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Reviews A baritone sax review

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,620
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Betelgeuse
I’ve recently acquired a new low A bari to replace my venerable Buescher 400, which has gone to its new owner (enjoy it, Maree, it rocks). The one I got? Bauhaus Walstein. So, given that I already own one BW sax, a curly sop, and the interest in them here, I thought I’d pen a short review.

The sax had originally been bought from Woodwind and Brass. The new owner had never played it, due to its weight, so I bought it, essentially new, for £600 off the list price. :w00t:

Initial impressions are really good. The case is the size of a coffin, with loads of cubby holes, but manageable due to having wheels. The sax itself looks beautiful, with the bronze body and brass keys. I haven’t tried the supplied mouthpiece, as if the one I got with the sop is anything to go by, it’ll only be useful as a door wedge.

Looking at it in a bit more detail, things are not quite so good. The soldering looks very much like it has been done by several different people, with various degrees of skill. No real problems, just a bit inconsistent. Some of the rod guides are very badly finished off – sharp enough to nick my mid 40s leathery biker hands. They’d undoubtedly have cut the kids' fingers quite badly if they'd touched them. Filed ‘em down to the state they should have been done at the factory.

Usual BW problem of sticky pads. In this case, the worst affected is one of the three octave pads. There’s quite a lot of slop in the mechanism, so if the pad sticks, it won’t open at all. Lighter fluid time.

Key guards are a bit flimsy, but adequate. Bell brace is pretty chunky. Top bow brace flimsy, just folded flat brass, but the Buescher survived for forty years or so without one at all, so probably not a big deal.

So, after a few (minor) tweaks, ready to have a play. On goes the superb Runyon Smoothbore and a RJS 3S reed. From the outset, it shows itself to be a great sax. Miles better ergonomics than the old Buescher, although it’s a fair bit heavier. I can rattle up and down the range at a fair lick. Tone? Not so much bark as the Buescher, a smooth and rich tone. The amazing thing about it is its complete consistency right through the range. The tone at the top is the same as at the bottom, only higher. I know that sounds a bit daft, but lots of saxes have a different sort of tone in different registers. Not this one. Low A booms out, or whispers, if you want it to. I don’t want it to, I didn’t buy a bari to whisper. Gordon Bennett, it even makes altissimo a breeze. Altissimo on a bari? Strange concept, but it can do it (or to be more precise, I can do it on this sax) if needed. The Mrs F came into the room while I was playing. She’s not really very interested in saxes, but even she commented on how nice it sounded. High praise indeed.

So, the overall quality of manufacture is not as high as I might expect from a Yanagisawa (and get, I know as I have two Yanis), but the BW is less than half the price of the cheapest bronze Yani. For the money, the quality of the finish is OK. For the money, the quality of the playing experience is outstanding. Simply amazing.

JonF
 
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Moz

Senior Member
Messages
841
Location
North of Liskeard, Cornwall,UK
It's strange really when it comes to soldering and the fact that on your bari it's not as good as a Yani. I mean, let's face it, the post needs soldering anyway so why is the job not done as well, it doesn't cost any more to do a good soldering job than a bad soldering job. Do these people deliberately do a crap job just because the sax is going to be cheaper? Odd.

Martin
 
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jonf

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,620
Location
Betelgeuse
Ya Shoulda got a Cannonball!
I don't think so. Cannonball saxes are not really available here. They were imported a few years ago but I haven't seen any sign of them for a while now. And if they were, I would guess their UK price would be a lot more than I paid for my BW.
 
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jonf

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,620
Location
Betelgeuse
I should have also mentioned in the original post the quality of the engraving. It's really pretty good, neat, consistent and tasteful. Up there in quality with the Japanese companies, and miles better than Mauriat. Makes a very nice looking sax.

Been playing it a lot over the weekend. One thing that really stands out playing it is just how free blowing it is. Really, really easy to blow. Lovely.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
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22,002
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Just north of Munich
Interesting review. I can see you're not disappointed. I'm a little surpised at some of the quality issues you've found. But it seems like a good buy. Trouble is, it'd cost me a marriage, so I think not. Apparantly my music teacher was chatting to my wife a few weeks ago, saying I needed a baritone..... Her response was to the effect that I should learn to play the tenor properly before doing that.. I guess the door's not locked permanently, but it won't open for a long time. Not unless an Ebay bargain finds it's way to our house....
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,423
Location
Sweden
Interesting review. I can see you're not disappointed. I'm a little surpised at some of the quality issues you've found. But it seems like a good buy. Trouble is, it'd cost me a marriage, so I think not. Apparantly my music teacher was chatting to my wife a few weeks ago, saying I needed a baritone..... Her response was to the effect that I should learn to play the tenor properly before doing that.. I guess the door's not locked permanently, but it won't open for a long time. Not unless an Ebay bargain finds it's way to our house....
...... maybe a Dolnet bari to low B. I played the bari the other week. Needs new pads and corks and a proper setup (keyheights ..). Otherwise a nice bari. No damages, straight body. It's a std bari with nickelplated keys and laq body. With original case. I fI remeber right the owner mentioned somthing like 7000 s e k ( c £ 590.00). Maybe it's still for sale???

Thomas
 
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jonf

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,620
Location
Betelgeuse
...... maybe a Dolnet bari to low B. I played the bari the other week. Needs new pads and corks and a proper setup (keyheights ..). Otherwise a nice bari. No damages, straight body. It's a std bari with nickelplated keys and laq body. With original case. I fI remeber right the owner mentioned somthing like 7000 s e k ( c £ 590.00). Maybe it's still for sale???

Thomas
Sounds nice, Thomas. The thing is, though, with shipping, pads, set-up, etc, that's a £1,000 horn. And £1,000 is very often the wifely threshold for shrieking out 'how much!'
 
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jonf

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,620
Location
Betelgeuse
Not unless an Ebay bargain finds it's way to our house....
Now if you'd kept your eyes peeled my old one could have been winging its way to Germany. ;}Although I was perfectly happy with what it went for, I think the buyer got a lot of sax for her money.

I'd have even slipped in some choccies to help placate your wife.:)))
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,423
Location
Sweden
Sounds nice, Thomas. The thing is, though, with shipping, pads, set-up, etc, that's a £1,000 horn. And £1,000 is very often the wifely threshold for shrieking out 'how much!'

Yes, it will probably be £ 1000.00 sax if you send the sax to a woodwind tech. But I f you do it yourselves it I think it's a £ 750.00 sax!!!! A pad like Ferree's B44 (or simular) and standard springs ..... keep the cost down. They are ok if you do the job yourselves. Maybe I will buy the sax and put it out for sale at "Yardsales". The price will include sax, airfare to Sweden, pads + springs, cork, felt... , help to do padwork in my "saxhouse", ...... Rockgig/concert and Rocksax workshop!! A real saxophone weekend! You have to pay extra for the sax back to England on airline companies like Norwegian, Cimber (Sterling).... .

Thomas
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
22,002
Location
Just north of Munich
Sorry, but even 5-600 is a non-starter at the moment. And already was when I posted earlier, so thanks Thom, but not at the moment, tempted as I may be. Maybe next year if I don't have to cough up for a cello then.

And having said that, my wife went for a guitar lesson today, which she'd arranged specificly to address a few problems she was having. She found out the reason was her 35 year old guitar, not her playing. Sounds lovely played quietly, but dies when you push it or move up the neck towards the body. Guess what I'm going to be buying for her birthday... It'll cost more than a new BW bari - but it'll be worth every penny if it helps her playing. She needs another instrument, I only want one. And at her level it has to be a good one. I might even sell the Kohlert to help raise the cash.
 
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