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Discussion Starter #1
I have been having a problem with the soprano for quite some time. I have done long tones until I've turned blue in the face. I have tried reeds. I have made every single contortion possible with my throat and embouchure... but God d*mnit I cannot get above D3 because it seems like the saxophone wills it so.

I know I am not exactly a veteran player, but after over a year of regularly practicing the soprano, you'd think I could at least something up there. Even D3 seems kind of weak, like the horn is warning me of my impending frustration if I dare to venture higher.

I guess my question is, what could be possible problems? I have used JAVA, Traditionals, and Rico Reserve reeds all in 3 strength, none of which have really helped the problem at all. The instrument (Serie II) is not mine but my high school's, so there is a possibility of there being some underlying problem. I know the octave key spring is too weak, but I have a rubber band solution for that. I also know the instrument was dropped before my time, but I don't know what was done about that. The included S80 C* could have a facing issue? I have never played another soprano sax, so please excuse my ignorance.

If it's me and not the horn, what are exercises that could specialize in the upper range? Like I said, I've done long tones, overtones, chromatics out the wazzoo, embouchure and throat/tongue experimentation, all of which have resulted in various flavors of disappointment above D3.

I just need some help to get that range, it's really holding me back from introducing more advanced repertoire to the quartet. Any suggestions?
 

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A harder reed may help you to go above the D3 barrier. And lots of experimenting with embrochure and tongue position, air speed and support etc. Check if you have a tendency to bite down too hard on your reed when attempting to hit those high notes. This can be counterproductive as you are choking the vibration of the reed.
The mouthpiece also plays a big part in this area, and also certain horns are harder to play in the higher register such as the Keilwerth sopranos. When I got my Keil EX90 II a few months ago, I found it to be true that the palm notes were more difficult to sound than my other sopranos. But today, I can hit F3 easily. But a friend's Bauhaus Walstein, which is keyed to G3, is much easier to play in this register, and goes easily to A3 when I play it. So everything takes time and learning. Those initial high notes you get are gonna sound horrible, but they will gradually improve in quality if you just work on them consistently and not get psyched out.
 

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Anything above D3 on soprano is like the lower altissimo on the alto. These notes are very picky about voicing.

Can you hit the fifth harmonic (eb3) fingering low b? (1=low b, 2=b2, 3=f#2, 4=b3, 5=eb3)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Anything above D3 on soprano is like the lower altissimo on the alto. These notes are very picky about voicing.

Can you hit the fifth harmonic (eb3) fingering low b? (1=low b, 2=b2, 3=f#2, 4=b3, 5=eb3)
Only the fourth :(
 

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That's the harmonic you need. Try it with Bb, and see if you can get D3.

You'll get it.
 

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It may be the mouthpiece. I have played for 5.5 years and still cannot hit all notes with all mouthpieces. Try a Runyon Custom in #5 or #6. I found that opened up the high register for me. I use a soft #2 ZZ read. I find that helps me relax the embouchure which is important for the extreme notes, high and low. If these are things you have not tried, who knows? They just might work. I now have 3 mouthpieces I can do the top range with but several others, including the Selmer S-80 and the Selmer Super Session do poorly up high no matter what I try.
 

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You should have an accomplished player check out your instrument & mpc to make sure it's you :).
Then, find a good classical player and teacher and study with him/her for some time. There is nothing like a face to face contact when you try to learn something like playing an instrument.
 

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I too would suggest some experimenting with the mouthpiece. Tom knows what is is doing so go with his suggestions if you can. I hate to say this, but it may be simple confidence (or lack there of). Sometiimes your mind makes adjustments subconsciously, so think about that. I know I had to literally "sneek up" on it by just picking it up and blasting E or E#, then putting the horn down for 10 min. or so then hit it again. When you hit the note, do it again. After a couple of days I could consistently work in the upper notes. It still is a slippery slope at times so I know it is not the horn, it's me.

Hope it helps! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It may be the mouthpiece. I have played for 5.5 years and still cannot hit all notes with all mouthpieces. Try a Runyon Custom in #5 or #6. I found that opened up the high register for me. I use a soft #2 ZZ read. I find that helps me relax the embouchure which is important for the extreme notes, high and low. If these are things you have not tried, who knows? They just might work. I now have 3 mouthpieces I can do the top range with but several others, including the Selmer S-80 and the Selmer Super Session do poorly up high no matter what I try.
I'm looking for something more classically oriented, as this is for quartet and solos. I won't be using the thing for jazz... Any suggestions? I have no stores nearby so, i can't easily fool with things. Tried the Optimum SL3?

You should have an accomplished player check out your instrument & mpc to make sure it's you :).
Then, find a good classical player and teacher and study with him/her for some time. There is nothing like a face to face contact when you try to learn something like playing an instrument.
I already have a teacher. But there are no accomplished soprano players accessible in my area... My teacher only plays ATB. This will change when I enter college next year, though.

I too would suggest some experimenting with the mouthpiece. Tom knows what is is doing so go with his suggestions if you can. I hate to say this, but it may be simple confidence (or lack there of). Sometiimes your mind makes adjustments subconsciously, so think about that. I know I had to literally "sneek up" on it by just picking it up and blasting E or E#, then putting the horn down for 10 min. or so then hit it again. When you hit the note, do it again. After a couple of days I could consistently work in the upper notes. It still is a slippery slope at times so I know it is not the horn, it's me.

Hope it helps! :)
I've tried all manner of attacks but I'll certainly look at this. Thanks!
 

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I played an S80 C* for 20 years on sop, with traditional vandoren 3s. I regularly play up to G3, and practice up to C4. It's overtone practice that does the trick.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I played an S80 C* for 20 years on sop, with traditional vandoren 3s. I regularly play up to G3, and practice up to C4. It's overtone practice that does the trick.
I'll take your word for it, seeing as this is my weak spot on the other voices.
 

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I just noticed that nobody has suggested a Yamaha mouthpiece. They are cheap and you can order one in in a day or two. I would start with a 4 or 5C. Also, and Tom is going to cringe LOL, but try a 3 or 4 Platicover Rico reed.

Hope it helps!
 

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Even after about 48 years of soprano playing I now use a Yamaha 4C. I have used Selmers for a loooong time, soloist, S-80 and Super Session and really like the Yamaha. One thing that may be overlooked is the angle of the mouthpiece. Let it exit the mouth like an alto or tenor and not tilted down like a clarinet. When sitting, don't let the bell rest near your knees. Try looking at the bell rim when playing and see if that helps.
It is always possible that the mouthpiece you have is not a good one. Happens a lot with Selmers in recent years. As mentioned, have someone else who plays soprano to try it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I just noticed that nobody has suggested a Yamaha mouthpiece. They are cheap and you can order one in in a day or two. I would start with a 4 or 5C. Also, and Tom is going to cringe LOL, but try a 3 or 4 Platicover Rico reed.

Hope it helps!
I'll bear it in mind, but that seems to go in the opposite direction that I was looking for.

Even after about 48 years of soprano playing I now use a Yamaha 4C. I have used Selmers for a loooong time, soloist, S-80 and Super Session and really like the Yamaha. One thing that may be overlooked is the angle of the mouthpiece. Let it exit the mouth like an alto or tenor and not tilted down like a clarinet. When sitting, don't let the bell rest near your knees. Try looking at the bell rim when playing and see if that helps.
It is always possible that the mouthpiece you have is not a good one. Happens a lot with Selmers in recent years. As mentioned, have someone else who plays soprano to try it.
I do keep it about perpendicular to my mouth so the bell is hitting a standing listener in the face. What makes you like the 4C? I'll bring the horn to the tech ASAP... I didn't think he played soprano but hey, I could be wrong. At any rate, he could give it a once over.
 

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the 4C is good advice (cheap and easily available...and very free blowing) it may help. Go with a normal basic metal lig too, not a Rovner. But it could also be that the horn needs tweeking (sops are very temperamental up at the top end, and if it's been dropped...). The best advice is to get it into the hands of a soprano player who can get above D3 on their own horn, and see what they say when they try your horn with their usual mouthpiece, and then with your current mouthpiece also.
 

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One thing that may be overlooked is the angle of the mouthpiece. Let it exit the mouth like an alto or tenor and not tilted down like a clarinet. When sitting, don't let the bell rest near your knees. Try looking at the bell rim when playing and see if that helps.
This is very important with soprano.
 

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For what it's worth, in my limited experience with soprano, I've found that, regardless of the mouthpiece, to hit the notes above D3 my lower lip cannot be rolled over my teeth. I must have it off the top of my teeth and firmed up, so there is absolutely no biting but good support. Then the upper end comes out nicely.

But I agree with others about having the horn checked out by a tech. You could be banging your head into a wall due to a mechanical issue.
 

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Only the fourth :(
My overtone capabilities stink, but I can hit D3 through F#3 without much difficulty on soprano using my Barone HR mouthpiece. There is something different about this mouthpiece on soprano which makes it easier for me to hit the palm keys as compared to using a SS H, SS J, or BARI 64.
 

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The reason I use the Yamaha is that it is very free blowing and has a complex full sound. Also I can get a loud sound without it being icy. No need to have a soprano sound like a trumpet.
 

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One of the knocks on VI sopranos is the difficulty one might have in voicing the notes above D3. I'm not sure if a II pays homage to that in its design, but it took a lot of work to get those notes out on my VI (and it wasn't something I had encountered with other sopranos). Now I had been using a stock C* though for years and years. When I later matched the horn to a more open Metal Classic G however, it was smooth sailing up top ever since.
 
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