Frequently Asked Questions – With answers by Phil Barone
Q: What are the differences between Classic and Vintage model Saxophones?
The Vintage model has a larger bore so the sound is broader, a little darker and warmer. Phil Barone Vintage saxophones have double arms on low B, Bb, and C notes for easier fingering while performing. Most other manufacturers only have the double arm construction on low B and C. Since the bore is larger, the Vintage model also has a larger bell with extra engraving on the topside of the bell.
A Classic saxophone has smaller bore and therefore a more focused sound (which might remind some veteran players of a Selmer Mark VI.) and is a little brighter with more overtones. It’s a better choice if you're going to play Rock' Roll. The Classic doesn't have the double arms or the extra engraving inside the bell. Classic saxophones are common school band instruments only because they cost a little less than a Vintage. Classic saxophones are slightly lighter that a Vintage as well, about 7 ounces.
So which should you choose? Much of that depends on what kind of mouthpiece you're going to be using. If you use a very bright mouthpiece I suggest getting a Vintage model because combining a bright mouthpiece with the brighter Classic model sax might result in the sound being too bright, but some people like this. If you use a dark mouthpiece and want a balance of highs and lows than I suggest that you buy a Classic model unless you want a very, very dark sound. A dark sound is very popular these days. You can buy a brighter mouthpiece if you want to brighten up your sound. And if you buy a Classic you can always buy a darker mouthpiece to darken up the sound.
Need a little more help choosing the right horn and mouthpiece? Ask your band director or instructor, or drop me a line or give me a call. I’d be happy to help you find the perfect sax and mouthpiece combination for the way you want to play.
Q: Does the finish on a saxophone make a difference in sound?
A: I’ve done extensive research on this. Years ago, I stripped all the lacquer off of a saxophone expecting that it would liven up the sound. But nothing happened. Since then I’ve made mouthpieces from eight different materials including black ebony, stainless steel, and sterling silver and when they have the same internal dimensions they play exactly the same, even the wood mouthpieces. I’ve done a lot of research since then and it's pretty conclusive that the material doesn't matter. If the solid material doesn't matter, then neither does the finish. The sax just doesn't vibrate enough to influence its sound.
Q: Why are your saxophones so inexpensive?
A: When you buy a Phil Barone saxophone, you're buying directly from the designer and manufacturer of an exclusive line of student and professional saxophones; my line. I do not operate a traditional store, and I work directly with every customer. It sounds cliché, but it’s true – there’s no "middle man” and no store overhead to pay. With a Phil Barone Saxophone, you avoid the 40 to 50% markup that retail stores typically apply to their sticker price. It truly thrills me to be able to offer professional level instruments that even students can afford.
Q: How did you come up with the idea of a contoured case?
I remember how it was to carry a big, bulky sax case around school. It wasn’t much fun. An easy to carry, cool-looking contoured case seemed like a no-brainer. They fit easier in most lockers as well—better than any of the other brands with those bulky conventional cases. By the way, the contoured case is included in the price you see for every Phil Barone Saxophone.
Q: When did you start making mouthpieces?
A: Years ago. It was a hobby at first. Then I got pretty good at it. Some of the world’s best professional players started to ask me for them, and still do. Today, I hand-finish mouthpieces anybody can play—even students. Each comes with your choice of tip openings. Normally these mouthpieces cost between $200 and $300. But, like the contoured case, two hand-finished metal or hard rubber mouthpieces plus a custom neck (also worth about $300) are included in the price you see for the saxophone.
Q: Do your saxophones come with any accessories?
A: Yes: In addition to your choice of one hand-finished mouthpiece, each sax includes a neck strap and a polishing cloth. The alto and tenor saxophones also come with a fantastic, contoured case very similar to the high-end cases that sell for up to $300. The cases are light and come with a shoulder strap; you can carry it on your shoulder with ease. The case is compact enough to fit in the overhead compartment of an airplane or in a school locker.
Baritone saxophone cases include two handles and wheels for easy rolling and control.
Q: What's the difference between the hard rubber mouthpieces that you sell on your site and the mouthpiece that comes with the saxophone?
A: None, they're the exact same hand-finished mouthpieces that I sell and have been selling individually for many years. I individually hand-finish each then play-test them as if I was making it for myself or John Coltrane. When I make a mouthpiece for you, YOU are my priority, you and nobody else.
Q: Can you make a mouthpiece that will help me sound like one of my favorite players?
A: No mouthpiece can make you sound like someone else. I make mouthpieces that’ll help you sound like the player you want to be, with your personal sound.
Q: What the difference between a stock saxophone neck and one of your necks?
A: Necks on older saxophones tend to cause the sound to get thin in the upper register. They also contribute to the upper register playing out of tune.
My necks fatten the whole register up, but especially the upper register. And they make older saxophones easier to play, and play in tune.
Q: I have a newer saxophone. Should I buy one of your necks?
A: Newer saxophones shouldn’t need another neck. In most cases, it’s the older saxophones that will need an upgrade to a Phil Barone Neck.
Q: Does the finish make a difference on a neck?
Like saxophones, there's no difference between, for example, a gold-plated neck and a silver-plated neck, or even a solid copper neck. They sound and play the same. Two necks may sound different, but it's not because of the finish, it's because their dimensions are different.
Q: Do you ship worldwide?
Yes, we'll ship any of our saxophones anywhere in the world.
Q: Do you back your saxophones with a guarantee?
A: Absolutely. If you are not satisfied just send it back within two weeks, pay for the shipping, and you'll get a full refund. It's that simple. Honestly, though—a returned Phil Barone Saxophone is a rare thing.
Q: How can I cancel (or change) an order before it has shipped?
A: Please call me (Phil Barone) or send me an email to change an order before the product ships. No fees or penalties will be incurred. I will normally ship with 24 to 48 hours of order.