I just wanted to post a little about my new horn I finally settled on. After a long search, playing 22 or 23 Mark VIs and dozens of other horns in the past months (and lots of driving), I've found something I'm happy with. I also feel like I've learned quite a few lessons.
The horn originally had a pick up. After getting the pickup removed the horn played even better. After owning 2 horns with pickups I've come to learn that a pickup can have a large or small influence on how the horn plays. When I had the pick up taken out of my first horn I noticed little to no difference. When I had the pick up taken out of this horn the horn played with more stability and more core in the sound. The difference was more than noticeable and puts the horn on par with the best VIs I've played.
Reeds & the Kitchen Sink
I've recently discovered a new way to handle warped reeds, simply run a powerful stream of water over the tip. I've tried using the bathroom sink, and I don't know if it's because the stream isn't wide enough or powerful enough, but it doesn't seem to work for my tenor reeds. However, the kitchen sink's wider more powerful stream of water works wonders to even out a warped reed tip. Someone let me know if you try the garden hose.