Ever since buying my late model 6M with an under-slung octave key at a pawn shop, I had wanted to get a matching 10M. In December 2006 I did just that: I bought a 1965 Conn tenor from a fellow member of a sax discussion board.
The horn was advertised as having just had a repad, but needing a final setup. The price seemed OK, and because this fellow had been around a long time, I bought the sax. Well this particular 10M turned out to be the worst investment I ever made in a vintage horn.
When the sax arrived it was immediately obvious that the horn was a mess. A final set up was the least of its problems. The horn, which was not damaged during transport, was not going to be playable without extensive work. In short: it needed a total restoration, dent removal, and a neck rebuild. (The neck looked like it had been attacked with a ball peen hammer, and had suffered a pull-down at some point in time that had been badly repaired.) None of these things were noted in the original ad the seller posted on the sax discussion board, and none were obvious in the photos that I received of the horn.
Here are a few of the “before” pictures I took: before the horn received a rebuild. (The horn is very photogenic. In real life it looked way worse than these photos would ever lead one to believe.)
Due to neurological issues that hit me approximately the same time as I bought the 10M, I put the sax on the back burner and forgot about it.
Then in the summer of 2008 I decided to take it to Sarge at World Wide Sax to have him do a proper restoration. I opted for a vintage rebuild with Prestini NS (non-stick) series, Hermes pads with flat metal resonators, with a rivet in the centre. This would put this old Conn back to pretty much “stock” condition, as the old Conns came stock from the factory with flat metal resos.
When the sax came back, it played like any good 10M should, because it had had a proper restoration, including a neck rebuild and crucial dent removal. It will never be a pretty horn, but then I’m a player, not a collector. However, I do have about $1,000 more into it than it’s worth, so I will never be able to sell it without losing money—which is a first for me.
Here are a few of the “after” pictures. Mechanically the horn plays like a dream. Cosmetically, well it’s obvious this horn’s been around the block a few times.
- Conn Artist Model 10M
- Serial #: H42XXX
- Finish: Lacquer/Nickel-plated keys
- One of the last pro horns built by Conn in Elkhart
Having a horn that I have more money invested into than it is worth is a first for me, but I did however learn a valuable lesson: Never buy a horn when you’re cognitively impaired!
To his credit, the fellow who sold me the horn did give me some money back when I had the sax restored. I only asked for $200 back. In hind sight I should have asked for $400. Even then I would have overpaid, but it would have been closer in line with reality.