Early Conn soprano Vs 18M
Some sources say the latter 18M horns had better intonation, however, require careful mouthpiece match to work properly. What are examples of these mpcs? The 18M is said to have a different sound than the earlier horns due to it's narrower bore. Any comments from players that have experienced both horns?
Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian
The "stretch" 18M needs a mpc that has both a throated chamber (like modern round chamber mpcs, only placed a little further back toward the tip) and a short shank. Nothing even remotely like this is made today, and even customizing would be tough, because most mpcs have the throat too far forward and won't go on the neck far enough to tune even if you cut down the shank. With a piece such as a cut-down rubber Link, most of the horn will play in tune, and the sharpness you get on older sops won't be there - a definite plus. But you'll get progressively flatter below low D, with low B and Bb nearly 1/2 tone flat.
The 18M tone really is different to me. It has a more compact, "ringing" quality than the older Conn straight, while retaining that same round, mellow undertone. It reminds me very much of Johnny Hodges' soprano work - in fact I'm convinced Hodges (a long time Conn user) was playing an 18M in the Ellington band in the 30s.
Original 18M mouthpieces are literally impossible to find - even most 18Ms come without one. I found a cheapie, vintage, throated bakelite piece that allows my 18M to play in pretty good tune, but doesn't have much tone. I'd think the calculations needed to recreate the original mpc would be very tricky indeed, unless left to a real expert like Ralph Morgan.