Hello. My name is Tim Zannes and I am a tenor saxophonist. You may find some of my recorded work at CD Baby under my name and that of the group Chance. I have been playing for many years now and have owned or had pass through my hands and recorded with Selmer, Conn, Buescher, King SML. Buffett , Yahama and other saxophone brands over the years. My preference up to now has been Selmer SBA and mark Vi horns and a sweet spot for the Conn 10m horn. I'd say I've owned over 100 tenors because i used to buy them where I could and sell them to Randy Jones and Bob Ackerman or let them go to friends in search of a great horn. I play straight ahead post bop kind of tenor. You may peruse a few of my CD's on CD Baby f you have an interest in where I am coming from sonically and musically.
I was a Cannonball endorser for a few months about 10 years ago, (they gave me a wholesale price on a tenor) so I have had an interest in the horns coming from Taiwan for awhile. My main problem with the Taiwan horns has always been their weight(too heavy), a certain lack of character in the sound( which is totally subjective), and the overall build and feel of the horns. Also a factor, i learned to play on a Mark VI. I owned a Mac Sax a year or so ago and I liked it, but found it somehow lacking.
I ordered a Mac Sax Magnum w/o F# in bare brass with black roo pads from Mike Crouch at Mac Sax a few months ago. Then I canceled the order. Then I reordered the horn, and with some luck, the horn I had originally ordered was available.
Ken Beeson took the horn from Taiwan and set it up. We talked over the phone about what I like for an hour or so before and during the process.
I got the horn in the mail a few days ago. I have played it for many hours since.
The set up is totally quiet with regard to key noise and feels great under the hands.
The horn is remarkably lighter than any other Taiwanese horn I have played. It has a very solid feel.
The ergonomics are phenomenal. I can do things cleanly with this horn that I have never been able to do on any other horn. I'm not kidding. I can subtone to low Bb with my Tenor Madness EB redo hard rubber mouthpiece (thanks Randy) and there remains a resistance that I normally feel with the Mark Vi that i prefer which seems to give the horn body in the bell tones. It has a pop. It is more clear all over than my Selmers are. The palm keys are very Selmer like in their vocal quality but not clone like. The horn has its own personality and character to its core sound.
I can play ballads very softly and the sound continues and is projecting.
So, i like this horn a lot.
So far the only thing I have had to get used to is the bit longer stretch to teh left hand pinkie Bb key. ( Something that seems to be common among the Taiwanese horns) That took about 20 minutes to get used to.
The build quality seems great. I think these horns have been around long enough to dispel any negative about their ability to hold up. My experience is that people who beat up their horns have trouble with their horns falling apart, and those who don't beat them up don't have the problem.
My theory on why this horn is so good starts with Ken Beeson doing the set up. I think that he, Randy Jones , Paul Maslin and a few others are in a league of their own with regard to saxophone repair, build and set up knowledge and skill.
Also, the Mac Sax dudes do not make 1000 horns a year so their quality control and direct relation to the final assembly and set up is probably way more precise than anyone other than Randy Jones and his horns.
Also, Mike seems to be always searching for ways to improve the horns he sells, and is open to comments.
I still have vintage horns and it is hard to imagine giving them up. But, this horn is the one I will play at gigs and at home for a long time to come. I really believe that this horn is evidence that the Taiwan makers in conjunction with American designers and techs are making great horns.
I am not a paid endorser of any horn, reed or mouthpiece. ( and don't ever expect to be). I am just putting this out there for your edification.