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I just purchased a Buescher True-Tone Low Pitch Sax, #193126 Licence Pat Dec. 8, 1914. I was wondering if anyone knows how old it is and what it might be worth. All the pads are there, and in decent shape. Just missing mouthpiece. I love its patina, it's beautiful. And I couldn't pass it up for $29.99.
 

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Congrats! are you sure it's 193XXX and not 93XXX? I ask because there's some features that should be there that I'm not seeing, although it may have been removed aftermarket and the front F mechanism was an option before 200XXX.

Having no front F mechanism is not a big deal per se, it is one of the reasons why that lovely horn goes for so little money and gets so little attention.

It's a "series II" True Tone (no roller G# touchpiece, no front F mechanism) And it doesn't have the snap in pads (propietary Buescher feature) preserved. I can see there's nylon reso pads on some of your photos.

Edit: I'm seeing the newer octave mechanism so it's most definitely serial 193XXX, wich means it has had the snaps spuds removed from the cups. It's dating back to 1924/5 if memory serves right.
 

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At $30, even if it needs a $600 overhaul, you're still ahead (marginally, but still ahead :) ). The bare brass True Tone (that was the stock, bottom of the line "finish"), and being a Series 1 or 2 (no front F, pearl G#), I'd say between $450 and $900, depending on condition. $150 to $400 in poor to just playable condition. These may be old (yours is early 1926 or earlier (don't have my serial # chart w/me)), but they are very common!

I agree, 1924/1925 is a reasonable date estimate. I used to own a late 1926 silver plated/gold wash bell True Tone Alto I got in a trade. It played, but needed an overhaul (it had the front F key, and the pearl G#). I traded it ($300 trade) for work on my 1926 King Bari (I already had too many Altos at the time, and only one Bari).
 

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Even in playing shape, without silver plate, no front F and a pearl G#, you're looking at $200-$300 in a private sale.
Ah yes, the crappy economy. Damn the economy! Buyers market! I have seen, and dealt with more Silver Plated True Tones than lacquered, Gold plated (the true rare beast) and no lacquer.

Grumps probably has the more realistic assessment here.

Keyword here though is "private sale". Dealers always get more out of them.
 

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You can get a decent overhaul (if it needs one) for between $300 and $400, which COULD be a "break even" standpoint if you did want to re-sell it. The $600 is more to towards the top end of overhauls for most techs. Some vintage specialists can charge much, much more, but isn't really needed.
 

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That is a whole other can of worms, discussed all over the place here! Generally there are 3 types of overhauls: Student, Pro, and Artist.

Student overhauls
generally just consist of a repad and recork. Very basic. Doesn't address unlevel tone holes, any modifications or customizing, just a general setup (no custom setup for the player). It's what some techs call a "re-pad" or "bringing it up to playable condition" (note that some techs will do less to bring into playable condition. This may mean having to come back again though, to get something else fixed, so many techs won't do this, on account of their reputation). Generally between $250 and $400

Pro Overhauls is what most people here do and get. It's a complete repad, recork, the works done the sax! Everything except replating/lacquering. Some include customization, and all include a customized setup for the player. These take longer, and cost more, but are much more thourough. Tone holes are leveled (when needed), everything is replaced or repaired (as needed), and it plays like a new sax (well, as new as an old sax can be :) ). You often get the choice of pad brand preference as well (which is usually at an additional cost).

Artist Overhauls is all that plus all the "bells and whistles". The sax is can be customized to any extreme (this includes putting modern keywork to a vintage sax. There are few techs that can do this, they do exsist! It usually includes refinishing, can include custom engraving, and usually exceeds the re-sale of most saxes it's performed on. This is for the player that will die with their sax!

But, these are just generalizations, and one must ask local musicians who they trust with their saxes, and ask around here too. Every shop is different, and some will do more than others, and some have much higher standards than others. There are also many shops out there that will try and rip you off (think the stereo typical used car salesman). Just have to weed through the crap to find the diamond!
 

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Bottom line is, if you're thinking about keeping it to play, putting a couple hundred into it might be worth your while considering how cheap you got it for; if you can live without a front F and don't want to bother having one installed for more money. Now if you bought it to flip, I would just flip it as is, and make one or two hundred profit.
 

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Bottom line is, if you're thinking about keeping it to play, putting a couple hundred into it might be worth your while considering how cheap you got it for; if you can live without a front F and don't want to bother having one installed for more money. Now if you bought it to flip, I would just flip it as is, and make one or two hundred profit.
Well said once again!
 

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Exactly as Grumps says.

But one thing missing in all this discussion about value and investment, is the fact these really are great horns with an awesome tone quality. They are not a good investment in terms of money. But they are a super good deal for someone who wants a horn to PLAY. If you want it to play, it will be well worth getting it overhauled, but not if you plan to sell it.
 

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Exactly as Grumps says.

But one thing missing in all this discussion about value and investment, is the fact these really are great horns with an awesome tone quality. They are not a good investment in terms of money. But they are a super good deal for someone who wants a horn to PLAY. If you want it to play, it will be well worth getting it overhauled, but not if you plan to sell it.
Exactly. It's the "Buescher True Tone Dilemma". Economic value not so great; Sax-player cosmic value immense.

Hmm. Wonder how an actual Economist would analyze that, taking the long view: Buescher Band Ins. Co. buys various materials to make a sax 80+ years ago, employs workers to make them, salesmen and advertising to pitch them, shipping costs; then music store mark-up etc.; instrument gets bought at current market prices, owner buys reeds etc., hires technicians to work on it, maybe makes a living with it; 80 years later it's back on the market and still has value to somebody, who employs a technician to get it into shape because whatever the current market value it's more valuable than that to him (insert intangible or unquantifiable aesthetic and practical considerations here), and maybe he can make a little money playing it. Long view might be that Buescher's initial investment generated total worth to the economy that outstrips what could have been reasonably expected when the horn was made.

But I'm no economist. My bank statement says so. [rolleyes]
 
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