Friday, November 16, 2012

Conn's Monster evolves further

The large, four-valve "Monster Sousaphone," created by C. G. Conn in 1898, evolved further in 1903, as seen in this photo of Sousa's Band in London that year:

Photo courtesy of Paul Bierley, The Incredible Band of John Philip Sousa, p. 46
Taking a closer look at the Sousaphone in this photo, two significant differences can be detected, when comparing this horn with the "Monster" we had seen in previous years:

First, the bell appears larger, and seems to sit higher above the head of the player.

Second, and much more obvious, the tubing that comes from the third valve is entirely different, as it now forms a long, straight line that sits below the fourth valve, and culminates in a small, double-wrap on the right before connecting once again with that third valve.
To see this change more clearly, here is the very same model Sousaphone - if not the exact same horn - about twenty years later, being held by Jack Richardson:

Photo courtesy of Paul Bierley, The Incredible Band of John Philip Sousa, p. 55
Compare that with the photo of Herman Conrad holding the modified version of the horn built in 1898:

Photo courtesy of Ian Church
Again, the bell seems to sit a bit lower on the older horn, and the third valve tubing configuration is clearly different. And from this point on (1903), this new version of Conn's four-valve "Monster" is the only one seen in Sousa's Band. In fact, by the 1920s, Sousa was using two of them (albeit with different bell and first branch sizes), along with three of the smaller, three-valve Sousaphones, as can be seen in this photo from 1927:

Photo courtesy of the Sousa Archives

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