Questions . . .
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Your current feature restoration caught my interest. My first, favorite
and still cherished sax is a similar alto, serial 309xxx. It’s simply the
best model of alto I have ever played, and I’ve tried all I could. I’m
curious about your reference to the “early small bore version”. Was there
a later larger bore and, if so, when was the date/serial number break.
I collect such trivia about these beasts but have never come across this
before. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy the site… the tech tips
are fascinating and your photos are referred to a “saxophone porn” around
my house. Regards, Mick.
A. Your ‘sax porn’
thought gave me a chuckle. I’m going to play off the concept a bit here
& see where it goes. I’m not sure when the change in 400 designs occurred.
Apparently it came very early. It involves the bell taper & tilt. The
lip is expanded & (I believe) tilted slightly more horizontal in the
later 400 Top Hats. See for yourself in the attached saxophorn (I’ll leave
the natural extension of that thought to your nimble wit & ample imagination).
It appears that this early 400 design is more of a modified pre war Aristocrat.
If you study the pre war Ari & 400 mechanisms you find that much of
the keywork is the same. The main changes to the 400 mechanics were the
underslung octave mechanism and the left, or back, bell linkage. Of course
there are the cosmetic differences and bell reinforcement ring that make
the two (Ari & Top Hat) look like completely different saxophones.
aside, these first ‘small bore’ 400s were not all that different than the
pre war Ari. The original Ari bell always appeared to be overly narrow,
but that was because it had a sort of ‘shrunken’ bell rim in relation to
its bell bore (the Martin Comm I saxophones suffer from this same optical
design quirk). It’s apparent from this early 400 that Buescher started
with the basic Ari design, added a few bells & whistles, then corrected
the optical appeal of the Ari bell by flaring it somewhat. I’ve always
believed that the metal ring was added as much as reinforcement for the
wider, flatter bell flare as for sonic influence. I suppose the bell ring
performs both functions, but I’ll stick to my guns on WHY this design feature
came about. A rounded, conical shape is a much stronger structure than
a flatter piece of metal. The Buescher designers had to see that some bodacious
bell bends were in the cards once their 400 bell was put into service.
The ring would obviously serve to mollify a potential source of complaints.
It’s probably more accurate
about the Buescher Ari & Top Hat models appear in the CS
collection area and in this separate Q&A article discussing the
evolution of the saxophones Buescher
called ‘Aristocrat’ over time. The front page article to which Mick
referred appears below for reference. This was the current feature in December
’04, but may have been replaced by the time you visit this page.
While we’re revealing
So by the time Selmer