Buescher True-Tone / DeCarlis “400” Pocket Conversion
no. 304712 • 1939 / 2007
This was my first attempt at fabricating a pocket cornet, starting with a Buescher “400” cornet which had been hanging from a hook in my shop for many years. In due course, I had a major assist from Robb Stewart!
I decided to follow my L.A. Benge pocket trumpet closely for dimensions. As a result, the leadpipe and tuning slide were shortened. For initial testing, a bell from an inexpensive Chinese import pocket was lengthened. The bell “stub” on the first valve casing was replaced and repositioned. Finally, the third valve slide was modified to “fold-back” style. I made every attempt to retain the original parts wherever possible.
This step was fairly successful, and the cornet played in-tune. So I proceeded with phase two – having vintage brass expert Robb Stewart rebend the the original Buescher bell to pocket length (very difficult to do), and fabricate the second stage of the bell from scratch. Robb was also a little concerned about how I shortened the leadpipe by cutting off the most tapered section, so he bent a new leapipe from nickel silver. As usual, Robb did a masterful job – as you can imagine, rebending the large diameter cornet flare into a crook is no easy task.
I did the finish work on the parts and fabricated nickel silver ferrules for them, following the original 400 design. Then everything was re-assembled.
Finally, I constructed a new case in the style of late-30’s Buescher cases.
The valves just got overhauled at Anderson Plating, and Mark Metzler is about to shoot it with “darkened” lacquer for, so I hope to have new “finished” photos soo. Even without the valve rebuild, it played fine and much better than it did with the smaller Chinese bell.
The “400” was a very well-built horn, with nicely done “art moderne/machine age” styling – it followed the better-known Conn Vocabell by several years.
Length (mpc. removed): 9.25”
Bell Diameter: 4.625”