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Hey Everybody,

Just got this from eBay. I was told, one owner with original snap ins, gold norton springs, and original lacquer, case, and tru lay mouthpiece. It even has the original booklet. The lacquer is about 75%, but man is it gorgeous where it is. The darkest honey/amber color I have seen; almost a dark copperish color. It also appears to have its original pads. I questioned the black rollers, but the seller told me that the owner never had anything replaced, that it was all original. It also appears the thumb rest is lacquer, not silver like most that I have seen. Is it possible that the rollers and thumb rest are signs that this is not all original, or too hard to say?

I put on a mouthpiece, and it plays fairly well as is, but struggles in the lower register, c and below. The middle octave D seems a little stuffy as well. My guess is it needs a full overhaul, just wanted to make sure i do not overspend on this new hobby of mine (it has been 13 years since I played...). I am not a professional, so gig ready may not be necessary for my home recording project, especially if this hobby doesn't stick.

I paid $650 for this (did I overpay?), and I am expecting another $500-$600 (right?) on a full cleaning and repad overhaul, which would put me in the $1250 range. Seems a little high to me, but maybe I am wrong. What do you all think?

Photos Here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xyuqv7d7bg0qcoc/AAClN7e9XeLxL1yUH90f7X_xa?dl=0


Thanks, Jim
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Brown rollers -- always. These have been replaced. Nothing wrong with that, just they aren't original.

Also, the bell key guard has taken a hit and the runner over the B1 key to the body is attached in an odd spot and appears to have been resoldered that way, though the picture may be misleading. These bell key guard runners should be parallel with each other inline with the one over the Bb1.

They lacquered the r/h thumb hook from the factory, but it's nickel silver, so that's the first thing to show up with a silver color when the lacquer wears off. Horn doesn't appear to have been relacquered and the thumb hook doesn't appear to have been molested.

You don't show any pictures of the resonators or pads, so I can't vouch for them being original. I wouldn't bet on it though. It's clearly been worked on before. May or may not have its Snaps still in place.

You never buy these horns thinking you're going to flip them after an overhaul. I love my Big B 140. It's my main alto, but similarly, I had to put an overhaul in it on purchase at essentially the same price. You didn't do great, but you did what I'd have expected. With a fresh overhaul, you might be able to get your money back out of it, but it would take awhile. 2 years later you'll be back in the $800 range again.

Anyway, congrats on the horn!. Get it fixed up and you will absolutely love it!
 

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Thanks for your reply. I have uploaded a few more photos showcasing the bent ribbon guard and pads.

https://db.tt/E4wmehsI

Snap ins appear to be intact and the guard doesn't appear to have been resoldered, but it is dented where it meets the body. Hopefully this can be lifted without having to remove or solder the guard. Let me know what you think about these pads, definitely look very old.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Ok. the good news. I'll retract my comment about the bell key guard. It's a little off kilter, but it looks like it came that way. It's also clearly original lacquer and it appears to have all its Snap-On resonators and Norton springs -- at least most of them.

The bad news.... Pads are toast. Probably not original, but that's ok, since they all need to be replaced anyway. They may be original style replacements, but who cares. Stick a fork it in, they are all done. Horn looks to have gotten wet at some point, as they all seem to have mold on them. Hopefully nothing's rusted making the repair a nightmare.

You have a genuine candidate for a full overhaul here. That will run you at least $600, and depending on how anal you are about putting it in its best condition, as much as $1200.

Is it worth it? As I noted earlier, not for the flip value. It's certainly worth it if you want to play it and want a Buescher 140 to play. Could you do better? Yeah, probably, but you have it already, and it's certainly a worthwhile instrument to bring to life. I say go for it, but do it right.
 

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Hi Jim, I have been watching Big B alto's for the past half year on eBay.com/de/fr and on various European sites, and I think you paid exactly what they cost.. I saw a beautiful silver finished one sold for $ 800,- but also quite a few very so so relaquers for $ 600,- So as Maddenma said.. go for it and enjoy.. I paid a little more for this 1941 one (but this is Europe).. it looks better than yours, but then... most of what you see shining is bare brass..

Maddenma, what would you suggest for springs.. the original ones work and my mechanic will try to adjust them.. but wouldn't it be better (from a playing point of view) to have new blue steel ones in new screws.. perhaps guild them.. Any idea how the originals were guilded? In a galvanic way? Goldleaf I could probably do myself.. And where do I get the screws? Saw them at ferrees for $ 2,50.. is there a better deal? Thanx, Eric (Netherlands)
 

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Jim, I think you did just fine for that price. These are among the best altos out there, imo. Once you get it overhauled, it will play like new and you'll have a top quality alto with a killer sound for less than $1500. That's a super bargain, imo. As maddenma says, not for flipping, but you're looking for something to PLAY, right?

chulie, the norton springs have a great feel. Unless some are broken, I'd stick with them. Maybe I'm wrong about that, but I don't think so.
 

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chulie, is there something wrong with the springs?

I have two Buescher tenors ('40 & '50 vintage), they were both overhauled prior to my buying them, and they both have the original norton springs. I've never had any problem with the springs breaking or anything. And the keywork plays like butter; very smooth. I think that's at least in part due to the springs.

If you have a good tech, he/she will know if there's any good reason to switch the springs (I can't think of one, from a playing perspective).
 

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Well, yes, my tech says about half of them has become too weak to play convenient.. I rely on her.. she would keep them if possible.. she re-covered some original polsters on my Ladyface, while it would be faster to replace them.. of course I'll save al the original parts.. we decided to try some complete Buescher springs from Ferrees.. I probably won't know the dfference between those and blue steel ones at my level.. can always replace them when my skills have improved..
 

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Well, yes, my tech says about half of them has become too weak to play convenient.. I rely on her.. she would keep them if possible.. she re-covered some original polsters on my Ladyface, while it would be faster to replace them.. of course I'll save al the original parts.. we decided to try some complete Buescher springs from Ferrees.. I probably won't know the dfference between those and blue steel ones at my level.. can always replace them when my skills have improved..
I'd go with what your tech says. I kind of doubt the blue steel vs Norton springs make a significant difference (in spite of what I said in my last post); it might be very subtle so I wouldn't worry about it. In any case, you're far better off replacing worn out springs, regardless of the type.

Regarding your skills, just as a general comment, it doesn't require a high skill level to feel or appreciate the feel of a well-set up horn. You'll love that horn once your tech puts it all right.
 

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Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and Foru
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Maddenma, what would you suggest for springs.. the original ones work and my mechanic will try to adjust them..
If they need to be adjusted, do so, but otherwise leave them be unless they've gone bad. They will wear out, but you'll know when the do. The replacement springs, while they work just fine, aren't the same. That said, I've had a few replaced now and truthfully, I can't really tell the difference other than the appearance.

They are plated as you might expect, in a plating tank. Unless you're plating the rest of the horn and trying to restore it, I wouldn't bother with plating a spring or two. Certainly won't get that back in terms of value and it adds nothing to the playing characteristics of the horn. Purely cosmetic.
 

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ThanQ Maddenma, I thought so.. I considered for a moment, when spending a lot of money anyway, why not try to get it perfect.. but it's vanity.. I'll learn to play first..
 

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Something else about the Ferrees springs: Very often they don't go in the holes well. Clumsy subpar knock off. You will cry for the original ones.
 

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Something else about the Ferrees springs: Very often they don't go in the holes well. Clumsy subpar knock off. You will cry for the original ones.
Given this, I sure wouldn't use the subpar knock off springs! Why not just get the right (best) ones and use them? I bet Music Medic would have them.

One thing for sure, I wouldn't use a subpar product now with the idea of replacing them later!
 

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Something else about the Ferrees springs: Very often they don't go in the holes well. Clumsy subpar knock off. You will cry for the original ones.
Yup, there is that. Had to have the threads chased to get them to fit. Plus you have to clip them to the correct length, so you end up with a sharp point rather than the squared-off end unless you grind them flat.
 

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Sorry, I don't know what subpar means.... then what are the best ones.. or shoulld I buy just screws and put what springs in ?
 

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No. Unless you can source NOS originals, or cannablize another horn, Ferree's springs are your best bet.

They work, they're just not quite the same.
 
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