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I have a friend looking for a soprano for his son who has been playing alto for several years. He would like to keep his cost to a minimum, but would like to get something decent that will not be frustrating to play. He has not set a maximum budget yet.

It has been a long time since I have been in the market for a soprano and there now seem to be any number of very inexpensive chinese horns as well as somewhat more expensive taiwanese horns branded by different stores, etc. in addition to the major brands like Yanagisawa and Yamaha, which tend to cost much more, even at the intermediate level.

My suggestion is/was to buy a decent used horn, but they are not sure if they want to do that. Assuming they do buy new, what would you consider to be the least expensive decent quality option available these days? And next, assuming a budget of no more than $1000-1250 or so, what would you recommend? Used suggestions are also welcome in the same price range or lower.

Feel free to PM if easier. I know this is a very subjective question. Thanks.
 

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Finding a used Barone would be a good option. Some people really like Kessler for a budget soprano, but I've never played one. At $1250 you're flirting with being able to afford a used YSS-475, which is a great horn. Maybe a Bauhaus Walstein, if you can find one.
 

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There are many decent choices. Much will depend on the condition of the individual instrument being considered (even new ones - most examples of the same model will vary). I think that variances will decrease as the fame of the name (and the price) increases.

When buying without first testing an instrument, I wouldn't think twice about buying a new Yanagisawa right off the internet (real ones, not counterfeits); not so with Selmers and Yamahas because even at the prices they charge, they still require dealer-prep.

Saxydude mentioned Kessler - I've bought several instruments from his shop - always set up properly. A couple of years ago I played two of his house-branded straight sopranos and they were decent horns especially for the money. I recently bought one of his house-branded curvies - but then sold it. It too was decent but not to the level of my curved Yanagisawa. I prefer straight sopranos anyway.

Used is fine but one always needs to consider repair costs when buying a used instrument especially if you can't test it before the purchase. Personally, I like vintage sopranos but others will disagree, especially youngsters who like new and shiny. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your thoughts. I have heard good things about the Kesslers from various posts here and that might be a good option. Especially on the less expensive horns, knowing that a proper setup has been done before leaving the shop can make a big difference.
If I can get them to do a little shopping and not be wed to the idea of new, I think we might be able to find a nice used horn around in good condition and set up from a shop here that can be tested before purchase.

Dave, many years ago I was one of those kids who liked the idea of new and shiny. My father, however, convinced me that a used soprano would be a better (as well as a less expensive) option. I wound up with a used King Marigaux (SML stencil) that I still have today. Great horn. The new horn that I wanted at the time was a Yanagisawa. That horn would be vintage today, but the company was not well known then (at least not by us). So I guess I would have been in good shape either way :).
 

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A few years ago, I was at a monthly jazz-club meeting and there was a high school kid there who had obvious talent (on alto). An older gentleman (look who's talking here . . .) was showing the kid a gorgeous Buescher TT in gold-plate that he was selling for $1200. I advised the kid to jump on it, but alas, he passed because he wanted a new Yamaha 475.

I ended up helping sell that gold TT to a fellow SOTW member in South Carolina. I guess there is no way to evaluate the kid's decision - I of course would have taken that gold TT in a heartbeat. But not everyone has the same values.

In my view, Yanagisawas are the best modern soprano out there - and have been for years (even their MKVI clones). I'm not sure that "vintage" is a word that applies to anything Yanagisawa, but we've been down that vintage-road here on SOTW many times. DAVE
 

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I have a friend looking for a soprano for his son who has been playing alto for several years. He would like to keep his cost to a minimum, but would like to get something decent that will not be frustrating to play. He has not set a maximum budget yet.

It has been a long time since I have been in the market for a soprano and there now seem to be any number of very inexpensive chinese horns as well as somewhat more expensive taiwanese horns branded by different stores, etc. in addition to the major brands like Yanagisawa and Yamaha, which tend to cost much more, even at the intermediate level.

My suggestion is/was to buy a decent used horn, but they are not sure if they want to do that. Assuming they do buy new, what would you consider to be the least expensive decent quality option available these days? And next, assuming a budget of no more than $1000-1250 or so, what would you recommend? Used suggestions are also welcome in the same price range or lower.

Feel free to PM if easier. I know this is a very subjective question. Thanks.
If their son is already playing alto, and they haven't ruled out new horns then I would say have a lovely day out to wherever their nearest good sax store is get the kid playing them to see what he likes. Although possibly dangerous if he then loves an expensive one.... Also, has he played soprano already? Not everyone takes to it - I love it (and actually find myself playing more sop and less alto at the moment) but it's not to everyone's taste.
 

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Yamaha YSS-475. Solid as a rock and they tend to stay that way. Might be a little more than $1250, but if you look around you might get lucky.
 

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In that price range a Chateau straight soprano would be worth looking at.
Yep. Chateaus are excellent. I would second the Kessler as well. Kessler Music also carries Antigua Winds. I play an Antigua 590 that I bought new from Kessler's in 2005. It plays great and the only thing that's been done to it is replacing a neck cork last year.
 

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I too am looking for a good first soprano, but I played a Chateau straight last week and found that the intonation was atrocious. YMMV but play the horn first if you can.
 

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YSS-475
 

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Jupiter 500 series is a surprisingly good soprano for the money.
I picked one up about 6 months back for $350 Australian and found it to be a great little horn.
I recently sold it for somewhat more after fixing a couple of minor leaks.
The guy that bought it was a high school Woodwind teacher who new value for money when it comes to Saxophones.
 

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A Yamaha YSS-475 would be my recommendation, and it wouldn't take more than following several auctions on eBay to get one used at around that price your quoting.

I have a friend looking for a soprano for his son who has been playing alto for several years. He would like to keep his cost to a minimum, but would like to get something decent that will not be frustrating to play. He has not set a maximum budget yet.

It has been a long time since I have been in the market for a soprano and there now seem to be any number of very inexpensive chinese horns as well as somewhat more expensive taiwanese horns branded by different stores, etc. in addition to the major brands like Yanagisawa and Yamaha, which tend to cost much more, even at the intermediate level.

My suggestion is/was to buy a decent used horn, but they are not sure if they want to do that. Assuming they do buy new, what would you consider to be the least expensive decent quality option available these days? And next, assuming a budget of no more than $1000-1250 or so, what would you recommend? Used suggestions are also welcome in the same price range or lower.

Feel free to PM if easier. I know this is a very subjective question. Thanks.
 

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Here’s my recommendations. I’ve owned each of them.

Barone
Kessler - I’ve had 2 of them. Stupidly sold the first one and ended up buying another one
Yamaha YSS-475 - very dependable, solid intonation
 

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A used Jupiter JPS-547 (a good and quite inexpensive soprano) or a used Yamaha YSS-475.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thanks for all of the suggestions. Sounds like many recommend the used route (particularly YSS-475 seems to be a perennial favorite although finding one at an acceptable price might be a bit of a hunt), but a few suggestions for some new horns as well. All very helpful and appreciated.
 

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Try this one:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Profession...243255?hash=item466214d577:g:VekAAOSwHptY~Lzf

I know, I know - you get what you pay for, right? Nope, not always. Labor and materials costs in China are FAR cheaper than here or Europe, plus they are highly competitive. This guy has a couple of American sax player consultants that helped him work out the bugs in the early days. I own their Baritone sax, and I LOVE it! It's better than a Yamaha intermediate level sax, in my opinion. I had my sax tech go over it when I first got it, and he concurred with me, that it's a respectable intermediate horn. I haven't tried the soprano, but the bari and the tenor are awesome. I was spoiled for years by playing MK VI tenor and alto. This was a great buy. It plays in tune, has reasonably decent tone and fits well with a pro mouthpiece.
 

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Yeah, how many rock, pop, funk, blues gigs have you scored lately? My orchestra director told me I couldn't join because the saxophone was a "rude instrument." I LOVED that, and I knew I'd be a sax player from then on. Just kidding. I knew I wanted to play sax when I was 3!
 
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