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I don't own one but I have tried one and it is a very good soprano. As long as they are set up right you should be very happy. A very underrated horn in my opinion. Can't go wrong!
 

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parkerknoll:: I figured that you thought that since there had been only one response in five months under the Antigua Winds forum, posting where soprano players actually frequent might elicit some response.

I started that thread after I contacted Peter Ponzol with questions about a Peter Ponzol Modell soprano from Keilwerth. Some are transition horns between the Toneking to the SX90, which he played a major role in designing. The bore was one of the first things they changed, and he considered all models after his arrival at Keilwerth to be SX90s. However, there are some Toneking artifacts in the key work in a few special order horns that were changed in main run instruments.

I do not have permission to post the emails publicly, but I will share summaries of pertinent content. Most of what he said was public knowledge. He recommended the ProOne even though he is no longer under contract with Antigua Winds. He said that Antigua Winds is now under the management of a good saxophone player who knows the business, with whom he was impressed.

He said the ProOne has nothing to do with other Antigua sopranos. The factory had to make a separate department to make ProOne to his standards.

He designed it from top to bottom using a bore similar to Keilwerth and a larger bell rim. "In other words, Antigua gave me a clean sheet of paper 6 years ago to design a completely new line of professional saxophones." The soprano was finished two years ago (around 2014), while the alto and tenor have been on the market for several years (around 2011). He worked one year on the soprano design alone.

He said the ProOne soprano bore is similar to the SX90, but the mechanism and intonation are much better.

He said that he had never been a fan of sopranos with detachable necks. "The part of the body that is cut [for the joint] is where the octave break is, and these horns are never easy to play octaves. That goes for all sopranos with a detachable neck."

He said the ProOne series are the only saxophones made today with any innovations, but not all features were possible to put on the soprano. For example, the no-stick G# mechanism is not possible because of not enough space on the soprano. I was really disappointed to hear this. It would be a nice feature.

The soldered double arms on the low notes, which is in fashion today, are there to prevent fluttering of the pads. He said they have the problem that it is almost impossible to adjust the cup if needed. The patented trident arms float above the cup and only the adjusting screws make contact with the cup exactly over the edge of the tone hole. This allows pad pressure to be adjusted so that the low notes cannot flutter when being played. "While this feature is more important on the larger horns, it does make the low notes more stable on the soprano as well."

He said he opted for soldered rings on the low tone holes (not rolled) for increased pad life and a larger pad seat. This hybrid concept gives the advantage of rolled tone holes without the spread sound that happens when all tone holes are rolled. In another place, he said that he had originally had most of the upper and lower stack tone holes with soldered rings. He said he was surprised by how much it affected the sound. He did not like it, but for different reasons, he also did not like the sound of the saxes with no soldered rings. He had various configurations of soldered and regular tone hole hybrids made until he found the arrangement that consistently had the right sound.

He said his goal with the soprano was to make it sound "like a saxophone, not a kazoo, which is what most modern sopranos sound like." The ProOne has more core and less spread than Keilwerths made while he was there. He said, "This is the most beautiful sounding soprano ever made."

He also said, "Like anything else, the proof of the pudding is in the taste."

Still, no one on SOTW has said that they have played the soprano. Those who have played the alto and the tenor have had glowing, unqualified praise of the instruments. There was also a baritone released at the same time as the soprano.

I was hoping to find a used one. That is unlikely. I contacted all the music stores I could find within about a two-hour drive and could not find one had even a new one in stock. Even on the Kessler website, they have the ProOne soprano listed if you do an Internet search. However, if you do their site search for one-piece straight sopranos, the ProOne does not show in the lineup.

It's possible that this line may be one of those lines of incredible saxophones that no one bought, but we won't know until someone finds one to play.
 

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He said that he had never been a fan of sopranos with detachable necks. "The part of the body that is cut [for the joint] is where the octave break is, and these horns are never easy to play octaves. That goes for all sopranos with a detachable neck."
The problem is that many, many soprano players are fans of curved necks, whether detachable or fixed. If a company's single professional-level soprano in 2017 has a fixed straight neck, then a big chunk of the market will be uninterested in the horn.

He said the ProOne series are the only saxophones made today with any innovations
Er, is that so?

He said his goal with the soprano was to make it sound "like a saxophone, not a kazoo, which is what most modern sopranos sound like."
That's just baloney. This statement, coupled with the one above, suggests that Ponzol's ProOne soprano sales strategy is, "My horn is great because the others are bad," which is about the least credible approach that a designer might take.
 

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Well, his opinions are his opinions, as valid as anyone's opinions. Perhaps better informed than many including mine. I have tried to convey them accurately.

I do think the momentum in the demand for detachable necks is starting to shift. Mr. Ponzol is not the only well-informed player who does not care for detachable necks on sopranos, and there are a few of boutique sax houses that are not offering detachable necks on their sopranos.

Even a one-piece, curved neck apparently introduces a number of acoustical issues that must be dealt with by the player or the mouthpiece. They are not insurmountable. These issues are pandemic in other sax voices and go largely unnoticed since they are all held in common.

So, there are justifications for a one-piece, straight neck. I would not think that alone would be a reason for poor availablity.
 

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Well, his opinions are his opinions. As valid as anyone's opinions.
But all opinions are not equally valid. An opinion is not the same thing as an expression of personal taste. It's one thing to say, "I don't like the sound of all those horns," which expresses a completely subjective preference that, though possibly eccentric, can't be described as "wrong." It's another thing entirely to claim that most non-ProOne sopranos sound like kazoos. That's wacky, and also self-serving.

I do think the momentum in the demand for detachable necks is starting to shift. Even a one-piece, curved neck apparently introduces a number of acoustical issues that must be dealt with by the player or the mouthpiece. These issues are pandemic in other sax voices and go largely unnoticed since they are all held in common. Mr. Ponzol is not the only well-informed player who does not care for detachable necks.
Players who prefer straight necks have plenty of choices and probably always will. The point is that players who like curved necks better are not being served by Antigua (at the pro sax level). Most large manufacturing companies ensure that the options they offer cover everything that a substantial number of their potential customers value highly, whether or not the people in the company personally prefer those choices. What if Vandoren's chief reed designer said, "I don't care for unfiled reeds, so we're not going to offer any"?

My conjecture is that the inability to find anyone who has purchased a ProOne soprano is related to (not entirely caused by -- just related to) the fact that the horn comes only with a fixed, straight neck.
 

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Players who prefer straight necks have plenty of choices and probably always will. The point is that players who like curved necks better are not being served by Antigua (at the pro sax level). Most large manufacturing companies ensure that the options they offer cover everything that a substantial number of their potential customers value highly, whether or not the people in the company personally prefer those choices. What if Vandoren's chief reed designer said, "I don't care for unfiled reeds, so we're not going to offer any"?

My conjecture is that the inability to find anyone who has purchased a ProOne soprano is related to (not entirely caused by -- just related to) the fact that the horn comes only with a fixed, straight neck.
I understand your point of view from a marketing position. However, my impression is that Antigua came to him and asked him to design his idea of the "perfect" line of saxes and gave him free rein to do so. Marketing be [email protected]##$?! This is a clear departure from Antigua's "copy Yanagisawa" strategy of their other models. He made it clear to me that he was under contract to design this line of saxes (ended 2015) and was not an employee or stakeholder in Antigua, so the success of failure of the line is not, at least financially, self-serving.

But once again, I really have no idea whether this is a great sax or a dog since few have actually played one and no one here.

I suspect either production or distribution issues are a problem, but that is pure, out-of-the-air conjecture on my part. Specialized, improved quality products that require their own production line often have quality control, supply, and other issues in many manufacturing companies. Rheuben Allen's saxes are a good example of this.

Theo Wanne apparently agreed with your evaluation and now offers a curved neck, one-piece straight soprano, but I can't find anyone who has played one of these or any of their 2016-17 release sopranos either. Granted, they are new this year, but that is another topic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
there's a few in stock round my parts, but i would have to mail order. The price is about comparable with Yamaha 475 which is also straight neck only (and very unexciting, IMO), and cheaper than the Theo Wanne, which of course also claims lots of innovations so no particular reason why it shouldn't take off other than maybe small market and lack of awareness.

I note that there are very few Antiguas in stock anywhere in the UK. Even sax.co.uk only has one individual tenor left, and they carry lots of stock.
 

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i dont know about the soprano but, i have tried an pro one alto when i bought my antigua soprano and i can tell you for sure that if the store had one i bought it on the spot without playing it! that is just to show how much i was impressed with the pro one alto!
 

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I started this thread after reading Peter's comments about dual neck sops in an eBay ad for a Yanigisawa he was selling.

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...ol-s-comments-re-fixed-vs-removable-neck-sops

I have no direct experience with Antigua Pro One and presume, as are many Taiwan saxes, that they are well made and play well. But, the hype is off-putting, sounding more like it comes from "he who shall not be mentioned" in Nola. For example, when was the last time your bell keys fluttered open or haven't we proved often enough that the size of the bell rim doesn't make for a bigger sound. And, how about rolled tone holes making a spread sound?

Whether his opinions are valid seems offset by a desire to sell a more expensive product.
 

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I understand your point of view from a marketing position. However, my impression is that Antigua came to him and asked him to design his idea of the "perfect" line of saxes and gave him free rein to do so. Marketing be [email protected]##$?! This is a clear departure from Antigua's "copy Yanagisawa" strategy of their other models.
I think it was a great idea for Antigua to engage someone like Ponzol to assist with the design of an original line of saxophones rather than relying exclusively on clones. And the freer he was to implement his ideas, the better, I suppose. Something truly different could wind up being excellent. But none of that means it's prudent to ignore prospective customers' wishes. A mainstream car company doesn't have to decide whether a four-door automobile or a two-door is "better" in theory in order to understand that it should offer both body configurations, because drivers have different needs and preferences. I would call that simple responsiveness to consumer demand, rather than marketing. In SOTW parlance, "marketing" is typically used to denote unsubstantiated hype and factually dubious claims. That's an oversimplification, but in any case there is clearly considerable "marketing" associated with the ProOne line, given Ponzol's very aggressive assertions of his horns' superiority.
 

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I have no direct experience with Antigua Pro One and presume, as are many Taiwan saxes, that they are well made and play well. But, the hype is off-putting, sounding more like it comes from "he who shall not be mentioned" in Nola. For example, when was the last time your bell keys fluttered open or haven't we proved often enough that the size of the bell rim doesn't make for a bigger sound. And, how about rolled tone holes making a spread sound?
When the ProOne soprano appeared, my first reaction was, "Who needs 'trident' bell key arms on a soprano?" It seemed to me like a case of overdesign -- a solution in search of a problem. I believe I suggested here in another post that the real impetus behind the inclusion of this feature on the sop was to avoid omitting a "signature" technology of the ProOne line, whether or not it really helped on the soprano. I still think that is probably true.
 

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He also said, "Like anything else, the proof of the pudding is in the taste."
I have decided to reserve judgment on this sax, its innovations, and whether the marketing is all hype until I actually play one.

I find that I have an unfair prejudice against Antiguas. Except for G Hawk, people who have owned them when they play, say, an actual Yanagisawa or many other upper-level horns, often comment that they did not know how much the Antigua was less of an instrument, holding them back, how much better their new sound is or something to this effect. But, recently when asked to recommend a student level sax to a friend for his son, I realized that my judgment was totally unfair.

I asked myself where are the YAS-23s for soprano? Solidly built, a decent performer, not crazy expensive new and very affordable used. There are a few other brands, but I realized that Antigua sopranos really fits the mold for an excellent student horn. After several years of playing you should feel like it's time to step up to more expensive model, and like those continue the get the most out of their YAS-23s for decades, there are those who will swear by their Antiguas forever, especially if they have received a great rebuild.

The YSS475 sets the standard and the price point for new step-up sopranos. The Antigua ProOne street price ($1769-$2749) seems to undercut this a bit. It is not really in a price class that competes against any true pro-level soprano from any other company, and there is quite a bit of competition of the upper end of that range.

If it exceeds our expectations, it may be a lot of bang for the buck. If not, it may still be a good step-up from a student-level horn.

As I have said, I will reserve judgment until I actually play one, and I would like to hear from those who have.

Should we petition Antigua for a pass around horn?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi

I've just had a test of one of these instruments. I was interested because it's a Ponzol design, has a lot of cool features, rolled toneholes etc. It took a bit of work to get it together, so a brief rundown below.

1. how i got hold of an instrument to try

First up, I contacted a store in the UK (where I am) that had one online. They answered that it wasn't in stock but there was one left at the distributor (in the back of the rep's car) and they could get in for me and offered a discount price. I replied to check whether if I didn't like it could I still send it back and then the line went a little cold. Obviously, under the law if I buy something online I can send it back; the problem would be with the retailer because they would then be stuck with the instrument as apparently the distributor doesn't take returns.

I then phoned the distributor, Barnes & Mullins, who also deal with Yanagisawa among many other brands. I suggested that if I got the sax into a London shop such as sax.co.uk perhaps I could try it there and perhaps if they're doing a lot of business they may be able to return it. I then rang sax.co.uk to see if they'd be happy to do it. obviously the potential to make a decent amount of money for them, so the guy at the head office was very happy and sorted it right away. I would still have preferred to mail order it and try it at home for a couple of days.

2. At the test

So today I went in to have a go on it. I brought my regular piece, a 1972 Buffet Super Dynaction, and also asked the shop assistant if I could play a straight Rampone alongside it and later a YSS-875. I made a mistake in not bringing a recorder, so i had to rely on my ears. I did borrow a tuner from the store.

It was a filthy day: a cloudy humid 32°C/90°F. Air con in the main store but not in the practise room, so my fingers were sweating, my nose was sweating, my lips were sweating. Moreover, I've been amazingly busy with work and childcare and have barely touched the sax for a fortnight. I'd rushed out of work to get to the shop as they were getting antsy that it had been in stock for a week and I hadn't been in.

3. About the horn

APPEARANCE AND FEEL:

The instrument looks well; it has a decent heft and doesn't seem light or flimsy. The screws were all well seated. The colour is dark and in places quite orangey - at certain points on the sax it's almost copper coloured, especially at the end of the bell and on the rolled toneholes (low C through Bb)

The keywork follows the increasingly standardised pattern. There's a Yani-style linkage between B and C# which is useful for faster transitions in, for example, B Major. Apparently the keys are real mother-of-pearl. It's keyed up to high F# with a front F.

SOUND AND PLAYABILITY:

I actually felt the sax had a good sound of its own. It wasn't as mellow as the YSS-875, but quite assertive and capable of sounding quite "saxy". As I say this is only to my ears which doesn't tell you as much as a recording. It certainly wasn't thin in any way. Playability was also very good as far as I could tell (see below). The keys were light to touch, and, for example, the LH pinky table was much lighter and more responsive than the Rampone. On first blow I struggled to get the low notes in tune, although this improved in time; similarly while I was able to get up high fairly easily, the top F# was very difficult and very flat. It seems to require a significantly tighter embouchure than F natural below it.

HOWEVER, the sax was well out of adjustment. The spring on the A had popped off entirely resulting in sticking and no Bis (which is my main Bb), and the low notes were very difficult, I expect due to leaks. This is understandable - the horn has sat in the back of the distro rep's car for a year or so - but frustrating. How can you tell what the intonation is like if the horn is out of whack?

This is when the trial took a turn for the worse. After about 60 minutes I pointed out the horn was fairly out of whack to the sales assistant, plus the general difficulties of the day, and said I'd like to come back tomorrow. He got pretty shirty, saying things like "everyone is waiting for you, man". He suggested we go to the technician right there and I wait while he reset the spring etc., but I needed to get back to work unfortunately. I asked what else they were planning to do with the horn (e.g. they could keep in stock for other people to try - I'm sure some readers here might be potential customers), but he said they would send it back immediately and I had to buy it today. He was quite angry. I did mention that it had been sitting in the rep's car for a year and another day wasn't going to make a huge difference.

It's a difficult one. The shop had been helpful in getting the horn in, but we are talking about an item costing £1,480 (US$1,875, €1,680) so that's a decision that needs time put into it. I didn't want to be rude but the rehearsal room was a sweatbox on that day and the horn had issues. I would guess the shop is working on 100% markup or more, so that is £740 worth of business. I do actually run a retail business myself and for a lot less than that money I would accommodate the customer. 24-48 hours wait for a sale vs pissing a potential customer off?

Anyway, the technician is going to look at the horn. I'm not sure if I will try it again or just tell the salesman I'm not interested. I have to go back to collect my horn that is having a tiny adjustment tomorrow or Saturday so I guess I may as well, but I'm also not relishing the scrutiny and the surly pressure.

Sorry for the verbosity! Let me know if anyone has any questions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
incidentally, I am a previous customer of the shop, but only for mpcs, reeds etc. I've never bought a horn off them. I have been in previously to try a Rampone, about 8 or 9 months ago. So not obviously timewaster but no great customer record of lining their pockets. The technician recognised me and was friendly (I was quite relieved), at which point the surly salesman fled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Okay, so I faced my demons and went back. The chatty (!) tech, Lewis, had done some work on it and it played loads better. Second round conclusions would be:

SOUND
To me it genuinely does sound vintage American - broad and sonorous and quite dark, not a hint of an oboe - and I speak as someone who owns 192? Martin. It has its own voice which is nicely malleable and I felt preferable to Yamaha Custom Z I played next to it.

BUILD
I could not fault the build. I think the keywork is really excellent - not quite as light touch as pro-level Yamaha but easily the match of horns £1000 more in price. I particularly like the LH cluster.

I maintain that this is an excellent piece for the money, which, incidentally, seems to be rather lower in the UK than in the US, although I don't know why that should be. That said, I'm not sure if I need it. This seems to be the last one left this side of the Atlantic so if anyone else is interested let me know.

I did make a small recording just on iPhone with built in speaker for my own benefit, but I'm happy to share it if anyone's interested. i can email it - it's about 8MB in total.
 

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…The spring on the A had popped off entirely resulting in sticking and no Bis (which is my main Bb),…
Thanks for the review. Did you mean the sax was not made with a bis key, or was the bis non-functional?
 
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