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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumps View Post
    I was once told by a dealer, the very first time I ever saw a sopranino sax, that they were used to more easily cover hyper-technical piccolo trumpet parts.
    Do any piccolo trumpets come in Eb? I've never heard of any. But if that were true, I guess it'd be typical of the brass: Stick the saxophonist with the parts that are too hard for them, and then make the poor guy transpose them as well!

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    I was once told by a dealer, the very first time I ever saw a sopranino sax, that they were used to more easily cover hyper-technical piccolo trumpet parts.
    There is some truth to this. Years ago I played the piccolo trumpet part in the Bach Brandenburg in 16 concerts with the New Jersey Symphony. (I played other pieces on alto in the program.) Using a more crisp mouthpiece (Van Doren) than usual, and taking some time to match the trumpet articulation, it worked quite well. Transposing the picc trumpet part to the Eb sopranino was just a step in the right direction, something I was used to in playing sopranino in Bolero.

    Paul Cohen

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    Forum Contributor 2008 Michigansax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Dr. Cohen-

    Over the past 2 years or so, I have been looking for a sopranino. I bought a later Mark VI (keyed to hi F#) as well as an unbranded Taiwanese SAII copy, and a P Mauriat. For me the loser of the bunch was the Selmer. I could not get past the ergonomics and horrific tuning over most of the horn (I was using a C*). The other 2 horns were nearly identical as I'm confident that came from the same factory. I was able to get a beautiful sound on them but the tuning on the high B and C rendered the horn nearly useless for me (I used my Vandoren mpc with these). I have moved on from all of these horns. A Selmer Series 2 is out of the question for me as I'm not about to spend $11k. I have been in contact with the Rampone showroom and the have a couple in stock and the are better suited to my budget. Do you think that this is the best modern sopranino available? What tuning issues have you encountered?

    Thanks ,

    Joey

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Hi Joey
    I own a silver plated curved Rampone sopranino that I custom ordered. When I received it from the factory it played well, but somewhat irregularly and was not as impressive as I had hoped. I spoke with Rovner afterwards, who had just become the USA representative for Rampone. He offered to go over it and put it into original, intended specifications. He did so, and also sent a new straight sopranino, and they were just outstanding! Without question two of the best sopraninos I have played.
    Besides the Rampones, the other unquestionably excellent sopranino is the Yanigasawa. The only problem is its key range to high E.
    The Selmers are also excellent, but both the slightly brighter sound and expense take it out of the discussion.
    I understand your consternation over the high B and C. They are issues on most of the sopraninos I own and play. My repairman critically adjusts the top hand keys to better accommodate pitch on the B. I also use reliable alternate fingerings that give me an excellent B, but forces me to re-think even simple passages to include the fingerings.
    I am doing some research into customized mouthpieces to see if the sharpness in the register can be affected by the mouthpiece proportions. More on this later.
    Of course, the most in-tune sopraninos I own are my appropriately regulated Bueschers and Conns (with original mouthpieces) and my early Evette-Schaeffers.
    My performance sopranino has always been my Mark VI, with either a customized Selmer mouthpiece, a Van Doren mouthpiece, or lately a new Caravan mouthpiece. My Rampone and Yanig could easily substitute, but the Rampone is slightly brighter, and for some of my sopranino playing I do enjoy the extra key range of the Mark VI.
    For those on a budget, I have found that the Berkeley (same as Kessler) sopranino comes close to the sound and pitch of the others, and has a complete key range. They are suprisingly functional, though no one will mistake them for the higher-end instruments.

    Paul Cohen

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Joey,
    I own the Allora Vienna sopranino (same as the Berkely, Kessler and P. Mauriat). I did two things that help intonation in the upper stack (high A through C). First, I reduced the upper octave pip opening and second I added an insert in the upper neck made of teflon sheet. After playing the horn with the modifications for several weeks I found that I needed to remove the neck insert because I became used to voicing those notes into pitch. Send me a PM if you're interested in details about the modifications.

    I'm playing a custom large chamber mouthpiece made using a Yanagisawa mouthpiece as a "blank". In theory, a larger chamber might make the upper range of the horn even more sharp since the mouthpiece would need to be pushed onto the horn farther make the upper "short" notes sharper. That said, I'm not really having trouble with the upper stack notes any longer.

    I've owned several sopranino including a vintage Buescher, Selmer Mk VI, Yanagisawa, a cheap Yanagisawa clone and the Allora (I still own the last two). Each one had its own idiosyncrasies. Each required modifications or special adjustments to find the best compromises in intonation. Like Dr. Cohen stated, sometimes it is necessary to develop a number of alternate fingerings for certain playing situations.

    Dr. Farrel Vernon prefers his P. Mauriat over his Selmer Mk VI. I don't know of anyone who has recorded the sopranino so extensively. If case you haven't discovered his recordings, some of them have been posted on YouTube:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcsg...Y5jYCT35aKPD2u

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRoP...pw-MiAM3OhuXaJ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlxV...K_P1mF-mETcJwU

    -Jorns

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorns Bergenson View Post
    I own the Allora Vienna sopranino (same as the Berkely, Kessler and P. Mauriat).
    The Allora nino is currently on sale at the WW&BW and Amazon for $1200. That's about $400-$450 less than the B or K (though you do get less engraving ) and just a little more than a third of the price of the PM! This may answer the question of how cheap a sopranino can be without being "too cheap."

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by LostConn View Post
    The Allora nino is currently on sale at the WW&BW and Amazon for $1200. That's about $400-$450 less than the B or K (though you do get less engraving ) and just a little more than a third of the price of the PM! This may answer the question of how cheap a sopranino can be without being "too cheap."
    Yes, I believe it is the best sopranino value available today.

    The cheap Yanagisawa and Selmer clones at around $500 have build quality issues all over the place. I reviewed a Yanagisawa clone in this thread. It needed at least $200 of bench work to put it straight. My Allora had problems but not as near as bad as the Yani clone.

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    I went to hear Ravi Coltrane last week. For the last song of his set, he played a sopranino and sounded amazing on it. The intonation was great and he had total control of it. When I asked him what he was playing, he told me he told me it was a cheap $400 horn he got that was from China. I was shocked. I wanted one immediately, but after seeing those horns are hit and miss, I'm afraid to get one..

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w34raXD77Yw. Ravi Coltrane playing sopranino, 2016.

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaleelshaw View Post
    I went to hear Ravi Coltrane last week. For the last song of his set, he played a sopranino and sounded amazing on it. The intonation was great and he had total control of it. When I asked him what he was playing, he told me he told me it was a cheap $400 horn he got that was from China. I was shocked. I wanted one immediately, but after seeing those horns are hit and miss, I'm afraid to get one..
    Quote Originally Posted by perina14 View Post
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w34raXD77Yw. Ravi Coltrane playing sopranino, 2016.
    First, thanks for posting that clip.

    Hmm... I don't know how to put this... this clip demonstrates Ravi's improvisation style and ability, but frankly, IMO, it is not a demonstration of a good use for a sopranino. Most of the time it had me squinting and squirming and wishing I could hear him play that solo on tenor. Maybe I should fall back to "it ain't my cup of tea".

    Getting a bit off topic, but...
    To me, the sopranino should be used in occasions that are purposeful, where the range and tonality of the little horn fit the musical setting. I've come across plenty of classical recordings of sopranino that were fantastic where you can ignore the fact that the instrument is a sopranino, just good music. The recordings of Dr. Cohen and Dr. Vernon are good examples. I've also heard too many recordings of the sopranino where it seems the player just decided to use it because they had one, not because it served the musical situation. To grab it and squonk through a big-band solo seems in poor taste.

    The sopranino can be fun to play, but not always so fun to listen to. With the amount of work on overtones I've done, I know my neighbors and pets would agree with this :-)
    Last edited by Jorns Bergenson; 03-13-2017 at 06:31 AM. Reason: fix spellin errers

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Maybe a more famous clip. Not a cheap sopranino though:

    https://youtu.be/LQKTTfvYDCs
    Current setups:
    Yamaha YSS-875EX, Selmer Soloist C**, Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YAS-875EXS, Rousseau RC4 (refaced by Brian Powell), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YTS-875EX, Rousseau NC4, Ishimori lig, Hemke 3.5
    Kessler Solist Bari, Rousseau NC4, BG Tradition lig, Hemke 3.5

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max View Post
    Maybe a more famous clip. Not a cheap sopranino though:

    https://youtu.be/LQKTTfvYDCs
    Whaaaat???? Mind blowing for me. A sopranino saxophone used in place of a piccolo trumpet in a classical setting I love it, but is it blasphemy?

    The video description says the the trumpet part is covered by a soprano saxophone, but the character and range say that it is a sopranino.

    In any case, thanks for sharing that.
    Last edited by Jorns Bergenson; 03-07-2017 at 11:37 PM. Reason: Remove some of my babbling

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    There are two recordings of this. I *think* this is the one where he is playing a 'nino.
    Current setups:
    Yamaha YSS-875EX, Selmer Soloist C**, Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YAS-875EXS, Rousseau RC4 (refaced by Brian Powell), Ishimori lig,Hemke 3.5
    Yamaha YTS-875EX, Rousseau NC4, Ishimori lig, Hemke 3.5
    Kessler Solist Bari, Rousseau NC4, BG Tradition lig, Hemke 3.5

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max View Post
    There are two recordings of this. I *think* this is the one where he is playing a 'nino.
    Ok, got it now. You said "not a cheap sopranino" but the YouTube video description said "soprano" which confused me. Going to add this to my collection of sopranino recordings.

    Yes, it would be a pretty good bet that Marcel Mule is playing a Selmer sopranino, not a clone made in China.

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Piccolo trumpets are in D and Eb. Nice sounding horns when played well.

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorns Bergenson View Post
    Whaaaat???? Mind blowing for me. A sopranino saxophone used in place of a piccolo trumpet in a classical setting I love it, but is it blasphemy?

    The video description says the the trumpet part is covered by a soprano saxophone, but the character and range say that it is a sopranino.

    In any case, thanks for sharing that.
    Some years ago I played the picc trumpet part for the Bach on sopranino in 16 concerts with the NJ Symphony. I did use my Selmer Mark VI, and a Van Doren mouthpiece to emulate the sound and articulation of the trumpet. In the scratchy recording I have from one of the concerts, it seems to work well. Playing the part required a step-up transposition of the trumpet part.
    In the same concert I sat with the strings to play alto sax in the Creation du Monde of Darius Milhaud.

    Paul Cohen

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    In the 3rd movement, the "sax-part" is really exposed in the beginning. Sounds more like a sopranino to me. Interesting recording, thank you for sharing!
    saxes: sop:Yanagisawa S-800/ S-80 F alto:Bauhaus Walstein M2/ B&S metal tenor:Bauhaus Walstein M2/ B&S metal flutes: picc: YPC 62 fl:Forest/Brannen afl: Altus bfl: W.Wetzel/Cooper clarinets: ebcl: Amati/Riffault cl:Noblet artist/Vandoren B45 bcl: Forest/ Clarc Forbes Debut taragot: Timisua/Zinner bassoon: Selmer Signet/Legère

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    If anyone cares, I settled on a Selmer Series 2 sopranino. Traded one of my baris for it. I have owned clones of this instrument but this one just simply outplayed them. Please see a short video review I made of it if you wish:


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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    I've found that the Series II is the most ergonomic-friendly, advanced, of all the sopraninos (the Rampone being close). But I found the Series II to be the brightest sounding sopranino, especially compared to my 1930s Selmer and my Mark VI Selmer (and Yanig), and the most difficult to blend and balance in chamber/recital playing.

    Paul Cohen

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    Default Re: Sopranino-how cheap is too cheap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Cohen View Post
    But I found the Series II to be the brightest sounding sopranino, especially compared to my 1930s Selmer and my Mark VI Selmer (and Yanig), and the most difficult to blend and balance in chamber/recital playing.

    Paul Cohen
    Wouldn't that be more of a "mouthpiece/reed combination" issue? Overall i tend to go for a more bright/brilliant sound in my classical work. Can you point me to a recording of a "darker" sounding sopranino? Not sure I've ever heard one!! Thanks for your insight, Dr. Cohen.

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