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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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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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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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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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Thanks for being a trailblazer. I hope Antigua gets their distribution issues worked out.
 

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There is a Pro One soprano on eBay right now.

I'm quite torn. I would really like to audition one of these. New is not a necessity to me, so for less, I could get a Yanagisawa S6/S800 maybe even an S900/S901 for the same price, especially with the new WO series being released in Japan and soon the world. If they do well, there is likely to be a downward on Yanagisawa soprano prices. Although I am less inclined, I could also get a Yamaha YSS475 or YSS61 in the same price range.

It's a tough decision that I am just going to sit on for a while.
 
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