Re: C.G. Conn Elkhart tuba

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Posted by Rob P-M on June 19, 1999 at 06:39:35:

In Reply to: C.G. Conn Elkhart tuba posted by Jacob on June 19, 1999 at 03:12:41:

Whew, where to start? C.G. Conn in its various forms was one of America's premier instrument makers from the 1880's through at least the late 1960's. Now owned by UMI, which also owns King, one of the other great American instrument makers from the 1890's through the 1960's, Conn's main plant and headquaters for most of its existence was in Elkhart, Indiana, which has been the home to many fine instrument makers. After being acquired by Macmillan in 1969, its quality and reputation declined precipitously.

Conn made tubas from early on, in many different models. You often see very old Eb's dating to the 1880's and 90's (I think there is an about 1891 Conn Eb on e-bay now). Conn also made Helicons (rare), and perhaps invented the Sousaphone (Pepper disputes this) -- raincatcher sytle. Conn excelled at large bore tubas, mostly in BBb, and sousaphones. Good surviving 4 (and rarely 5) valve Conns from the teens through the 30's command premium prices.

Perhaps the finest sousaphone ever made is the Conn 20K, which has been in production since the mid-1930's. A relatively large bore horn with 'short action' valves, it is the gold standard in sousaphones. Almost all were 3 valve, although some 4 valve (known as 24K) do exist.

Coming into production at around the same time was the 2xJ series of BBb tubas, also large bore 5/4 or 6/4 sized horns with 3, 4 (or rarely 5) valves: 20J (3 valve top action, recording bell), 22J (same but front action), 24J (4 valve, top action), 25J (same but upright bell). Both recording and upright bells were available for these horns. Some of them were excellent tubas (if never at the level of the legendary Yorks), and a really bad one was rare.

Today, Conn makes the 3J and 5J (I'm not sure how old those designs are but go back to the 60's or so -- there were also a 2J and 4J, which preceeded the 3J and 5J, but had slightly smaller bells), which are small bore CC or BBb (respectively) 4 vavle 3/4 sized tubas. There are professionals who use them. They also make a 3 valve BBb version as the 12J.

Others can tell you far more.

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