Since 1990 I’ve played on Selmer saxophones with the few short term exceptions for King, Conn and Martin saxophones. My very first alto saxophone in 1980 was an old used Buescher Aristocrat from the 1960s. It was nothing fancy, but what made it special was my grandfather bought it for me from Leithold Music in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I played that saxophone through 10th grade and then “upgraded” to a Yamaha YAS-52 which I brought with me to Luther College to study music. My teacher at Luther was Richard Kravchak, who was a Rascher influenced player, and suggested that I might consider switching to a Buescher. So the following summer in 1988, I went to see Mark Aronson and wound up with a beautiful silver plated Series I Aristocrat “Art Deco” Buescher that I played mostly through college, until my first Mark VI in 1990.
Fast forward 30 years. Covid hits and all teaching and gigging is shut down. I start to get worried. How am I going to provide for my family? In 2020 I had four beautiful SBA Selmers. It took me almost 30 years to “trade up” for these horns. After a lot of thought and anguish I had to do the unthinkable and sell them off to try and get by. But, always in the back of my mind I thought someday if I get in trouble, that I’d go back to Buescher. Would now be the right time? As luck would have it, most of my Bueschers fell into my lap with little effort AND I was able to find good homes for the Selmers.
The catch was to buy the Bueschers cheaply. Would this be possible? Yes. Absolutely. I was able to acquire five Bueschers for the price of only one of my Selmers. All of the Bueschers needed major overhauls since they had languished in the cases for I’m guessing at least 50 years. Once dialed in- these Bueschers can really sing! I had totally forgotten the joy of playing these saxophones and this got me thinking… “why had I gotten so caught up into just playing Selmers all these years, and more so, why was I paying this kind of money?!” As many saxophone players know these horns can go head-to-head with any horn. If a Buescher was good enough for Leo Parker and Tate Houston, it’s good enough for me.
I don’t subscribe to the whole notion of “this is a jazz saxophone” and “that is a classical saxophone” syndrome. To me, they are saxophones, and it’s all about your concept and what you do with it. The saxophone is a tool. Any saxophone can really go either way especially if you dial in a proper mouthpiece-reed combination. Of course Buescher has a little bit of the “oh…that’s a classical saxophone” culture, but many, many jazz players have played on Buescher saxophones (see pictures below). In fact, my grandfather who played in dance bands in the late 20s-30s always said the only saxophone to buy was a Buescher.
This rediscovery of Buescher saxophones has been wonderful for me. I love everything about these horns. My horns are a True Tone curved soprano from 1928, a Series 1 Aristocrat “Art Deco” alto and tenor, one transitional Aristocrat “Art Deco” baritone and another rare transitional “New Aristocrat” baritone as my primary horn. The sound is right on and the ergos are very easy to adapt to. And the best part was I didn’t have to break the bank to afford them!