The Return Of Bundy

I’m not sure that there is a sax player, current or former, over the age of 30, who hasn’t at one time in his or her musical life, either played a Bundy, or sat next to someone, who played a Bundy saxophone.

Bundy, and then their slightly less popular successors, the Bundy II, were staples in most bandrooms in North America for decades. They were, arguably, the most popular student model saxophone brand until they were toppled from their throne by Yamaha.

The Bundy line of musical instruments owe their name to a Selmer employee by the name of George Bundy, who in 1918, had taken over the Selmer USA business when Alexandre Selmer returned to Paris. In around 1930, Bundy began marketing a subsidiary brand of Selmer USA instruments under his own name.

According to The Sax & Brass Book: saxophones, trumpets and trombones in jazz, rock and pop:

At first the Bundy line consisted of items imported into the US from various sources, some of good quality, but later Selmer made their own Bundy instruments in the US. After Selmer bought Bach in 1961 and Buescher in 1963 it attempted to absorb some elements from these two companies’ instruments into the line of student Bundy-brand instruments, leaning on Bach for the trumpets and brass and on Buescher for the saxophones. Selmer’s US-made Bundy instruments are not well regarded [they are not pro-model horns]. The Bundy brand was dropped by Selmer US during the 1990s.

So for a period of nearly 60 years, Bundy was a name synonymous with student model saxophones.

Depending on your age, and the age of the saxophone you or your band-mate might have played, the Bundy you remember might look something like this…

Just a note for my less technologically savvy readers: Many of these files are actually quite large, so if you really would like to experience the full visual trip down memory lane, you can click on the individual pictures, and then magnify them again by further clicking on them. To get back to this page, just use your back button on your browser.

     

 A Bundy alto:                 A Bundy II tenor:

   

 The bell to body brace on a Bundy II tenor:

  

The bell keys of a Bundy tenor with a red painted-on logo:

The bell keys of a Bundy alto:

The bell keys of a Bundy II alto:

 

A Bundy tenor with a red paint logo:

 

A Bundy II tenor:

In case any of you were dying to know what the differences between the Bundy and the Bundy II were, I came across this interesting piece of trivia courtesy of Saxquest’s Forum:

Difference between Selmer Bundy and Selmer Bundy II?

Just wondering if there is a difference of if they are the same. There is someone selling one in our town used and he said it is a Selmer Bundy (he had bought it for his grandson who never played it much) he couldn’t find a II anywhere on it. Is there any difference between a Selmer Bundy and a Selmer Bundy II? Are all Selmers good for beginners?

The answer to the question posed in the forum, came from none other than Ralph Morgan himself. (I took the liberty of spell-checking & formatting Ralph’s post.)

I am interested in your question because I was the Chief Woodwind Technician and Designer for the SELMER Co and did the designing of the BUNDY II saxes.

A bit of history—-for many years previous, the BUNDY saxes had been made by the BUESCHER Company in Elkhart, Indiana, the home also for H. and A. SELMER, at 1119 N. Main St. The body design was the same as the famous BUESCHER TRUTONE saxes, which were patented in 1914, and were so fine that Sigurd Rascher, the world’s finest player always used one. There certainly was no way of improving on that, so my attention was focused on variations in the mechanism, especially on the reshaping and location of the table keys for the left hand little finger.

There were a few other minor changes made, but they were not what contributed to the sudden spurt in sales we enjoyed. The regular BUNDY had been by far the most purchased student model for years, but
the first year of the BUNDY II saw a 38% further increase in sales….

What Ralph writes about the Bundy saxes being made by Buescher would explain this rather pretty horn that  Woodwind and Brass Ltd. in Cowplain England has on their website:

 

This is what they say about it:

Selmer Bundy Buescher Aristocrat Saxophone with the engraving and cluster keys classically indicative of the Buescher Aristocrat. This instrument is in excellent condition having been relacquered – while still preserving the beautiful engraving. It has also had a total overhaul – pads, cork and springs have been replaced. Touch pieces are mother of pearl. Comes complete with Yamaha 6c mouthpiece and Rovner 1RL dark ligature and cap. Also has Hiscox professional hard case.

The other thing Ralph mentions in his post is that he redesigned the left hand pinkie cluster on the Bundy IIs.

Here are the original Bundy table keys for the left little finger…Remember these:

 

And these were the ones he improved for the Bundy II:

 

So fast forward a number of years, and here we are in 2008…

Bundy has faded into history, well except on eBay, Craig’s list, The Buy and Sell, pawn shops, and every other second hand place you can think of…

But wait…What’s this? …An email…

Ah yes…2 days ago I got an email from WWBW proudly announcing “The return of a legend” … Bundy is back! They tell me that:

In 1941, George Bundy created the Bundy line of instruments specifically for students. Today the name Bundy is the most widely recognized name in student instruments worldwide. Begin your exploration of the wonderful world of music with a new Bundy instrument.

I’m psyched! I click on the link, and then suddenly I realize, I already know how to play the saxophone, and don’t need to buy a Bundy…again…My parents got me mine in around…well let’s see… sometime when the original Charlie’s Angels was on the air…  I suddenly realize I’m older than I feel…

OK, so I’m on the Woodwind and Brasswind website now, and looking at the new saxophones, might as well, I’m here now. I look at these new Bundy tenor saxes model number BTS-300…

There’s something about them that looks vaguely familiar…I’m having a strange sense of deja vous…Let me see now…What is it…Oh I know…They look like those horns most of my students have been using for the last I don’t know how many years…You know the ones….The Yamaha YAS 23s and the YTS 23s.

On their website WWBW doesn’t give a country of origin for the new Bundy, but I’d be willing to bet, it isn’t made on North American soil like the old ones were. I’d also be willing to go out on a limb and say there is a good chance they aren’t manufactured in Japan like those enduring 23s were.

We shall see if the new Bundy student models will endure like the old ones did. Only time will tell. Me, well I’m a bit of a skeptic.

…this is just my blog. My “real” website is www.bassic-sax.info. If you’re looking for sax info, you should check it out too.There’s lots there!

© 2008 – 2009, Helen. All rights reserved.

Helen

Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.

17 Comments:

  1. Hi, I just received a rental Bundy from Music and Arts and found out its not associated with Selmer anymore and that its actually made in China. I play tested the sax at the store and I thought it was pretty cool since it was lightweight and sounded somewhat vintage with the reed I used. It was services by Music and Arts before I received it. Should I be worried that it’ll fall apart in my hands??

    • Hi Adam,

      That is exactly the risk one takes with any unproven brand, and why the “pro” horns charge a premium for better after-sale support. Only time and experience can tell you whether this particular instrument will be reliable for your needs.

      paul

  2. The new Bundy you see is not made on US soil. In fact, there is not one single manufacturer for this instrument. It is made in China, by one of several manufacturers. They have, for quality issues and production number issues, had to use more than one manufacturer. I understand the name was purchased by Music and Arts from Selmer and no longer has any affiliation with that parent manufacturer. M&A also bought the name Holton. I’ve only seen a few of the new Bundy instruments, and one Holton. The Holton was junk. It couldn’t even be repaired to be correct without seriously altering the instrument. The Bundy trumpet wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. It felt very thin, and easily damaged. There was insufficient bracing and the whole thing felt very thin. It sounded thin too, but was reasonably responsive and didn’t fight the player too much. I’m waiting to see more of this product before I can dismiss it outright, but I would say that there is a whole new aspect to buyer beware. Now the big boys have figured out how to put a good name on really questionable product. You can’t buy a name and know that you really bought what you paid for. The Merano trumpet outperforms the Bundy in every way for a retail price of $199, and I wouldn’t recommend that trumpet either. Someone is making bank on people’s ignorance, and that will end up hurting the parent company that allowed this to happen, Selmer.
    In other words, congratulations Conn-Selmer for making another bone-headed decision that will further destroy your own profitability.

  3. Is there any way to date the age of a horn by its serial #? I received a beat up Bundy II as part of a trade for a guitar amp and would consider restoring it if it is “antique” enough.

    • Hi Shawn.

      Well I’m not sure what you mean by “antique”. Antique generally refers to a musical instrument 100 years old or older. Clearly the Bundy—neither the II nor the original—qualifies.

      When it comes to “vintage”, despite Bundy saxophones being called vintage all the time, in reality, they are not really true, vintage instruments. The term “vintage” is usually reserved for instruments of professional calibre, or that were built as professional instruments in their day.

      Neither the Bundy, nor the Bundy II were built as professional instruments. They were aimed at the student market. Yes, they were based on the 1920s professional model line the Buescher True Tone, however, by the time the Bundy was built, professional saxophones had come a long way, and no longer resembled the rather primitive True Tones of the early 20th century.

      So what does all this mean for you? Well the short answer to your question is, there are no published serial # charts that can help you date the Bundy II that you took in on trade. Furthermore, the Bundy IIs are generally not as sought-after by (experienced)saxophone players as the original Bundys, because they are further removed from their True Tone roots.

      Check what they’re selling for on eBay, and you’ll likely get a good idea what one in similar condition to yours might go for, especially based on completed auction sales. Then take the horn to a tech, and get a quote for a repad job. They usually run a couple to $400 for a student model horn. (Allowing for regional differences.) Any repair work necessary—soldering, critical dent removal, etc.—will be extra.

      Is it worth a “restoration” of the kind we talk about in the pro, vintage sax world (if it was say a 1920 True Tone)? No. You’ll never get your money back. Those restorations will run you northward of $1,000 depending on the tech.

      Hope all this info has been helpful Shawn. Perhaps it will also be useful for further trades involving other brands as well.

      Feel free to drop in and ask if you’ve got any questions in the future about any horns….helen

      • Thanks for the info Helen. Fortunately I also received a YTS23 in good condition as part of the trade. So I made out pretty good regardless of the Bundy II’s collectability. Not to mention I cleared out a good deal of space.

        I’ll be playing the Yamaha and likely hanging the Bundy II as a decoration since it clearly isn’t worthwhile restoring.

      • The Bundy II has keywork more similar to a Yamaha 21 or 23, aside from lacking the articulated low C#. That still doesn’t make it a great horn to restore, but it does not have the same painful pinky key layout the original Bundy does. If it “needs work”, it wouldn’t be a bad one to try doing yourself. A set of pads will set you back about $50-60, and that IS worth it if that’s all it really needs and you have the time and skills to fit it up properly. Even if it has some dents, you might want to just ignore them if it doesn’t mean tone holes not sealing. I had a 70’s Buescher Aristocrat (the same horn as the Bundy I) tenor with a large dent in the bottom bow, and it played just fine that way once I got the low C pad to seat correctly. I ended up selling it that way too, it doesn’t seem to have any major adverse effects on the horn. The response issues it had were all up in the palm keys and altissimo, and I don’t think that has anything to do with a dent in the bow…

      • Hi Helen,

        Sorry to bring this up after so much time had passed, yet in the USA market, “antique” is generally understood to mean “older than 25 years”, without regard to the quality of the item. This is the idiomatic usage understood in countless flea markets, emporia, and auction houses.

        I completely agree with you that such usage is obfuscatory, but that’s how it is. I myself prefer to eschew obfuscation.

        😉

        paul

        • Hi Paul. Well just because a word is used incorrectly all the time, that doesn’t change its proper meaning. Idiomatic meaning aside, flea markets, pawn shops, second hand stores, and the likes will all bastardize anything and everything to sell their wares, but even the USA uses the same definitions of vintage/antique that other countries do.

          I’ve been to lots of places here in Canada that also sell vintage collectibles as antique, and junk as collectibles. It’s all a matter of flogging the :sol: that they have to whoever they can, for the most money they can. Somehow tagging it “antique” makes it more appealing/desirable/expensive—or so the seller would like to think. Same goes with labelling junk as “collectible”. :2cents:

          • Hi Helen,

            Just for the sake of conversation, I would point out that this is exactly how natural language works: words mean what we consent to have them mean, and if a large enough number of people understand a word to mean something new, then that is its evolved (diachronistic) meaning.

            That said, it amuses me that the only word more abused than “vintage” on the evilBay is “rare”. You gotta laugh when a blurb describes an item as “rare” in the middle of six or more identical items in the results of a search.

            :wtf:

            Peace,

            paul

          • Some terms have fixed definitions, such as those used in law or engineering or other fields where ambiguity must be avoided. If there is a legal definition of “antique” or “vintage”, then it doesn’t matter what the “natural language” use of the word is — if it disagrees with the law, it’s wrong.

            The only remaining question is whose law?, when it differs substantially from place to place.

            Example: we think of “marine” as being over ocean, but “marine cargo” insurance includes shipments by land and air, because it uses 18th century definitions. Anyone attempting to sell cargo insurance for ocean voyages only under the heading of “marine cargo insurance” would be wrong.

  4. Hello Helen,

    Hope you read my previous message. Allow me to reiterate my question. So kindly tell me the difference between a red painted logo of Selmer Bundy and the other Selmer Bundy with engraved logo. Are they have the same manufacturer and quality in terms of sounds? Which is of those two have better sounds?
    I’m looking forward to your reply.
    GOD bless and thanks.
    Andy

    • Hi Andy.

      I did reply to your original question. You can find the answer here.

      Hope this helps.

      Regards,

      Helen

    • that’s kind of like asking which is faster, a Ford escort from the 80’s or a Chevy Vega?
      Bundys can be restored to good key function with better key fitting that the factory ever produced one with through hinge tube extensions, rod extensions, swedging keys, making oversize hinge rods, and a variety of other techniques, and then they make great horns, but the labor required is sometimes more than the value of the instrument. I do usually try to have one such instrument hanging in the store to demonstrate my capacities as a repair technician. To my chagrin, I have to get another one frequently as people still buy these. We sell Chateau saxes, ones that are very cost effective and solidly built.

  5. Pingback: The Bassic Sax Blog » Blog Archive » The New Bundy Saxophones: A Follow-Up

  6. You’re welome Marla.

    Glad you found it helpful.

    Helen

  7. Great information on the Bundy II! Thank you!

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