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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all --

I wanted to give you an initial review of a tipped-bell soprano sax which is part of the new line of Barone saxes that I bought from Phil a few days ago.

The Package:
The sax came in a black case with black felt padding, nothing fancy, but decent. Three latches, none of them can be locked. The keys of the horn were secured by tons of cork wedges, the two necks (one straight and one curved neck) were wrapped in paper sheets and plastic bags. Also included is a sax strap with plastic hook and a hard rubber (or plastic?) mouthpiece with a silver metal lig and metal cap (none of the Barone mouthpieces, just a generic one which is more suited for beginners, I guess. I didn't bother to try it yet. The finish looks rather cheap). But in any case, everything is included to get started except for reeds.

The Looks:
Killer! This one is a black nickel soprano with silver keys and two necks. No engraving other than a laser engraving "Phil Barone New York NY Established 1982". Here is a picture gallery with tons of photos.

Build Quality:
The quality of the horn is very good. Way better than any other Taiwanese horns I have seen so far, and up there with the best saxophone makers. The only thing that is less than perfect (=sloppy) is how they glued the little felt and cork pads on (under the keys, for example). I guess a cyclopse without 3-D vision and depth perception must have glued them on. :cyclopsa: That's my only complaint, other than, I am impressed. The pads are nice and have metal resonators. The RH metal thumb hook is adjustable. The straight necks fit very tightly & perfectly into the bore of the sax (which is good indicator for build quality). The curved neck is a bit too tight, I might have to sand the tenon a bit and give it a try. Also, the horn is heavier than other sopranos I have tried. In case you are wondering, it is not identical to the P Mauriat tipped-bell saxes. Even after shipping from Taiwan to NY and from there to DC, the sax had no leaks and played right out of the box (I was lucky, I guess).

Action & Ergonomics:
The action is what blew me away: they got it just right! Better than any sax that I have ever played. It's very "snappy" and the spring tension is just about right. The LH and RH pinky tables are spread bit far (similar to JK horns). If you have very small hands, you might have a problem here. The key touches look like mother of pearl, but I could be wrong here (how can I tell the difference between a plastic imitation and real mother of pearl?). They have a good size (not too small like on some other sopranos) so if you put the sax into your hands, it feels like "home". :D

Sound:
The sound is warm & full, rich & complex, with a pleasant core to it. Intonation seems spot-on (I measured with a tuner and all notes were within <10-15 Cents over the entire range of the horn). I had no problem at all with the highest and lowest notes. Also, it has a nice edge and projection is very good. From a whisper to screaming out loud, the horn delivers.

Bottom Line:
Of all (Taiwanese or not) saxes I have played to date (which includes LA-Sax, Cannonball, P. Mauriat, Selmer and Keilwerth), this is one of the highest quality horns with a beautiful sound. It is up there with the best sax models money can buy, incl the "big four". This is a pro horn that you should check out if you are in the market for a soprano. I am impressed.

By the way: I use a Saxrax tipped-bell soprano peg (see below) which is fantastic.

Hope you find this preliminary review helpful.




Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Barone and don't know him personally.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
baritone saxophone said:
How much did it cost?
Ask Phil what he is charging.
 

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Thanks for taking to time to put together a thorough and objective review.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
mike_s said:
is it ribbed or post construction?
Post construction.
 

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Is there any significance to the fact that the keywork looks exactly the same as the keywork on my WWBW soprano?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Almost all modern sopranos are copies of a MkVI, so similarities in the key layout are expected. I just had a quick look at the WWBW saxellos and found differences compared to the Barone I have (by just looking at one image of a WWBW saxello I have found on the web). Also, I believe the WWBW saxes are produced in China, while the Barone sax is being made in Taiwan.

Maybe Phil can clarify.
 

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Giganova said:
Almost all modern sopranos are copies of a MkVI, so similarities in the key layout are expected. [...]
I don't think any modern soprano is a copy of a MKVI. I think the last soprano being made as a copy of a MKVI was the Yani S6.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I didn't know that, thanks!
 

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Gig -

Excellent review. The horn looks like it holds alot of promise. Just curious though, why is the price a big secret? Is that a production model that Phil is selling, or is it a prototype he sold you? Nothing on Phil's website about the horns.

Phil, are you there?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi Frank --

I don't want to make a big secret or fuss about the price, but since this was a horn from the first production run, Phil gave me a special price that is probably not the final sales price. I just don't want to get involved in the marketing/financial aspect and leave that up to Phil, that's all. Better to talk to Phil about prices.
 

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The current "Vienna by Woodwind" saxello sold by WWBW does look different than Phil's.

Mine, however, is a straight, two-neck "Woodwind" soprano that I bought in 2001, and it is virtually identical to your tipped-bell Barone soprano (minus the tipped bell, of course). It was also made in Taiwan, not China.

My inference is that Phil's horns are being made at the same factory that produced the Woodwind sopranos back in 2001.

Does anyone know how many different saxophone factories there are in Taiwan? It would be interesting to track the lineage of the many stencils produced in Taiwan. As Taiwanese saxophones improve, I think there will be more interest in these sorts of questions.
 

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bfoster64 said:
Is there any significance to the fact that the keywork looks exactly the same as the keywork on my WWBW soprano?
I'm not familiar with their line si I wouldn't know. I can't sell them for that price, that's for sure. You know the Chinese copy the Taiwanese so the WWBW may be a Chinese horn which would explain the low price. The Chinese are not up to the Taiwanese though. Phil
 

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I'm not very well versed in Soprano Saxophones... what is the benefit of the tipped bell (besides the fact that it looks mad cool ^^)? Does it help with projection, or does it tweak the tone of the instrument?

Any insight would be excellent. :]
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Ferret said:
... what is the benefit of the tipped bell
None. LOL

Ah, hold on, there is one: you can spend more money on a fancy tipped-bell sop peg for your stand! And since you will never find a decent case, you will sit in the subway on your way to your gig holding your horn in your hands, which looks way cool and will attract a lot of females (until you get mugged).

(Some people argue that the projection is better because the bell is pointing at the audience. So you can be lazy and let the horn point downwards and don't have to look at the audience ;) )
 
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