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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all you saxy people,

I am the grateful new owner of a TM Custom 500sl Tenor and I would like to share my perspective with you. I am extremely thankful that Randy Jones and his team at Tenor Madness have constructed such an amazing instrument. I am also very lucky to live an hour and fifteen minutes away from Tim Glesmann who I have been visiting for the last fifteen years. Some of this information isn’t pertinent, but it might help you understand where I’m coming from.

My first tenor was a Series III and I loved it. The horn could just whisper a low Bb and was amazing for classical, but for me, some character was missing when it came to jazz and I never felt comfortable with the altissimo color. I painfully sold it and picked up a 36k SBA, which has taught me more about the saxophone in the last three years than I have learned in the prior seventeen. The horn has a beautiful core to the sound, but like many 70 year old instruments, she has some quirks. I decided to start looking at new horns just out of curiosity and I was so enamored with the TM Custom that I have to pass along my SBA. I’ll give you my opinion of some horns for some perspective.

YTS-82ZIIUL with no high F# key: Not having played one before, I was fixated on giving the Custom Z a whirl. I liked the look and the sound people achieved on demonstrations but I immediately knew this horn was not worth giving up Lucille. The horn was great, but like my series III, something was missing. The core was golden, round, focused, and beautiful.

Eastman 52nd Street: This horn had some serious character to it. I really enjoyed the ergos and there was definitely some character in the sound. The core was a nice sunburst color, I found the horn was as easy to play in the low end as the LH palms with an even sounding scale. However, the rolled tone holes made altissimo excruciating at best. Great horn, not for me; I don’t care what my dogs think, I like altissimo.

TM Custom 500sl: I was extremely lucky that Tim had one in stock; the Lord was smiling down on me for sure, as they are quite a hot item and rather rare. I tried one of these back in 2015 before I got my SBA and liked it, but was not enamored with it. Obviously I went with Lucille. This time, I was absolutely blown away. The core to the sound was very similar to Lucille. I admit that Lucille has more character, but the Custom is about 98% there compared to the Yamaha, which was 20% there. The core is sunburst-gravel with the ability to play smoke and chocolate. The low end speaks effortlessly in all dynamic ranges, articulations, and sub-tone; this is the best horn I have ever played in my 20 years of sax playing. The Custom has rolled tone holes, but TM was smart and did not roll the holes of the LH keys making altissimo extremely easy and quite in tune. I love Michael Brecker’s sound and have spent a lot of time trying to achieve my peasant version of it. I play on a Sakshama MB1, which is amazing. In my experience, to achieve a similar sound to the legendary MB you need to take all the character of the horn and focus it into the very front of your palate and the Custom allows you the flexibility to broaden and concentrate your tone as you wish. I would say that it is very easy to play from different areas of your mouth and throat, flexible. I have been used to the light buttery action of my SBA, so I was a little uncomfortable with with the very reactive action of the Custom at first. Having spent about eight hours playing it, I have grown to love the key response and my ornamentation is very tight. My one complaint about this horn is the weight. The horn is very heavy, but I’m over it and can go to the gym one less day a week. Lastly, the horn feels alive when you play it. The resonance is astonishing; you feel it in your body. Just to throw some fuel on a long-burning tire fire, my Custom is unlacquered.

I hope this helps quench some curiosity. Catch you in the practice room.
 

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It’s hard to find a sax lighter feeling than an early Selmer. When I hear sax players complaining about back pain I think all the Chinese heavy saxes have a lot to do with it. Or uncomfortable saxes like Conns.
I agree with you that their saxes are way better than Yamahas but that probably has a lot to do with their repairs to the saxes after they get them to the shop.
Why do any modern saxes bother with rolled tone holes? Or in that case why did any sax manufacturers do it. I don’t see any advantage to the idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Obviously my series III did not have rolled tone holes and it had fantastic response on the low side, so I don't know why they do this. Maybe rolled holes seal better, perhaps level easier, or resist sticking, might add unnecessary weight. While the horn might be Mauriat-like at first (not as a slight to Mauriats), I believe TM spends about 3 days working on the instruments and the necks are custom made and voiced for the individual sax. Again, I wish it were lighter, but I've never played a better horn; the more I play it the more I love it. I find myself just laughing at its capability. I wish I could buy two for a backup. Like our beloved vintage horns, TM puts in a great deal of hands-on work, with attention to detail. Seems like they are difficult to come by, but worth a try. Thanks for your thoughts!
 

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I have the same horn and got it from Sax Alley about 2 1/2 years ago. Odd that you find it heavy, it’s the lightest of the 4 pro tenors I own. Love both the keywork and response of these TM Custom tenors.
 
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