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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the last 3 years I have been delving into vintage saxophones particularly B&S, Kohlert, Dolnet and Amati.
All of these brands are defunct and have been for many years but are solid well designed horns that produce a sound much
unlike their modern counterparts.
It's funny when I think about how many years I have spent searching for a vintage sound out of modern Taiwanese horns
and never fully achieving it and then realizing I should be playing vintage horns for a true vintage sound.
In particular was the issue of a soprano getting a warm core sound without shrillness or a buzzy tone. I tried P. Mauriat, TK Melody, Lien Cheng,
Antigua, Chateau, Unison, Gulf (RPOC), Eastern Music (RPOC), Andreas Eastman 642, and Yamaha 475 and they all had qualities of sound I liked but
it wasn't the complete package what with ergonomics, free blowing, and intonation being equal.
So I decided to start seeking a European made Soprano that did not cost more than $1000 with new overhaul. I ended up buying an mid-60's Amati Deluxe model one-piece soprano no F# that I had completely refurbished by my local tech.
The first time I played it upon the overhaul it was strange because I truly do not remember being so fascinated with the color of tone when playing other sopranos. Most other sopranos I have owned were great players and played in tune but for me there was no sizzle, and no visceral attachment to the tone I was producing. In most cases that is perfectly fine and a majority of players make due, but I was not completely satisfied until I found this project Amati Deluxe.
Once it was rebuilt and was performing like it was when it was new I was able to determine if this soprano was the one for me or not. After playing in rehearsals and a couple of small gigs I most certainly believe I found a soprano that sounds as good or better than a Mark VI and most certainly much better ergonomics for thousands less than a P. Mauriat or a used Selmer.
There is something very special about vintage saxophones that have that warm core and can produce top tones without being shrill or out of tune.
Musical instrument Rectangle Gold Font Wind instrument
 

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Congratulions for the horn and the nice context.
Funny, because speaking of Amati and a certain vintage sound, I’ve had 2 Amati horns of the communist era, a tenor and a low A baritone. They were very cheap and well made, so typical 1st instruments here in Europe.
I spent quite some time with both, happy to have good playing horns, but kind of frustrated as neither got the sound I wanted.
The tenor had a nice singing voice, could have done a decent job à la Getz or Zoot, but impossible to get any grit out of it. I had the meanest Berg Larsen MPs, it just sounded like … Getz.
Same story with the bari. Berg Larsen stainless steel, LaVoz all the way, it just sounded like a gentle version of Gerry Mulligan.
I wanted the tenor to sound like Rollins, the bari like Pepper Adams.
No surprise I’m happy since 25 years with Selmer horns, both models known for being rather extravert sounding.
We all have our own endeavor and story.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I’m still looking. Glad you found it!
I have been very fortunate to have also found a Kohlert Winnenden alto that meets the same criteria as this soprano. After chasing the sound and feel of a Couf Superba I that I sold for nearly 20 years I have found the Kohlert to be its equal or to my more experienced brain and ears it is better sounding.
Its too bad these came at the end of my playing life and not at the beginning :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Congratulions for the horn and the nice context.
Funny, because speaking of Amati and a certain vintage sound, I’ve had 2 Amati horns of the communist era, a tenor and a low A baritone. They were very cheap and well made, so typical 1st instruments here in Europe.
I spent quite some time with both, happy to have good playing horns, but kind of frustrated as neither got the sound I wanted.
The tenor had a nice singing voice, could have done a decent job à la Getz or Zoot, but impossible to get any grit out of it. I had the meanest Berg Larsen MPs, it just sounded like … Getz.
Same story with the bari. Berg Larsen stainless steel, LaVoz all the way, it just sounded like a gentle version of Gerry Mulligan.
I wanted the tenor to sound like Rollins, the bari like Pepper Adams.
No surprise I’m happy since 25 years with Selmer horns, both models known for being rather extravert sounding.
We all have our own endeavor and story.
Amati's are well made but the company was not an innovative saxophone maker and chose to stay with the same basic sax models they produces from the 50's on.
The only time prior to this Amati Deluxe model my only interaction with Amati was a JK EX90 which was produced my Amati. I was very disappointed in its weak brass keys and inability to keep its adjustments so I sold it quickly. That said, I don't have a sound concept based on what other players sound like but rather what I perceive directly from the horn as I play it. If it meets my criteria for good intonation and a ease of play I have usually been satisfied but the tone from this vintage horn is more classical clarinet like and is simply put, a perfect soprano tone.
 
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Soprano remains a challenge for me, not only as a player, but also as a listener. I can relate to your quest, and would be pleased to hear some music once you're familiar with your new horn.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Soprano remains a challenge for me, not only as a player, but also as a listener. I can relate to your quest, and would be pleased to hear some music once you're familiar with your new horn.
Thank you for your kind comments. Soprano seems to be easier for me than my peers because I was originally a clarinet and bass clarinet player and the embouchure is similar to soprano clarinet. Single lip embouchure is what I use on both. As you say "getting familiar" with the horn takes time. I find Super Sessions and Selmer Soloist are best.
 
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Yours has been one of several quests for the right soprano which I have watched with interest over the years. I thought I could relate because I have been restless and feeling like the grass is going to be greener over the next horizon. But my initial evaluation of horns was all by watching videos and seeing what other people said about them. I'm still very much a student and there aren't many opportunities locally to try different horns anyway.

Lately the way I think about tone has been changing. I find that I genuinely like a few different tone styles so it is becoming possible for me to play them off against each other and not get so obsessed with a particular one. Also my playing is getting less bad and as I find I have a chance to play some interesting music and have some control over evenness of tone and quality of intonation, the way my Yani makes that noticeably easier is becoming much more valuable to me. I gravitate toward classical and Bach and that is shifting my priorities a bit. I have tended to treat tone as a separate phenomenon, an enticement to pick up the horn, something built-in which you can research on the internet and buy, like gravy you spread over the process to make it taste good. But it's becoming more of a thing viewed through the window of making music, and how it serves that, i.e. the right tone for a very personal jazz solo is likely to be different from the tone that serves the focus on harmonic color in a classical ensemble, etc.

But my point is this: you have pursued this quest in a very first-handed way, from the aspect of your own direct experience, and that is an important reminder for me, and it comes at a time when I am more capable of taking it in than I was a year or two ago.
 
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Glad you found the perfect horn for you. I don't think it can get any better than the Yamaha 475 I had for years and the 62 I recently replaced it with.

For me, the mouthpiece has a far bigger effect on my sound than the horn. My Runyon Custom Spoiler is by far the best soprano mouthpiece I've ever played. I just wish I had more gig opportunities on soprano.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yours has been one of several quests for the right soprano which I have watched with interest over the years. I thought I could relate because I have been restless and feeling like the grass is going to be greener over the next horizon. But my initial evaluation of horns was all by watching videos and seeing what other people said about them. I'm still very much a student and there aren't many opportunities locally to try different horns anyway.

Lately the way I think about tone has been changing. I find that I genuinely like a few different tone styles so it is becoming possible for me to play them off against each other and not get so obsessed with a particular one. Also my playing is getting less bad and as I find I have a chance to play some interesting music and have some control over evenness of tone and quality of intonation, the way my Yani makes that noticeably easier is becoming much more valuable to me. I gravitate toward classical and Bach and that is shifting my priorities a bit. I have tended to treat tone as a separate phenomenon, an enticement to pick up the horn, something built-in which you can research on the internet and buy, like gravy you spread over the process to make it taste good. But it's becoming more of a thing viewed through the window of making music, and how it serves that, i.e. the right tone for a very personal jazz solo is likely to be different from the tone that serves the focus on harmonic color in a classical ensemble, etc.

But my point is this: you have pursued this quest in a very first-handed way, from the aspect of your own direct experience, and that is an important reminder for me, and it comes at a time when I am more capable of taking it in than I was a year or two ago.
Sops are so damn exacting. The slightest variance has such a huge effect. I think getting a great horn is important, but getting it set up well and finding a good mpc are requisite.
Sops are so damn exacting. The slightest variance has such a huge effect. I think getting a great horn is important, but getting it set up well and finding a good mpc are requisite.
Regulation and key heights and good pad seating make a huge difference. My tech went over this horn with a fine tooth comb so to speak. As far as mouthpiece is concerned so far it looks like Selmer Soloist and Super Session and a HR TW Gaia are working well so far.
 

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I've always played with a darker smoother sound on all my horns. When it comes to soprano, everyone seems to gravitate toward the Coltrane sound. For me it's always been Lucky Thompson and Grover Washington, who was most likely influenced by Thompson. My set up is the Yamaha YSS-82ZR silverplate with a Morgan J7 mouthpiece, it's spot on for the sound I want to achieve. However, I don't think there's any magical brand of horn that will give you exactly what you're looking for. You need to find what will get you in the ballpark and the rest needs to come from you.
 

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Coltrane as a model for the soprano sound ? No, not really. Zoot !
But also the more recent players. Tom Scott, Branford, Eric Marienthal, etc… The Yamaha generation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You're making me regret selling it to you, even though I don't grok altos. Glad it's such a good match for you!
The one you sold me is not the one I chose to keep. I kept one that was a one owner maintained in playing condition by its former owner up until I purchased it for $150. Plays like a dream! The one you sold me I had overhauled and plays great but the one I kept is exceptional.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I've always played with a darker smoother sound on all my horns. When it comes to soprano, everyone seems to gravitate toward the Coltrane sound. For me it's always been Lucky Thompson and Grover Washington, who was most likely influenced by Thompson. My set up is the Yamaha YSS-82ZR silverplate with a Morgan J7 mouthpiece, it's spot on for the sound I want to achieve. However, I don't think there's any magical brand of horn that will give you exactly what you're looking for. You need to find what will get you in the ballpark and the rest needs to come from you.
I wholeheartedly disagree that the horn does not make a huge difference. I have played at least 20 different makes of sopranos from around the world and I can hear and feel differences between European made and Taiwan made and between Vintage and Modern. In fact, that is exactly what the premise is behind this thread.
 
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