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In trying to learn about aristocrats I first was advised a few years ago to get an early Aristocrat series 1, or whatever, over the 157. I did. Liked it - maybe 1939, I believe - and I didn’t have trouble selling it locally when I decided to let it go. Now that I’ve won an auction for a 1942 that has the Big B on it (older pads that seal and is gig ready— so described) - but now everything I read here is “get the 157, the later 1940’s ones. So. I’d love to hear that there are tenor players here who like this era horn and can describe their strengths. Thanks.
 

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The latter BigB is a 156. The 157 has backside bell keys like a 400. I am overhauling a 157 right now. The earlier BigB has a smaller bell. I have one of those myself and have had a 156. To me they play about the same. I don't know what the 157 will be like but it isn't engraved with the big B. The earlier ones like the 42 you got are not as common as the 156. I think you will like it.
 

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As saxcop says, the 157 is a later model and is not the one you describe as: "...but now everything I read here is “get the 157, the later 1940’s ones.." That would be the 156, which is the latest of 3 different Aristocrats with the Big B engraving.

I think probably the 1942 Big B you have won in an auction is the earlier model Big B (with smaller bell flare, not smaller bell) that is essentially the same horn as the 'series one,' just with different engraving and key guards. As such, it should play and sound very close to the '39 series one you had and sold. In any case, these are great horns.

I have both a series one and 156. I find them to be similar in a lot of respects (big sound, great tone quality, good intonation), but for me they play differently. The 156 has a more spread sound, is a bit more 'free blowing' (less resistance), while the series one is more focused with a bit more resistance and 'bite.' From behind the horn the 156 sounds louder, but maybe the series one projects more. In any case they both play with a lot of volume when pushed. You can't go wrong with either one, and I haven't noticed a lot of preference on here for one over the other. Having owned both for several years, I still can't say for certain which I prefer.
 

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Thank you both. I actually meant 156. I think I made a typo. I’m happy to hear positive experiences with these. It just arrived and is already in the shop with some problem. The tone and intonation seem great but it’s all fluttery in low ‘D’. And a bell key doesn’t want to come up. I don’t know anything about diagnostics or fixes for saxophones so. This could be a 10 minute fix or something more complicated - as far as I know. Thanks. I’m pretty optimistic about the tone which is just a great quality vintage Tenor sound.
 

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saxcop, i'd love to hear your impressions of the 157! They don't come up often. I very nearly bought one a few months ago, but ended up with a TH&C instead.
 

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Thank you both. I actually meant 156. I think I made a typo. I’m happy to hear positive experiences with these. It just arrived and is already in the shop with some problem. The tone and intonation seem great but it’s all fluttery in low ‘D’. And a bell key doesn’t want to come up. I don’t know anything about diagnostics or fixes for saxophones so. This could be a 10 minute fix or something more complicated - as far as I know. Thanks. I’m pretty optimistic about the tone which is just a great quality vintage Tenor sound.
Yes, playing condition is everything. Almost certainly that low D warble means the horn has one or more leaks. You may need some new pads and some adjustments. No surprise at all; even if described as 'gig ready,' it likely needs some work. The very first thing to do with any used horn bought on an ebay auction or from a private party is to take it in to your tech and get it put into top shape. Once you do that, you'll really enjoy that horn!

I doubt the horn you got is a 156. I don't think the 156 was introduced until around 1948 or so. Serial #300,xxx is fairly early in the Big B engraved run, so almost certainly it's a Big B engraved version of the 'series one' tenor.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yes, playing condition is everything. Almost certainly that low D warble means the horn has one or more leaks. You may need some new pads and some adjustments. No surprise at all; even if described as 'gig ready,' it likely needs some work. The very first thing to do with any used horn bought on an ebay auction or from a private party is to take it in to your tech and get it put into top shape. Once you do that, you'll really enjoy that horn!

I doubt the horn you got is a 156. I don't think the 156 was introduced until around 1948 or so. Serial #300,xxx is fairly early in the Big B engraved run, so almost certainly it's a Big B engraved version of the 'series one' tenor.
Thanks. I KNEW it wasn’t a 156. What I had been asking was if these series 1, early Big B were perceived as being a poor substitute for the later ones. So while I am glad to hear ‘no’ to that question:
I just got word that the horn has serious problems. . Three ripped pads, bent keys, levers and mechanisms .... plus a long list of other problems. $475 to reach Minimal Playing Condition. 1600 for an overhaul, because so much time needs to be spent on the bent stuff! And this is NOT an outrageously priced repair guy. I’ve had him do small to medium things at very reasonable prices on several horns. His work is good. So. Now I contact the seller. Thanks.
 

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I just got word that the horn has serious problems. . Three ripped pads, bent keys, levers and mechanisms .... plus a long list of other problems.
That is a real shame. I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I would simply assume that any horn I bought on ebay (or a similar source) would need major work and likely an overhaul. If you figure that into the price, then you won't get burned. This is why I bought both my Bueschers from Gayle at vintagesax, a reputable dealer who provides a trial period. Of course I paid more than if I'd bought a 'beater' off of ebay, but ultimately I didn't pay more because they didn't need any work.

Having said that, the seller was certainly being misleading, at best, saying the pads were all sealing and the horn was gig worthy.
 

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Sorry to hear it, Jazz. I believe that I was watching that auction, and the horn did seem very nice from a distance. Honestly, the Big B's I've heard sound great, but the "off-brand" Bueschers (157s, B12s, late 400s) are looking like better value all the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Sorry to hear it, Jazz. I believe that I was watching that auction, and the horn did seem very nice from a distance. Honestly, the Big B's I've heard sound great, but the "off-brand" Bueschers (157s, B12s, late 400s) are looking like better value all the time.
Yeah. I’ve never had THIS happen. I won’t buy something without a fairly lengthy discussion about a horn - it’s history, age of pads, any leak issues, ANY issues that keep it from being ready to play at an important gig the day it arrives etc.Then I still assume I’ll need to spend a little money on it. But I’ve never had all hose questions come back positive and then get a horn with bent posts and keys and mechanisms and three ripped pads etc. and some issue with a rod that I didn’t understand. So. I’m grateful for getting a complete refund. But disappointed. It looks great. Really old dark aged lacquer. Oh well. I’ll get my money back. And maybe put my GAS to rest for a while.
 

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Yeah. I’ve never had THIS happen. I won’t buy something without a fairly lengthy discussion about a horn - it’s history, age of pads, any leak issues, ANY issues that keep it from being ready to play at an important gig the day it arrives etc.Then I still assume I’ll need to spend a little money on it. But I’ve never had all hose questions come back positive and then get a horn with bent posts and keys and mechanisms and three ripped pads etc. and some issue with a rod that I didn’t understand. So. I’m grateful for getting a complete refund. But disappointed. It looks great. Really old dark aged lacquer. Oh well. I’ll get my money back. And maybe put my GAS to rest for a while.
Hey, was that the horn from ebay seller "Saxophant" ?
 

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As saxcop says, the 157 is a later model and is not the one you describe as: "...but now everything I read here is “get the 157, the later 1940’s ones.." That would be the 156, which is the latest of 3 different Aristocrats with the Big B engraving.

I think probably the 1942 Big B you have won in an auction is the earlier model Big B (with smaller bell flare, not smaller bell) that is essentially the same horn as the 'series one,' just with different engraving and key guards. As such, it should play and sound very close to the '39 series one you had and sold. In any case, these are great horns.

I have both a series one and 156. I find them to be similar in a lot of respects (big sound, great tone quality, good intonation), but for me they play differently. The 156 has a more spread sound, is a bit more 'free blowing' (less resistance), while the series one is more focused with a bit more resistance and 'bite.' From behind the horn the 156 sounds louder, but maybe the series one projects more. In any case they both play with a lot of volume when pushed. You can't go wrong with either one, and I haven't noticed a lot of preference on here for one over the other. Having owned both for several years, I still can't say for certain which I prefer.
I agree with everything said here. I did mean smaller bell flare.
 

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Honestly, the Big B's I've heard sound great, but the "off-brand" Bueschers (157s, B12s, late 400s) are looking like better value all the time.
No doubt true. However, I'd definitely say the "on-brand" Bueschers, especially the Aristocrats (series one, Big Bs, script-engraved 156) are a great value. TH&C is priced somewhat higher.

Yeah, saxcop, I knew you meant 'bell flare,' just clarifying for those who might not be familiar with these horns. Also being a bit of a pedant (one of my many faults).
 

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YI’m grateful for getting a complete refund. But disappointed. It looks great. Really old dark aged lacquer. Oh well. I’ll get my money back.
Hey, glad to hear you're getting a refund. Maybe you could have talked the buyer into letting you have the horn for around $200 or so. Then you could have got a complete overhaul and ended up with a great horn at a great price (less than $2k). but I suspect that wasn't in the cards...
 

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Hey, glad to hear you're getting a refund. Maybe you could have talked the buyer into letting you have the horn for around $200 or so. Then you could have got a complete overhaul and ended up with a great horn at a great price (less than $2k). but I suspect that wasn't in the cards...
No. He said it was his main horn until 3 months ago and he hated to let it go. I found it unplayable. I think he wanted it back to have his own guy work on it. Just guessing.
 

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Hmm, I missed out bidding on a very reasonably priced B11 from that same vendor last winter when a friend stopped by with car trouble. In retrospect, maybe it was a narrow escape.
 

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..... - but now everything I read here is “get the 157, the later 1940’s ones. So. I’d love to hear that there are tenor players here who like this era horn and can describe their strengths. Thanks.
Really?!? Are you thinking there's some bias towards the "later" 1940's 157's that they didn't actually start making until 1955? Not a lot of 1957 vintage 157's out there anyway, and it's indeed a rare bird, that 1948 157. :)

The current Buescher vintage market pricing favors Aristocrats from 1941 to 1950 and 400's from 1940 to 1958. Really not trying to be cheeky, but in my head, that indicates some general preference by a very large body of people. :)

Given what I know you like to do, I'd follow the market.
 
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