All Things Saxophone

Cannonball Vintage Alto Sax

Last modified 09/12/08


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The rumor about the Cannonball Vintage series is that the tooling used to make the Selmer Mark VI saxophones was purchased by Cannonball or one of its subcontractors and is being used to make this line of saxes.   I have attempted to independently confirm this with no success so at this point it I can only call it part of the buzz about these horns that has Cannonball’s marketing department congratulating themselves.  And, I must admit that they have made a horn that is a lot like the classic Selmer Mark VI.  This line is so new Cannonball hasn’t got much to say about them on their website.  Here’s the link since updates will surely be coming soon.

· Construction, look & feel

First I must give some kudos to Cannonball’s marketing department again.  The horn comes in a case that, although new, looks like it transported through a time warp from 1963 (case pictured at left).  The case exterior even seems to be leather — if it’s a simulated leather it’s very good.   The model I reviewed is a “Lady Godiva” edition with hand engraving and a signed certificate from the technician.  Another great marketing ploy—has nothing to do with the performance of the sax but a lot of buyers won’t care.  The saxophone is inlaid with semi precious stone on the keys, although not as much as the Cannonball Stone Series Alto.   Like its sister horn the Cannonball Vintage Tenor, the action is very good — reminiscent of the Selmer Mark VI, better than the Stone Series, and comparable to the Yamaha Custom Z or the Buffet 400.   The only exception is the spatula notes — they don’t transition as well as I would expect (listen to the sound byte below) but that may be because I’m not used to the spatula layout on this horn.  Pads are good construction with nickel resonators throughout.

· Sound

This horn has a solid sound again reminiscent of the Mark VI.  However, I’m a sound guy and it just doesn’t measure up to the Buffet 400 series Alto or a classic King Super 20.  I played the horn with my standard setup (Meyer 6M, Harrison ligature, Zonda 3.5 reed).  Here’s a sample of my sound working the spatula keys:


Listen to the Cannonball Vintage Alto


Here’s a similar motif on a King Super 20:


Listen to the King Super 20


And the Yamaha Custom Z:


Listen to the Yamaha Custom Z


· Intonation

The horn has some sharp & flat issues in the altissimo — nothing real serious and similar to the Yamaha Custom or the Buffet 400.  The scale is very solid in the standard range of the horn.

· Price

Cannonball engraves their saxophones with “Designed in USA”.  This comes across as a clever marketing maneuver to make the buyer think they are made domestically.  The horn is priced higher (about $2700) than the other good horns made overseas in China & Taiwan — about the same as a Yamaha Custom and much less than the incredibly overpriced Selmer Reference.  Reasonably priced but not the best buy in a saxophone.  Also, it’s not available through the Internet — Cannonball has a noble objective for not allowing Internet sales (to support the local music stores and the service they provide to students), but I don’t know if that philosophy will survive in today’s e-commerce environment.


The Vintage is another good line of saxes from the folks at Cannonball.  It very much lives up to the legacy it is claiming a relationship to.  However it’s that legacy that would keep me from owning one.  For all the good action and feel this sax has, the sound just doesn’t cut it for me.

The Cannonball Vintage case

Keys on the Cannonball  vintage are inlaid with semi-precious stone. 

Text Box: SaxophoneMan’s ratings:
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Text Box: Sound

Text Box:  3.7

Cannonball Vintage Alto “Lady Godiva”

Cannonball's Web Site

The “Lady Godiva” artwork Hand engraved on the bell