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I've been away from Tenor for ages but am considering a late 40's Big B. Couple of questions for you experts...

Down the road, are the snap in resonators going to cause me any issues if I want a repad? Same question with the gold plate springs. I just don't want to get into a situation where it can't be worked on without major effort/"crazy surgeries" to the horn. I love vintage sax's but there's always that downside.

Ergo-wise how are they? I'm not expecting a Selmer here, but for example, I've played King Zephyrs that I thought were easy playing on the hands and had a light touch even without the right-hand "offset".

"Sound" I know is very subjective. Everyone says these horns are "focused" but I don't really know how to interpret that - I want a tenor that plays fairly evenly thru the registers, a bit throaty and dark perhaps but that's probably more the mouthpiece/player? Just looking for comments that might push me one way or the other....
 

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these are lovely saxophones,good under the fingers for a vintage american horn,good through the whole range, and these are fine for working on and getting parts for most of the time.
go for it.
 

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No problem with replacing pads. I take a leather punch and make the hole bigger for the snap. I then glue them in like a regular pad and put the snap back on. I have not had to replace any of the Norton springs. I know they are available somewhere. So anyway they are durable. I think you will be very happy with the tone. Intonation is very good on Buescher horns.
 

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Thanks. Nothing in here steers me away (being the Buescher thread, wasn't expecting that!). Always tough buying online without trying first.
 

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I've been away from Tenor for ages but am considering a late 40's Big B. Couple of questions for you experts...

Down the road, are the snap in resonators going to cause me any issues if I want a repad? Same question with the gold plate springs. I just don't want to get into a situation where it can't be worked on without major effort/"crazy surgeries" to the horn. I love vintage sax's but there's always that downside.

Ergo-wise how are they? I'm not expecting a Selmer here, but for example, I've played King Zephyrs that I thought were easy playing on the hands and had a light touch even without the right-hand "offset".

"Sound" I know is very subjective. Everyone says these horns are "focused" but I don't really know how to interpret that - I want a tenor that plays fairly evenly thru the registers, a bit throaty and dark perhaps but that's probably more the mouthpiece/player? Just looking for comments that might push me one way or the other....
As far as focus the earlier Big B's(model 127) are noticeably more focused than the late 40's(model 156) version that
you're considering. I have the earlier version, but have played the 156 models and they are nice tenors also.
 

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I have a 1949 Big B tenor that I acquired from Les Arbuckle, and it’s a fantastic horn. Les repadded it: no problem. He just transferred the original resonators to the new leather pads that he likes to use. Simple. I don’t think you’ll ever have problems with the gold springs, but these are not so rare as to be hard to match. I find that the horn plays with an easy action. I have no proble with the ergo, but my other tenor that I have been playing for a long time is a ‘33 Conn, so I am not spoiled by Selmer style erogs. The Big B is a great sounding and playing horn, and a real looker as well. My teacher also happens to play a Big B ternor, and he is a steadily working pro in Southern California, and he sees no reason to play anything else. His tone is great, and he rips on his Big B.
I have always thought of the Big B’s as one of the true classics, and I have no regrets and only joy owning one. If the horn is in decent condition and the price is right (these seem to be undervalued on the market), go for it!
 

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As far as focus the earlier Big B's(model 127) are noticeably more focused than the late 40's(model 156) version that
you're considering. I have the earlier version, but have played the 156 models and they are nice tenors also.
That is correct. I have both models and the 156 is more 'free-blowing' with a more spread sound. It's really a very big sound. And has a beautiful tone quality. Both models play 'very evenly throughout the registers.' I'm used to my MkVI tenor that I've been playing for years, but I still find the ergos to be fine on a 156 Buescher, probably better than a Zephyr.

As to repad or repair issues, they are not a problem at all. Any tech that you'd want to use can do a great job on these horns.
 

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I still find the ergos to be fine on a 156 Buescher, probably better than a Zephyr.
Agreed.

Low C# can be a bear on Zephyr tenors.
A tech can lighten it up some.

That is really the only issue on mine.
I just got used to it.
 

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' I'm used to my MkVI tenor that I've been playing for years, but I still find the ergos to be fine on a 156 Buescher, probably better than a Zephyr.
My particular Zephyr(a 1959 version) ergos are better for me than the Big B - namely the palm keys & front F .


Agreed.

Low C# can be a bear on Zephyr tenors.
A tech can lighten it up some.

That is really the only issue on mine.
I just got used to it.
I've read about the difficult C# but I must've gotten lucky with mine .
 

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I had my 156 and at the same time a friend's VI for about 6 weeks the year before last. The ergos just weren't that different. The main thing I noticed on the 156 is the right palm keys are a little higher up on the body of the horn but that took about a day or two to get used to. Then I liked it as well as anything else. Fast light action, very good. No problems with the rivets. Some techs use the rivets but add a little shellac as well. Whatever. Great horn.
 

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That is correct. I have both models and the 156 is more 'free-blowing' with a more spread sound. It's really a very big sound. And has a beautiful tone quality. Both models play 'very evenly throughout the registers.' I'm used to my MkVI tenor that I've been playing for years, but I still find the ergos to be fine on a 156 Buescher, probably better than a Zephyr.

As to repad or repair issues, they are not a problem at all. Any tech that you'd want to use can do a great job on these horns.
My experience agrees with the above. I've recently had to choose between a Series I and a series III 156. Series I was very warm and dark, and had lots of resistance. The 156 was considerably more free blowing, not bright by any means but not as thick and dark sounding as the Series I. Ergos somewhat better on the 156, although not much in it! Both have good ergos in my opinion.
 

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Curious, what makes the later series 156 less resistant? Is it a larger bore, or something to do with the neck maybe?
 

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Curious, what makes the later series 156 less resistant? Is it a larger bore, or something to do with the neck maybe?
That's a really good question and I have no idea what the answer is. I don't think the 156 has a larger bore, but it's possible. Maybe maddenma can chime in since he's made measurements and knows a lot about these horns.

One thing, though. The 'resistance' in the series one is only in relation to the really 'free blowing' feel of the 156 tenor, not in any way a negative thing; it's not stuffy or difficult to blow through the horn. Rather, there's just something to kind of push against, in a good way. The horn is still very responsive. It might be more accurate to say it seems to be more focused, with a little more 'bite', whereas the 156 seems to have a broader, less focused sound. As I said somewhere in a past thread on here, the 156 sounds a bit louder while playing it, but it's possible the series one projects more. Both horns are very powerful when pushed.

All of this is very subjective and difficult to express in words.
 

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FWIW, to say a 156 is "free blowing" isn't really correct. It's less resistant than the 155 or 127 that preceded it. There's still an upper limit on the amount of air a 156 will take before it distorts, and it's lower than you would find on a similar vintage horn from Conn or Selmer. Doesn't make it less loud, just a little more resistant. A contemporary horn from Buescher, the B-11 (400 TH&C) will take a lot more air than a 156, and it's capable of being a lot louder as well.

As to necks, there were two necks a 156 could have. One is nearly a 1/4" longer than the other, and not surprisingly, affects the intonation and mouthpiece selection. Most come with the longer neck, but as near as I can tell, neither is dimensionally different than what was also available on the earlier 127 -- which could have come with either neck as well. The differences are subtle in the body, but apparently they add up.

Here's the measurements between the 3 Big B engraved tenors. I posted them some years ago now, but to make it easier to find, somewhere in here is your answer. That said, you'll have to be smarter than me (not all that hard to do) to figure out what/which differences are showing up as resistance while you blow.


View attachment 215714
 

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It's worth pointing out that my comments are based on a sample size of precisely two instruments, both of with are 70+ years old, so hard to know what differences were due to set-up/condition are which were more intrinsic to the saxophone itself! Agree that the resistance of the series 1 isn't a negative, I quite like the feeling that the sax is pushing back a bit and giving you something to play into.
 

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FWIW, to say a 156 is "free blowing" isn't really correct. It's less resistant than the 155 or 127 that preceded it. There's still an upper limit on the amount of air a 156 will take before it distorts, and it's lower than you would find on a similar vintage horn from Conn or Selmer. Doesn't make it less loud, just a little more resistant.
maddenma, you've played a lot more Bueschers than I have. And my point of reference is the MkVI I've owned for 35 years. In comparison, the MkVI seems more resistant (again not in a bad way) than both the 127 (series one) and 156 tenors. And the 156 is noticeably more free blowing than either the VI or the 127. I don't think I'd want a horn that is any more free blowing than my 156. But in any case, these Bueschers have a great tone quality that I can't begin to describe in any meaningful way; best I can do is say they have a certain 'ringing' tone.
 

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I've seen that amazing table before, maddenma, and would like to emulate your method. Do you recall if the measurements from the Tenon Receiver To to F Tone Hole taken at the top of the F tone hole, or at its axis? Was the Tenon Receiver to Bow Seam Length taken at the top or bottom of the seam? And did the measurement of the Tenon to Bottom of Bow Length include the protective ridge at the bottom of the bow (sorry I don't know its proper name)?
 
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