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~1927 Buescher TT alto
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! The title says it, for the most part. I am an experienced (30-year) bassist, and on alto I'm a middling beginner with a few hundred practice hours behind me, and up to now I've been playing on a Buescher TrueTone, ca. 1926-28 if I recall. I like the horn and its sound. But I certainly can say that some of the action still feels challenging, and I've long wondered whether a horn with a more modern construction and ergonomics might be useful to me, as I understand these vintage horns are not often recommended for someone at my playing level. But going out and trying saxes is not really going to happen, given the pandemic and the scarcity of good shops in my region. (I also do not have a teacher at this point, and realistically won't until the COVID era has ended.)

So an opportunity has presented itself -- I have a friend who has her son's old Yamaha YAS-200AD (made in China), which (a) she says is in excellent condition, and (b) she would be happy to part with. She's not "looking to sell" -- this is just an offer that came up when she found out I've been learning to play sax. She's also happy to let me make an offer: she did a rent-to-own for $1675, brand new, and admits she has no idea how the value will have appreciated or depreciated. My initial searching suggests it's going to have lost quite a bit of that value. If I make an offer, I'd be looking to make it fair, not lowball her.

I could probably arrange to have her ship it to me without finalizing the purchase, so that I can try it out. But that's a level of cost and trouble (on her part) that I'd avoid if the whole idea is stupid.

My questions are:
  • Most importantly - do you think a modern student horn would provide a good experience for me -- perhaps a more friendly learning curve -- than the nearly 100-year old horn I currently have?
  • I've included pictures of the horn (in the next comment) -- anything look troubling to you about its condition?
  • What would your best guess be as to its fair value? Online prices for this model vary wildly.

Thanks so much for your help!
 

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Well, first of all, beginners in 1925 were all playing on what you're playing on now. No, I do not think you will progress measurably faster with a modern student horn than what you have, IF!!! what you have now is in good adjustment.

If you are having trouble with the way the keys work, it's almost certainly a problem with you (finger position, etc.) or the horn needs adjustment.

I don't see how spending more money on a decent quality student saxophone would be a better choice than spending the same or less money to have your existing top quality professional grade instrument tuned up.
 

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This is going to be do as I say, not as I do...stick with what ya got for the near term at least. You are already used to the Buescher...keep using it. You might want to have a tech check to make sure it is well regulated/set up properly--this goes for any horn including a new or used Yamaha.
 

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Alto, Tenor, Bari.
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I would probably continue to use the True tone that you have for the foreseeable future. By going to a modern horn you'll see better ergonomics, maybe better intonation. However I doubt you're being held back by the True Tone in any measurable way.

While their is nothing wrong with that Yamaha the issue will come with Value. If you want to pick up a modern horn to try out. Their are multiple reputable examples of modern horns Yamaha, Vito etc that can be had inexpensively I'm talking 2-400 and sometimes cheaper I'm referring to the YAS-23, and to the Vito version of it. Your friend bought a new student horn and will want to maximize the resale value because she is going to go off of sunk cost rather then actual value. I doubt she will sell you that horn for less then 1K. To buy that horn straight from her, you would be better off checking out the used market for a used Yani stencil, older yamaha 61/62 etc. A Fair market offer she would take as a lowball because fair market is sub $500 on that horn.

If her child is done, she needs to look at returning it to the store and getting out from under that rental note.
 
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Does the Buescher has the metal roller G# touch, in '26 I believe that is near the date where would have had them (?). Or is it a round pearl touch ???

I'd say, if you wanna satiate your curiousity as to what a contemporary horn feels like, go ahead and buy the Yama. Be aware, the market value of a used one of these is not high...I mean, it is worth perhaps $600 tops...so I dunno if that would shock the kid's mother or not, but the model is neither valuable nor particularly sought-after, the 200. People would rather buy a Japanese-made 21 or 23 than spend on a used 200, which would cost more than a 21 or 23.
It's a decent horn, tho...really, essentially a 23 in design.

If your thought is "will I develop faster ?", I say...it may or may not be more comfortable and quicker to navigate than an old TT. I would really say this: IF your TT has the pearl G#....it is highly likely the Yama will feel more responsive. There were some mechanical changes to the keywork when Buescher went to the G# roller...it is not only THAT key which changed. It is the ones with the G# roller which are the exemplary ones....the ones of repute.
The older ones, less so....

I will add, while there are attributes of a respectable modern model which some might find preferable to a vintage one, the reverse is also true: so a nice TT will possess certain qualities which are superior to what a student Yama possesses.
 

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IMHO, the True-Tone is the sonically superior horn. The Yamaha ergos are obviously much better.

Go for the tone.
 

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~1927 Buescher TT alto
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, everyone for your replies so far.

If her child is done, she needs to look at returning it to the store and getting out from under that rental note.
Her child is now out of college, and will never pick up sax again. She picked this up 10+ years ago, I think.
 

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Alto, Tenor, Bari.
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Thanks, everyone for your replies so far.



Her child is now out of college, and will never pick up sax again. She picked this up 10+ years ago, I think.
I would encourage her to look at Ebay listings of sold listings to see the value. She can either hold onto it and save it for a grandkid, but if she is looking to unload it Ebay will give an accurate representation of what that horn is valued at on sold listings. Again as everyone has previously stated its not going to be high and she will lose a significant portion of her investment in it.
 

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Her child is now out of college, and will never pick up sax again. She picked this up 10+ years ago, I think.
Student horns are made for student hands. You might not like the fit. I'm rather biased here, as I grew up playing vintage American horns before I went all Selmer... then went back to vintage American horns when I bought a True Tone alto on a whim. One from 1928 with the roller G# and front F key. It's my go to alto and can do anything a modern horn can do. They were built to last, and they did. That's why they're relatively inexpensive. Not because they're bad horns, but because there are so many left.
 

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~1927 Buescher TT alto
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Does the Buescher has the metal roller G# touch, in '26 I believe that is near the date where would have had them (?). Or is it a round pearl touch ???
...
If your thought is "will I develop faster ?", I say...it may or may not be more comfortable and quicker to navigate than an old TT. I would really say this: IF your TT has the pearl G#....it is highly likely the Yama will feel more responsive. There were some mechanical changes to the keywork when Buescher went to the G# roller...it is not only THAT key which changed. It is the ones with the G# roller which are the exemplary ones....the ones of repute.
The older ones, less so....

I will add, while there are attributes of a respectable modern model which some might find preferable to a vintage one, the reverse is also true: so a nice TT will possess certain qualities which are superior to what a student Yama possesses.
Yeah, my TT has the roller G# (and the front F, if that matters).

Student horns are made for student hands. You might not like the fit. I'm rather biased here, as I grew up playing vintage American horns before I went all Selmer... then went back to vintage American horns when I bought a True Tone alto on a whim. One from 1928 with the roller G# and front F key. It's my go to alto and can do anything a modern horn can do. They were built to last, and they did. That's why they're relatively inexpensive. Not because they're bad horns, but because there are so many left.
Thanks, that's really good to hear that a horn so similar to mine is making you happy as a main alto. I don't see Bueschers on the stand very often, so I was probably making an assumption that they lacked "something", and thus that I was missing out by being restricted to this horn.
 

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I don't know for sure why Bueschers are seen so rarely in professional use. Some of it may come from residual reputation from the period when Bueschers were repositioned as student horns and the QC went down; Conn did much the same thing but Conn's reputation seems to have recovered more. Even back in the 30s 40s and 50s, Bueschers were less common on the bandstand than Conns.

Pre-internet a great deal of reputation and instrument choice was based on word of mouth, and word of mouth was often wrong.
 

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...on alto I'm a middling beginner with a few hundred practice hours behind me, and up to now I've been playing on a Buescher TrueTone, ca. 1926-28 if I recall. I like the horn and its sound.
Keep the Buescher! The part I put in bold in your quote is the bottom line.

That Yamaha will not come close to the great tone of your Buescher.
 

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~1927 Buescher TT alto
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Okay then. This is sounding pretty unanimous, so I'll call the matter settled, though of course I'm still happy to hear any more thoughts.

Per @JayeLID's question about the key design on my Buescher, I checked my serial #, and according to this I'm right in this range:

8451


So anyway, I guess I'm going to save my money, and will have to satisfy my innate acquisitiveness with something else. A tenor, perhaps? My wife thinks it's the much sexier choice, but once she hears me play it, she may change her mind.
 

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I’d lean on the side of just putting your TT into the shop for a once over to get it into nice and snappy playing condition...you might wonder why you even wanted to make a change after you get it back.
yes, the information given on yamaha student alto prices is accurate. in great condition $600 is about the ceiling.
 

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While your TT is in the shop, sounds like a good time to test saxophones at your local music store. Many times they have used saxophones for sale.
 

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~1927 Buescher TT alto
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I’d lean on the side of just putting your TT into the shop for a once over to get it into nice and snappy playing condition...you might wonder why you even wanted to make a change after you get it back.
yes, the information given on yamaha student alto prices is accurate. in great condition $600 is about the ceiling.
While your TT is in the shop, sounds like a good time to test new saxophones at your local music store. Many times they have used saxophones for sale.
Good advice! I think this'll be the plan, but I've got a seriously COVID-vulnerable person here at home. So shop visits are on the back burner for a while. Once we're properly vaccinated, I'm within driving distance of NYC, so I expect that it'll be a pretty nice "shopping" experience.
 
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