Conn Contrabass Trombone in BBbThis Instrument was built before 1909. We know this because the Conn Company has no record of this instrument thanks to a fire in 1909 which destroyed all prior records. We know that Conn built two contrabass trombones, one is in the Conn museum and the other is in the Bobo collection. The first, in the Conn Museum, is a single bore instrument meaning the same bore goes through both slides. It is very stuffy and nearly impossible to play. The Bobo collection horn however, is a duel bore instrument with the first slide being about the size of a modern bass trombone and the second wrap being a 1/16" larger, it is free blowing and makes a beautiful sound.
This instrument first came to the surface with William Bell, then tubist with the New York Philharmonic in 1954. In 1958, Roger Bobo went to New York City to take a lesson from William Bell from Rochester, where he had been playing in the Rochester Philharmonic and studying at the Eastman School of Music. Though he had never seen one, Roger had a fascination for contrabass trombone, and he asked Mr. Bell if he knew where he might be able to find such an instrument. William Bell went to his locker in the dressing room of Carnegie Hall and got the contra. Roger played it for a few minutes and Mr. Bell offered to sell it to him for $450.00. In 1958 that was not only a good deal, that was a gift!
Several months later, back in Rochester, the Philadelphia Orchestra came through while on tour. The 20 year old Roger Bobo met Philadelphia tubist Abe Torchinsky and quickly found the opportunity to show Mr. Torchinsky his new contrabass trombone. Immediately Mr. Torchinsky became very agitated and a very confused Roger Bobo finally asked what was the matter. It seems that just 4 years before Mr. Torchinsky had given the very same contrabass trombone to William Bell as a Christmas present!
After some time Mr. Torchinsky told Roger that it wasn't really his instrument in the first place but that he had found it in a old storage room in the Philadelphia Symphony's hall!
In 1960 Roger Bobo had an F attachment added to the instrument which the obvious inertia problem of moving a very heavy double slide from a 6th or 7th position to first position much easier to negotiate.
This instrument is now owned by Bass trombone virtuoso Murray Crewe of the Pittsburg Symphony.