I was looking through some of the vintage musical instrument catalogue pages that were sent to me a few years ago, and I came across this one: it is the July 1909 Edition of the Buescher Journal True-Tone.
Unfortunately the scanned pages that I have from this journal are not very large, so the smaller, printed details are hard to make out. However, even as I strained my eyes to make out what the Buescher ad execs wrote in the summer of 1909, I noticed some particularities on the saxophone page.
To save your eyes, I’ve transcribed the bulk of the text for you below. You’re welcome. If you want to read the section on clarinets, you’re on your own.
Note: There were only a few words that I could not make out. Those have been replaced with a ? .
Each instrument has a substantial and reliable (not flimsy) single ? octave key, and the very latest improved key fingering. Range on soprano and Baritone Bb below the line to Eb above. Range on Alto, Tenor and Melody from Bb below the line to F above. The regular octave key as supplied by others ? if desired.
The art of instrumentation lives only by contrasts—contrast of diverse tonal-qualities employed simultaneously with the design of making one or more of them predominate, or among combinations following one another, for the purpose of attracting and fixing the attention of the auditor and interesting him at every moment by the rapid presentation of new and captivating musical effects. The addition of the Saxophone Family to the Military Band instrumentation adds an entirely new tonality to the ensemble, and opens up an entirely new vista for superb effects. The characteristic timbre of the Saxophone cannot be mistaken for that of any other instrument; it is somewhat like the Alto Clarinet or the Cor Anglais, but far more noticeable and of greater volume and incisiveness than either. Bands without the Saxophone in their instrumentation are missing one of the most potent factors of a well-balanced instrumentation.
Our New Models are rich, incisive and very sonorous in tone-quality, and possess a volume unequalled. In scale, they are accuracy itself, and the key-actions and the entire “lay”of the keys offers the greatest facility and convenience in fingering. They are finely-modeled instruments, of finished workmanship—careful manufacture is stamped in every detail of construction. The key-actions, springs, pads and rollers are made and assembled with all the care that is given to a fine watch, and no “heaviness” is experiences in passages of extreme agility.
The Models are new in proportions, with a second slide down and have improved finger-hole tops and caps, with key system simplified and patented.
Like all other True-Tones they are priced reasonable, purchasable in easy payments, and fully warranted. And no obstacle stands in the path of the organization or the individual wishing to purchase one or more of these superb Saxophones.
Price List of True-Tone Saxophones
|Finish 1||Finish 2||Finish 3|
|No. 125||Bb Soprano Sax (alto shape)||$55.00||$80.00||$90.00|
|No. 126||Eb Alto Sax||55.00||80.00||90.00|
|No. 127||Bb Tenor Sax||65.00||90.00||100.00|
|No. 128||C Transposing Sax||65.00||90.00||100.00|
|No. 129||Eb Baritone Sax||80.00||105.00||130.00|
|No. 130||Bb Contra-Bass Sax||105.00||140.00||175.00|
|For Gold-Plate, write for prices.|
|If purchased on our payment plan add 5 percent to above prices.|
Description of Finishes
Finish 1—Highly-polished brass, nicely engraved.
Finished 2—Quadruple-silver plated, velvet finish, keys and points burnished, artistically engraved, inside of bell gold plated and burnished.
Finish 3—Quadruple-silver plated, keys and inside of bell gold plated and burnished, handsomely and artistically engraved.
Finished 4—Gold-plated, velvet or burnished finish as desired, elegantly engraved. Write for prices in this finish.
We do not quote price for nickel-plate finish, though, if desired, we can furnish it.
Price List For Saxophone Cases
Open full length, velvet-lined, brass-trimmed, nickel-plated, ? leather covered.
|Case for Soprano (alto shape)||$5.00|
|Case for Alto||9.00|
|Case for Tenor||12.00|
|Case for C Transposing||12.00|
|Case for Baritone||15.00|
|Case for Contra-Bass||20.00|
From left to right, saxophones illustrated in July 1909 Edition of the Buescher Journal True-Tone:
- No. 125. Soprano Sax in Bb.
- No. 126. Alto Saxophone in Eb
- No. 127. Tenor Saxophone in Bb
- No. 129. Baritone Saxophone in Eb
In ordering be sure to mention pitch desired.
As I mentioned at the outset, there are a few peculiarities that I noticed on this saxophone page from this July 1909 Edition of the Buescher Journal True-Tone.
- The first thing I noticed was the use of the “Contra-Bass”. My first thought was, wow, I didn’t know Buescher made contras. Then I did a re-think, and thought, no, it must be a misprint. However, then I realized that the word Contra-Bass is used three times. 1.In the description of the horn. 2. In the description of its case, as well as 3. In the box on the right of bari letting people know more info about the “Contra-Bass” available upon request.
- Another thing I found odd, was that the C melody was referred to as “C Transposing Sax”. Although the other saxophones Buescher was manufacturing were transposing instruments, the C mel was the only one that wasn’t a transposing horn. WTF is up with that? My guess is that whoever wrote this verbose pile of purple prose, was not only paid by the word, but wasn’t even a musician. Or if they were, didn’t have a good grasp of music theory. Perhaps Buescher outsourced their copy to an outside, non-musical firm, but then you would think that they would check it over before it was published in True Tone.
- The last obvious thing that jumped out for me was the vertical text to the right of the baritone sax. It reads: In ordering be sure to mention pitch desired. Other than confusion around the C mel and tenor, I’m not sure why the pitch would matter… Unless they were referring to LP vs. HP. However, I’m not aware that Buescher made a lot (any?) HP horns. Conn certainly did, and continued making them for decades after this article in July 1909 Edition of the Buescher Journal True-Tone was published. Buescher also don’t mention different types of tuning in their ad, which is why that statement leaves me rather confused.
Those oddities aside, I hope that these two pages from the July 1909 Edition of the Buescher Journal True-Tone add to the body of vintage saxophone knowledge—specifically how it relates to Buescher’s history of their Series 1a True Tones. These were Buescher’s first saxophones with an automatic octave key system. And while they may not be stamped True Tone1, as you can tell from this journal article, Buescher certainly built and marketed them as such.
1 Re: Reference on saxpics.com to people’s concerns that the first Bueschers weren’t True Tones because they were lacking the model stamp. From: What’s In A Name, The Buescher True Tone, on The Vintage Saxophone Gallery.
© 2016, Helen. All rights reserved.