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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Dear Friends,

I've been playing a Yangisawa 901 soprano, alto, and tenor for years, as an intermediate-level solo performer, at wedding receptions and similar events. I was living in Venezuela, and would travel to Atlanta, once a year, to visit family, and started taking my soprano with me on each trip, to play in Atlanta. The hassle about luggage restrictions got so problematic, that I just decided to buy an Antigua Winds 3286 from Kessler Music (reportedly a modified copy of the Yanagisawa S991), so that I could just store it at my parents' house in Atlanta, and play it only during my annual trip home, rather than take the Yanagisawa back and forth each time. At that point, I started keeping the Yanagisawa at my house in Venezuela, for normal use at wedding receptions there. Kessler told me that the two-neck model was a modified computer copy of the Yanagisawa 991 I think, and had better intonation than the slightly-cheaper one-piece Antigua that I had been poised to buy, up to that point.

Lately I have had to travel to other parts of Latin America, however, sometimes taking two large suitcases with me, in addition to the saxophone, and that has made things a bit harder, especially since it is never quite clear whether the airlines will allow a separate musical instrument as a carry-on, in addition to my back-pack, and I cannot carry two suitcases in addition to all of that. Who knows what new limitations will be in store on my next trip, thanks to the Virus.

I have been toying with the idea of buying a curved soprano comparable to the straight Antigua that I am currently using, so that it would be even more compact than the straight model (to say nothing of the S901). In other words, I think I could actually fit a curved soprano inside my back-pack, freeing up my hands for carrying the two suitcase, although I would have less room inside the back-pack. Usually I stay overseas only for two or three months at a time, but I play in public during my travels.

I am perfectly content with the sound quality of the Antigua 3286 straight that I have, as a spare, that is. As Kessler told me before hand, it is about 85% as good as a Yanagisawa. The only difference is that I have to do a slight bit of embouchure adjustment for intonation, that I did not have to do with the Yanagisawa, but it is so minor that I do not find it to be a problem. Also, the Antigua lacquer on all of their instruments seems to require less polishing than that of the Yanagisawa, which is a minor issue.

As for the only serious issues that I am aware of, I wonder whether it is true the rumor that curved sopranos are more prone to intonation problems than straight instruments of the same make and model.

As for the minor benefits of switching to a curved soprano--which are really silly, I admit, and hardly worth mentioning--they are these: 1. After several hours of playing, my wrists get tired of the straight-soprano position (especially the right wrist), and my arms get tired of having to keep the instrument lifted up high enough to read my sheet music. (I leave it high so that I can switch to alto or tenor quickly between sets) In fact, when I get really tired, I tuck my right elbow into my belly, and use my forearm to keep supporting the instrument, giving my right arm a bit of a break. I assume that this issue would be alleviated by playing a curved soprano with a neck-strap. 2. Also, for what it's worth, a straight soprano looks exaggeratedly long against my short stature of 5'7", as if I were playing a saxello, so a curved soprano would make me look a little more normal by contrast, for whatever that is worth, and then I would not have to bother overcoming my own psychological complexes (ha). 3. Additionally, many of my audiences are unfamiliar with the straight soprano, and often ask me what it is called, and sometimes even ask me, "Where is your saxophone?" whereas by playing a curved soprano, it would be a little more obvious to them that I was already playing a saxophone.

Anyway, I went to the Kessler website, expecting to find the equivalent of the 3286 straight soprano that I already had, to see how expensive a curved soprano would be, but it seems that Kessler no longer sells Antigua Winds at all. Although I intend to ask him why not, myself, perhaps some of you can guide me, in the meantime.

My questions are these:

1. Does anybody know why Kessler would stop selling Antigua Winds?
2. When I bought the 3286 straight soprano, what was the equivalent curved version that Antigua offered at the time? (They change model numbers and names so often, that I can't keep up)
3. Do you have first-hand experience with the curved Antigua SS3159 that Antigua currently offers on their website? SS3159 - Antigua Winds
4. Assuming that Kessler was correct in his evaluation of the 3286 that I bought (as I am convinced that he was), can you give an estimate of the quality of the Antigua SS3159, compared to the 3286?
5. While I have read online evaluations of curved sopranos in general, and I understand the issue of projection, and the cramped feeling of a curved soprano, and I understand that there is a certain degree of subjectivity on many issues, is the rumor true that curved sopranos have slight intonation problems compared to the straight equivalent in any mid-range brand like Antigua?
6. Out of curiosity, how do Kessler's "Kessler Custom" (Vietnamese) curved sopranos compare to an Antigua, in terms of quality alone (not price)? (presumably inferior, based on the price alone, but how bad?)

Thank you so kindly for whatever help you can offer.

Sincerely yours,

Erik Jon
Atlanta
 

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I have a Kessler curved soprano and think it is very underrated. I can no longer play straight sopranos due to a thumb injury so had to go to curved. My Borgani and my Yani Elmona are now for sale. Out with the straight and in with the curved. Highly recommend Kessler curved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Very encouraging to hear. Thank you for the informative feedback.
 

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If you are on a budget, the Eastern Music curved soprano with left side bell keys kills in its price range. It plays in tune and has a nice smooth overall tone. The unlacquered was a bit darker than the cognac lacquered but both are very high quality build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Thanks, Brian. I am looking over the reviews, thanks to your tip. I don't know if the bell keys have to be on the left side, or if that just happens to be the model that you play, presumably for the sake of finger space?

I cannot seem to find a place that sells that brand.

Incidentally, does anyone know of a RECENT online comparison of many of these off-brand curved sopranos, regarding intonation, build, options, quality, price, and other factors? I hesitate to trust information older than one or two years, because lots of things can change in a short amount of time.
 

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alto: 82Zii/Medusa/Supreme, tenor: Medusa, bari: b-901, sop, sc-990
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Curvys are not inherently out of tune. It’s just that many manufactures build them out of tune. In other words, some of the tone holes are not in the optimum place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
yes, soybean. In spite of my ignorance on most issues I was well aware of that one factor that you mentioned.
So, I guess the bottom line is really to ask which off-brand of curved soprano is the closest computer copy of a well-known brand model

I think I'm quickly discovering that Antigua is not even under consideration for its curved soprano and that would explain why relatively few people have commented on this thread. rumor has it that some of their straight models were excellent but that all of their curvy models were defective from the onset
 

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I played an Antigua Winds one-piece for as very long time well for me anyway 11 years and it was great but there are better soprano's for less money. As far as Chinese soprano's are concerned there are only 3 distinct base models and depending on what you are willing to pay for as in extra goodies like certain pads, pearls etc..
If you decide to investigate the EM route I can help you get what your looking for. I have a working relationship with Mr. Wang of Tide Music China.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for that, Brian.

I assume that we are talking about curved sopranos only, here, so when you say that you played an Antigua for 11 years, you mean to say their curved model one-piece style. (I thought one-piece curvies were typical of vintage horns). I was told that the Antigua had problems, but you suggest that it did not.

When you say that there are only 3 distinct base models among the Chinese curved sopranos, I guess you mean to say which pro model they attempt to copy? (e.g., Selmer, Yanagisawa, etc. Something like that?)

Barisaxer: have you tried other curvies, including Eastern Music's curvy? How does the Kessler compare to all the others, if you don't mind elaborating regarding build, intonation, timbre, etc.?
 

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I play vintage curved sopranos and sold the only straight one I owned due to right hand thumb pain. So I'm just chiming in on your general concerns. Yes, a curved soprano with a neck strap will be easier on your hands. They are also easy to fly with and they can go in the upper bins in their case..
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you, Grumps.
 

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Hi ErikJon, I've just bought a second hand curved soprano Antigua Winds and to my surprise it plays in tune. I read somewhere that they are accurate copies of the curved Yanagisawa. I had owned previously a Chinese curved soprano and as someone mentioned before the tone holes must not have been well placed which made the low notes sound really flat.
I recorded a short video playing it with an inexpensive Aliexpress mouthpiece, I hope it helps.

 

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Hi ErikJon, I've just bought a second hand curved soprano Antigua Winds and to my surprise it plays in tune. I read somewhere that they are accurate copies of the curved Yanagisawa. I had owned previously a Chinese curved soprano and as someone mentioned before the tone holes must not have been well placed which made the low notes sound really flat.
I recorded a short video playing it with an inexpensive Aliexpress mouthpiece, I hope it helps.

Super Nice tone! If you did not mention the horn is Antigua in your post, I would think it is a Yani SC-WO10.
 

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Dear Friends,

I've been playing a Yangisawa 901 soprano, alto, and tenor for years, as an intermediate-level solo performer, at wedding receptions and similar events. I was living in Venezuela, and would travel to Atlanta, once a year, to visit family, and started taking my soprano with me on each trip, to play in Atlanta. The hassle about luggage restrictions got so problematic, that I just decided to buy an Antigua Winds 3286 from Kessler Music (reportedly a modified copy of the Yanagisawa S991), so that I could just store it at my parents' house in Atlanta, and play it only during my annual trip home, rather than take the Yanagisawa back and forth each time. At that point, I started keeping the Yanagisawa at my house in Venezuela, for normal use at wedding receptions there. Kessler told me that the two-neck model was a modified computer copy of the Yanagisawa 991 I think, and had better intonation than the slightly-cheaper one-piece Antigua that I had been poised to buy, up to that point.

Lately I have had to travel to other parts of Latin America, however, sometimes taking two large suitcases with me, in addition to the saxophone, and that has made things a bit harder, especially since it is never quite clear whether the airlines will allow a separate musical instrument as a carry-on, in addition to my back-pack, and I cannot carry two suitcases in addition to all of that. Who knows what new limitations will be in store on my next trip, thanks to the Virus.

I have been toying with the idea of buying a curved soprano comparable to the straight Antigua that I am currently using, so that it would be even more compact than the straight model (to say nothing of the S901). In other words, I think I could actually fit a curved soprano inside my back-pack, freeing up my hands for carrying the two suitcase, although I would have less room inside the back-pack. Usually I stay overseas only for two or three months at a time, but I play in public during my travels.

I am perfectly content with the sound quality of the Antigua 3286 straight that I have, as a spare, that is. As Kessler told me before hand, it is about 85% as good as a Yanagisawa. The only difference is that I have to do a slight bit of embouchure adjustment for intonation, that I did not have to do with the Yanagisawa, but it is so minor that I do not find it to be a problem. Also, the Antigua lacquer on all of their instruments seems to require less polishing than that of the Yanagisawa, which is a minor issue.

As for the only serious issues that I am aware of, I wonder whether it is true the rumor that curved sopranos are more prone to intonation problems than straight instruments of the same make and model.

As for the minor benefits of switching to a curved soprano--which are really silly, I admit, and hardly worth mentioning--they are these: 1. After several hours of playing, my wrists get tired of the straight-soprano position (especially the right wrist), and my arms get tired of having to keep the instrument lifted up high enough to read my sheet music. (I leave it high so that I can switch to alto or tenor quickly between sets) In fact, when I get really tired, I tuck my right elbow into my belly, and use my forearm to keep supporting the instrument, giving my right arm a bit of a break. I assume that this issue would be alleviated by playing a curved soprano with a neck-strap. 2. Also, for what it's worth, a straight soprano looks exaggeratedly long against my short stature of 5'7", as if I were playing a saxello, so a curved soprano would make me look a little more normal by contrast, for whatever that is worth, and then I would not have to bother overcoming my own psychological complexes (ha). 3. Additionally, many of my audiences are unfamiliar with the straight soprano, and often ask me what it is called, and sometimes even ask me, "Where is your saxophone?" whereas by playing a curved soprano, it would be a little more obvious to them that I was already playing a saxophone.

Anyway, I went to the Kessler website, expecting to find the equivalent of the 3286 straight soprano that I already had, to see how expensive a curved soprano would be, but it seems that Kessler no longer sells Antigua Winds at all. Although I intend to ask him why not, myself, perhaps some of you can guide me, in the meantime.

My questions are these:

1. Does anybody know why Kessler would stop selling Antigua Winds?
2. When I bought the 3286 straight soprano, what was the equivalent curved version that Antigua offered at the time? (They change model numbers and names so often, that I can't keep up)
3. Do you have first-hand experience with the curved Antigua SS3159 that Antigua currently offers on their website? SS3159 - Antigua Winds
4. Assuming that Kessler was correct in his evaluation of the 3286 that I bought (as I am convinced that he was), can you give an estimate of the quality of the Antigua SS3159, compared to the 3286?
5. While I have read online evaluations of curved sopranos in general, and I understand the issue of projection, and the cramped feeling of a curved soprano, and I understand that there is a certain degree of subjectivity on many issues, is the rumor true that curved sopranos have slight intonation problems compared to the straight equivalent in any mid-range brand like Antigua?
6. Out of curiosity, how do Kessler's "Kessler Custom" (Vietnamese) curved sopranos compare to an Antigua, in terms of quality alone (not price)? (presumably inferior, based on the price alone, but how bad?)

Thank you so kindly for whatever help you can offer.

Sincerely yours,

Erik Jon
Atlanta
Your comparison between Antigua SS3286 and Yani S901 is almost inline with what I've found. About 10 years ago the Antigua sop had a very high reputation here (might mainly because of Kessler). Right now very few dealer still carry the Antigua line, although their FB page is still quite active.

I never play a curve soprano sax, but my previous sax teacher bought an Antigua curve soprano and has been very happy about it. I remember that he told me that he had the privilege to try a few curve soprano of different brands. Among those, Antigua 3159 became his favorite and he bought it. The price of Antigua horn seemed to increase quite big during the past years (also other Taiwanese horns), so I'd recommend that if you decide to go for Antigua sop, don't overpay for it and only buy the new one that with a good deal, or look for a second hand and get it adjusted by a good tech.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Thank you, my friends. I was surprised to hear from that video what good intonation the Antigua curvy seems to have.

It is incredible to see how the price of most of the Taiwanese brands has skyrocketed in recent years, because otherwise I might settle for one of those rather than pay big bucks for a yanagisawa. There seems to be quite a price jump between the cheap curvy and the mid-range curvy, which makes it hard to rationalize buying a mid-range curvy when I could just pay a little more and get a yanagisawa. Otherwise I would be willing to pay $1,500 for a mid-range , which is still double the price of a Kessler. To make the whole process more complicated, there are very few reviews online about any of the mid-range or low range brands, and there are hardly any music stores where one can simply walk in and play test different curved Sopranos. Consequently, in the long run, I might just break down and buy a used yanagisawa someday.

Incidentally, a few months ago, after I started this thread, I tested a p mauriat curved soprano , the current model available online (dk2400?} and in very few stores, and did not find find it to be of excellent quality . It required lots of embouchure adjustment in order to keep a consistent tone, compared with my other instruments using the same setup . The price was $2,500, which might be okay for an excellent instrument, but not for this one . The videos that I had seen online of this instrument showed professionals play testing the instrument with professional soundtracks and reverberation, and when playing a jazz tune, it is sometimes hard to notice intonation issues because there is so much intentional bending of notes that you can't tell which ones are intentional and which ones are bent in order to compensate the intonation problems. I have always thought that it would be much better to test any curved soprano by playing classical music only in a dry environment without audio effects so that the listener can focus only on the tone and intonation consistency, but you can't do that when the player is playing Bebop.

After posting this thread, months ago, I went ahead and bought a new Kessler curved soprano, and then later found a deal on a Jean Paul curved soprano and bought that too. So I have been comparing the two extensively for the past few months, only to find that both of them have their defects. The latter seems to play more easily along the complete range of the instrument but has more intonation problems than the Kessler, and by that, I mean to say slight intonation problems, and usually only noticeable with middle C or middle C sharp , and I have been trying to compensate by pushing the mouthpiece in and loosening my embouchure, Etc.

For that matter, the Kessler curved soprano also requires pushing farther in and loosening the embouchure, or rather widening the oral cavity vertically more than I would on any other horn, while still biting firmly with the lower lip. At least I get more consistent intonation on the Kessler by doing that, then I do on the Jean Paul, but the notes of the full range are a little harder to produce on the Kessler, using the same setup, and I occasionally have unintentional Ghost Notes, as I play. I will try to compensate that issue by using a softer Reed in the future, with a high baffle mouthpiece, but for the moment I am out of town for a few months, taking the Jean-Paul with me where I go, and cannot try that just yet. I will try to post a separate thread on this issue shortly, but, for the time being, I would say that neither of these is wonderful.

thanjs, again, for the video!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Incidentally, Ihave been playing bith with a Metalite M7 and Java 2.5, abd more recentky, the Jean Paul alone, with a Runyon Custom 7 and Java 2.5, but trying slightly softer (unmarked) reeds with the Runyon, to get the notes out a little easier.
 
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