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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Pardon my obsession with the instruments themselves. I spent sometime learningto build guitars, so, i also am interested in the saxophone from a luthier's or a custom horn-maker's perspective.
Now, if you look at brass instrument, the trumpet,for example, you have the big manufacturers Like Bach, Getzen, Yamaha etc. But, there are a large number of custom trumpet makers, who build horns from scratch,and they seem to be quite successful, some selling custom built horns that cost upwards of $6000.00 apiece. Similarly with French Horns,tubas and euphoniums, clarinets, flutes etc.

Heck, there are even "custom-made' piccolos and even "Custom-made" triangles!!!:)

Anyone have any ideas as to why there isnt much by the way of fully "custom" saxophones made by independent sax makers?

Just wondering.................:) :)
 

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I'll venture out on a limb here and say that there are "custom" saxophones...the businesses themselves just do not operate under the same model as the custom brass/guitar/violin makers. Steve Goodson would call his horns "custom" (and I think most would agree) even though I doubt he personally hand hammers the tubing on all his instruments. I would imagine the problem lies in the complexity of parts with the saxophone. I think there is a good reason why the trumpet and trombone family preceded the saxophone family by centuries...they are easier to make by hand. Saxophones have so many small detailed parts that machines do the job better than bare hands. "Custom" horns like Goodson's come from parts bought from other manufacturers and it is the customizers job to improve upon that.
Another thought: I think in the world of saxophones, the hand-made customization is all about the tech. Whereas custom stringed instruments bear the name of its craftsman, I think there is a sense of players choosing their tech as they would choose a new horn. Many professional horns bear the name of its respective tech....i.e. an Emilio rebuilt VI, or a Curt Altarac rebuilt New Aristocrat, etc. A good tech can improve upon the factory and create a new instrument bearing the unique traits of their artistic taste. There is a reason that an overhaul is close in price to a new horn:) .
 

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Surely Jim Schmidt qualifies as a "custom" sax maker, don't you think? His instruments are completely unique. And unavailable to you and me!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Reedsplinter- well thanks for explaining, but, I dont know anything about Jim Schmidt. Gotta look him up.
 

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Thomas Inderbinden - try the search function. ;)
 

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also mike manning (www.manningcustom.com). he does hand make each horn (and mouthpieces too). a friend of mine owns one, and wess anderson has one that was designed/built for him by Mike. Rumor is he's making a tenor for Sonny Rollins currently. they are nice horns, very heavy, and the price is similar (or less) than what a new selmer goes for...i'd bet that more saxophone builders may pop up in the future, as more players get more picky about their horns...peace, mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Just looked at Jim Schmidt's saxphones. Looks very interesting, but, at $10,000.00+, per horn, I dont know how many people will be willing to order one of his horns!!
 

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saxjazz42 said:
The price is similar (or less) than what a new Selmer goes for...
Would that be the $7995 list or the much reduced "street" price? ;)

Thanks for sharing the website, I'll have to (compulsive being that I am) take a look.
 

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less than the street price. the one my buddy got about 6 months ago ran him under 4K. he (and I) are also wess's students, so that may have helped, i don't know. it did take a good while to get it though, i think it was 5-6 months or so. peace- mike
 

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Thanks again, Mike. Is Manning making the key mechanism from scratch too? I've seen flute mechanisms built by hand. I cannot imagine saxophones being much easier. The economics of building such a horn for the price you cite just don't make sense to me. There should be a line 'round the block.
 

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Peter Jessen makes custom saxophones.
 

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I'll take the non-custom, cookie-cut, machine-made saxophones any day. Parker, Coltrane, and every other great saxophonist apparently didn't have any problem playing the mass-produced horns. :geek:
 

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Ronin1 said:
Just looked at Jim Schmidt's saxphones. Looks very interesting, but, at $10,000.00+, per horn, I dont know how many people will be willing to order one of his horns!!
But then again -- how much does a Keilworth Shadow bari sax sell for? $19K? That's why I said Schmidt's horns are "unavailable to you and me." (Though I shouldn't speak for you. . . .)
 

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Thanks for the info about Manning; great looking horns. I had not been aware of this instrument maker.
 

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Reedsplinter said:
Surely Jim Schmidt qualifies as a "custom" sax maker, don't you think? His instruments are completely unique. And unavailable to you and me!
Somebody has to to try I suppose.
Interesting and clever, and maybe even better as he claims, but what a nut.
As long as he knows it's a hobby fine, but if he seriously thinks for more than a minute that his design will overcome decades of momentum get traction he's certainly a nut. Figures that he lives in California.
 

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i'm not sure exactly how manning goes about building his horns, but my understanding is that he does it essentially from scratch. i've never talked to manning myself, so i can't say how he does the keywork, but from looking over/playing the horn my friend bought, it certainly could be all hand-done. Ik know he does customize key touches and ergonomics for each player, he likes to fit the horn to the player's hands. He also generally uses all metal touches instead of pearls, usually copper. i would say email manning to find out exactly what he does...he also provides a custom made case fitted to the specific horn he makes for you when you get it. they are similar to walt johnsons, with a very very good fit. hope that helps- mike
 

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also as far as price- i was very surprised it wasn't more...besides wess, i don't know of any major endorsers regularly playing his stuff (he does list an assortment of players on his site, but i don't know that they play his horns, maybe mouthpieces/reeds or he's done some refacing or repair work for them etc). so maybe he's keeping the price low to encourage people to buy? you're right though, for the price people should be lined up...and i believe they are. and if i didn't mention that's an alto price, i have no idea what the tenor would be. both could be more by now, he ordered his last september/october. peace- mike
 
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