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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
After a lot of emailing with Phil Barone, and a ton of helpful communication with Barone owners on the forum, I took the plunge on a Vintage Tenor a few weeks ago. What I got was a great sounding sax that is pretty well set-up right out of the box as far as intonation goes through the full range. Huge rich and full sound in all registers...Beautiful!

Except for the octave mechanism (I think) being a little out of whack, there are no noticeable leaks. At first, the neck vent wasn't opening enough (buzzing airy sound on ^A), fixed that. It looks exactly the same as the mechanism on my Cannonball BBSS, but the body octave vent doesn't seem to open enough on the Barone...

Immediately evident are the incredibly high (to me) key heights, and some clumsy linking when fingering lines that involve changes in octave vents (all intervals, not just G/ G# <-> A), and jumps from D through F# up to G# in either octave (slow lifting of G# key when right fingers come up)...No the G# pad is not sticking. I fixed the mechanism to keep low C# closed while fingering B/Bb.

At first I thought this clumsiness was just me not being used to the increase in key heights, so I played the Barone exclusively for a week...Same issues, so I am inclined to believe it isn't me. I can't get to my tech until I get back home to Maine in May, so I have a lot of time to think about it.

Okay, here are my questions:

1. Barone owners: Did any of you have these issues? From the reviews, it seems everyone else got a perfect horn right out of the box?

2. Will a good set-up from my tech fix the slow linkage issues? (I assume the answer is yes).

3. My main question: How much will lowering the key heights change the sound and response of the horn?

I am afraid that a lot of the big, ballsy (for lack of a better word) sound is coming from the wide open set-up. I think (correct me if I'm wrong), that this is also why I tune with the mouthpiece way out on the cork on the Barone. Held side to side, the necks are identical in size/ length and the corks are the same size. On my Cannonball I am pushed in to only leave about 1/4" of cork. Even with the Cannonball neck on the Barone horn, the mouthpiece placement is way out.

My Cannonball is slick and incredibly easy to play (coming from others who have played it too), and the sound is equally huge (I know a lot of that is me), but just different. In buying the Barone, I was thinking to use one as my main horn, and have the other as a back up. This would make the difference in key heights a non-issue, just something to adjust to on the rare occasion I play the back up, but they both sound so great and different that I want to be able to pick the sax depending on what I am playing. That would mean making the key heights more in line with those on my Cannonball.

Any thoughts and opinions are welcome, Thank you.

If this should have been posted in the repair/ tech area, I am sorry. Could you please move it for me?
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I understand if people don't want to share their personal experiences with their Barone saxes, but do any of you techs out there have an answer to question 3? It doesn't have to relate solely to this sax. It could be on any horn, as I assume it wouldn't matter if we were talking about a no-name Chinese $200 alto, or a $8000 mint condition vintage Selmer VI...the result would be the same.

How much will lowering the key heights change the sound and response of the horn?
 

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I've seen very few Barone horns, all of them killer horns BTW. I have reduced the key height on one tenor as per customer request. The horn's voice didn't suffered at all, and it got a little bit easier on the customer's hands. I could play it as is, but he was accustomed to significantly less key height. As far as slow mechanisms, I guess that perhaps disassembling the mechanism, cleaning it with pipe cleaners (smoking pipe cleaners) and zippo fluid or something like that and check for binding, then lubricating with a good quality key oil (Ultimax med viscosity from Music Medic) should do the trick.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Juan, Thank you for the response. I am pretty convinced that the octave mechanism needs some looking at, but I think the delayed action between G# and the right-hand keys will be fixed with a regular set-up/ playing adjustment. The thing I was most worried about was "closing" the sound by having the key heights lowered a little...I really need to invest in a basic of repair book like the Stephen Howard manual. Not that I am inclined to do much myself, but just to answer some questions and give me an idea what is happening when some of the more common things come up.
 

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First of all let me say that I love my Barone Classic tenor. But there was a lot of play in the mechanism, which has required a fair bit of swedging by my tech to correct. The mechanism is a bit noisy, but the horn sounds great, and plays beautifully.

I don't think any key height adjustment was necessary.
 

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I have 4 Barones, and all them have played out of the Box. I have had my tech do a few small things to them (felts and corks) and that is pretty much it. I havent really noticed the key heights being overly high but that could be a personal thing.
 

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I have small hands and mentioned in my initial review (Classic) 3+ years ago that the ergos on these horns were not great for folks with smaller hands. Coming from a Yamaha YTS-875 Custom my Barone Classic felt "bigger" in almost all regards. The key heights are higher and the reach, especially to the left-hand pinky table, is also longer. That being said, I have not lower them and for the most part I've gotten used to the feel of the horn as it just sounds better than my Yamaha.

The only issues I've had are the neck being a little loose (it needs to be expanded slightly but I keep forgetting to ask my tech to do it) and the G# pad sticking occasionally. Otherwise, once adjusted the horn seems to hold an adjustment fairly well.
 

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When i got my Barone Vintage tenor a little over a year ago it played perfectly with no issues at all and not having played many tenors everything seemed fine......until i got my Selmer reference 54 tenor which just shows how high the key heights are on the Barone, i can get around much quicker on the Selmer so may have the key heights lowered on the Barone to match the selmer, but other than that i cant fault it!
 

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Got the Barone vintage Alto recently and couldn't be happier.

I have a Cannonball tenor and moving between the two is no issue. If I do have elevated key heights on the alto probably the size variation between tenor and alto disguises that element of the alto's layout.

GPD
 

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I just received my Phil Barone Vintage tenor today, and while its absolutely beautiful and when it sounds full, it has a great tone, it still has a few problems with it. The D and the E notes don't sound very good, can't seem to get a full sound out of them. Also the low C-key and the Eb key seem to be very slow at going back to their original places after being pressed and the D-key seem to give underneath pressure (the part where the finger goes on bends out of shape when I press down). Lastly, when I play the high A, the air coming out of the neck makes alot of noise.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just received my Phil Barone Vintage tenor today, and while its absolutely beautiful and when it sounds full, it has a great tone, it still has a few problems with it. The D and the E notes don't sound very good, can't seem to get a full sound out of them. Also the low C-key and the Eb key seem to be very slow at going back to their original places after being pressed and the D-key seem to give underneath pressure (the part where the finger goes on bends out of shape when I press down). Lastly, when I play the high A, the air coming out of the neck makes alot of noise.
I don't know about the D key "giving" under pressure, but all the other things seem like easy fixes with a good set-up. Mine is at the tech shop right now getting a couple tone holes leveled, the octave mechanism re-worked, bell straightened (was set up initially with a bent bell...I imagine this is from the factory). There is also a few leaks and a fair amount of play in some of the rods that are being taken care of as well.

I love the sound of the horn, otherwise I would have returned it within the week allowed, or sold it already. The neck that came with it was the neck I liked least on the horn. Don't get me wrong, it is a great neck, and it sounded wonderful on my friends Selmer Series ii...But It really opened up with the Saxgourmet neck (though bright), and all of my Cannonball necks (regular and fat/ underslung). They both added a depth to the sound that wasn't evident with the supplied neck. I sold the neck and mouthpiece, and that will cover the cost of repairs and a really great set-up. When the sax is ready, we (tech and I) are going to experiment with the key heights to make them a little better for me.

Good luck with your Vintage! For the price, the sound and quality are about as good as you can get.
 

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Just a word of caution about judging the spring tension on the low C with the sax laying on its side. In this position the spring is working against the full weight of the key due to gravity. Since no one actually plays with the sax in this horizontal condition, some techs like to adjust the spring as light as possible so that the key opens fully without bouncing with the sax in the vertical position to make it easier on the RH pinky.

If the Eb key is slow to close, it may be a friction issue caused by a bent key, or poorly fitted pivot screws. The best way to check this is to unhook the spring and see if the key moves freely on its own. A spring that is too stiff on this key not only overworks the finger, but creates a seat in the pad that is too deep.

Some brands of imported Taiwan saxophones are gone through with a fine tooth comb by experienced techs before being shipped to the customer to catch and fix the types of issues with brand new instruments that have been described in this thread. Those companies that don't provide this quality check can often sell for less because of their lower overhead. A discriminating customer ends up paying for the repairs and adjustments either way.
 

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My Barone Classic took some damage to the left pinky cluster bracket during shipping. My tech was able to fix it in about 10mins and that included a few minor adjustments for leaks. Key height is higher than my Yamaha YTS-62 but about in line with my H.Couf SuperbaI. Does not seem to slow me down at all. All other mechinisms work just fine with no issues. The tech I use even commented that the setup was pretty good out of the box despite the shipping damage, including the neck fitment. I'm packed with gigs this month so I'm taking it back in for a final adjustment in July after I put some serious playing time on the Classic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hello everyone! Just got my Barone Vintage Tenor back from my tech today and thought I would update, as a lot of people have emailed and asked questions.

So now my tech has done his work:

Octave mechanism fixed (sluggish before),
Five tone holes leveled,
Several burrs removed from tone holes (a lot of places had more than one),
Most of the pads removed and a sufficient amount of adhesive applied to float them properly,
Bell straightened,
Lightened the spring tension a bit,
Playing regulation.

I also had him expand the tenon of my Cannonball Fatneck (my neck of choice on this horn) just a hair...It fit fine before, I just like my necks a little snug. As for the key heights; We were ready to play with that today, but getting it into really good playing adjustment and fixing all the issues above solved that problem. The key heights are still higher than I am used to, but the set up fixed all of the clumsy timing issues between the stacks and the LH pinky cluster.

It will now (when pushed) sufficiently blow the doors off any medium sized room with any one of my Saxscape (Delrin) mouthpieces with enough edge to be noticed, but not too bright and buzzy. It can also play whisper soft top to bottom with no effort at all...Very huge round sound with a great core. I feel just as good playing on a sweet and vocal ballad as I do on a hard driving funk or rock song...The sound just goes where I want it to.

I got it back home at about noon today and didn't set it down until almost six!

Thank you for the great horn Phil. Thank you to the SotW members who communicated with me through email and private messages to help me make the decision, talk about repair work and just talk saxophone. :cheers::glasses7::headbang::cheers:
 

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Hello everyone! Just got my Barone Vintage Tenor back from my tech today and thought I would update, as a lot of people have emailed and asked questions.

So now my tech has done his work:

Octave mechanism fixed (sluggish before),
Five tone holes leveled,
Several burrs removed from tone holes (a lot of places had more than one),
Most of the pads removed and a sufficient amount of adhesive applied to float them properly,
Bell straightened,
Lightened the spring tension a bit,
Playing regulation.

I also had him expand the tenon of my Cannonball Fatneck (my neck of choice on this horn) just a hair...It fit fine before, I just like my necks a little snug. As for the key heights; We were ready to play with that today, but getting it into really good playing adjustment and fixing all the issues above solved that problem. The key heights are still higher than I am used to, but the set up fixed all of the clumsy timing issues between the stacks and the LH pinky cluster.

It will now (when pushed) sufficiently blow the doors off any medium sized room with any one of my Saxscape (Delrin) mouthpieces with enough edge to be noticed, but not too bright and buzzy. It can also play whisper soft top to bottom with no effort at all...Very huge round sound with a great core. I feel just as good playing on a sweet and vocal ballad as I do on a hard driving funk or rock song...The sound just goes where I want it to.

I got it back home at about noon today and didn't set it down until almost six!

Thank you for the great horn Phil. Thank you to the SotW members who communicated with me through email and private messages to help me make the decision, talk about repair work and just talk saxophone. :cheers::glasses7::headbang::cheers:
Wow. what a great post. You're very welcome and thank you! Phil
 

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That sure seems like alot of repairs for a brand new horn, or am I missing something?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
That sure seems like alot of repairs for a brand new horn, or am I missing something?
Honestly, no.

I was working in Texas when I bought the horn, and it was in playable condition when I got it. Yes, the octave mechanism was sluggish, some of the key work was a little clumsy, and I could tell there was a leak somewhere in the low end, but it was playable and sounding really good. The last month before I came home to Maine I used it for lessons and even a couple of gigs.

I took it to two repair shops in Texas to talk about the octave mechanism, and obviously both said they could fix it. One guy played around with the octave mechanism for a minute and said it would be an hour of labor and he didn't know when he could get to it. I didn't want to leave it indefinitely because I didn't have another tenor with me, and I was returning home in a month. The other guy I took it to looked over the horn for a good while, gave it a quick play, and said it was sounding good as is, so why mess with it. I decided to wait until I got home.

My old tech (yes, I said old) is a two hour drive from home, so I decided to go on the advice of a couple of great local players and try someone new who lives a lot closer...Very glad I did. My second day in Maine I was off to see Joe Kingston (Kingston Winds) with my Barone Vintage Tenor and my Maxtone sx63 Alto.

I don't know much about the whole repair process, but with my old guy and others I've used in a pinch I would just make a list of issues, get a claim ticket and wait for an email or call with suggested remedies and an estimate. I sat there for almost an hour and a half with Joe while he went over both horns top to bottom. Of course I told him of my Texas experience, and he said yes, a lot of people would pick up this horn (the tenor), fix the octave mechanism, take the big leak out of the low B and send you on your way with a good playing horn.

Joe took the time to SHOW me everything he found...Even the smallest micro leak. He said the tone hole leveling was minimal compared to most horns he sees (yes, even Selmers new AND old), but in his mind a necessary thing. Yes, the pads could have been floated to compensate for it, but I would be in the shop a lot more often. Better to start with optimal conditions and go from there in my mind. I would rather pay a little extra for a great set up versus saving a few bucks by putting band-aids on and never fixing the problem.

His impression of the build and overall quality: On par with any top line modern sax he has seen...Did not limit that statement to include only top Taiwan horns, but also those from Selmer, Yamaha, et cetera...

My alto (Maxtone sx63 Taiwan) is now in excellent playing condition as well. It was bought new, and again, sounding a good but blowing through some leaks...Quality control was far worse on this one, as many of the tone holes needed work, and the tenon receiver was leaky! Of course, for what I paid for the horn ($179!!!), I expected there to be issues.

I don't know what the cost would have been if I had the work done on two separate bills. I just paid for them together. Joe guessed that he spent more than 3/4 of the time on the alto, so I guess the tenor cost about $100...It did take a little longer than anticipated, so he has offered to fix an issue that we found on my Cannonball tenor free of charge. I have been playing the Cannonball for six years, and always develop a leak in the low D key. I have been taking it to my old tech (mostly, but once to someone else) who has been just re-seating the pad...Long story short: the top of the tone hole is like a wave! Even to the naked eye. We looked at it with the leak light, and it looks like this ~

Phil's prices are easy to see online, so I don't mind saying that I paid $1775 for the horn. The mouthpiece and neck were great, but not for me so I sold them (-$325), add $100 for a killing set up. That is a net cost of $1550 for a great tenor that I love!

I guess I COULD have paid $700 more for a new Cannonball or $1400 more for a new P Mauriat that would have been set up before I left the shop...

Oh, did I forget to mention that my alto has now cost a total of $479 after the set up!!! Joe was shocked when I told him how little I paid for it.

A little over two grand for two great playing horns AND a new tech that is incredibly thorough...I WIN!!!!!!!
 

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That sure seems like alot of repairs for a brand new horn, or am I missing something?
Yes, I found all this quite surprising. And the need to change the neck to open up the sound, too. But all's well that ends well. Thanks for the honest report, swperry1.
 

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I have tried a few lower price tenors during the past year, no high end horns though as I was looking for a "backup". Most of the older "vintage" ones seem kludgy on the LH Pinky compared to my Super 20. The newer horns seem very "klinky/klackety" in the key work in general. Like they are sloppily made from low quality metal and poorly fitted. The feel of an old Cleveland tenor was way better in this respect, but suffered from the same LH pinky issue. Of course I have not tried any of the new "pro" level horns as I do not have the extra mad money to spare. My Super 20 is built like a tank in it's sturdiness and the key work is way lighter and quicker than anything else I have played, including 2 different MKVI back in the late 60's.

I was considering one of the Barone horns but am afraid it would feel like all the other new mid priced saxes out there. I wish there was a place close by to try some out. I would not mind driving 2-3 hours to do a comparison.

After perusing over these forums for almost a year now, it seems as if I just need to get another Super 20 if I want a backup. Maybe find one needing a complete overhaul and save up to get it done.
 
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