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  1. #1
    vini88's Avatar
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    Default Buescher True Tone Alto

    I am looking for an economic alto sax upgrade (went all through college using my Bundy II and school's basic Yamaha). I really don't have a use for a high end alto since I'm a bari player first and foremost. I recently found a Buescher True Tone online for $395. Would that be a worthwhile investment? Its serial number indicates a 1920s model. I really like vintage horns, so would it be better to keep looking?

  2. #2
    Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and 2014 Forum Contributor maddenma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    Not an investment. No alto from the 20's is. Too many of them out there and not enough demand. Depending on the serial number, you could find yourself without a Front F and a button for G#.

    Look a little later. An Aristocrat from the late 30's through the late 50's if want a Buescher that has reasonably modern keywork, great sound, and has some value in playing condition.

    Of course, if your budget is $395, and that TT is really in playing condition, then it will do you just fine. If it's not in playing shape, then you'll put another $400 in it and it's no longer a economical choice -- you'd be better off with the later horn -- even if it is a few hundred more.

    Here's one.

    http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthr...ocrat-Alto-Sax
    1926 Buescher True Tone Series III Gold Plated Soprano -- Morgan Vintage 6
    1936 Buescher Custom Built Bare Brass Baritone -- Strathon 8*
    1938 Buescher Aristocrat "Custom Built" Gold Plated Baritone -- Strathon 8*
    1939 Buescher Aristocrat Silver Plated Series I Alto -- Ishimori Traditional Jazz 7, TW Durga 8
    1947 Buescher 400 B-11 "Top Hat & Cane" Bare Brass Tenor -- TW Durga 8
    1949 Buescher Aristocrat "Big B" Lacquer Alto -- Ishimori Traditional Jazz 7
    1949 Buescher Aristocrat Gold Plated "Big B" Tenor -- TW Durga 8
    1980-something Yamaha YBS-61 Baritone -- Strathon 8*



    Nothing works so well in gathering information as a display of ignorance. I've been learning a lot lately.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    I would still argue that even in decent playing shape $400 for that old a Buescher isn't money well spent. That sorta doll'a can get you something (dare I say it) much less archaic. Meaning 40's or younger.

    A King Cleveland, or a later Buescher 20A/Elkhart stencil, Holton Collegiate, Martin Indiana, Conn PanAm or 14/50 M Director, Beaugnier-made Vito, or another good European stencil are all in that price range, too.....

    Also, if what you are used to is the sorta keywork on a Bundy II or a Yama, any of the above will take a few weeks of getting used to; perhaps either something like an Armstrong, King 660 or Empire, or a Conn 24 or 25M would have a more familiar feel to 'em....although, granted, not the same Mojo....
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  4. #4
    Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and 2014 Forum Contributor maddenma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    ... and I concur, FWIW.
    1926 Buescher True Tone Series III Gold Plated Soprano -- Morgan Vintage 6
    1936 Buescher Custom Built Bare Brass Baritone -- Strathon 8*
    1938 Buescher Aristocrat "Custom Built" Gold Plated Baritone -- Strathon 8*
    1939 Buescher Aristocrat Silver Plated Series I Alto -- Ishimori Traditional Jazz 7, TW Durga 8
    1947 Buescher 400 B-11 "Top Hat & Cane" Bare Brass Tenor -- TW Durga 8
    1949 Buescher Aristocrat "Big B" Lacquer Alto -- Ishimori Traditional Jazz 7
    1949 Buescher Aristocrat Gold Plated "Big B" Tenor -- TW Durga 8
    1980-something Yamaha YBS-61 Baritone -- Strathon 8*



    Nothing works so well in gathering information as a display of ignorance. I've been learning a lot lately.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    My experience . . . I have a Buescher TT alto that I bought from eBay for $305 several years ago. I had noted repair-tech Rheuben Allen overhaul it. I play it all the time (my first-choice alto from among some very nice and good-playing altos in my closet including a MKVI, Ref 54, Big B, TH&C, Cigar Cutter, B&S Medusa, and an even older King). My TT has no front F, a button G#, and wonderful intonation and tone. DAVE
    Dave

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    That Bundy is not all that bad really. The TT may be a good alternative but you should play it a bit first to make sure. I sell a lot of vintage altos and find that the 20s ones are not for everyone. Remember that in addition to the lack of the front F, you will not have the same left hand pinky table, no interlocking G# with low C#, B or Bb and some other keywork items to adjust to. I have no problem with these as I play horns from different eras. You may be better off going in the mid 30s-mid 50s era as these are some of the easiest to adapt vintage horns. Bueschers, Conns and Martins can be killer horns in that period. I can't find anything in your price range except a nice original lacquer Pan-Am (Conn) from the 40s with recent pads. I played it today and it is VERY close to my 6M viii which is thousands more. Look over the market and contact me or JayePDX as we tend to have these around. Figure about $450 shipped on the Pan-American. Don't forget about any of the second line horns of the 30s-50s as they can be a lot less money than the first line models. Elkhart, Indiana, Pan-American, Cleveland, etc.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    The thing with 'True Tone' is, that name existed for quite a while on Bueschers, and people think that it was really one kind of model. But True Tones, if I am not mistaken, went thru several variations.

    Some are quite reputed, and they get raves...but you have to look carefully at which ones and from what eras. Because many others are really a bit anachronistic for a contemporary player....

    So, for example...if you had a choice between an old True Tone.... or a later 20A stencil (like a Silvertone or Lyons-Monarch)...your initial inclination might be to scoff at the latter two.
    But in all likelihood, those stencils would be more appropriate for most players than the older TT would be....
    Go for the Old-Skool, homies. www.2ndending.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    Quote Originally Posted by vini88 View Post
    I really don't have a use for a high end alto since I'm a bari player first and foremost. I recently found a Buescher True Tone online for $395. Would that be a worthwhile investment? Its serial number indicates a 1920s model. I really like vintage horns, so would it be better to keep looking?
    What no one has mentioned yet is the importance of playing condition. If that horn needs considerable work, it's definitely not a worthwhile investment. OTOH, if it's a late '20s Buescher in perfect playing condition, it could be a great horn. Such a horn could be a 'high end' alto, imo.

    What's the serial number? The TT altos from the late 20s are different from the ones from the early '20s.

    While the TT altos have a great sound (maybe the best of all the Buescher altos), you still might do better to look at the '30s - early '50s Aristocrats, in terms of overall playability. As bruce pointed out, those are great years for Bueschers overall.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Member VintageSaxGuy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    I would agree that 99% of the time a TT alto isn't an investment, but would largely disagree with the blanket statement that no alto from the 20's is...there are some that are extremely good investments if you get a good enough deal on them. But those are far less common than most TT's floating around.

    But back to the topic at hand.

    As said, the vintage of TT also makes a difference (both in terms of value and features).

    If that alto has a fresh overhaul (that was done well), IMO $400 is a good price regardless...though an earlier TT lacks front F and the slightly more modern spatula key cluster. If it's in good playing condition but doesn't have completely new pads, $400 is a decent enough deal on a later TT, but not necessarily a great price for an early TT.

    So if you could share a few more details, we could give more accurate advice on that particular one.

    If physically possible, absolutely try it out...or a TT in general if you know someone who will let you test play theirs. Either the sound and/or feel may not be what you're looking for, so it always pays to get experience with a similar sax before committing to a single model.

    An Aristocrat would feel more 'modern' than a TT, but they're generally more expensive as well, and IMO they lack the rich core that a TT has to its sound (this is being said as an owner of multiple TT's and Aristocrat's).

    In my opinion, TT's are some of the best saxes in the 'biggest bang for the buck' category. Even the earlier one's depending on price and condition.

    But there's also nothing wrong with a stencil sax so long as it's in good playing condition as well. And there are many out there that are great playing saxes, but under-appreciated (and thus, generally budget friendly).

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    Buescher used the "TrueTone" logo up until at least the Selmer buy-out (I'm not sure if they continued that logo after the buy-out). Even when Buescher went beyond the TrueTone model designations and into the Aristocrat and 400 series, they still kept that TT logo on their horns. My TrueTones, Big B and TH&C (400) all have that TT logo on the backside.

    It is true that the vintage of TrueTone models (1920's) may be important to some - their TT models changed over time . . . necks, G# design, etc. Not important for me but, as Jaye put it, "contemporary" players may not get along with the "ancient" keywork.

    An investment? I agree with the other posters - these horns are not investments, as that term is usually used. However, the 1920's TTs were generally good players. Are there ANY investments in the saxophone world these days? Probably not, save for a few obscure models (and not Bueschers) and even those obscure models seem to have priced themselves out of the range of most buyers. To buy one for investment would require a substantial outlay NOW and one would probably have to hold that horn for years and years before taking any profit.

    So for me, it comes down to what one wants in a day-to-day player. My TT's (soprano and alto) fit that requirement perfectly. I don't consider what I paid as an investment - I view it as buying something I truly wanted to play . . . and I do. Well worth the price, in my view. DAVE
    Dave

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    i agree with bruce-the bundy 2 is actually a buescher with modern keywork. truetone isnt much of a step up
    runyon mouthpeices-no need to look elsewhere

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Dolson View Post
    So for me, it comes down to what one wants in a day-to-day player. My TT's (soprano and alto) fit that requirement perfectly. I don't consider what I paid as an investment - I view it as buying something I truly wanted to play . . . and I do. Well worth the price, in my view. DAVE
    +1. It's not really clear whether the OP was talking about an investment in the usual sense. I guess we have to assume so until he tells us otherwise. I did get the impression he was looking for a horn to play, not make any money on.

    I view NONE of my horns as investments. I have them to play. I guess my MKVI tenor, which I bought for $1k back in the early '80s, could be considered a good investment, but since I'll never sell it, I won't get any financial return on it. So in that sense it's irrelevant whether or not it was a good investment. I probably paid too much for my Buescher tenors in terms of investment value, but I don't care because I like how they play and sound, and they were in perfect playing (and even cosmetic--silver plated) condition. So no headaches needing to get them overhauled or anything.

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    Default Re: Buescher True Tone Alto

    I too struggled momentarily with the investment-thing but decided to take the OP at what he wrote and not try to guess what he meant.

    Funny, I too bought my MKVI alto (along with a nice R13 clarinet in a tray-pack case) for $1K in the late '70's. Still have it but will never realize the profit if it continues to build. I gifted the VI to my son but keep it with me for the time being. DAVE
    Dave

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