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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 2 soprano saxes, a Mark VI from the late 70's and a Buescher True Tone from the late 1920's. I have been curious for quite some time about trying a curved soprano. For those of you that have tried them, do you like them? What are the differences that you have discovered playing a curved?

Thanks for any experiences you might share.
Chuck
 

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I like that the desired angle of the mouthpiece is easier to achieve and that I can more easily use a neck strap. I did not like the removable neck or the apparent volume to the player - my ears used to ring after playing my SC-992 (yeah, I played loud).

I resolved my search with a bent neck (straight body) sop - best of all worlds.

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Yes, curvies are fun and really cute to look at. Bell puts the sound right back in your face for great feedback. Plus they’re easier to travel with. However I just consider mine as a toy. I still gig with my straight.

I have no issue with mouthpiece angle on any type of soprano. I just hold the horn and/or my head at whatever angle is necessary without ever really thinking about it.
 

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Pro: Much easier on the hands and arms, especially the right thumb. More like playing any "normal" saxophone, because you can let the strap take most of the weight, and less like a "hold the milk pail at arm's length" contest at a county fair.

Con: The neck strap needs to be tightened a lot more, especially if the curved sop has a highly curved neck (e.g., Yany SC991 & SCWO10 generations) rather than a moderately curved neck (e.g., Yany SC901 generation). You may need a new, shorter strap.

Neutral: The sound of the horn is much more "in your face" than with a straight soprano. You have to get used to that, and adjust the way your manage your sound, because the sound that fellow musicians and audience members will be hearing from you won't be much different, contrary to the input from your own ears.

Verdict: I replaced my Keilwerth SX90II with a Yanagisawa SC901B (and added an SC992 neck) years ago. I don't regret it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My Mark VI straight sop seems much heavier than the Buescher. I definitely have to use a neck strap with it or my wrist hurts. The Mark VI also didn't have a loop to use a neck strap so had to buy an add-on that fits in the place where the Lyre would connect.
 

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I had both a straight VI soprano and a curved Buescher for decades. Loved them both, but eventually came to realize that my right thumb would be painful for days after playing the straight VI. So off it went, and I even bought another vintage curved soprano for a spare. Though I had never used a neck strap on my curved Buescher in my youth, that is no longer the case. The strap saves my thumb.

As for sound, it'll be more in your face with a curved soprano. A curved one will seem livelier. But that's just the angle of the bell. Play a straight one pointing at a wall a foot away, and you'll get that same liveliness.
 

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I have a curved (Yanagisawa SC-991) and straight-with-bent-neck soprano (Viking). I like them both quite a bit. I find the straight with bent neck a little more comfortable to play, but the curved is easier to record.

For many years, I had a very old Buescher curved, which I used when playing lead alto in a big band. I found that to work better in that situation, most of the time we were sitting down, so the other players could hear it better (and me too!) I loved that old horn, but it only went up to Eb and was pretty hard to play in tune.

I dislike the removable neck option on sopranos. Sure, it makes it easier to clean, and you can choose which neck (curved or straight) to use, but still - the tenon and receiver are very small and I believe the potential for small leaks which just add resistance is high. To say nothing of 4th set assembly or disassembly causing damage... That's why I like my straight soprano with bent neck. I wish more manufacturers made those.
 

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I enjoy playing my curved soprano for all of the above stated reasons. I have not played a bent neck straight soprano like Dr G. shows above but imagine it might be the best of both worlds. Sometimes the “in your face” sound is helpful under certain playing conditions but it can be tiring.
 

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Curved neck or fully curved soprano?

I started out on a straight soprano 16+ years ago. About ten years later, my hand and thumb started hurting when playing. I tried different brands, but realized it was me, not the instrument. Two BIGGEST differences for me between straight and curved are:
  • Sound - Not a huge difference from straight, but you can more readily hear and get feedback on your sound (tone, volume, pitch, etc.) because the bell is pointing up.
  • Weight & Balance - Curved sax is more against your body and is better balanced when holding. Your hand is also closer to your chest.
For me, weight and balance is crucial...playing a straight sopranino or even a c soprano is actually ok for me, but the extra weight (and also the length) of a straight Bb soprano throws me off. That is especially why I like curved soprano (and I own/play a Yanagisawa SC 991 and a Conn New Wonder Curved Soprano).
 

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I guess we’re all different. I hold my curvy straight out like a trumpet, not vertical like an alto. I don’t use a strap.

EDIT: I should clarify that I never hold my soprano more than a few minutes at a time. It's always just a doubling instrument for me. On big band gigs, I'll only play it on a couple of tunes or parts of tunes. On jazz and trad jazz combo gigs, I never play two tunes in a row on soprano. I rarely play soprano in the pit. Even my practice sessions on soprano aren't very long. So I always get plenty of rest for might right thumb which takes the brunt of the force. I play curvy straight out with my head up. I play straight down with my head down unless I'm showboating like Kenny G, then I play it straight out.
 

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Not a regular player of soprano sax, but I have borrowed an example of each for pit use.
Aside from the cuteness factor of the curvy, I preferred it to the straight version based on comfort. The straight sop felt 'familiar' since I'm a clarinet player but it was 'heavy' and hard on my wrist to maintain playing position even while using a strap. The curvy hung more 'naturally' and put no real stress on my hands/wrist. In the pit there isn't always time between horn swaps to shake out any stress so comfort is important. 😉
 

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I have a straight yana 800 for 30 years (my first sax) and a chinese curvy for 3 weeks (my latest sax). Both have great sound, ergos and intonation. The Yanagisawa has a smoother low end and the mercury better palm keys.With the curvy I can change the playing angle more, which I like. For novelty effect reasons, I nearly exclusively play the cheap yana copy curvy these days.
 

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The little bit of time I've played a curved soprano my arms felt cramped. I haven't played one for hours and hours to get accustomed to it real well, though. I also have quite long arms for my height. If I ever end up playing a lot of soprano I'll probably end up getting a curved, though, just because even with an improved thumbhook type and position, playing a (relatively) light weight Buescher, and holding it as horizontally as I can, it still kills my right thumb in long practice sessions.
 

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If someone has both straight and curvy, please take a picture of them side by side. I am curious whether there is really that much of a difference in hand position between the two. I think the curve in the neck can only accommodate about an inch at most - all the rest of the apparent difference in length is below the hands.
 

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If someone has both straight and curvy, please take a picture of them side by side. I am curious whether there is really that much of a difference in hand position between the two. I think the curve in the neck can only accommodate about an inch at most - all the rest of the apparent difference in length is below the hands.
I don't have both anymore. But I did a quick and dirty photoshop job on this google image to show what you're after. Yes, all the keys are the same distance apart.
Musical instrument Reed instrument Wind instrument Brass instrument Gold
 

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Verdict: I replaced my Keilwerth SX90II with a Yanagisawa SC901B (and added an SC992 neck) years ago. I don't regret it.
I did the opposite: Replaced my curved Yani with a JK SX90II
:)
 

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I think the comfort issue with the curved soprano is that it is closer to the body, which results in a kind of chicken wing stance (especially for those of us with longer arms). Also, my right hand feels a little constricted due to the closeness of the bell. I have bumped my fingers against the rods of the bell keys on my Yani curvy, a good reminder to use better technique! But it definitely feels different.
 
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