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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I recently got a 1924 King Soprano from ebay for a steal. Just took it to the shop and was fixed up very well except for one problem: it plays extremely flat. I've been experimenting with reeds with not much change. With the mouthpiece I have (an elkhart that I don't know the facing of), even if I push it all the way down the cork it is still very flat. I have even been resorting to pulling out and reading a half step up. Being an old soprano, the neck is fixed to the instrument. Is there any way I could fix this pitch problem with a new mouthpiece, reeds, or a more dramatic fix to the instrument?

Thanks,

Remy
 

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Non Resident SOTW Eccentric & 2012 Forum Contribut
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It sounds like it may be a low pitch instrument. I don't know if anything can be done howdever there are many on this forum who can answer that much better than I. Back then not all instruments were built to concert A440 pitch.
 

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It sounds like it may be a low pitch instrument. I don't know if anything can be done howdever there are many on this forum who can answer that much better than I. Back then not all instruments were built to concert A440 pitch.
Jazzaferri: your concept of low pitch is wrong, the old instruments were high pitch.
Low Pitch= A440HZ
All modern instruments are low pitch., and usually the early King sopranos were marked Low Pitch above the serial number.

remympt: As Michael said try the Selmer/Yamaha mouthpieces, if nothing change go to a tech.
I would bet the instrument is OK.
 

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I have had several King sopranos and all can be tuned quite sharp with the mouthpiece on all the way. Try a Yamaha 4C (cheap) as they are a great match for these.
 

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To the OP, I would bet money it is your mouthpiece. If you can try a Yamaha 4C on it I think you will see a remarked difference. (I am not selling the 4C's at all just my limited experience so far) :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
thanks a bunch everyone. i will try to find a new mouthpiece. Do you have a recommendation for a good, new, jazz mouthpiece for soprano? I have an otto link on my tenor but I don't really know about metal mouthpieces for soprano.

thanks
 

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I'm certain it's the mouthpiece so I wouldn't worry too much. I prefer hard rubber on soprano. There are loads of good soprano pieces and depending on what you want to spend the sky is the limit. After trying an enormous amount of soprano pieces over the years I really like Morgan Fry's Medium chamber piece in 65. This plays great on my Kings. Joe at Soprano Planet will tailor a piece for you. A really good less expensive piece is the Morgan Vintage in 5 or 6....these play really well on Kings. Selmer S80's are ok but you might have to try a few to get a decent one.

ps Joe at Soprano Planet played a King like yours for years so he would be a great option I think. He knows the intonation tendencies and the very free blowing nature of straight Kings.
 

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I got a Borgani soprano cheap off of Ebay because the owner was honest about the tuning issues. It was impossibly sharp. I bought a Rico Graphonite and that solved the problem, although the chamber size looked smaller. I gave the other mp away and the new owner was happy with it on his soprano. Go figure. At less than $20, the Rico is a good first step. Once you're convinced that it's not the horn, then shop for the more expensive mp.

Mark
 

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I vote for Joe at Soprano Planet, as Mike said , Joe played a King and he knows "a ton", about soprano mouthpieces, and for sure he will give you the best solution for it.
 

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Thank you I stand corrected.
 

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The Rico is good for the money but too much brightness for me. I have played soprano for about 47 years and owned about 30+ of them. At this time I have 6 or 7 vintage ones and I have settled on the Yamaha 4C as I mentioned as it is very forgiving on these vintage horns. Mellow with power. You can find them for about $20 or keep looking on ebay. Some of the high baffle modern mouthpieces tend to give some intonation or gurggle problems with some vintage sopranos. I found the curved Kings to be much better than the straight ones.
 

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I'm certain it's the mouthpiece so I wouldn't worry too much. I prefer hard rubber on soprano. There are loads of good soprano pieces and depending on what you want to spend the sky is the limit. After trying an enormous amount of soprano pieces over the years I really like Morgan Fry's Medium chamber piece in 65. This plays great on my Kings. Joe at Soprano Planet will tailor a piece for you. A really good less expensive piece is the Morgan Vintage in 5 or 6....these play really well on Kings. Selmer S80's are ok but you might have to try a few to get a decent one.

ps Joe at Soprano Planet played a King like yours for years so he would be a great option I think. He knows the intonation tendencies and the very free blowing nature of straight Kings.
+1 on the Morgan Vintage.... my son plays a '26 King sop with a 6 and a 7 and both play well and in tune.... as well as the Buescher or Barone we have.
 

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Aaron Drake makes excellent soprano pieces as well. I play a Drake Jazz "Double Ring" ceramic (now only made in the hybrid ceramic/resin material) in a .055 facing, and a Rovner Deep V metal #6 (roughly .063)--no longer made, though there is a similar model out still--. Both work very well with my 1920s stencil of a Conn curved soprano.
 

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ps Joe at Soprano Planet played a King like yours for years
Yes, a straight King was my only horn for 30+ years. It is very free blowing and, because of that, very influenced by the mouthpiece. Large chamber pieces require amazing control to play in tune on the King and, imo, aren't worth the effort. They are much too fussy. Some cannot be played in tune ( Babbitt Artist, for instance-not even close!).

Tighter throat/ medium chambers work best, speed up the column of air and subsequently bring up the pitch. The danger is playing sharp on the top end, so consistency of air support and NOT OVERBLOWING are essential to playing this little beast in tune. I don't know a stock piece that will play right for everybody, especially on that King. You might find one but it may be a long search.

There is a delicate balance in getting the right piece, though, and it involves not just the horn and the mouthpiece but the very real tendencies and variables of the player.
Too tight a piece for some players will be big on the bottom and thin on the top. Too open a piece for the same player can be difficult to control in terms of core sound.

I just did a rebalanced Super Session for a pro in Canada, doing a lot of subtle modifications to the chamber and throat. A modified SS is a good match for that King, imo.

The payoff with the right piece on a straight King is in the vibrant and complex sound that can be had, and the very quick response too.

Don't give up on that King!
 
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