The very first ever saxophone was made in the Conn factory in 1889 by none other than Adolphe Sax. It was made as a gift for the famous solist E.A. Lefebre. The saxophone was built by Ferdinand Buescher, one of the foramen of the Conn factory.
From here alto and tenor models were made and displayed in the 1893 Columbian Exhibition with the model name ‘Wonder’. By 1894, four more models were introduced; the soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. They were made silver plated bodies and gold plated keys.
Though it didn’t slow from there. C. G. Conn was actually elected into Congress where he introduced a bill. The bill required ever army unit have its very own band. This in turn brought in a huge profit for the Conn company as 150 Conn saxophones were delivered to army units in 1900.
Profits continued to rise as the company pushed more models and advertisements nearly every few years. By 1922, the saxophones were becoming more ornate and unique. This is when Conn employed multiple designers such as Hugh Loney, Allen Loomis, Edward Gulick, Paul Hardy, Leland Greenleaf, and Russel Kerr. With these new artists, it ushered in a new era of Saxophones called ‘The Golden Era’ from 1925 to 1955.
This golden era brought with it new improvements to older models. The keywork was improved as well as a complete redesign of the straight soprano. Though it also brought some downs such as the F Mezzo Soprano that fell short since there was no demand for such a design. Another reject from the era was Conn-O-Sax that had a large range from low A to high G. By 1930, neither of these instruments were even offered further. Though by 1938 and a few more hit designs, the company saw higher profits.
Today, Conn focuses more on student instruments instead of the professional market. Now that there were plenty more children from the baby boom after the war, they saw a much greater market there. By 1970, the professional models were completely did away with in the manufacturing after many changes in ownership.
Well Known Saxophones
From the very first model of saxophones, there came many great models that followed. Though not many fully stood out as their own personalized designs. There were many unique models and some infamous flops made by the company.
Some of the greatly made saxophones were the Wonder, New Wonder, Pan American, American First, C. G. Conn, and Victor New Wonder. Later came the curved models in different octaves and then a straight soprano sax. Conn came out with many different designs to keep the saxophone design fresh and one of the best in the world. All had their own unique abilities and additions as well as beautiful design.
There are a handful of artists that are known for playing Conn series saxophones. Though there are few left today since Conn has stopped making professional models. Some of the artists that have played the models were Leon Berry, Charlie Parker, Benny Carter, Dextor Gordon, Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, and Harry Carney.