Alto Buescher Aristocrat I versus Big B : identical?

  • Posted on: 10 June 2020
  • By: Mark

For some time now I have been looking for reliable information on the differences between the various Buescher alto saxophones. I regularly have 1 type in my collection: currently I have both an Aristocrat Series 1 and two Aristocrat Big B alto saxes (1 has been here for revision for a long time).
Because two saxes are in very good (original) condition, I decided to put them both on the workbench and do a complete maintenance check. That gives me the ideal opportunity to accurately compare both saxes and take measurements.  

It concerns the following saxes:
a) Buescher Aristocrat Series 1, serial number 280114 (early 1941)
b) Buescher Aristocrat Big B, serial number 295713 (early 1945)
c) Buescher Aristocrat Big B, type 140, serial number 330679 (mid 1949): for overhaul.

Here are my observations:
1) The Aristocrat Series 1 has a different type of key guard for the lower B and Bes (art deco style, similar to New Aristocrat). The Big B has the 'railroad' type key guard (with stop).
2) The Aristocrat Series I has a simple (old style) round bell-body brace, the Big B has a V-shaped square brace.
3) Obviously the engraving is different: the Big B has the characteristic Big B on the cup.
4) Other differences? ....... NONE!

There are no further differences between both types of saxes. Bore is identical, neck is interchangeable, tone holes are identical, keywork is identical, tone holes diameter are identical ..... I assembled the complete keywork of the Big B on the Aristocrat series I: it fitted without any problem and without new adjustment !

Conclusion: there is actually no technical difference between the Aristocrat Series I and the Aristocrat Big B. Both body and valve work are identical. The sound of both types must therefore also be identical, some difference may lie in the neck. Neck type 01 is the standard neck, as supplied on all later saxes.