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After a 3 year search, I have finally settled on a sopranino. I really wanted one so I set out to find the best one I could afford.

First one I bought was a Mark VI (keyed to high F#) that I got on eBay. I got it for a VERY good price. While I knew that it had older style keywork, I felt that I could overcome it (I could not). When I got the horn, It played...OK. Typical tuning problems up high. It was also weird that the G key depressed most of the upper stack along with it. While it was a cool, collectible horn I decided to move on.

Next one I got was a one of the Taiwanese modern horns. This particular one was unbranded. It played ok but I could barely produce any notes from high C and above. I realized later that was pretty much due to my lack of experience on nino. I thought I could find one better. Sold that one.

Next was a P Mauriat. Same horn basically. I thought it might have been set up to a different standard than the previous one. Same issues. Returned it.

I then traded one of my Yamaha 62 baris for a Selmer SA II. I had borrowed the horn before and liked it. Higher notes came out MUCH easier on this horn. High B, C, and C# were atrouciosly out of tune (common). Middle C# was unusable. I had to use long C# everytime. Decided to keep this one for the time being.

I then play tested a straight Rampone that was for sale locally (well 90 minutes away, but that's local here in TX). Probably the least tunable horn of the lot. This was heartbreaking because I really wanted to love this horn and I've heard wonderful things about them. Obviously did not buy it.

I then bought ANOTHER Super Action SAII off eBay. I figured I could compare the two Selmers and see which one I liked better. This one was about 15 year younger that the one I had. The ergonomics were quite a bit better surprisingly. Being the same make and model, they felt worlds apart. However, the tone and tuning on the one I had already beat out this new horn. So I sole the new one to a friend. I kept the newer style Selmer BAM case though :)

So I figured, well, the Selmer is the best I suppose. I then I started looking at the cheap-o Chinese stuff. I had a friend with a Jinbao. So I borrowed his. Quite an impressive horn for $450 but it just felt cheap. Response was pretty good especially in the upper end. Decided not to get one.

I then through my work, purchased an Allora. While I knew that it was basically the same horn as two of the ones I had previously owned, I figured that I was a bit more experienced on the horn and maybe I could make it work. So, I purchased one (at a HUGE discount since I work for the company that distributes them). When I first played it I noticed that the problems that I had noticed on the other Taiwanese horns were still present....BUT they were very diminished. I could play easily up to Eb and could play a simple scale without having to use crazy, augmented fingerings to avoid the horrific tuning. Bottom line was this was the best tuning horn I've had. However, I could not get up to high E/F with out biting the hell of the mouthpiece and playing at a very loud dynamic. So I took it to my technician. He put a new octave pip in the instrument. Now it plays like a true professional sax. I could not be happier.

I then sold my Selmer SAII. How many time have you heard someone say they sold their Selmer because the Allora played better??
 

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That's quite a journey. I have hesitated to embark on a similar journey, though I think I may take the plunge soon. I purchased a Yanigasawa horn made in the early 80s and stenciled for Martin. It's given me the regular problems one finds in a nino, though I do like the action. Meanwhile, I keep wanting to "trade up" to a Selmer or a Rampone. Your post has given me second thoughts, however. I was particularly bummed to hear about your reaction to the Rampone as I too have heard very good things about Rampone horns in general and their nino in particular. I recently played on a Rampone soprano and was very pleased by it.

Has anyone else out there had any better experiences with the Rampone nino?

Bob
 

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Cool!


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As many on the forum know, I have (too) many sopraninos, ranging from the 19th century into the 21st century, including Evette-Scaheffer, Bueschers, Conns, Martins, early and late Selmers, Yanis, Berekelys and Rampones. I use these with my saxophone orchestras as well as in my professional playing, in solo, orchestral and chamber situations.
My main professional sopranino is a MK VI, keyed to F#. It is a great combination of tone, ergonomics, key range and tuning. But in the same category are the new Rampones. I own a curved one, and I have tried two others: the traditional straight as well as the semi curved. All three are exceptional and easily the equal of my Selmer. If I had to choose a quality, fully keyed new sopranino today I would recommend the Rampone.
Paul Cohen
 

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Several years ago when WW&BW was selling gold-plated Rampone sopranos with the tipped-bell for $1795, I bought one. Nice enough. That encouraged me to take a chance on the Rampone 'nino from WW&BW. I recall it was the same price (or near enough) as the Bb tipped bell soprano. I wanted a matching set, don't you know.

The one thing I learned was that a 'nino was not to be in my musical life. While the Rampone played well (I noticed no intonation or response issues), the highness of it all was unpleasant to me. So, I sold the 'nino - never missed it. However, if someone asked me to recommend a 'nino, I would not hesitate to name the Rampone 'nino as one to consider.

A cousin-by-marriage of mine who lives in the UK has a curved Orsi sopranino. He plays it well. I've never played it. When I had a chance to get an Orsi curved 'nino out of an estate sale, I passed. DAVE
 

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Has anyone else out there had any better experiences with the Rampone [email protected]

I have a straight Rampone Sopranino which is a beautiful horn. I have played sopranino since about 1980 and own 2 Selmers, a Mk 6 to keyed to F# and a Serie II, along with my Rampone. Both the Selmers are quite good, the Mk6 having the fattest sound to the Rampone having the brighter sound.(my Rampone is gold plated) The Rampone ergonomics are actually a bit more comfortable for me. I have no difficulty in recommending the Rampone Sopranino and if Dr Cohen says they are good, then they are good.

I do not like the Sopranino's that only go to Eb because of the music I am involved with, but that is a personal thing.
 

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Someone here in Israel has a Taiwanese nino for sale. The stencil says King Excellence. Does anyone have experience with ninos of that provenance? Is it made by the same factory that makes the Kessler or Allora?
 

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Someone here in Israel has a Taiwanese nino for sale. The stencil says King Excellence. Does anyone have experience with ninos of that provenance? Is it made by the same factory that makes the Kessler or Allora?
King Excellence is a mainland Chinese brand based in Beijing.
http://www.bjexcellencemusic.com

The model in your photos is listed in their catalog as “children’s soprano”.

It is not from the same source as the Kessler or Allora instruments.
 

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Interesting journey! But i think it's an incomplete journey until you try the best soprano manufacturer in the world (in my opinion ofc)... Talking about yanagisawa. I don't know how their nino stands but if they are so good making sopranos i supose they will have some decent ninos as well...
 

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Interesting journey! But i think it's an incomplete journey until you try the best soprano manufacturer in the world (in my opinion ofc)... Talking about yanagisawa. I don't know how their nino stands but if they are so good making sopranos i supose they will have some decent ninos as well...
They’re OK. Selmer’s design is better though and even the Taiwanese horns are keyed to high F#. The Yany is an older design that goes to high E. If you can find a Taiwanese horn that is from a reasonable manufacturer, they’re better than Yanys, IMO.


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The new Rampone sopraninos are also first class instruments, rivaling and perhaps surpassing both Selmer and Yanigasawa in tone and build quality. Alto keyed to high F#.
Paul Cohen
 
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