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Discussion Starter #1
Hello and thanks in advance. I am new to vintage Buescher altos; my main alto is an early Buffet SDA which I love. I've spent some time searching the web and this forum looking for info on the Buescher alto, Aristocrat series 141. I just acquired one and it seems pretty neat. It is a later serial number, 357xxx which some websites say is a stripped down 400 (is a 400 a Top Hat and Cane?). It has the rear-firing bell keys, ivory rollers, nickel keys, original snap-in pads, and I guess the "big bell" (of the 400?)

I've been on Steve Goodson's website and several others, there's a bit conflicting info out there. I see there is a Super 400, a standard 400, a Top Hat and Cane, and about 5 pre-Selmer versions of the Aristocrat depending on where you look. From what I have found it should sound great (it has a little issue being repaired, I haven't played it yet).

I would appreciate this learned forum's comments to help me understand the history, value and play-ability of this cool little horn.
 

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Congratulations, you got yourself a very fine horn, engraving notwithstanding, which for your purpose should not really matter. Buescher, from what I learned over the years, had the best quality control in the horn industry, they are all great horns. The series III (1951 -55ish) were the final tribute to nobility which then fell out of fashion in favor of the "dandy" -like top hat and cane but they are among the best vintage horns you can find. If you have it serviced / repadded, make sure they don't snap off the pegs for regular pads, if necessary, post here for advice.

I only have a 1934 series 1 alto but it is on par with any other alto I have gotten my hands on and my main tenor is the "big brother" of the one you got. Best thing is to post some pictures once you get her back. What sound are you looking for? The 'crats are already very bright and there are a number of mouthpieces that can even boost that brightness (I play a Theo Wanne Mindi Abair) or tone it down (any of the vintage MPCs).

You may need to get used to the horn, they can be a little quirky and for starters, if you don't already use them, try the Eastman 2.5 strength reeds but of course that will also depend on the MPC or else the D'Addario Jazz select #2 hard (same limitations).
 

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I think the 141 model is mostly like a 140 model alto with the added bow and bell 'design concept' of the previous 400 model.

That is to say the neck and body specs as well as the bow section is not identical to the original 400 THC .

Anyway, great altos .. I have a Buescher 400 alto made a few years later(393,xxx) - same back bell keys, Nortons, etc.

So, I think my 400 is a 141 , but the 141 is not a 400 THC; acoustically speaking.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Congratulations, you got yourself a very fine horn, engraving notwithstanding, which for your purpose should not really matter. Buescher, from what I learned over the years, had the best quality control in the horn industry, they are all great horns. The series III (1951 -55ish) were the final tribute to nobility which then fell out of fashion in favor of the "dandy" -like top hat and cane but they are among the best vintage horns you can find. If you have it serviced / repadded, make sure they don't snap off the pegs for regular pads, if necessary, post here for advice.

I only have a 1934 series 1 alto but it is on par with any other alto I have gotten my hands on and my main tenor is the "big brother" of the one you got. Best thing is to post some pictures once you get her back. What sound are you looking for? The 'crats are already very bright and there are a number of mouthpieces that can even boost that brightness (I play a Theo Wanne Mindi Abair) or tone it down (any of the vintage MPCs).

You may need to get used to the horn, they can be a little quirky and for starters, if you don't already use them, try the Eastman 2.5 strength reeds but of course that will also depend on the MPC or else the D'Addario Jazz select #2 hard (same limitations).
The pads are in pretty good shape, I'm hoping it won't need an overhaul. But if it does, I'm the one who will be doing it. The snaps are serious pain in the butt to deal with, and I've learned a system for getting the pads right thanks to fighting with a TT soprano for months - that should help.

I've pretty much landed on the Selmer S80 and S90 mouthpieces, I play in a small orchestra. The Wanne NY Bros is on sale/discontinued and is tempting, but I may want to start looking for a metal MP again, to be heard over the dang trumpets (and THEY GET MICROPHONES!). I gave up on the Link metals........
 

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I may want to start looking for a metal MP again, to be heard over the dang trumpets (and THEY GET MICROPHONES!). I gave up on the Link metals........
I agree that should be a very good horn, if you're a good enough tech to get it into top condition.

Regarding mpcs, one thing to keep in mind, metal is not what makes a mpc play loud. As you may have found out with the metal Links. A med to high baffle will help increase volume (and brightness), regardless of whether the mpc is metal, HR, or some other material.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I agree that should be a very good horn, if you're a good enough tech to get it into top condition.
What? Doth thou doubtest? :) Really, if I can do a "C" soprano with Roo pads and snap-ins, altos are EZPZ.

Regarding mpcs, one thing to keep in mind, metal is not what makes a mpc play loud. As you may have found out with the metal Links. A med to high baffle will help increase volume (and brightness), regardless of whether the mpc is metal, HR, or some other material.
I get that but they do seem to cut thru the trumpet noise better than HR. And I just love the way a well faced metal MP plays/responds. Problem is, I can't afford a well faced metal. :(
 

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I have Buescher altos - an Aristocrat with Big B engraving model 140; and a "Buescher 400" with TH&C engraving model B 7 (the one with "Buescher 400" in silver script in raised cursive letters; the silver tone ring, thumb hook and strap ring, plus the large bell).

I had both of them overhauled by John Frazier several years ago. They both play great and there isn't much difference in how they feel or sound. For some reason, I always favored the older Big B model. Now, after having bought and played a new Yanagisawa AWO1, the Yany outplays both of the Bueschers, but they are still neat. DAVE
 

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To cut through in a big band with trumpets, if you can't get there with a Meyer 7 medium chamber or small chamber, you're not going to get there.

A squawky buzzy duck call sound will not actually cut through and be heard as well as a more rounded tone in the hands of someone who knows how to blow through the thing not at it. Concentrate on pushing a big sound and you can do it with a Meyer or equivalent.
 

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To cut through in a big band with trumpets, if you can't get there with a Meyer 7 medium chamber or small chamber, you're not going to get there.

A squawky buzzy duck call sound will not actually cut through and be heard as well as a more rounded tone in the hands of someone who knows how to blow through the thing not at it. Concentrate on pushing a big sound and you can do it with a Meyer or equivalent.
+1. I do agree with that, especially on alto. And of course a Meyer is HR.

I had a series one Aristocrat alto (with the art deco engraving) for a while. That thing could cut through steel, no matter what mpc you put on it!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
To cut through in a big band with trumpets, if you can't get there with a Meyer 7 medium chamber or small chamber, you're not going to get there.

A squawky buzzy duck call sound will not actually cut through and be heard as well as a more rounded tone in the hands of someone who knows how to blow through the thing not at it. Concentrate on pushing a big sound and you can do it with a Meyer or equivalent.
Despite my tongue-in-cheek user name, squawky is not what I'm looking for. I've not used a Meyer - I mostly use a Selmer S80 or S90 in the C* facing. How do they compare soundwise to the Meyer? I could probably do a Meyer 5, the 7 may be a bit much for me.
 

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Despite my tongue-in-cheek user name, squawky is not what I'm looking for. I've not used a Meyer - I mostly use a Selmer S80 or S90 in the C* facing. How do they compare soundwise to the Meyer? I could probably do a Meyer 5, the 7 may be a bit much for me.
Meyers tend to be easier to make a brighter and more projecting sound than the Selmer stock pieces. They still have a lot of body to the sound, though. The Meyer 6 medium chamber is the standard go-to piece for big band lead alto for about the last 60 years or so.

I haven't played the S80 or S90 on alto, as I have an old C* Soloist that I've been using for the last 40 years. But my understanding is that the tonal qualities are similar though the new pieces may be somewhat thinner sounding.

Key to any of these is getting a good airstream and a projecting tone going. I would stay with a middle of the road setup (my personal is the aforementioned Meyer 7 medium chamber and Vandoren 2.5 or 3 reeds) and then work on getting a lead alto tone and concepts of articulation and phrasing together.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I own/use/prefer the older vintage Selmer mouthpieces - I have a couple soloist "style" and they are very similar in sound to the older S80s I have. I also tried one of the new Super Sessions and it had more projection but I'm focusing on relaxing my embouchure (esp on soprano) and playing the more open-tipped Super Session was counter-productive.

Would you consider a Meyer 5 medium chamber to have noticeably more projection than your Soloist C* (or S80?)? I would be open to trying one in the 5 facing which is like a C**......
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I got the repaired G key rod assembly back this morning (thanks John!) and played the horn a bit - with an S80 it sounds a lot like my Buffet SDA. The shocking thing is that it plays very well top to bottom with no adjustments!
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
This horn came with a white Buescher mouthpiece - any love for those? The facing profile is close to the S80 and has the same U-shaped chamber. I like it, plays just a bit brighter than the S80.
 
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