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Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2019 8:50 pm
by lost
Thought I'd share a birthday present to myself. I saw a Buescherphone 690....or a Buescher jumbo the For Sale from Gongadin late last year. Special thanks to him for selling me his old project. Special thanks to Art Hovey for selling it to him! Serial number says it is from 1930 which was a surprise considering I thought these were made only in the 20's. This might have been the last jumbo ever made! :cry:

Looked okay, but missing a lot of pieces! Tuning slide, valve buttons, a goose neck and bit set...some cracks in tubing etc...this was going to be a big project.

and that bell...eek....that was initially a deal breaker that I decided to take a plunge on anyway.

Fast forward to me driving to Ontario to pick her up from Greg Hendrickson of Greg's Brass & Woodwind Services near Toronto. Wow! He bravely took on the job of straightening the bell before I picked it up, and did it with a minimal amount of scarring and plating wear. He didn't crack it...don't ask me how! This is how it looked when I picked it up in Ontario. Thanks Greg! Amazing work on a big heavy 30 inch bell. :tuba:


Took it from Ontario to board member Tabor of Massachusetts who partially disassembled it and bravely did the body work and some patching and sent the valve set away to get custom parts from Beeman Brass Works of Ohio. Thanks Tabor!

Mr. Beeman made a beautiful custom goose neck for it that looks stock (no a 20K would not work), replaced the valve stems and buttons, and gave me a new main tuning slide. Man oh man....couldn't wait to play it and it's all thanks to his skill in making parts for an instrument around 90 years old with weird tubing dimension. Thanks Mr. Beeman!!!

Tabor expertly reassembled the horn, polished her up.... and voila!


Holy &%$! does it play even, with her worn valves. I think they heard me in the next town over. Thick valve oil is all she needed. Played it in a Memorial Day parade today and I was thrilled with the tuning and response of this old beast.

For your curiosity, here is the 690 next to a 20K from 1945. The 20K is around 29 lbs, the jumbo is around 34.


and here is a picture from her catalog.

Final word....she is not as large, heavy, and cumbersome as my Conn jumbo 46K. She's bigger than a Martin Mammoth and York Monster though. She is in the Goldilocks zone of not tapering too fast, but when she does she really does....and thus sounds amazing.

She had her day in the sun today.


It was very hot.

Thanks to all the wonderfully skilled tubenet folks who brought this horn back to life! Bravo.

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2019 9:11 pm
by bloke
I sold one of those - probably 15 years ago...when our brick-and-mortar store was still an old gentleman who was in town for a funeral, and wanted it to play in a graveside band. The valves were quite leaky. Otherwise, it was in fairly good shape. I turned loose of it for $350.

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2019 10:11 pm
by Art Hovey
That monster sat in my attic for about 40 years. I originally found it in an old music store in Somerville, near Boston. The first time I mentioned it on the Tubenet nobody was interested. When I finally found a buyer I was hoping that he would make it play and was planning to send him a message saying "your're a better man than I am, Gongadin".
Very glad that it has been restored at last. I would love to give it a honk some day if I am still able to lift it.

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Sun May 26, 2019 11:04 pm
by bloke
random factoid:

I'm not sure about the Jumbo's, but the regular (.726") bore Bb 1920's Buescher sousaphones can be completed with Yamaha sousaphone upper mouthpipes...The tenon fits, and the odd Yamaha angle is the same as Buescher.

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2019 12:01 am
by roughrider
Congratulations! That is the find of the year and it made my day to see it! Enjoy that beautiful Buescherphone!

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2019 8:07 am
by lost
Thanks a side note, it was all tuba players who brought her back to life.

As a side note to Art....that is funny...I worked for many years just blocks from where you found this... and turned 40 when I got her!

Talk about synchronicity....

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 10:38 am
by edsel585960
Nice looking horn now. I'm sure it rattles the walls. :)

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 2:38 pm
by toobagrowl
The Buescher Jumbo looks great after the refurbishing 8) It's always so satisfying to ressurect vintage classic sousas :tuba:

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 3:01 pm
by Paul Scott
Wow, talk about a transformation! I have one of these beasts and they are BIG. The 30" bell is not just flare (as on Martins), but is a fully proportional bell. Mine has a very interesting reverse taper in the main slide. Also built in 1930.

I've found that if I play it gently it does the work for me. And outdoors it will basically vibrate the neighborhood!

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2019 3:23 pm
by Gongadin
I just saw this, and I'm thrilled! The horn looks beautiful. If permitted, I too would like to try playing this horn next time I'm in your area.
Thanks for giving a shout out to Greg - he is a great guy as well as a great repair person. I'll pass this thread along to him.

Re: Buescher Jumbo Sousaphone

PostPosted: Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:19 pm
by humBell
Congrats on bringing the Jumbo back to life!

I done a J4 parade with a Conn 46k, and since then almost didn't notice the weight of the smaller sousas i used in more recent parades over the weekend... I should march with it more frequently.