Dictionary of Conn Terminology

Airfloat Slides
Conn, 1959: "... made of high temper nickel silver and finished in exclusive Conn "Crysteel" [(q.v.)] ... tough, hard nickel plate for smoothness, speed and easy response. All Conn slides are straight bore for musical and mechanical perfection. Slides the same bore are easy to play ... project tone ... and equalizes the slide bearing for smooth, even action."

Bell Lock
The bell lock is the mechanism (usually a screw in modern trombones) that lock the bell and slide sections of a trombone together to prevent them from separating while playing. In days gone by, the bell and slide sections of a trombone weren't locked together this way and were friction fitted.

Bottom Octave Key
Conn, 1959: "This Conn exclusive feature is found on the 6M Artist alto saxophone. Faster, because it is shorter action... will not leak with special octave hole insert... eliminates troubles because of bulky top octave rings found on all other saxophones."

Bottom spring valves
So-called "bottom-spring" valves have the spring below the valve (as opposed to top-spring). Although topspring valves (q.v.) are usually associated with professional models, there were several professional quality models with bottom springs, such as the 22B New Symphony/Victor trumpet and the 1955-1957 6A/6B and 10A/10B Victor models.

According to Conn (1959): "Cali-bore is part of the process of calibrating the entire tone column of every instrument to guarantee accurate acoustical measurements at every critical point from mouthpipe to bell flare".

From a 1925 Conn pamphlet: "Connite is the name of a new metal, an alloy made according to a secret formula worked out in the Conn laboratories. It is more nearly frictionless than any other solid substance known to man. One can easily imagine what the use of this practically frictionless metal has done to the action of Conn trombone slides. Experimental models were sent for trial to a number of the foremost trombone artists in America, and without exception the verdict of these experienced musicians has been enthusiastic praise. The making and use of Connite is completely and exclusively controlled by C.G. Conn, Ltd, Elkhart, Ind. Only Conn Trombones may possess this super-feature, which represents the most radical step toward improvement which the band instrument world has seen for many years."

Coprion bell
The Coprion bell is a one-piece copper bell, electroformed on a mandrel. They were used on a number of Conn instruments, such as the 12B. The Bach "Sterling Plus" (read pure silver) is also electroformed. Electroforming only works consistently with nearly pure metals as alloys tend not to plate evenly in composition, especially in thick sections. First developed by Conn in 1938. In the 1959 catalog Conn says: " COPRION (copper ion) is produced by electrolytic deposit of copper ions in perfect line with tone column. 'Hard spots' and playing resistance is gone! Easy playing and response is actually measurable. Pure copper is on [a] stainless steel precision form accurate to millionths of an inch. Bells have same density throughout... increased resonance produces live, powerful tone." Conn Advertisement (Source: Paul Ayick)

Crysteel valves
"Crysteel Valves -Smooth as crystal and hard as steel- are another important contribution to better cornets and trumpets. Great advancement in precision manufacture makes this better valve possible. Inaccuracies inherent in old methods of manufacture make it necessary to leave the valve soft enough so inaccuracies can be worked out by hand lapping, or grinding. Conn has developed a new method of manufacture which is accurate to less than one ten-thousandth (.0001) of an inch and which eliminates these inaccuracies. Since it is not necessary to obtain accuracy of fit by hand lapping (since the valve is made accurate in the beginning), the CRYSTEEL valve can be made twice as hard as ordinary valves. The result is a better fitting, easier working valve and one that will wear much longer." Source: 1933 Conn catalog.

Electro-D bell
According to a 1959 Conn catalog, "... on 28A and 38B models. Scientific application of hard nickel that brings out the "total tone" ... selected from 17 bell designs, developed by Conn research scientists or the greatest progress in acoustical engineering in years." Electro-D is probably a similar process as coprion in that the metal is electrolytically deposited. Hence, I suspect, the term "electro(litically)-d(eposited).

High Pitch - Low Pitch
In Germany the bands and orchestras in the mid- to late 1800's played in a pitch where A=440 hz. This is the standard "low pitch" of today (which later became known as "American Standard Pitch" when it finally came to use in the US). However, at the same time, bands and orchestras in France, England and the US were playing in "high pitch" (A=452.5 Hz). In fact, in the US, "military high pitch" was even higher at A=457 hz. Around the turn of the century, the use of low pitch became more common in the US, France and England. However, it hadn't replaced high pitch yet. So horns were offered with slides to allow the player to play in either pitch, depending on what was required and what pitch the other instruments were in. In 1917, the American Federation of Musicians formally adopted A=440 as the "official" pitch for the US, and it became known as "American Standard Pitch". Apparently, (strange as it may seem) following World War I one of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles adopted A=440 as the standard pitch for all signatory nations. Following these events, the production of horns with accessory slides for high pitch declined, and finally stopped. (Source: Tom Meacham)

Hydraulic Expansion
According to a 1959 Conn catalog, "Another Conn exclusive process that includes precision forms which are engineered to hold the important curved sections of any Conn instrument so that 4000 pounds water pressure can be applied to smooth out the inside of the column to proper acoustical measurements. Polishing the outside is not too difficult and all instruments may look attractive but the inside is the part that is important to tone, tuning and response."

In the 1959 catalog, Conn says: "Made of two strong chemical formulas and applied with special equipment, Lustre-Conn is a hard but transparent finish that stands body acid and scratch exposure under all playing conditions." The term "Lustre-Conn" first appeared in Conn's 1957 catalog.

Some cornets such as the 80A are classified as "with mechanism" or "without mechanism". The mechanism is a system whereby the slides connected to the valves are automatically pulled out the correct amount when the main tuning slide is pulled out to A. See picture

Micro Finish Tone Chamber
According to a 1959 Conn catalog: "... (mouthpipe) on 28A, 38B, 6A, 6B, 10A, 10B models. The "heart" of good tone depends on the critical taper in the tone chamber (mouthpipe). Only Conn has the scientifically formed tone chamber over a stainless steel mandrel ... tolerances held to less than 1/30 the thickness of a human hair." There is some suggestion that this is a similar process as coprion in that the metal is electrolytically deposited.

This is a twistable knob seen on early cornets and many alto saxophones up until about 1954. On cornets it is attached to a slide, usually positioned in front of the valve casing. On saxophones it is in the neck, immediately aft of the mouthpiece. The purpose of the microtuner is to adjust the tuning of the instrument very precisely.

According to Conn in 1959: "Identifies the formula of a special material used to make the outside slides [of trombones]. Although a much more costly material with a bronze bearing base, Conn experts selected this after two years of research and testing for all Connstellation, Artist and Victor trombones."

The permadjust mechanism is found on the 26M and 30M Connqueror saxophones. According to Conn: "One of the worst troubles players have with saxophones is keeping them in adjustment. the foot of the keys which determines the lift has heretofore been covered with cork. This cork packs down, some of it worse than others. In certain kinds of weather it swells. It also comes loose under rough handling. The result is a saxophone in constant need of adjustment. The player who uses his instrument a lot has to send it to a repairman every few weeks to have it recorked and regulated. It is almost impossible, too, to put some keys in adjustment with cork, notably the articulated G# key. Conn has eliminated all this trouble with the Permadjust foot. With this little device it is easy to put all keys into micrometer adjustment. Instead of trial and error shaving of cork, you merely screw the permadjust foot out for less lift of keys and screw it in for greater lift. When correct adjustment of lift is secured, you lock the foot in place with [a] tiny set screw. By locking the adjustment foot, the adjustment is retained indefinitely. The foot has a large area and seats on hard felt, secured to the body of the instrument and protected by [a] metal ring. The hardest kind of playing will not throw the key mechanism out of regulation. Tested and enthusiastically endorsed by many of America's greatest saxophone artists. Created by Conn to help the saxophone player and make his work easier." Source: Conn ad for the 26M and 30M Connqueror saxophones.

Slide Lock
For trombone players this is probably very obvious: a slide lock is a mechanism that locks the slide so it can't be extended. This is useful when putting the trombone on an instrument stand, that way the slide doesn't rest on or drop to the floor.

A term used by Pan American. In 1938, Pan American gave this explanation: "The new, harder, smooth-as-glass, corrosion resisting finish on Pan American Cornet and Trumpet pistons, and on the Pan American Slide Trombone slide, is a flint-like finish that assures you of smoother, easier and faster action resulting in smoother, easier and faster playing instruments. This means that the instrument will give you greater playing satisfaction. Too, this finish resists wear and corrosion longer." Source: 1938 Pan American brochure.

Spring Barrel
On a trombone, these are springs in the barrel of the hand slide (nearest the mouthpiece receiver) that allow the hand slide to be "compressed" slightly to give a position higher than "position 1", sometimes referred to as "position 1/2". The usual reasons given for the spring barrel are: 1) To allow slide vibrato in first position; 2) To allow first position D above the bass clef staff to be played in tune rather than flat, as it otherwise would be on most horns if the Bb is in tune; 3) To avoid banging the mouthpiece into the chops when making a fast return to first position. In the 1959 catalog, Conn describes the spring barrel as "easy first position adjustment gives player complete control of pitch". Spring barrels were used on the 8H, 70H, 72H and 88H. Source: 1959 Conn catalog and Gary Sloane.

Tapered Rotors
According to Conn in 1959: "In the 88H and 72H Bb and F trombones, the change valves are equipped with a tapered rotor valve to insure perfect port match, better action and longer life. This more costly design will offer greater satisfaction for the players of these Artist models."

Top spring valves
So-called "top-spring" valves have the spring above the valve (as opposed to bottom spring). Top spring valve instruments are usually professional models. However, the reverse isn't the case: there were several professional models with bottom spring valves.

Tri-C valves
Conn: "An anti-bounce discovery for trumpet and cornet valves, coupled with a radical new way of finishing the pistons themselves - conical damping to eliminate bounce, crysteel pistons that stay like new, clean chamber because there is no felt fuzz." Source: Conn Chord magazine, 1962. As far as I can tell Tri-C valves are always top spring valves. The "conical damping" consists of a cone shaped piece of cork at the top of the valve spring mechanism which fits into a conical shaped space. Presumably this eliminates "bounce". Tri-C valves were used on trumpets and cornets between 1959 and 1962, probably on instruments with serial numbers 800,000 through 999,999. Instruments from 1963 on don't have the conical piece of cork anymore (serial numbers C00,501 and higher).

Tuning Slide in Slide
Although in trombones the (main) tuning slide is usually located in the bell section, before 1955 Conn made trombone models with the main tuning slide in the slide. This consisted of a screw mechanism to extend a tuning slide within the slide. The advantage of having the tuning slide in the hand slide is that this allows the entire bell section to be conical, in stead of there being a cylindrical section to allow for the tuning slide. For the effects of conical versus cylindrical tubing, see The color of sound .

This is the name given to bells that don't have a bell wire. Supposedly, the bell is so thick/heavy that it did not need a bell wire for strength. According to Conn, "The Vocabell is more than bell without a wire in the rim. It is a solid metal bell in which the thickness of the bell bottom is scientifically graduated to permit maximum vibration in sympathy with the vibrating tone column in the instrument. Delicate harmonics dampened out or muffled by the bell with a wire in the rim sound full, pure and free on this new principle bell, enriching and strengthening the tone. Columbia Broadcasting System Studios in New York made tests on the Vocabell and showed it has from 12 to 15 decibels greater power with the same amount of effort than conventional bells." Used on the 40B and 48B Connqueror. (Source: Conn catalog) Bell of a 40B.

Wrap, the
"The Wrap" refers to the way in which an instrument is "folded" or "wrapped". Many Conn trumpets and so-called "Long Cornets" from the 50's and 60's have a "wider" or "looser" "wrap" than modern trumpets. See for example the 38B Connstellation. (Source: Paul Ayick)