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Bilbo

Soprano Saxophone

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I love this instrument. I was jsut reading about Dave Liebman and thought I would love to have a go at playing one. I also like the idea that I could leave it lying around and pick it up for five minutes whenever I was idle, unlike a bass which is less portable and 'available'(DB) or needs 'lectric and amps and stuff (EB).

I see them starting at less than £200 on the 'net. Obviously, these are cheap starter instruments not gold plated Yanigasawas (is that how you spell it?) but its not that much money for a punt.

Anyone play one?

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1331638298' post='1576197']
I also like the idea that I could leave it lying around and pick it up for five minutes whenever I was idle, unlike a bass which is less portable and 'available'(DB) or needs 'lectric and amps and stuff (EB).

[/quote]

More than all, you need deaf neighbours ;)

Used to play with a soprano player. Another friend said, on the two inner circles of hell is reserved for soprano players, who all solo simultaneously. That's the circle below the one where the guitar players go that play half of a song by Bob Dylan :D

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My girlfriend plays and teaches soprano sax, alto and tenor (not baritone...she is only 5'2!). The soprano is my fav. Bit more of a lead instrument and relatively easier to play because the keys are closer together.

I had a stint in school playing sax and it's not an easy instrument to get to grips with. The breathing and reed technique was something I just couldn't master. The horrible squeaks I was constantly playing whilst practicing did my folks heads in, so they encouraged me to play stringed instruments!

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I fancied having a go at sax, so bought a cheap alto from Gear4Music's budget range. Sadly I found that it arrived with a lot of the springs unhooked, loose keywork and a broken bell-key-guard. Needless to say it went back for a full refund. I'd have been in the market for trying Thomann's budget stuff next in the hope that German efficiency would preclude such disappointment, but in the end I never did because my gf decided to upgrade to a Yanagisawa, so for the price of a day in London to go and try/fetch the new one I scored her old Yamaha and an Otto Link mouthpiece on permanent loan. But yeah, read into my experience what you may* with regards the potential pitfalls of cheap blowdowns, and if you decide to go there, perhaps spring another £25 or so for a half decent mouthpiece to give yourself the best chance. Oh, and synthetic reeds.. I'm enjoying those a lot more than the real ones :)

[size=2]*no actual[i] advice [/i]intended as I freely admit that I know scratch about these things - I'm just enjoying a new way of annoying the neighbours![/size]

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I learned soprano when I worked on ships. I wanted something to write melodies with and I had all day to do nothing so I focused on learning sax. It's a fun instrument. Bill Evans and Wayne Shorter were tones I was aiming for, that rich boxy tone.

Makes your face feel funny for a while when first learning. :)

Edited by TPJ

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Soprano is definitely my favourite of the sax family. I really like some of Lol Coxhill's playing - eg the [i]Fleas in Custard[/i] album (though some of it too "squeaky bonk" out* for me).

*[i]squeaky bonk out[/i]: [i]I picked up this phrase from [url="http://www.janettemason.com/"]Janette Mason[/url], with whom I once studied jazz piano. In the spectrum of "out-ness" that jazz encompasses, "squeaky bonk" out is at the extreme end. [/i] :)

Edited by Earbrass

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I do quite a lot of work with sax players who double on soprano. In one of the bands (a 'reading' one) we sometimes get a sop duet - one straight one curly. You've got to have very good players to stop the whole thing descending into farce, the intonation has to be spot on and the harmonies chosen wisely. I was initially put off the sop by hearing recordings of Sidney Bechet - far too much vibrato. Then when I went too see John Coltrane in London he whipped out a sop and played My Favorite Things. Revelation! and I have liked the instrument ever since, as long as the vibrato is kept well under control.

There, I've managed to get through the post without mentioning Kenny Gee. ...........Oh bu**er, I just have.

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I've been told that it's more difficult to keep correct intonation on soprano than on alto or tenor so it's not really seen as the best sax for beginners

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I live with a sax player, he's got a pair of silver selmer's. A soprano and an alto.

I've attempted to play both with a tuner in front of me and the alto was definitely easier to keep in tune as there is less work to do with your tongue and mouth muscles.

IMO saxophone isn't an instrument you can just dabble on if you've got 5 minutes.

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I never get intimidated by the 'its hard' arguments because people say that about fretless and, whilst there is a nugget of truth in there, all they are really saying is that there is another problem to solve. Thme solution is to solve the problem, not throw in the towel. Milliions of violinists play in tune without frets and millions of sax players play soprano in
tune. Why couldn't I?

I want to have a go, that's all. Need to sell some kit to pay for one.

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1331989959' post='1581785']
I never get intimidated by the 'its hard' arguments because people say that about fretless and, whilst there is a nugget of truth in there, all they are really saying is that there is another problem to solve. Thme solution is to solve the problem, not throw in the towel. Milliions of violinists play in tune without frets and millions of sax players play soprano in
tune. Why couldn't I?

I want to have a go, that's all. Need to sell some kit to pay for one.
[/quote]

I didn't mean it like that Bilbo, i know your not one to shy away from hard work. I know your not planning on playing Brecker lines over night :lol:

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1332174057' post='1584287']
Phwoar....
[/quote]

Mauriat..?

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1331989959' post='1581785']
I never get intimidated by the 'its hard' arguments because people say that about fretless and, whilst there is a nugget of truth in there, all they are really saying is that there is another problem to solve. Thme solution is to solve the problem, not throw in the towel. Milliions of violinists play in tune without frets and millions of sax players play soprano in
tune. Why couldn't I?[/quote]

Soprano is usually left until the student has learnt to control their embouchure on alto. It's difficult enough to control the cheek muscles and your breath just to get a decent tone while learning your fingering without having to concentrate on intonation.

Alto sax is hard. Soprano sax is like learning to ride a unicycle in a force ten gale while someone pokes you with a broomstick.

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This is the one you need Bilbo, very reasonably priced too

[url="http://www.sax.co.uk/acatalog/Selmer-Series-III-Soprano--125th-Anniversary---Solid-Sterling-Silver-226135846.html"]http://www.sax.co.uk/acatalog/Selmer-Series-III-Soprano--125th-Anniversary---Solid-Sterling-Silver-226135846.html[/url]

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I'm an average sax player and play mainly tenor and bari sax in the function band. I originally learnt on clarinet and then moved onto alto sax. I have played soprano and agree with the other posts that it seems more difficult to keep good intonation on soprano than the other saxes.

Generally I would advise against 'cheap chinese' instruments and go for a Yamaha student level instrument, the advantage being that if you don't get on with it but look after the instrument there will be a much bigger second hand market available. Generally the Yamaha's are consistently good instruments.

TBH I'd probably still start with an alto as my first sax and then once you have a good embouchure you can pretty much play any size sax.

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[quote name='spike' timestamp='1332433619' post='1588354']
This is the one you need Bilbo, very reasonably priced too

[url="http://www.sax.co.uk/acatalog/Selmer-Series-III-Soprano--125th-Anniversary---Solid-Sterling-Silver-226135846.html"]http://www.sax.co.uk...-226135846.html[/url]
[/quote]

My first call sax player has a series III in solid silver & a matching alto, i'll try find a picture!

Bilbo, why not rent one to see how you get on before shelling out?

IIRC its generally about £50-70 a quarter!

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[quote name='JakeBrownBass' timestamp='1332435682' post='1588393']
My first call sax player has a series III in solid silver & a matching alto, i'll try find a picture!

Bilbo, why not rent one to see how you get on before shelling out?

IIRC its generally about £50-70 a quarter!
[/quote]

Oops, make that a Selmer mk VI

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[quote name='Ed_S' timestamp='1332413275' post='1587842']


Mauriat..?
[/quote]

Mais oui....

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[quote name='spike' timestamp='1332433619' post='1588354']
This is the one you need Bilbo, very reasonably priced too

[url="http://www.sax.co.uk/acatalog/Selmer-Series-III-Soprano--125th-Anniversary---Solid-Sterling-Silver-226135846.html"]http://www.sax.co.uk/acatalog/Selmer-Series-III-Soprano--125th-Anniversary---Solid-Sterling-Silver-226135846.html[/url]
[/quote]

I'll have two of them.....(they are nice, though)

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This 'start on alto and move onto soprano later' malarky is a bit frustrating. I have little enough time as it is without playing the wrong blooming instrument. But is it a case of 'more haste, less speed'? I have looked at hire and it seems that sopranos are more expensive to hire that tenors and altos. Bloody typical; the smallest costs the most. Story of my bloody life.

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[quote name='Bilbo' timestamp='1332505042' post='1589227']
This 'start on alto and move onto soprano later' malarky is a bit frustrating. I have little enough time as it is without playing the wrong blooming instrument. But is it a case of 'more haste, less speed'? I have looked at hire and it seems that sopranos are more expensive to hire that tenors and altos. Bloody typical; the smallest costs the most. Story of my bloody life.
[/quote]

Yes, it's a case of less haste, more speed (or whatever).

Start on alto and switch once you have the basics down... chances are you'll become a reasonable soprano player quicker than you would if you started on soprano.

The alto isn't all that "wrong"... the fingering is the same (as written, you play a C exactly the same way, only it would sound like Eb rather than Bb)... the general technique is the same too. There's a certain amount of adjustment, but a decent alto player will be able to deal with this.

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I play alto.
As with all instuments they have easy bits and difficult bits. single note instruments can be easier to start with, but the mouth training and breathing exercises can be difficult to start with - especially until you get past the dribbling stage!!

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