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Building a Better Bari……

15 Jul

BUILDING A BETTER BARI! As many of you know, I consider myself first and foremost a bari player. I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica with a baritone sax, and at one time or another have owned an example or two of all the major brands. I’ve also designed and overseen the production of several baritone saxes from the ground up, all of which have my name on the bell. I’ve always believed we could do better, and I’m currently working on a new bari design to accomplish just that! Unfortunately, the baritone sax has always been treated like the “red headed step child” of the saxophone family, primarily because it sells in very low numbers relative to the more popular alto, tenor, and soprano. Manufacturers just have not devoted the time and resources necessary to whip the bari into submission. That my friends, is a situation I plan to correct. First, I made a list of the most commonly heard complaints about the baritone sax. Of course, some of these complaints are heard about all the members of the saxophone family, and some are bari-specific. It is always important to recognize and identify the problems before you attempt to find a solution. In the last couple of bari designs bearing my name, we learned a great deal about the importance of getting the taper of the “upper pigtail” just right. I believe this is the single biggest failing of most bari manufacturers: they just don’t do the math, and even if they do, they don’t make proper allowances for the twists and turns on the upper portion of a baritone sax. This failure often leads to intonation problems (particularly in the upper octave) and some response issues. If you’ll carefully look at the pigtail of one of my recent designs, you will easily see that the tubing is of a different diameter and taper than you will find on other brands. You will also notice that the intonation is substantially better. That’s the reason. I’ve also noticed that the very highest notes of the baritone, from around B3 up, tend to lack a full voice and sound quite thin and constricted. We’re currently experimenting with speaker keys such as we use on our Super 400 alto and tenor saxophones to remedy this problem, and so far the results have been promising! We know from our previous experience that metallurgy is an important and often overlooked part of saxophone design. We have learned that the use of ultra high copper content alloys, AKA “Rose Brass” greatly enlarges the spectrum of harmonics the horn produces without making the tone excessively dark, and we will use this variety of brass to be sure our bari has a very full voice. In the past, we have utilized special air tight resonators made for us by MusicMedic, and once again, we will be mounting these very, very large solid copper resonators on extra firm black kangaroo leather Saxgourmet pads. Player comfort is a significant issue with a large horn like the baritone, so we will be including our extra large right hand thumb rest which supports the entire thumb, including the last digit. A three ring strap hook, offset from the centerline of the body, will be used to accommodate players of different physical size. The keywork geometry we have settled on is similar in feel to the Yamaha 62, which we find to be very smooth and comfortable. We’ll incorporate a few other features found on the Super 400 alto and tenor we currently build, including our never stick G# mechanism and F# helper bar. Alas, the mechanism necessary to add a high G key is too complex to be reliable on a bari, IMHO. Finally, we want to make this horn as beautiful as all the others in the Saxgourmet line of saxophones, so we will offer it only in our bright copper plate to give it that “new penny” look, and I promise that it will be hand engraved on the bell, bell flare, bow, body tube, neck, and all key cups, plus anywhere else I can find a blank space! We’ll also use deep water abalone pearls for the key touches. Now there are quite a few other secrets I’ve got up my sleeve to make the Saxgourmet Super 400 baritone sax the absolute greatest bari of all time, but just like Colonel Sanders wouldn’t tell you what the eleven herbs and spices were, I’m not going to let you know it all! We’re still experimenting and prototyping this new model, so if you have some suggestions let me know. Look for it sometime next year. No, I don’t know the price yet. I do promise to keep you posted though, and when we have a prototype that is not ugly, I may even post some pictures!

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