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Common Saxophone Finishes
Q.  Hello again. Thank you kindly for supplying me with some great information on these horns.  And now that I think of it, it was burnished gold plate that I was thinking of instead of the satin gold.  Although this makes me wonder, why is it that some of these old horns were produced in the gold satin finish (like the C Melody feature you have) and others were not?  I think I must have been thinking that they made all of them that way at one point, because, I cant remember where I saw it….maybe on your site!  There was an old add which was put out in the 20′s or 30′s about these Conn saxophones and it had all the different finishes that they produced on them. I just went and found the add, it is on the sax gourmet site, on the main page near the bottom it says….”Conn Saxophone Finishes”.  That add has finishes I have never seen before, really interesting.  Let me know what you thought of it! Regardless, thank you again for your thoughts and advice.  I look forward to making more visits to your site in the future! Bryan …


A. I’ve seen that old ad. It’s marvelous….and so is Steve’s site. He is one of the few sax sites to which we link. I just love the old instrument advertising. We have a couple on our gallery page, too. The one for the Conn-O-Sax is a gas. (see our Gallery page).

Conn made gold saxes in both satin and burnished finishes. The satin models have the engraving area polished off brightly, just as with the satin silver horns — cuz you can’t do any meaningful engraving work on a satin surface. The satin gold saxes have a bit more elaborate engraving than the satin silver horns, but it is a standard filigree and floral design. Satin gold was the top of the standard production line. In theory you could buy them off the shelf. The burnished gold horns were special order, and there’s no standard engraving for them. They’re all custom engraved. It was good ‘talking’ with you. Stay in touch …

Additional Comments
The finishes offered on Conn saxes were, in order from lowest to highest cost, 1) Polished Bare Brass 2) Polished Nickel Plate 3) Satin Silver Plate w/polished silver keys 4) Satin Silver Plate w/polished gold keys 5) Satin Gold Plate 6) Burnished Gold Plate. Other builders usually offered some or all of these same options, and many offered custom engraving, as well. Some other finishes you will see are polished (all smooth, but NOT burnished) silver and gold plate, silver plate with polished brass keys, and polished brass with silver plated keys. The horns tend to be more extensively engraved as you progress up the price ladder. In fact, the Conn brass and nickel finishes of the 1920s had little more than the Conn name on them, while the burnished gold saxes had elaborate custom engraving. Many wives, children, and beloved pets are forever memorialized on these works of art. Sometimes knowing these little tidbits is more than trivia. Next time you see a brass finished Chu tenor with extensive filigree & floral engraving you will know you are looking at a horn that was originally silver or gold plated and later stripped down to the brass. That’s quite common, actually, and of course has valuation implications.

The Conn-O-Sax is a very rare instrument produced by Conn in the late 1920s. It was tuned to F and keyed from low A to high G. It used saxophone fingerings, but sounds more like an English Horn — or at least that’s what the ads say. It has a hollow ball for a bell that makes it look like a Heckelphone. The Shrine to Music has one on display, along with a very nice write up. If you find one of these pups (outside a museum) the kids will likely be fixed for college …



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