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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What are your thoughts on the differences and similarities among the SC-800, SC-900, and the SC-901/991?
 

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There is a huge appearance-difference between the 90X series and the 99x series because of the bell-pads being moved from the left to the right side of the horn. But playing-wise, any curved soprano made by Yanagisawa is going to be a player.

I don't know anything about the earlier models, design-wise, but I own an SC902 (the bronze version) and at one time, I also had an SC901 at the same time. After careful consideration, I sold the 901 and kept the 902. There was a SLIGHT tonal variation between the two (lacquered brass and bronze) and I stuck with the bronze.

When the 99X series came out, I was at Kessler's shop in Las Vegas when they were sending out their first SC991 and I played it before it was delivered. It was nice, alright, but no better than my SC902, so I chose not get the newer SC991.

Similarities? They play in tune, have a nice (and big) voice, and are ideal for travel on commercial air. I played mine on a serious weekend of music last February. It did its duty. DAVE
 

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I posted this table in another thread (https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?277930-Curved-soprano-sax-which-type), so I'll just repeat it here.

SC900
Modern palm keys
Older (VI-style) left-hand table
Straight front F
Plastic thumb pieces
Moderately curved neck
Left-side bell keys

SC901
Modern palm keys
Older (VI-style) left-hand table
Shaped front F
Metal thumb pieces
Moderately curved neck
Left-side bell keys

SC991
Modern palm keys
Modern left-hand table
Shaped front F
Metal thumb pieces
Strongly curved neck
Right-side bell keys

Note that the necks typically are interchangeable. I added an SC992 neck to my SC901 to get the extra curvature.

I did not cover the earlier Yany curved sops in my table, but note that anything before the SC900 will have, in addition to the SC900's features, the old-fashioned, Mark VI-style palm keys. My SC901B with an SC992 neck is a good-enough blend of modern and older characteristics. I would prefer the modern left-hand table keys of the SC991 and its sister horns, but I don't think it's worth an upgrade just to get that one feature. On the other hand, if I had to live with the old-fashioned palm keys as well, then it might be worth a change.

By the way, your use of "SC901/991" suggests that you may believe that these are two contemporaneous models, like the A901/A991. They are not. The SC991/992 replaced the SC901/902. Except for lacquer and alloy choices (brass, bronze, silver), I don't think Yanagisawa has ever marketed more than one model of curved soprano at a time. The "post construction vs. ribbed construction" distinction that applies to the alto and tenor lines does not apply to the curved sopranos (in fact, it doesn't apply to the straight sops either, but the straights do have the "fixed neck vs. removable neck" model distinction).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@LostConn Thank you for the info regarding the the features of the horns and the correction regarding the 901 vs 991.

However, I am more interested in the comparison of how the horns sound. For example, I know that the other horns shifted to a generally brighter sound from the 800 series to the newer horns. I looked for discussions and YouTube videos comparing the various models, but I have only comparisons of the newer models.
 

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sparq: I hate to keep repeating myself, but a saxophone often takes on the sound of the player. I could cite numerous examples, suffice to say that if someone tells you that one model is brighter than another, I'd become an instant skeptic. Change the mouthpiece, or even more accurately, change the reed, and a bright horn can become darker. Hand it to someone else and it will again change.

Plus, we know that several examples of the same model will all play a bit differently than the others. I don't know that the brass vs. bronze-thing when I had my two SC90x models side-by-side were because of the body materials or because they were just different from each other.

Of course, some are real believers in all of the myths that go around. If you really think that you can determine that all SC800's (or whatever model it may be) are going to give you a similar tonal result, there's nothing I can say to change your mind. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
sparq: I hate to keep repeating myself, but a saxophone often takes on the sound of the player. I could cite numerous examples, suffice to say that if someone tells you that one model is brighter than another, I'd become an instant skeptic. Change the mouthpiece, or even more accurately, change the reed, and a bright horn can become darker. Hand it to someone else and it will again change.

Plus, we know that several examples of the same model will all play a bit differently than the others. I don't know that the brass vs. bronze-thing when I had my two SC90x models side-by-side were because of the body materials or because they were just different from each other.

Of course, some are real believers in all of the myths that go around. If you really think that you can determine that all SC800's (or whatever model it may be) are going to give you a similar tonal result, there's nothing I can say to change your mind. DAVE
Dave: Of course. I know first-hand how much a mouthpiece can change the tone. I also know many professionals will try many horns to find just the right one for him/her.

However, that does not mean that there's no baseline. And - it seems to me - getting a variety of opinions and experiences will help get an idea of the sound, particularly for the older Yani curved sopranos because there rarely are multiple horns available from a single seller in the USA.
 

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That's exactly it . . . you'll have maybe one or two shots at any curved Yanagisawa soprano, new or used, so why even bother with someone else's opinion as to whether one series is believed to have a certain sound? First of all, their opinion about the tonal qualities is subjective and tone is easily changed with the reed or the player.

Secondly, there is no baseline regardless of what you want to believe. I could play one curved soprano and hand it to you and you'd hear it entirely differently . . . or it would sound the same. It can go either way.

You shouldn't concern yourself with those saxophone myths. Decide for yourself after you find one to test. And of course, what you as the player hear coming out of the bell of a curved soprano is most likely NOT heard by anyone else in the audience or listening to you play.

The player of a curved soprano is the least likely to be objective about what he hears. So after all of this writing and concern, it will still come down to what you LIKE when you play it, not what someone else says about an SC800 or an SC901, etc. Sure, many enjoy speculating about these things but it doesn't matter, really, about what you end up buying. My only concern about various curved sopranos is intonation - and all of the Yanagisawas I've played had good scales. DAVE
 

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I don't believe the main body tube of the Yanagisawa curved sops has changed much, if at all, over the years. Moving the bell keys from one side to the other wasn't done in order to implement a tonal change. The more sharply curved neck of the SC991 may have a small impact on sound, but as I've indicated, you can mix and match necks to your heart's content.

If you think the type of metal affects the sound, you can choose on that basis. Otherwise, select a model based on ergonomic features and price. A tonal difference created by changing your mouthpiece will probably be much greater than any inherent difference between one Yany curved model and another.
 

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... I am more interested in the comparison of how the horns sound. For example, I know that the other horns shifted to a generally brighter sound from the 800 series to the newer horns...
in my experience owning multiple Yanagisawa sopranos, there would be very little difference in the actual sound of the various curved soprano. The main improvements are in key work and design. Comfort. As Dave says, the material can make a small difference. I’ve owned the brass necks and the bronze necks and the bronze is a darker sound.
 
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