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 Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: OhioClarinetist/Pilot 
Date:   2017-07-06 21:41

Hello all,

Long time reader of this board with lots of information learned over the years. This time, a Google search didn't help me.

Sometime ago, I came across a Buescher True Tone Bb Clarinet at a thrift store in town. I had it re-corked and re-padded and the instrument actually plays nicely. Apart from low-C and the 12th up "G" playing 30 cents flat. Almost as if the first tone hole on the lower joint is cut incorrectly.

Aside from its playing, I have not been able to find a clarinet like this anywhere on the internet. It has a full wooden body with metal capped tenons on both joints. It's in the Boehm system and only features the Buescher True Tone logo on the bell. Also, from research of serial numbers online, it "appears" to be from the 1910's.

Has anyone ever seen one of these instruments? Any insight would be most helpful!

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2017-07-06 21:50

I have an vintage "The Buescher" clarinet with a wraparound register key...check out these vintage Buescher publications and you should easily come up with a model number and date range:



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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Dibbs 
Date:   2017-07-07 14:30

The top hole in the lower joint is covered with a pad controlled by the ring keys. If it's set too low the C and G will be flat and dull sounding. Or it might just be be full of dirt.

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Chris P 
Date:   2017-07-07 15:05

If the C/G is still flat even though the tonehole is clean, then having the C/G tonehole enlarged by the right amount will bring these notes up to pitch.

Have it done by someone who knows exactly what they're doing and you shouldn't have any tuning problems.

Former oboe finisher
Howarth of London
1998 - 2010

The opinions I express are my own.

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2017-07-08 00:06

A couple more details to add--

Note that the Buescher marque in the True Tone era was only applied to professional-grade instruments. A student clarinet would've been sold as an Elkhart. I'm not surprised that yours plays well.

One thing that's not clear to me is who actually built the Buescher clarinets. I'd wager that as with Olds and Holton, two other builders also renowned for their metal-bodied instruments, the Buescher wooden clarinets were stencils. Some sources around the Web indicate that they were made by Penzel-Mueller.

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Harry H 
Date:   2017-10-25 05:35

Greetings. I'm heartened to see Someone else with a wooden Buescher True Tone clarinet. I have the same model with the "Buescher True Tone" logo only on the bell.

After much research I've determined it is the model 780 as the more expensive model 782 has logos on all sections (per photos online). The 783 and 784 were even more expensive than the 782 and therefore, based on Buescher's description of those being given more detail, I assume they too have logos on all sections. A photo I found in an online brochure of the 780 had the logo on the bell only, but regardless, carries a quality build.

It appears this wooden clarinet first appeared in 1935, and I could find no resources of its manufacturing after 1959, so it doesn't appear to be a Selmer, though possibly a Conn stencil? My True Tone has a 5-digit serial number (10xxx).

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2017-10-25 07:27

Harry, some photos of your Buescher TT would be extremely helpful in making an educated attempt to determine its maker.

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Harry H 
Date:   2017-10-25 07:52
Attachment:  20171024_204913.jpg (1361k)
Attachment:  Screenshot_20171024-204725.png (1657k)
Attachment:  Screenshot_20171024-204454.png (1370k)

Let me know if you'd like to see more. This forum restricts the size of photos so they may not be too clear. Thanks for your interest!

Post Edited (2017-10-25 10:43)

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2017-10-26 19:59

Key cup design, key work details, and bell profile aren't consistent with what you'd find on a instrument sourced from Conn, Penzel-Mueller, Pruefer, or Malerne.

Still, the U.S.A. on the bell suggests that it was American-made. The closest match to this example would be an early Selmer Signet.

In my best estimation, this would have come from one of the small French workshops that built "stencil" instruments.

Post Edited (2017-10-26 20:08)

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Harry H 
Date:   2017-10-26 21:12


Thank you very much for your input. Truly appreciated. I purchased it on eBay 15 years ago this month from a now closed vintage shop in Arkansas. I had forgotten how long I've had it, and just this morning found my original email correspondence with the shop in an old Yahoo Mail account.

I've been intrigued these years on how little information, including photos, exist on the web regarding the wooden Buescher True Tone. I have even saved searches on auction sites to see how often they are posted for sale (almost never). I'm beginning to believe very few still exist... or maybe there was a low production number in the first place. The serial number may be indicative of this.

I hope OhioClarinetist/Pilot, the OP, has a chance to see the updated posts and, perhaps, posts some photos of their clarinet.

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2017-10-27 00:57

Hi, Harry:

Back when your TT was new, Buescher and Holton attempted to offer a full line of musical instruments comparable to that of industry giants Conn and H. N. White. Other than saxophones and metal clarinets, neither company built woodwinds sold under their marques.

If you take a look at vintage Buescher and Holton literature, you'll see that there was a special emphasis on selling all the instruments needed to get a school, company, or civic band started in one convenient deal. Without woodwinds outsourced from other makers, this would have been impossible to do.

American brasswind makers Getzen and F. E. Olds also sold "stencil" woodwinds, also in an attempt to offer a more complete line of wind instruments. Olds, notably, sold Buffet stencils as their top-of-the-line Opera wooden clarinet.

Still, unless one could negotiate a sweetheart deal, a buyer would really have to think twice about purchasing one of these stencils. An Olds Opera would be tougher to resell, and fetch less money, than its identical Buffet twin. That, in a nutschell, is why I believe none of the stencils sold by famed American brasswind makers ever gained much traction in the marketplace.

One does have to wonder what a Buescher designed-and-built wooden clarinet would've been like. They certainly proved themselves capable of building excellent metal clarinets. Even these, however, aren't all that easy to find today.

Post Edited (2017-10-27 01:03)

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Harry H 
Date:   2017-10-27 07:39

Hi Ursa,

What great insight and knowledge you possess! Thank you for painting a wonderful picture for me on this subject. It makes perfect sense.

A side note: there are a couple of Buescher metal clarinets being offered right now on eBay. :).

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Ursa 
Date:   2017-10-28 12:17


A couple more clues about your TT: It appears to have bright nickel-plated key work, which generally didn't become the standard key finish found on clarinets until the 1950s. Your case, if original, would also suggest a TT from the later years before Buescher's 1963 acquisition by Selmer USA.

So...how does it play?  :)

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 Re: Buescher True Tone Clarinet
Author: Harry H 
Date:   2017-10-29 00:41


It played great when I last played it quite some time ago. Rich tones. I'm no pro, only having played in school jazz and marching bands back in the day.

I did some additional research. My apologies for the length, but I believe it may be of interest to True Tone enthusiasts - at least saving some time:

In looking at both the Buescher 1935 instruments catalogue (1st mention/ad of the wooden True Tone Clarinet) and 1959 catalogue (last available catalogue found online advertising the wooden True Tone), all years and models (780, 782, 783 and 784) note the keys as being "nickel silver." The 1959 catalogue specifically states "hardened nickel silver." I'm not sure if that's a difference in process or verbiage.
1935 catalogue (see page 13): https://www.saxophone.org/museum/publications/id/514

It's noteworthy to add that the upper-section logos seen in the 1935 catalogue photo for the model 782 were no longer present by 1939, the only remaining logo being on the bell, per that year's catalogue page 12 which notes the 782 "as illustrated":

This change had me wondering if I might, in fact, have a model 782 where I thought it could only be a 780 due to the lack of logos. Then I did more research.

Big change by the 1941 catalogue as the models 783 and 784 were no longer offered, leaving only the 780 and 782. Assuming the 783 and 784 initially had logos on all body sections, I can only wonder if they reverted to single logo instruments as the 782 seemed to have done prior to their demise. Could I possibly have a single logo 783 or 784? (see page 12): https://www.saxophone.org/museum/publications/id/515

By the 1954 the 782 was dropped and a model 760 was added to partner with the 780. The 760 is noted to have a "nickel silver key mechanism" while the 780 touted "specially hardened nickel silver keys."

By the 1959 catalogue, the 760 had been dropped and only the model 780 True Tone remained. Elkhart clarinet models were added. (See page 25)

Maybe a 760? 780?

Edit: Forgot to mention that the case is not original.

Post Edited (2017-10-29 03:12)

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