Possibly the most important: in 1921, Buescher patented a new invention
called the "Snap-On Pad". This innovation is important as it is
considered the first real "resonator" (unless you want to consider the
Conn Res-O-Pad a resonator). Take a moment to read my detailed feature page on this
In 1928, Buescher introduced three "gimmicky" horns that were actually
a significant improvement over their older, conventional siblings: the
Straight Alto and Tipped Bell Bb and C sopranos. Take a moment to read
my feature page
on these horns.
In 1931, the waning days of Vaudeville, Buescher was contracted to
create, of all things, a straight baritone: a one-off working custom
horn. Take a moment to read my feature
page on this horn AND a modern straight baritone.
Baritones switched to the "rounded rectangle" G# key a little after s/n
173000 -- and I do mean "a little after", as I have pics of a 173xxx
bari with the new G# and a 1730xx bari without. There does not appear
to be any other significant change in the baritone design until the
Aristocrat -- excepting, of course, the Custom Built series. I will
therefore "break down" the baritone models according to this break,
rather than the 200xxx break.
The Custom Built True Tone model (yes, it's engraved
that) is possibly baritone only. It's sort of a combination
of the New Aristocrat and True Tone styles.
I see no change at all in design of the bass, other than with
engraving, so I'll break diown these horns as I have with the altos and
tenors. Do note that these horns have a keyed range only to altissimo
Eb and do not have a G# trill.
One topic of much debate is the introduction of the front-mounted
altissimo F key. It seems to have been
introduced as an option around s/n 157xxx and become standard on alto and tenor around 200xxx -- and, according to
Bootman on the SOTWF, there was, at least, a provision for this keywork
a little earlier, probably 1923 (and a front F from a later horn can
fit on these horns, if it doesn't have one).
There is one major keywork change to look for on the straight Bb
soprano (only. The straight C soprano doesn't change): the G# hinge
changes from being "under"
the left-hand altissimo keywork to being in a "normal"
location. (This change is very apparent in the example pics linked in
the previous sentence.) I don't have enough examples to give you an
exact "fail-over" date, but an 86,466 horn has the old hinge and a
137,828 horn doesn't, so we're talking 1921-1924 when this change took
place. My money's on 1923.
that considering the C soprano never changed from the old-style hinge,
this is a sure-fire way of determining if the horn you have is a Bb or
There doesn't appear to be much consistency in the design of the Eb
sopranino until after s/n 117,230 (more probably, sometime in 1923). I
can't say that later models are significantly better than earlier ones,
but they definitely have tweaked keywork.
Speaking of Eb sopranino keywork, a lot of people point out that the
majority (if not all) of Buescher sopraninos after around s/n 117,230 don't
have a G# key (earlier horns had either a pearl
button or a rectangular bar). They're right.
Foreshadowing the "articulated" G# cluster, to sound G# on the
sopraninos that "don't" have a G# key, you depress the C# key. Note,
also, that sopraninos don't have a G# trill key.
I've seen a few random curved Bb sopranos that had a rectangular
G# key, starting around s/n 164xxx and ending before s/n
170xxx. Again, this is not a consistent design change so I cannot
accurately track it.
Please note that Buescher did not design a new sopranino, soprano or
bass after s/n 2627xx or so: in other words, there aren't Aristocrat or
400 models of these pitches. HOWEVER, if you wanted a bass in 1950,
say, Buescher would trot out the old True Tone molds and make you one,
generally with different engraving and sometimes with slightly
different keywork, such as a redesigned G# cluster. Extended keywork
ranges are NOT found, though.