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M/Pieces - Ligs Theo Wanne?

buckg

Member
Messages
53
Locality
North Carolina, USA
Anybody have any experience with Theo Wanne mouthpieces or saxes? I'd never heard of them until I ran across them on youtube recently.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
They're expensive, hand made, top end. Some guys swear by them. Others can't afford them.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,912
Locality
Just north of Munich
Not sure about the saxes, except price. Unlike another expensive US maker there's no sign of snake oil.
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,490
Locality
the Netherlands
well.....

US maker , following the word saxophone would imply that these are Made in the US, and that, I am afraid is NOT what they say because (according to current American Legislation) they are not compelled to say where the saxophone is made or assembled but if they write Made in USA or Assembled in USA this has to be true.

AS for not having snake oil.

Well....

they write, and I quote:

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

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..........

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.


All rather Snaky and Oily, if you ask me! If This is not snake oil it has to be, at least, Taurus Waste!

The mouthpieces are honest, well made but , in my opinion, very overpriced mouthpieces.

It is not clear to me what makes different (aesthetics and great ligature system aside) from another hand made mouthpiece, yet, they cost almost twice as much as many other hand made mouthpieces.

So they are either better (and I don’t know how to measure that) or the others are worse ( idem!) but if this is not the case, why do they cost so much more?
 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,329
Locality
London
Well....

they write, and I quote:

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

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..........

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.

While I don't have issues with saxophone bodies resonating and alternative neck braces (I tried some modified necks in that direction) when I tried the Mantra tenor I had the strong feeling that some snake oil was leaking on my shoes.
In particular the neck, has a brace that is not isolated from the neck tube. The octave mechanism is scissors-like with ball bearings, and looks like a good idea that does not add much to its functionality. Mostly it did not sound any special to me.
The soprano I tried sounded good, though. Not mind blowing, but good.

The only mouthpieces I would consider for myself (but did not buy) are the Theo Wanne- Phil Tone Tribute and Mosaic, but the hand finishing is done by Phil, so I am not sure who is to praise.
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,490
Locality
the Netherlands
Personally, I’ve tried a few secondhand Wanne’s pieces (for some reason always huge tips around 10).

They were way too big for me.

I could see their quality though but would never bring myself to buy one new.

I play a Brancher, hand made in France, mouthpiece. I love it. It isn’t cheap but still, way cheaper than a Wanne.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,918
Locality
brighton by the sea
Yes- lots of experience of both- his mouthpieces are superb. The same kind of subtlety of response as Guardalas and Jody Jazz DVs but with a bigger, boomier kind of feel- I’ve got an Amma 7* on my tenor- which, for me, is a pretty perfect balance of warmth but with a powerful ‘overdrive’ when I want to give it some wellie (bear in mind I’m a jump blues/R&B kind of chap so a big, powerful sound with a lot of guts is what I tend to be about). I’ve been experimenting with his soprano pieces too… lovely indeed (oddly I’ve found his metal, high-ish baffle piece works a treat on sop)…. Big thumbs up from me :thumb:
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Messages
712
Locality
London
I too have had a good shot at Theo Wanne's mouthpieces and I liked the ebonite Gaia & Ambika best on tenor (and Gaia on alto). I still have a Gaia tenor piece and I have played it a lot. I have also played the Amma and Kali in metal on tenor and although I am not averse to a brighter tenor sound, I didn't quite get on with them. Many people love them so this is just my opinion, but I found that my metal Wannes tended to have problems with reeds clamming up after a few minutes playing. I got around this by using different ligatures but it was a real irritation for me so I stuck to the ebonite pieces.

I played the Wanne soprano in Howarths and really wanted to like it, but it was not in adjustment (the C# compensating mechanism was faulty) so I will refrain from passing judgement. I have had email dealings with Theo and his brother Tom and they are great people to talk to, very open and accommodating.
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,349
Locality
leicester
I think Theo Wanne's mouthpieces are characterised by long facings and large chambers, often combined with high baffles (the Brahma and Datta are medium chambered). This follows on from the customised Links that he used to sell through his old website. The combination of large chamber and high baffle found in the Kali and Durga isn't too common -most high baffled mouthpieces I can think of are medium chambered. Whether this makes a great difference will depend on the player and what they're used to - some people can get a big sound out of a Dukoff - I can't..
Not everyone will get on with the long, Lawton-like, facing on Wanne's pieces, there may be a tendency for reed squeaks, depending on the make and cut of reed you use and your embouchure.
Choice of mouthpiece varies so much from one person to another - Milandro prefers his Brancher, I didn't get on with mine and sold it..
As for the price... well.... I've just looked at metal tenor mouthpieces on Sax.co.uk's website and there's not much that's cheap anymore - £415 for a metal Selmer Jazz - fill in your own expletives...
I think one of the reasons for Wanne's high prices may be that he seems to own a lot of expensive equipment - CNC milling machines and electro plating equipment etc - so we can assume that he's got a few hundred grand in bank loans to pay off as well as the rent on his premises. I think if I had to pay off a large bank loan every month, I'd be charging top dollar as well
There are other, cheaper options - Lawton, Morgan Fry, Pillinger etc or you could pick up something cheap on Ebay and send it off for a reface.
My only experience of a Wanne mouthpiece is of a second hand and well used alto Kali 8, which is quite a decent mouthpiece, but I'd prefer a bigger tip opening. It'd be good for a fat raunchy rock'n'roll sound, but not exactly subtle. I still prefer my Lawton.

Theo Wanne's saxes are made in Taiwan, although some of the more specialised parts are made in the USA and sent out to Taiwan. The finished horns are then shipped back to the States and set up and checked over by Music Medic.
I've not tried one of his saxes, so can't comment on playability etc. I'm primarily an alto player and he doesn't make an alto and I don't get on with Taiwanese ergonomics.
Is Wanne's stuff overpriced - yes, but so's Selmer and a few other manufacturers.
Are there some over inflated claims being made on his website - it certainly looks like it, but he'd not be the only one, Yanagisawa claim their thumb rest improves resonance, but I don't see much righteous indignation about them
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,490
Locality
the Netherlands
I don’t think that Brancher uses very different machinery or production methods than Wanne. As for Selmer metal mouthpieces being expensive, they are, they have always been, even more than you mention, I have never met anyone who bought them new for that price (surely someone has and must have fed the second hand market , but I have never actually met anyone who did admit buying a new one while secondhand ones are permanently for sale, it was my first metal mouthpiece for tenor and I sold it almost immediately adfer buying, too heavy and too closed, the majority, inexplicably are C* like the majority of HR Selmer mouthpieces and normally don’t please anyone. Mine I think was a D and still, even then, way too small. ).


By the way I always criticize ANY sonic vibrationism. You should read what I write on the preposterous claims which Ishimori make about their, thumbrests, neckscrews and other such nonsense.
 
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jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,733
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I had the privilege of meeting and talking with Theo Wanne one on one at the NAPBIRT Conference in April in Portland, Oregon as well as attending his sessions on mouthpiece refacing. I found him to be very knowledgeable about mouthpiece dimensions and such, but that he had very little understanding of the technical side of acoustics. He is obviously very enthusiastic about what he does, and should be given credit for being the only mouthpiece maker/refacer who is willing to share specific data about facing curves etc. for free with anyone with an interest. Of course one has to buy his refacing tools in order to take full advantage of that information. ;)
 

altissimo

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,349
Locality
leicester
I never said anything about any differences in production methods between Brancher and T Wanne, but they are different pieces with different baffle designs, chambers and facing curves - the Brancher I had was a shorter facing, more like a Berg and that may suit you more, I didn't get on with it, despite it being beautifully made.
What I was pointing out with Wanne is that he's got his own machinery, whereas most other small volume mouthpiece makers get their machining and plating work done elsewhere, which is cheaper because you only have to pay for batches of mouthpieces and not the equipment that makes them. I'm not sure why Theo Wanne's decided to get his own CNC milling machines, maybe he wants to oversee every aspect of production that he possibly can, his quality control seems to be pretty good..
Which is more than can be said of Selmer - one of my friends bought a brand new metal Selmer Jazz alto mouthpiece for about £170 several years ago and it had a nick in the tip rail like someone had caught it with the corner of a file and the nick had been silver plated over, which would indicate that it left the factory like that and they don't check everything as thoroughly as they could. I was also told by a guy in a sax shop that the keywork on a customer's Reference 54 was surprisingly easy to bend back into place after a knock, not something you'd expect from a quality manufacturer.

I dunno why you get so worked up about marketing claims, this kind of thing has been going on for years and is endemic in many areas of commerce, advertising is fundamentally ridiculous and for some of us is a source of much hilarity - it must be hell for you having to write all those emails of complaint whenever you watch the tv... :)
ps I strongly recommend that you never read any hi fi magazines
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,490
Locality
the Netherlands
Altissimo, I get worked about whatever dis-pleases me, thank you very much! I invite you to do the same. If you , on the other hand, get worked up about me getting worked up about something that bothers me and not you........I can only offer you my understanding, but kindly remind you that what bothers me doesn’t have to bother you too, and pray, could you just let me be bothered by whatever I want?
 
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majordennis

Senior Member
Messages
485
Locality
Gone West
Bought one, tried it, sold it, beautifully made, nice but fiddly lig, purely a personal opinion (as my comments always are) but I did'nt think it was anything special.
 

Jason Whitmore

New Member
Messages
4
Locality
San Diego, CA
First off your mouthpiece is a very personal and somewhat subjective component that has to fit you so what ever works for YOU is what is right. I play a lot of contemporary styles and consider the closest style I emulate to that of Sanborn. That being said Kali alto mouthpiece has been the best I've ever played. No I am not endorsed by them and yes they are a bit pricey but I'd say well worth it. Very well made, great built on ligature system. The sound gives me the bright edgy sound I want but with far more full body than any other metal mouthpiece I've played. Ideally you'll want to play several variations, tip openings, etc with different reed combinations to really know if they are right for you. Good Luck!

Jason
 

scotsman

Member
Messages
461
Locality
none
I tried a Theo Wanne "Mantra" tenor mouthpiece a couple of years ago (7star, Rico Jazz 2 hard.reed ) The blurb says "an otto Link on Steroids!" I would totally agree with that. Compared to my 50s Link the Wanne has a very open sound, loads of power all round ,clear altissimo and a subtone to die for. .I now find that going back to the Selmer D and the Link they just feel "stuffy" and dont open the sound like the TW. Effortless playing and as you can see from the above I like it! Horn is a Mk6 103.. I tried a Gaia on the SBA alto but couldnt get on with it so returned it and got another Mantra.. Also excellent.. I was talking to Duncan Eagles (of "Partikal") who was playing one at the time. He liked his but I saw later it was for sale on ebay.. The endless search for the perfect mouthpiece.. All I can say is that I like them.. In fact I just bought another off the Yardsale last week!! Regards to all.
 

Phil

Senior Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
1,071
Locality
France
Thanks for the comment aldevis.

Yes, Theo and I worked together designing the Tribute and Mosaic but in a lot of ways we have different sound concepts and approaches. They are not so different that they do not compliment one another...but you are correct that the Tribute and Mosaic feel and sound different from Theo's line. It was a lot of fun being involved in a collaborative effort with another maker. The exchange of ideas kept things fresh and interesting.
 

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