C.G. Conn Elkhart 8H “Gardell Simons” c.1920

This special trombone was made for and owned by the legendary trombonist Gardell Simons. Born in 1878, Simons began playing trombone in the circus and eventually joined the Sousa band in 1910 as the solo trombonist. He joined the NBC Symphony in 1938 and died in Glendale, California (where The Brass Ark is located) in 1945. In 1920, he designed a model “62h” with Conn and Jake Burkle, which was a straight trombone featuring two screw-off bell flares (6.5″ and 8″ flares) and knurled one-piece slide grips. This model went into production, but interestingly, one special 8H was made for him with a similar design aesthetic and features. As far as I know, it is the only one in existence made specifically for Simons.

This trombone also has two bell flares, one 8″ and one 8 3/4″ (pictured), along with a .547″ slide with knurled braces and an F attachment wrap with a similar configuration and design elements to the 1916 Conn Symphony model also in the museum. The instrument has a friction fit slide connection and originally had a string loop thumb lever, which was missing when I acquired it. I had Don Sawday custom fabricate a modern thumb lever while keeping the parts original with minimal modification.

This remarkable trombone is from a wonderful period of brass making and is possibly one of the first screw bell large bore trombones ever made. Also part of this collection, the original Conn flat case for this instrument, which holds both bell flares along with the body of the trombone.