Conn 28A Connstellation (Late Model)

Conn 28A Connstellation 1958

Date: 1958. Owner unknown

There has been some confusion over the fact that Connstellations from different years look a bit different. So I have decided to "split" the 28A Connstellation into a page for "Early Model" and "Late Model" as I have done with some of the other models. The Connstellation pictured here is the "Late Model". The difference with the early model is mainly in the design of the leadpipe and the engraving on the leadpipe. As for the engraving on the leadpipe, the "Early Model" 28A Connstellations have "Connstellation "A" engraved on the leadpipe in addition to the "Connstellation" engraving on the bell. The late models only have "A" stamped on the leadpipe.

The 28A Connstellation, the cornet version of the 38B Connstellation trumpet. It would be more accurate to say the 38B Connstellation trumpet is the trumpet version of this cornet, since the 28A was first produced in 1955 while the 38B didn't appear until 1956. For a longer discussion about the cornet-ness of the 28A and 38B, see A theory on the 28A/38B Connstellation and early model 10A/10B Victor. The 28A was produced through at least 1969, and was probably discontinued soon thereafter.

The 28A Connstellation has been described as the "secret weapon" or "hidden gem" among the Connstellations. I know of several people who prefer it above the 38B Connstellation trumpet. For one, by using various different mouthpieces the sound can varied between bright trumpet and mellow cornet, much more so than on a trumpet. Also, if you buy a 28A you will almost certainly always have an Elkhart instrument, since the 28A was probably discontinued when Conn moved to Abilene (at least I have never seen a 28A that wasn't an Elkhart). Unfortunately, many people have a hangup about playing a cornet. As long as these people don't massacre a 28A by amputating the leadpipe and replacing it with one from a trumpet (almost invariably not a Conn) thereby turning it into a worthless hunk of metal, that will leave more 28A's for the rest of us at a lower price than a 38B would go for. I apologize for the strong language.

There are two ways to tell the difference between the 28A Connstellation cornet and a 38B Connstellation trumpet. The first is subtle, but should be apparent in most pictures if you know what to look for (you might recognize this picture as being previously on the 38B trumpet page. I have now found it is in fact a long cornet, for the following reason). If you look along the leadpipe you will see the diameter of the leadpipe increase about halfway between the finger hook and the main tuning slide. It is where the main tuning slide inserts into the leadpipe. This is the long cornet configuration. On a trumpet the increase in diameter occurs immediately after the finger hook, and is therefor longer. See picture. This might also be a way to distinguish a "real" 38B from a 28A with a replacement leadpipe/mouthpiece receiver. The second way to tell a long cornet from a trumpet is the mouthpiece receiver; the 28A will only accept a (smaller) cornet mouthpiece. Usually there will be either a letter "A" or "B" stamped on the mouthpiece receiver. The letter "A" indicates a cornet leadpipe, the "B" indicates a trumpet leadpipe. The internal bore and taper (conical-ness) of the 28A is quite different from the 38B, but this isn't obvious from the outside. Over the years the 28A has undergone the same variations as the 38B Connstellation trumpet; valve caps, third slide stop screw, engraving. See under 38B Connstellation for a more detailed explanation. For a discussion on the merits of long model cornets such as this one, see The Long Model Cornet: Fish Nor Fowl? The 28A is nickel plated with brass trim, and has a 5 1/8" bell. It was produced from 1955 through at least 1966. It doesn't appear in an early 1970's catalog. My guess is it was discontinued around 1969.

The issue of whether Connstellations have a Coprion bell has been discussed here in the past and different theories exist. In August/September 2009 I received information and then, by chance, strong evidence that has caused me to change my views on this again.

A former Conn employee said, and this appears to be confirmed by the 1960's Conn Product Manual and other reports, that Electro-D is a similar process to Coprion using non-copper metals. The former Conn employee said that an Electro-D bell was a brass bell, electrolytically plated with copper, and then electrolytically plated with nickel. These descriptions seem to match with each other and the evidence. This causes the Connstellation serial numbers to come in as follows (my educated guess):

The 28A Connstellation is the real model number of what is frequently known as the 38A Connstellation Long model. There is also a short model Connstellation cornet, the model number of which has been confirmed as 37A (brass bell) and 38A (coprion bell). See 37A/38A Connstellation short model.

What Conn said in 1959:
"New Dimension in Tone" increases the playing power of this full sound cornet. Even tuning is the result of these exclusive features: Electro-D seamless bell, Micro-finish tone chamber, Cali-Bore, Crysteel valves. First valve trigger offers top flexibility. Includes new protective Lustre-Conn finish over polished nickel plate with brass trim. Length 21 3/8", bell size 5 1/8".

What Conn said in 1966:
Long model version of 38A. Many professionals use for both cornet and trumpet work, by using different moutpiece cups. Electro-D bell and mouthpipe. First valve trigger. Micro-finish mouthpipe. Third valve slide throw ring. Lenth 21 3/8". Bell 5 1/8".

What the 1960's Conn Product Manual said:
The unique 28A, designed to look like a trumpet, is accepted by professionals as the best long model cornet on the market. Every detail of construction reflects an elegance of craftsmanship which has made this model the leader in its field. This cornet has a tonal "edge" which adds a beauty of brilliance for solo or ensemble playing. The 28A will serve a dual purpose, for many professionals use it as a trumpet or a cornet. By using a shallower and narrower cornet mouthpiece, this cornet could be made to sound like a trumpet. On the other hand, by using a deeper cup and a wider rim mouthpiece, the 28A would have a true cornet sound. This unusual versatility is aptly demonstrated by the serious student who uses this model in concert band as a cornet and also for stage band or dance band work as a trumpet!
Features include: adjustment and silencing systems on stop rods, stop rod on 1st and 3rd valve slides, nickel plated valve casing, under-cut slides, mouthpipe clean-out, protected valve springs, microfinish mouthpipe, one-piece mouthpipe-mouthpiece receiver, third valve slide throw ring, top valve springs, "Electro-D" bell, "Electro-D" mouthpipe, first valve trigger. Length 21 3/8", bell 5 1/8".