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Saxophone/Buescher low pitch saxaphone

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Question
I purchased a Buescher low pitch saxaphone silver in color for my daughter at a garage sale.  We paid $125.00 for it with the original (but beat up) case.  The serial number is 239806 and has a pat date of Dec 8, 1914.  Can you tell me anything about the value of this instrument.
Thanks
Linda

Answer
Linda,

I want to apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I had to make a trip out of town to help relatives effected by the hurricane and did not have access to my computer or the Internet for several days.

The saxophone you have is a 1928-29 Buescher True-Tone. This was Buescher's primary model from about 1897 to roughly 1930. Thus yours is one of the last before the introduction of the model that followed "The Aristocrat". As it's so close to the change over it could be a transitional model and share some of the characteristics of each model.

The True-Tone was produced in very large numbers mainly due to what we now refer to as the "Sax Craze" of the 1920's. During this time saxophone was as popular if not more than the electric guitar is today as jazz was the pop music of the time and the sax is of course a huge part of jazz. This resulted in a very large number of saxophones being produced and for those in the repair field, we see instruments from this time much more often than you might expect. Most in less than ideal condition.

Buescher's approach to the saxophone was to cater to the orchestral community. Thus their instruments have a very focused, dark tone, and the action had a very light feel. Where a company like Conn or Martin would cater to the jazz players and their tone is considered to be "bigger" and brighter and the action would be a bit stiffer, thus faster. Also the Bueschers tend to have better intonation than some other brands.

A few notes about maintainece of this horn. Buescher did things differently and had many innovations in their designs. The most notable is the "Snap-in" pad. I belive your horn should have these. The way to tell is look at the resonators on the pads. They should be a simple steel dome with no rivet of any kind in the middle. If the resonator is flat or has a dimple in the middle the horn has been modified. The snap in pads did just that, they snapped in. The idea behind this is when a pad went bad, a player could easily just pop it out and insert a new one. You could even buy pad sets and completely replace all the pads in your horn. However this was not as easy as it seems. As the saxophones would age, the corks, felts, etc that control the regulation would also change and these were not as easy to replace or regulate. Also there were small variations in the pads themselves that required a technician to check and regulate to prevent leaks. Even for a tech this is not an easy method. So what would happen is many of the techs would remove the "snaps" in the middle of the pad cup that held the pad and resonator in place and use a traditional glue in method of installing the pads.

I've played Bueschers with the original snap in pads and those with the glue in pads and I can not tell a difference in the way the horn plays or any effect in the sound or the color of the tone. However this will have an effect on the re-sale value of the instrument. Collectors want the original resonators and snaps to be in place as much as possible. A horn that has been modified and does not have the correct pads can loose as much as 30% to 40% of it's value.

Another innovation was the screw in springs. These have been a pain for most techs as replacement springs are no longer available. Therefore many of the horns have been modified to accept standard springs. Of course having the screw in type is prefered by an instrument modified to accept modern springs does not deduct much from the resale value.

However there is now a new method that allows a tech to use the more modern pads installed with glue and keep the original resonator. If you find a tech that is not filmier with the new method, I would be happy to speak with them.

The good news here is that you paid a very good price for the horn. I would not object to paying the price you did and then fix up and re-sale the instrument. You did not say if it was an Alto or a Tenor but either way you did very well. Even if you need to get the horn re-padded you will come out where you should be on an instrument like this.

Regarding that date on the back. I've gotten into many discussions and "arguments" with sax players who sware up and down there horn was made on Dec 8, 1914. However this is not a manufacture date, it's a patten issue date. The patten it is referring to is a patten issued to Vern Powell. Mr. Powell, was a flute maker who invented a method of drawing the tone hods out of the body of the instrument instead of cutting a hole and then soldering on a chimney. This prevented the tone holes from developing leaks as the solder would often suffer from metal fatigue or quality control issues at the factory. The paten expired in 1939 after 25 years. All saxophones and flutes that used this method were required to carry this date stamp and paten number and pay a few $$ to Mr. Powell. This made Mr. Powell very rich. Currently Mr. Powell's company makes some of the best flutes on the planet many sell in the high 5 figure range.

So you did a very good job on the price. I would recommend you have it looked over by a tech and do any necessary repairs. If you need help finding a tech you should go to the web site for the "National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians" and do a search for a tech in your area. www.napbirt.org

If I can be of any more help, just let me know.

Charles Harris

Charles Harris.  

Saxophone

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Charles Harris

Expertise

questions regarding equipment, performance, repairs, lessons, etc. Almost all saxophone related questions.

Experience

I am a professional member of N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instruments Repair Technicians). I have been repairing saxophones, flutes, clarinets, and brass instruments since 1993. I perform in several professional groups covering genres form classical, jazz, and rock.

Organizations
N.A.P.B.I.R.T (National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair Technicians

Education/Credentials
St. Petersburg Junior College (AA) University of South Florida.

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