Saxophone Forum


by RobertD
(51 posts)
7 months ago

My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

I just started playing saxophone a few weeks ago. I played brasswinds for many years and I own several vintage Buescher brasswinds so I looked for a Buescher sax based on my experience and Buescher's reputation. I settled on a 1965 Buescher 400 in near pristine original condition.

I know this isn't a Top Hat and Cane 400 and the serial number is beyond the Selmer takeover by a year or two but I always look for horns in excellent original condition as was this horn. I talked with the seller and read up on post-Selmer Buescher horns. I know the 400 was Buescher's top line trumpet. I owned a 1963 Buescher Super 400 trumpet with solid nickel silver bell and it was one of the best horns I ever played. Easily equivalent to my LA Olds Recording trumpet. The same goes for Buescher 400 saxophones, I'm learning. I love this horn.

 

Reply To Post [Report Abuse]

Report Abuse

Replies

  1. by mijderf
    (156 posts)

    7 months ago

    Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

    Wow does that ever look familiar!  I bought my first alto back in 1966, and it looked just like your photo.  It was a Buescher 400 with a 417XXX serial number on it.  It played great with the only issue being a sharp C#2.  But it was controllable with embouchure, so after a very short time it became a non issue.  I had that sax for 40 years, and the finish held up great.  Passed the Buescher on to a relative and got a 1936 6M Conn for me.

    Reply To Post


    1. by RobertD
      (51 posts)

      7 months ago

      Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

      Your sax began with 417 and mine begins with 416 so it should look familiar! :D

      I've only been playing sax for about three weeks so I'm working on my embouchure but I have the advantage of being a brasswind player so I had a bit of a head start. My horn sounds pretty much on pitch from low Bb up to high D. That's as high as I've gotten so far.

      I thought brasswind players were insane about embouchure and mouthpieces but I've learned that woodwind mouthpieces and embouchure are far more sophisticated and complex. I like playing a reed mouthpiece far more than buzzing my lips into a hard piece of brass. Tone production and especially vibrato are quite different than brasswinds, obviously. Practice, practice, practice!

      Reply To Post


      1. by GFC
        (727 posts)

        7 months ago

        Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

        Embouchure and tone building are what separate those who really learn saxophone from those who merely fiddle around with it.  They're probably the most underestimated aspects of playing.

        The Selmer Buescher 400s have nothing in common with the pre-buyout Buescher 400s other than the name and the big bell, but they stand on their own merits.

        Reply To Post


        1. by RobertD
          (51 posts)

          7 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          I'm a multi-instrumentalist who is and always has been very serious about music. I've been down this road and I know it takes perseverance and dedication to reach goals.

          I have years of experience building a brass embouchure and some of that has spilled over to help with my reed embouchure, I'm certain. I picked up the sax for the first time in my life a few weeks ago and tone production was no problem, although there is obviously plenty of room for improvement as with any new player. So I'm following the same route with woodwinds I followed with brasswinds and strings.

          Practice, practice, practice.

          There is much divergence on Buescher lore. I look for horns in excellent original condition and that's why I bought this 400. It has the same body, same parts, and was made at the same factory by the same expert craftpersons as the pre-Selmer Bueschers. It doesn't have the TH&C tone ring, the engraving and the raised logo. Those are the only differences I can see.

          I owned pre-Selmer Buescher Aristocrat trumpets as well as post-Selmer Super 400 and Super Aristocrat trumpets and they were identical to the pre-Selmer Buescher brasswinds as were all post-Selmer Bueschers I've seen - until the parts ran out. 

          I'll add a True Tone to go along with my True Tone Eb brasswind at some point.

          Here are photos of some of the nice Buescher horns I own and have owned. The first is a 1912/14 Buescher Eb Alto, the second, a post-Selmer Super 400, the third, a post-Selmer Super Aristocrat. The Supers have solid nickel silver bells:

           

          Reply To Post


        2. by GFC
          (727 posts)

          7 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          Enjoy your horn, but it is of a substantially different design from the TH&C horns.  It's really more like an Aristocrat with a larger bell.  It is also mechanically quite different, most obviously in the bell key mechanism because the bell keys are placed differently.  The "real" 400s had a two piece side Bb key; a one-piece side Bb was used for the budget versions.  Linkage and post designs were changed to save costs, so some of that "400" action was compromised.  Selmer was looking to get all the profit they could out of Buescher and an obvious target was the 400, which was a costly horn to produce and wasn't selling that well.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buescher_Band_Instrument_Company#Saxophones

          Reply To Post


        3. by RobertD
          (51 posts)

          7 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          I am enjoying my horn. I've owned many Buescher brasswinds, from 1912 model True Tones to 40s and 50s Aristocrats to pre and post-Selmer 400s, Super 400s, and Super Aristocrats. The over-riding theme I've found in all Buescher horns I've owned is - it all depends on the particular horn.

          I am enjoying my horn. :)

          Reply To Post


        4. by RobertD
          (51 posts)

          6 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          I've been searching for an old article telling the story of an old Buescher worker who went through the Selmer buy out. How models were maintained until the parts ran out. So there is a lot of leeway in determining everything by serial number.

          While searching, I came across this:

          "Later in the production run, Buescher moved the bell keys to the left side, changed the engraving (Buescher 400 surrounded by a floral motif), and nickel plated the keys, which was quite popular during the 1950′s. These later horns can often be had at somewhat bargain prices, and from the bell up, are exactly the same as earlier examples. The parts are interchangable."

          http://www.saxgourmet.com/buescher-400-the-best-saxophone-ever/

          Been practicing 3-4 hours a day. See you when I find the time.

          Reply To Post


        5. by GFC
          (727 posts)

          6 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          The pre-buyout 400s did not have left-side bell keys.  The quote gives the misleading impression that left-side bell keys were introduced in the late 1950s along with the other changes - sloppy writing!  

          More reading to work into your busy schedule:

          http://www.saxpics.com/?v=mod&modID=3

          Again, enjoy your horn for what it is, but don't try to stretch it into something it isn't.

          Reply To Post


        6. by RobertD
          (51 posts)

          5 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          Taking a short break from my busy schedule, I came across this photo of Johnny Hodges "stretching" a post-buyout Buescher 400 (with the same era floral motif) into something it isn't.

          http://ronpenndorf.com/images/hdgs.jpg

          Little wonder this place is such a graveyard.

          :)

          See you again when I have more time to waste!

          Reply To Post


        7. by RobertD
          (51 posts)

          4 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          Wow. Look at this. For all of you "There are no good Bueschers after 380xxx" guys -

          Vintage Buescher 400 S-5 Alto Saxophone, Serial No. 394496 In Good Condition

          https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Buescher-400-S-5-Alto-Saxophone-Serial-No-394496-In-Good-Condition/292547922419?hash=item441d3709f3:g:TrQAAOSwZela6rGJ

          With rear bell keys. And snaps, gold Nortons, etc. (just like mine :)

          One more time. Serial number is 394496. Bueschers come up all the time with serial numbers well above 380k. Just like the similar era Buescher brasswinds I collected. You see, NO ONE knows when Buescher horns became Selmer horns because no Buescher records survived. Only the workers who made the horns know for sure. This eBay listing is just one more proof of same. But since it's apparently OK to ignore facts these days, feel free to continue to ingore this one too. :)

          Reply To Post


        8. by mijderf
          (156 posts)

          4 months ago

          Re: My First Saxophone - A 1965 Vintage Buescher 400

          In the time from 1963-1965 or so, Buescher made some horns from mostly existing Buescher parts.  The Ebay sale you reference is of an S-5 which looks like a "Super 400" alto.  You can see that the bell keys are above and in-line with the lower stack keys (above the E and D tone holes).  During this same time frame, Buescher also made a "400" (not super.  This was the one I had (see the first response to your opening thread).  This model had the bell keys on the left side of the horn, the side near your legs when you play.  In your opening post, I do not see rear facing bell keys, so that is why I assumed that you had the "400" model like I had.  In addition, the "Super 400 S-5" version also had different wire on the key guards, which are often referred to as Railroad track guards.
          The "Super 400" was generally regarded as the better of these two models, but the "400" prior to about 1970 or so was also a very fine instrument.  I am attaching a photo of the bell key location on my old "400" that you can compare to for reference. 

           

          Reply To Post