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I've been playing my first generation YSS-475 almost from the day they first came out. A Yani curved horn was what I really wanted, but were 3x+ the price and that just wasn't happening for a soprano. I was happy to have the Yamaha, even if I wasn't quite sold on a strait sop in general. A few years ago, I bought a SopranoPlanet Missing Link which was a big upgrade. I loved the sound and playability I was getting. No matter how long I practice though, I don't think a strait soprano will ever be comfortable for me. It hurts. Also, most of my performing these days is through a mic in a setting with lots of background noise and a strait sop is especially difficult in those situations.

A new, or even used Yani is still more than I can justifiably spend on a soprano sax. I started to notice a lot of recommendations on these pages for Kessler sopranos, and their horns in general. I looked a few alternatives, both new and used, and finally just went for it.

So my new Kessler Custom Performance Series Curved Soprano Sax showed up today!

After a disappointing tracking update from USPS saying they left a note since I wasn't there to sign, I was able to take my lunch break and track down the mail truck within the hour. After a pleasant discussion with my extremely helpful mail carrier, I showed some ID and he gave me my saxophone.

The horn was well packed in its case, in a box, in another box filled with packing peanuts. The peanuts aren't my favorite packaging to deal with, but they're effective.
Inside the case was my invoice, a business card with a hand written note from the Kessler who inspected my horn (thanks Chuck!), a neck strap, swab, cork grease, a Rico mouthpiece, cap, and the upgraded ligature described on the site. The case itself is nice and has an extra outside pocket.

The sax feels well built and the action smooth. The RH pinky Eb key feels slightly higher than i expected but everything else feels familiar.

I had to test it out right away, so I put a Hemke 2 1/2 on my Missing Link, greased the cork and gave it a go. The horn blew well from the very first note I played. Tuning was controllable through
the entire range. LH palm key notes and right hand down mid-range notes tended to be a little more flat than other areas, but nothing that isn't fixed with air support and embouchure improvement. The sound coming through the upturned bell is a new sensation to me compared to a strait horn. It's very comfortable to play, this should bode well for my practice habits.

I tried the Rico B7 mouthpiece and H-ligature that it came with. It's more resistant and doesn't play as smoothly or make as nice of a sound, but that's to be expected given the price difference. It was definitely playable and it's not bad to get the horn going.

Finally, I found a box of Alexander Superial 2 1/2 reeds laying around that I thought I had run out of. One of these on the Missing Link is my favorite setup so far (which is what I play on the YSS-475). It's even easier to play than with the Hemke and has a nice fat smoothness.

After I get my chops back in shape and explore a little I'll see if I can get a good recording to post here.

I'm extremely happy with my decision so far, looking forward to spending a lot of time with this horn!
 

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Good to hear, so far, so good. Nice little write up! I've had my Kesseler Custom Deluxe tenor now for 12 years. Been into the shop 3 times for tune ups and it's going great! Keep us posted on how it holds up and post some tunes when you're up for it! Cheers!
 

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I recieved mine a few months back and have to say it far outplays the price. I will sell a few of my straight ones which I suffer playing because of a thumb injury. Highly recomend these with a good mouthpiece (soprano planet is my choice).
 

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Thank you for those reviews. I have been shopping sopranos and was leaning towards a straight one after hearing about the intonation issues of curved sops. Your reviews (above) prompted me to purchase the Kessler curvie. I prefer the curvie both because it is adorable, that it is easier to hear yourself, and the ergonomics relative to positioning and strap use.
I'll add to the comments that I've read about Kessler in that Dave Kessler took a good 10-15 minutes by phone to discuss the curved vs. straight pluses and minuses. He indicated that Kessler is having their Custom Series instruments built in Vietnam. They are using a Selmer bore design that is apparently narrower than other options. Dave cautioned me about the greater air resistance of the curvies as opposed to straight being more pronounced as a result of the narrow bore.
 

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When I spoke with Kessler on the phone, he said he tries to steer people away from the curved soprano due to it being more resistant than a straight model.

Any thoughts on this from those of you who own a curved Kessler?

Thanks.
 

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I haven’t had a Kessler, but I’ve owned a few Yanagisawa curved sops - it’s plenty easy to dial in the resistance by choice of mouthpiece and reed.
 

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I have owned two Kessler curved soprano saxophones in the last five years, one I later sold (purchased brand new) and one I kept and still play (purchased second-hand but actually brand new). I have also owned the Kessler straight "handmade" soprano with two necks (which I later sold, my hand & thumb can't deal with holding a straight soprano anymore).

The Kessler curved I would not classify as strongly resistant as compared to the Kessler straight soprano. There is some resistance, but it is appreciated. I also play a vintage curved Conn stencil, and find resistance about the same (more or less). Mouthpiece selection is important. For me, Vandoren V16 S7 has been the best for the Kessler, but I am still looking for a better mouthpiece.



When I spoke with Kessler on the phone, he said he tries to steer people away from the curved soprano due to it being more resistant than a straight model.

Any thoughts on this from those of you who own a curved Kessler?

Thanks.
 

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After a lot of research, positive feedback here and playing other brands in stores. I ordered a Kessler Soprano Saxophone earlier this week and I am expecting it early next week. I'll try to review it after it arrives!
 

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And to throw yet another fly into the ointment, having owned a Kessler Custom Standard soprano for 7 years, I don't think that the horn is very resistant at all, being very similar to the free blowing YSS-475, which is a soprano that I absolutely adore.

I've never played a Kessler curved, but if they follow the design philosophy of other Kessler horns I've played, it will hold up well over the long run. In 7 years, I had to perform one minor repair to my soprano's low Bb key, and that was only because it was knocked off its stand by a careless soundman. There's a certain inherent elasticity to the keywork. While it isn't flimsy enough to be noticed during regular playing, the elastic rebound is great enough to bounce back from pretty serious knocks. The engravings are etched through the lacquer, which typically means that lacquer around the engravings will flake. However, in nearly a decade of use through some pretty harsh environmental conditions, I can say that Kessler's lacquer holds up better than anything Selmer has ever used. These horns are one of the best bangs for your buck out there. Congrats on your purchase.
 

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I recently got one of these curvies from Dave Kessler myself. Great initial build quality, plays really well. Lovely timbre. Intonation is every bit as good as on my R&C half-curved. I'm really starting to like the fully curved soprano a lot. No hesitation about using this on a gig. FWIW, I'm playing a Vandoren SL4 with a Legere standard 2.75 and a cheap, 2-screw metal ligature. Seems to be a good combination for me.
 

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Sad to report that my new Kessler curved soprano had a faulty neck receiver solder. I purchased it for a specific show and it just came off 3 days before the show. I called and while Kessler's tech was willing to repair it, there was no way they could get me the instrument in time for my show, and would not send a replacement for me to use for my show. I paid my local tech to repair it.
It is certainly possible that this was a one off issue, but if anyone else has it happen I suggest letting Kessler know.
I'm playing a Warburton 7 with a Legere signature 2 with a Rovner dark ligature, much darker than the Graftonite with a Legere signature 2.25. Both have a sound that I enjoy.
 

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Removeable soprano necks are just a terrible idea; especially for bargain horns. The amount of force and pressure needlessly applied each and every time the horn is put together and taken apart. Such damage doesn't surprise me.
 

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When I spoke with Kessler on the phone, he said he tries to steer people away from the curved soprano due to it being more resistant than a straight model.

Any thoughts on this from those of you who own a curved Kessler?
This is an interesting comment. Some players like a bit of resistance in their horns, I find it odd that the purveyor/contractor of their own model would actually dissuade people from purchasing it (???) If I understood this right (?)
 

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Sad to report that my new Kessler curved soprano had a faulty neck receiver solder. I purchased it for a specific show and it just came off 3 days before the show. I called and while Kessler's tech was willing to repair it, there was no way they could get me the instrument in time for my show, and would not send a replacement for me to use for my show. I paid my local tech to repair it.
It is certainly possible that this was a one off issue, but if anyone else has it happen I suggest letting Kessler know.
1) They are gonna reimburse you for that, yes ?

2) if you contacted them 3 days before the show, they could have expressed or 2-day prioritied a new horn to you in time, no ?
 

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This is an interesting comment. Some players like a bit of resistance in their horns, I find it odd that the purveyor/contractor of their own model would actually dissuade people from purchasing it (???) If I understood this right (?)
Well, apparently they are saying, "You might like the Kessler straight sop better than our curved model," not, "Don't buy any Kessler soprano." Maybe, based on previous customer feedback, they're aware that there's more potential for dissatisfaction based on playability if a prospective curved soprano buyer is expecting a really free-blowing horn.

2) if you contacted them 3 days before the show, they could have expressed or 2-day prioritied a new horn to you in time, no ?
It appears that the repair job was a "could not" (in the time available), but the replacement horn was a "would not."
 

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Removeable soprano necks are just a terrible idea; especially for bargain horns. The amount of force and pressure needlessly applied each and every time the horn is put together and taken apart.
For many players, the benefits obviously outweigh the costs (leaving aside the "bargain horn" scenario).

With straight sopranos, it's simple: you can use different types of necks. Straight and curved are obvious options (some people do like both), but choice of material is also available, if that matters to the player.

With curved sopranos, you can also use different types of necks, AND the horn itself is probably less fragile when being transported. Plus, a curved sop with a fixed neck requires a slightly different, and larger, case.
 

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You really can't fault Kessler for not sending a replacement without first having the defective horn in their hands.
I would say photos of the damage, and a scan of the return ship receipt (once item was left at shipping facility) would have sufficed. It would for me, if the owner explained the time constraint, actually.
 

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I see both points. It certainly is up to the business to set their policies particularly relative to a new customer. I posted this more as a "case study" on the chance that if anyone else who had purchased one of Kessler's house brand horns (soprano or otherwise) had the same problem that they would report it to Kessler. I would think that Kessler would want to know so as to take QA action with their factory. As I wrote, it is possible that my horn was a one-off failure. I am however very gentle with my instruments and had only played it a few times so believe that it was a defect in the solder.
George, having read several of your posts I am not surprised at your sense of ethics and appreciate your support. Similar to how I anticipate that you would act, understanding my time concerns, my tech gave me the courtesy of getting me in immediately and did the repair while I waited. Compared to the time to pack and ship, and cost were I to avail myself of warranty service from Kessler, I was far better served by him, and of course I was able to use the little curvie for the show! We spent most of the time laughing about poor pitiful me, "who else would buy a brand new sax just for one show thinking that would avoid any problems then have it fall apart right before the show just weeks after arriving!"
The story gets better though, my tech works with a group that receives instrument donations for the schools; he donates repairs for the kids. He happened to have received a King Super 20 tenor 36**** serial, yes with the silver neck, and asked me to take it and give him a report on it. I liked it so much that I played it in the show (albeit with a backup at the ready)! For my trouble all I had to do was suggest a couple of corks, using a twist tie as a temporary repair.
So, no George, I didn't even think about sending Kessler the bill nor will I bother now. Like Grumps, I accept their business practices and that they wouldn't solve the issue in time for my show. The Super 20 was a fun added bonus more than compensating me for the little hassle. Given your comments and support George, I suspect that like my tech, you go the extra mile to create a positive experience for your customers as well George!
As an aside regarding the resistance of the curvie, Dave Kessler was correct in his advice, at least as far as my limited experience playing a straight soprano (a Holton) as opposed to this curved one (with different setups). That he gave me that information prior to purchase speaks well of his business practice in giving information prior to purchases.
 

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This thread is another reminder that buyers need to keep in mind the repair/replace distinction when weighing the value of the warranty on a new instrument. There's no substitute for reading the actual language of the warranty, but typically the seller (or the manufacturer) will have the option of repairing or replacing the instrument, at the seller's discretion. Buyers sometimes tend to feel that they are entitled to an immediate replacement. "I just bought this horn, and it's broken already? It was defective! Give me a new one!" Or, "A shop repair won't make this instrument as good as it was before; I need a new one." Or, "Repairs take a long time, especially with a seller in another state or country. Just give me a new one." But repairing is obviously cheaper for the seller; hence, the potential for disputes.

There was a recent clarinet thread here in which a poster expressed his anger at Backun for allegedly not treating him fairly over a cracked clarinet. The details were somewhat lacking, but I think the disagreement was really about repair vs. replace. The maker wants to pin the crack; the buyer, understandably, would prefer a whole new joint. (At least a clarinet can be supplied in segments. :))
 
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