooling. Their big recording bell designs both stem from the same period (early 20s)when they were viable competitors and frankly, I think Conn would have loved to have gotten their hands on Martin tooling! If there was a stencil arrangement, I could see it happening in the late 50s-60s when Martin was under several different owners. If anyone has any real evidence of a connection I'd love to know about it. Wouldn't it be great to have a definitive history of the great American instrument makers?