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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Wow I own one of these! Its an amazing baritone & your right I prefer it to any conn,martin baritones.Its has the biggest bell I ave ever seen.Mine has gold plated keys on a lacquer body.Thanks for posting this information!!
DZVE, what are the first 3 digits of the serial number. Is it 274xxx?
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Model 139 as listed in the 1938 Buescher catalog.

By the late 1940 rollout of the Big B alto and tenor, the 139 has been stricken from the ranks.
Found a 1939 catalog yesterday and the 139 isn't listed in it either. 1938 must have been the last year of the 139. Produced for what is essentially 2 years -- a pretty short run for what was a substantially improved saxophone over its predecessor.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Oops. Just looked again at that 1939 catalog.

There was a mention, almost in passing of the 139. Obviously not a main line instrument in 1939, but probably had some still left in inventory to get rid of.

Font Triangle Parallel Rectangle Number
 

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I've never played one, so I don't know, but from what you describe this horn would have been the cream of the crop in baris, an expensive version of an already expensive horn. That understandably didn't fare well in the Depression, which probably explains the short run. I'm a bit surprised Buescher didn't try to restart production around 1946 or '47, but I suppose the economic upswing brought with it increased wages, and I don't know how quickly the two rose in relation. Perhaps Buescher was already concerned about keeping up with that, which in hindsight they should have been.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I have 3 serial number ranges now. 274xxx and 275xxx (with "Custom Built" engraving), and 284xxx with Aristocrat 'Art Deco' engraving. Anyone have any others?
 

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In case you didn't see the full s/n, the on on my old website was 274770.

Your comments regarding serial number ranges made me check the other baris on my old website. I do have another Custom Built with s/n 274xxx here. (The pics aren't the best, but you can easily see the single-side bell keys and sorta make out the engraving.) The highest s/n I have on an Aristocrat split-bell key bari before 274xxx is 272229. 294xxx is about when the first "Big B" Aristocrats came onto the scene. The lowest serial number on a "Big B" bari I have pictures of is 318265.

I've generally not done that much research on American horns for the last few years, as other folks have done a lot of research on them. However, if I can be of assistance, post here or shoot me an e-mail. You might want to also check out the non-USA Horn version of my Buescher pages here. Note that they haven't been updated since 2006 ....

Sorry. One more thing: Buescher did have an entire line of Custom Built brasswinds. I don't know what serial number range these were produced in, but considering there are a lot more of these than Custom Built saxophones, that might help you narrow down a serial number range even more. I'd also be interested in seeing a Custom Built saxophone other than a baritone.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Now I know who "Pete" is. :)

Your old site is of course a great reference and that's where I started from. The 1940 catalog shows a split bell TT (model 129) alongside a Big B alto and tenor, but no 139 or an Aristocrat-labeled 129 l/h bell key bari. Next reference I can find is the 1949 catalog that of course has the Big B bari (still a model 129 but now with l/h bell keys).

284xxx still seems to be the latest serial number and I've seen two of them. I'll post pics of mine as soon as Doc's done with it, but here's a bell pic of another one of the same vintage. This one and mine are the only two I've seen with the Aristocrat engraving (so far), and no longer called a "Custom Built".

http://i.ebayimg.com/t/RARE-VINTAGE-1937-BUESCHER-BARITONE-ARISTOCRAT-LOW-PITCH-SAXOPHONE-/00/s/OTYwWDEyODA=/$(KGrHqZHJBgE8ey95BjQBPRj2Y7hzg~~60_57.JPG
 

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Now I know who "Pete" is. :)
Thanks for the compliment!

I have a little note in my signature line that mentions that I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics, but you can turn of signatures. I changed my username when I sold saxpics.com several years back.

I think the next step would probably do a feature comparison of the True Tone, Aristocrat pre-model 139, Custom Built, and baris built after the Custom Built. Then, of course, you've got measurements.

Also, kudos to paulwl for getting that sales brochure stuff. Very nice.

EDIT: maddenma, I'd also love to see your silver Custom Built bari.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Thanks for the compliment!

I have a little note in my signature line that mentions that I'm the Artist Formerly Known as Saxpics, but you can turn of signatures. I changed my username when I sold saxpics.com several years back.

I think the next step would probably do a feature comparison of the True Tone, Aristocrat pre-model 139, Custom Built, and baris built after the Custom Built. Then, of course, you've got measurements.

Also, kudos to paulwl for getting that sales brochure stuff. Very nice.

EDIT: maddenma, I'd also love to see your silver Custom Built bari.
Well, there wasn't an Aristocrat bari before the 139. Near as I can tell, the first 'Crat bari was the 139, and then there wasn't one for awhile. They seem to have carried the TT engraving pre-WWII and the 129 wasn't an Aristocrat per se until after Buescher stopped making altimeters in 1946.

I don't have a TT split bell bari to test, but I do have a Custom Built 139, an Aristocrat 139, and a Big B 129. I did some preliminary comparisons between these horns before they were sent off to be repaired and they are markedly different in sound. Hopefully I'll get them all in the same place soon and can do some sound files on fully functional horns I can share.

As for the silver Aristocrat-labeled 139, it's no longer silver. It's going to be gold plate when it arrives back. I do have some pics I'll share later this week of it in silver, but it wasn't a good replate (flaking in odd spots) when I got it, so it's being redone. We'll do some before and after pics for sure.
 

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Well, there wasn't an Aristocrat bari before the 139.
Here's the thing: there were most definitely baritones engraved "Aristocrat" before the Custom Built. Here's one where you can actually see that it's engraved "Aristocrat." You can argue that these horns are True Tones with different engraving, but they're definitely engraved "Aristocrat" and Buescher sold 'em as Aristocrats.

Several years back I found a Buescher Aristocrat C melody with a serial number of 256965 (model 128). I think the serial number is miss-stamped and should be "265965" because that'd at least get into the serial number range of the New Aristocrat. I could argue that this horn's also just a True Tone copy, but there are some keywork differences. Same thing with the True Tone bass from 1960 on my old website that Helen recently talked about on her blog.

Near as I can tell, the first 'Crat bari was the 139, and then there wasn't one for awhile.

I think this is possible, but not definite. Just because the last bari you've seen from Buescher was 284xxx (1938) and the next was the one I've seen at 318xxx (1949/50) doesn't prove there weren't any produced and/or they didn't have some lying around and stamped 'em with a serial number if they needed to sell one. Looking at the serial numbers of all the Aristocrat horns I have on saxpics.com, I don't see a large gap in serial numbers. Maybe a couple hundred, at most. As another example, I do see an incredibly large gap in True Tone C melody serial numbers. However, this might just mean that I stopped collecting C melody pics rather than Buescher stopping C melody production.

 

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Pete, a C melody (or other off-model sax) could easily have sat in back inventory for several years in the 1930s until an order came in. I should think your C body was made in 1930, serialed, then did not sell until 1934 or later, when it was finished, engraved in the style in use at the time, padded, corked and assembled.

My Buescher C melody is also #256k, but silver-plated and engraved in "The Buescher" style in use from about 1928. How long they did that style is an open question, but I've seen it on baris up to #268k (1934).

My #256k Buescher straight soprano is the latest numbered I know of and may have stayed in inventory as late as 1960. It's engraved in the Gothic letter style used up till 1927 - but it's done with an electric tool in a very wide stroke.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Here's the thing: there were most definitely baritones engraved "Aristocrat" before the Custom Built. Here's one where you can actually see that it's engraved "Aristocrat." You can argue that these horns are True Tones with different engraving, but they're definitely engraved "Aristocrat" and Buescher sold 'em as Aristocrats.
This is quite an interesting discussion, and I'm really glad you've chimed in on it!! You have a lot of information that we can sift through and think about.

Not challenging your assertion that there were split bells with Aristocrat engraving. As I pointed out to someone in another thread, the "Aristocrat" branding is simply a label designating a line of products, rather than an indication of the the product itself. That label can be changed -- and clearly was here despite the engraving change and the addition of the New Aristocrat pinky table -- as it suits the company's marketing purposes without significantly changing the product.

So, as for arguing TT vs. 'Crat for a particular instrument, what I've been looking more closely at is the model number, or at least strong indications of a particular model, rather than the product line label. In this case, the model number didn't change for this bari from at least before 1922 to at least 1955 suggesting quite strongly that this is essentially the same horn as a TT series 2 (might be even earlier) despite quite a few key work and cosmetic changes over its 30+ year production life. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Big B tenor, which was actually 3 quite different instruments (models 127, 155, and 156) that have very different playing characteristics and do not appear to overlap in production, despite having largely the same cosmetic appearance. Specific to the 156, we have yet another horn that common wisdom says remains the same instrument despite key work and cosmetic changes between 1949 and 1950, yet we refer to one as a Big B, and the other as a "Script" 156 with some significant differences in the monetary value attached.

Anyway, they had split bell 129's in the catalog as late as 1940. Do you know the year of your example? Clearly has the Series 1 Art Deco engraving, but that alone doesn't confirm that it was produced prior to 1936 when the 139 was introduced. The split bell 129 depicted in the 1940 ad that Paulwl provided wasn't sporting the Big B engraving when both the alto and tenor were, strongly suggesting it hadn't been updated at all, even cosmetically.

EDIT: I just looked at the 1935 catalog, clearly showing the 129 sporting Aristocrat art deco engraving.....

Several years back I found a Buescher Aristocrat C melody with a serial number of 256965 (model 128). I think the serial number is miss-stamped and should be "265965" because that'd at least get into the serial number range of the New Aristocrat. I could argue that this horn's also just a True Tone copy, but there are some keywork differences. Same thing with the True Tone bass from 1960 on my old website that Helen recently talked about on her blog.
So here's where the dialog about what constitutes a significant change actually is, and here's where I think also the model number carries the most weight, despite the cosmetic changes and evolutionary changes to the key work. Just to put it into hypothetical perspective, if the difference between a 2007 and 2008 Chevrolet Impala is an update to the grill and dash, but nothing else, do I now call it a Malibu in order to distinguish it as completely different? Marketing might, but that doesn't make it drive any differently.

I think this is possible, but not definite. Just because the last bari you've seen from Buescher was 284xxx (1938) and the next was the one I've seen at 318xxx (1949/50) doesn't prove there weren't any produced and/or they didn't have some lying around and stamped 'em with a serial number if they needed to sell one. Looking at the serial numbers of all the Aristocrat horns I have on saxpics.com, I don't see a large gap in serial numbers. Maybe a couple hundred, at most. As another example, I do see an incredibly large gap in True Tone C melody serial numbers. However, this might just mean that I stopped collecting C melody pics rather than Buescher stopping C melody production.[/COLOR]
I'm not sure you either said what you intended to say, or if you misread what I wrote, or I miswrote what I intended to say. That said, I have a Big B 129 bari from '50 I currently play on. Used to have one from '55. I've also had an '80's "Buescher" 400 low-A (Buescher in quotes intentionally), and have played on a low-A 400 from 1960. I certainly don't think there were large gaps in production serial numbers of regularly marketed horns. However, after 1939, it's clear that a 139 wasn't a regular production instrument and I was specifically referring to the 139 regarding the 284xxx numbering when I asked if anyone seen a 139 that's a later serial number.

Also, as a measure of keeping inventory and controlling employee theft that could result in bootlegging (and my company does this today, albeit electronically in the firmware and then later on the components they're added to), I can easily see them stamping a critical component during the initial manufacturing with a serial number when that critical part was produced, rather than later when it was assembled with the other components. Going back to my car analogy, the frame gets stamped with a serial number when it's completed. That serial number then gets added to the dashboard and other components after they are fitted to the frame. I don't think that serial number on your C-Mel is likely mis-stamped at all, but rather was a body tube in inventory that was later fitted with updated components and cosmetics in use at the time. It strikes me there could be a 139 out there with Big B engraving, sporting a 1938 serial number, but then that's also one of the questions I'm seeking to answer.

Pete, a C melody (or other off-model sax) could easily have sat in back inventory for several years in the 1930s until an order came in. I should think your C body was made in 1930, serialed, then did not sell until 1934 or later, when it was finished, engraved in the style in use at the time, padded, corked and assembled.

My Buescher C melody is also #256k, but silver-plated and engraved in "The Buescher" style in use from about 1928. How long they did that style is an open question, but I've seen it on baris up to #268k (1934).

My #256k Buescher straight soprano is the latest numbered I know of and may have stayed in inventory as late as 1960. It's engraved in the Gothic letter style used up till 1927 - but it's done with an electric tool in a very wide stroke.
Unless it was bootlegged out of the factory.... :) I would certainly prefer an instrument that was using later key work than my 230xxx. When did Buescher start using an electric engraving tool? Might have to start looking for one...
 

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... and as we have discussed earlier, even the 129 bigB has the two top tone holes soldered in and not drawn, i.e they were still using the old tooling from before these tones were introduced into the TT bari.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Had an e-mail exchange over the last couple days with Juan Caino. I've edited this slightly to make it more readable, but the content is intact. Here's his thoughts on the 139:

Essentially, all non 139 baritones are True Tones with minor iterations such as contoured and raised side keys, some have the New Aristocrat (NA) LH pinky table, even later 129 "Big B" baris have the NA shape on Bb1 B1 and C#1 keys with the embossed G# key touch. All non 139 baritones have solder on E3 and F3 tone holes, the bow is the same as the earlier ones.

They never retooled except for the 139 which is an entirely different horn, an all new design from the tip of the neck to the bell. After they stopped making the custom builts, they used the remaining bells on the 400's and Bundys (editorial insert: meaning late 50/60's baris). The bow, main body, upper bow and neck crooks died with the rare beast. I suspect they killed the tooling during WWII. Last 139 I know of is 2859XX (has no custom built engraving).

BTW I own a mint, closet queen 129 Bari I purchased from a fellow SOTW'er. It's 304.XXX (don't recall full serial, it's in storage) I have even the original sales receipt, booklets and case. I just mention this because I saw the serial gap thing. I don't think there's large gaps per se on serial numbering. What's happening is that after certain point, the horns evolved one at a time. There's no soprano or bari or bass equivalent of the NA. There's no alto equivalence of the Aristo I 127 which got the redesign and eventually evolved into the 155 Big B. This horn (the 155?) is the legitimate brother of the custom built baris in design and tooling.

Something must have been horribly wrong at the Buescher Factory, because all the new stuff was dropped and reconverted into less than what they originally aimed for. The 400's line IMHO is the result of the nickel silver reinforced mechanism being leftover and or abandoned from R&D and I think that "custom built" horns were dropped as soon as they got the gov contract in 37. I've seen silver bells mounted on Elkhart stencils, or even worse, on more obscure brands stencils. A few silver necks made it to a real Buescher saxophone, but they weren't offered as an option AFAICT, so I think they toyed with those things and decided to drop the R&D line and eventually they used the parts.

Saintsday has a very rare and AFAIK unique tenor that's an aristo I with soldered on silver tone holes. I think it was a prototype built over scrap Selmer Padless bodies.

I think that between 1931 and 1936 Buescher could have -and maybe they were preparing for- dominating the global saxophone market, maybe becoming a "top 2" along with Selmer Paris... but suddenly they "explode" in 37 and from there it's all downhill and abandonment. Sad. Sad sad sad.


More to mull over.
 

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paulwl said:
Pete, a C melody (or other off-model sax) could easily have sat in back inventory for several years in the 1930s until an order came in.
I agree and actually have supported this in my above post. More below.

maddenma said:
This is quite an interesting discussion, and I'm really glad you've chimed in on it!! You have a lot of information that we can sift through and think about.
It definitely is. I wish I had more time. Buescher is a brand that I've been interested in for a very long time because I was edumacated in the Rascher style. Yes, I also went to SUNY Fredonia.

maddenma said:
Not challenging your assertion that there were split bells with Aristocrat engraving. As I pointed out to someone in another thread, the "Aristocrat" branding is simply a label designating a line of products, rather than an indication of the the product itself. That label can be changed -- and clearly was here despite the engraving change and the addition of the New Aristocrat pinky table -- as it suits the company's marketing purposes without significantly changing the product.
maddenma said:
So, as for arguing TT vs. 'Crat for a particular instrument, what I've been looking more closely at is the model number, or at least strong indications of a particular model, rather than the product line label.
While I do agree that the engraving doesn't make a new horn, I don't agree that just having the same model number = same old horn. Using an example from memory (which is occasionally faulty) and from a different manufacturer, IIRC, the HN White King Zephyr Special and HN White King Super 20 had the same model number. While I've argued that they probably have the same bore dimensions -- up to a specific date/serial number -- I can easily point to the neck and say, "That's different."

Looking at what I did with the Buescher pages on saxpics.com, maddenma, you've noted that I broke down the True Tones, Aristocrats and 400s into various "series" of horns that share most of the same features. They're all still "True Tones," etc., but do these feature changes equal a different saxophone or a better saxophone? How about bevelled tone hole True Tones compared to the drawn tone hole ones?

I have three competing ideals. The first is that I'd love to make life easy on people and say something like, "The newer the True Tone, the better the horn" (which, even though it's an example, is pretty much true). The second is that I'd like to say, like you, "Any model 129 saxophone has essentially the same feature set. It doesn't really matter the age, they're all model 129s." The third is from the straight research part: "The differences between this model 129, with the 'Aristocrat' engraving, in this serial number range and that model 129, with the 'True Tone' engraving, in that serial number range is ...." I think the third ideal is the one I'd most want to attain, but it's also the most difficult one to research and present. Hey, folks buying horns want to hear, "Buy a model 129," rather than, "Buy a model 129 with the serial number range of x to y with the following list of features ...."

One other thing. While I can accept that the split-bell key model 129 is probably an awful lot like a True Tone, I think the change to single-side bell keys on later "Big B" Aristocrats is a considerable change. That's a redesigned bell and keywork modifications.

Info. Request: When do you say that Buescher started the model 129 split-bell key style during the True Tone series?

====================

Answering other questions:
I seem to remember posting with Paul in the past regarding his soprano. His straight soprano has the highest serial number I've seen. I'm no longer into collecting pics of every single horn (I'd like to; just don't have the time, so I'm trying just for the best on thesax.info/gallery), but the highest s/n on saxpics.com was 243741. The highest curved soprano was 246213.

maddenma asked about date ranges of split-bell baritones with "Aristocrat" engraved on them. I've got 5 on saxpics.com with a s/n range from 268336 to 272229.
 

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There's a minty custom built bari in Sweden for sale! Serialnumber 274XXX... but it costs $6500 :( The tiny neck is cool! I'm looking forward to hear you play your new bari and compare it to the Big B!
 

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Juan or Mark or somebody, tell us more about "the gov contract in 37" and how it could have turned the fortunes of Buescher.

Experts have a way of dropping the most fascinating details off hand, then failing to elaborate. I guess that's how they stay experts.
 

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Could it be that my silver plate tenor Aristocrat 273k engraved with USQM and that once belonged to the U.S. Military Academy Band West Point, was a part of this 37 gov contract ??
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
What I believe he's referring to was actually in 1943, when Buescher retooled the factory in WWII and switched from making instruments to aircraft altimeters for the war. I don't know of another g'vment contract that was in 1937.

http://saxophone.org/museum/publications/id/124

According to Pete, FA Buescher died in 1937, but he was pretty long out of Buescher's daily business by then, having retired in 1929. Might have retained some consulting engineer duties I suppose. Elkhart newspaper I saw from the time indicates that, but how long that went on isn't known by me. Beardsley was running the company from 1919 until he died in 1936. That probably had a more profound affect than anything else as to the direction Buescher was going, their financial fortunes, and what they did with R&D.

Was Buescher struggling by as early as 1937 a year after Beardsley died? No idea, really. Perhaps the instrument market was declining then and they didn't prepare well for the downturn. Perhaps nothing was wrong at all and they were highly profitable at the time. I can't tell.

Other than the baris, I haven't personally seen evidence that they were initially aiming for something higher than they executed after WWII. I don't know how Juan came to the conclusion the tooling for the 139 was destroyed during WWII or that R&D had largely been discontinued after 1937. Juan's probably come across some stuff I haven't seen that's led him to that conclusion. Since they had discontinued production of it prior to the US entry into WWII, it's not unreasonable to believe the 139 tooling could have been repurposed for something else having to do with an altimeter, it could have been destroyed to keep it from a competitor, or perhaps it was just lost. Hard to say, but if they weren't thinking of reintroducing it later, and they didn't want to compete with it as a stencil, then it makes sense that it could have been destroyed.

As for R&D, soldered tone holes weren't exactly new in 1939. I played Saintsday's unusual 127-based soldered tone hole tenor briefly a couple years ago. Very different animal from a 156, but I wouldn't call it better or worse, just quite different in overtones and presence. I recall my initial impression was that it sounded a lot like a Silversonic to me with the sound somewhere far out in front of you rather than right there at the end of your nose like a 156. Is that better? Certainly seems like it would be more expensive to produce in volumes, and would that have been attractive to the high volume school band market? Probably not.

The lack of updates to sops and basses are easily explained away by the lack of demand, and it could just be that Buescher didn't sell enough of these 139s to justify the costs of continuing a second line of baris. I suspect they were probably cannibalizing their own market share for these horns, rather than digging significantly into Selmer's and decided to drop the higher end and more expensive to produce instrument if it wasn't succeeding in improving market share. This happens all the time in manufacturing. The company I work for does occasionally bring things to market that just don't sell well, so rather than continue to throw money at it to support it, they simply drop it from the line and use the knowledge gained from the R&D effort later on other products.

It's also notable that immediately prior to WWII, Buescher introduced 2 brand new saxes -- the 400's that shared little in common with the existing sax lines. Immediately after WWII, Buescher brought out 2 more new saxes, the 140 and the 155, that while they carried over many of the cosmetic features of the 135 and 127, were enough different in shape and construction from their like-branded predecessors as to alter the acoustic characteristics of the horns, not just the ergonomics of the key work or the appearance. They then shortly afterwards brought out a 3rd, the 156, which is different acoustically as well, though they chose not to update the cosmetics. R&D would be used for real changes to the playing characteristics, not the cosmetics, and these instruments compare quite favorably against the other leading horns of the day, including Selmer, and that doesn't suggest to me that R&D was discontinued, with the possible exception of their lowest volume instruments -- which clearly didn't get much (if anything) for an update after WWII.

Anyway, I sort of just rambled there thinking out loud.

As for Pete's question, I don't know when the 129's got their split bell. Perhaps when they added the low Bb key? When was that? They show a split-bell 129 in the 1909 catalog -- keyed from Bb to Eb and yours for as little as $80 (about $2000 today) in bare brass.
 
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