Post 400 "Top Hat and Cane" and Aristocrat "Big B" Models
One of the most interesting challenges is to define the last couple of models of 400 and Aristocrat. There are definitely a bunch and they do not seem to accurately correlate with a specific serial number or model number chart.
Making matters worse, serial number data is in "chunks" after 1952: most serial number charts switch from a "yearly" end serial number to a "every five year" end serial number, or a variation thereof.
Additionally, there seem to be a random number of 400 "Top Hat and Cane" and Aristocrat "Big B" models still around after the introduction of newer models.
To complicate matters one touch further, there are at least two different "numbers" associated with a Buescher: a catalog number, which is generally in the form of "S80" or "B7" (the "S" or "B" as a prefix appears to be random, but it may indicate a plating choice) and a model number, which is on the horn under the serial number -- which isn't included on all models. This is generally a number in the 1xx range, like 140, 141, 157, etc., although sometimes the model and catalog number is the same.
Finally, there were bass and soprano models occasionally available. Mostly, these appear to be True Tone models with slightly more advanced keywork, but sometimes with new-style engraving and occasionally newer tooling. They were once again "catalog listed" in approximately 1960.
Main Models Available After the "Top Hat and Cane" and "Big B"
Baritone models are not included here because baritone design generally lags behind alto and tenor design.
The Aristocrat "Series II" and the Super 400 are essentially budget versions of the Aristocrat "Big B" and 400 "Top Hat and Cane", respectively. The only difference from the "Big B" in the Aristocrat "Series II" seems to be engraving and possibly quality of brass (necks and keywork appear interchangable), whereas the difference in the Super 400 from the "Top Hat and Cane" is the Super 400 has a nickle tone ring instead of silver, different engraving and a yellow lacquer body with nickle plated keys.
There is also some rumors that indicate there were no
Super 400 altos. It is possible that Buescher produced only the Aristocrat
"Series II" and Super 400 tenor for a year or two and then
found that they had too many requests for 400-style altos and thus they
introduced the S5 and 25, if this rumor is true.
There is also the possibility that there were some late-model Aristocrat parts for basses (e.g. bells), not just modified True Tone parts. I have not seen a full Buescher-made Aristocrat or 400 Aristocrat bass, though.
After the Selmer buyout, Selmer continued distributing some of the Buescher-made horns until about s/n 405xxx or 406xxx (1965). One of the models that continued until at least 1967/68, however, was the Super 400. I believe, however, the Super 400 soprano was not introduced until after the Selmer buyout.
If anyone out there has one of these later horns, please contact me at email@example.com. I'd like to know the following information:
- Your horn's serial number (you can X out the last digit)