C.G. Conn Elkhart Model 9H Orchestral Tenor Trombone

I’m fascinated by Conn trombones from the early 1900s to the 1940s, a period that saw an influx of custom instruments and the widest range of trombones ever offered by a major factory. While most instrument makers of that era were targeting dance bands and popular music markets, Conn stood out by catering to the symphonic market. Many orchestral trombonists in the US during that time had immigrated from Europe, bringing along their instruments. I speculate that these European trombones influenced the orchestral instruments Conn would create.

Suddenly, trombones with thin red brass construction, large bores and big bell flares, valve extensions with string linkages, and French rim designs started appearing. Many craftsmen also migrated to the US and settled in the Midwest, contributing to this “perfect storm” of makers, players, and musical movement. You can see all these influences reflected in instruments from this period.

The 9H trombone I have is one of these early Conn creations, built before model numbers were established. What’s remarkable about this mid-1910s trombone is how similar it is to a modern Conn 8H. It features an 8-inch diameter bell, a .540-inch narrow slide that accommodates a modern bass trombone shank mouthpiece, and a bell section made entirely from seamed red brass, while the outer slide tubes are bronze (95/5 composition). As a tribute to German makers, it even retains its original snake guard on the bottom crook. Fortunately, both the original high pitch and low pitch tuning slides, along with the original mouthpiece and case, have survived intact. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have this beautiful instrument in my collection, as it likely represents one of the earliest symphonic trombones made in the USA in this style.