You said that nothing can come to a 5-digit VI? How about a 1950s King Super 20? I was listening to Milomo (Mike Karn) play his Super 20 of that vintage through a live video feed from a NY club last night, and it had just as much character--if not moreso--than any Mark VI I ever heard. Or have you ever listened to the old duet albums with Lockjaw and Griffin? To me on these records Griffin's superior tone is starkly apparent; and he was on a Super 20 while Jaws was on a 5-digit VI. But that's probably due in large part to Griffin just having a better tone-period. Kind of takes you all the way back to "it's the player not the horn," eh?
What are you currently usng on tnr?