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I'd like to buy a cheap curved soprano, so that i can throw it in my backpack and go practice in the park on my lunch break. I'm not looking to gig with it or anything. I just need something that's not going to be frustratingly bad to play on. There are a bunch of cheap curvies on ebay all the time, and i'm sure they're mostly junk, but does anyone have any recommendations on something that's low priced and will meet my needs?

thanks
 

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What's "decent"? Will there be anyone else in the park? What's "low priced"?

In general, the answer to your question is "no".

To paraphrase Huey Lewis "Sometimes cheap is cheap." "Inexpensive" is something else.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
decent to me: the whole range is playable without too much trouble. the intonation isn't so bad that i can't compensate. I really don't care about the tone or ergos all that much. It just has to be good enough that playing it will not frustrate me and make me lose interest.

as for cheap: under 500 USD. preferably around 300 or so. any more than that and i'd just buy an antigua or something. I really don't want to make an investment here, i just want to make better use of my hour long lunch break.

Also, has anyone actually tried any of the chinese brands? I always hear about how bad they are from people who have never played them.
 

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I would bet that the "cheaper" the horn is, the less durable it is. I don't think that a cheap horn will hold up for long if you "throw it in [your] backpack." I would think that a cheap horn would require extra care to remain playable.
 

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Like Dr. G posted . . . cheap, no; inexpensive, yes.

I suppose there may be a $300-500 curvie out there that will play well enough in tune that you could compensate, but I sure haven't played one. Maybe someone else here has done so. The last one I bought was $700.00 or so and I could not compensate for the poor scale.

Set your price point at about $1K+ and they are out there. DAVE
 

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Some of the straight ones are OK but all of the curvies I have seen just won't play below bottom D and the left hand octaves are terrible. The best cheap modern soprano on the used market seems to be the Martin that was built by Yanagisawa. There may be one by Vito but so far I don't recall seeing any.
 

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I bought one of those cheapie Chinese saxophones, mostly out of curiosity. I wouldn't plan on playing it for longer than a month unless you have a good soldering iron and a lot of solder. And you are willing to bend the pitch nearly a half step to be in tune, especially in the middle register. The upper register is just so sharp you can't adjust. aside from being a worthless POS, it is a wonderful horn. :) Good Luck *cough* don't buy it please *cough*
 

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I bought a cheap ( as in inexpensive) Chinese saxophone because of its exceptionally good sound, intonattion and build quality. I have used it on TV recording sessions. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to get a good quality cheap Chinese curved one these days. many people are still thinking of the Chinese instruments they tried (or didn't try) a few years back. Things have changed. NB they aren't all good, but no longer a reason th dismiss an instrument just because its made in China and comes with a pair of white gloves.
 

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Pete: That well may be, but the problem as I see it, is finding one (a cheapie that plays well).

Where I live, there are several well-stocked music stores within a days' drive. None deal in cheap saxophones. They are the ones we like to call "inexpensive", not cheap. Yes, they also have the high-end models. A buyer could go there, try a bunch and walk out with a great soprano.

But if a cheap soprano is the goal, the buyer starts looking for a cheap saxophone with the characteristics you've experienced. Not easy to find in these parts. The next step is to go to the Internet and order one.

Therein lies the problem. One could spend the price of a new Selmer looking for that occasional good player - unless the shipper offers a return policy. And few do that.

Littlemanbighorn's question was a good one. What brand? Even then, we all know that those brands aren't available everywhere, although there could be similar horns under different brand names. But with cheapies, one example may play great, the other one may play lousy.

It is my opinion that a soprano buyer would be MUCH better off buying a known brand and spending the money for it rather than trying to pay as little as possible for that occasional cheapie that may play decently. This of course assumes that the buyer has a limited budget. I realize there are folks who can afford to buy MANY cheapies in the expectation of finding one good one. DAVE
 

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I have a silver curved Selman soprano. It is built alright. Deffinitly not a tank like my Buescher True Tone. But, it does get actually really good intonation. The only note that I have trouble with is middle and high C. If I use the side-C fingering, it's better though. I'm thinking it might just be a key height thing though. Other than that though, I really have no complaints.
 

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Princeganon, I would ask you a couple questions: 1) Have you played soprano much? 2) Why a curvy?

If you already play the sop and have a good horn you don't want to throw into a backpack, will the habits required to play a cheap horn conflict with your serious playing? If this is a horn on which you want to learn, you might want to bump the price up to at least $1000 to get one that can play in tune.

When I was shopping for a first soprano, I considered the curvies. But it became clear to me that it is easier to build a straight sop at a low price than a curved sop with its fancy linkage. You can get a soft case for a straight sop that will be easy to carry to the park. Throw in a tuning meter while you're at it.

The birds and squirrels will like your serenades.

I got my Antigua Winds sop from Kessler's in Vegas and am very happy with it after about 18 months.
 

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FYI, I am living in china and I have seen these chinese saxophones in person and I must say that the QC is really really freaking bad.

I tried 4 before buying one of these curvy saxophones. I only paid like 250 USD for a black laquer one. Pretty decent, in fact, i think it is better than my straight soprano.. more in tune

Anyway, in case anyone wonders why there are white gloves in the case. The reason is this. If you want to try a saxophone in china, you have to put them on so you do not dirty the saxophone.

My hands are huge and the gloves are stupid to use, but this is china....

Finally, I did buy a curvy soprano eventually. It is pretty awesome and the brand is some stencil brand which i forgot... If you want pictures, i can show you later when i get home
 

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Discreet said:
.......in case anyone wonders why there are white gloves in the case. The reason is this. If you want to try a saxophone in china, you have to put them on so you do not dirty the saxophone.

My hands are huge and the gloves are stupid to use, but this is china....
Ah - thanks for that explanation Discreet - I just got a Chinese alto with a pair included, but thought the white gloves were aimed at US "Marching Bands" etc.

Silly old me........;)
 

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I just came back from saxophone shop here in chengdu. I inspected a few more curved saxophones and was surpised to learn a few things...

1) Made in taiwan does not mean make in taiwan. The one i bought cost only 250 USD and after drilling, i found out that it was made in WenJiang. The brand name is called LangDun.

2) The really good (i am being subjective) taiwanese saxophones are a brand called UNICORN. There was this tenor which was an exact copy of my other taiwan saxophone (brand name "chateau").

3) To be frank, in terms of sound and playability, both MIT (made in taiwan) saxes sounded the same. The real MIT had slight better build quality in the pads etc.

if the OP wants a cheap curved soprano, you could technically come to china to get one!
 

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Pete Thomas said:
There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to get a good quality cheap Chinese curved one these days. many people are still thinking of the Chinese instruments they tried (or didn't try) a few years back. Things have changed. NB they aren't all good, but no longer a reason th dismiss an instrument just because its made in China and comes with a pair of white gloves.
I agree with Pete. I recently bought a Chinese-made alto for $200 and, at first, was expecting a generic saxophone. However, when it came, I was surprised with how well-built the saxophone was. Solid build, great tone, quick key action and a free-blowing nature. I definitely would not hesitate to use this in a live performance.
 

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I tried a Dong Xing curved soprano in Shanghai last autumn. The shop was in a street with lots of instrument shops, one of those long streets from the Bund and inwards, I think it was Jinling Donglu. Anyway, the sax cost only about 200 or 250 dollars. It had some problems with the lower notes from D and downwards, but who knows if this might easily have been fixed by a technician. My impression was that the intonation didn't seem very bad, but I only had about 5 minutes testing it and didn't use a tuner or anything. Surely, the Yanagisawa (SC992) I got later on was better than this Dong Xing, which is reasonable, considering the price difference. Possibly, durability may be a problem if the quality is as reported by others here, but my feeling was that the Dong Xing as it appeared in the shop would be useable for practicing at least.
 

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I bought my curved Academy soprano around two months ago - After much playing I can report - The construction is good and strong, keywork is pretty stiff; finish is good. The blowing is very easy indeed, but the intonation is not good - it goes flat below bottom D..... over a semitone flat on bottom C# and bottom C and it improved things a bit...... it's now only a semitone flat ! I get around this by simply playing D when I want to hear C#, C# when I want to hear C, and so on !
The middle octave, as you ascend, begins to go sharp. It's easy to "blow down" to the correct pitch as the sharpness isn't too bad, and the embouchure is correspondingly eased too because of this.
The intonation is the only thing that lets this horn down. Maybe a professional set-up would largely alleviate these problems, but I can live with them and it would probably cost at least half of what I paid for the thing anyway. By the way, the tone is fat and warm, unlike the half-dozen sporanos I've owned in the past, some of them much dearer than this one, and the bottom bell tones are actually in tune and fat and full in tone.
The case is crap - it's a semi-soft zip case. When I received it, the case had been subjected to being buried under other mail and had bent the LH pinkie keys out of true, which took all of ten seconds to rectify, but the case definately lets the instrument down as it doesn't protect it like it should.
Richard
 
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