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Thread: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

  1. #1

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    Default Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Hello, all,

    Let's get down to business! I'd greatly prefer this hypothetical bari to be in a lower price range (i.e., less than $3000), but if there's truly one of the more pricey baris that warrants shelling out even more cash, I'll happily save up for it.

    In theory, the bari I'd like would have a dark-yet-focused tone; great presence, but not overly bright in nature (yes, I know this is largely dependent on the mouthpiece, too). Good intonation would be nice, but if need be I'll adapt myself to the horn's quirks and irregularities if other aspects of the horn compensate for it, so it isn't that high of a priority.

    So far I've come to the conclusion that a vintage bari would be the best course of action for me, and I've heard many great things about The Martin and the Conn M12. How do the two compare, if I may ask?

    I apologize if anything I'm saying/asking seems absurd. I admit that in the grand scheme of things I know absolutely nothing... which, I suppose, is why I'm here in the first place. Many thanks in advance to whoever offers their help!

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    so you are fishing?

    well low A or not?

    budget?

    best wishes.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Low A, preferably. (Preferred) budget's up above.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    http://saxophone.com/baritones.aspx

    I'm extremely satisfied with mine. Great intonation and warm sound. Well built and they're about on par with a YBS-52. The mouthpiece that comes with it is a direct copy of a Yamaha 5C and is very dark and focused.
    Alto: Kolhert 450. Yamaha 4C, Rico Royal 3
    Bari: Saxophone.com Black nickel and gold keys, Yanagisawa metal 5, Rico Jazz Select 3S Unfiled

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    I've played and owned both. Used a JVW Meyer 5 with medium Fibracells on both. Here's my take:

    Pure sound: Conn 12M. Nothing like a 12M in full shout. You can get a LOT of volume out of a properly set up 12M. "The Martin" came close in terms of volume, but always sounded a little "sweeter" to me - a little bit less edge in general, a little rounder when playing softly. But for pure baritone sound with presence, you want the 12M. Of course you can mitigate this with the right mouthpiece setup.

    Ergonomics: The Martin. Very, very comfortable under the fingers and had great, quick key action...felt more like a tenor to me. I liked the key action on the 12M, but I got tendonitis in my right arm after using it for three months, and sadly enough, had to sell it, and that's when I switched to The Martin. The 12M I had (SN 270XXX, circa 1936) was sonically the greatest baritone I have EVER played...but the right-arm/right-hand angle never was comfortable for me (a Chu baritone I tried had the same issue), and when it got to the point where it hurt to play, I had to give up that horn. A repair guy I know suggested that he could move the thumb rest on the Conn to make the right-arm angle less acute, but I didn't want to monkey with the "original" equipment. Someone else said that even Gerry Mulligan would play with his RH thumb off the thumb rest for the same reason...I've only seen that mentioned once, so I dunno if it's really true. Your mileage may vary.

    Intonation: Conn 12M. Never had any problems with playing the 12M in tune at any volume level, although some will tell you those horns can be tricky. The Martin baritones have a weird intonation quirk in which D2-F2 are very, very sharp. I tried a couple of different methods for fiddling with the intonation and always had to humor those notes - and ONLY those notes. A few people have reported that certain mouthpieces mitigate this problem, but that solution never worked for me.

    Altissimo: Never have been able to play the super high stuff consistently on ANY baritone, and that includes the Vito VSP I play today. So that's an unknown to me.

    Low A: There is no such thing as a Conn 12M with a low A (the Conn 11M is a poor substitute with intonation problems), but there is the Martin Magna baritone with a low A. Good luck finding one in any condition for less than $3K - but some say they are absolutely worth the price.

    Other Stuff: The Martin saxophones have soldered tone holes, so that's a mechanical thing you really need to check out if you're looking at a Martin. Depending on the horn's age and the quality of the original solder work, that solder can crack, which gives you a hard-to-find leak problem.

    You might find a really good 12M for less than $3K. You will almost certainly find a really good The Martin for less than $3K, although the good ones are getting hard to find in general. Good luck!

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    And to pile on: I've played the Saxophone.Com baritone also, for about a year and a half before I got my Vito VSP. I got mine used when it was a year old, and almost all the really cheap original pads needed to be replaced. After the repad - Not a bad horn at all, good intonation (maybe a touch sharp in the palm keys), tonally a little on the bright side. The Meyer 5 that worked so well on the vintage horns sounded terrible on the .Com, so I used a JodyJazz 6 with the spoiler in. I got a lot of compliments from the guys in the big band when I played the .Com, and having a low A after not having a low A is lots of fun. It seemed to stay in adjustment pretty well - some of the knock-off horns like these have a bad rap for soft metal and getting out of whack really easily, but not mine. Little to no ability to hold its value for resale, though.

    I finally found a Vito VSP (Leblanc's rebranded Yani 901) and have been using it for about three years now. I don't need another baritone - this is it. Great ergonomics and intonation, flexible tone with the right setup, works well in all playing situations. Found mine in almost new condition as a rental return for $2500 at a local music chain and haven't looked back since. If you can find one of THESE, then grab it quickly, as Leblanc no longer sells 'em for cheap.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Vintage Buescher, Conn, King, or Martin. You can't get a sound like that out of a new horn. The intonation is superb - yes, suberb - but you must absolutely match the mouthpiece to the horn, or you will have sharp D2-F2 issues at the very least, and that means "chamber excavation". I just finished up a King Voll-Tru bari that on initial testing, had what seemed one of the worst E2's I've every heard. I put in a Benade pip, which helped some, but even with my stock HR Link 8, it wanted a fatter chamber. I put on a modified STM 8 with a reamed out chamber and side-walls, and everything lined up perfectly - well, as good as any saxophone could possibly be. Dreamy actually. One sound and even intonation from bottom to top, and when the mouthpiece matches, the tone gets even better.

    They want a fat, fat, fat chamber.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    You'll have a lot of options in that price range. Keep prioritizing your wants/needs until only a few horns are able to fill them. It's different for everyone.

    Low A vintage horns under $3k is already a pretty small subset...someone had a nice Couf Low A for sale here recently.
    "The key to improvising is being able to play and listen at the same time."

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMods View Post
    Vintage Buescher, Conn, King, or Martin. You can't get a sound like that out of a new horn. The intonation is superb - yes, suberb - but you must absolutely match the mouthpiece to the horn, or you will have sharp D2-F2 issues at the very least, and that means "chamber excavation".
    For my Martin, I have a large double chamber mouthpiece. And I experimented together with a local sax tech, to make a wax insert for in the upper bow. That helped a lot! E2 is great now, and F2 is only 20 cents off (which is easily corrected). Anyway, F1 is sharp too, so the next try is to put a crescent in the tone hole, to bring both F1 and F2 down.

    Getting the Martin to behave is a bit of a struggle, but it is definitely worth it!
    Grassi low A bari (1976) Meyer 9M / Martin "The Martin" tenor (1951), OL vintage Tone Edge #7
    Martin "Indiana" alto (1954), Meyer 6M / Buffet Crampon "Continentale" Bb clarinet (1972), Vandoren V360

  10. #10

    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    The D2-F2 sharpness was why I sold my "The Martin" bari - unbelievable sound but just way too much work (for me) to play in tune for big band section work. I have a Yani now that doesn't have as big a sound but is far easier to play in tune.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by jthole View Post
    For my Martin, I have a large double chamber mouthpiece. And I experimented together with a local sax tech, to make a wax insert for in the upper bow. That helped a lot! E2 is great now, and F2 is only 20 cents off (which is easily corrected). Anyway, F1 is sharp too, so the next try is to put a crescent in the tone hole, to bring both F1 and F2 down.

    Getting the Martin to behave is a bit of a struggle, but it is definitely worth it!
    Quote Originally Posted by KeithL View Post
    The D2-F2 sharpness was why I sold my "The Martin" bari - unbelievable sound but just way too much work (for me) to play in tune for big band section work. I have a Yani now that doesn't have as big a sound but is far easier to play in tune.
    Even Martin baritones function according to conical air column rules. If you follow the rules, the horn will play easily in tune. If you don't, there will be seemingly no end to problems. The mouthpiece MUST ABSOLUTELY and SIMULTANEOUSLY, suitably replace the missing cone in BOTH volume and played frequency. If it doesn't, there is no way the horn can play with stable, manageable intonation.

    I suspect that vintage American horns were designed with a larger truncation ratio - the body tube/neck length is shorter and the missing cone is longer and larger, than modern horns. The larger mouthpiece resonating chamber makes the vintage tone richer, more flexible, and the intonation, still stable but more variable. The increased flexibility means that any deviation from the ideal mouthpiece volume/played frequency, will result in increased irregularities in intonation, compared to modern horns, but when well matched the results are truly GREAT.

    The reduced truncation ratio of modern horns - the body tube/neck length is longer and the missing cone is shorter and smaller, makes the tone smaller, more focused and less flexible, and the intonation, more stable and inflexible, so deviations from the mouthpiece ideal will have much less effect - the horn will work with most mouthpieces with a characteristic sound and manageable intonation.

    Vintage horns need generally, a larger and shorter FAT/WIDE chamber for both the volume AND the played frequency to be right at the same position on the cork. A double chamber is not the same thing because it is too long. If you match the volume requirement by pulling out, it plays too flat in the upper register. If you push in to get the pitch right, the volume is too small and the lower middle register will be sharp.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMods View Post
    Vintage horns need generally, a larger and shorter FAT/WIDE chamber for both the volume AND the played frequency to be right at the same position on the cork. A double chamber is not the same thing because it is too long. If you match the volume requirement by pulling out, it plays too flat in the upper register. If you push in to get the pitch right, the volume is too small and the lower middle register will be sharp.
    Interesting. What mouthpiece would you recommend for a vintage (e.g. Conn or Martin) baritone, if not a double chamber? The double chamber mouthpiece that I currently play is the best one I have found; quite an improvement from modern Meyers and Link HR pieces. But what would be the best choice for such a sax, in your opinion?
    Grassi low A bari (1976) Meyer 9M / Martin "The Martin" tenor (1951), OL vintage Tone Edge #7
    Martin "Indiana" alto (1954), Meyer 6M / Buffet Crampon "Continentale" Bb clarinet (1972), Vandoren V360

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by jthole View Post
    Interesting. What mouthpiece would you recommend for a vintage (e.g. Conn or Martin) baritone, if not a double chamber? The double chamber mouthpiece that I currently play is the best one I have found; quite an improvement from modern Meyers and Link HR pieces. But what would be the best choice for such a sax, in your opinion?
    The thing is, the embouchure is a big part of the mouthpiece equation. A good firm embouchure will work as well as a good loose embouchure, but since no two players have exactly the same embouchure, it's impossible to find a stock mouthpiece that will work for everyone, and everyone's vintage horn, if one will work for any even. For the optimal solution, you are just going to have to get a large chambered mouthpiece with a facing that you are comfortable with, and adjust it to match you and your horn. That's the only way you will get a good solution.

    Don't change your embouchure. If it is good, and you are comfortable with it, you spent years developing it. Don't throw that all away. Just adjust the mouthpiece to compliment it.

    I'll post what I would do to a HR Link 8 later today.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Sorry, don't mean to interrupt people's train of thought here, but I forgot to ask about this earlier:

    I've noticed that Barone baris have been highly praised around here -- would one of these saxophones be what I've been looking for? And if so, how does it differ from (or match) its older counterparts?

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMods View Post
    For the optimal solution, you are just going to have to get a large chambered mouthpiece with a facing that you are comfortable with, and adjust it to match you and your horn. That's the only way you will get a good solution.
    The interesting thing is that a Selmer SA80 bari that I played had exactly the same problem. Maybe to a lesser degree than the Martin (before my adjustments), but the right hand is sharp in the 2nd register there as well. I haven't noticed this on modern bari's, like the YBS-32. However, they have a very different timbre.
    Grassi low A bari (1976) Meyer 9M / Martin "The Martin" tenor (1951), OL vintage Tone Edge #7
    Martin "Indiana" alto (1954), Meyer 6M / Buffet Crampon "Continentale" Bb clarinet (1972), Vandoren V360

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by TheIchthyologist View Post
    Sorry, don't mean to interrupt people's train of thought here, but I forgot to ask about this earlier:

    I've noticed that Barone baris have been highly praised around here -- would one of these saxophones be what I've been looking for? And if so, how does it differ from (or match) its older counterparts?
    I'm sure the Barone is as good as any modern horn. The difference between vintage and modern horns is, good vintage horns were designed for maximum tonal expressiveness. They are so flexible and variable, that they only really work well with a mouthpiece that is matched to them, and then, you still have to learn how to play them. The price for that sound and flexibility is, you must learn to control it. Modern horns are designed to be modern mouthpiece friendly and easy to control. The price you pay for that convenience, is a certain amount of tonal character and flexibility. That's an easy price to pay if you just want a nice, ballsy, characteristic sounding Low A bari, but, if you want unlimited expression, you've got to go vintage, match the mouthpiece, and then learn to play it.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by jthole View Post
    The interesting thing is that a Selmer SA80 bari that I played had exactly the same problem. Maybe to a lesser degree than the Martin (before my adjustments), but the right hand is sharp in the 2nd register there as well. I haven't noticed this on modern bari's, like the YBS-32. However, they have a very different timbre.
    The YBS-32 will have a smaller truncation ratio - the part that is cut off is shorter, so the mouthpiece that replaces it need not be so big, also, because the mouthpiece volume then is a smaller % of the total volume of the horn, variations in mouthpiece size and shape will have less of an adverse effect upon the horn's intonation as compared to the SA80. The price one must pay for that stability, is a loss of tonal richness and flexibility. If you put an even smaller mouthpiece on the Yamaha, it would eventually display the same problems as the vintage horns and the SA80.

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMods View Post
    TI'll post what I would do to a HR Link 8 later today.
    http://www.martinmods.com/mouthpiecematching.html

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithL View Post
    The D2-F2 sharpness was why I sold my "The Martin" bari - unbelievable sound but just way too much work (for me) to play in tune for big band section work.
    That was my eventual reason for parting with my martin baritone.

    Quote Originally Posted by jthole View Post
    Interesting. What mouthpiece would you recommend for a vintage (e.g. Conn or Martin) baritone,
    I've had many vintage baris, I found that the same mouthpiece didn't work best on all of them, a Lawton worked well on my Selmer (MKVI), but was hopeless on a Conn12M, on which I found an HR Link was in tune. On my Martin the Link was the best, but still not in tune. I would have started to try and find a different mouthpiece or do some work on the horn I loved t so much, but in the end I succumbed to a modern bari with a big vintage sound, especially as I also needed a low A for recording work.

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMods View Post
    The difference between vintage and modern horns is, good vintage horns were designed for maximum tonal expressiveness. They are so flexible and variable, that they only really work well with a mouthpiece that is matched to them, and then, you still have to learn how to play them.
    I don't think this is necessarily true, part of the reason I bought my bauhaus was because of the expressiveness, though I think most of that has to come from the player obviously. But it's true, although a saxophone doesn't do the "expressiveness: for you, some horns have a narrower tonal range, or else wimp out when you start to play them harder (that's what I found with my MKVI)

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    Default Re: Yet Another "Which Baritone?" Topic

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    On my Martin the Link was the best, but still not in tune. I would have started to try and find a different mouthpiece or do some work on the horn I loved t so much, but in the end I succumbed to a modern bari with a big vintage sound, especially as I also needed a low A for recording work.........part of the reason I bought my bauhaus was because of the expressiveness, though I think most of that has to come from the player obviously. But it's true, although a saxophone doesn't do the "expressiveness: for you, some horns have a narrower tonal range, or else wimp out when you start to play them harder (that's what I found with my MKVI)
    I think your BW bari sounds great - like a very good low A bari. It's not a Conn or a Martin though. They have a different sound and a bit broader tonal pallet I think. We'll see how the Low A conversions stack up here in a minute. I submit that since you never adjusted a mouthpiece to match your Martin, you never really witnessed it's full potential.

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