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What would you do with this sax?

  • Throw in Garbage, Hang on wall

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Get Pads replaced, holes leveled, and mechanical wear fixed

    Votes: 14 87.5%
  • Option 2 and get relacquered

    Votes: 1 6.3%
  • I dunno. I'm ging back to play Careless Whisper on my Selmer

    Votes: 1 6.3%
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Discussion Starter #1
I'm new to this forum. I just bought my first sax in over a decade (my old one from the nineties was a rental). I didn't want to spend too much going in to figure out if I had the gusto to be a competent saxaphonist again. I also wanted some of that old-world charm. Anyway, I won an auction for a Buescher Aristocrat, so I want an assessment on what I need to do and perhaps a general estimation of costs.

Ebay can be found here. I have not received the item as of today, so I don't know more than what's in the pictures.

What I care about: Tone and playability. Cosmetics are secondary other than stopping rust if any. I'd like to stop any deterioration so that it can be repaired to a more new looking/sounding instrument.

What I foresee in my gameplan:

1. Receive Sax, clean and test overall feel of keys and leaks in air
2. Have Assessed by sax tech
3. Have new pads (some look rotten) installed, and level the holes (dunno name)
4. Have any mechanical failures repaired.
5. Get the sax to the tech for a refinish/relacquer

I imagine it is going to cost
$600 for a repad and level (possibly new corks)
$100-130 to assess
$500-1000 to sand, smooth, relacquer

I normally would not put that much into an instrument, and just get a new one, but I would like to have a vintage sax. I don't mind paying a bit more in stages.

Thoughts? Suggestions? I have a competent tech I know does work on woodwinds. I have not found anyone who does a proper relacquer.

However, my primary goals are (1) Make it playable and (2) Stop what looks like rust on the bell. I don't see any dents on the neck in the picture. There is a big one at the bottom of the bell and a small ding on the side of the bell. Will this overly affect sound quality?

Anyway, I know it is a project, but it seems like a fun one. I've been a musician since early child hood. While not on a sax, I've played guitar for over a decade, so I have a small bit of music appreciation :D.
 

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Welcome to the forum!

Being no Buescher expert, I don't think this is one of their top shelf models. I'd just get it in playable condition probably some fresh pads and some tonehole leveling. The dents are nothing to be worried about IMO. I wouldn't care about the cosmetics to much. It's just an old horn.

Have fun!
 

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Forum Contributor 2007-2012, Distinguished SOTW Te
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Welcome to the forum!

That saxophone is what is called a post-buyout Aristocrat. (Check out saxpics.com and read through the Buescher section for more info- also lots of info in the Buescher section here.) It is a fine horn when in good shape, but it does not have much "vintage value". I would advise against relacquering and focus on getting the horn in good physical and playing condition. The redness on the bell and neck can be cleaned up without relacquering. Do a search here on the forum for relacquering and you will find many opinions on its relative merits and drawbacks (mostly drawbacks IMHO) and you can form your own opinion.

I do not think an assessment will cost that much- my estimates and advice are free, and I believe many others are the same. Your pricing for a full repad/overhaul sounds about right.

Good luck!
 

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I agree with everythng that Matt and SiBO have said, with the exception that, in general, the post buyout horns start around 381,000. That used to be the accepted range, anyway. However, I don't think there is much difference between a "late" pre buyout and and early "post" buyout. I actually have this same horn (387,XXX) and aside from slightly "clunky" feeling keywork (doesn't really bother me) it has great tone as well as intonation. Again, don't waste any time or money on relaq. Clean it up and get it playing well and it will serve you for some time to come.

Regards,
George
 

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i agree with everyone here. it's not worth the relacquer. i have a similar aristocrat of same vintage and i love it, battle scars and all. instead, just get it to good playing condition and a $2 can of pledge to polish it.
hard to tell from the pics but seems like you might not need a full repad. it's in better condition than mine when i first got it. it had red rot and i sanded off the spots and added a bit of wenol for protection.
 

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Besides - one cannot play the shiny.

(I just re-did my latest acquisition, and I had to skip the buffing part, no way to get it halfway decent. So, better a rat that sings than a beauty that just croaks. Here's why...)
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
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This one is from before the buyout. And looks like it's got blue steal springs. If it's got snap-on resos, keep them. If not, repad with with smooth doomed resonators. And if doing it yourself, go ahead and repad the whole horn. Pads are cheap.

I wouldn't worry about the cosmetics at all unless you want to experiment for fun. The value of this late model refinished will probably not be as high as the cost of getting it done. Just go for performance and skip the rest. She should play very well with a sweat spread Buescher tone.
 

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Thanks for correcting me, guys. I was going on appearance. 361xxx is indeed before the buyout, although I agree with GT that the late pre-buyout and the early post-buyout horns are extremely similar in form and value.
 

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Can't add much to what has been stated....other than making fun of the seller's ID, which is such a sitting duck I just can't do it right now.....

I mean, if I were inclined to be looking for the kind of horn I would buy, fix, turn...this wouldn't have been too bad a purchase. The thing is, for a layman/non-tech-sorta person....it will end up costing you more than a good vintage alto in good-playing-shape would have, by the time you pay a tech to get it in working order. Not to say it's a sink....because it's not. But it's not much of a deal, either. It's a borderliner.....

OK, enuff on that stuff. If you are gonna have the tech do a disassembly, just have him/her do a body cleaning and polish, some body work, as well as whatever necessary work is needed to get the horn to play up and down. I am glad you KNOW the tech, because many a tech would try to really up the estimate on a person they had never seen before (sorry to say, but true). My assumption is, if you and your tech have a good relationship, or at least are acquainted...he/she should be able to bring this horn back up for around $350-450....It doesn't look abused and it doesn't appear to have been seriously neglected.

I am seeing: body cleaning...bell and bow and body tube dent removal.... body tube straightening... and replacing of (hopefully only) a handful of pads, plus a regulation. Hopefully there are no hidden nasties such as buggered rods, many keys requiring serious swedging/wiffling, damaged toneholes, pads all crapped-out, lotsa necessary resolders, etc.

If your intent was really to spend $600-1200 on this horn....don't do that.

Just keep that money.... keep the horn just for kicks (because it ain't a bad model)... and go spend $600-800 on a kickin' vintage Alto, already all set up to rip, with no work needed at all. (no that isn't a pitch)

But I wouldn't drop more than $450 absolute maximum into this one (& hopefully you shouldn't have to).

Best of luck. The 350,XXX-420,XXX B's are underrated, and usually make very solid players.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the solid advice. Definitely not going to refinish it now. The tech I know has done quality work and pretty cheap on my sister's Buffet R-13 clarinet and other less decent instruments.

Thanks for the clarification on serials :D. I didn't want to go into it thinking it wrongly pre or post sellout :D. I just need it to play, but the ones I've heard are sweet on the ears.

Really though, I'm just getting something I can afford to get back to playing. Knowing what playing a worn out guitar is like, I can tell you it does not foster the desire to learn (at least in me). I should have it by middle of next week or a week from now. I'm glad to know that, despite it's wear, it isn't too much to worry about.

Also, the community here is pretty awesome.
 

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Basicly what you have is an original Bundy with the Aristocrat badging. IMHO one of the most solid student line saxes ever produced. It's worth a repad, but no relacq.f
 

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I wouldn't describe it like that, exactly. Even the first Bundys, if memory serves, has some post-selmer redesign to 'em. This one was made in the pure Buescher years, one of the latest ones. Really, up to about 420,XXX they were like that, since the tooling and specs didn't change immediately upon buyout (it took selmer a few years to hatch their evildoing)....

Aggie, do let us know your impressions...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Fedex says I'll get it tomorrow. Can't wait. Already got me some Vandoren ZZ reeds for my first sax in a decade.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
As it turns out, it is not in that bad of shape as the pictures suggest. The pads seem to be in good shape. The first key for the left hand (b?) is a bit harder to push down, but everything else is like butter. I had a bit of issue playing it, but I realized after the fact that the ligature was backwards. I did get it to make some sound here and there (I'm 10years out of practice), and it sounded warm.

Now to relearn proper embrosche...

Edit: pads seem to seal.
 
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