Saxophone Forum


by terramar
(1 post)
11 months ago

Intermediate straight soprano

After a 25 year break from playing, I'm ready to start again.  I was a pretty good player in high school (lead alto in the jazz band - I played for 10 years), but college pulled me away from the horn, and then.....

Anyways, I'm ready to start playing again, but I'd like to start on a soprano.

I'm looking for a good intermediate-quality instrument.  Something around $1000.  I've been reading up on various chinese-made instruments, and I'm more confused than ever.

I live in the Los Angeles area, so I'm going to make a pilgrimage to a number of different stores in the upcoming weeks, but I'm looking for some ideas and advice.

I'm more comfortable right now buying a new horn, instead of used, and I want to be sure to buy from a reputable shop - either local or online.   I'd prefer to give the business to a local shop though, so any recommendations are appreciated.

I've been reading about Kessler and LA Sax models.  Can anyone commend on these directly?

Any other ideas are greatly appreciated!

 

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  1. by GFC
    (359 posts)

    11 months ago

    Re: Intermediate straight soprano

    No experience with either here, but Kessler seems like a good shop to buy from if you go the online route.  Good standards for what they sell, reasonable prices, instruments  set up before they are sold, and a trial-return policy.  Antigua is a well regarded brand of moderately priced horns with store distribution.  You'd probably be able to find it in the L. A. area.  Chateau is another well regarded moderately priced brand,  but I'm not sure about their store distribution.  There might be something in your range at a Cannonball dealer.  If you can test how some of them play, that would be a huge advantage.

    There is a difference between Taiwanese horns and mainland China horns.  There are lots of good horns coming out of Taiwan and some scandalously bad ones coming out of PRC. 

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    1. by ttkentucky
      (2 posts)

      11 months ago

      Re: Intermediate straight soprano

      Glad to see someone else with a similar desire to get back into playing again.  I played tenor through high school but have been away from the instrument for about 30 years.  Color me crazy but I want to start playing again and really want to go with the soprano now - personal preference.  I don't have any illusions on the challenge and long road ahead of me, but will admit that it was a shock to my lips when I tried out a used Selmer SS600 that a local store had in stock.  Maybe it was just me being so rusty, but I wasn't that happy with the sound of it.  I want a clearer tone than I was getting out of the Selmer.  I also realize that's a lower-end, student-level instrument so maybe that contributed to the experience.  I'm really serious about doing this and want something that I enjoy playing so will keep looking.  I do want to try and keep it under $2K.  Any thoughts or encouragement?  Is it just my inexperience with not having a great feel about the Selmer?  Other recommendations in line with the orginal post as well?

      Thanks

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      1. by GFC
        (359 posts)

        10 months ago

        Re: Intermediate straight soprano

        It's hard to say what exact difficulty you were having with that particular horn, but having an out of shape embouchure probably didn't help.  You've got your work cut out for you to develop it to the point where you can get a full and rich sound with good intonation from a soprano.  My experience with soprano (I've put it aside for a while to concentrate on tenor) was that larger tip openings and harder reeds got me the clearest sound, but they were very taxing physically.  At the time I had a biting problem on soprano and tenor, but it was much more severe on soprano.  So developing that embouchure to where you can control it precisely with a reasonable amount of relaxation is essential.

        I love the sound of vintage sopranos from the 1920s and 1930s that is clearer and darker than modern sopranos, which can tend towards the thin and shrill side.  But there's a tradeoff in that the ergonomics aren't nearly as good and a lot more effort is required to play them in tune.   They can be had for less than two grand, but be aware of what you're getting into and budget for some reconditioning if you go that route.

        If I were in the market for a new soprano for less than two grand, I would be very interested in the Kessler handmade model because it is purpose-built for the darker vintage sound and has some true top end features usually found on more costly horns.  It's the best value per dollar proposition that I'm aware of in sopranos.  Well worth checking out on Kessler's website.

        Guess we shouldn't forget Jupiter for solid, moderately priced horns.
         

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