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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, hopefully someone can give me their opinion / advice. I currently own a Kessler Custom Standard tenor sax. It's the only sax I've ever owned or played. I'm now considering purchasing a Barone vintage tenor although I haven't actually tried one. My only reason for considering the purchase is to have a more professional sax, as mine is considered an intermediate level instrument. I do like my sax and bought it primarily for the price. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy learning the sax and didn't want to invest too much money into it in the event I gave it up. Now, after playing for a couple of years, I've decided to stick with it I'm trying to decide if it would be more beneficial to upgrade. That being said, I'll never play at a professional level so I don't know if it's actually worth the investment. I'd like to know if anyone's observed a quality difference, sound, etc. between the Kessler and Barone. If there's anyone that has owned or played both I'd really appreciate your input. Please stay on topic with your feedback as I'm not interested in looking into other brands or used instruments. I'm only considering a Barone at this time.
 

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Good luck convincing the Forum to stay on topic! It's like herding a bunch of very cool cats. To kick off the deluge of digressions, I've heard Barones are very nice horns indeed, but can you say why you're only interested in that particular brand?
 

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Mainly the price. I can justify a little over $2000 for a brand new, quality instrument and I prefer new versus used. At the level of playing I'll realistically achieve I don't want to spend more than that.
 

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To be brutally honest, you will see more improvement in your sound with lessons and additional practice. Guided and careful mouthpiece selection may also make a difference. You will know when your current instrument no longer meets your needs as a player. Until then, study, practice, and enjoy the saxophone.
 

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To be brutally honest, you will see more improvement in your sound with lessons and additional practice. Guided and careful mouthpiece selection may also make a difference. You will know when your current instrument no longer meets your needs as a player. Until then, study, practice, and enjoy the saxophone.
I appreciate your input but I'm not looking for brutal honesty. I'm looking for a comparison between the Kessler and Barone from someone who's familiar with both.
 

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I haven't played the Barone, but have played the Kessler horns. I believe that they are very similar. I don't have to play the Barone to know this as I have numerous Taiwan made saxophones. They are all similar. I believe the Kessler is made in Vietnam. However it is a Taiwan design. The Barone might be better quality. However you won't probably notice at your level.
 

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I haven't played the Barone, but have played the Kessler horns. I believe that they are very similar. I don't have to play the Barone to know this as I have numerous Taiwan made saxophones. They are all similar. I believe the Kessler is made in Vietnam. However it is a Taiwan design. The Barone might be better quality. However you won't probably notice at your level.
I love the Kessler horns, but the Barones are different beasts all together. Their keywork metal is far stiffer, and more ornamental. Barones are very similar to P. Mauriet, but their QC is a bit better, and Phil opted for a few clever ergonomic pearls that neither the Kessler nor PM have. Are they better players, and do they last longer than Kesslers? Well, it depends what you prefer. I have access to all three makes of straight soprano, and own a Kessler Custom while two friends own a PM and Barone. All three horns were bought at the same time, are used about as much as the others, and are holding up equally well. Personally, I'd try a Barone before making a move. Your Kessler is their most basic model, but they're extremely functional for the price. Actually, I've always been fond of their tenors.
 

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I would definitely recommend you go with the Phil Barone sax. I've tried Kessler (never owned one) but Barone is a step up in my opinion. I have a tenor and an alto and both are amazing horns. I had a collection of saxes, wasn't really ever completely happy with any of them, but cleared out my collection after getting these. The quality is excellent, the sound is clear and focused, and I just feel like I have an amazing amount of control dynamically through all the registers. Intonation is great and both are very free blowing. Sounds like it fits your budget too, that was a huge selling point for me when I was looking (I prefer new over used too, although I've had some vintage horns, thought of other people's spit just grosses me out :white: )
Thanks!
Kristy
 

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Personally, I would never discourage anyone from buying a saxophone. I've tried a lot of Asian horns and Phil's is a good one.

But if you want to upgrade, I think you really should try a Yanagisawa or Yamaha before you make the move. They hold their value much better. Since you are at the stage where you may get attracted by something else down the road (we call that GAS or gear acquisition syndrome), the Japanese saxes will likely retain more cash value than a Taiwan tenor.

I have a mint Yani 990 tenor and it's great. There are a few others around for sale for 3 grand or less. A good used Yamaha 62 or 52 are also attractively priced.

How's that, Zoot? Cool answer?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Personally, I would never discourage anyone from buying a saxophone. I've tried a lot of Asian horns and Phil's is a good one.

But if you want to upgrade, I think you really should try a Yanagisawa or Yamaha before you make the move. They hold their value much better. Since you are at the stage where you may get attracted by something else down the road (we call that GAS or gear acquisition syndrome), the Japanese saxes will likely retain more cash value than a Taiwan tenor.

I have a mint Yani 990 tenor and it's great. There are a few others around for sale for 3 grand or less. A good used Yamaha 62 or 52 are also attractively priced.

How's that, Zoot? Cool answer?
No Zoot, sorry, not a cool answer. I'm not interested if a sax will retain it's value because I'm not buying it for an investment. I'm also not interested in buying a used instrument. Additionally I don't want to spend $3000, that's why I specifically asked for comparisons between Kessler and Barone.
 

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My apologies but I wasn't asking what you thought of my response.

Phil puts out a fine sax.
 

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In in 2013, I purchased a new Kessler Custom Standard Tenor and it has been my primary gigging horn. I also own a Selmer Super Action 80 II tenor and a Trevor James Signature Custom tenor.

****WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCE AND OPINION????
 

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Discussion Starter #13
In in 2013, I purchased a new Kessler Custom Standard Tenor and it has been my primary gigging horn. I also own a Selmer Super Action 80 II tenor and a Trevor James Signature Custom tenor.

****WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO SHARE MY EXPERIENCE AND OPTION????
How are you liking the Kessler? Do you feel it was a good purchase for the price as compared to your other horns? I'm happy with mine and don't want to spend money unnecessarily only to find out that mine is just fine. I don't plan to ever have a collection of saxophones. Guitar is my primary instrument but I've always had an interest in learning the sax. My plan was to buy "just one" and keep it for good. Based on my guitar playing I know what it's like to have a collection of instruments and don't want to go down that road again with buying saxophones. I also know what it's like to have a good instrument versus an average one. Not trying to imply my Kessler is a bad instrument by any means. When I spoke with Dave Kessler he actually talked me out of buying his handmade ones which were basically double the price. In his opinion the one he sold me would fit my needs, so I went with his recommendation. I thought that was great of him considering he could have sold me a more expensive one if he was just trying to make a sale. Now that I've decided to stick with playing the sax I'm just curious if I should look into a higher level instrument or just be content with mine.
 

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Bobk56,

you have asked a question that is difficult for someone with a lot of experience to answer. There is only one way to find out if the Barone is a better horn.....play it. If it addresses your struggles, it is the horn you should purchase. It is of good quality. If you have already played the horn and the Barone works better for you, then I think you should have confidence that the Barone is going to be a solid purchase as it is a “pro” horn. However, selecting a horn is very personal thing. Just as many people will think the Barone is better as will think the Kessler is better.

With that said, I have 2 primary horns. One is a pro horn. One is a vintage horn that is considered a student horn. They are both good horns and they both have their benefits.......There is no doubt which has better tone quality in the low register (student horn - which gets dogged by many people who haven’t heard me play it), and there is no doubt which has better tone quality in the higher registers (pro-horn).

My son plays the trombone. He has a pro horn and an intermediate horn. Turns out, they are both needed for different situations. (If you want bright, take the intermediate horn. If you want smooth, take the pro-horn). It is not about which horn is better. Each addresses a specific musical need.

If you haven’t tried the Barone, then you might let people know some of the challenges you have with the Kessler to see if people think the set up of the Barone might help address your needs.
 

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I would recommend playing as many different horns as you can until you have a better idea of what you're REALLY looking for in a sax. Vintage horns may surprise you, and sometimes ugly old beasts are the sweetest players.
I wasted money (not much, thankfully) on a Taiwan sax that turned out to be the most beautiful dud, and then found (literally!) an ugly 60s horn that changed my life. You say you don't want to buy used, but you realize that that eliminates 98% of the good horns out there. We're not talking about used underpants here, a used horn is simply one that has been pre-loved by another. Give it a wipedown and take a chance.
My advice is this: remove your preconceived notions and try, try, try before you buy.
 

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How are you liking the Kessler? Do you feel it was a good purchase for the price as compared to your other horns? Guitar is my primary instrument but I've always had an interest in learning the sax. I thought that was great of him considering he could have sold me a more expensive one if he was just trying to make a sale.
Question#1: I'm in the medical field, so I only average 100 paid gigs each year and practice time. It has been a work horse, but I'm donating it to a local Elementary school..

Question#2 500 paid gigs, practice time, and I'm still able to donate an ok horn. Yes. It was a good purchase price.. It's similar to a 2013 Nissan Versa. It will get you there, but it will never be a Porsche..

Guitar is your primary instrument. Perhaps that explains your inability to gracefully extend any form of sincere gratitude to the SOTW community..

Mr. Kessler did not sell you the horn that was twice the price, because he knows it only offers 2.2% product upgrade.

This is a 35,0000.00 lesson. Yanagisawa, Yamaha, Selmer, and Trevor James offered about 3.2% upgrade or noticeable difference.

Closing note: After adding my third new modern Rolex to my collection, I asked myself an important question. If my Seiko Divers and German Pilot watches are damn wonderful, why do I need a luxury time piece??
 

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Phil's horn have received a lot of good press, I'm sure you would be pleased with it and $2,000 is not that much in the grand scheme of musical instruments. I bought my Kessler Custom Deluxe tenor in 2007. I'm an occasional, once, maybe twice a month weekend public duffer. It's held up very well over 11 years.

Quality wise, I've read that those who've had handled both, seem to agree the Barone horn looks and feels better made. Sound wise, that's a whole 'nuther subject, very subjective to the player. I've A/Bed my horn against 3-4 pretty nice vintage horns and half-a-dozen new horns. Using my Otto Link 6* STM and Rico 2.5 reeds, in a very large room at the annual Navy Sax Symposium. I sounded just like me. Very depressing cause I really was looking hard for an aural differnce. I did like the feel of this one horn owned by a shop's owner but it was a no-way/no-how for sale. But still, I expected bigger sonic differences but they just didn't materialize for me. The vintage horns were noticeably lighter than my Kessler and most of the new horns but from what I could hear, I would have had to go into an isolation room to discern any noticeable differences. So, just for me and in my personal direct experience, my purchase of the Kessler was a good decision. Your mileage, and of course others, may vary.

That being said, unless you have the $2K just burning a hole in your pocket and you have your heart set on buying another horn, another option, not mentioned in the OP or subsequent posts, is "just" changing your mouthpiece and reed setup. I've found that my Kessler can respond quite differently to changes in mpc setups. However, the bestest advice is to try and play as many horns as you can until one jumps out and grabs you. Until then, you have a very serviceable horn that you can play for quite a while! No need to be in a rush really.

Oh, and btw, which model Barone are you contemplating? He has two models with two different pedigrees he's attempting to emulate. The Classic is a Mark VI vibe, bit more focused tone? While the Vintage was advertised as more the American horns like the Old Conns and Kings, bit more spread in tone? (iirc, and that's a big "if").
 
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