The Yanas are hard to beat but be warned that you will need to buy a lot of wifeish shoes and jewelry to offset the cost. For under $1,000 you may find a decent Yamaha or even a Vito (made by Yana and a great bargain).
The shopping trip is postponed for a week or two which gives me more time to ask some questions and consider your answers.
My experience is higher than my ability as I haven't played for more than 20 years. I was playing and teaching Jazz saxophone and piano before I stopped. My ability now is very low as I am effectively starting from scratch again. I'll be fine once my mouth and dexterity come back, though this may take a while.
My price limit is somewhat low at around £500 max.
I like the look of the straight soprano. Is that a good choice or are there advantages in the curved models?
Only advantage to curvies is the sound comes back at you which makes it sound differant to you but not the audience. The curved neck on a curved sop can make it easier to hold sax-differant playing position-do not have to hold right wrist/arm as high. Easy on right wrist. This benefit can be achieved by the pricier straight soprano that offer 2 necks;a curved and a straight. My straight bodied selmer super action 80 series II does hurt my right wrist after a long playing session. My daughters Curved Yani SC-991 can be played longer w/o fatique. The Yani is a good match for my 9 year old daughter as she does not have the strength and endurance in her right wrist for anything more than brief playing time on a staight one piece soprano.
Congratulations on your soon-to-be soprano
and co-operative spouse!
I'd like to have a soprano, specifically a Yani curvy
but the real world may 'only' (the suffering!) allow
me a straight Antigua, which I will rationalize to you.
These instruments seemed to have acheived an
SOTW concensus as best for the $ and good
sounding too. In my conversation with Dave Kessler,
he warned me OFF Antiqua curvies.
You might want to check out Kessler's proprietary line too.
As for thumb issues, I've got 'em and plan on
experimenting on a "Quodlibet" style support
with my clarinet first, before purchasing a sop.
I bought a vintage first Tenor but I want a new horn
I can burden the dealer with adjusting to perfection
with less risk of intonation issues than a vintage.
Also, there are of course endless posts on this matter
in the SOTW Sop subforum and you can also (wisely)
review Mr. Dave Dolson's posts for the opinions of
our likely most active & authoritative sop practioner.
Aw shucks . . . You guys have made me into something I ain't, but I appreciate the accolades none the less.
Vince, others have pretty much stated the facts as I see them. Curved - straight makes little difference, especially to the audience. One thing I have found . . . inexpensive straight sopranos are more likely to play in tune than are inexpensive curved sops (at least that's been my experience).
By inexpensive, I don't mean CHEAP, I mean mostly Taiwanese-made sopranos with some semblance of quality. Brands like Kessler's Custom, Antigua (with the YS serial numbers), P. Mauriat, Cannonball, and Rheuben Allen's Hollywood Wind sopranos come to mind. There may be others, too.
Within your budget, maybe the KC, Antigua and Rheuben's horns are what there are for you and I'm not sure of the price on Rheuben's horn. I recall there is a UK company that may have some decent ones, but I'm not sure of the brand name. Is it saxophone.com? DAVE
I will vouch for the Antigua horns. I recently bought a new 586BC from Kessler Music, and I couldn't be happier. If you're looking for a new horn as opposed to a vintage or used one, the Antigua is a great choice for under $1,000.
Dave raises the key point, Vince is in England. If he is going shopping then, many of the US options (albeit Taiwanese in origin) are out. I think it may be saxophone.co.uk, but the main point about that is that the business is based in Sussex (check the web site through Google). If my geography is correct, so too is Hailsham; so Vince, that shop would be your best bet in the south.
£500 won't go vey far though; you may be looking at a Jupiter 500 series for that kind of money.... unless you contact Hanson in West Yorkshire - German bodies, Taiwanese keywork, plus Yorkshire grit: they are building a good reputation for quality and service.
... and I bought my 1928 Buescher in the UK (from Sussex!) for £600.
Vince, My understanding is that you would not find much difference between an Elkhart (modern third world Selmer copy, nothing to do with the old Buescher second line marque, before anyone chimes in) and, say, a Jupiter 500 series, although I would be inclined to go for the latter. It (the Elkhart) is a student model and I know plenty of inexperienced players who are happy learning on them. I think it would be worth looking at anything else saxophones.co.uk have, just for comparison.
Rabbit, Yes. Firstly, of course, postage costs, then add 21.4% for various import duties on the cost of the sax and on the cost of the shipping. It can be worth importing from the USA, though. The cheapest approach is to buy cheap on eBay knowing there is work to be done. That work can be done in England, but the import duties are payable only on the lower cost of the sax, not the repairs. My TT is the only one of my saxes bought in England, the other four came from the USA (two ebay, two from dealers).
If you feel a bit rusty about your playing, you may want to find another player to go with you. Remeber mouthpieces and reeds can make a big difference. Those Asian horns can be anywhere from good to terrible. You just need to find the right one. I sold one marked Belcrest and it was quite good.
I went to Crowborough today to visit the saxophones.co.uk showroom. That place is impressive; I've never seen so many saxophones in one place.
I played a few sopranos and settled on an Ex hire Sakkusu Straight Soprano Sax in gold lacquer, with Yamaha mouthpiece. It played very nicely (especially as I have been told the sopranos play out of tune) and the price was right.
Unfortunately, I am required to wait until Christmas before I will be allowed to play it.
Slightly off topic but I left my tenor for repair. Apparently it has a leak which is why I can't get the low notes. Actually that's good news; I thought it was my bad playing.
know that a Christmas gift is for Christmas, but I would caution you about letting it sit until then. You need to make sure you play and break the horn in during the warrenty period. Even good horns may have a problem that come out during break in. Also, being a cheaper asian horn, you don't want to find out it is a lemon after it is too late to return it. I know, I made that mistake and still have the piece of crap sitting in my basement because I can't in good conscience sell the thing.
I now have my new soprano and I'm having a lot of fun playing it.
The highest (palm key) notes are difficult, which I put down to inexperience with the soprano, and I found myself biting a bit to start with which gave be a painful bottom lip. I'm now being careful not to bite and, except for those palm key notes, it seems to be playing very nicely indeed.
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