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Soprano: 1983 Keilwerth Toneking Schenklaars stencil
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An experienced saxophonist acquaintance recently suggested to me that I avoid buying vintage a C-soprano sax, which I was pursuing. He said that the manufacturers did not put the quality into the C's that they did the Bb sopranos, because, like the C-melody tenor, the C soprano was intended for an amateur rather than professional market.

Those of you that have had experience with each key of soprano, what has your experience been? How do the C sopranos stack up to the Bb sopranos? Anything to note?

Thanks for your input.
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member and Champion of the C-Me
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Hmmm - tricky to be totally specific. Certainly C-Mel sales were aimed at the home market - see all the ads with raggedy-arsed kids ( or slicked-down smoothies) playing them.... Now whether the manufacturers bothered to do as much R&D on C-Mel intonation, as with alto/tenor is debatable - but in all other aspects I've never found any lack of quality, especially on the major 'name' C-Mels. Again, whether the quality control on some of the cheaper C-Mel stencils, churned out so massively and quickly in the mid-20's, was as good as on alto & tenor, who can say ?

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As far as I've seen (and played) C-Soprano's, they are literally the same as the Bb Sops of that era, with some small fingering differences - like some only going to palm Eb instead of F. I'm not sure that C-Soprano's were ever made specifically for the 'home' market, and so (relatively) few were made that there often wasn't even the tooling for the stencils to be 'one model behind' the name C-Sops.

However, the same reservation about whether as much attention was paid to intonation applies to C-Sops, and certainly the almost total lack of availability of 'better' C-Sop mouthpieces was a real issue if they were to be used 'seriously'.. I use Bb Sop mouthpieces on my 'C', but opinions (and tastes) vary... I do think that (perversely) by the time they were both close to the end of their lives, in the early 30's, things had drastically improved on the intonation front. My 30's Martin C-Mel is a typical example, but sadly "mouthpiece suitability" is always an issue that dogs C saxes, especially today.

I seem to have gone all 'round the houses to say "probably not really, especially with C-Sops..." Don't forget that as saxes get higher, intonation needs more control (e.g. Bb-Sop vs. Eb-'Nino), so I'm sure that the C-Sop got (and still gets) some bad press because it was/is wrongly assumed to be an easy instrument. With the right mouthpiece it's a superb instrument. But then, I'm biased ;)
 
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