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Discussion Starter #1
Alright, I posted in the Kessler forum asking about their sopranos but got no answers, so I thought I'd try my luck here. Mods, if this is considered cross posting, please feel free to close one of (Or both if needed.) the threads, preferably the one on the Kessler section. :)

After some much thought, I've decided I will pick up Soprano. I've kinda wanted to for two years and I figure nows a good time. What is a good beginning soprano? I was thinking the Kessler Custom Model 1 because of its price, but I'm sure there are other good options as well. I'm looking for a really mellow sound, kinda that oboe-ish smoother mellow sound. What would be a good mouthpiece to start on? Thanks in advance for the answers!
 

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dunno anything about the kessler, but I just got a Venus soprano and find it an super beginners instrument. i.e it played across the entire range of the instrument within a couple of hours of me taking it out the box. My tuner tells me it's in reasonable tune across the range, so I can't see it's gonna hold me back in learning. The brand also gets good reviews on the Steven Howard site.

Ditch the mouthpiece that comes with it, like most Chinese pieces it's junk.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I like the sound of the Antiguas.

Is a Borgani sop for $630-$700 a good deal?
 

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If you like a mellow sound try the Bauhaus Bronze Deluxe model if you can before you decide.

I think Pete Thomas who posts on this board plays one. I played on one for a few months while I was waiting for a horn to arrive and really enjoyed it.

I will get one as a backup horn one of these days.
 

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I have played Pete's BW soprano, and was pleasantly surprised by just how nice an instrument it is. I don't know what model it is, though.
 

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No contemporary soprano is really gonna have a particularly mellow tone to it, really. It's that '80's paradigm shift. You can darken a newish horn a bit with mouthpiece selection (this becomes trickier w/ a Soprano than with other saxes) but they generally aren't "oboe-esque" sounding horns. I have tested Antiguas and Venuses as well as Cannonballs and Jupiters, Winstons, Berkeleys, etc. Then higher-priced Yammys, Yanis, and the like.

Some sounded pretty good. Some not. But none brought to mind "smooth", "dark", "sweet", or "oboe-esque"....Maybe relative to each other, you can split those hairs. But that's not saying the same thing, really....

You may wanna look at older horns. They are a hella deal, old straight Sopranos...and if you stay beyond the early '30's....their intonation becomes acceptable if not better. This is where the sonic paradigm used to be. They are wider, darker, more lyrical. More low and midrange overtones, generally.
Old Borganis are good....they are built well and they intone well. Not quite as smooth sounding as something like a Conn, Buescher, King stencils...a bit punchier. Weltklang also made some very good Sopranos, as did Orsi and Grassi. Usually they can be had for around a $600-800 investment (purchase and tech work). Just FYI....
 

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As the owner of a Venus and a 1925 Martin Handcraft, I can only say this. For a beginner, the Venus or similar inexpensive horn (Bauhaus, maybe Kessler) is better The older sopranos may have a somewhat better tone, but in general they are way harder to play. Up to about C3 they are OK, but the palm keys are much harder to play well. I once had a Mark VI soprano, for a couple years - it was owned by my college, but I had exclusive use of it. It had similar problems as the Martin.

Most of the inexpensive Asian horns are modeled on either the Yamaha or Yanagisawa sopranos, both of which were significant advances in horn design. (I cannot say the same about Yamaha or Yanagisawa tenors and altos...) As a result, they tend to play better than the older horns, in my opinion.

Regarding the tone qualities, yes my Martin is darker, but not significantly so, and that (mostly good) quality is outweighed by the ease of tone production and better intonation of the Venus.

When I bought this horn, I was actively looking at sopranos in the $1K range; I tried a Kessler, an Antigua, some other brands, but tried some Yanagisawas also, and concluded I would be better off buying a $300 Venus. Yes, the $3K Yanagisawa is the best, so I decided to save my money and buy one when I could, and buying the cheaper Venus means that I could do that sooner. Are the $1K horns better than the Venus? Marginally so, mostly in the attention paid to construction details and in engraving (the Venus has none). Not worth the difference in money, IMHO.
 

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I have played Pete's BW soprano, and was pleasantly surprised by just how nice an instrument it is. I don't know what model it is, though.
Bronze Deluxe is what I recall Pete saying. I believe he preferred the tone of the bronze as do I. It's a little darker. The M2 is a more modern sound typical of Yani and Yammy sops

Rampone make a sop that is more traditional in tone and my JK is dark and sultry ... quite it's own voice. But these are horns over 3K.

Both the Bauhaus models I have played a lot were easier to get the palm notes than the JK btw.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the replies everyone.

There is an old Borgani being sold on eBay, $700, and its location is a few hours away from me. But, for $250 more, I could get a Buescher True Tone. Its a relaq but I don't think I mind.

Venus seems like they are worth a shot, but I'd have to listen to one first, and see how it tunes.
 

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There is a lot of saxophone-myth surrounding sopranos. Take it from someone who's played the things for over 50 years as their main saxophone. I've played a lot of sopranos over the years and owned many, too. Right now, I have seven in my closet. They range from two Buescher TT's (straight) dated from 1928, through inexpensive Asian models up to three Yangiasawas (SC902, S901, and S992).

My modern sopranos are just as mellow, just as warm, just as strong, and in better tune than my favorite Buescher TT. Of all the sopranos I've ever played/owned, including the vaunted MKVI, my TT and the S-992 are the best. You would be hard-pressed to listen to anything I've recorded and tell me the vintage or the shape for that matter. They all sound like me.

My S992 is probably the darkest/warmest/richest sop I've ever played. My TT has by far the strongest, in-tune, and most clear hi-end of any soprano I've played. The TT's response is unsurpassed.

My inexpensive Antigua (believed to be based on Yanagisawa's 98x/99x-series) is a fine player, similar in tone and feel to my S901 (with the obvious exception of having dual necks while the S901 has a fixed neck). There is a difference in feel between the Yanagisawas and the Antigua, though. The Yanagisawas have that feel of luxury, but the sound, volume, intonation, and tone is similar among all of them.

Much of what you may have read about sopranos are generalities and there will be exceptions to every "rule." I answered your initial question in another post (a double-post) but I just had to reply here after reading some posts. Like has been said many times, we all have our perceptions and it will be up to you to decide what works best for you. No one can tell you what you will like, only what THEY like. DAVE
 

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I'd suggest a used Keilwerth SX90(one piece/neck) or one of the older Selmers. The Keilwerth is really the only modern soprano whose tone I like. The others(and I've tried quite a few)have all been too bright for my taste.
 

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IMO the JK horns would be pretty challenging for a beginner/low intermediate player. I love the tone on mine. I don't know how much experience the OP has.
 

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Venus seems like they are worth a shot, but I'd have to listen to one first, and see how it tunes.
Why bother? Order it from the Internet, if you don't like it send it back within 14 days for a full refund (ok, you have to pay the postage).

Need to get a decent mouthpiece before you judge it, the one it comes with is junk.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Why bother? Order it from the Internet, if you don't like it send it back within 14 days for a full refund (ok, you have to pay the postage).

Need to get a decent mouthpiece before you judge it, the one it comes with is junk.
I can't seem to find Venus horns anywhere on the internet.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
You know, I had my mind pretty set on the Bauhaus Walstein, but then I started thinking.

I still need to save up for the BW. I could buy the Venus now and still have money left over for a pretty good mouthpiece. That being said, I am just beginning soprano, so I don't want to spend $900 and then find out I'm not a soprano fan. (This is unlikely, but its always possible when trying a new instrument.) My question is, would it be logical to buy a Venus now and upgrade later when I have the money or when needed?
 

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That's a question only you can answer really. The venus is very much a beginners instrument (a very capable one, but a beginner one still). the BW is a pro level horn fighting it out with the best. You pay your money and take your choice, but comparing them is not really fair.

Personally if I had to save up for the BW, then I'd get the venus and put the extra towards lessons, books, playalong cds etc. But that's my personal choice, you make your own.

Upgrade is perfectly possible, venus instruments go on ebay for pretty much the same price as new (at least over hear in England, dunno about in america).
 

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I haven't played a Venus but I would say with soprano in general that they are far more critical than an alto or tenor. IMO one would be better off to get a good instrument and pay $30 or so for a Yamaha 4C mpce.

There was a used BW sop less than a year old is all I can remember that went for about $500. I know of one BW Bronze with playtest time only on it that you could get from a music store in this city for $800 I recall. I have played that horn and it plays well and sounds great. Easy to play good intonation and easy palm notes.
 
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