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Conn 16V


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
A couple weeks ago, I had an e-mail conversation with an owner of a 16V. I wish to share. Names and places changed to protect the guilty.

Nancy said:
Just found your web page

I just acquired a Conn Eb Sarrusophone- from your site [HASHTAG]#14x[/HASHTAG] may have been the last one made
Mine is inscribed:

Made by
CG Conn Ltd
Patd. Dec 8, 1914


I am playing with the idea of converting bocal to use a mouthpiece
Sort of a reverse engineering done by Adolph sax!!



Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
My response:

There was a single-reed mouthpiece available. Pictures are on my former website, saxpics.com.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Nancy said:

Serial # is 1119944 which makes no sense
perhaps it should be 119944??

I hope to get a period Conn Catalog from a friend which has this instrument listed

The outside diameter of the existing bocal at the reed is about 5mm
May I assume a different bocal with a bigger hole at end is needed for the single reed mpc??
or does the single reed fit over the end and not into it

I have ordered a contra basson reeed to see if I can get a squawk out of this beast..

By the way- The silver finish is badly worn in spots, but where it is intact, polish won't cut it.
Maybe not silver??


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Serial number is 143. The model number's 16V. Conn had a habit (in the 1920's) of putting a letter before the serial number. "M" for professional saxophones, "V" for sarrusophones, etc.

The "1119944" is a patent number. Specifically, William S. Haynes' patent for tonehole creation (formed toneholes).

* Allegedly, the sarrusophone was available in ALL the same finishes as the Conn saxophones, so silver or nickel is definitely possible.
* If you polish the horn -- and it's definitely silver -- a) NEVER use Brasso. Turns the finish black. b) Use a non-tarnishing, non abrasive polish. And be gentle.
* If the horn has bad finish damage and you plan on selling it, do not relacquer it. Replate it, if you want, but relacquer can seriously impact both value and playability.

Sarrusophone pics, from my old website: http://www.saxpics.com/cpg143/index.php?cat=628
Sarrusophone catalogs and ads from my old website: http://www.saxpics.com/the_gallery/conn ... usophones/
More Sarrusophone stuff from my old website: http://www.saxpics.com/conn/new_wonder1.htm#16v

(The new owners of saxpics.com have some problems with their gallery pics, so these links will hopefully help.)


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Nancy said:


Thanks for additional info
If 143 is the serial number could this be the last one Conn made??
perhaps made as late as 1924???
My Sarrusophone indeed has the Haynes rolled toneholes
So it should be called a "New Wonder" model?
I assume this was one of the lot ordered by the USQMC for the army (when?)

It obviously was well-used as the satin silver finish is worn off in the normal places
I could consider re-plating - but I suspect this would be a major expense
I'd like to at least put it back in playing condition - will likely need re-padding

I tried a sousaphone leadpipe and mouthpiece instead of the Bocal
but all I got was a sick cow sound! perhaps the keys are not seating properly

Have you ever replated a Bari sax or sarrusophone?? Cost??

Last question: what would be the rough value of one of these?? order of magnitude?
I dont plan to sell it, but would want to add it to my insurance policy.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
The rolled toneholes are not the innovation. It's having the toneholes drawn from the body using Haynes' process. The Buescher, for instance, used the same process but didn't have rolled tone holes.

"New Wonder" would most likely be the model name, yes. Conn only used the "New Wonder" verbiage in a few of their catalogs and brochures. It was generally just called "16V".

"USQMC" stands for "United States Quartermaster Corps". You can read about dating the horn at http://www.saxpics.com/conn/new_wonder1.htm#16v

Replating is probably a very expensive option for an instrument that size. If I remember correctly, silver replating for an alto saxophone was about $1000 US about a year ago.

Plating is usually done on a contract basis through the instrument repairman that you'd go to, however you could contact Anderson Silver Plating direct through http://www.andersonsilverplating.com/contact_us.html. Remember, you're probably going to want any junk on the horn chemically stripped. Mechanical stripping will remove metal. This may be an additional charge. I'm not a repairman, so I couldn't tell you.

One would assume that a full repad and maintenance on a Sarrusophone would be somewhat more expensive than a contrabassoon pad job, as the pads would probably have to be custom cut. A contrabassoon pad job is $1200 US (http://www.foxproducts.com/pdfs/BassoonRepairForm.pdf).

A sousaphone is a brasswind. A Sarrusophone is a double-reed instrument. I'm unsuprised that you didn't get a sound.

Quinn recently sold one of his Sarrusophones for $6K on eBay a few months ago (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... 300QQfviZ1). He sold a similar one a few months before that for $7.5K. Hey, he has a perfect condition, silver plated one, so he can afford to get rid of his bare-brass and/or lacquered ones. I'd say that a silver plated horn in perfect shape with the single reed mouthpiece and case would sell in excess of $10K.


FWIW, there were more than 200 Sarrusophones that have been produced by Conn. How do I know? The highest [16V] serial number I've seen is 278 :).


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Nancy said:
Just an update on my Conn Sarrousophone
I decided to clean it up but had problems cleaning the silver plating-
normal silver and other polishes wouldn't cut it

I called Anderson Silver plating to get a rough estimate on a new plating job
Needless to say, the dis-assembly - silver removal - polishing -re-plating - repadding etc
started approaching $2000+++ So I thought just to clean it up the best I can
and have my repairer re-pad it

The forman at Andersons said that the satin finishes were hard to polish
and suggested that "Barkeeps Friend" and a toothbrush would help in the cleaning.
Sooo- I had a session with the barkeep- and was amazed that the silver plating came off easily!!!

This was certainly not a "Conn Heavy Silver Plating" job
Maybe it was a light plating job perhaps done later by the Army

Soooo- with the barkeep and a little brasso the sarrus is now starting to look pretty nice.
My repair guy will have to get at the remaining nooks rods and crannies when he dis-assembles for pads

Now to my question.....
I prefer to leave it in yellow brass- as silver too expen$$ive and hard to maintain as it tarnishes.
most of my old and/or rare instruments in my collection are left in raw brass
with a coating of renaissance wax
I was thinking that while the sarrus is apart- it would be easy to apply a couple coats of lacquer.
But you mention that lacquer would not be advised.
I'm trying to obtain a copy of a period Conn Catalog showing what finishes were offered.

Otherwise ith instrument is in good shape- a few samll dents - all keys are in good shape
Question- were there ever any corks applied as limiters to key movement on this instrument?
Non show now.

On the single reed mouthpiece, was the same bocal used??
Where could one obtain one of these??
the OD of my bocal is shown on attache diagram
I ordered a new double reed from Keith Loraine

Your opinion would be most appreciated
I've had lots of fun locating old recordings of the Sarrus!


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Well, I had already warned you against using Brasso.

Here's a better question: are you going to try to get the horn setup for your own use or you're just trying to (re)sell it? If you're going to just sell it, I'd recommend leaving it as-is and putting it up for sale -- because if I was in the market for one of these, I would be undoing your relacquer job and then getting it replated. Which would also mean that I'm redoing your repad, etc.

If you're trying to set it up for yourself, you can essentially do whatever you think is best. My opinion is that lacquer would be the last thing you'd want to do if you want "original", as lacquer wasn't an option.

The finishes available for the Sarrusophones should be the same ones that were available for the saxophone and are listed at http://www.saxpics.com/conn/new_wonder1.htm. I've told you twice I have Sarrusophone catalogs and stuff there :)

As far as your question regarding cork "limiters", I'm not exactly sure what what you're referring to. There are corks on the undersides of keys that you depress and there are some corks on key "stops" on the ends of rods. If you're referring to putting cork inside a keyguard, no, that wasn't done.

Looking at the pics of SAXTEK's Sarrusophone bocal with the single-reed mouthpiece at http://www.saxpics.com/conn/new_wonder1.htm and comparing it to the picture you sent, I'm assuming that it's the same bocal. As to where you obtain either a Sarrusophone bocal or a Conn Sarrusophone single-reed mouthpiece, I'd recommend searching Google. The former shouldn't be too difficult to find, as there were and are several Sarrusophone manufacturers. The latter will be next to impossible, as Conn was the only manufacturer of single-reed mouthpieces for the Sarrusophone, as far as I'm aware. I do see them on eBay every year or so, so you could get lucky. Or you could try to convince a sax or clarinet custom mouthpiece manufacturer to make one for you.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Nancy said:
The brasso was used only after the silver disappeared from the Barkeepers friend application
I know the quality Conns' heavy silverplate- and this certainly wasn't it
I assume this was a light plating done after market -perhaps by the Army

OK- Got It!! No lacquer!!! Hopefully my repair guy could dis-assemble,
and finish the silver and pad removal and polish ready for Anderson's plating
Anderson's quoted me about $200 for buffing and $250 for plating
If this quote holds true- it would certainly be worth doing

Could I cover your costs to obtain good copies or scans of the Conn catalog pages on the Sarrusophone??
I almost had a 19xx catalog on eBay but someone outbid my $xx bid!!
The catalog photos already on the web pages are not good enough to use.

Yes- I meant the corks under the keys- (this is a tubist talking abouta reed instrument)
would a sax repair guy know where to put these??

As I said, I have a new reed being made-
and I have a Bari sax player standing by to see if the beast actually plays.

My intention is to keep the sarrus in my collection - which is mostly valved brass
It does represent an interesting developmental link like the Opheclide and early saxhorns.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Well, I never have any problems with people sending me money, but I don't have originals of the catalogs you're talking about. I only have the computer copies. What you see is what you get. Or, more rather, what I found is what you see. And on the web page, which I've quoted three times or more, I list the finish types for people who can't read the catalogs. I have a very, very good computer monitor.

It should be closer to that $2000 mark for the replate and repair. $200 for buffing I can understand, because this is something you don't want done. If you want the "original" silver removed, you want it done chemically, not mechanically. Buffing removes metal. Removing metal is not a good thing.

$250 for plating just doesn't sound right. I think they're missing a number in that.

A GOOD saxophone repair "guy" may know how to restore a Sarrusophone, if he's done it before. My opinion is that you try to find a woodwind specialist or a double-reed specialist. A Sarrusophone is closer to a contrabasson than a saxophone.

And, unless you have a single-reed mouthpiece with the thing, your baritone saxophonist, might have a problem. I'm a decent bari player and I'm not good with double-reeds.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Nancy said:
>From your website it seems that "Highly Polished Brass" was also a Conn Finish option
If the figures Anderson gave me are way off-(they did sound rather low)
then this would seem to be my only option
I would then use Renaissance wax which would retard the inevitable tarnishing
... and that's the last e-mail.

I might polish this thread a bit, later, but it gives you some good information about the restoration price of one of these beasties.

As is quite probably evident, I'm not an expert on the 16V or Sarrusophones, in general. My "specialty" is knowing way too much about saxophone makes and models and I know about the 16V because it was Conn's alternative to the Eb contrabass saxophone.

Continuing, IIRC, the Conn single-reed mouthpiece included with the 16V was a Bb soprano saxophone mouthpiece.


Admin and all around good guy.
Staff member
I played one of Matt's (Quinn...) Sarrusophones with both the double reed and an original adapted mouthpiece. I decided it would take me a long time to master that instrument either way. But they are very exotic instruments and extremely rare. I kick myself for not buying one of Matt's that he showed me five or so years ago. But at that time I didn't buy anything that I didn't plan to play. I've got to say though that you really felt like you had a piece of history in your hands when you held one.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Actually got another E, today:
Nancy said:
Hi Peter

Just an update on my sarrus...

You were right!
My final quote from Andersons for a complete restore including:
Stripping, buffing re-Plating- repadding new spring etc - $3800!!

Soo I'm going for a dis-assemble, polish and re-pad by my repairer-
if it it cleans up perfectly- I'll have Andersons replate - if not- I'll leave as Raw Brass

I again tried a mouithpiece- but cant get anything that sounds like a musical note.
Maybe when my new Sarrus Reed arrives I'll have a Bassoon player have a toot.


Old King Log
Staff member
For that much money, I'd want a crook as well as the horn. It's something that's going to have to be fabricated, and whatever is done won't match the horn.

How do vital parts get lost from old instruments? You see that with baritone saxes all of the time on eBay.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
That's a different horn, Jim. Nice to see one with the "lady" engraving, tho.

303 = newest horn. A lot more than 200 made.

A "crook" (bocal) might not be that difficult. A few manufacturers have them, including Orsi.

Someone might get a decent deal on this and then turn around and sell it for a bunch.