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Prowling the music stores last week, I came upon an old Tenor hanging on the wall. At first glance I thought I came upon a 156. After a quick negotiation, I got the horn for less than the mouthpiece is worth.

I inspected it at home and it is a Big B. S.N. 303xxx. It was pretty buffed out and all the keys and hardware look like they have been nickel plated. (Can't imagine it is from the factory that way.) The rods are rusty and most of the keys are pretty frozen. Body looks good, no major dents or repairs.

Is this worth resurrecting? I could keep it as a spare parts horn as the neck is in good shape. I have a really nice Big B and this could become my backup.

Any input?
 

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YES!

All real Bueschers are worth saving. Especially the ones with straight bodies. At one time, nickel keys were really the "in" thing and some players had their keys plated for the extra stiffness and the "modern" look.

I wish I had a horn like this to rebuild. :cry:
 

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rsclosson said:
Is this worth resurrecting?
Hell yeah! Get a spray can of PB Blaster from Wal-Mart or wherever, and soak the frozen screws/rods with it. Let it sit a few days, that should unfreeze most of the screws...... Any stubborn ones, do it again and maybe use a little heat (carefully.....) Sounds like a great find!
 

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It may make a good candidate for a replate if you wanted to go that far. However, just a regular resurrection would be more than sufficient. Big Bs are definitely worth it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the replies. This is a project beyond my meager skills. Any recommendations for techs to do this?
 

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I'm not sure. Consider it this way: From your description, I'm thinkin' you're looking at a rebuild that is more expensive than a standard overhaul. So add $150-200 to what your tech usually charges to overhaul a working tenor.

Then the question becomes: If I walked into the music store and saw this freshly overhauled, buffed out Big B for sale for (insert $$ here), would I consider buying it? That will pretty much give you your answer.

Depending on the tech, your price could be anywhere from $550 to well over $1000. To me, it would be worth it at one end of that spectrum and not worth it at the other end. In between is where decisions are made . . .
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Well, I have talked to several of the really good techs and most are very hesitant to tackle it. One offered me $200.00 for it for a "parts horn." (Sounds like an awful lot for a parts horn, but I digress.) I would be money ahead if I did that, but...
 

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rsclosson said:
Well, I have talked to several of the really good techs and most are very hesitant to tackle it. One offered me $200.00 for it for a "parts horn." (Sounds like an awful lot for a parts horn, but I digress.) I would be money ahead if I did that, but...
That's because he likely isn't going to part it. All spiffed up and overhauled this thing has to push close to 1K on the market.
 

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Call some vintage sax dealers and find out what they want for an overhauled, spiffed up Big B tenor and you'll have your answer, assuming this horn can be put back into top shape. The tech who offered you $200 for a "parts horn" might have stood to make a good profit. The real question for me would be just how will it turn out after an overhaul? Is it so far gone it can't be put back in great playing condition? If it definitely can be resurrected to its former glory, $1000, or even a bit more, for the repair work would be a real bargain.
 

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I had a '27 Chu tenor that was restored six years ago. It cost me $1300, but that was everything...replate and a complete overhaul as well as some custom modifications. It essentially "zero-timed" the saxophone (to borrow from an aviation term) Or, put it this way: I had a brand new 75 year old saxophone that is certainly stout enough now to last another 75 years. Even though it was expensive, it was certainly worth it as the horn is worth more than the initial purchase price plus the restoration.

If you picked up the Big B as cheaply as you say that you did, you could easily spend $1500 - $1800 on a restoration and still be ahead of the ballgame based on current prices, and to be honest, I don't think you're going to need to spend more than $1500, tops.
 

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If it has been buffed to death, you may just want to do a mechanical overhaul with no finish work. Even though the engraving may look OK, I bet that there are dips and creases around the tone holes from buffing that will be very hard to fix if at all.
 

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I missed the part about it being buffed. That could be a problem if it was done improperly. Call me lazy, but I'd much rather just spend the extra bucks and get a really nice vintage horn that has already been well set up and is ready to play. There are still some real bargains for these fabulous Bueschers out there, even when paying the premium for one in great playing condition, especially compared to the price of a MKVI, Super 20, or even a Conn 10M. The Buescher Aristocrat tenors (series one, Big B, 156) will hold their own compared to any of those horns.
 

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I doubt that a buffed horn that has been relacquered will not pull in more than $1000, if that much. There are too many purists out there that will be looking for a good deal on an original lacquer horn, even though there are some very good relacquers out there.

I have a "buffed-to-death", relacquered MKVI that I had a lot of work done by Lee at Saxworx. He told me that despite the buffing (the toneholes had been nicked BTW), it's a monster player. But I know that no matter how well it plays, it will never fetch what a 50% original lacquer MKVI of the same vintage will fetch.

So if you want the horn to be a good player and you don't care about the resale value, go for it. If you think you might flip the horn later, you might not want to put a lot of time into it. If you just want a backup horn, there are plenty of original lacquer horns out there that don't look pretty but play up a storm for less. Especially if you go for a non-Big B engraved 156...they're the same horn without the engraving.

Oh, and I'm certain that you'll get more than $200 for that horn on eBay in the condition it is in. Just make sure you describe it with all of its faults. And take good pics.

fm
 

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Fungus Mungus said:
I doubt that a buffed horn that has been relacquered will pull in more than $1000, if that much.

So if you want the horn to be a good player and you don't care about the resale value, go for it. If you think you might flip the horn later, you might not want to put a lot of time into it. If you just want a backup horn, there are plenty of original lacquer horns out there that don't look pretty but play up a storm for less. Especially if you go for a non-Big B engraved 156...they're the same horn without the engraving.

Oh, and I'm certain that you'll get more than $200 for that horn on eBay in the condition it is in. Just make sure you describe it with all of its faults. And take good pics.

fm
Good advice. Buy it to eBay it if nothing else. Picture every fault and describe it accurately and I'm sure it will make you a profit.
 

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Fungus Mungus said:
I have a "buffed-to-death", relacquered MKVI that I had a lot of work done by Lee at Saxworx......fm
Hey Fungus, Lee is my tech also. He's worked wonders on my MkVI and Buescher tenors. His partner Don told me he was amazed at the power of my silver-plated Buescher 156 when I had it in there recently. He said he thought he could blow out the windows with that horn! I still tend to choose it over the VI much of the time.
 

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JL,
If it's a big-bell 156, I'm not in the least surprised...I had a lacquer one for a short while that had a huge sound. I got a great deal on the horn and ended up selling it for double what I paid. Lee's a great tech, albeit expensive. His work is worth every penny though. You just have to WAIT...which is hard.

I put the money in my horn, not because I planned on reselling it, but because I planned on playing it. After his consultation, I was comfortable with dropping 5 bills on it to get it up to snuff. I may be able to sell it for what I paid, but I certainly won't make any money on it. It IS a great-playing MKVI tenor that I was able to get into for under 4K.

Again, if you already have a nice Big B, I don't think I'd drop that kind of cash for a backup horn. There are too many other good horns out there for less than you'll pay for the overhaul.

fm
 

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Yeah it's a big bell 156, and it is/was supposed to be the backup horn to my VI. But, as I've mentioned here more than once, the VI soon became the backup. But then after a while I tend to play the VI again. Then back to the 'Crat. So now it's equilibrium, but the 'Crat has the upper hand.

I never think about resale, just how well the horn plays....
 
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