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Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby bstevens » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:19 pm

Hi

I've just test played a second hand Conn sousaphone. The bell is engraved with the usual Conn stuff (no naked lady), on both the bell and where the body attaches is engraved 40K and then 89. This was a 3 valve sousaphone though, played well etc, silver in good condition.

I'm confused - I thought 40k was only a 4-valve version. Coulk 89 really be the serial number? Where is it normally engraved on the Conn sousaphones?

Any idea on value? Are they worth picking up or better to go for a 14k or 20k? I've played neither ...

Many thanks!
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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby Tundratubast » Fri Apr 30, 2010 2:28 pm

The 89 is a number to match the bell and body, the 40K is the model number of the horn, and yes, should be a 4 valve horn. Look very close to the bracing around the valve cluster and body, look for any signs of solder or repair at the joints. These 4 valve sections are very nice and a previous owner may have harvested the 4 valve and replaced it with a 3v from an old 38K or some other Conn, thus pulling a con. (Very sorry for the bad pun, but it was so stupidly obvious, It had to happen.) How did it play as a 3v, 38K.
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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby TUbajohn20J » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:22 pm

The 2 digit number listed after the model number (in your case, 40K), should match up with the last 2 digits on the 6 serial number located on one of the valve casings. They did this so they could match up bells with bodies, and it helps tell if you have the original bell for your sousaphone. For example, my 40K has the number "37" stamped on the bell collar. The serial number of my horn is 18XX37, which tells me I have the original bell that was manufacured for my horn. Most likely the horn you are describing was an original 40K with a matching bell/body, but the valve section was removed possibly for a custom tuba project, and was later replaced with a more common 14K, 32K, or 38K valve section. Since that 3 piston valve section was added, it turned that horn into a 38K (3 valve version of a 40K) which is not a bad thing at all. Both the 38K's and 40K's are BEASTS of a horn and are definitely my top choices in a sousaphone. If you are looking for a good used Conn sousaphone, you should definitely buy that one! 38K's and 40K's are pretty rare and to mess an original 40K up like that just makes me mad. But it is still a good horn. iiipopes owns a 38K and hopefully he will chime in about the "dead on" false tones of those horns.

As far as 20K's and 14K's go, those are great horns too. The 20K is a 3 valve, short action valve version of a 38K/40K...which are all 6/4 size sousaphones. The 14K is more of a 4/4 size horn but with the same bore size through the valve section, just narrower branches, smaller bell, etc...

In my opinion, you should definitely go with that 38K/40K horn you played because those were just EXCELLENT horns, huge sound, great in all registers and volumes. They hold a higher value also. It would be great if you could post a pic of that horn. Anyway, hope this helped. - John
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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby Donn » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:29 pm

My 40K has "21" engraved on the bell joint and collar, no "40K" anywhere I can see. If it didn't have 4 valves, I'd have no clue what it was, so I guess it's a good thing the one you saw had that "40K" engraved on it ... hm, I believe I detest a paradox.

Serial is 5 digits, engraved lengthwise on the 2nd piston case.
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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby TubaTinker » Fri Apr 30, 2010 3:53 pm

Donn wrote:My 40K has "21" engraved on the bell joint and collar, no "40K" anywhere I can see. If it didn't have 4 valves, I'd have no clue what it was, so I guess it's a good thing the one you saw had that "40K" engraved on it ... hm, I believe I detest a paradox.

Serial is 5 digits, engraved lengthwise on the 2nd piston case.


The model engraving on the bell collars was a 'hit & miss' thing. I've seen lots of Conn sousas (and 2XJ tubas) that have nothing engraved on the collar.
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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby imperialbari » Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:11 pm

One certain TubeNet’ter harvested the 4 piston section from a 40K, put a 3 piston section on the carcass, and sold it to a school. Had been an unforgivable crime, hadn’t the 4P section surfaced on one of the most spectacular pimpophones presented on this board.

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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby bloke » Fri Apr 30, 2010 7:55 pm

imperialbari wrote:One certain TubeNet’ter harvested the 4 piston section from a 40K, put a 3 piston section on the carcass, and sold it to a school. Had been an unforgivable crime, hadn’t the 4P section surfaced on one of the most spectacular pimpophones presented on this board.

Klaus


That criminal has not yet fixed up and sold that carcass. :roll:

Basically, the 40K body and bell is the same as the 38K and the 20K. My guess is that somewhat did with imperialbari suggests; They harvested the 4-valve valveset, used it on a tuba (or a fiberglass sousaphone body :oops: ) and popped a 38K, 32K, 14K, or 36K valveset on to that 40K sousaphone body.

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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby imperialbari » Fri Apr 30, 2010 8:31 pm

If that 40K carcass is of the same old vintage as my 40K, it might be worth buying even with a 3 piston valve block. Especially if the top bow of the 1st valve tubing is a moveable slide. I have 2 pre- and one post-WWII Conn sousaphones. The older ones are heavy devils, but their sound has this special carrying power without getting nasty in louder dynamics.

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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby bstevens » Fri Apr 30, 2010 9:36 pm

Thanks for the replies thus far.

I think that's exactly what happened - 40k have been massacred with a 3 valve set. I couldn't find a serial number anywhere on the valves at all.

I played well - nice intonation, decent high register - the mid-range was maybe a little stuffy, but then it's a huge horn and I'm not used to it. I also only have 20 minutes with it.

Unfortunately sousaphones are a little rare in this land, so this is my first conn I've played.

Any idea on a decent price for this mongrel horn? The main horn body was in fantastic condition, and the valves had been serviced and seem to run ok. I'll be tempted to try make it a 4-valver again ... I'll post pictures if I decide to buy it.

Cheers,
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Re: Conn Sousaphone question - 40k?

Postby iiipopes » Sat May 01, 2010 1:32 pm

TUbajohn20J wrote:iiipopes owns a 38K and hopefully he will chime in about the "dead on" false tones of those horns...

In my opinion, you should definitely go with that 38K/40K horn you played because those were just EXCELLENT horns, huge sound, great in all registers and volumes. They hold a higher value also. It would be great if you could post a pic of that horn. Anyway, hope this helped. - John


Yes, the @1930 38K I play is an absolute beast, even with the bugle having its share of damage from normal, rough football field use over the past 80 years, a couple of patches here and there, worn plating in the expected spots; but the bell is perfect and all my numbers match.

Intonation up the scale is good. The fifth partials are not noticably flat. When I play something like "The Thunderer," "Them Basses," or "E Pluribus Unum," with jumps to the top of the staff and has the runs, I am as much or moreso secure playing them on the 38K than any other horn I've ever played them on.

The false pedals are, indeed, superlative. You truly do not need a 4th valve. The false pedals are round, precise, and sound better than all of the conventionally valved and played tubas I have played for the near-pedal range. I routinely use them as much as I can, especially on cadential notes to put the broadest foundation as possible under the band.

The 38K is the only souzy I have ever been able to get a true pedal BBb out of, again, with tone, not just the buzzsaw rasp of many other tubas.

I have the 24 inch bell version, which I find has just as large a tone, but much easier to navigate both indoors, through doors and outdoors, as the 26 inch. But for the fact it does weigh 35 pounds, I would play it more.

And like all Conn conventional .734 souzy valve sets, I have the upper loop of the 1st valve slide converted to a movable slide so all the 1+ valve combinations can ride throttle and fine tune. It really makes a difference on the C and low F.

And all this with worn valves, loose slides, and damage to the bugle that would stifle almost nearly all other merely mortal souzys, and the 38K plays through them with no stuffiness, intonation problems, or muted or fluffed notes.

The best mouthpiece I have found for the 38K and 40K is the PT82, which they advertise as matching the GR51/PT605 tuba with it also having a large bell throat. The 38K just really sings with definition and authority, as well as broad but focused tone, with that mouthpiece. It's good if a little ragged at the edges with a Kelly 18. But every other mouthpiece I've tried on it, (mind you, when I try a mouthpiece, I try it on all of my instruments to get a good sense of performance characteristics, and through purchase, selling, trading, borrowing, or outright tryout from the case, I've probably tried about 30 mouthpieces on it) lacks one or more aspects of what is needed for good souzy tone, intonation, support and projection.
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