The Conn 8D, introduced in the late 1930s (probably late 1937 or early 1938), is a copy of the famous Kruspe Horner Model. Though briefly eclipsed in the 1960s and 1970s by the Holton Farkas Model horns, the 8D has been the most widely-used professional instrument in U.S. orchestras since the end of World War II. Every time you listen to the New York Philharmonic under Bernstein or the Cleveland Orchestra under Szell, you are hearing Conn 8D's in the horn section. It has also been the standard instrument on Hollywood sound stages during the same period.
Made of German (nickel) silver, which is neither German nor silver, but a brass alloy with a relatively high nickel content, the 8D features a large bell throat with an equally large and distinctive sound. My own 8D, pictured here, is an N series instrument, made in 1970. I played it through most of high school and all of college. It is an exceptionally fine-playing example of the 8D, with a ringing, penetrating quality to the sound at all dynamic levels, a quality few other 8D's (or other horns, for that matter) I've played have shared.
This horn shows the style of engraving used on the bells of horns made in Elkhart, Indiana. Within a few years of this horn's manufacture, Conn production would be moved to Abilene, Texas. The Abilene Conns are not as highly esteemed as those made in Elkhart and those currently being produced in Eastlake, Ohio. String actuates the thumb valve, the one that changes the horn from F to B-flat, unlike some of the pre-letter-series horns, which used mechanical linkage for this valve. The pull ring for the second valve slide is wide, a characteristic N series and Abilene horns share; earlier horns had a narrower ring on the second valve slide.
Created: 2 Sep 2002; revised 15 May 2005.