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Discussion Starter #1
After five months of playing a Barone NY 7*, on tenor, I made a painful discovery: I went back to my first mouthpiece and my playing significantly improved. With my JodyJazz HR 7* and my tone is fuller and louder, my intonation is far more controllable and I have more fun playing.

Brief history: life-long (35 years) bass player, I started playing sax a year and a half ago for project studio purposes. Got hooked. Went from the JJ to a Dukoff H which I liked a lot but it chirped and sometimes squeeled. From the Dukoff I wanted to try another metal mouthpiece with a more refined fat sound. With upmost respect for Phil and all he has contributed to this forum I decided on the NY.

The big questions are: a) am I am just not developed enough as a player and I should hold on the NY; b) the NY needs tech attention, or c) I am just not compatible with the NY and should sell or trade for another metal piece.

Any thoughts appreciated.
 

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a)
 

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I would also go with a) A Barone New York requires more beastly chops.
 

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Depends, I've tried various models of Phils and the only one I sounded any good on was a NY 7*. And that NY didn't even look totally clean on the inside. Rough filings and one or two little bits of metal stick up. I bought a NY alto from him on eBay. Never could get a good sound out of it and nobody else who tried it has liked it either. There may be some hit and misses going on with some of Phil's pieces depending on when they were made. The NY that I liked was made in 2003. As I understand, Phil doesn't date them anymore.

On the other hand, I have a JJ HR 7* that I sound horrible on but have heard other players sound very good on. (I'll sell if anyone's interested). Maybe it's more player anatomy and less mouthpiece defect.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Martinman said:
I would also go with a) A Barone New York requires more beastly chops.
I think I am inclined to agree with this also. The next part of that question that no one can answer is whether it is worth the wait or I am better served by trying another piece using the $$ I have in the NY.

I am at the point of my development where I am constantly at battle with a nasal sound and playing sharp when I don't relax.

I know, I know: long tones

Thanks for the feedback.
 

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If you like the way you sound on the JJ, don't stick with the Barone just because it's more expensive. One thing to watch out for, though, is that once you play a mouthpiece for about 30 minutes, any difference that the mouthpiece made, except in the most extreme cases (i.e. Selmer C* to Dukoff D9), you'll go back to sounding like yourself. The JJ and the Barone are both moderately low baffle, round chambered mouthpieces (albeit with different sized chambers). The difference will be noticeable, but your body will start to overcome that difference so that it feels more natural to play. The key is just to make what feels natural and what sounds good one and the same, then find a mouthpiece.

For example, I play a Link 8, and I have for about 9 months, almost to the day. Before that, I played a Berg 110/2 for about a year. I keep the Berg in my case, ostensibly as a backup, but really because I'm always second-guessing myself and A-B the two pieces at least twice a week. Every time, the Berg comes out the winner in the first 10-15 minutes, but after 30 or 40 minutes, the Link comes out on top. I really need to stop wasting my time, but I guess it's reassuring that my Link has won about 72 A-B tests since I got it!

Try putting the JJ away, using a slightly softer reed on the Barone and blowing tons of air through the mouthpiece. Do this every day for a few more months and see if the Barone doesn't start to feel better. If it doesn't then, you can't say you didn't try to make it work for you.
 

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If someone has decent chops, I don't know why it should take several months or half a year to adjust to a mouthpiece. We all know there are no "chops in a box" but IMO a mpc should work for you relatively soon after getting it. If it has characteristics that are working against you, what's the point?

Regarding the "a)" answer, I've noticed on this forum a certain machismo associated with one's ability to play or not play certain mouthpieces. Why does the ability to play some mpcs have more status than others? For example, if somebody comes on line and says they got a Runyon Custom and, after three months it's just not giving them what they want, no one says, "stick with it another half year - you owe it to yourself". But as soon as it is a Barone or a Link, then it's almost accepted that it's the player not the mpc and the player should continue working with this mpc ad infinitum.

My experience is with three Barones, a Contemporary/Trad which was definitely not for me, a NY which played well and is an interesting mpc, and a Hollywood I now have been working on for a couple of weeks. I needed more time with both the NY and Hollywood than I have needed with practically any other mpcs I've tried. At the end of such "breaking-in" periods IMO the ends results were not significantly better by having been on a Barone as on many other mpcs, which did not require that "breaking-in" period.

Eric, you had a b) option and I'll just say this: Based on what some folks have openly posted and what others have shared privately, there are those who have had experiences with Barone mpcs who believe that all Barone mpcs are not created equally. If that's the case, or if a second party had monkeyed with the mpc, I see no reason not to send it to a specialist for their evaluation.
 

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Eric Bessette said:
... I started playing sax a year and a half ago for project studio purposes. .
Yeah, A)

A year and a half is not nearly enough time on the sax to know if a mouthpiece will work or not. The resistance of a Barone or Link has it's advantages later on. For now, stick with the JJ Hr as it is a perfect mouthpiece to start off with. It's free blowing and won't force you into any wierd habits.

After you have gained enough experience on the sax using the JJ, your tonal concept will guide you as to whether or not the Barone's resistance is an advantage or a hinderance.
 

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I have to agree with Gary on this one. Mouthpieces are a very personal thing and despite the fact that it may be a great mouthpiece, it may just not be the right mouthpiece for you. It shouldn't take that long to get comfortable with a mouthpiece.
The other thing I would bring up is: Have you experimented with harder, softer and different brands of reeds? Different brands of reeds will work better or worse with different mouthpieces. Part of this has to do with the facing length on the particular mouthpiece.
 

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A guy walks into a shoe shore and says "These shoes don't fit; they're hurting my feet." The salesman says "Your feet are too small; you need bigger feet."

Anything wrong here?

If you want to develop as a saxophonist, don't play the most frustrating mouthpiece you own. Do try different reeds. If you wind up getting another mouthpiece, you may want to consider a different (smaller) tip opening. Bottom line: find a mouthpiece that's fun to play and stick with it.
 

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Man, you guys can't just give advice without seeing the piece and more importantly playing it. i don't care what type of piece it is. you can't make assumptions that because a piece is a Barone, Guardala, Sugal, ....... That the piece is perfect. i happen to know that some of these pieces that I have played did not play well. to say over the internet to someone that it's you and not the piece is not good advice.(Ive played all 3 of these brands and found some dogs, I've also played some that were real gems) i would say find a great player. Pay for a lesson. have him play your Barone. have him listen to you play both pieces and get one on one feedback and advice. If I were sitting in a room with you I could help you but over the internet we're just playing darts in the dark. Good Luck.
 

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gary said:
"a)" answer, I've noticed on this forum a certain machismo associated with one's ability to play or not play certain mouthpieces. Why does the ability to play some mpcs have more status than others? .

I agree with Gary here. When guys talk about mouthpieces and reeds whatever it almost sounds like they are home run hitters talking about what size Bat they use.
Its not just on this forum, but it exists everywhere in Jazz writing. Remember in Ross Russell's biography about Bird he talked about how Bird used a #5 reed. This may or may not be true (I find it hard to believe) , but Ross also stated that Bird was the first one to play a high "G" and I know that that can't be true!!!
 

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Eric Bessette said:
After five months of playing a Barone NY 7*, on tenor, I made a painful discovery: I went back to my first mouthpiece and my playing significantly improved. With my JodyJazz HR 7* and my tone is fuller and louder, my intonation is far more controllable and I have more fun playing.
Seems to me that the results you have listed with the JJ speak for themselves, and when you are performing (or practicing, for that matter), what else really matters besides the results???
 

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I can usually tell if I'm going to like a mouthpiece within a few days of using it. I think the problem with Barones is assuming they are all well made.( I guess that applies to any mouthpiece brand). My experience is only with two - a friend's NY and a 7*Jazz I owned for a short time. I didn't like either one.The Jazzes are touted as freer blowing than a Link and what a Link should be. Besides some obvious construction issues (and I'm not talking cosmetic), it required a huge amount of air, and the low notes were difficult to voice. My stock 7* NY Link was freer blowing and voiced the low notes quite easily and the tone was better. So, I reluctantly returned it to the dealer (reluctantly because I bought into the hype of owning a Barone mouthpiece and wanted one in my arsenal of mouthpieces.) My desire to own one is pretty well squelched at this time. If I find one that is superior to my stock Link I may consider one in the future. I think a well made mouthpiece should perform well immediately. This one played like a poorly faced 7* Link I have owned for 15 years. It still plays like a dog no matter how many times I attempt to make it sound better!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Nefertiti said:
Man, you guys can't just give advice without seeing the piece and more importantly playing it... If I were sitting in a room with you I could help you but over the internet we're just playing darts in the dark. Good Luck.
Steve, funny that you should say this since I had the same thought in mind and the wish that you were my neighbor. I have followed a lot of your posts and spent some time with your great website and realize that you are the man on this topic.

My playing is no great shakes at this point but I want to progress as quickly as I can and want my investment to pay off and not go up blind alleys. I know, I need a good teacher and practice long tones.

It is interesting that you found your NY to be too resistant and stuffy as do I. Obviously, listening your clips, your chops are not lacking to say the least. Website comments:

...Metal Barone NY 7* I wasn’t very impressed with it. It was bright and stuffy and had way to much resistance. I had the idea of sending it to Ed Zentera to reface it and open it to .110. Ed did a great job on it. I’ve sent it back to him 3 times. Each time he lowered the baffle a bit to make it darker and reduce the resistance. It plays very close to what I want now.
My temptation is do what you did and ask Ed to do it again. But I am working from very limited knowledge.

I just played the NY and it seems like my week on the JJ has helped me. It certainly does take a lot more air and has all that resistance. But it does have a refined tone. On the NY I struggle to play the second octave overtone and the third above is really difficult on Bb and impossible on B-C#. On the JJ, while not a gimmie, it is very possible and the second octave is easy. The bottom line is that I play better on the JJ and it is more fun.

I do need to sort this teacher thing out first. Maybe a trip to Brookfield NH )about three hours) is in my future. I have been looking for an excuse to go see a Red Sox game.

Thank you all for weighing in on this.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
gary said:
Eric, here are two links I started about Barone mpcs. As always, there's some off-topic stuff, but there are also posts by Phil himself. One is about a NY I had and the other centered around a Hollywood I'm presently trying. Maybe there are some things here that might be germane.

http://www.saxontheweb.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=57401&highlight=barone

http://www.saxontheweb.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=65223
Thanks Gary. Will do my homework.

I am not questioning the quality of the mouthpiece here, but mostly whether it is to much piece for me and is appropriate for my level of development. All of which are impossible to land on in the forum as Nefertiti states.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
sinkdraiN said:
Yeah, A)

A year and a half is not nearly enough time on the sax to know if a mouthpiece will work or not. The resistance of a Barone or Link has it's advantages later on. For now, stick with the JJ Hr as it is a perfect mouthpiece to start off with. It's free blowing and won't force you into any wierd habits.

After you have gained enough experience on the sax using the JJ, your tonal concept will guide you as to whether or not the Barone's resistance is an advantage or a hinderance.
Thanks. I do believe that this is my short-term approach along with Dirty's comments about pulling the NY out once in a while to see how it feels.
 

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Nefertiti said:
Man, you guys can't just give advice without seeing the piece and more importantly playing it. i don't care what type of piece it is. you can't make assumptions that because a piece is a Barone, Guardala, Sugal, ....... That the piece is perfect. i happen to know that some of these pieces that I have played did not play well. to say over the internet to someone that it's you and not the piece is not good advice.(Ive played all 3 of these brands and found some dogs, I've also played some that were real gems) i would say find a great player. Pay for a lesson. have him play your Barone. have him listen to you play both pieces and get one on one feedback and advice. If I were sitting in a room with you I could help you but over the internet we're just playing darts in the dark. Good Luck.
Bingo. The variance from mouthpiece to mouthpiece is too great to make assumptions based upon some ideal. Play what works and work to improve your playing........daryl
 

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My general feeling is that if you played on the worst mouthpiece in the world you'd eventually get around to knowing it and you'd be able to make it work.

I also believe that all Barone's aren't created equally. Phil's never been keen on cosmetics but when the cosmetic issues are evident (naked eye) on the functional parts of the piece (rails, tip rail, table, window, baffle, chamber, etc) then it can't be good. -- Much the same way a car won't roll right with an octagonal tire.

Life is too short to have a mouthpiece you have to fight with. And to have someone tell you to get used to the 'octagonal' tire and that eventually it will make you a greater player is just an insult.
 
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