|Founder||F. Augustus Buescher|
The Buescher Band Instrument Company was a manufacturer of musical instruments in Elkhart, Indiana, from 1894 to 1963. The company was acquired by the H&A Selmer Company in 1963. Selmer retired the Buescher brand in 1983.
The company was founded by Ferdinand August "Gus" Buescher (born Elk Township, Noble County, Ohio 26 April 1861; died Elkhart, Indiana 29 November 1937). He accompanied his family to Goshen, Indiana and then to Elkhart in 1875. In 1876 he found employment with C. G. Conn's fledgling band instrument factory. By 1888 he was promoted to foreman. After being shown an Adolph Sax model saxophone in possession of E.A. Lefebre in 1888 he produced Conn's first saxophone prototype. In 1890, while still employed with Conn, he began producing band emblems at home and was setting up his own shop. In the fall of 1893 he opened the Buescher Manufacturing Company at 1119 N. Main Street, which made band instruments and other metal products, in partnership with John L. Collins, a clothing merchant, and Harry L. Young, a salesman. In 1894 his company began production of saxophones, becoming Conn's main competitor over the following two decades. In March 1901 he patented a cornet unusual in that the valves were of unequal lengths. True Tone became the trademark name for band instruments made by the Buescher Manufacturing Company.
In 1903 there was a disastrous fire at Buescher's factory. In 1904 the business was reorganized and renamed the Buescher Band Instrument Company, reflecting its sole focus on producing band instruments. In 1916 Buescher sold a major share of his company to six businessmen including Andrew Hubble Beardsley. Buescher remained president until 1919 when Beardsley assumed that title. Buescher was vice-president and general manager of the company until 21 January 1929 when he resigned these positions, remaining on staff as a consultant engineer. In 1926 Buescher Band Instrument Company was joined with the Elkhart Band Instrument Company (some claim that Buescher was bought by Elkhart Band Instrument), a company founded two years previously by Beardsley with Conn's Carl Greenleaf as secretary-treasurer. The "Elkhart" brand was retained by Buescher for its second-line instruments after the company was dissolved upon Beardsley's death in 1936.
Though Buescher manufactured many kinds of brass instruments, the company was known primarily for its saxophones which competed successfully with instruments made by Conn and Martin. Buescher saxophones became distinctive with snap-in pads, patented by Buescher in 1921, and screw-in gold-plated Norton springs, introduced in late 1931. During the 1920s Buescher also made small numbers of tipped-bell soprano, straight alto, and straight tenor saxophones. Buescher stayed true to Adolphe Sax's concept for saxophone sound into the early 1930s, gaining the favor of classical saxophonist Sigurd Rascher and those influenced by him. Buescher adapted its sound concept to the bigger, bolder sounds favored by dance orchestras and jazz musicians, modifying its Aristocrat model and releasing the 400 "Top Hat & Cane" model in 1940. The Aristocrat and 400 models remained popular with professional players through the early 1950s, until instruments with more modern keywork gained favor and changes to Buescher's product line were coldly received. By the late 1950s, Buescher's production of professional-line saxophones was a small fraction of what it had been at the start of the decade. Buescher's presence in the professional saxophone market ended when it was acquired by the H&A Selmer Company in 1963, although a nominal "Buescher 400" model continued to be produced through the mid-1970s.
Buescher became the main supplier of student-grade saxophones to the H&A Selmer Company, producing the vast majority of such instruments marketed under Selmer's "Bundy" brand. The Elkhart line was continued until 1959, followed by Buescher's downgraded Aristocrat line as their offering in the student market. After Buescher was sold to Selmer, Selmer allowed the use of the Buescher trademark for products sold under Buescher's established distribution network. During the 1970s, the market position of the Buescher Aristocrat/Selmer Bundy model declined under competition from Yamaha's more up-to-date and more efficiently produced student instruments.
The Buescher brand was retired by Selmer in 1983. After the Conn-Selmer company was formed in 2003, it briefly tried to revive the Buescher brand to market Asian-made saxophones.
The Buescher company also produced some flutes and clarinets between 1910 and 1920, the Saxonette (also known as the "clariphon" and the "claribel"), a clarinet with a curved metal barrel and a curved metal bell pitched in A, B♭, C or E♭. They were produced with the Albert system, and later with the Boehm system. Gretsch and Supertone were merchandiser-branded "stencils" of the Buescher Saxonette.
Note: These pictures may or may not be of a clarinet made by the Buescher Band Instrument Company.
This is a vintage 14-Key Albert system clarinet with the brand of "American Professional" it is believed to be retailed by Buescher between 1910 and 1920.
This is the lower section of the American Professional Clarinet. Notice that there are only 2 lower keys where there are four lower keys in the Boehm system. There are also only 2 upper side keys where there are 3 in the modern Bb Clarinet.
This is the upper section of the American Professional Clarinet (Albert system). Also notice that there are only 3 side keys where there are usually four in the modern Boehm system Bb Clarinet.
This is a close up of the engraved "American Professional" emblem on the bell. If you look just above where it says "American Professional" there is a backwards "C" and the letters "LP" This means that this clarinet is a "Low Pitched clarinet in the key of C" In other words, this is a C clarinet built to the A=440 Hz tuning that has since become standard for all western instruments.
Here is another close up of the "American Professional" emblem located on the upper section of the clarinet, just below the barrel.
The engraved emblem on this clarinet shows that the brand is " American Professional" the link below states that Buescher was the retailer of "American Professional" instruments.
The Aristocrat was a Truetone professional trumpet previous to the Selmer buyout and became a student horn after 1963. It was a step down from the Truetone. After the traditional Truetone trumpets were the Buescher 400 Truetone. These are more modern sounding and good for big band jazz. There were three models. Brass with nickel, Silver plate, and silver plate with sterling silver bell called Super 400.
True Tone baritone saxophone, with soldered tone hole rings
Engraving on a True Tone C melody saxophone
True Tone stamping
Model number 3294 Model number 69
Aristocrat Engraving, True Tone valves