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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I received yesterday a Phil Barone gold-plated tenor saxophone, which is affectionately nicknamed, the "Maurone." This is my review of the horn.

The nicname is because Phil tells us that this horn is the same as a P. Mauriat, made at the same factory from the same materials using the same assembly line. Another member at sotw suggested the name. The only difference we are told is that this horn comes with a Barone gold-plated neck.

The finish is beautiful. Gold is gold, and there is no prettier finish in my view. Being new, the horn is, of course, spotless. Engraving is sparse, Phil's logo (shown below) on the right side of the bell, and a simple floral pattern on the front.

The price from Phil is $1150 plus shipping. This price includes a Barone neck and HR mouthpiece. I chose to save a few bucks and take it without the mouthpiece option. I already have a Barone Jazz 8 and don't need anymore mouthpieces. Even so, Phil sent me the plastic (I guess) piece that comes from the factory (I guess) along with its shiny gold-colored ligature and black plastic cap. The mouthpiece is unmarked, but it kind of plays like any solid student piece. It goes into the mouthpiece drawer.

The horn also came with a pretty little engraved apertif class. That glass goes in my wife's china closet. After I drink a toast to Phil, that is.

Phil told me the horn came to him direct from the factory and might need some setup by a local tech to check for leaks, adjustments, etc. I'll do that, eventually, but I gave it my own leak light test this morning and found no leaks. Everything seems to work and there are no intonation problems.

The best way to compare this horn is to put is side by side with another contemporary tenor sax. I have a Selmer Reference 54 Limited Edition, also pristine. The current price for this horn from saxforte is $5,139.

Side by side, both horns look great. But gold is gold, and the PB's gold finish is more pleasing to my eye than the 54's rose-gold lacquer finish.

But how do they stack up when when played?

First, they feel almost the same. The layouts are almost identical. The 54's front F key is a round, MOP button, whereas the PB's is an oval brass button. The PB's low Bb LH spatula button is a bit larger with a raised curved lip at the bottom, which the 54 does not have, but something I don't really notice when I play. Someone with a larger hand might tell a difference.

Both horns have high F# keys in the same location and the same shape, but the PB's key is split into two keys, high F# and high G.

One thing I prefer about the 54's keywork is that its octave key is flush with the LH thumb button, which is more comfortable to my hand than the PB's which rides a bit higher. I'll see if my tech can adjust it.

Playing? Both horns are monsters. Intonation up and down are excellent. The tones are similar. A player with a more refined ear (as in no hearing loss) might find the Ref a shade darker. Sometimes it seems that way to me and other times not. The two horns are so close, that, except for that octave key, I don't know whether I could tell you blindfolded which one I'm playing. Both horns project well and have solid core sounds. They both handle low note subtones very nicely.

I cannot speak about long term durability or how each horn will hold its value in the marketplace. I can't even guess. Both horns are way too new to achieve any mystique or aura of collectibility just now.

But if you are thinking about buying a new tenor saxophone and the Reference 54 has caught your fancy, I know where you can save about $4000.

View attachment 2502
 

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Thanks for taking the time, Al. Nice report. Just a few questions:

The PM cases have gotten a bad rap - how's yours?
What kind of warranty comes with it?
Just for the heck of it, can you exchange necks on your Maurone and Ref and, if so, what are the results?
I think that might be interesting to know - the effect of the Barone neck.
Oh yeah, and - does it come with white gloves?
 

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Al Stevens said:
. . . The price from Phil is $1150 plus shipping. . . .
Holy Bargain Batman!

Considering the finish and the fact that it stands up even close to a Ref 54, it sounds like you got a steal. Thanks for the detailed review, and congrats.
 

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Thank God! Finally, someone other than Phil to give us a heads up on these saxes! Congrats and enjoy!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
gary said:
Thanks for taking the time, Al. Nice report. Just a few questions:

The PM cases have gotten a bad rap - how's yours?
What kind of warranty comes with it?
Just for the heck of it, can you exchange necks on your Maurone and Ref and, if so, what are the results?
I think that might be interesting to know - the effect of the Barone neck.
Oh yeah, and - does it come with white gloves?
The case is a black rectangular felt-lined padded zippered case. It doesn't look like high-quality luggage to me but it's suitable for shipping inside a larger box. The case will go in the closet along with other empty instrument cases, and maybe I'll use it for shipping if I ever sell a tenor sax.

I did not ask about a warranty. Actually, I never gave it a thought until you asked about it. I bought this sax from Phil over the telephone. I figured that if it was not as described or damaged, he'd take it back. Probably foolish of me, but I tend to be trusting when dealing with someone with a good reputation and with whom I've dealt in the past. Phil understands my requirements in a horn because we discussed it at length when I bought a neck for my Mark VI and a mouthpiece. He had play-tested this horn and knew its characteristics. I think he would have told me if he thought the horn would not be right for me. He did tell me it might have leaks because his son had some problems playing it, although Phil did not. I have no trouble playing it and can find no leaks. But I'll have it looked over.

The necks between the Ref and the PB are not interchangeable. The PB has a larger diameter tenon and the Ref neck just rattles around in there.

No white gloves. But I'm off to Wal-Mart to buy some. This thing is so pristine and beautiful I feel like I should be wearing a clean-room smock and booties when I play it.

Imagine what Jason Dumars could do with this horn if he was still in the engraving business. But it's gold. He'd have to return the shavings. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
LampLight said:
Considering the finish and the fact that it stands up even close to a Ref 54, it sounds like you got a steal. Thanks for the detailed review, and congrats.
Let me be clear about this. Today, the Maurone is as good as the Reference 54. Not just close. Every bit as good.

If I keep the 54, perhaps I'll revisit this opinion in ten years after they've both seen some time and wear. If I last ten years, that is. :) I know I won't see either horn stand the test of time my mark VI has stood. It's 51 years old.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Everybody comes to Florida at one time or another. I'm near the Space Center and an hour from Disney. Anyone who wants to drop by and try this thing, let me know. Bring your own white gloves, though.
 

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Al, a shop here in Holland has a Taiwanese horn as their 'house' brand. They happen to call it 'System '54" (what's in a name). This one also has the split high F# / G key. My guess is it looks a lot like your Maurone.

Can't upload a single pic from the website, but here is the link for the UL version, click to enlarge the pic.

http://www.saxcompany.nl/saxshop/system-54-unlacquered-series-p-612.html
 

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LampLight said:
. . . Considering the finish and the fact that it stands up even close to a Ref 54, it sounds like you got a steal. . .
Al,

I hear you. Today the Maurone is as good as the Ref 54. I hope I didn't sound negative. You said the tones were similar and you weren't sure whether you could tell the difference blindfolded. OTOH, it's real easy to tell the difference between $5,000+ and $1,150. I was observing the fact that the Maurone wouldn't need to be as good as the Ref 54 to be a real sweet deal.
 

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The PB engraving actually looks pretty good too.....but does in come in silver!;)
 

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Please let us know what you think of the bari when it arrives, Phil. And yes, we really do care:) .
 

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Hey Al - please, puleeeeze don't take this as anything more than an innocent question to put things in perspective. I know you've been a pro for many years, play trumpet and very tasty piano. What I don't know is your saxophone background. Can you give just some generalities? Thanks.

Oh - and have you played a Mauriat and if so do you think yours and it are the same horns? I ask because what I've read about the Mauriats does not put them, tone-concept wise, in the same camp as the Ref 54s.
 

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Well, use your own judgement, I suppose. If I order one it will have to be in silver plate. Can you order some extra engraving?
 

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Phil Barone said:
What finish do you think (you) should get?
LOL! That's sneaky Phil.

... I think he should get one of each! :D
 
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