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Discussion Starter #1
I was wondering how useful a C soprano would be for band/orchestra use? It can be used to replace an oboe (if it ever came up)...is there any other reason?

Just wondering if it's worthwhile to look for one.
 

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I have only ever seen them used in Klezmer style music *usually on clarinets, but if extra volume is needed...* or to replace oboes. I have never seen any other use for them, nor can I see another use for them. Oboe is the only other common reed instrument with that range in C, so...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks! Confirms what I thought. I suppose I could keep an eye out (just for the fun of it) - be interesting to try one - see how they compare to the Bb...
 

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Best of luck, I haven't found one that I liked enough to justify dropping oboe. I can also transpose very well by sight, so it's not really practical for me to own one.
 

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I can transpose easily by sight too, but I still want a C-soprano :) . I know where I can get one too. I'm just too broke to buy it, and don't want to give up any of my saxes to trade for it :) .
 

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The worst part is the intonation. I have had about 6 over the years and my Holton is the best in tune but still iffy.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I know the sop is supposed to be the worst for intonation of the major 4 saxes...but it's the only sax (wind) I'm playing, so I have nothing to compare against. I also play violin (my primary instrument) so I suppose I've learned to hear when I'm playing in tune - I think that helps.

Given that - I'd love to find out if I had major issues with a C soprano (given the instrument was easy enough to play).

You guys are lucky if you can transpose on sight. I can transpose...but it's painfully slow...
 

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I actually started on violin, but when I picked up sax, it quickly became my primary. I started transposing out of necissity, because i just wanted to play everything! Oboe parts, English Horn parts, French Horn parts, Tuba parts, string parts. It was just a natural progression in my musical development :) . My Dad can't transpose at all! He's never had the need, so he never bothered to learn.
 

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I was wondering how useful a C soprano would be for band/orchestra use? It can be used to replace an oboe (if it ever came up)...is there any other reason? Just wondering if it's worthwhile to look for one.
(Literally) Absolutely useless in that specific context... Even as a C enthusiast, I'd be the first to agree with that.

But if you play in a small duo/trio/band/group (2-5 instruments) where no-one else is pitched in Bb or Eb, and where there are no specific 'parts' already transposed for Bb/Eb, why not ? Lets leave that old chestnut, intonation, out of the equation for a moment, just muddies the water...

(Yes, I can also transpose very well - having played tenor, alto, soprano and flute professionally, although I must admit not all simultaneously... :shock: )
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I keep thinking there should be saxophones in orchestra...lol.

I prefer orchestra to bands...I miss the strings when they're not there. However, I'm also looking forward to adult band this fall! Something new and different!

I'm just trying to determine what's possible with what instrument. My small ensemble playing is limited - and I'm more useful on a violin in those cases...

But you never know! Keeps things interesting!
 

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I keep thinking there should be saxophones in orchestra...lol......
I'd love to see that as well, and I'd be just as happy if they were traditional Eb/Bb saxes. ;) Then there could be a whole new generation of 'orchestral saxophone players' - as opposed to the saxophone players who get temporarily velcro'd onto the end of the woodwinds as/when needed.

I suppose the closest we get to a permanent saxophone presence is in the broadcasting 'Light Orchestra's - heaven forbid that an orchestral clarinettist should be asked to double on sax...:shock:
 

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Regarding intonation: I will tell you the instrument with absolutely the worst intonation ever made.......the violin! Why? Because it is all up to operator. More, it is very short and a miniscule change in finger position makes a huge difference. Ditto the C soprano saxophone, except it's your embrochure that is all over the map: changing size and shape of all upper thoracic body parts, diaphragm/air stream volume/intensity, and bite tension. A little bit of any throws the pitch around. Now, do saxophones have innate tuning issues due to their design? Oh yes, and a C sop just magnifies the same old issues. And do some horns have more issues than others, even if they came off the assembly line side by side? Oh yes. Just play a few Selmer Mk6's to see that. Sopranos are not for the faint hearted, young children, or to played in the presence of small dogs. But if you spend a few weeks with all kinds of reeds, buy a decent mouthpiece (aquilasax short shank), make certain there are no leaks, get a stronger airstream moving through the horn, and keep working with a tuner, and....if you have developed an internal ear for pitch, then, yes, you can play a C soprano in public without fear of being pelted with evil stares. You will have to make more pitch compensations than you ever wanted. It will seem like hard work. That is the price of playing this fickle little beast.

Maybe a Holton is better than a Conn, Buescher, or Martin. I have no experience beyond my Conn 1921
 

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Well said! Once I learn the tendencies of a particular sax, I have no intonation issues. Sometimes a key height or two needs changing, but I have only run into 2 or 3 truly out of tune saxes, and they were Chinese from the early 1990s :) .

Regarding intonation: I will tell you the instrument with absolutely the worst intonation ever made.......the violin! Why? Because it is all up to operator. More, it is very short and a miniscule change in finger position makes a huge difference. Ditto the C soprano saxophone, except it's your embrochure that is all over the map: changing size and shape of all upper thoracic body parts, diaphragm/air stream volume/intensity, and bite tension. A little bit of any throws the pitch around. Now, do saxophones have innate tuning issues due to their design? Oh yes, and a C sop just magnifies the same old issues. And do some horns have more issues than others, even if they came off the assembly line side by side? Oh yes. Just play a few Selmer Mk6's to see that. Sopranos are not for the faint hearted, young children, or to played in the presence of small dogs. But if you spend a few weeks with all kinds of reeds, buy a decent mouthpiece (aquilasax short shank), make certain there are no leaks, get a stronger airstream moving through the horn, and keep working with a tuner, and....if you have developed an internal ear for pitch, then, yes, you can play a C soprano in public without fear of being pelted with evil stares. You will have to make more pitch compensations than you ever wanted. It will seem like hard work. That is the price of playing this fickle little beast.

Maybe a Holton is better than a Conn, Buescher, or Martin. I have no experience beyond my Conn 1921
 

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Whenb I mentioned bad intonation, I was referring to my Conn which if you tuned C2 and then played C1, it would sound a D....not a sharp C or C#. I have played a lot of soprano over the years and these horns were nearly impossible to get in tune. If I tuned C1, and went to C3....it sounded an A. That bad. Not one horn but 3 and with real C mouthpieces. The Holton so far is the best.
 

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Bruce - I seriously don't have that level of problems on my Conn PanAm C - if anything C1/C#1 sometimes need a tiny tweak on the embouchure (mouthpiece dependant), but C3 is fine (obviously the embouchure can take it a semi-tone either way, that high), and that's with Bb mouthpieces.

I don't think I'd ever willingly chose to tune up on C1, tuning up on A1 or E2 is normally a better compromise for me, to have reasonable intonation (i.e. no-one notices if I have to slightly lip the odd long note) across the range.

If I had to pick two potentially problematic notes on my C-Sop it'd be the (low) C1 and C#1 - I initially had to raise the height of my B1 and Bb1 pads to get C1/C#1 up just a touch. Bit late now here (23:15) but I'll try that test on my C-Sop tomorrow, with Bb and C mouthpieces.
 

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I have played my Holton C soprano professionally for about 35 years. The smaller the air column, the more embrochure use is required, so the C is a bit harder to play in tune than the Bb. You will also find a surprising difference in the tonality. A C is more flute-like in the upper register and less shrill than a Bb in the lower. Beware of intonation problems when using a Bb mouthpiece on a C. Some work and some don't. I find the C useful when playing with strings, as it provides easier keys when the strings are playing in E, A, etc. Saxophone is easy enough, so 5 or 6 sharps is not extremely difficult, but one can always play more fluidly in fewer sharps. Holton Cs work the best for me.
 

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You will also find a surprising difference in the tonality. A C is more flute-like in the upper register and less shrill than a Bb in the lower.
Exactly. I was waiting for somebody to bring this up. The C soprano just sounds different. Now, for the average audience member who can't hear the difference between a soprano sax and a clarinet, okay, no difference, but for those who can hear the difference, it's a nice difference.

The difference is not huge, as much as the difference between a C melody and a tenor, I guess, but I find the C soprano sound to be sweeter than the Bb Soprano, even when using the same mouthpiece on each. If you're looking for a sweeter sound on soprano, a C soprano might be a simple way to achieve it.

My own C soprano is a King (H.N. White) from the the early twenties. I'm not aware of any particular difficulties with keeping it in tune compared to any other typical soprano. Even better, they somehow designed it so the octave pip is lower on the horn than with most C sopranos, which makes it a lot more flexible fitting mouthpieces on it.
 

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Never mind the sweet sound.
We need more people posting here on how complicated it is to fight the intonation problems of this beast, on how a good mouthpiece fit is a real challenge that will take a lifetime to achieve, on the less than optimal keying of these vintage saxes...

I want to buy a C- Sop and you are driving the prices up! ;)
 

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If you can get one cheap that is beyond repair it would be great for whacking the bass player with.
I prefer drumsticks. They're easily replaceable, and can also be used to play cowbell.
 
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