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Bass saxes. PETE, HELP!!!

Ok, I'm going to be buying a bass shortly. Branded as Martin
Serial number 112xxx. Silver plated. No curl on the neck. Bell says "The Martin" patent dates yadda yadda Elkhard blah blah. Here's the problem. That serial number puts it at a Martin Handcraft Imperial if it's on Martin's serial numbers. Methinks that's a little off, since the engraving doesn't look right for that era.
So. Options. It follows Conn's charts. Which 112 puts it at New Wonder I. I'll buy that, except the pinky cluster is wrong.
Leaves Buescher. Pearl G# means TT Series II if I'm correct, and I believe is the same as Gandalfes? Problem here is I didn't know Buescher stencilled for Martin and I just realized this from the G#. So does anyone have any more info on this?
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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Pics? Which horn is it? Has it been up for sale recently?

Oh, I just realized I forgot to answer a couple of your questions. Martin did not make their own bass saxophones. (We had an extensive discussion about that on the Bass Sax Co-op last summer, when this Martin with a sink-trap neck came up for auction.)

Although most Martins were in fact made by Conn, IIRC, some were in fact made by Buescher. (I'm on my laptop, and my notes for this stuff are on my desk top. However, since King didn't make basses, and Holton made only a very few, and had the rest stencilled, then the only manufacturer who could have made them for Martin is Buescher.)

My True Tone has the pearl G# & it is from 1922. I'm not sure what series it is, but it is [HASHTAG]#80XXX[/HASHTAG]. Since stencil serial numbers didn't necessarily follow those of the first line horns, I'm not 100% sure if that trend didn't also carry over to the bass saxophones as well.
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
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Looks like a Buescher design, based on the G# cluster, bell-to-body brace and lack of a few keywork touches. I also think that the altissimo Eb and D look closer to Buescher designs. The engraving is also very Buescher-esque.

The fun thing about the basses is that the Conn New Wonder, produced until about 147xxx (1925) or so (Conn changed the neck design considerably around that time), looks very, very similar to the Buescher True Tone bass.

I still think it's a 1916-1925 Buescher design, though, and I really don't see any reason why the horn couldn't have been made at that time, especially as Martin could have said something like "we need it NOW".

I do, however, think the serial number means squat. It is a stencil, after all. It just happens that 112xxx lines up on the Buescher chart as 1922.

For comparison's sake, here's a Conn-designed Martin bass.
 
Thanks much. The serial was what through me, although it looks as though it may have followed Buescher's numbers if it puts it in the TT II section with the G# cluster. The crossbar on the bell threw me for a bit, but I looked closer and the Bueschers had em too, so that was nice.
$3k sound like a good price? No case and non original neck.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
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It's gonna need an awful lot of work. Missing braces and keyguards all over the place, plus that neck receiver needs work. All new pads, etc., too. $2500 worth of repair work, maybe? Might be close to that. It's also missing plating on some of the keys. I'm sure replating wouldn't be much more than $2K :p.

Is the neck a Gloger or was it taken from another bass? If it isn't from a Buescher and/or doesn't play in tune, that would mean "get a Gloger" and that's $410 for the copper one.

And expect to pay about $430 for a case.

So, we're up to almost $3K in possible repairs (minus replating). I don't think it's a $6K horn, primarily because I've seen them not sell at $4500.

However, Helen might be the better person to answer on the value. I haven't yet got a large enough sample size for the Buescher basses.
 
This is going to be my frankenhorn. Extended to low G by Martinmods. I have a nice quote that I like and is well under what you're expecting, so the overhaul and case is moot. Probably going to call up Walt Johnson for that. Let's just say that having it replated is going to be the most expensive part. I'm not worried about the modifications made, or the overhaul. The cheapest I'm seeing playable basses go is the $6k range.
He's also considering making new necks, but I believe it is a Gloger.
The way the mod's are looking, we may take the turn out of the bottom of the neck and have it go up similar to contra clarinets. He's also going to do a tapered neck design deally.
He said he repadded it a few years ago and is convinced that the pads just need to be moistened up and maybe reseated, but that won't work, and Lance is going to put his pads in there anyway. This thing is gonna end up more of his baby than mine by the time it's done. Hopefully he'll still be willing to let it go...
I'll see if I can get it down to $2500 or if he'll do it for $3k and ship for free.
Hopefully Helen can pipe in with a bunch of the going prices for the TT basses and I may be able to work with him some
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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Well there is really no difference price between Conn & Buescher bass saxophones as far as their prices go. I did dig around on my site & came up with the sold listings that I had tracked. Here's what I have. Check them out, it will be an interesting barometer of the prices in the last 12 or so months...

A Conn-stencilled Holton that Saxquest sold in October '08 for $3327.77. (It was refinished with black lacquer so that it's a combo of black & gold.) BTW, notice the tell-tale Mercedes-style key guards that this horn has. The horn you're considering doesn't have those, further adding to the theory that it's a Buescher, not a Conn.

Here's another Conn-stencilled Holton. This one was a relac, and sold for $5,000. (Note the key guards again.) It ended up needing extensive work, and landed on Paulo's work bench at Just Saxes. He & I exchanged some emails, and I sent him a bunch of photos of my bass for comparison. He was looking for some photos of a specific rod.

This gold plated Buescher was a heart breaker. I can't believe that it took more than 1 auction to sell it, and that at the end it sold for only $5,257.00 in July '09. When I bought my bass in 2000, a bass exactly like this, only not in as nice a condition, sold for $7,000. This was the auction that told me that there really was a crash in the vintage sax market. (I know Pete and I disagree on this point, but that's OK.) Perhaps it was a crash in the vintage bass sax market. (How's that for a compromise?)

Now, on the other end of the spectrum, here's a Lyon And Healy that was stencilled by Buescher that defies all logic. This horn that was in total need of a rebuild, sold for $7,877.00 and attracted 47 bids in September '09. Huh?

This very pretty Conn bass sold for $4,000 in November '09.

The Conn-stencilled Martin I mentioned in an earlier post, sold for $4515.00 in August '09.
 
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Ok, cool.
Ya that's a pretty wide spectrum. I think the $3k is stlil a good price, haven't seen any basses go below that. I may try to get him to $2500 since it doesn't have the original neck or a case and is kind of hodgepodged.
Thanks guys. You rock
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
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Leaves Buescher. Pearl G# means TT Series II if I'm correct, and I believe is the same as Gandalfes? Problem here is I didn't know Buescher stencilled for Martin and I just realized this from the G#. So does anyone have any more info on this?
My 80K serial numbered Buescher does look a lot like this instrument. I luv the engraving too. If it played well (looks like it has a gloger neck which really helped my instrument and me) and the price was right, I'd say for for it. Is this the instrument you were thinking of chopping up to get that low G sound?
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
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My True Tone has the pearl G# & it is from 1922. I'm not sure what series it is, but it is #80XXX. Since stencil serial numbers didn't necessarily follow those of the first line horns, I'm not 100% sure if that trend didn't also carry over to the bass saxophones as well.
I think mine is from '21. I had to add a spit valve. Did your instrument have a spit valve Helen?
 
The picture from Helen's low G bass thing with the picture of yours with the G# was what turned me onto the Buescher. I assumed it was a conn until I saw that.


I think $3k is a close price...
This is one in the same Gandalfe. I was hoping it would have been brass, but oh well, it'll go off to plating eventually.
 

Gandalfe

Admin and all around good guy.
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This is going to be my frankenhorn. Extended to low G by Martinmods. I have a nice quote that I like and is well under what you're expecting, so the overhaul and case is moot. Probably going to call up Walt Johnson for that. Let's just say that having it replated is going to be the most expensive part. I'm not worried about the modifications made, or the overhaul. The cheapest I'm seeing playable basses go is the $6k range.
$3000 is an incredible price in today's market. Don't make the buyer do research because the price *will* go up.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
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I think mine is from '21. I had to add a spit valve. Did your instrument have a spit valve Helen?
Yup, it did. Here are a couple of pics of what it looks like.

I really need to get my bass into the shop for some work. I was going to use it on a recording, but it is just not playable in that capacity at the moment. I think I'll email Paul and maybe make arrangements to get him to do the work. I'm really impressed with the job he did on yours.

Finding a tech to work on a bass is tricky, but finding a tech who actually plays bass... Well that's worth a 3 hour drive any day!
 
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