The Best Horn, best buying plan too!

Discussion in 'Horns' started by MUSICandCHARACTER, Feb 17, 2004.

  1. MUSICandCHARACTER

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    1,140
    2
    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    A lot has been said about the various alternatives to the Bach trumpets. The Eclipse has become ridiculously expensive, especially and the exchange rate between the US$ and the UK£ continues widen do to lower the dollar.

    The Wild Thing can only be bought from Flip (no dealers), and is much more expensive than a ZeuS -- with a $200 dollar return fee.

    ZeuS takes a back seat to none, IMO. The very best in horns AND some amazing finishes.

    If you want to buy a Bach Strad, Yamaha Xeno, or a any of the dealer carried instruments, they usually have a credit plans at 21% (some offer "same as cash" programs for up to 6 months on selected products).

    But buying a ZeuS from a dealer allows any buyer with a credit card to pay half and then spread the payments for the other half over the next five months. Not on selected horns, but all of them.

    It is one thing to play the best horn available as Mr. Zachary is an amazing designer. But to have it be affordable is something else! This is not talked about much for some reason.

    Somehow, I just can't fathom buying a Wild Thing and having to pay $200 to return it (hopefully you wouldn't want to). No dealers to see and try them (I know, you can play them at shows, etc.). I know of at least two ZeuS dealers who have sold their own personal horns in the last month because they are in short supply and customers really wanted one. This struck me recently as a company approached me and asked if I wanted to have a "company credit card" so players could purchase instruments over time from my store. 21%, fairly easy credit. I sell ZeuS, I wasn't interested!

    M&C
     
  2. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,756
    3,509
    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    Maybe I can shed some light on this for you. Just yesterday I had the opportunity to play side by side in my house my LB Bach Strad, 25 Bell, a Wild Thing in Silver plate, slides #1 and #2, and a ZeuS Guarnerius with multiple slides in satin lacquer. For the record, this Wild Thing did not come from Flip, but it came from one of his representatives and I DID NOT have to pay a $200 restocking fee.

    First of all, let me first say that while the ZueS G did seem to hold it's own against my Bach, (but only with the .470 rounded tuning slide) it really didn't match the fit and finish of my Bach and it certainly didn't come close to matching the fit and finish of the Wild Thing. The Wild Thing is put together extraordinarily well. It's really no use looking for minor flaws in the fit and finish of the Wild Thing because to my naked eye, there are none. The ZeuS on the other hand, ifyou really wanted to get picky, you could see a couple of places where the fit could have been just a tad better (braces) or perhaps a part could have been buffed a little more, and therein lies a big difference in cost. Time. It takes much more time for one person to really take special time and attention to assembling a horn and time is money.

    Another thing is playability. The Wild Thing plays VERY well with either of the slides that were in the case. It is my understanding that once Flip assembles a horn, he plays it and if it doesn't play or resonate the way that he believes it should, then he makes some adjustments so that it will. This includes aligning the valves and placing the braces so that they don't hamper the resonance of the instrument. Again, this kind of thing takes more time and attention. However, I believe you get what you pay for. Likewise with the ZeuS. I think that just like with a new Bach Strad, you are going to be rolling the dice every time you buy one. The ZeuS that I played yesterday was not a horn I would have wanted on a gig with the stock original slide. It was very tight and was not as responsive as I would have liked. With the .470 slide, it was a different horn altogether, and one that I would have gladly played on a gig. Playability was very similar to my Bach and maybe even a little better up top. The sound was maybe a bit brighter than on my horn too, but for the kind of playing that I do, that might be a good thing.

    But back to the Wild Thing, this horn has the unique characteristic for being able to be whatever you want it to be with little to no extra effort. If you want to sound dark, you just have to set your mind to that and it sounds that way. If you want it to be brash, bright and brassy, give it the gas and there it is. The ZeuS on the other hand is what it is. You might be able to color the sound a bit just by thinking about it, but most likely, you are going to have to switch mouthpieces to get a different sound.

    The best comparison I can make here is that the Wild Thing is like a Dodge Viper and the ZueS and my Bach are like Cameros. They will all get you where you need to go, but the Viper is going to out perform the others in almost every aspect.

    I'd like to address your comment about Mr. Zachary being an amazing designer. When I pulled the tuning slide from the ZueS, it fit right into the tuning slide ports of my Bach. It wasn't a tight enough fit, but I think that has more to do with my Bach being LB instead of ML, like the ZeuS. I think that if my Bach had been a Medium Large bore, the tuning slides would have been interchangeable. Where am I going with this? I think that when it comes right down to it, most of the dimensions for the ZeuS G are probably going to match those on a Bach Strad with maybe a few exceptions. Held up to a Bach Strad side by side, they are so close it's scary. It doesn't take an amazing designer to measure the dimensions of a horn and use those as your basis for a design. Of course this is all in reference to the ZeuS G, not the Olympus which I have yet to lay eyes on.

    Leigh McKinney is an amazing designer. His horns don't look like anything else out there and they contain some design inovations that you don't find on other horns. Put that together with the amount of time and energy that he puts into making them and I believe that he is justified charging what he does for his horns.

    I have never been one to denounce or try to detract from the ZeuS. I have played a couple of them and I maintain what I have said from the beginning: The ZueS G is a solidly built, solid playing horn and is a great value for the dollar. If you want something that has a superior finish, you aren't going to get it with the ZeuS G. I think that it's in the final finishing process that some corners are cut in an effort to get the horn out for less than the competition. Discerning horn players tend to care less what a horn looks like that what it plays like and because of that, the ZueS G is going to have a following.

    With the Wild Thing, I believe a prospective horn owner can purchase a Wild Thing with the confidence that not only is the horn going to look good, but it's going to play as good as it looks.

    P.S. The ZeuS G. that I had the good fortune to play yesterday is owned by TM member and fellow Marylander Paul Artola. (fatpauly) I was impressed with his ZeuS (with the .470 slide) and told him that I thought he had a keeper. I would happily take it to a gig in lieu of my Bach.

    Like I said, it's a solid horn and where you can probably put it on the level of a production line Bach, I just don't think that it can really be considered on the same level as some of the other "Superhorns" like the Eclipse and Wild Thing.
     
  3. gzent

    gzent Fortissimo User

    3,724
    757
    Nov 5, 2003
    Rochester, MN
    Pat,

    What's the bore on your Bach? Does your horn have the traditional "square" tuning slide?

    Greg
     
  4. trickg

    trickg Utimate User

    6,756
    3,509
    Oct 26, 2003
    Baltimore/DC
    My Bach is .462 with the standard squared tuning slide configuration. It is not a reversed leadpipe Bach.
     
  5. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    684
    3
    Nov 27, 2003
    Denver
  6. MUSICandCHARACTER

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    1,140
    2
    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    Dave,

    I saw that -- how could you read this forum without knowing about it? I'm not sure what is meant by it. It is a wonderful thing to send that horn to several people, and very trusting. Good advertising too.

    I wasn't really knocking the Wild Thing. But I was extolling the generous plan Mr. Zachary has put forth with a comparison to other policies (the tour not withstanding).

    M&C
     
  7. MUSICandCHARACTER

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    1,140
    2
    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    trickg:

    There is little doubt about the design base of the ZG horn. Mr. Zachary said very clearly it was based on the Mt. Vernon Bach trumpet (see the Zachary Website).

    The Olympus on the other hand, is something different altogether. Your comparisons between the quality of the manufacturing of the Wild Thing and the ZG were interesting, especially if you know anything about the manufacturing of the two horns.

    My guess is, that if you picked up a different Wild Thing and a different Guarnerius, you might come to opposite conclusions.

    Again, I am not slamming the Wild Thing. I was just struck by a few of the details such as the restock fee. Actually, I was more struck by how many of the online etailers all have these "in house" charge cards at 21% or so that you can "buy it now."

    They are easy for a store to get. There is lots of money being made gouging the buyer. ZeuS dealers do not have to resort to that and have a horn that takes a back seat to none (it may not be what everyone buys, but it should not be overlooked by any buyer -- hey that is almost a good slogan!).

    M&C
     
  8. dcstep

    dcstep Mezzo Piano User

    684
    3
    Nov 27, 2003
    Denver
    Forgive me, but you're sounding a little naive about the build quality of the ZeuS. Super quality doesn't just happen and it takes a lot of effort on the part of someone in the building process. If no tweaking is occuring beyond the Kanstul initial assembly, then you're likely to get a horn of Kanstul quality. That's not bad, but it's not comparable to the very best trumpets. Maybe something else is being done that we haven't heard about. I'd love to hear about the extra effort, if any, that's put into the Olympus.

    Dave
     
  9. Still Trying

    Still Trying Pianissimo User

    159
    0
    Nov 23, 2003
    Lake Jackson, TX USA
    This post is in no way intended to be disrespectful of Zeus trumpets. I played and reviewed a Zeus G on TH. The review was as fair as I could make it, and I believe favorable to Zeus. When I have the opportunity I recommend a prospective buyer try a Zeus before buying Bach.

    But the Zachery Music finance plan, as it is presented as interest free financing, appears to me to be somewhat misleading. You have to have a credit card to recieve the financing, and the horn is paid for by successive charges against your card. It is true Alex is not receiving interest for your horn purchase, but you are nevertheless paying interest. You are paying interest to the credit card company. So it's not interest free financing. It's just that the bank receives the interest, not the music company.

    Now at the beginning of this thread someone made the statement that Eclipse trumpets "are ridiculously expensive". I disagree with that statement. I can't afford to buy one. That's true. But I can't afford to buy a lot of things. That doesn't necessarily mean they are "ridiculously expensive".

    I was fortunate enough to win an Eclipse recently. Just a few hours ago I got off the phone with Leigh McKinny, as he called to see how I wanted my new horn built. He would have called sooner, but he has been very ill the past couple of weeks. We started at the open end of the receiver and went through the horn inch by inch until we finished at the inside of the bell. Leigh took two pages of notes listing the details I wanted on the horn. Every option I wanted, I got. The trumpet, when I get it, won't have come off an assembly line along with hundreds of other horns just like it, as in the case of the Zeus G, or with tens of thousands of other horns just like it, as is the case with Bach Strads. If one were to contact either the Zeus factory or the Bach factory with a two page list of custom features he would like to have built into a horn, he would no doubt discover the real meaning of "ridiculously expensive".

    It normally takes up to 6 weeks for Leigh to completely build a custom trumpet by hand. He has material expenses, shop overhead expenses, he pays several technicians, and he has to make enough to live on himself. If a new Eclipse costs $3600, and you divide that by 6 weeks of work, that comes to $600/wk from that horn. Subtract material expenses, shop overhead, cost of labor, etc. from the $600, and one starts to wonder how Leigh can make a profit at all. He can't produce thousands of horns in a month. He can't produce hundreds. He can't even produce tens.

    I strongly take exception to the "ridiculously expensive" accusation. To me building several thousand machine made stock horns with decades old technology and selling them for $1500 each comes closer to being "ridiculously expensive", than the-by comparison-very modest cost of an Eclipse. If you don't think the Eclipse is modestly priced, make a list of details you want on a custom horn and then shop around. Call Leigh and see what he will build you a horn for. Then call Monette and ask him how much to build the same horn. And then just for kicks call the Bach factory or Kanstul. See what kind of quotes you get from them.

    An Eclipse being beyond the price range of most mucisians? Yeah, I consent to that. An Eclipse (or Wild Thing, because it also fits the custom motiff) being ridiculously expensive? Not in my book. If one can afford it, they're worth every penny.
     
  10. MUSICandCHARACTER

    MUSICandCHARACTER Forte User

    1,140
    2
    Jan 31, 2004
    Newburgh, Indiana
    I'm not naive ... and I don't want this to become a ZeuS vs. Wild Thing thread. But to call Kanstul quality "not comparable to the very best" is interesting. I tweak every trombone I sell. I clean the slide, adjust the alignment if necessary. Never had a trombone slide straight from the factory be perfect - they at least pick up junk in the shipping process. Tweak is an interesting word.

    Dave, I know you have an axe to grind -- and perhaps some good reasons for it. But I don't. I believe in the ZeuS line. Players love the horns. It may not be for you --OK. But I certainly have not had a problem with any ZeuS product. According to your signature you don't own a Wild Thing (maybe you do -- I don't really know).

    I certainly will not call people names or insult another brand. Will I point out facts? - certainly. Will I "sell" my line? -- certainly. If I didn't believe in this line, I would not sell them. I will not become a millionaire selling ZeuS horns -- I must do it for other reasons. And that is true for me and the other dealers.

    Back on topic ... The ZeuS payment plan still is better than 21% charge card. That was the main point I was trying to make.

    M&C
     

Share This Page