Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 70 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
114 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm posting this with Theo's permission. He was extremely professional and courteous. The letter I sent him reads first, then his response.

"Subject: mouthpiece pricing

Hi again. Your new mouthpiece description certainly sounds revolutionary!

I'm writing, though, because it is disappointing to me that I and most sax players I know around here, along with the vast majority of players on such forums as Sax On The Web, will not be able to own one. On that particular message board, there's a 3-page thread regarding your mouthpiece with zero reviews. Zero actual reviews, and everyone has been really excited for several months because we know how AMAZING your work truly is. There's no hype with Theo Wanne products; it's the real deal. Either way, the majority of popular mouthpieces, like Links, Morgans, Runyons, Jody Jazz, etc etc are relatively good and drastically less expensive than the new AMMA. Sure, hard work and real craftsmanship costs big money, not to mention the R&D that went into developing everything. And it is fair to say that a LOT of today's mpc products are total ****. But that's the market, with most players using sub-$200 pieces, a proportionately-smaller amount using the $350 pieces like Phil Barone's stuff and the Jody Jazz DVs, and an even smaller percent of the dedicated sax population purchasing the vintage Links and Dukoffs for $400+. That market clearly drastically drops off past $500....Sir, nobody's doubting your work. Nobody's calling you scammer. And that's huge; people are always quick to yell scammer if somebody puts out an expensive product.

It's just that a $650 mouthpiece is completely unattainable for the vast overwhelming majority of sax players, even professional, dedicated sax players, out there. You have every right to disagree; I just wanted to state my point."

Theo's response:
"Sent: Mon 7/02/07 6:44 PM
Reply-to: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Security scan upon download
att2f4b9.jpg (4.7 KB)

Dear Brad,

Thank for sharing your perspective from such a clear, informed, and compassionate place. I appreciate you taking the time give me feedback. It is valuable information for me.

I started refacing mouthpieces because I wanted a particular sound only a large chamber could get me. Over the years, and with the help of a lot of musicians, I gained some success in my ability to create the sounds I, and many others, were looking for.

As my work load grew I began to see trends in my work. I was repeatedly making designs that while desired by many of my customers, did not yet exist on the market. This is why I started the process of mouthpiece manufacturing: to help more musicians get the sound they were looking for than I could accomplish with just my own two hands. My commitment to quality is so unflinching, though, that I will not lower my standards for a production mouthpiece. Hence, I have done whatever it takes to make the same, or higher, quality mouthpieces than what I previously was making by hand. At some point I will post the process I go through to make the AMMA. It is significant! It is time consuming, and it is very expensive. Even with the AMMAs high price point, our profit margins are far below many mouthpiece manufacturers, far below.

A majority of the mouthpieces I made by hand were very expensive. Just to get a Florida vintage Otto Link and redo it would actually cost as much or more than the AMMA. Also by manufacturing the AMMA I am able to make innovations I could not by simply modifying a Florida Otto Link. The AMMA includes three patented features I could not include in a refaced mouthpiece. Hence, in my eyes, I am making a mouthpiece superior to anything I could do solely by hand. I did actually make a mouthpiece all by hand. That was the predecessor to the AMMA. It took so many hours to make, that in the end it cost almost as much as the AMMA. Yet I still feel it fell quite short of the AMMAs quality.

First and foremost, I wanted to make a mouthpiece like that AMMA available to musicians. The price was not my objective. Simply making the piece available was.

So why do I put price second to my desire to just have a mouthpiece like the AMMA available? Because the mouthpiece is SO important. It is where the sound wave shape is formed. It has vastly more impact on the musicians sound than the saxophone. Spending a few hundred more dollars on a mouthpiece has the potential to impact the musicians sound far more than spending a few hundred dollars more on the saxophone. So if I can truly make a superior mouthpiece for a few hundred dollars, then to me, it really is worth it.

Now if there is no difference between a $100 mouthpiece and a $675 mouthpiece, than indeed it is a waste of money! I firmly believe though, that we have done something with the AMMA that warrants the increase in price. I tried to make the AMMA with less expensive methods. But it did not get quality I desired. I failed. I want a perfectly flat table. I want a perfect curve. I want a true large chamber with an exquisitely shaped chamber and inner side rails that is truly accurate. I want the perfectly shaped baffle with a tip rail like art. I want every mouthpiece to play like a million bucks! What it took to do that was what you currently see.

Why no reviews yet? No one has played it. I am only now comfortable with sending some out to review. I am a bit of a perfectionist. We get a finished product, then I say, "no wait, I want to make this one last change." I have had a lot of last changes. I actually praise my brother for his patience with me.

Skip Spratt of Saxshed is one of only two people yet to receive an AMMA. I believe he has posted a preliminary review on Sax on the Web. Please be patient. Soon the mouthpiece will be out to many people, and I am sure there will be many reviews.

Your point regarding price is valid and an important one. I would LOVE to make AMMAs in the price ranges you refer too. The manufacturing costs currently do not make that possible, though. That said. I am indeed aware of your situation. It is dear to my heart, and I have my full attention on making a budget version.

My intention with the release of the AMMA is to have my dream mouthpiece available to the market. But please have faith in me. I have heard your concerns loud and clear. My attention is directly and firmly planting on making mouthpiece you can afford too! In fact, my intention is to receive an email from you, some day soon, stating, "Theo, Thank You. I now have a mouthpiece I can afford that fully represents the sound I want with and the quality I know you stand for!"

Please feel free to share this information if you desire to. I appreciate your input, and am sure others have similar concerns as well.

Sincerely, Theo Wanne
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,316 Posts
. . . This is why I started the process of mouthpiece manufacturing: to help more musicians get the sound they were looking for than I could accomplish with just my own two hands. My commitment to quality is so unflinching, though, that I will not lower my standards for a production mouthpiece. . .
I have learned first hand about Theo's uncompromising commitment to quality over the past few weeks. It's awesome! Thanks for posting this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,034 Posts
As with most of these high priced mouthpieces, you will soon find out that nobody whose sound you like actually plays them. More often than not, every saxophone player brought up in discussions of favorite players, plays (or played) a Link, Berg, or Meyer.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
627 Posts
whaler said:
As with most of these high priced mouthpieces, you will soon find out that nobody whose sound you like actually plays them.
--the letter that Theo wrote says pretty clearly that that these mouthpieces are just making their way into the world and not very many people have their hands on them yet...give it time.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2008/Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
3,295 Posts
Let's also keep in mind that he still has other pieces that he will be working on. If he has found a consistent way of producing a mouthpiece that brings out the richness of the vintage pieces then he could be onto something. And some of those top guys are playing links that were specifically modified by Theo.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,034 Posts
Spooner said:
--the letter that Theo wrote says pretty clearly that that these mouthpieces are just making their way into the world and not very many people have their hands on them yet...give it time.
Even if they are out for ten years, you still won't find any real players using them. The "souped-up Link" idea is nothing new and most good players just end up going back to a good Link.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,898 Posts
whaler said:
Even if they are out for ten years, you still won't find any real players using them. The "souped-up Link" idea is nothing new and most good players just end up going back to a good Link.

Nobody knows whats going to happen in the future! Not even a player as good as you Whaler! In 30 or 40 years time all the top players might be playing on vintage, early serial number AMMAs? or maybe not? All I know is that most of my favorite players played on links so thats where im sicking at for the time being...

Nice guy though, Theo!
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
Joined
·
3,310 Posts
whaler said:
Even if they are out for ten years, you still won't find any real players using them. The "souped-up Link" idea is nothing new and most good players just end up going back to a good Link.
But seldom if ever a stock link...thats the point.

I found the email and the reply very thoughtful. Hopefully lessons learned in the production of the AMMA can be applied over time to make a less esoteric piece at a less esoteric price
 

·
SOTW Columnist and Forum Contributor 2015-2016
Joined
·
3,832 Posts
I think Theo's response was well articulated, thoughtful, kind, and sincere. These are rare traits in a music businessman.

Whaler, your negative comments aren't adding anything positive to this discussion. Do you have personal experience with the Amma? Have you talked to hundreds of professional players that have played an Amma? If not, hold your criticisms and negative comments and wait for proper reviews of this mouthpiece. It isn't your place to try and slam Theo or his products, whether directly or indirectly.

Saxaholic
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,305 Posts
I wonder what it's like to be "that guy," 20 years ago who bitterly professed that no body will ever play an ultra expensive Guardala.

...I can't justify buying an AMMA but I know many can and should. If a price of a mouthpiece makes you bitter...be lucky you don't play flute or violin. We play a fairly inexpensive instrument.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,376 Posts
who plays Guardala? The only pro that I can think of that kept using one was Brecker and that seems to be as a result of a physical disability. Sure enough, you will find a hobbyist with a lot of cash to burn on boutique stuff, but top flight pros that you want to listen to all your life?

At least Theo has his concept right and has a more than positive attitude.

I still can't believe that we pay mouthpiece dealers and ebayers hundreds and past a thousand dollars for old mouthpieces. Other than hobbyists and collectors, I can't imagine why players would do this to each other and demand high prices for basic equipment. We're talking about a line of work where you may end up with a couple of jazz gigs a month if you live in a city. The rest of the time you're working in a music store or teaching or shlepping coffee. Can we really justify $1500 custom necks and $700 mouthpieces?
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
2,892 Posts
Quite a few pros use expensive pieces and Guardalas are just one of them. Can you say Florida Link? Sure you can.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2010
Joined
·
3,310 Posts
Sebastian said:
I still can't believe that we pay mouthpiece dealers and ebayers hundreds and past a thousand dollars for old mouthpieces. Other than hobbyists and collectors, I can't imagine why players would do this to each other and demand high prices for basic equipment.
Its just basic economics. For whatever reason more people want them than there are pieces remaining, so why would you sell one for less than the going supply and demand driven market rate?

They are only worth what the highest bidder wants to pay...if everyone thought as sensibly as you, then the prices would a lot lower.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
26,005 Posts
whaler said:
As with most of these high priced mouthpieces, you will soon find out that nobody whose sound you like actually plays them. More often than not, every saxophone player brought up in discussions of favorite players, plays (or played) a Link, Berg, or Meyer.
So? Not every player wants to sound like everybody else; and furthermore, the quality of the modern offerings of the three brands you mentioned pale in comparison to the pieces the greats played. But with that said, yeah, I think you'd be nuts to buy one of these pieces now. At least there's a return policy, but we won't really know how folks value them until they hit the second hand market.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,147 Posts
wersax said:
Quite a few pros use expensive pieces and Guardalas are just one of them. Can you say Florida Link? Sure you can.

You have any idea how many Florida Links Eric Alexander must own?

I hear he switches them every few months.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,849 Posts
Hey Grumps -

We've met, and hopefully I didn't come across to you as being "nuts". :D I bought an AMMA. In my opinion, the AMMA is by far the best mouthpiece I've ever played on my tenor. I've tried a number of other mouthpieces (Bergs, Links, Barone, Meyer, Jody Jazz and others), but admittedly not all, for example, I've never tried one of the vaunted Guardalas. For me, the AMMA blows all the rest away. Troubles I've had in the lower and upper end of the horn are gone. Now, as a relatively inexperienced player, it is my belief that a mouthpiece like the AMMA can make more of a dramatic difference in a less experienced player's sound (as it has for me) than it would for a more experienced player, who has the experience to make a wider range of mouthpieces work.

Is it for everyone? Of course not. Is it for some? Absolutely. It has definitely been worth it for me.

Frank
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member/Logician
Joined
·
26,005 Posts
Well, anyone that's gonna go out of their way to see me play has to be nuts Frank. Sorry. But then again, nuttiness isn't always such a bad thing. I'm glad you dig your piece though, but I seriously doubt that they'll hold that value. I could be very wrong, and it's not like Theo hasn't already made a name for himself, but it all seems so heavy on the marketing. And believe me, these guys know that there are folks established in other careers out there that have the cash for such expenditures and they plan their web strategies accordingly. But again, if you dig it and it makes you happy (and keeps you playing), then it's a beautiful story. But should we see you on the trade boards in another month or two... well then, that would be the same old story (and I mean that in a general sense, not particular to you).
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2007-
Joined
·
5,316 Posts
fballatore said:
Hey Grumps -

We've met, and hopefully I didn't come across to you as being "nuts". :D . . .
Grumps said:
Well, anyone that's gonna go out of their way to see me play has to be nuts . . .
Hey Frank -

What makes you think you need to buy an AMMA for us to think you're nuts?:D

"You may be right; I may be crazy; but it just might be a lunatic you're looking for." Billy Joel
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
1,376 Posts
Canadiain said:
Its just basic economics. For whatever reason more people want them than there are pieces remaining, so why would you sell one for less than the going supply and demand driven market rate?

They are only worth what the highest bidder wants to pay...if everyone thought as sensibly as you, then the prices would a lot lower.
I guess I'm saying that people need to stop being unreasonable about this sort of thing. The excuse that people will pay for it is not acceptable. The motivation should come from within. Unfortunately, even here when people try and do the right thing and sell for a more affordable price, people look at that and only see profit. Next thing you know, the deal from SOTW shows up on ebay for twice the money, because someone here tried to be nice and sell it to fellow players.

I figure if you need money that badly, get a second job. It takes as much time to hunt out the deals and sell the stuff as a part time job, but it's way more honest than ripping off your peers.

It's also laughable that we now consider Florida links "expensive" mouthpieces, considering what they were made for, sold for and used for. Even the copies people make are hundreds of dollars. Yikes, we should all stop playing and just start selling.
 
1 - 20 of 70 Posts
Top