Thanks Dawson! Great review. Detailed and well thought out. Thank you!This is a review of a Phil Barone Vintage model tenor sax in vintage bare brass finish. It came well boxed and packed and came within a very reasonable time. I was pleasantly surprised to see when I opened the box to see that the case was a kick ***** compact flight case that is also very protective and sturdy. It also came with a neck strap, polishing cloth and a strap to carry the case plus a Phil Barone hard rubber mouthpiece. I didn't use the mouthpiece for this review.
Packing and case - 4 stars
The Finish- The finish is exactly what I expoected. It's bare brass but's been treated to make it look older than it is. It's consistent from top to bottom and the engraving stands out beautifully. I imagine that it will get darker with time but I really don't know. Phil offers a lot of finishes so if you don't like this one there's plenty of others to choose from.
Ergonomics - The Vintage has fantastic ergonomics, better than most other horn I've ever played and I've had a few. The keys are extremely responsive, firm, and sharp. Not to heavy not to light, just perfect. The palm keys are in a great position although I have very large hands so for me personally the E/Eb key could be a little higher but that's true of all horns for me otherwise the left hand stack is in a great position and extremely well balanced. Side keys, also well placed and it has a great feel to them.
Sound - Now this horn sounds incredible, just incredible. What a huge surprise to me as I didnt really know what to expect; This sound blows me away, and at the moment I am so taken by the sound, its very centred, and responsive, and big as in wide, and big as in focused, and big as in projection. In one word it is huge when I want it to be but can also play softly and it can be very subtle. Everyone who has heard me on it says how much better I sound on it.
Play-ability - Phil told me that he sets them up before he ships them and he wasn't kidding because this one played straight out of the box, from top to bottom. Palm keys speak effortlessly right up to top F#. There are no notes that need special attention apart from the usual suspects on all tenors. Save for those, they all play with an equal timbre and response. And it's just a pleasure to play. It speaks naturally and effortlessly.
Playability - 4 Stars
Intonation - The intonation on this horn is flawless as much as a sax can be. I can play all over the registers without having to adjust my embouchure very much if at all. Tremendous confidence in terms of playing in tune.
Price-It cost me $1,980 which is about a third less than a P Mauriat and I imagine that's because Phil only sells direct to the public and not to music stores.
Overview-The horn is just amazing and the price just can't be beat. I've owned a Selmer Mark VI for a long time, a P. Mauriat and a SA 80 Serie II for years and currently a Serie III Selmer and I have been playing for over 23 years, so I've been around.
This horn would be hard to beat, especially at its price point. In fact I would put this horn p against any horn on the market old or new - Its that good.
Originally meant as a back up horn, this horn is now a keeper.