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Distinguished Member, Forum Contributor 2013-2016
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I've been meaning to do this for a bit, but I wanted to have the horn for a while before I posted anything so I could get a real feel for it. Here's a review:

Intial Impressions - The first thing I noticed was that the horn felt incredibly small in my hands. I have big hands (I can play a Mark VII tenor very easily) and I was surprised at the way that this horn felt in my hands. In fact, I had to buy some of those Runyon palm key risers to get those into a comfortable position. It's also a fairly heavy horn.

Ergonomics - The keys are laid out in a comfortable manner (with the exception of the palm keys as mentioned above). It feels a bit like a Buescher on top and a Mark VI on the bottom stack. One odd thing is that the front F key is a regular pearl (not a teardrop) but it's smaller than the others, and only a little bigger than the bis key. The left hand pinky cluster is laid out well, much like a Mark VI alto or tenor (NOT like the soprano), but the G# key is not articulated. (It goes in towards the horn instead of away from it.) This was a bit puzzling to me, until I realized that since the left cluster on this horn is actually angled more to the side, it is more ergonomically correct and comfortable to do it this way. Buffet horns are done in the same manner.

The lower stack is exactly like every Mark VI soprano that I've ever played. Mine lacks a high F# key, which was optional on this horn. Don't really care that much about it anyway.

Intonation - Intonation is very good, although it took me a bit to get the mouthpiece on the horn correctly. I'm used to having to push the mouthpiece on the horn all the way in, but because of the smaller bore, this horn actually plays a little sharper for me than other sopranos I've played, so I had to pull it out a bit. In the extreme upper register, it goes a bit sharp, which seems to be the way it is with every soprano ever made.

Playability - Surprisingly, this horn feels more free blowing than just about any other horn I've played. With my Morgan 2C, it plays very clearly, and I would describe the sound as fairly bright, although not so bright as a Yamaha. It actually sounds a lot like (wait for it) a Mark VI I used to own, but with better intonation and without the inline palm keys. The sound is well suited for classical playing, which is what I play the most. I don't currently own a jazz piece for soprano, but I did borrow a friend's Dukoff and was able to produce a pretty good pop sound. I didn't really like the Dukoff on this horn, as I found it hard to control, but that is probably due to my unfamiliarity with that particular mouthpiece. I'm going to try and get a Barone Vintage, and I'll amend this review when I do.

Overall Impressions and Conclusion - This is a great horn. If you can get past the slightly odd ergonomics, this is an excellent alternative to some of the bigger name horns out there. It plays a lot like a VI, which I suspect is what Grassi was shooting for, but without the inline palm keys and with better intonation. If you like Bueschers and their ultra dark sound, this is not a good choice for you. But if you've played Mark VI sopranos and liked them except for those stupid inline keys, this may be a great alternative.
 

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Great review J.max

I've been looking into these horns a lot lately and very nearly purchased a new one, instead I opted for MMM's Prestige alto.

I believe (I may be wrong) these sops took much inspiration from Selmer's SII ? If that is the case, I can understand why you thought the horn felt small in your hands. I also have very large hands and the SII felt really awkward at first.
I'm going to London in the next few weeks and will hopefully be testing a 2000 sop, so your review will come in handy.

Regards,

Russ
 

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Distinguished Member, Forum Contributor 2013-2016
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Discussion Starter #3
Russ said:
Great review J.max

I've been looking into these horns a lot lately and very nearly purchased a new one, instead I opted for MMM's Prestige alto.

I believe (I may be wrong) these sops took much inspiration from Selmer's SII ? If that is the case, I can understand why you thought the horn felt small in your hands. I also have very large hands and the SII felt really awkward at first.
I'm going to London in the next few weeks and will hopefully be testing a 2000 sop, so your review will come in handy.

Regards,

Russ
I owned a Selmer Serie I soprano for a long time, and you're right...it did feel a lot like this. I guess I got used to the Yamahas which are a little bigger.

Bill Lewington has a new 2000 soprano in the UK. (and a Professional 2000 and Prestige alto also) I thought about buying it, but the dollar is so poor right now that the cost was just too high. I think they want 799 GBP for it which is over $1600 right now.
 
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