Saxophone Forum


by haduran
(52 posts)
6 years ago

Three American Branded Asian Tenors.

Just musing over three similarly priced American branded Asian contenders for the semi-pro/pro saxophone market. I figure that Cannonball, Barone, and Goodson pretty much cover the spectrum of this genre. Cannonball (a “Vintage” model in this case) has the glitziest presentation and the highest street price (varies): fancy appearing faux period cases, pretty nice stock mouthpieces, little cleaning rags with embroidered Cannonball logo, neck pouches, certificates of keytouch stone origins, engraver certificate cards ETC. Decent, competent, glitz ridden horn. The quest to maintain that styling edge permeates the design. Heck- even the name is driven by the need to create image. The “semi precious stone” key touches are complemented by having every possible brace or guard shaped like a “C” (for Cannonball). Works fine for the bell to body brace- but as implemented in the keyguards it leads to an ironic quirk in the design. The felts to stop the opening of the bell and low C keys, rather than being centered over the cups are well off to the side edge of the cups- the fancy C design left nowhere to mount them. Unlikely that this repetitive offset force on the cups will have any real long term effect in practice but emblematic of the “style is King” school of design. Perfectly competent horn with a nicely fit mechanism and a nice unquirky sound. They appear to be a bit more likely than the other two to age less gracefully- sort of like the old American cars. As time goes by the chrome, plastic wood, ETC goes from “Oh wow” to “Oh my”. The Goodson’s (Steve Goodson model in this case) play great and have enough geegaws to sink the Bismarck. Many of these “features” appear to be features for features sake. The altissimo key- adding an additional touch by the LH thumb to activate a special pip on the neck- advertises well but in practice turns out to be hell to get used to and simply unneeded on a horn which does just fine in the altissimo all on its own. The additional hold down lever for the F# cup is on an arm which comes right off the same tubing as the cup arm itself. There’s no relative motion between the two. Either a double arm or leave it off…. The idea was good- but not applicable to this design- and left there anyway. Just so across the horn; features for features sake which are “got to have” on this model but seemingly no longer important on the next horse out of the Goodson stable. Appearance is superficially gussied up- with engraving all over the place. The engraving is more generic than the Cannonball’s and the keytouches are the metal cups themselves. On the other hand the horns fell really “solid”, play very, very well with very nicely laid out mechanisms underneath all the gimcracks, very nice Roo pads, and are marketed so that they start out with really high lists, are first sold at “comparable to Cannonball” end prices and then become available for about 60% of the Cannonballs. The Barone’s are in the middle of these two; competently made, play well, look quite nice- just competent horns. Nicely done “to Mr. Barone’s specs” but regardless the thing looks nice, has a good competent “pleasure to play” mechanism and comes across as a damned nice horn for the money. I like the Goodson’s- both because of the solid feel and …. I’m gadget oriented, second I’d take a Barone- a good competent horn which I believe you could play anywhere without concern. I own a Cannonball and find it a nice horn but there’s- as I said earlier- a lot of sizzle on what amounts to a perfectly average steak- very nice in many many regards but.

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  1. by saxxsymbol
    (217 posts)

    6 years ago

    Re: Three American Branded Asian Tenors.

    I have tried the barones alto and tenor and the Syeve Goodson alto and the Saxgourmet Alto and tenor. I can concur with Henry on what he says about the barones and the SG's. The Barones are a nice , servicable horn for the money. Great response over the full range of the horn, great intonation and good build quaility. A lot of horn for the money. Would make a great main axe for a pro player on a budget, a nice backup horn for others or a good horn for the aspiring student. The Steve Goodson alto is my main alto now for big band. It has the depth of tone, expressiveness, and playability that I really like. I don't know how much a difference the gimmick features make. I like the three ring strap and the no stick G# spring ( it can still stick after being stored in the case, but won't once you have freed it once), I like the adjustable stack keys and the bis adjustment. I really like his RH thumbrest. I don't use the altissimo key, this horn's altissimo is easier than any I have played before without it. I disabled the altissimo key to keep my thumb from hitting it accidently. I have never played a Steve Goodson tenor but I own a Saxgourmet, now discontinued, and believe it to be the finest tenor I have ever played. The only thing lacking , IMO , is the adjustable stack keys , no stick G# spring and bis adjustment. None of that affect how it plays. I think his newest model will have those features included. I initially had my horn set up and have not had to have anything done since. I have played exactly one new Cannonball a student had bought, terrible playing horn. I don't know which model it was but the student paid $ 2800 for it. He bought it new from a dealer in Miami. To the dealers credit he took it back and the student bought a black nickel JK SX 90 tenor. I say student, but this guy is dermatoligist who is taking up the sax. Just my two cents......

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    1. by chalazon
      (547 posts)

      5 years ago

      Re: Three American Branded Asian Tenors.

      you might want to try the Lady Godiva model by Cannonball..lovely instrument...

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      1. by haduran
        (52 posts)

        5 years ago

        Re: Three American Branded Asian Tenors.

        Best suited for a cappella or other exposed playing situations..... ought to come in bare brass as well! I personally opted for the Christleib model as the Godiva engraving struck my personal tastes as a bit hokey. Others may well differ.

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        1. by chalazon
          (547 posts)

          5 years ago

          Re: Three American Branded Asian Tenors.

          I've noticed a few people being put off by what they consider to be the excessive cosmetic adornment on the Cannonball horns..we all have our personal preferences...and there is a bit of an inconsistancy in the initial set up on a few of the horns..but, Selmer, too, has some bugs in their saxes..all in all I find the CB's to be solid and forward thinking..I prefer the sound of the Godiva to that of the Christlieb..but, it sounds great when Pete plays it..guess he likes it well enuff.

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        2. by haduran
          (52 posts)

          5 years ago

          Re: Three American Branded Asian Tenors.

          Actually- though I could be wrong- I believe that in theory the only difference twixt the Godiva and Christleib models is the engraving. There was, when I tried them pretty decent horn to horn variability in all the vintage horns though so it could easily seem that they were two different horns. All were pretty nicely made though and none were particular dogs.

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