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new old axe

Conn 6H 1958 600x
I found a prize vintage trombone 2 1/2 years ago. It was a 1958 Conn 6H in an Austin, Texas Salvation Army store. Looking ugly and selling on e-bay for cheap, I took a chance. Even if I had to pay for a full restoration, it would still be below market value for a good one.

The lacquer was flaked off as much as on, the slide had a lot of drag and some visible wear in the plating. It would have responded quite well with a round trip to one of the trombone restoration shops in the USofA.

I was not, am not hugely concerned about the cosmetics, though I do appreciate nice looking horns. But the slide really needed to, well, SLIDE. At the very least, I was thinking of sending it alone to the number one guy in the states, known as The Slide Doctor.

But before doing that, I looked it over and found where the upper and lower inner slides were not parallel and had slight bends in them. I got brave, employed my own two hands, and ended up with both very straight and perfectly parallel.

Conns 6H and 88HCL 800xBut it still was draggy and scratchy.

Hmmm. Thinking that the brass inside the slide must be as old and ugly as the brass outside, I used Brasso and lots of water to clean them up. It made a big improvement, but I was still wishing the slide was just a little nicer. Nevertheless, I put up with that much improved action until quite recently. After all, I had nobody to play with but my band-in-a-box in the studio.

That changed March 5th when I joined a monthly ragtime jam session in Victor. While I have no experience with that particular genre, it is close to the stuff I do know and love, and, most importantly, they enthusiastically welcome my trombone playing along with them.

In honor of that occasion I gave both my horns a good bath and got my Round Tuit on trying some finer grade brass polish on the inside of the slide.

🙂 Major Reward 🙂

Super fine. The Slide Doctor could probably do better, but I am hard pressed to know how. The slide works perfectly. It is slick, smooth and completely without bad spots.

Without the protective lacquer coating that nearly all brass instruments wear, the 6H does tarnish over time. Some high-end horn players strip the lacquer off to gain a “freer” tone or somesuch. I took it off to shed the uneven, mottled appearance. You can see the first pictures from my September 2013 post here. ragtime maiden jam 1 I have no idea if it plays better without the coat, but it does indeed play well.

My two horns are definitely different in feel and sound. I love them both.

Now instead of being the poor backwoods cousin, the 58-year-old 6H can hold its head up in the company of my 10-year-old Conn 88HCL youngster.

For purposes of a small ragtime combo in The Hamilton House pub, the ‘little horn’ was just the perfect prescription. It fit the room well and blended nicely with the combination of instruments in the group.

AXE, by the way, is musician terminology for your musical instrument.