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Saxophones Is cannonball a good saxophone company?

TenorLeaf.

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I have been looking at new saxophones for when I get older and advance more, and I stumbled across cannonball. They seem like a good company, and I love the customization options available. Is this a good company to look into for the future?
 

Ivan

Undecided
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7,073
I have been looking at new saxophones for when I get older and advance more, and I stumbled across cannonball. They seem like a good company, and I love the customization options available. Is this a good company to look into for the future?
Ask @jbtsax who is knowledgeable
 

Halfers

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I'd consider Cannonball in the future, but their Marketing approach, is 'interesting' as they don't seem to like to publish their prices, or allow Stores that stock their products to show their products on their websites (correct me if I'm wrong). It seems that Sax.Co.UK stock Cannonball, but don't currently show their products on their website (correct me if I'm wrong :) ).

Reviews seem to be really good and I'd place Steve's opinion high on my list if and when I next shop around, but they don't seem to want to go down the normal route of publicising (correct me if I'm wrong :p).
 

davidk

Paints With Notes
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345
I've had my tenor Vintage Reborn model since 2011, and haven't had any problems with it. I tried models in both of their professional series; the Big Bell Stone Series and the Vintage Reborn. I felt that the Stone Series was livelier and the Vintage Reborn was richer, but both models felt to me to be of high quality. The key work feels great under my larger than average hands. From my point of view, they are an excellent company.

Halfers - Cannonball's UK distributor is Dawkes Music: Woodwind & Brass Instrument Specialists | Dawkes Music. If you send them an email, they'll let you know where your nearest dealer is.
 

jbtsax

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Let me start with an admission of bias. I live 40 miles from Cannonball headquarters in Utah where I visit frequently. I know the owners and several of the folks who work for Cannonball, and they are highly skilled musicians, and really nice people.

I started my repair apprenticeship in the music store that was the very first Cannonball dealer, and as such I worked on every model from the very start. The earliest ones played very well, but the company in Taiwan was still at the beginning of the "learning curve" in manufacturing so there were some typical issues with key fitting, soft keys, quality control, etc.

Each new model's design and build quality got better and better starting with the Royal Crown series in 1996 through the Knight models in 1998, and through the later Knight series in 2000. By the time the Big Bell Global Series was introduced in 2001 they were getting it "right" in terms of the areas previously mentioned. The Big Bell Stone Series starting in 2005 was their "flagship" model which continues through the present. Because my saxophone repair shop is in the middle of "Cannonball Country" most of the saxes I work on are Cannonballs, I can vouch from first hand experience how well they play and hold up over time.

All of their saxophones after the long journey from Taiwan have the corks holding the keys closed removed and then allowed a period of time for the materials to settle. Next each instrument goes through an assembly line made up of regulation specialists who check and adjust pad seating and regulation changes that may have occurred during shipping. Somewhere during this stage the stones are added to the key touches, and the instrument is hand engraved.

Finally, each of the pro models are play tested by professional level players including the company president Tevis Laukat and "acoustically customized" using a proprietary technique which involves making small changes to the interior geometry of the neck. I have listened first hand to the before and after demonstrations of the sound as a result of this process and it is the "real deal".

The bottom line after all that is that my (admittingly biased) answer is "Yes, Cannonball is a good saxophone company". One of the things I like as a repair tech is the availability of parts for all models in all finishes---something that cannot be said for all makes of Taiwanese saxes on the market.

This is a link where you can learn more about the Cannonball Company
 

Halfers

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But why are they so coy on the Sales and pricing front? I don't really understand why a Company would go down that route. Doesn't come across as very open.
 

Stephen Howard

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But why are they so coy on the Sales and pricing front? I don't really understand why a Company would go down that route. Doesn't come across as very open.
It's a curious policy, and yet it clearly must be working for them else they'd have abandoned it years ago.
My impression of them, after having chatted to them at Frankfurt, is that there's a very 'family-oriented' feel to the company - and maybe they feel their unique approach to selling sets them apart from the usual cut-and-thrust of commerce.
 

Halfers

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It's a curious policy, and yet it clearly must be working for them else they'd have abandoned it years ago.
My impression of them, after having chatted to them at Frankfurt, is that there's a very 'family-oriented' feel to the company - and maybe they feel their unique approach to selling sets them apart from the usual cut-and-thrust of commerce.
Ahh, so they're going for that anti-marketing Dollar. Very smart! (with a nod to Bill Hicks, on the way) ;)
 

jbtsax

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This is copied from the Q and A section of their website and provides a description of their sales philosophy.

Why doesn't Cannonball let their dealers sell over the web?

We believe it is invaluable to have brick-and-mortar music stores in the community. They can provide service, quality repair and information, as well as lesson opportunities, learning centers, and community programs. It’s very important that our customers are happy with the horn not only when they purchase it but for years ahead, and that they can feel confident about the music store in their community who will provide the service they deserve.

Cannonball supports the local music store selling in the local community because it has been our experience that musicians have been happier when they can play-test and choose the exact instrument which best fits their needs. The music store will be able to give you professional assistance where needed. Every acoustic musical instrument has its own personality. In listening to thousands of musicians, we have noticed that each player sounds different on each instrument according to his/her embouchure, set-up, and approach. Just because one player sounds the best on one certain model of saxophone or finish, for example, doesn’t mean that every player will sound the best on that exact instrument. We believe our customers should be able to choose the best horn for them by actually visiting the store.
 

Halfers

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1,709
This is copied from the Q and A section of their website and provides a description of their sales philosophy.
Thanks for that, John. Makes a bit of sense. One area that is still a little uncertain from that is the pricing of horns. I know that they come under the umbrella of 'decent value' but it's very difficult to find out how the horns are priced. I can get a very good idea of whether I'm getting a good deal on one of the top name horns, or more widely advertised saxophones, because it's very easy to do a bit of research to find out what sort of price I'd be paying for a particular horn. Not easy to do that with a Cannonball, especially as it's reasonably hard to work out who sells them in the local vicinity.

I hear that Dawkes and Sax.co.uk sell them in the UK. I guess the answer is to do a bit of ringing to get some idea of prices, so I'm not getting down on Cannonball in any way, especially as their reputation seems to be pretty good. As Steve mentions above, it's the way they do things and it seems to work for them. I'm just not sure if I would be looking at a 2 Grand Horn or a 5 Grand horn with their range?
 

Guenne

Senior Member
Messages
941
Hi,
I had a Vintage Reborn Mad Meg (this is the unlaquered one) last year.
I must say I never felt good playing it, although people said it sounded good (and mates also using Cannonballs are very happy with their horns).
The horn came with uneven springs - the right hand was much stronger.
Normally I love to work a bit, but with that key height it didn't feel responsive or "snappy".
The biggest problem for me was that I never could feel the center of the tone, it sounded big, but somewhat wishy-washy. Maybe this was just my personal problem, at that time I mainly played an SBA and BA.
I had the horn serviced by different technicians (spring adjustments, key heights etc.), but in the end I was very happy to sell it.
We all know that Cannonball is not a "company", it's a Taiwanese horn branded with the name.
Nothing bad (Lupifaro, Ishimori, Forestone are just branded Taiwanese horns), but considered the price IMHO there should be more. But maybe I was just unlucky.

Cheers, Guenne
 
Last edited:
Messages
73
I have been looking at new saxophones for when I get older and advance more, and I stumbled across cannonball. They seem like a good company, and I love the customization options available. Is this a good company to look into for the future?
@TenorLeaf. I do hope you'll take the chance to put your mouthpiece on some Cannonball saxes. You can contact the good folks at Dawkes and they'll point you to the store nearest you where you can play the horns in person. And I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

We at Cannonball are a team of musicians who are passionate about making the best instruments out there. As an introduction, here's a recent song we recorded with me on bari, Tevis (President of Cannonball) on tenor, Randal (he and I do the final setup and acoustical customization on all our saxes) on alto, and one of our artists on lead alto:

@Guenne it is a common misconception that you voiced and I'll be glad to help clear it up. We started building our Cannonball factory in Taiwan some 25 years ago from almost nothing. Unlike other brands who put their name on a horn made for many other brands, Cannonballs are made in the Cannonball factory and the Cannonball factory only makes Cannonballs.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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12,600
Some of the people all of the time... and all that.

You can blow a horn that feels good and yet not like it. I don't think you can get more personal than a saxophone.
 
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