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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a late 1962, "just pre buyout" SV-40 "Aristocrat" for a little under $300 on ebay recently. I know that it's derived from the Elkhart Band Instrument Company's 30-A tenor. I read that the Elkhart 30A was not a repurposed True Tone, which makes perfect sense. There are too many differences, which I've noticed myself, even...and I know nada! However, it sure looks a lot like pictures I see online of a '39 Aristocrat.

So if those in the know were going to describe in what ways the EBIC 30A resembled, or did not resemble other Buescher models, I'd be interested.

My own observations...the keyword is nickel-plated but the B-400's at the time were also nickel plated, so ?? I note that the right hand f# key on the SV-40 is the same as the key on my '39 alto 'crat. The SV40 doesn't have the right-hand g# key. The rollers are a different color, they're black. I think the color of the rollers is kind of irrelevant. LOL... I notice that while the rollers and actual pinkie keys are the same, there are difference between the '39 horn in my '62 horn, in how they activate the keys.

the '39 'Crat and SV-40 both have the bell keys on the left side of the bell. I note that the bell-key protective guard rail on my SV-40 is stylistically the same as my '39 Aristocrat Alto, though the also has two braces coming back to the main body and the '62 tenor SV40 has only one. Ditto for the '39 'Crat tenor. However, they're turned on the lathe to the same style, and soldered up the same way. And of course the SV-40's neck is braced like the later 400's are, while the '39 Aristocrat does not have a neck brace post. The bell joint *Seems* to be set up the same way on the '39 tenor as on the SV-40 but I'm just comparing pictures online. Anyway, that's the summation of my knowledge. I'd be curious to hear what more knowledgeable folks have to say.

BTW, writing "Elkharts saxophones were lower-priced offerings in their catalogs" is true of course, but yeah...know that already. Writing "Elkharts saxophones had simplified keywork"...right-o. Got it. But HOW was it simplified?

How about the body machining? I read that the 30A was it's own design, but curious as to how it differed from other Buescher offerings.
 

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I understand “curiousity”, but other than that, does it really matter? Seems to me that the real issue is how your saxophone plays. You can beat yourself to death making comparisons like this. I’m sure there are numerous similar horns in our saxophone world that can create similar questions. I don’t mean to demean your questions or to be mean in this response, it just seems meaningless in the saxophone world. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You're right, Dave....how it plays, or even more apropos, "How I play it"... is way more important. This is a curiosity-exercise while I wait for the horn to get back from the shop.
 

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Alan: A lot has been made over the years about "design", meaning the way the tube is shaped. THAT is something that only a few folks ever really know - either because they were part of the original design team, or they have/had access to the blueprints from the factory(ies). And then I wonder if THAT even means anything other than what the marketing office makes of it.

I get the need for the correct tube measurements from top to bottom, but exactly how and where a tube is shaped at certain points along the way (IF it does anything but expand as the tube opens up), and how that affects anything is way beyond most of us, even those who claim to know.

I'm guessing that if your saxophone was made the same way as a '39 Aristocrat, that the tube is the same. How many companies had the capability or willingness of making different tubes for different contractors (stencil orders)? It looks to me from your opening post that you pretty much figured out the differences already.

But, I could be wrong - wouldn't be the first time. Good luck in getting real answers. DAVE
 

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A few years ago I tried an old Bundy tenor my high school owned, probably '60s-era. I was tuning it up for the girl playing it, and spent a few minutes playtesting the next day after the contact cement dried to check everything. Imagine my surprise when I actually liked the horn!

The manufacturing costs and business philosophy in the industry at that time favored economies of scale, so it makes sense that the 30A and this SV-40 would both essentially be an Aristocrat body with outdated keywork, through both leftover parts and deliberate holding back. That sums up the Bundy pretty well.

Hopefully you ended up with a good-playing horn for fairly little money.
 

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As I know these tenors, the model is S-40 pre-1964, or the 1040 after that. In Bundy clothing, it's the 1254. Not particularly important, but neither says SV-40. Where do you find the "V" on yours?

Fundamentally, it's a saxophone, so the physical differences that affect the acoustics are small and must be. As such, there are many small differences, but not one of them (with the possible exception of the neck) makes a big difference in the sound.

However, to cite a few, there are small differences in the dimensions of the body tube and the size of the tone holes. Neck is different dimensionally as is the bell, and then there's the matter of the wire neck and bell braces that gives these things away even when labeled as Bundys or Aristocrats in the 60's and later. Stretching my memory a bit, but I seem to recall that on certain years on certain horns they may use two tone holes for a certain note to vent a note (i.e. G) where the Buescher horn has one larger tone hole.

They used a lot of Buescher parts for the key work, but usually not the silver soldered key assemblies. Rather the basic stampings that get soldered together to make a key are used, which is why they look so similar and yet aren't usually interchangeable. Think things like hinge tubes, key guards, or the actual touch point. Some touch points are in slightly different places on the keys yielding a different feel or are shaped differently - such as the auxillary keys including the side keys, l/h table, and r/h Eb/C. They of a more archaic design, but you can see the Buescher family in them as they were constructed using Buescher stampings. Similarly the r/h side key touch points are different, hinge tubes for single keys (aka side F# and palm keys) are often shorter resulting in a smaller bearing surface and a less sturdy feel.

There appears to be a different composition of the brass in the key work as well, though I'm not certain about the rest of the horn. The Buescher-designed Aristocrats (127, 155, 156, 157, S-25) used something they referred to as "super brass" for the hinge tubes and key levers to reduce key flex. 400's (pre-1960) used nickel silver (even stiffer) instead while the 30A and 31A make no mention of any special feature regarding the composition of the brass.

Ignoring the subtle dimensional differences in the body and neck for a moment, basically it's mostly a bunch of small stuff, both cosmetic and mechanical, intended to make it cost less to manufacture. It feels less sophisticated under the fingers in much the same way as a YTS-52 feels compared to an YTS-62, which are different from each other in similar ways and arguably don't sound or feel the same. Not crap on the lower end horn, but not the same feel, sound, or response as the top-end either.

One final thought regarding makers using one body tube across their lines. I'm sure some do. Buescher didn't and Yamaha doesn't. Go on to Yamaha 24x7 and you will find different part numbers for the body tube of different models. Probably a marketing driven thing, but borne out in metal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Considering as I bought the horn for $290, plus $65 shipping, I think I'm ahead. maddenma, yeah It's an S-40. I dunno where the V came from...out of my head, somewhere!

The serial number on the horn is 376904. Somewhere I read that Selmer finished the buy-out in February 1963, and that's when the 381000 serial numbers started. That's 4,000 instruments between the two, so I figure mine was made in late 1962. Interesting that the brass might be different. I note that the horn is a slightly more "yellow" color, whereas my '39 Aristocrat alto is more "orange"...but that could easily be lacquer.

for me, personally I'll be comparing this to the Conn Shooting Star that I used to play, that my dad bought when he joined the little band in his retirement community. I got it when he passed away in 1999. I played the exact same horn in high school in the early 70's. Ugh....nasty. I'm terribly rusty on tenor and this already sounds and feels better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The horn is now back from the shop. I had to wait a month, as my local woodwind lass, who is really good, was totally swamped in school instruments and rental tune-ups. No big deal. I spent the afternoon playing it with three different mouthpieces: a 1980's meyer 7, a new $23 Rico Metallite M-9, and a woohoo expenisve (I got it for next to nothing) BARI Joshua Redman model metal mouthpiece.

Upshot is that the Meyer and the Rico are sweet...the BARI is a high quality 'piece but not what I'm looking for. The instrument itself, though...this is a whole different animal from that Conn shooting star. It's not as generally wonderful at the Yamaha 82U that I got to use a couple of years ago but it's a nice horn from my perspective. I have no doubt that this is going to be The Horn for quite a few years in the future.
 

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Oh, S-40. That model number I recall seeing.
Here when I first saw SV-40, my head briefly changed it to SVT-40 and I thought I clicked the wrong bookmark or something. Really confused me for a second!

One final thought regarding makers using one body tube across their lines. I'm sure some do. Buescher didn't and Yamaha doesn't. Go on to Yamaha 24x7 and you will find different part numbers for the body tube of different models. Probably a marketing driven thing, but borne out in metal.
I may never understand the reasoning for this, nor the myriad of models Yamaha makes. In every interpretation I can conjure, this is what an economist would call 'irrational'. You increase the marginal cost of production and gain... what, exactly?
Buescher did recycle an awful lot of their keys - not all the bodies/necks though which are the important bit. The model numbers are good indicators for that... but even then, Bundys still play an awful lot like Aristocrats IME.

A few months ago I grafted parts including palm keys on both hands and the low C/D# pair between a 1923 TT, a 1936 Aristocrat, and a Bundy from the '60s, all altos. Just an experiment, although I did end up pulling some parts from a different Bundy for my 'Crat after I learned this. It needed some stuff anyway - on a related note if anyone needs a few of those red rollers....
There were a few keys that didn't work - G# on all three and low Bb on the TT stand out as obvious problems - but most were a match excepting some minor key slop which one would expect when swapping keys between horns even of the same model. The Bundy and Aristocrat were so close they were nearly playable with half the keys swapped even without any adjustment.
What was strange is that the Bundy's neck was not interchangeable, although the Bueschers could swap necks between each other, so obviously the body was also different on the Bundy. Really weird.


Anyway, back to OP. Glad you like the horn! If it plays well and you make it sound good, that's all you really need. Not breaking the bank is gravy!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
So now it's a been a few months. I play it about twice a week and have been spending time getting to know the horn and deciding which mouthpiece is going to be my *thing*. I've settled on the Rico Metallite M9, with the Meyer 7* as my backup.

I like this horn. I like the sound that I get out of it. It's not going to be holding me back, that's for sure. I've never been one to have lightning fingers, so this is all good.
 
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