Conn 38B Connstellation

Conn Connstellation 38B 1959

Date: 1959. Owner unknown, picture by Paul Ayick.

Notice the first slide trigger and the "wide" wrap. The Connstellation 38B is nickel plated with brass trim and has a large 5 1/8" bell. It has a #1 bore (0.438"), and was produced from 1955 to at least 1978.

There are several variants of Connstellation 38B. There is evidence to suggest that the 1955 models had similar valve caps to the ones used on its predecessor, the 28B Connstellation. Certainly 1956 and 1957 versions used a style of valve cap that was used for many years by Conn. It is a felt-less top valve cap, an example of which can be seen on the 6B Victor on this site. Actually the felt is underneath the finger tips, and is red. From 1958 Conn switched all trumpets and cornets to a style of valve cap with the felt on the top valve caps itself. The felt on these is also red. These valve caps are either nickel-silver plated or lacquered brass. The 38B pictured here is an example of the "nickel-silver with red felt on valve cap"-style. I suspect that from late 1959 the rule was to equip nickel plated, nickel silver and silver plated instruments with lacquered brass valve caps, and lacquered brass and coprion instruments with the nickel-silver valve caps. The 36B lightweight Connstellation on this site is a late 1959 model with the lacquered brass valve caps. The 38B pictured here has nickel-silver plated valve caps, which suggests that it is either a 1958 or 1959 model. Another example of this can be seen on the 1963 38A Connstellation short model cornet on this site: nickel plated with lacquered brass valve caps and red felt. All Connstellations up to and including those produced in 1969 have engraved on the bell "C.G.Conn LTD, Connstellation, Elkhart, USA". I haven't seen pictures of any Connstellations with serial numbers dating between 1970 and 1977. The 1978 Connstellation's bell was engraved "C.G.Conn LTD, Connstellation, USA". Note the absence of the word "Elkhart".

However, there are some strange 38B Connstellations out there. I happen to own one (and have seen pictures of others). They have beige felt on the valve caps, and lack the "Elkhart" on the bell. The valve caps are lacquered brass. This and some other details suggests "1970's". But it has a 1955 serial number (in the case of my 38B: 502321). I suspect Conn recycled 500,000 serial numbers at some point during the 70's or early 80's. If anyone knows more about these Connstellations, or owns one, I would love to hear from you.

Another variation among Connstellations is the third slide stop screw. Instruments built through 1960 don't have a stop screw on the third slide. From 1961 onwards the third slide stop screw starts showing up on Connstellation models. The instrument pictured above doesn't have that stop screw, suggesting it was built before approximately 1961. Connstellations built through 1969 all appear to have an end screw and two adjustment screws on both the first and third slide stop screws. The 1978 Connstellation (and my own weird 38B) appear to have only the end screw.

Don't confuse the 38B with the Connstellation 28A which is actually a long cornet. It can be very difficult to tell the difference between the two. The only sure way is to find out if it takes a trumpet or cornet mouthpiece.

The 38B Connstellation is the succesor to the 28B Connstellation, which also featured the first slide trigger. The 36B lightweight Connstellation came out in late 1959. It has no first slide trigger and has a smaller bell, but is otherwise the same including the nickel plating. Apparently Conn (UMI) tried to produce 38B's again at one point but couldn't get it quite right. Going back to the original specifications and tooling wasn't an option because those had been destroyed at one point.

What Conn said in 1957:
The "last word" in trumpets ... this brand new model is a fitting companion to the 28A Connstellation cornet. Many artists are using both- the cornet for small combo use and the trumpet for larger groups and solo work. Features amazing ELECTRO-D bell, topspring clickless crysteel valves, non-corroding "Micro-Finish" mouthpipe and scientific CALI-BORE. Nylon piston guide reduces valve noise at the same time adding longer life to the part as compared to former metal guide. Trigger mechanism on first valve gives great flexibility in both high and low ranges. Length 21", weight 2 lbs. 12 oz., bell diameter 5_1/8". Outfit includes new, modern Connstellation case, plus music lyre and correct mouthpiece.
Highly polished nickel finish, with brass trim, protected by longer lasting, acid resistant LUSTRE-CONN finish.

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