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I was considering purchasing a curved soprano to alleviate neck and thumb issues, but after looking at this video of someone playing the curved SC-991 I think I'm going to have to pass. Take look at his right hand. Do you see how his right wrist is bent instead of straight? He has to do this in order to play it because it is designed to rest close to the body. I've been told by classical guitar players that having a bent wrist like this is a no-no and will lead to RSI. A normal straight soprano (with or without a curved neck) allows you to push the horn out far enough so that your wrist is straight. Has any played a curved soprano long enough to comment on this possibility? I also notice he is playing it without a neck strap. Is that leading to his stressful hand position?

 

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If you can angle the neck, it's possible to hold the curvy flatter to the body, without bending your wrists.

It's easier to hold any sax with a neck strap, so maybe that is contributing to his hand position, too.
 

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I see also that his head is down. He needs to shorten his strap. Then, if he pushed forward with his right thumb, everything would line up better. Personal choice.

“No” is the straightforward answer. A curved sop will not cause RSI - poor posture and position is the root of the evil.
 

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When I was young I used to play the alto straight out in front of me when playing seated. It actually caused the same problem with my right hand which is why now I play it slightly to the right so I can keep my right wrist straight. It has really made a difference with wrist pain. Believe it or not based on my career as a software engineer my right hand has several issues resulting from using a keyboard/mouse for 35+ years. It was only after taking some classical guitar lessons that I was given the tip always keeping my wrists straight when doing any repetitive task with my fingers. The idea of angling the neck seems like a good one. That seems to me it would allow you to play with the both rotated slight which could help with the wrist issue.
 

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For me, straight soprano did not work. I tried using a Cannonball Saxello (curved neck and slightly curved bell). Later, I tried a straight soprano (Kessler) with a curved neck. Same issue...my hand & wrist joint, thumb and arm hurt after playing for a short time. It did not improve over time with practice, and/or trying different neck straps.

So, I bought a curved Kessler...and the issue with playing soprano and hand & arm pains went away! Non-issue for me.

Also, I own a 1923 curved Conn soprano (says Lyon & Healy, but it is a Conn). The weight of the vintage soprano is really light compared to today's horns from Asia. That can also make a difference.
 

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When I was young I used to play the alto straight out in front of me when playing seated. It actually caused the same problem with my right hand which is why now I play it slightly to the right so I can keep my right wrist straight. It has really made a difference with wrist pain. Believe it or not based on my career as a software engineer my right hand has several issues resulting from using a keyboard/mouse for 35+ years. It was only after taking some classical guitar lessons that I was given the tip always keeping my wrists straight when doing any repetitive task with my fingers. The idea of angling the neck seems like a good one. That seems to me it would allow you to play with the both rotated slight which could help with the wrist issue.
That's why I chose to play a straight sop with a bent neck.
 

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I hold my curvy and straight pretty much the same as this guy, well away from the body. I've never used a neck strap with either of them. The more horizontal you hold them, the less stress on the side of your thumb. Granted, I rarely play soprano for a whole set. I usually alternate between it and alto or tenor. So my thumb gets frequent breaks. My curvy is mainly just a toy and something easy to travel with. My straight is what I play on gigs.

One thing that has probably helped me avoid sax induced RSI is to frequently change the way I hold the horn. When I'm in a long group rehearsal situation, I'll hold the horn (tenor or alto) to the side for a while, then straight in front for a while then on the side again. I let the neck strap take all the weight. I can take my right thumb off the horn entirely and still play. Doesn't work with a soprano and no neck strap of course, but I still try to shift positions a lot with it as well.

I am a career software dev as well. I'm right handed, but learned to use a mouse with my left hand so I could switch to the other hand at any time. This cured some major pain I'd developed in my right elbow many years ago. Point is, mix it up and give those muscles a rest as often as you can.
 

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I was considering purchasing a curved soprano to alleviate neck and thumb issues, but after looking at this video of someone playing the curved SC-991 I think I'm going to have to pass. Take look at his right hand. Do you see how his right wrist is bent instead of straight? He has to do this in order to play it because it is designed to rest close to the body. I've been told by classical guitar players that having a bent wrist like this is a no-no and will lead to RSI. A normal straight soprano (with or without a curved neck) allows you to push the horn out far enough so that your wrist is straight. Has any played a curved soprano long enough to comment on this possibility? I also notice he is playing it without a neck strap. Is that leading to his stressful hand position?

I would echo Dr G's sentiments- a curved sop will not cause RSI, holding the horn and playing with poor posture will- as demonstrated by the video you posted.
The strap is adjusted too long for him which means he has to drop his head and lets the horn swing backwards, almost like a miniature version of how many play the tenor. This leaves the right thumb completely passive and the soprano cannot be held in a position where the wrist is straight and the right elbow is forward of the mid-line of the rib-cage.
I have an SC-991, they're just fine.
FWIW- a straight horn can be more problematic, the weight of the horn and having to hold it out at a good angle is tiring on your right arm over longer periods. That, or you drop your head to compensate for a more vertical instrument alignment which is another can of worms.
 

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when I had a curved soprano ( a copy of the Yanagisawa in the video) I never felt it gave any problems to my wrists ( by the way I have been operated of carpal tunnel at both my hands and have thumb and thumb base arthritis ) , on the contrary ! It helped me.

I absolutely agree that its playing felt no different than playing tenor, just higher up.

The shoulder and neck relive ( especially on the modern Yanagisawa design ) are a very good reason to prefer it to anything else. Staight soprano with a bent neck is also a very good solution.

This is spomeone playing one like mine and look at his hands and wrists they don't look constricted any way

 

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Take look at his right hand. Do you see how his right wrist is bent instead of straight? He has to do this in order to play it because it is designed to rest close to the body.
Whatever you do, stay away from vintage curved Conn sopranos. After playing a curved Buescher for over 40 years, I picked up a curved Conn soprano with a fixed neck angle that really has you tilting back your right hand to play it. I thought I'd never get used to it and I'd have to disconnect the neck and move it. But I got used to it rather quickly, and after months of gigging with the horn near exclusively, no ill effects as of yet.
 

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I used to own a 1931 Conn whose neck had been repositioned to allow you to play it flat to the body. (Think how Prez would hold a curvy.)

I seem to recall playing another that had been done that way, so maybe it was a factory thing at the time. But my 1937 4M doesn't have that neck angle.
 
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