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Thread: from alto to soprano ?

  1. #1

    Default from alto to soprano ?

    Hi !

    I play the alto for 8 years now and I'm thinking about buying a soprano sax as a second horn. How is the switch ? Is it radical ? A friend told me that soprano is hard to play ... is it true ?

    thanks to all

  2. #2

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    Going from Alto to Sop is just a little different. The main difference is getting the higher notes on the Sop in tune. You'll need to get your embochure a little tighter. But other than that its not hard to switch. One word of advice. Don't get a lacquered sop. I did, and its about twice as heavy as a non-laq. My thumbs are always killing me after a gig with my sop.
    "...everyone needs a little more sax in their lives..."
    http://www.jeffsturgill.com

  3. #3

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    also get a curved. personally i think a straight looks to much like a clarinet, and i hate calrinets just because of players from high school and my local community band, but i think they put out a more "saxophone" sound


    Alto: Selmer Super Action 80 Series II, Caravan Mouthpiece, Rovner Eddie Daniels II Ligatures

    Soprano: Musica, Caravan Mouthpiece, Rovner Eddie Daniels II Ligatures

  4. #4
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    JASaxman: Please tell me you are joking about not buying a lacquered soprano because they weigh twice as much. Your post is misleading to someone who asked a legitimate question.

    I have several lacquered saxophones (altos and sopranos) and there is no weight difference among those that are lacquered and those that are not lacquered. DAVE

  5. #5

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    regaurding getting a curved soprano. First i have to say that getting a curved one just b/c a straight "looks like" a clarinet is a poor choice.
    by no means do i claime to be an expert or 'very knowledgable' but i myself have been considering learning soprano after playing alto for about four years.
    I have done some extensive research on the web reguarding makes and models of sopranos. I have found that soprano saxophones are usually straight because the length of the instrument allows them to be rather than the larger brothers. the difference that i have found is that a curved soprano offers a much brighter sound not necissarly "more saxophone". it is not the curved shape that gives the sax its sound but rather that it's body has a conical shape (cone-like) and not cylindrical meaning that as you go from the neck to bell the thickness of the horn increases where as a clarinet stays the same.
    so really, i suggest 'test' out different horns to see what you feel is best
    and also from what i have read, the soprano embuchure is alot less 'forgiving' than that of the alto and it can be alot harder to 'master'.

  6. #6

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    I've played tenor for a bit over 5 years and took up soprano a few months ago to play in a quartet. Its very different but not hard. My techer described playing upper notes on soprano as feeling like playing "easy" altissimo on tenor. He meant that the notes come out easily enough but playing them in tune required similar control to playing altissimo on Tenor. This seemed to be the case, though I by no means claim to be terribly experienced with playing altissimo. This may be less noticeable on Alto since its range is closer to that of the Soprano.

    I have a Yanagisawa SC-901 curved soprano and I've never played any modern soprano that compares. I prefer the curved sopranos because the bow makes the different registers sound more uniform. Yani curved sops also tend to not have as many tuning issues that plague most curved sopranos. But the biggest issue with any soprano is intonation but I'm sure most people would agree that ironing out the intonation issues on a soprano will also improve your alto playing. Also soprano is just really fun to play!

  7. #7

    Default Curved Soprano

    Right now I have a Jean Baptiste straight soprano. I am using a beechler mouthpiece with a .65 Tip Opening and Rico Royal 2.5 Reeds. I want to get a curved soprano, but I want to get some opinions on the WoodWind Curved Soprano Saxophone for $600.00 Dollars. I want to know if I should use the same tip opening on the soprano sax that I use on the alto sax. For example I have a Meyer 5 on my Alto with a .70 tip opening. Should I get a .70 tip opening mouthpiece for my soprano saxophone.

  8. #8
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    Iceman: I once owned a WW&BW curved soprano. It had one of the worst scales I'd ever experienced on a soprano. I prefer straight sops to curvies, but I own and play both designs.

    I suppose an alto mouthpiece with the same tip-opening as a soprano would play, but that sure wouldn't be my choice. True, a piece's tip-opening is only one of many factors in playability, but being one who likes open tips, I'd want to go a lot bigger on my alto piece - and I do. DAVE
    Dave

  9. #9
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    i really want to get a sc991 when i get enough money, thats after i get enough money for an a991, hmm, maybe i should get a sc992 instead. anyways, saxophones are way to expensive eh?

    also i wouldnt think it would be too hard of a change, firm up the embochure, little more control maybe. hands a little closer together. i would say go for it.

  10. #10

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    This answer is coming from someone who has had a soprano in hand just over 1 week, but has played altos for 27 years. (Current sop is borrowed.)

    The first 3 days were murderous. My choir director wanted to murder me (just kidding) because I was so out of tune. Fortunately, on the third day I made a major leap in determining what I was doing wrong. By the fourth day, I had moments of thinking, "Wow, I sound Good," even on the higher notes. The piece I was attempting had some higher parts, and I dropped some of them down an octave for the performance because, even though I could sometimes get the whole tune to sing gorgeously, I was rather inconsistent from one attempt to the next. It didn't help that all this playing with a tighter embechure (and playing badly for a few days) put a bad sore on my lower lip. In the end, the piece came off pretty sweetly, but it took a leap of faith for the choir director to let me play it.

    Don't hesitate to get one or borrow one. Sops are pretty cool. I still think I might buy one some day.

  11. #11

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    I have been playing soprano for about 2 months now, after playing tenor regularly for the last year. It was my present for making Ph.D. candidacy!

    Make sure you get a good soprano. I have a YSS-475 and am very pleased with it. A little bright, but I have a dark tone anyways. Otherwise, you will be wrestling with intonation forever. A nice mouthpiece/lig combination helps a lot, too. I use a hard rubber bundy and a bonade soprano lig. Tip openings in the .053-.060 range will allow you to get an open sound without sounding too much like a metal oboe.

    Soprano will help you with your embouchure and intonation. Make sure you tune the mouthpiece to Db; working on the mouthpiece alone for 5 minutes will get you used to the little mouthpiece. After you are used to the embochure, notes to C above the staff should be no more than 8-10 cents either way (with the exception of ugly Middle D). The palm keys are the worst part; there are many occasions where I will whip out the tuner after playing a 20 cents sharp high "E" in a Ferling etude. Here, your airstream and key height will play a huge role in making these tones sound good instead of shrill and sharp. At least now I hear the sharp tones instead of not noticing them!

    Soprano is also tiring...I can only play the horn for about 1 hour total before my chops give out. Don't try to force playing...you'll end up biting and your lower lip and tone will suffer. If you get a one-piece horn, I'd suggest hitting the gym for some shoulder exercises...you'll need them to hold the soprano for a long period of time!

    The last thing soprano did for me is not want to play my tenor. Can't get a jazz or rock sound , classical is out of the question. I don't know if that's good or not! I am interested in seeing what the sop. has done for my alto embochure since I got it back from the shop.
    Soprano - YSS-475A, Geo Bundy 3, Vandoren 2 1/2
    Alto - Selmer AS110, Selmer S90 190, Vandoren BB 3
    Tenor - 70's Selmer Signet (LH Bell), Vandoren T25, Hemke 3 1/2
    Baritone - Jupiter 593-BL, Selmer S90 190, LaVoz M-Hard.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SaxPower
    Hi !

    I play the alto for 8 years now and I'm thinking about buying a soprano sax as a second horn. How is the switch ?

    A friend told me that soprano is hard to play ... is it true ?

    thanks to all
    1. Go for the gusto - there more saxes you can play, the better.
    2. The switch isn't so bad, and you get to learn your tunes in other keys. (I'm mainly a piano player, so working on alto and soprano lets me look at charts in whole new ways.)
    3. See if you can rent a semi-decent horn to see if you like playing the soprano. If you do, try out as many brands/models as you can. (I was lucky enough to be able to run the gamut from a tepid Kohlert to a suprisingly loud and in-tune silver Cannonball curved to an amazing '72 Mark VI before I had to pick my horn.)

    Enjoy yourself!
    Flow.

  13. #13

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    I prefer straight soporano over curved. It's hard enough going from Tenor to Alto and it feeling like a tinker toy. My fingers on a straight soprano feel more natural.

    I don't necessarily agree with the other posters on the brightness differences.

    I think the mouthpiece/reed has alot to do with the ease of play and endurance on soprano because the mouthpiece is so much smaller and your embouchure will need to work harder.

    Definitely try as many sax/mouthpiece combinations as possible before you purchase. i.e. don't be tempted by ebay prices.

    I had also played Alto for 8 years before choosing Tenor as my second instrument once I started playing gigs.

  14. #14

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    I am primarily an alto player but have had to play soprano quite frequently in the last month for a competetion. I found that when I went back to alto I would have a lot more edge then I would normally have. I put up my soprano for a while last weekend and have been playing tenor and noticed my alto sound has actually become purer and more resonant. I am thinking that if you can get rid of the edge on tenor, it greatly improves your tone on the smaller saxes. Has anyone else experienced this?
    Last edited by sris27; 05-13-2006 at 05:05 AM.
    Yamaha YAS-62II Alto w/ Selmer S-90, Vandoren Optimum, Hemke 3.5
    Antigua 590 Soprano w/ Vandoren SL4 , Rovner Light Lig and Vandoren 3.0

  15. #15

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    I'm an alto player and got a soprano for Christmas. I love it! The very first time that I tried playing one right after the other, I couldn't even blow into the alto. It takes a lot more of a focused air stream in the soprano. I quickly got the hang of it though. But Sopranos Rock(JAZZ)!

  16. #16

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    I have played the alto for 5 years now and my school has asked me to paly the soprano for the quartet, I felt the transition was relativly easy, it's a little harder to play so you have to try harder but go for it, i'm sure you'll love ti, i certianly do!

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