Ted’s essays

1958 Conn 6H trombone cleanup

Looking around my websites and disk storage archives I realized that I did not document my restoration of a very desirable old trombone that I ‘got for a song’ because it was screamingly ugly, non-functional, and in need of quite a lot of work.

I am rectifying my lack of documentation today.

Nine years ago I got to hankering for a particular vintage jazz horn from the Conn instrument company’s heyday, the apex of their evolution in Elkhart, Indiana when the craftsmen, culture, design and materials came together to make some of the finest brass instruments EVER.

In 1970 Conn company was sold and in 1971 brass instrument production moved to Abilene, Texas, walking away from the craftsmen and their famous production quality simultaneously.

I wanted one of the Conn 6H jazz horns the brass artists in Elkhart built.

The photos on the left are of the horn as delivered to me September 2013 from a Salvation Army thrift store in Austin, Texas.

On the right are the “after” photos. Same horn, just some chemical and elbow grease apart.

Both the hand slides and tuning slides were in bad shape inside and out, thus were barely functional – a situation that required quite a bit of work on my part to make it even a little usable.

I used Orangestrip to remove the bits of lacquer still on the horn, then Brasso to take the oxidation off the brass and make it even all over.

It is now unplated, but does not seem to tarnish much in its naked state. Many brass musicians prefer the sound of unplated, unfinished horns and some like the patina of tarnished brass. Not me, but that does not seem to be an issue with this one.

I liked it well enough that I eventually sent the slide to The Slide Doctor for a thorough renewal that turned the old horn from a rarely played conversation piece into one I use regularly.

To the right are both of my regularly played horns. The lighter, brighter, smaller 1958 Conn 6H next to the bigger, newer, more powerful, melodic, symphonic 2006 Conn 88HCL.

It is easy to see that the old horn cleaned up nicely.