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Gretsch Commander Tenor

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
OK. I am the guy who got the "freebie" tenor on SOTW. The consensus is that it is a Conn 10M body with Chu style keywork. Makes sense, to a Conn guy, I guess.

So far, I haven't played a single note on the thing. It was bent, banged and bungled when I got it. So first thing I put it in a more suitable case than the thing it arrived in and sent it off to my tech to be put into playing condition.

I'd like to know a bit about what I'll have when it comes back in playing condition. I'm having the G# articulated, as I prefer the functionality of it over the lighter action without it. I'll probably get the strap ring either moved of have another ring added, at my techs discretion. Other than that I'm leaving it as is (aside from Roo pads and resonators) with no buffing or other cosmetic things done to it. It has about 60% lacquer and looks like a vintage horn.

The questions:

Is there a serial number chart I can check the # against to get its age or is the keywork my only clue as to its age?


It has a neat little corked wooden end plug. Could it be original?


About how much will this thing be worth in so so cosmetic, but perfect physical condition? If it isn't good enough to be my main horn or backup, I'd like to know if my investment will be recouped on resale. My tech is VERY good, but is very busy in NYC, and charges accordingly.

Is protec the only inexpensive option for affordable LH bell key cases? I carved up a Cannonball case to hold it on the way to the tech. It seems a good fit, and with a bit of careful work nobody will be able to tell the interior was modified, But I'd still like to be aware of the options out there should I run into a deal too good to pass up.

"Conn 10M body with Chu style keywork."
What does that mean - in non-Conn speak?

What sort of resonators would this have come with originally? and
What sort works well on these horns? I'm inclined to go oversized seamless domed metal, but nylon is calling to me for some reason.


TIA

Carl (I don't know how many more free saxes I can afford) H.
 

saxismyaxe

Friends of the WF
Distinguished Member
Hi Carl,

No serial number lists exist for Conn "Stencils" and the ones for Conn models proper don't apply. The horn likely dates from the late 1930's/early 1940's though.

The pads used should be the thin, domed plastic or flat resonator variety for optimal results overall. It likely came with flat metal, or resonator-less type pads.

If you have a hankering to learn the art of sax repair and repadding, this might be a good primer (although if the body is the area "bent" as you state, you will likely want a tech to correct this).

Should be a nice sounding horn, but the keywork may or may not be quite to your liking. Monetary worth is minimal as is the case with most stencils.

The Protech case is hard to beat for the ultra cheap price. Any chance of finding something cheaper that will accomdate the bell keys is likely to be found in the used market.
 
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Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Somebody "improved" the case by adding felt covered (thin felt) blocks of wood. Posts are pushed in, main tube is bent, just general mayhem. But it looks good from 5 ft.:emoji_rolling_eyes:
 

saxismyaxe

Friends of the WF
Distinguished Member
I think you now know why it was free. :D

Not insurmountable repairs by any means, but they add up to more than the horn is worth. I'd experiment with repairing the horn myself and cut your teeth on it (if you haven't done so before) if it were me.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
The questions:

Is there a serial number chart I can check the # against to get its age or is the keywork my only clue as to its age?
As SIMA mentioned, there are no serial number charts for stencils. 1930-1940's sounds good to me.

Something that's not mentioned is that this may be a Holton stencil, not a Conn. Check out Cybersax's horn, archived here. (The Holton Collegiate is also somewhat simular.)

However, I will admit that the stamp and serial sound Conn-ish (a Holton would be stamped "Bb" and "LP" -- Conns are stamped "B" and "L" -- and the G# cluster looks like it's from a Conn.

It has a neat little corked wooden end plug. Could it be original?
Sure, why not?

I've never been into the incidentals, but I have heard of some end-plugs being wooden.

About how much will this thing be worth in so so cosmetic, but perfect physical condition? If it isn't good enough to be my main horn or backup, I'd like to know if my investment will be recouped on resale. My tech is VERY good, but is very busy in NYC, and charges accordingly.
I'd think no more than $700, especially as Cybersax's was $865 and was a really nice silver-plated one.

Is protec the only inexpensive option for affordable LH bell key cases? I carved up a Cannonball case to hold it on the way to the tech. It seems a good fit, and with a bit of careful work nobody will be able to tell the interior was modified, But I'd still like to be aware of the options out there should I run into a deal too good to pass up.
If I'm right on it being a Holton, how 'bout hitting eBay and trying to get an old Holton case? It doesn't have to be "great", just not smelly.

Hey, you may be able to pick up a case WITH a horn for under $100.

"Conn 10M body with Chu style keywork."
What does that mean - in non-Conn speak?
What this phrase means is that it'd be a horn with the body from a Conn 10M Standard -- a professional horn -- but with the keywork from a previous model professional Conn, the New Wonder (which a lot of people erroneously call a "Chu Berry").

I have a problem saying that, anyhow, as the New Wonder is a split-bell-key horn. That, right there, means the keywork is different.

What sort of resonators would this have come with originally? and
What sort works well on these horns? I'm inclined to go oversized seamless domed metal, but nylon is calling to me for some reason.
It probably didn't have any resonators, period.

Nylon should work nicely.
 

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
I understood about the body with earlier style keys, but what is different about the earlier style keys? When I ran over them they seemed like the placement was well thought out, pretty comfortable and reasonably fast for an out of adjustment horn.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
I understood about the body with earlier style keys, but what is different about the earlier style keys? When I ran over them they seemed like the placement was well thought out, pretty comfortable and reasonably fast for an out of adjustment horn.
* The G# cluster is different -- and it's "articulated" on the 10M Standard. That's a significant difference, right there.
* The Eb vent is eliminated on the 10M Standard (after awhile, that is).
* The left hand altissimo keys are different. The right hand vent/chromatic keys are different.
* I've already mentioned that the New Wonder is a split-bell-key horn, the 10M Standard is not.
* The chromatic F# key is different.
* The octave key mechanism is different.
* Some New Wonders have significantly different -- or none at all -- front altissimo F keys.
* The pearls, especially on the US are closer together on the 10M Standard.

I didn't bother comparing keyrod lengths and such, but I'm fairly positive those are different, too.

I've got a lot of really good, detailed pics from Cybersax of a s/n 119xxx New Wonder tenor and a s/n 291xxx 10M Standard tenor.
 
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Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
Just an update, since this was lingering. The horn was restored to playing condition - no cosmetics were done.

The only way to describe it is wow. This is a killer horn! Big robust tone, easy altissimo. I had a few things done - moved the strap hook, a few keys tweaked to my preferred heights. Aside from the RH "F" touch, it fits me like a glove. I'd do it again if the option were presented.
 
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