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Conn Microtuner Neck


Striving to play the changes in a melodic way.
Staff member
I was thinking about the tuner on my C Melody sax and found myself wondering why this improvement never made it into production?

I know the argument that you can adjust the intonation using the mouthpiece position on the cork and by embouchure. But there are venues (like in the hot sun) where you really have to adjust to the extreme of the cork and the mouthpiece doesn't really fit. I know that you can use paper if you have to adjust out but moving in has it's limits too.
I was thinking about the tuner on my C Melody sax and found myself wondering why this improvement never made it into production?
First question: Does it do what it promises to do?
Instead of a turn-thingy I'd rather have some telescopic contraption similarly to a bass neck, but with non-cylindrical tubes "extending" has been, is and always will be a compromise. Ask a Flügelhorn manufacturer how they like the concept of a tuning slide...
I'd rather envision a neck that will, upon tuning, thicken or thinnen (that a word?) the mouthpiece cork, allowing a snug fit all the time.
The tuning neck on my Conn alto works like a charm. While the motion to move the tuner elements is concentric to the neck, the screw system within the tuner actually moves a slide to accomplish the tuning.

The guy who did my rebuild on the horn (Marvin Krantz, of Saint Louis Woodwind and Brasswind) said that it was a bit of a nuisance to restore the innards of one. Most that he has seen have been seized up from years of non-use, and then damaged by applying pliers or other force to get them moving.

I've never seen a baritone with one, but then again I've not seen everything there is to see...
One of the effects of the Conn micro-tuner is that the length of the saxophone (neck) increases and decreases without changing the volume inside the mouthpiece. I'm not sure this was the intention when it was invented, but it introduces an interesting acoustical variable that I believe merits some additional study.
How 'bout the tunable mouthpieces that Conn had?

FWIW, the microtuner neck obviously made it into production. Just ask anyone that owned a Conn alto produced between about 1922 and 1954 -- and the C melodies had the microtuner a bit earlier.

Conn did have a sliding neck for a microtuner, for a little while. It was on some of their stencils. Holton had a similar device -- and also had corkless necks.

If ever you have to ask why something is no longer in production, the answer is usually "money". Along the lines of, "Y'know, Selmer doesn't produce horns with a microtuner and they sell just fine. I guess we really don't need to spend the extra $1 per horn manufacturing cost in including one."
The tunable mouthpieces seem to have been produced by Conn for soprano (including C soprano) and tenor. The neck tuners were on altos and C melody saxes. I don't know about baritone and bass saxes.
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