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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Posting for the first time here after years of reading threads, thanks for this 'rabbit hole' of amazing information!

I've been researching Buescher TT sopranos with an eye toward getting one, and was hoping to sort one thing out: there seems to be a general consensus that the late 20s version (series 3 or 4) is superior, largely due to changes to the G# key and palm keys. My question is, are there discernible sonic differences or other notable differences in build that those familiar with these horns have experienced? I heard somewhere that after the G# key change the build also changed slightly in a way that supported a 'bigger' sound better suited to jazz playing versus classical, but I haven't been able to verify this. So, aside from the mentioned key differences would a 1925 version sound and feel tangibly different than a 1926/27 version? I would love to hear folks' thoughts on this, if anyone has experience with multiple eras of these sopranos. Thanks
 

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Generally, the newer the better. I tend to go with the roller G# (III or IV) as they are not a lot more expensive. I have one in silver for under $1,000 and you can usually pick up a series II for under $700.
 

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I play a curved Buescher soprano that is one of the ones made in the teens, keyed up only to high Eb with a G# pearl. I compared it side by side with a later straight model with all the bells and whistles. So long as I pointed the straight one at the wall a couple feet away, it sounded exactly like my curved model. Same flavor. Same vibe.

There's nothing wrong with the earlier models, and they can be had for a discount if you can live with their limited/different keywork.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Generally, the newer the better. I tend to go with the roller G# (III or IV) as they are not a lot more expensive. I have one in silver for under $1,000 and you can usually pick up a series II for under $700.
Thank you Bruce, I'll PM you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I play a curved Buescher soprano that is one of the ones made in the teens, keyed up only to high Eb with a G# pearl. I compared it side by side with a later straight model with all the bells and whistles. So long as I pointed the straight one at the wall a couple feet away, it sounded exactly like my curved model. Same flavor. Same vibe.

There's nothing wrong with the earlier models, and they can be had for a discount if you can live with their limited/different keywork.
Ah interesting! Thanks for your feedback Grumps. I've read your similar comments elsewhere about your experience with sonic similarities between a straight model pointed at the wall and a curved model, but it's especially interesting to hear in the context of this discussion of different models.
 

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I can also recommend Bruce if you're in the market. I had a particular need for a soprano not too long ago and he went above and beyond. Great horn.
 

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Are you looking for a horn specifically for classical/concert playing? If so, I'd be happy to offer any insight I had. A lot of your experience with any old sopranos is going to come down to mouthpiece and setup so have a great tech handy.
 

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Well, when I repadded my TT soprano, I ordered the Buescher pad set from Music Medic and one (or maybe two) pads weren't the right size. That tells me that there was at least a change in tone hole size for one or two holes, between the instrument(s) they measured to build the pad set, and the one I own.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Are you looking for a horn specifically for classical/concert playing? If so, I'd be happy to offer any insight I had. A lot of your experience with any old sopranos is going to come down to mouthpiece and setup so have a great tech handy.
Thanks rascherian. In my own case I'd like something that could sound great and full playing lead on an expressive Ellington ballad as well as a jazz combo or modern band/ensemble, not so much straight up classical... this is sort of a funny reference but kind of like if Ben Webster had played soprano, what that might sound like. I know that all has a lot has to do with setup, as you've mentioned, and I'm definitely interested to learn more about that as well. For purposes of this discussion post I was curious more specifically about the sound comparison of the horns themselves, since I haven't seen much about that discussed elsewhere. Maybe any differences in build don't ultimately matter much sonically, and that's the answer... But I wanted to explore that here with you all, so thanks for these insights :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, when I repadded my TT soprano, I ordered the Buescher pad set from Music Medic and one (or maybe two) pads weren't the right size. That tells me that there was at least a change in tone hole size for one or two holes, between the instrument(s) they measured to build the pad set, and the one I own.
Interesting observation, thanks turf3. Do you have a later or earlier model?
 

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I don't know the details of the apparently four different versions: I have the rectangular G# key with roller. The palm keys, to my memory (horn is in storage) are normal looking. I think mine would be called "fourth generation"?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't know the details of the apparently four different versions: I have the rectangular G# key with roller. The palm keys, to my memory (horn is in storage) are normal looking. I think mine would be called "fourth generation"?
Gotcha, based on the info I've found (albeit limited) it sounds like 'fourth generation' is the latest model produced, is that correct? I haven't yet learned how to differentiate between 'Series 3' and 'Series 4' versions, if anyone has any insight there please do share.
 

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Posting for the first time here after years of reading threads, thanks for this 'rabbit hole' of amazing information!

I've been researching Buescher TT sopranos with an eye toward getting one, and was hoping to sort one thing out: there seems to be a general consensus that the late 20s version (series 3 or 4) is superior, largely due to changes to the G# key and palm keys. My question is, are there discernible sonic differences or other notable differences in build that those familiar with these horns have experienced? I heard somewhere that after the G# key change the build also changed slightly in a way that supported a 'bigger' sound better suited to jazz playing versus classical, but I haven't been able to verify this. So, aside from the mentioned key differences would a 1925 version sound and feel tangibly different than a 1926/27 version? I would love to hear folks' thoughts on this, if anyone has experience with multiple eras of these sopranos. Thanks
I can answer your question for the curved soprano. I have tried every iteration of the curved soprano, but haven't tried the straight ones. The earlier ones with the pearl G# have a darker, "richer", more classical tone. They are the closest to sounding sax-like, like an alto of the same vintage, in my opinion. The roller G# horn is brighter, more projecting, less complexity, more modern. It's a small difference but noticeable.

In terms of mechanisms, the later horn is much superior. The position of the pinky table, palm keys, are rotated to be much more ergonomic. They updated the octave mechanism and added a C# compensator to it.

Unfortunately all of the curvies have serious intonation issues and need careful adjustment to get locked in. The common problem is going sharp in the top register.

I'd be curious to know if the same differences are true for the straight soprano.
 

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Gotcha, based on the info I've found (albeit limited) it sounds like 'fourth generation' is the latest model produced, is that correct? I haven't yet learned how to differentiate between 'Series 3' and 'Series 4' versions, if anyone has any insight there please do share.
The series designations originally made by saxpics are kind of arbitrary and mostly work for the altos. For the curved sopranos, it goes
  1. Soldered tone holes, key guards, high Eb (till ~100xxx?)
  2. Straight tone holes, no key guards, high Eb (till ~135xxx?)
  3. Straight tone holes, no key guards, high F (till 224xxx? I think this is the exact same as the previous model besides the palm keys)
  4. Late TT/Aristocrat, straight tone holes, no keyguards, high F, roller G# (224xxx on)
 

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Unfortunately all of the curvies have serious intonation issues...
Not for all curvies, but perhaps for some players. The only TT soprano I've come across with unmanageable intonation was a later straight model that was just flat across the board no matter what. A true dog. My friend who had it thankfully was able to return it to the dealer for another one without such problems.
 

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The only difference I have found in the III vs. IV is the USA engraving on the bell. Most of the straight models go to high F.
 

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Thanks rascherian. In my own case I'd like something that could sound great and full playing lead on an expressive Ellington ballad as well as a jazz combo or modern band/ensemble, not so much straight up classical... this is sort of a funny reference but kind of like if Ben Webster had played soprano, what that might sound like. I know that all has a lot has to do with setup, as you've mentioned, and I'm definitely interested to learn more about that as well. For purposes of this discussion post I was curious more specifically about the sound comparison of the horns themselves, since I haven't seen much about that discussed elsewhere. Maybe any differences in build don't ultimately matter much sonically, and that's the answer... But I wanted to explore that here with you all, so thanks for these insights :)
I don't think you can go wrong honestly - they're all flexible. The earlier curvies are more flutey, the earlier straights are a little less refined in every way - the later instruments (rollers) come closer together and have similar pitch tendencies. In the end none of them are apples to oranges - it's more like 1% 2% milk ... good mouthpiece, good setup and you'll be good to go

I've spent considerable time on the curvies and a bit of time on the straight instruments - I play the one I play mostly for ergonomic reasons, I really like the neck angle on the later instruments and playing a curved instrument keeps the weight off of your RH
 

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Not for all curvies, but perhaps for some players. The only TT soprano I've come across with unmanageable intonation was a later straight model that was just flat across the board no matter what. A true dog. My friend who had it thankfully was able to return it to the dealer for another one without such problems.
I see your snide remark, and I'm going to guess you play music that doesn't require too much particular attention to pitch.

The model you have (high Eb, soldered tone holes, key guards) tunes slightly better than the later ones. I have one too. But the scale is off, especially the octave between C#2 and C#3, there is a huge gap. Some people say, that's just the soprano sax, it needs lipping and work by the player, but modern sops are much more locked in. I've spent quite some time testing different horns.
 

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I can answer your question for the curved soprano. I have tried every iteration of the curved soprano, but haven't tried the straight ones. The earlier ones with the pearl G# have a darker, "richer", more classical tone. They are the closest to sounding sax-like, like an alto of the same vintage, in my opinion. The roller G# horn is brighter, more projecting, less complexity, more modern. It's a small difference but noticeable.

In terms of mechanisms, the later horn is much superior. The position of the pinky table, palm keys, are rotated to be much more ergonomic. They updated the octave mechanism and added a C# compensator to it.

Unfortunately all of the curvies have serious intonation issues and need careful adjustment to get locked in. The common problem is going sharp in the top register.

I'd be curious to know if the same differences are true for the straight soprano.
I have a curvy 111k and a straight 218k. I agree with your assessment in terms of the sound, although I wouldn't characterize the earlier horn as classical sounding - I find it to have a broad and bold sound, quite full and surprisingly powerful. The straight is more centered - a very strong core sound and definitely much better keywork. If I was going for a Ben Webster vibe I'd pick the curvy for sure.

And my experience is the exact opposite regarding intonation. I find the straight to tend sharp up high, whilst the curvy stays quite locked in. Just my experience and probably a setup thing...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I can answer your question for the curved soprano. I have tried every iteration of the curved soprano, but haven't tried the straight ones. The earlier ones with the pearl G# have a darker, "richer", more classical tone. They are the closest to sounding sax-like, like an alto of the same vintage, in my opinion. The roller G# horn is brighter, more projecting, less complexity, more modern. It's a small difference but noticeable.

In terms of mechanisms, the later horn is much superior. The position of the pinky table, palm keys, are rotated to be much more ergonomic. They updated the octave mechanism and added a C# compensator to it.

Unfortunately all of the curvies have serious intonation issues and need careful adjustment to get locked in. The common problem is going sharp in the top register.

I'd be curious to know if the same differences are true for the straight soprano.
Fascinating, thanks zxcvbnm for sharing your experiences. I also just found an old thread that you had started along these same lines: When did Buescher fundamentally change their tenors and...

So I suppose it's true what they say, that great minds think alike, haha :)
 
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