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Dear SOTW brain trust-

At the recommendation of some here, about three years ago, In order to approach a retro smooth sound in a modern horn, I took a chance on a minty Reference 36 on Ebay. It had only a couple scratches on the bell and a little acid bleed. It came with two necks, all for $3200.

I had problems with its low end speaking, so I had it repadded. Didn't help. Had the body soldered to the bow. Not sure if it helped. Took it to a second tech who noticed that despite the first tech's repad job, there were residual leaks (the horn looked so mint, tech #2 asked why I had a new horn repadded). This seemed to fix the speaking issue.

After playtesting the two necks, I found that one neck was punchy and louder, but made the tone more sterile, and not particularly warm. The other neck was warmer and creamier, but the horn didn't project as well. I sold the loud neck on EBay for $200, leaving me a net cash outlay of $3k plus about $900 in shop work.

However, the PB MAC 8 (Phil Barone "Vintage") tenor I bought impulsively a year later blows away my 36 by virtue of its gutsy tone, both to my own ears, and to my big-band section-mates. I did a side-by-side playtest at rehearsal break with three different mouthpieces. My Ref 36 sounds pleasant, but its sound just doesn't penetrate. So, my Ref 36 has been gathering dust while I gig with the Barone, and sometimes with my Cannonball Stone Series.

For straight-ahead jazz, I'm still yearning to get a warmer more vintage sound than my PB MAC 8 will give me. I would prefer not to have to blow $6k or more on a Mk VI in playable shape, especially if I could work with the mint Ref 36 I currently have.

Might yet another neck give me the power that I had with the neck I flipped, yet retain the sweetness of the neck I have retained? I am intrigued by the Warburton Neck System that Steve Neff reviewed, but that's a crap-ton of money.

Is the Ref 36 any more neck-sensitive than other models? Did I just get a "meh" specimen that I should just move on from?
 

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You've probably tried this already....the Barone neck? I put a Barone neck i bought used off SOTW on my 30 something y.o. MK VII that the neck had pulled down and finally split, and am very happy with my new, improved horn. Liked it better than the original neck (talking VII fwiw).
 

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To preface; I play 36s, I got them both from Selmer in Paris and they were checked at the pro shop before I left with either of them. Before the 36s I played VI's since the 60's before that a SBA for a short time.

I went through way too many other horns within a couple month period before settling on the 36's. Now I don't know what you played before but if you came from a more modern "bright" horn and that's the sound you like you might never like a 36. Even the Series III Selmers are way to bright for my taste, and more attune to the recent Yamaha, Keilworth, Yanagisawa crop.

Also keep in mind that some of the very early 36s have neck pip issues. I think here in the US Randy Jones has a very good knowledge of the 36's (and the 54's) you might give him a call.

My 36s are the best tenors I've ever played (and they are stock, pads & necks) they exude a lush powerful tone and are effortless to play.
 

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Saxguy,

I once have a VI alto that I wanted to love. I had it overhauled 2 twice within a 3 month period by two seperate tech. I even strip the lacquer. I did everything I could to make this horn work for me. It never felt right. Eventually I sold the horn to some kid in California who loved it. I have a VI now that I purchased on E-bay quite by accident (I put in a low bid and won) My tech had to do some drastic body work but the horn is amazing.

It sounds like you're a player so my advice. Don't waste another moment on a horn that isn't working for you. Move on - there's plenty of horns in the sea. ;)
 

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Saxguy

If you are in NY and you get a chance, check in at Roberto's on 46th St. in NYC.
He's done some amazing things setting up Ref 36s. It might shed some light on yours.

But AGreene is right- if the horn doesn't "speak" for you, move on. Virtually every good tenor is interesting to play,. but "interesting" isn't the thing we're after usually.
 

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I had one I picked up for $2500.00 and put it to a side by side test with my M'Lady TM custom and it wasn't even close. Since I got the reference so cheap, I could have kept it. I didn't need to flip it and I actually hoped the ref 36 would have won the play test, it didn't. I made about 1k selling it and haven't looked back. If the ref 36 truely played like an old balanced action, everyone would buy one. saxguy, they are all MEH!! I haven't played one that was exceptional yet, and most don't even register as better than average.
 

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Sounds like you didn't put the effort into fixing the Ref 36 before flipping it, Bill. But we've had that discussion before...

OP - sounds like you either had a MEH horn or, more likely in my experience, a MEH horn tech.

I had a great Ref 36 that I played for several years, sent it to Randy Jones and it came back even better. I don't believe Randy would've invested the time that he and Jerry Bergonzi did in finding out how to make ultimate tweaks to Ref 36 tenors. I have also played several more Ref 36s that had bad setups from the factory - no news there. A leak will kill a horn - if you don't sort that out first, there is no use in drilling pips, soldering bow to body, or otherwise polishing a ****.

I'm happy for you, Bill. Glad you got a horn to keep you happy. Just because you bought a used horn, didn't get it working, and "compared" it to anything before you flipped it (wasn't that within a week or so), doesn't make you the last call judge on a model that many others call a success.
 

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Have you tried different mouthpieces? I just got a New Vintage Tone Edge in a 7 facing and I can get notes to whisper down to Bb where before a standard link even in a 6 facing made that hard work. I've got a 6* NV on the way as well, I'll sell the worst one out of the two, for me - early signs say these are a good match for the 36.


There was another thread about measuring the neck opening an ensuring it's .510"

Just an idea

Cheers
 

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I play a Ref 36 Tenor that I purchased new from Randy Jones in 2005. He gave it his full setup and I can tell you that it is one sweet horn. Big, full sound with an RPC .125, and the sweetest sound around with a Brilhart Tonalin .100 I haven't even looked at another horn since.
 
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