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Author Topic: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N  (Read 565 times)

Offline Tarh331_Dad

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1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« on: March 25, 2024, 10:13:30 AM »
This is a question about the final days of "professional" grade clarinets at Conn Elkhart.

I'm borrowing the date estimates from Christine Derksen's website:

https://cderksen.home.xs4all.nl/ConnNModels.html

Here are the four most prominent clarinets of that era:


280N, Connstellation, circa 1952-1953

77N, Connquest, circa 1958-1963

78N, Connquest, circa 1964-1969

38N, Connstellation, circa 1965-1969


The 280N Connstellation is definitely a "big bore" professional horn, manufactured in Elkhart [folks say it's simply a re-branded 444N].

And I'm guessing that the 77N might also be a "big bore" professional horn, manufactured in Elkhart?

However, I suspect that the 38N & the 78N, in the late 1960s, are probably either USA clarinets manufactured by Artley, or French clarinets manufactured by Malerne?

And, if so, would they be much smaller bore clarinets than had been the tradition at CONN?

Thanks so much for any information anyone can offer concerning the 1960s CONN clarinets and their bore diameters!!!

PS: If anyone knows, it would also be very interesting to learn whether the CONN student clarinets [such as the Pan American & the CONN Director] had small bores.

It seems like it might be cruel to start a child on a big bore horn [???]

« Last Edit: March 28, 2024, 03:51:10 AM by Tarh331_Dad »

Offline Windsong

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2024, 12:50:58 PM »
Thank you for posting. 

While I cannot help you with Conn clarinet bores from the 60s (all of my Conns are from the teens) you bring up a good point, which I want to address:

A big bore (.586-.600") clarinet takes a bit more focus to keep it intonally acceptable.  It is precisely for this reason that they are highly prized for their note-bending capabilities in jazz and blues.  Most classical players do not venture past a .585"  bore, and while I have scads of clarinets in the .560-.585 range, my preference is .590-.600" (15-15.25mm). 

While the big bore clarinets are very free breathing, the focus necessary to keep from wavering a note typically takes much practice and accumulated skill. 

I definitely agree that a student should start out on a narrow bore horn with a free breathing mouthpiece, until they have enough embouchure control to manage a larger bore.

I hope someone can chime in with bore dimensions for you.  By the 1960s, Conn was likely using a polycylindrical bore, which should mitigate some of the issues associated with a large, straight bore.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2024, 12:53:11 PM by Windsong »
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Offline 350 Rocket

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2024, 02:34:35 PM »
A note about the 280N: Some were made in Germany, probably by Schreiber, and probably in the later part of the model run.

I'm reasonably confident that the 78N was made by Conn in Elkhart, as it has the same keywork as the 16N. I have a 16N (delightful instrument, FWIW) and it features setscrews on the pivots and a .605" bore with the traditional Conn unconventionalities (see below), so it must be all Conn and made in Elkhart. Artley wasn't building clarinets until 1971, so it's highly unlikely they were involved. Some altos and basses were apparently made in France, but I don't know which ones nor by whom.

I don't know about the 38N, as they seem to be as rare as they come.

While the conventional wisdom is that 1969 was the end, the 38N and 78N (as well as the 17N) remained in Conn price lists through at least 1971. I don't know if that's because they were still making them, or they just had that much old stock left over.

I'd add the 80N Victor to the list as well. It was introduced in 1955, lasted through at least 1959, and was probably the predecessor to the 77N.

Bore sizes - I've measured a few.

Between a 424N (late production), 50N, 18N, and 16N, all had a bore size of .605" at the top of the upper joint. At the bottom of the upper joint, the 424N measures .595" while the others are around .590-.591". Barrels are all approximately .588" at the bottom, a bit larger at the top. I'm not sure if that's considered polycylindrical or something else with that "step" between the barrel and body, but Conn's acoustical research department must've found that it did something advantageous.
Posted to the original The Clarinet Pages forum from my Power Macintosh 6100/60 using Netscape Navigator™

Offline Windsong

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2024, 08:37:29 PM »
Rocket,
That is all great info.

I had no idea that Conn broke the .600" barrier.  It's not easy finding non-custom horns that big.  I'd like a 926 B&H for the same reason, but they are a bit spendy.
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Offline Tarh331_Dad

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2024, 03:29:57 PM »
Is it safe to assume that the inner bore of a vintage CONN mouthpiece, which was designed to be played with a big bore CONN clarinet, would itself have a big inner bore [at the base of the mouthpiece]?

Or might there have been some sort of polycylindrical black magic in the CONN barrels [maybe something like a small bore at the top of the barrel and a big bore at the bottom of the barrel]?


Offline Windsong

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2024, 08:10:19 PM »
If we are talking early days, the inner bore of my Conn MP is .565".  It has a large, untapered chamber, with minimal reverse bafffling.
Since we're on the topic, the bore of my 1917 is .565" straight through.  This is a 7 ring model.
The bore of my 1918 is .582 at the top and .565" at the bottom.  Interesting.  This is a 6 ring model.  Not that it necessarily means that it's been this way since the beginning, but the MP came to me with this horn, and has the same fade to the rubber.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2024, 08:14:04 PM by Windsong »
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Offline 350 Rocket

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2024, 02:44:40 PM »
Is it safe to assume that the inner bore of a vintage CONN mouthpiece, which was designed to be played with a big bore CONN clarinet, would itself have a big inner bore [at the base of the mouthpiece]?

Or might there have been some sort of polycylindrical black magic in the CONN barrels [maybe something like a small bore at the top of the barrel and a big bore at the bottom of the barrel]?

Conn mouthpieces do not have larger bores.

The mouthpiece that came with my 424N (no telling if it's original, but it's a period Conn piece, no model marking) has a bore of about .582". Both of the Conn E-Z Tone pieces I have measure .580".

By comparison, an older (pre-2V) Noblet is .586", a Sumner Acousticut is .585", a Yamaha 4C is .582", a Selmer Goldentone is .581", and Vito pieces seem to be around .577" regardless of whether they were made by Noblet or the Woodwind Co.
Posted to the original The Clarinet Pages forum from my Power Macintosh 6100/60 using Netscape Navigator™

Offline mechanic

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2024, 06:51:33 PM »
Rocket,
That is all great info.

I had no idea that Conn broke the .600" barrier.  It's not easy finding non-custom horns that big.  I'd like a 926 B&H for the same reason, but they are a bit spendy.


For the budget conscious, there is the 1960's Conn Director.  Hard rubber and .605" at the top and .592 at the bottom of the top joint. 
I have a Conn Precision mouthpiece (plastic) that is .591" right at the bottom of the tenon that tapers to .582" at about 3/8" into the chamber.
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Online windydankoff

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2024, 05:26:54 AM »
When stating "bore at the top" of the upper joint, it's important to describe how it tapers down. I think it's most common to taper down quickly, over a short length. Perhaps it has a funnel effect.

I have reamed the tops of purely-cylindrical large-bore clarinets for this effect, and I do believe it improves it.
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Offline 350 Rocket

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2024, 02:01:41 PM »
For the budget conscious, there is the 1960's Conn Director.  Hard rubber and .605" at the top and .592 at the bottom of the top joint. 
I have a Conn Precision mouthpiece (plastic) that is .591" right at the bottom of the tenon that tapers to .582" at about 3/8" into the chamber.
To expand on this, there's three different non-wood Director models:

14N, 1955-62? - hard rubber body with conventional keywork and plastic barrel/bell
50N, 1956-62? - hard rubber body with cast potmetal keywork and plastic barrel/bell, called "Cavalier" for the first couple years
16N, 1963?-69 - "Zyloid" plastic body
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Offline mechanic

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2024, 05:24:48 PM »
I know I've gotten away from the Conn professional by bringing up the Director, but here we go.
The Director I have, is definitely hard rubber body.  The only markings on the body are the serial number on the lower joint.  C10089, which I believe is from 1963.  I was thinking Bakelite for barrel and bell, but could be early plastic. No other number, and only the DI and R left on the bell.


For Windy, using a telescopic bore gauge and digital micrometer (both Harbor Freight, for what they're worth).
Top - .605",  1cm in - .605",  2cm in - .601",  3cm in - .599", bumping the vent tube - .598".
Bottom up.  .595" in to about 7cm.  that's as far as my bore gauge would reach.
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Offline Windsong

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Re: 1960s CONN: Connstellation 38N & Connquest 78N
« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2024, 07:46:16 PM »
What great information, folks.  I had no idea.  I got into Conns purely to study old keywork, and have clearly not given the later models their due.
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