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Thread: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

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    Super Action Man's Avatar
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    Default Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    I am considering purchasing a soprano and I am at a bit of a crossroads as to what to buy. At the absolute top of my price range is a Phil Barone, but I am also considering a Kessler Custom, or perhaps an Antigua. I know that there are other good sopranos in that price range, but I am at a loss as to where I could buy one and quite frankly, it seems quite a bit easier so choose between these brands, as they are all easily attainable (and i hear their customer service is good :-))

    So it would be great to have some insight into these saxophones, specifically how they measure up to each other, how they measure up to their price, and how (or if) they can measure up to more expensive brands, like Selmer's and Yamaha's.

    Thanks,

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    I went through the same decision making process last month. I went back and forth between Antigua, Kessler and Barone and finally decided on the Barone. I've played the Barone for about a month and I love it!. I can't put it down. The intonation is great and the sound is warm.
    A couple of years ago I had an Antigua. The model I had was their very first soprano and it was not good. I don't remember the model number but it predated the models that everyone really likes. The intonation was so bad it was almost unplayable. I understand that they have improved greatly and are now a fine horn.

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    You should buy a used late model CE winds professional curved soprano like the one i have for sale in the marketplace!
    "The key to improvising is being able to play and listen at the same time."

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    Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru milandro's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    I am sure that all the named horns ar very good but I would also include horns rebuild by Bruce Bailey (he buys I think Chinese horns and makes them great players) or Bauhaus Walstein from Palo Tung (I am very partial to the curved AI bronze soprano)

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    Forum Contributor 2012 dexdex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    I know it doesn't answer your question, but a used Japanese soprano might fit your budget. They remain the best value for the $$.
    Sop Yana SC900 - Vandoren S25 - Fiberreed Carbon Classic MH ¦ Alto SA-II - Meyer 7M - Fiberreed Carbon M
    Tenor MkVII - Link STM 8* - Fiberreed Carbon M ¦ Bari SA-II - JJ ESP 7* - Fiberreed Carbon M
    Hear them on The Groove Merchant.

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    If you are going to go to Palo Tung (justsaxes.com), he also offers his own line as well. With either that or the BW horns, he carefully sets the horns up before he ships them. I understand Kessler does that as well (for both the Kessler and the Antigua), but haven't ever gotten a horn directly from them.

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    Forum Contributor 2011 Sterling Archer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    I like my Kessler (I got a KCS-1). That being said...if I had the money...I'd have gone for a Barone (he has some pretty cool finish options).

    For the money though...I don't think you can go wrong with a Kessler. And yes....they're setup/inspected prior to shipment (they do a great job with packaging). My horn played great right out of the box (this coming from someone that had never played soprano before). My only complaint is that I don't get to play it as often as I would like to.

    Give Dave Kessler a call. He'll discuss your options (if you tell him your budget....he'll have plenty of insight for you).

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    Super Action Man's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    Sterling Archer, how is the sound and intonation with your Kessler? I know sound is highly dependent on the player, but please humor me! Could you compare it to another soprano?

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    As has often been joked about, it well could be that all of those models come from the same factory with different labels put on them. I don't believe that really, but you get my point. The real differences are generated by the care, negotiating, and quality-control the owner of the brand puts on those horns when he contracts with whatever-factory.

    I have an Antigua 590 LQ (meaning it is a Yanagisawa S991 copy with hi-G keying in lacquered brass) and it is a good player - well worth the little I spent for it - at Kessler's shop. I bought the Antigua new before he brought out his latest line of sopranos and I have not played any of his sopranos. I've bought several instruments from Kessler, both in person and by Internet order. I have been completely satisfied with everything I bought from him. I trust the Kesslers to do the right thing.

    I also think that Dexdex had a good idea about a used Japanese soprano. I own three Yanagisawas sopranos and they are all great players. DAVE
    Dave

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    Thanks Dave (and Dex) I will certainly keep an eye out for a used Yamaha or Yani.
    However, after quite a bit of research, I've decided to eliminate the Kessler Custom from my choices because of potential resale value (sorry, Sterling Archer). However, if I'm wrong about that, please correct me!
    Now it's between the Barone and the Antigua. I'm leaning toward the Antigua in terms of price. I've also listened to some soundclips of it, and I like what I've heard (although I don't expect to sound like that myself).

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    I will PM you. DAVE
    Dave

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    Forum Contributor 2011 Sterling Archer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Super Action Man View Post
    Sterling Archer, how is the sound and intonation with your Kessler? I know sound is highly dependent on the player, but please humor me! Could you compare it to another soprano?
    I haven't played any other sopranos...so I have no points of comparison. I like the sound of it...that's my uneducated opinion. For what I've got in it ($603)...I feel pretty good about the cost/value of the horn.


    Quote Originally Posted by Super Action Man View Post
    Thanks Dave (and Dex) I will certainly keep an eye out for a used Yamaha or Yani.
    However, after quite a bit of research, I've decided to eliminate the Kessler Custom from my choices because of potential resale value (sorry, Sterling Archer). However, if I'm wrong about that, please correct me!
    Now it's between the Barone and the Antigua. I'm leaning toward the Antigua in terms of price. I've also listened to some soundclips of it, and I like what I've heard (although I don't expect to sound like that myself).
    We're talking about a ~$600-800 horn here (the Kessler). It's not going to take anymore of a hit in resale value than a Barone or Antigua. A guy recently sold his ~three year old KCS-1 here for ~$375. Keep in mind that horn was likely only $500 new.

    My KCS-1 with the Rico H ligature...including shipping...was $603. For that kind of money, I can't say that I can about resale value. Let's be honest here. There are enough pieces of $h1t floating around for $300 even to keep mine at $350+...in my opinion.

    Keep in mind...all three of those horns are really just clones of another horn (i.e. Yani or Selmer). If you go spend ~$1,400 on a Barone soprano, I can't imagine that you're going to get over a grand for it if you go to sell it a couple years from now. Personally...I'd rather have x <$1,000 tied up in an instrument that I'm not sure if I'll keep long-term than $1,400+.

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    Okay, that is a very good point. Thank you for your help.

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    Forum Contributor 2011 Sterling Archer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    It all depends on what your budget is. If you're comfortable spending $1,400+ on a horn...look at something like a used Yani. However, I'm assuming that you're budget conscious if you have the Kessler on your list. Another thing to consider...mouthpiece. If you go blow your wad on a higher end horn, you won't have the money to upgrade the mouthpiece (if you're unhappy with the one that horn 'x' comes with).

    My tenor is 50+ years old...a solid piece of German craftsmanship. I can go right from my tenor to the Kessler soprano and not get the feeling of going to a cheaply made horn.

    I think Kessler does a sort of "test drive" of their horns. i.e. They keep something like 10% as a re-stock fee. That's another thing to consider. Anyways....there's the end of my speech. Good luck on your hunt.

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    If I buy from Kessler (whether or not I go with the Kessler Custom or Antigua) then I can upgrade the mouthpiece for a very good price. Definitely a pro :-).

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    I really hate to say it, but (without naming names) I spoke to many folks at NAMM about the different horn companies that are all using the same base body and many of the same components as they are made from the same place.

    I can't speak on which factory it is that turns it all out- I really didn't ask- but I can say that the "vintaged" finish from say, Mauriat, next to the vintage finish of a Eastman, and MacSax, looks AND feel very similar. Now look at them next to the photos online of Barone and... Some may play slightly different, but set-ups and the like will make subtle differences.

    The point is, however, wherever they are coming from, there is some VERY good product(s) out there and can be had at competitive prices in stark contrast to the big deuce of Selmer and Yamaha. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Yamaha fan, but I can tell you that the Mauriat 86UL got my reed wet!
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    Forum Contributor 2011 Sterling Archer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Super Action Man View Post
    If I buy from Kessler (whether or not I go with the Kessler Custom or Antigua) then I can upgrade the mouthpiece for a very good price. Definitely a pro :-).
    Yup. I really like the H ligature. I've since upgraded to that pro mouthpiece (haven't gotten to play on it yet though ).

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Super Action Man View Post
    Okay, that is a very good point. Thank you for your help.
    Sterling beat me to it. Regardless of the brand new horn, Barone, Mauriatt, Kessler, Yani, Selmer, ad infinitum... you will take anywhere from a ~40% to ~60% hit when you go to resell it. If resale is a big factor in the purchasability equation, you've got to go used, any make, in order to avoid that big initial resale hit.

    Btw, last I knew, Kessler's has a 3-day trial period on horns & they pay the return shipping if horn returned. (have to visit website to verify). Not sure if there is any restocking/cleaning fee on mouthpieces too.

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    Forum Contributor 2012 dexdex's Avatar
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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    A used Yani or Yam won't lose any value. They make the best sopranos anyway. I'm trying to understand why one should dump 1500 bucks on a Taiwanese one size fits all toy, when you can get a real horn, played by all pros all over the world.
    Sop Yana SC900 - Vandoren S25 - Fiberreed Carbon Classic MH ¦ Alto SA-II - Meyer 7M - Fiberreed Carbon M
    Tenor MkVII - Link STM 8* - Fiberreed Carbon M ¦ Bari SA-II - JJ ESP 7* - Fiberreed Carbon M
    Hear them on The Groove Merchant.

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    Default Re: Buying a Soprano -Advice Needed

    dexdex has a point. I bought my "used" Yanagisawa S901 from an eBay auction by Wichita Band a few years ago. Paid $1500 for it and it is a great soprano. The horn was pristine - they claimed they sold it new and the buyer rarely played it. The condition of the horn leads me to believe them. Even one that shows more wear than mine could end up being MUCH superior to an inexpensive Taiwan/Chinese soprano. DAVE
    Dave

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