Saxophone Forum


by Big Beat
(3 posts)
2 years ago

Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

Hello, I'm new to the sax, but always wanted to learn. Need some collective wisdom. I ended up with two vintage saxes,  a 1924 Buescher True Tone and a 1958 Elkhart by Buescher, model 21A. I had a local repairman check them out, both are fine mechanically but each needs a full repadding and overhaul. Both have been stored unplayed for decades. The True Tone is gold, the Elkhart is silver with a gold wash bell. The Elkhart also has a couple of minor dents, the True Tone doesn't. I was quoted about $500-600 for the overhaul of either sax. The repairman said that the horns are of about equal value, with either one to be worth about $1K after the overhaul. 

My question is this: which of the two is the better candidate for a beginner to invest into & start learning on? 

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  1. by historicsaxwhisperer
    (506 posts)

    2 years ago

    Re: Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

    As you probably already have discovered, they are basically the same horn.

    The True Tone, after market lacquered brass, has alternate side bell keys. No front F.

    It will come down to a personal choice. If the True tone has the original snap in resonators, and the technician plans on keeping them, I would consider that route. The Elkhart will not have the snap in resonators. The True Tone  is not a gold plated horn.

     

    The Elkhart has a front high F and that is the deal maker.

    Go with the Elkhart, but it will never be worth 1000 bucks.

    Closer to 650 after being set up correctly. Make sure resonator pads are used not simple rivet pads.

     

    Good Luck

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    1. by Big Beat
      (3 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

      Thank you!

      What do you mean, aftermarket lacquered brass? Does it appear to be re-lacquered and not the original finish? 

      Yes, I did not mean gold plated, I meant gold-colored as opposed to the silver Elkhart. I should get my terminology right. 

      Thank you for the advice on the pads. I don't really know what that means, but will ask the repairman before any work is done. 

      I'm aware that the True Tone is a bit antiquated with the fingering, but from what I understand, that was a pro horn in its day whereas the Elkhart was a cheaper line, correct? So how much quality and/or tone am I really giving up if I choose the newer horn? 

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      1. by historicsaxwhisperer
        (506 posts)

        2 years ago

        Re: Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

        Original Finish would have been Silver if it has engraving. Sometime stripped and lacquered.

        If there is no engraving, it originally had no finish, just brass to turn to a natural tarnish.

        Finish is redundant. Its just cosmetic. Any real player just does not care. Your suppose to play so much the lacquer wears off anyway. Wear use to be a war scar to your dedication to your horn.

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    2. by mijderf
      (257 posts)

      2 years ago

      Re: Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

      The problem is that assuming that you paid a couple of hundred for each horn, you will then be about $800+ into either horn, and the previous answer is correct, you would only be able to get about $650 for the completed horn.

      On the other hand, if you could sell the two horns you have and recoup most of your investment, and then put it toward something like this:

      https://www.junkdude.com/collections/saxophones/products/yamaha-vito-student-alto-saxophone

      you would be better off, and have a horn that would not require much, if any, initial set up work.

      If you like Buescher altos, there is one on the Saxquest site for a little more, but it will be a player and will require no additional work:

      https://www.saxquest.com/product/view/late-vintage-buescher-aristocrat-alto-saxophone-serial-400603-ready-to-play-P12079

      Good luck! 

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      1. by mijderf
        (257 posts)

        2 years ago

        Re: Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

        As a follow up, I checked completed sales for these horns on Ebay, and the highest sold horns I could find was about $600 for a 1920's TT and the high $300's for a 21A alto.  The 21A also even stated that it was in good playing condition.  But then again, it's Ebay, so that statement should be ignored.  Ebay is often on the low end of the price range, but more realistic I think than the $1000 estimate you received.

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        1. by Big Beat
          (3 posts)

          2 years ago

          Re: Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

          Thank you! 

          The problem with prices on eBay is that there are not enough completed sales to really get a range of prices for those specific models. I have seen the results you quoted and yes, it's at least some kind of real-world guideline. But yes, most such sales would be at the bottom of the price range, as everyone on eBay is looking for bargains.

          Also, going by the eBay sales quoted above, is the Elkhart basically worth half the price of the True Tone - and still would be if, say, both received the same overhaul? 

          Of course, selling both and getting a modern Yamaha is always an option. But I don't have much invested in them (yet), and I already have them, so unless it really makes no sense to invest into one of them, I'd probably feel better about owning a vintage instrument with some history to it.

          My plan was to sell off one of the horns to cover the cost of repairs on the other one. Just trying to make an informed decision, which to keep and which to let go.  

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          1. by mijderf
            (257 posts)

            2 years ago

            Re: Which is better to learn on, a 1924 Buescher or a 1958 Elkhart?

            Here is a SOTW thread on the value of a 1926 TT alto.  SOTW member JayeLID responds.  JayeLID  owns the 2ndending.com webiste where he repairs and resells a lot of vintage saxophones, so his opinion is generally accurate in this area.
            His number of $300 - $400 in 2012 may project to $500 - $600 today. 

            I too play vintage horns, but that is because they is what I started on (however not vintage at the time).  But if I were to start today, I would first try a more modern horn that is rugged and easy to get repaired.  After a few years on this horn, assuming that your embouchure is well established, then you should try some vintage horns and see what you think.  I read a thread on SOTW just this week where respected saxophonist and mouthpiece maker Phil Barone stated that for tone:  

            "The order of importance in determining the sound is player, reed, mouthpiece, neck, horn with the horn actually being of least important."

            So don't get too hung up on the horn until you have worked on the more important factors.



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