I am aware of the challenges of playing such an old instrument. I briefly had a chance to feel the action before I handed it over to my tech. It felt okay, possibly manageable, but by no means ideal. There aren't a lot of options if you want to play c melody. I found some Chinese instruments on e-bay which I'm curious about, but I'm wondering if they will have "the sound" of an old Buescher. I'm looking for more of a tenor sound, in a smaller horn with the added benefit of being keyed in C. I prefer a horn with a front F, and so far have only found a couple available for sale with this - this being one of them. There's no reason a c melody can't be as versatile as an alto or tenor, it plays the same notes. I don't know why the seller hasn't taken down the ad yet. This horn is sold.
OK, well if you are looking for a "Tenor Sound", you will NOT find that in a C-Melody. Because C-Melodys sound like C-Melodys. The tone is significantly different from either Tenor or Alto. There are harmonics absent from a C-mel, due to the odd design of its body and neck...its proportions resulted in a much 'tamer' tone which people often refer to as 'muffled' or 'lacking edge'.
So...as Grumps said...IF you are curious about C-mels and wish to own one, go for it. A Buescher is as good as any other C-mel. But it isn't about "the challenges of playing such an old instument". You will be ending up with a sax of unusual tonality. That is what Grumps was pointing out.
So if your intention is to get a "tenor tone, just keyed one step up"...a C-mel ain't gonna give you that.
So....it'd be a fair argument to say that if you have $500 floating around, you could just buy a vintage Tenor which will give you a Tenor tone and likely be different enough from whatever Tenor you may have now to be interesting and more useful in most playing contexts. Ditto an Alto. $500 can get you a used Either. $750 ? Something quite excellent in A or T.
So again...No...it will not have 'that vintage Buescher sound'....the sound which folks love about Buescher Altos, Tenors, Baris, and Sopranos...because it's a C-Mel. And their design robbed the horns of 'something', sonically. There is no argument to be made otherwise.
Tonality is determined by an instruments specifications. For sax...body tube, neck, bow dimensions; tonehole diameters, etc. The classic C-mel design (regardless of whether Conn, King, Boosh, Martin) is just an oddly proportioned saxophone. Thus its tonality follows that fact.
Some say this was intentional, to produce a 'softer' or 'quieter' sound appropriate for people's parlors and living rooms.
Others say, it was just sort of a mistake; something which, for ease of fabrication more than anything else, ended up being a sorta 'stretched alto' with a 'skinny tenor neck'.
Who knows which is right...or if neither are. The resulting horn is what it is.
Seller sure does a hecka job talking it up.
But, as noted - if you are AIMING for a C-mel because you want that 'c-mel experience', then any of the old Big 4 ones will do....add Holton, too. Theirs were as good as anyone else's.