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Saxophones Theo Wanne 'Mantra' tenor sax?

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Just wondered, has anyone been lucky enough to try one of these or buy one?! £3400 is out of my league but it looks a bloomin' amazingly gorgeous sax and I love the new crook concept which has the octave key 'isolated from the neck tube' and incorporates the use of ball bearings to activate this. Apparently it gives the sax that much more resonance and freedom, and I guess it would do if there was less weight were it's not necessarily required. Does anyone know where they are manufactured?
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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12,125
There is something that puts me off about it.... I don't know what. Probably the mystic approach.

Yesterday I forgot to ask them about it (I am excited by my new tenor) but next week I will definitely ask to try it.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,628
Got one in the shop- reminds me a bit of an old King Silversonic- big (nay- huge) sounding and very powerful indeed

 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
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12,125
Great review. Thank you.
What about the subtleties of sound that get lost on youtube? Is there margin for developing a sound?
 

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Thanks everyone for your replies and the video posted. It does have a great contemporary sound. I know Taiwan produce some good quality horns but I'm unsure I would want to pay that kind of money for a horn made there? I'm not being a snob at all but the profit mark up must be huge on these as I bet it doesn't cost that much to produce :)
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
Thanks everyone for your replies and the video posted. It does have a great contemporary sound. I know Taiwan produce some good quality horns but I'm unsure I would want to pay that kind of money for a horn made there? I'm not being a snob at all but the profit mark up must be huge on these as I bet it doesn't cost that much to produce :)
I have mixed feelings about the idea: "would I pay so much money for a horn made in Taiwan? ".........why?

Because their mark up is very considerable indeed (yes it is) .......but so is the mark up by Apple products, made in China and most High Street Designer Clothes made in Asia with Egyptian cotton (or yes made in Italy...... but with Chinese workers working there, legal or illegal, working for far less than what the law really allows because they work in sub contractor’s sweat shops with hardly any control on them......) , not to speak of all manners of sneakers and trainers all made in Asia paying a pittance to the makers compared to what they are then sold to us in our western shops.

I went twice on holiday to Tunisia (probably questionable too) where the average monthly salary is 250€ , no wonder the largest Benetton factory outside of Italy is there!

I don’t know why it would be more or less moral to by a horn made in Taiwan and paid there at a fraction of what it costs here as opposed to buy almost anything else that we use daily and that includes fresh local food which supermarkets sell at an incredible mark up compared to the money paid to producers who are barely making the money they have spent to make it.

Last year there was a Dutch farmer who was giving away his onions (no need for jokes :) ) as a form of protest because he only got 1ct a Kg from the supermarket while the onions were 1€ (100 times as much) in the Supermarket that bought them from him!



My problem with that is that there is not a clear stamp on the horn saying “ Made in Taiwan” which I believe it should have to be fair to the people who make the damn thing.


Having said this there are plenty of people who are having horns made in Taiwan and are ever so difficult about admitting it:

Brancher, Aizen, Ishimori, all very expensive horns none of which is stamped “ Made in Taiwan"

What bugs me about the Mantra is their Vibrational “ Mantra”, have you read it?



“ THE MANTRA SAXOPHONE

The MANTRA saxophone is the most advanced saxophone available, using the highest technology in the industry and integrating over 30 innovations and features.

Mantra: A sound, or group of sounds, that leads the speaker to freedom.

The MANTRA neck is a quantum leap forward in neck design! Besides its completely new taper and shape, the brace and octave key are fully isolated from the neck tube. The neck is totally free to resonate. Furthermore, the octave key rides on cartridge ball bearings completely isolating it from the neck tube and brace.

The bell-to-body brace has four fully captured points of contact with the body. It is far stronger than a traditional brace while allowing for previously unheard of vibrational freedom.

The low C and B/Bb key-guard felts are in-line with the key arms. The key cups do not twist like on other saxophones, or dampen vibration by having extra arms soldered to the key cup.

The reticulated finish, which is also inside the saxophone, creates a boundary layer of air like the dimpled surface of a golf ball or like sharkskin does with water. As a result, the airstream travels freer through the saxophone!

Continuing his tradition of making the world’s best products, along with more than 30 innovations and features, the MANTRA is the most amazing sounding saxophone ever made. Join the Theo Wanne Revolution!.........."


I’ve rarely heard of more than 30 improvements on a saxophone which were mostly cosmetic or at best mechanical and pretended to have a massive impact on sound by means of pseudo scientific assertions to be as void of any significance ..........Vibration galore of this sax.........what the hell is it? .........what should it do to the sax? Nobody knows....... but they tell you that is very important. To tell the truth they are not the only one, almost anybody in sax world talks of resonance and body vibration but nobody explains why this should be significant.


The reticulated finish is another of these idiocies masked as truth.

Yes a non smooth surface can have an impact on the speed with which the item in question travels through the air or through the water. A smooth golf ball or a smooth boat is slower because the medium in which they travel literally adheres to the object but this is a different situation. Anyway, one would imagine this to have been measured and being tested why do we only get “......The reticulated finish, which is also inside the saxophone, creates a boundary layer of air like the dimpled surface of a golf ball or like sharkskin does with water. As a result, the airstream travels freer through the saxophone!.....” instead of the learned theorical explaination of why this would be effective, let alone of being of any consequence to the sound of a saxophone..........




Very disappointing indeed!
 
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rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
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4,383
Thanks everyone for your replies and the video posted. It does have a great contemporary sound.
Intriguing sax and a good video.

I find it hard to know much about the horn's sound because the clip is just one player with one mouthpiece (wonder which ?), playing in a contemporary style with fairly low-fi sound recording. If he played some other horns for comparison with everything else held the same, we might be able to distinguish this horn's own sound characetristics (but probably not).

I would be interested to play one. Maybe a trip down to sax.co.uk is required.

Rhys
 
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C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
I think the m/p he was playing on is the one that is supplied with the horn, so a precision cut metal one - it looks smart but you have a point about comparing it to other sounds and the quality of recording.
 

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Hi Milandro, you have a very fair point here. I would like to think that the factory workers who produce such a lovely instrument would be paid a decent salary. And, yes I have an iPhone, and trainers and many other things that I quite often don't stop to think about and perhaps I should because I guess it's no different with bigger objects such as saxophone and cars that are manufactured in the far east. We take too much for granted sometimes
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
I have many contacts with Taiwanese saxophone makers. I know exactly how much many brands known in the west cost there and for how much they are sold here, but that is not necessarily the “ problem”. One needs a certain amount of money to live decently over there and probably saxophone builders pay more than most to their workforce.

Of course in the west a similar living standard requires a lot more of money and let’s not forget that they pay very little taxes over there and we pay considerably more taxes over here (and this dichotomy is also true of the USA and any European state).

Overhead costs in London (for example) and western wages are also paid with the premium that one pays for this product.

But the point that should be made is that if a saxophone is made in Taiwan should be labelled as such. I am co-operating with a Taiwanese maker who marks his saxophones with “ Made with pride in Taiwan” but the western buyers always ask NOT to put any stamp on the horn to determine where it is made.
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
What bugs me about the Mantra is their Vibrational “ Mantra”, have you read it?
I love this kind of pseudo-science.

The MANTRA neck is a quantum leap forward in neck design! Besides its completely new taper and shape, the brace and octave key are fully isolated from the neck tube. The neck is totally free to resonate. Furthermore, the octave key rides on cartridge ball bearings completely isolating it from the neck tube and brace.
"quantum leap" is one of my favourites. A quantum leap is the smallest non-zero change which is physically possible. Is that really what they mean?

And, if it's all the same to you, I'd rather my saxophone neck didn't resonate too much. I'd like to keep my teeth. I'll leave the resonating to the air inside the neck, which I don't imagine is very interested in how the octave key bearings work.

The bell-to-body brace has four fully captured points of contact with the body. It is far stronger than a traditional brace while allowing for previously unheard of vibrational freedom.
And how exactly does an extra point of contact allow for more vibration, assuming I even wanted it in the first place which I don't?

Etc, etc...

Very disappointing indeed!
But quite good fun!
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,125
Disclaimer: I am endorsing a Taiwan made horn, in a different price range.

I am still curious about Wanne's horns, despite not liking the pseudo-science marketing: they are either good or not.

About the price: making 100 horns is much more expensive than making 1000. If a design is good is worth paying for it, if they decide to focus on quality.

About Taiwan: it is cheaper to have parts made next door rather than thousands miles away. Italian designer's glasses are a good example. My personal endorsee brings German brass and Italian pads to Taiwan, to have his original design there.

About the price range: If they want to compete with the big 4 in the same price range, they must be really good.

About the quantum leap: Thank you Big Martin.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,355
Well, there's nothng like mentioning the words "Theo Wanne" to stir up debate on a saxophone forum - at least it's not as bad here as on Sax On The Web where folks can get quite hot under the collar..

Personally I don't see what he's done wrong to get everyone so worked up, nobody complained when he ran Mouthpiece Heaven and sold refaced and vintage mouthpieces, but as soon as he set up in business to make his own products, the controversy started.
Sure his stuff is expensive (so are Selmer, Guardala, Brendan Tibbs, Johannes Gerber etc) and the marketing hype on his website is a bit laughable - nowhere near as amusing as Yanagisawa's brochures - "From the moment that we feel the instrument respond to an endless longing to be held, it retains both an attraction and an ingrained skill" or as cosmic as Phil Tone -"From stark empty space emerges definition and awe as music emerges from still air", but advertising is always a bit preposterous, isn't it?

Does anyone really believe that Lynx deodorant will make you irresistable to women, or eating Special K will make you slim?

What really counts is whether the product is any good or not. Theo Wanne could've just had some generic asian instruments stamped with his logo and sold those at a much cheaper price, but he's spent a lot of time and effort and money to make a product that he thinks is better.
I assume that part of the £3400 price tag is down to him having to borrow money and the lender wanting their slice of the pie. I took a look at one of the videos on his website of his workshop in America and spotted at least 3 CNC milling machines that I'm told cost about 30-40 grand apiece. Then there's the cost of shipping the USA made parts to Taiwan where they've had to tool up to make the non generic body tubes etc and then shipping the finished saxes back to America for the final setup, then exporting them to this country and the customs charges and VAT - it all adds up. Wages have gone up in asia in recent years, cheap labour ain't cheap anymore.
An extra dollar on the manufacturing costs can end up being an extra 20 or 30 dollars on the retail price.

Of course it's not going to be 3 times better than a Yamaha YTS 280, but neither is any other £3000+ sax

I've no idea whether it says "made in Taiwan using some parts made in USA and pads made from Australian kangaroo leather" on these instruments. My next door neighbour's Toyota doesn't say made in Derbyshire on it, but it's still a nice car.

I don't care if it's called "Mantra" and not some bland model number like XYZ-R #007/S, what matters is does it play well and in tune and is it solidly built from good quality brass and will it stand up to being gigged a lot and not go all loose and rattly like my friend's Mauriat did after 4 years of heavy use?

Investing that amount of money in an instrument is a big commitment and it's got to be fit for purpose as well as look pretty with nice engraving.
Quality control is a tricky business, ask any production engineer. So far I've seen few complaints about the quality of Mr Wanne's mouthpieces, even if they're not to everyone's taste, so I hope the saxes are as good. Running a small manufacturing business is a difficult task, particularly in the middle of a recession.
Good luck to him if he can sell saxes for that amount of dosh and stay in business, as long as his customers are happy with what they've bought. There's people earning a living doing far worse things than selling musical instruments.

In the unlikely event that I'll ever have that kind of money to spend on a sax, I'll buy another vintage Martin and keep the change, but I might be tempted to have a go on some shiny new saxes, just to see if I'm missing out on something.
Who knows, these things might actually be worth it.

Phew!!! I just had a look at the prices of new tenors on sax.co.uk and had a bit of a shock.. it's not just the Mantra that's expensive.. I think I need a lie down
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
In the majority of the countries in the world there are laws which make it compulsory to indicate where any product comes from and in the same countries there is a plethora of methods to avoid that . I am for calling a spade a spade and say it is a Taiwanese spade.
 

MMM

Senior Member
Messages
914
Just my thoughts:
any instrument which brings this many "enhancements" (which may, may not do anything!) should be given some recognition, there has been a lot of thought put into all these "innovations".
One thing I do not like (as a repairer) is the fact that to have access to the back of the bottom RH stack, I would have to remove not just a "pants guard" but the bell to body brace: this doesn't sound very safe to me, unless the body/bell joint is incredibly solid and offers no flex at all.

The marketing hype is doing exactly its job: we're all talking (a lot!) about these products! Full stop. Forget the misthiycism, the funny names, the claims, the end result is that people talk about the product an raise its profile.

Bottom line, I'd love to try one, but would never buy one: to me a "normal" saxophone does everything I want it to do (and more!) conpared to my musical skills!
M.
 

Koen88

Sax Drinker / Beer player
Messages
426
I wont by one either... I dont have the money ;}

It`s a steep price, but I think the Theo Wanne "brand" can afford such bold prices. They have a certain name under the mouthpiece manufacturing flag, regarding quality and consistancy. It makes perfect sense that they try to pro long and expand their successes on the saxophone market.

I don`t own any Theo Wanne products, but I do have a cannonball alto which is also Taiwan made, although they also claim to have had "Devine Inspiration" they clearly say in the about cannonball that the sax is made in Taiwan. (and adjusted in the US...)

The TW description doesn`t mention it. I searched the site with google and there`s not even one mention of taiwan in there.

I think as a company you'll want your customers to know what they are buying, without the vague descriptions. A good marketing plan can be succesfull without so much bold claims which cant be proven. As Milandro stated...

So I do beleive it could be / is a good sax, but I dont like how they treat the consumer and allmost manipulative behavior towards the saxophone market...
 

Kingsleyhk

Senior Member
Messages
508
Not sure what the law is in the US, but certainly in some countries it is possible to have all the parts of something - watches, clothing - made in one country, then "finished" in the country that carries the best cachet - Swiss made/made in France or Italy - and putting that on the label. How that applies to saxes, I have no idea but it's not something that Theo Wanne may be unique in doing. Whether it's honest or ethical is another question.

Personally I have no problem in something made in Taiwan (or China for that matter) if the design is good and the quality control is right. And most companies do take this seriously. There are a number of firms based here in Hong Kong that do only quality monitoring for big companies who manufacture in China. Now sax manufacturing is almost certainly never going to be big enough to warrant that but it is still possible to exercise control either at the brand owner end - which is what I understand the Trevor James and Phil Barone brands do, for example - or at the retailer.

Where of course it goes horribly wrong is when the quality control is left to the consumer!
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
I have absolutely no problem with a spade being called a spade whether this a Taiwanese , American or a Congolese spade!

And exactly because I appreciate both the Taiwanese products ( as I said, I think I have been in many instances an advocate of the Taiwanese saxophone industry I have a pretty consistent track record for many years) and the products made in the USA or France or Italy that I would favour a clear labelling of any saxophone under the sun and absolute clarity and openness about all the companies anywhere in the world which claim they “ assemble” things in any other parts of the world other than where the parts are manufactured.

I have no doubts that it would be beneficial to ANY such company to add to their site, next to the advertising, the pictures of the actual assembly and open their facilities to prospective clients and journalists who would want to see the assembly process being carried out, since they all imply that their extraordinary and superior assembly makes their horn better than the “ ordinary” Taiwanese assembly done at the factory where their horns or part of their horns are being made.

The law in the USA compels automobiles and textile, wool, and fur products to bear either “ Made or assembled in the USA"


http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus03-complying-made-usa-standard


One can, however, label any product voluntarily with these words BUT if one does so then the product HAS to be really completely “ made in the USA” or “ Assembled in the USA” if one doesn’t label the products (other than automobiles and textile, wool, and fur products) in any manner then they are not required to prove that the product is made or assembled in the USA.
 
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