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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've managed a feat of de-cluttering that I'm a bit proud of: all of my extra and extraneous musical instruments have been re-homed. Two flutes (one in great shape, another in sorry condition.. so one and a half flutes) and the sax I started on about a half-year back (a 70's Buescher Aristocrat) are now sitting in the back room of the local jazz club waiting to be given to students.

This leaves me with two sibling saxes: a 1957/58 Noblet that plays searing bright if not reigned in (a bit of an exaggeration.. brighter than I usually like though) , and is impossibly easy playing - whatever I think to ask of it, it just does. The second is a 1960's Noblet, and is dark and just a bit weird - offering up a dark sexy-stuffy and if asked to brighten up gives a full rich dark-ish sound with all sorts of bright hints sprinkled through it like stars. The newer, darker horn requires more focus and work to control, but rewards the effort - the older one is way more flexible and effortless. They're the perfect pair because the keywork, weight, etc. is identical - they feel almost exactly the same in the hands and my fingers will never have to worry about which one I'm playing - and yet they're different enough from one another in terms of sound and response that I'm having a lot of fun switching back and forth between them.

I'd been playing the Buescher for months while Noblet #1 sat in its case on the shelf -- it still needs the bell to body brace resoldered and so I'd not been playing it. Then a bit over a week ago, I pulled it off the shelf again out of curiosity... and.... well... wow. I'd bought it about a month after I started playing and while I could tell that the intonation was better and that it was a bit easier to play than the Buescher, I absolutely couldn't appreciate the magnitude of the difference then. Six months later... the keys were sooooo light and fast, the entire instrument soooo much lighter, and the intonation absolutely completely spot on perfect -- which was a shocking revelation after months on the Buescher with it's horrible intonation throughout - suddenly arpeggios all the way up and down sounded... right... with no corrections needed anywhere at all... huh... Then I tried a long tone (probably a second register concert G), starting soft and slowly bringing up the intensity, and instead of the note just getting louder as it would on the Buescher, all sorts of complexity and stacks of subtle overtones came out.... umm.... wow... what?... I'd not once had a notion of how boring and dull the Buescher's tone was until that moment. It was a couple days before I picked up the Buescher again, and then I put it down pretty quickly for the last time.

So now I had a great playing sax with a detached brace that had turned into my primary instrument, and a second 'spare' that I really didn't want to have to touch ever again... I decided that I needed a second Noblet (or at least something comparable) to fill in when the first is eventually in a shop being dismantled and soldered. I took a chance on ebay when I found Noblet #2. It arrived the other day, having miraculously survived shipment (no padding, case without cushioning at all and a poor fit, no neck plug, fed-ex.), and arrived in a yuck-bound state (relieved by a single overly-generous application of oil) and with a moth nest and other crud in the bow... but (after the oil), played great... and also weird. It took a couple days before I could decide whether I liked it or not, and a couple more days to be in love with the thing. Now, in the event of a fire, the Noblets would both be the first thing I would have to save and I'd be hard pressed to choose which to grab first.

Unless I manage to find an affordable Noblet tenor some day, I think the two sibling Noblet altos aught to be enough to keep me from accumulating any additional instruments for a long, long, long while - no matter what shows up at the local thrift-store. The inevitable accumulation of mouthpieces (currently at 3), doesn't count ;-).
 

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Like you I have 2 B e a u g n i e r ' s. Mine are stenciled Vito. Also like you mine are very different from each other. The 39T is brighter and more powerful but still very full bodied. The 1965 Vito is darker but oddly also very focused. They are both amazing horns I just had to sell my Couf and it's no problem because I love these two Beaugniers so much. Amazing horns.
 

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I would strongly suggest you get BOTH Noblets serviced really well, get them up to really good playing tack.

In reading your post, a part of em is getting the feeling that some of your description/experiences are the result of the horn, or horns, needing some attention....

Can you post a pic of the duo ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I would strongly suggest you get BOTH Noblets serviced really well, get them up to really good playing tack.

In reading your post, a part of em is getting the feeling that some of your description/experiences are the result of the horn, or horns, needing some attention....

Can you post a pic of the duo ?
In my case, absolutely - the non-Noblet was my first horn. It happened thus: I was just about asleep in my truck, the pandemic having left me between apartments when a homeless gentleman I knew (and who knew that I played or at least was learning to play the clarinet) came knocking on my window - "Hey Man, You Need To Buy This Saxophone.".... he talked me into looking at it, there was one reed that looked like it hadn't been used in a few years, and the thing made noise... and so I wound up buying a sax. It was a Buescher Aristocrat from the early to mid 70's (I looked it up once but I forget the exact year). It had a HUGE dent in the bow, obviously from a severe drop or few, I called it the "Bear Attack Buescher" because it looked like it may have been used as a weapon (hopefully in self defense) at some point. Sticky pads, high resistance gooey linkage, pads with surfaces that obviously couldn't seal perfectly regardless of alignment, a couple springs that, even after oiling the gooey rods, had to be bent a bit more to work and even then just enough.... and then there's the intonation - You'd think the HUGE bell dent would reduce internal volume and thus raise the pitch of the bell keys, right? Nope... the notes on the bell were absurd flat, the full open "C#" (E) rather sharp, and there was a roller coaster in between.

Now... Noblet #1: It was a lady's student horn in high-school band - and she obviously took VERY careful care of it (there's barely the tiniest scratch to be found in the glaring garish gold lacquer, and I could only find the tiniest of dents anywhere). The pads look to be new.... in fact the horn looks to be new. It needs one and only one repair: the body-to-bell brace needs to be resoldered at the body.... and I'm currently seeking recommendations for a good repair shop/person to take it to in Madison WI since Dr Sax has now retired (dern). In the mean-time... I know I really shouldn't even be playing the thing because it's likely in a fragile state... but... it plays perfectly. I mean it's absurd - I'm a beginner, so what I've got to throw at it is limited, but everything I've thought to try on it just happens effortlessly - the bottom notes are, I swear, not a bit more difficult than any other note, and there's no blurty blattiness to them, the attack and tone is consistent with the notes above.... which... nice, liking that a lot. It's got all sorts of lovely tone possibilities, but is naturally a lot bright (compared to the Buescher/Bundy and the other Noblet). The bit I find most interesting is doing clarinet growls on it - they work basically anywhere in the full range and all sound consistent - bright and brassy, reminds me a bit of a trumpet with one of those resonator mutes.

Noblet #2: I really really lucked out on this one - it was an obviously quite used ebay gamble which somehow survived shipment with barely any protection (including no neck plug), and when it arrived was clearly an attic/basement/garage find - moth nest inside, dry yuck-bound linkage, very much not new looking pads.... amazingly all it took was a single generous application of oil to make it playable... completely playable. From not to full with just oil. Huh... Ok, so pretty quickly I discovered that growls don't work below "G" (Bb) in the first register - it would choke and honk, but anything from the left hand up, they could be done - and sound really damn sexy bluesy. In fact, at first I was finding a lot of points where it would balk and back up with or without a honk if I pushed it too hard, but both having a bit over a week to get to know the thing and switching to a harder reed has excised almost all the barriers I found on it initially. The harder reed (From 2.5 to 3.0 on Rico Plasticovers), by the second day had cleared up the aforementioned blattiness of the bottom notes and they're finally sounding nice. Overall, this thing has a dark full beautiful tone and was, yes, more difficult to play initially than it's sibling (a lot more difficult, actually, 'cause the other is just so absurdly effortless), but now we're getting along together quite nicely ;-). Yes, it absolutely should be taken to a good shop and receive a full and complete service and even new pads if they declare that it should be thus... but... there doesn't actually seem to be a single thing wrong with it... maybe I shouldn't take the risk.

I think it will come down to how Noblet #1's repair goes -- Assuming I get the thing back in as good of condition as it is in now but with the brace in place, then I'll let #2 get the attention it doesn't actually need but so definitely deserves and will surely need since I hope to get a whole lot of years of use out of it.

Now it's likely that if serviced and put into an actual real "playing condition" state, the Buescher probably would be a whole lot better - the keys a little lower resistance at least, and MAYBE if it were leak free, the intonation might improve a bit??? I don't really know about that last bit, but I'm giving it some benefit of the doubt. But no matter what, the tuning, the keywork, and the overall sound could never compete with either Beaugnier/Noblet. Even though they were sold as "student instruments" (Apparently because Vito/LeBlanc didn't want them to be competition for their other high-end lines since they were produced in such low numbers? I forget where I read that.), they are clearly in a whole other class from the factory produced Buescher.
 
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