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Post new topic Zirctone - New Production Zirconia Tonebars For Sale
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Author Topic:  Zirctone - New Production Zirconia Tonebars For Sale
M Horton Smith


From:
Utah, USA
Post  Posted 23 Apr 2021 11:27 am    
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Hello Friends,

New to the forum, and excited to introduce Zirctone bars. I play steel as a hobby and over the years have read through the various comment boards where players have expressed the desire for a true zirconia ceramic bar. I'm thrilled to offer you zirc bars in small batch, very high quality runs. First batch is qty. 7 and subsequent batches will be 10-25 with a 3-4 month lead time (depending on how well the first batch goes). These things are expensive and not easy to make. Once they're gone, they're gone, but I hope this model proves to be sustainable for longer runs down the road with shorter lead times.

For my day job, I work as quality manager in the design and production of engineered parts with ceramic materials for wear applications. I have trusted quality connections in the ceramic world so I decided to give this a try. I also know what quality and attention to details means to musicians. These require a lot of focus to get the material and polished surface right. This material has advantages over steel and other materials as follows: significantly less friction on the string, hardness makes for a superior and permanent mirror surface finish, ideal weight to size, toughness. If you've ever played with a zirc bar, you know how musical and enjoyable they are on the string.

Here's the specs on the first very small run of bars:

Material: Zr MgO white ceramic
Size: 7/8" Dia. X 3 3/8" L
Weight: approx. 6.2 to 6.5 oz
Finish: gloss mirror polish
Hardness: 1200 Vickers, 70 Rockwell C
Qty currently available: 7
Flat end offset for better slant grip
Cost: $150 + shipping
Add custom initials engraved above logo on end of the bar: $15
Comes with a high-quality embossed leather pouch

For questions or to order, contact me at: zirctone@gmail.com


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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 24 Apr 2021 6:10 am    
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This is good news.
My favorite bar is a zirc bar I bought some years ago.
Very Happy
Erv
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John McClung


From:
Olympia WA, USA
Post  Posted 24 Apr 2021 9:32 am    
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Following... interested in your end result.

Erv, what's the tonal and sustain difference between metal and zirconium bars? Difference between zirc and powder coated like my Hillman bars? Thanks for chiming in.
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Larry Dering

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 24 Apr 2021 4:33 pm    
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John, can't speak for Erv but I have an old Tribo-tone bar and a couple of Basil's Ezzz slide bars. They are instantly warm in my hands compared to stainless. The tone is slightly softer and friction seems nonexistent. I feel the Hillman powder coated bars i own are close in feel and tone. The zirc bars require some polishing to keep smooth. Something I was not aware of and it's a slow and annoying process with aluminum polish and a microfiber cloth, by hand only. Powder coated bars will wear in time and no mention of a polishing process. Don't drop any zirc or powder bar on a hard surface. I have 2 BJS and a slew of other makes on hand. I mostly use the zirc and the Hillman bars. Hope this helps.
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M Horton Smith


From:
Utah, USA
Post  Posted 24 Apr 2021 6:41 pm    
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I'm not really sure on the hardness of other zirc bars, but a quick note on hardness of Zirctone (Mohs scale):

Ordinary Steel 4 to 4.5
Glass 5 to 7
Zirctone Bar 8
Diamond 10

With this hardness, I expect the gloss surface finish on the tonebar to be extremely durable and very permanent.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA, USA
Post  Posted 24 Apr 2021 10:33 pm    
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Larry Dering wrote:
John, can't speak for Erv but I have an old Tribo-tone bar and a couple of Basil's Ezzz slide bars. They are instantly warm in my hands compared to stainless. The tone is slightly softer and friction seems nonexistent. I feel the Hillman powder coated bars i own are close in feel and tone. The zirc bars require some polishing to keep smooth. Something I was not aware of and it's a slow and annoying process with aluminum polish and a microfiber cloth, by hand only. Powder coated bars will wear in time and no mention of a polishing process. Don't drop any zirc or powder bar on a hard surface. I have 2 BJS and a slew of other makes on hand. I mostly use the zirc and the Hillman bars. Hope this helps.

Are the Tribo-tone and Ezzee-slide bars made of zirconia? I have an Ezzee-slide and doesn't feel or sound like the zirconia bars that Ed Packard used to make. The Packard is my main bar. I've been using it for many years - never scratched or needed polishing.
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David Ball


From:
North Carolina High Country
Post  Posted 25 Apr 2021 2:12 am    
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I have a couple of Tribo Tones and Ezzee slide bars, as well as one of Packard's zirc bars. The Tribo Tones and Ezzee slide bars aren't zirc--they're delrin or something close to it. They're all nice bars.

The zirc bar has the heft and sustain of a good metal bar, slightly different tone, but super smooth and quiet to use. Also not cold like a metal bar is. I'm glad to see someone bringing the zirc bar back!

Dave
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post  Posted 25 Apr 2021 5:18 am    
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I would say that the zirc bar has a somewhat mellower tone and it is extra smooth on the strings.
I really appreciate it in the cold MN temps., it feels a lot warmer when you pick it up.
I don't understand the polishing bit.
It is harder than a witch's heart! Whoa!
Erv
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Larry Dering

 

From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 25 Apr 2021 5:57 am    
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According to what I understand the Tribo-tone and Ezzee slide are a polymer compound. Maybe a Delrin is more accurate. The finish becomes hazy and not as smooth after extended use. I contacted Basil ahd was told to address with the aluminum metal polish and microfiber cloth. It's a slow process but I was warned not to use any high speed methods. I haven't dropped one so I can't confirm that hazzard. I really love the bars and I use them constantly. Now I play at least an hour or more daily, so they get a workout. Nickel strings on all my steels. I'm surprised Erv that you haven't needed to polish those bars. The power coated bars also become hazy but I have never polished them. If my phone will capture it, I will take and post a picture.
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David Ball


From:
North Carolina High Country
Post  Posted 25 Apr 2021 6:21 am    
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Yeah, the polymer bars get dull looking over time--of course Eric at Tribotone used to say they play better when they get that way (broken in). I've never polished mine, and they're pretty dull looking after years of use, but I've made a few myself and found them to be fairly easy to polish if you use the right compounds.

The zirc bars are so hard that I don't think they'll ever need to be polished out. The original polishing must be done with diamond grit of some sort I guess, since that's about all there is out there harder than the bar itself.

Dave
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Stu Schulman


From:
Ulster Park New Yawk
Post  Posted 26 Apr 2021 12:09 pm    
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I would be interested in a 15/16"diameter bar,That's the size that works for me.
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Steve Spitz

 

From:
New Orleans, LA, USA
Post  Posted 26 Apr 2021 3:20 pm    
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The Zirc bars show up as metal on the TSA XRay scanner. They definitely wanted to eyeball that.

Good to see someone making a zirc bar.
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M Horton Smith


From:
Utah, USA
Post  Posted 26 Apr 2021 4:44 pm    
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Stu,

Stay tuned, 15/16" is next on the horizon. I plan to hit the basics first. Then if all goes well, more diverse sizes after that.
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Stu Schulman


From:
Ulster Park New Yawk
Post  Posted 26 Apr 2021 11:42 pm    
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M Horton,I will wait until you give me the word!
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Desert Rose S-10 4+5,Desert Rose Keyless S-10 3+5... 8+5 Mullen G2D-10 8+5 Carter D-10 8+5,Blanton SD -10 any amp that isn't broken.Steel Seat.Com seats...Licking paint chips off of Chinese toys continously since



the mid 50's.Peavey Nashville Scott Swartz Z-pickup...112,and LTD ,Sho-Bud Bill Groner .Telonics volume pedal,and 206 pickups.
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b0b


From:
Cloverdale, CA, USA
Post  Posted 29 Apr 2021 5:46 pm    
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Stu Schulman wrote:
I would be interested in a 15/16"diameter bar,That's the size that works for me.

I've been using a 15/16" zirconia bar for a long time, but 7/8" seems to work better for bar slants on pedal steel. I received a Zirctone 2 days ago and it does not disappoint! It sounds the same as my trusted old 15/16" bar, but it's more comfortable in my hand. And yes, bar slants like this G diminished chord (on E9th) are easier to nail:
Tab:
1______________7_
2______________7_
3_____________/__
4____________/___
5___________6A___
6________________
7... etc.
Everyone's hands are different, though. Pedal steel is all about ergonomics, finding the right fit.
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M Horton Smith


From:
Utah, USA
Post  Posted 30 Apr 2021 7:38 am    
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Bob,

So glad you are enjoying the bar! Thank you for the kind words - couldn't be happier. Have fun with all the slants!
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Michael Luxem

 

From:
Northfield, Minnesota, USA
Post  Posted 1 May 2021 4:08 am    
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I am very pleased with the tone, feel, and performance of Mark Smith's new 7/8" Zirctone bar.

My immediate impression in using it was that the tone is remarkably cleaner and sharper than the 15/16" ceramic bar that has been my favorite for the past year. As Paul Franklin indicates in his Methods course, a 15/15" bar produces more vibrato-induced pitch variation than a 7/8" bar. Paul notes that, as such, many recording producers ask steel players (John Hughey have been the exception, of course) not to use a 15/16" bar.

The surface of Zirctone bar feels harder to me than that of my ceramic bar; if true, the increased hardness may be contributing to the more-precise tone I am hearing.

I agree with B0b that the bar is comfortable in the hand. What I appreciate most about the Zirctone is how easily it glides -- flies, actually -- across the strings.
Mark must have blended some magic into his batches of zirconium because moving the bar up and down the fretboard is almost effortless, bordering on supernatural. The Zirctone is a pure delight to use and is now, without question, my new fave.
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Carl Williams


From:
Oklahoma
Post  Posted 1 May 2021 10:29 am    
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Private Message sent Mark...Thanks, Carl
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M Horton Smith


From:
Utah, USA
Post  Posted 2 May 2021 9:25 am    
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Michael,
I'm so happy you love the bar! Thank you for the kind words. I put a lot of time and effort in getting the surface just right, glad to hear it makes all the difference.
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M Horton Smith


From:
Utah, USA
Post  Posted 3 May 2021 7:46 am    
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Quick update:

I've sold out of the first run and will move on to the second! I already have a good list of people on the second, so I think those will go fast as well. If you want to get on the list, shoot me an email and I will hold one for you.

zirctone@gmail.com
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Jon Light


From:
Saugerties, NY
Post  Posted 3 May 2021 8:12 am    
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I am interested in a 15/16" bar and will wait for that.
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Jerry Berger


From:
Meridian, Idaho USA
Post  Posted 3 May 2021 12:49 pm     Zirctone bar
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Mark,
Please put me on your list for a 15/16" diameter bar.
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Dustin Elmore

 

From:
Tennessee, USA
Post  Posted 4 May 2021 6:59 pm    
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I would like to be put on the list for a 15/16 too. Thanks.
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M Horton Smith


From:
Utah, USA
Post  Posted 5 May 2021 9:24 am    
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Thanks Jon, Jerry and Dustin. I'll put you on the 15/16 list!
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Morton Kellas

 

From:
Chazy, NY, Zephyrhills, Fl USA 1
Post  Posted 6 May 2021 5:45 am    
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Please put me on the list for a 15/16 bar, thank you!
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