I just picked up this Conn New Wonder Virtuoso Deluxe to restore for a song. It looks to me as if it started life as a gold finish which has worn off over time to reveal the silver plating undercoat and/or raw brass. What do others think?
That's about how my alto looked pre-restoration. I was just interested in using it as a lamp for the unique engraving, but then I got to play a Conn alto and found out what I was missing.
We were floored by the gold plate when it was carefully buffed clean, but it was long gone along the "rubbing area" on the left rear of the rear tube. In the end, I opted for full silver plate instead of the gold. It looks great under theatrical lighting, and is frequently commented upon when I'm up on the bandstand.
(I should remark that I get far more comments on the bass clarinet (also done with gleaming silver plate) than on any of my other instruments. Usually, what I hear is "What is that thing?", which gives me another opportunity to brag on Sax's first great invention.)
Those old Conns are great horns, as long as you get a low pitch instrument. Full bodied tone, and the intonation is workable with a little effort.
One word of warning: If you have the horn rebuilt, make sure that the joints down at the bow are disassembled and thoroughly cleaned of all corrosion. If this is not done, you have the beginnings of the degradation of your carefully restored finish lurking down there.
Kewl horn. Are you going to buy a "donor" horn for the missing keys/posts?
FWIW, while the "advertised" Virtuoso Deluxe finish ("000") was just gold plate, I've seen several examples of either all silver plate or silver plate with gold highlights (or vice-versa). Are you thinking of the gold plate or Terry's suggestion of just silver? I do agree with Terry's comment about the silver plate looking really nice if it's done right. What are you planning on for the side & altissimo keys for the pearl inserts?
Please keep us posted! It'll be a fun project to watch!
I have a donor horn already that I think will work. I have also recently found a source for pearl blanks as well. I plan to get Jason Dumars to engrave the replacement keys to match the style of the originals. It will be a while before I can start on this one with other projects that are in the hopper.
Are you planning to spring the auxiliary Eb key open or shut. I wanted my to work, but my overhauler (co-owner Marvin Krantz, of Saint Louis Woodwind and Brasswind Repair) was adamant upon the point of springing it shut.
I actually +1 the idea of making sure the Eb vent works. While it's arguable that disabling the vent improves intonation, the horn was designed with it. FWIW, though, I've had about a half-dozen horns with the forked Eb and G# trill and I don't think I ever used them in a performance.
I use the G# trill quite often, but I positively hate the fork Eb, dating way back to my days in high school, when I had occasion to use a Leblanc bass with that "feature". It didn't work well there, and it never worked well on a sax either.