A Buescher C-Mel on the bench…

It’s about time I started fixing C-Mels again, arthritis is (touch wood) not too fierce at the moment, and an enquiry about this  Buescher C Melody (click here for more pics)  made me think that maybe this old lady deserves better than languishing unloved in a case for years to come.  This was a bit of an impulse buy, driven I suspect by the rose-gold (well, copper, but more of that later…) bell.

Paid rather more for her than I usually do (back when the pound-dollar conversion rate was more favourable) and the sax is in not-as-good a condition as I expected.  Not that I was misled in any way by the seller – such is eBay, some I’ve won, some I’ve lost, and this is definitely leaning towards the losing side as she is at the moment.  But the sax has great potential.

The sales enquiry about her seems to have fallen thro’ – but I did come across a genuine Ferrees ‘snap-in’ pad set recently when I was having one of my infrequent tidy-ups, so I’ll have a go at the sax over the next few months.  A couple of the rods seem a little reluctant to play ball, and all of the rollers likewise seem settled in for the duration (reluctant to turn…) plus the octave ‘pin’ is bent from less than perfect packing for it’s last transatlantic adventure – but, apart from that, it’s relatively dent free, and with that lovely rose gold bell wash.

As Cybersax rightly comments, “…it’s a ‘rose gold’ effect, used primarily by Buescher on its silver plated saxes made after about 1925. ‘Rose gold’ is gorgeous, but really not gold at all. The ‘rose gold’ effect is achieved by laying on a copper wash (thin layer of copper plating) instead of a 24K gold wash…” 

I’ve a few other C-Melody saxophones I need to tweak and say ‘farewell ‘ to this year (and clarinets, and alto’s and mouthpieces etc. 😦 ) – but this Buescher will be a full overhaul.  I’ll keep the comments coming as it proceeds, but someone will have a lovely horn at the end of the day.  The pictures really don’t do the bell-wash justice, it is a glorious bonus !

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8 Responses to A Buescher C-Mel on the bench…

  1. David Loyd says:

    Alan, I’ve got a 23 True Tone just like this…Plays great!!!

    (from Facebook)

  2. alan says:

    David – my second C-Mel (didn’t like the first much, a Conn PanAm) was a Lyon & Healy Buescher stencil – and I loved that sax to death.  Just about every Buescher that passes thro’ my hands impresses me – I could just as easily have become a Buescher fanatic instead of a Martin enthusiast.

  3. lewis Pelham says:

    They are works of art…beautiful to behold and exquisitely made, with a wonderful sound.
    In my view, one essential aspect is absent….ease of playing, due to their clunky keywork and poor ergonomics of low C#.
    The Americans appear very insular with regard to design; they continued with antique suspension and brakes on their cars (even their so called “sports cars”) long after Europe had shewn the way.
    Similarly, with their saxophone keywork.
    My two Bueschers, 1925 and 1943 have virtually identical keywork….this, despite the fact that Selmer, with their BA demonstrated how it should be done, in 1935…with the axles down the middle.
    America however refused to learn & continued with the side axle system. The hideously named “pinky table” was always an issue.
    The Selmer keywork system, now universally adopted, was probably the reason why nearly every top flight saxophonist for the last 50 years has invariably hung a Selmer around his neck….it is not the “Selmer sound” but the “Selmer keywork”.
    Many saxophones, particularly those from the Americas, sounded as good, but if you wished to play quickly then it had to be a Selmer.
    The old clunky American system was fine for slow ballads, but totally inadequate for anything fast.

    If you want the best of all worlds, the American sound plus Selmer keywork with the added benefit of vintage hand built horns, there is the choice of Borgani, and Rampone e Cazzani. The Italians are noted as inovaters of style, but both these companies have demonstrated that they are also prepared to follow…if that’s what is required.

  4. Mal-2 says:

    The pinky table problem can be fixed, if you really favor a vintage horn and want to spend $400 or so to mechanically modernize it:


    I did my own hacking, and changed the angle the pinky table sits at (and slightly lengthened the C# lever). I also put a bar on the G# “pearl”.

    This is by far the most “hacked” horn I have. It is also one of the best playing horns I have, though the alto is slightly less temperamental. The pinky table was mostly just a lot of twisting and bending, but I did have to carve into the C# arm to change where the bend lies. The pinky table is not “modern” and lacks a G# connected to the other keys, but it’s still a hell of an improvement.

    If you want a 1923 Buescher C-mel with a playable (but not very good) 1919 neck, I’ve got one gathering dust. It needs an overhaul, but everything moves, there are no major dents in the body, and there are no missing pieces. Conversely, if you have a neck that would make this horn playable, I’d be interested. I strategically dented the last one so it’ll play in tune, and I posted about that here, but high E and F still don’t want to speak. (With the 1923 neck on either body, this is not a problem.)

    All the various hacks are documented at:


  5. lewis Pelham says:

    It is a comfort that I am not alone in my dislike of the old style pinky table. The fact that such a good, and expensive, modification exists shews the need. It is (as the ad. says) the reaching back for the low C# which is the real problem, compounded by the fact that it rotates in the opposite direction. Many times I have considered such a mod, but I am always foiled by the rotational issue…that would always remain.

  6. lewis Pelham says:

    It has just occurred to me that I once found a different solution. Modifying and decorating a Conn C Mel ( The Impala), I incorporated an oversized G# plate which also operated the low C#. The G# key is much more ergonomic, & the increased spring resistance was accommodated by the increased leverage offered by the large G# plate.
    I am not sure where the photographs are, or even if they still exist.

  7. alan says:

    Yes Lewis – you should know I keep everything – click here for the Pelham Conn

  8. lewis Pelham says:

    Alan…you are a star; I should have known that you would still have access.

    I really wish that I had not included the stand when I sold the Conn. A simple, small, light weight, fold flat item. No-one seems to make them now….just the clunky tubular jobs.

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