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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi.. My son is using an SR Technology PRO on an Antigua SOP. He consitently gets compliments on his sound, but he's thinking of using a HR piece to see if his intonation improves. Can anyone recommend a good HR piece that would help with intonation yet still projects and works well with altissimo? Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
 

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Terry - I really don't see any correlation between switching to HR and altering intonation. The internal dimensions of his mpc are apparently working well for him aside from the intonation factor. The primary aspects of the mouthpiece that affect intonation are the baffle and the chamber size. Switching to a HR mouthpiece would throw in an entirely random new set of variables that could do wonders for his playing, but could also be a great impediment and the total opposite of what he wants.

For good intonation, it's *generally* best to have a low baffle and medium chamber, as this promotes a homogenous sound throughout the horn, but it varies with the characteristics and bore size of the horn. If he decides he absolutely wants to switch mouthpieces, then make sure his new mouthpiece has the same tip opening as his old one, with a switch to the considerations I've recommended. However, reducing the baffle height could make it more difficult to project well and get good altissimo if he isn't a solid player.

My $.02 - Intonation is ALWAYS a challenge on soprano, even for experienced players on good gear. Your son's best bet is to try to work it out himself unless there are really serious problems, in which case his horn should be seen by a technician to make sure it's in good adjustment (Antiguas are good horns btw). With a little (or a lot!) of practice you can resolve the intonation issues on soprano. BTW Dave's suggestions are good ones.
 

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Your best investment at this point would be in a good electronic tuner for him to use. I find the Seiko Model ST909 which sells many places for under $100 works very well. It can be set to read any note he plays in a song with a needle showing whether the note is in tune or not. It has helped me considerably in my practice sessions. To a large extent, the intonation is within his control, assumming the mouthpiece is properly on the cork and the sax is properly adjusted. I found the cork on the Antigua is shaped a little differently than others I have seen. At first I did not have my mouthpiece on the cork properly. Some notes were in tune but many weren't. Pushing the piece well onto the cork made a big difference. My HR pieces fit within 1/4 inch of the end for good intonation.
 

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I have just sent back some mpc i have had home on trial. I have been playing a Vandoren S15 and I also have the original Yanagisawa HR7 that came with the horn. I really like the sound of the S15 but it is sometimes not loud enough. The yani is but I find it a _little_ ducky. It plays fine, though.
The mpc I had on trial were:
Brancher L17
Meyer 7M (HR)
Otto Link 6 (HR)
Otto Link 7 (HR)
Selmer S80 C* (Why did they ever send me that?)
Selmer Super Session H
Selmer Super Session I

Disclosure: These are _my_ opinions. I have played sax for 20 years, soprano, on the same Yani 880, for about 12. I have played professionally but not anymore.

The Links I found pretty bland. The Brancher was the black sheep. It had a very different sound but it was not for me. I really liked the tone and playability of the Meyer and the Super Session I. In the end I found it easier to adapt and shape the sound on the Selmer so it is still with me. I felt it had more...how shall I put it? potential?
The C* I didn't bother to unpack because I thought the tip opening was too closed.

It's funny, though, that I have not seen or read that anyone uses the Meyer on soprano. I would really recommend it, as I liked it a lot. However _I_ liked the Selmer more... :)

Enough about mpc:s
I repeat: Intonation on sopranos are... creative... to put it the positive way.

A good practise is to make him create a map of his horn. Playing all tones up and down using a tuner and put into print how far of each note is. You could help him here with reading the tuner, as if he sees the needle he will automatically adapt to it and change his embochure. Do this perhaps ten times so you get a statistical base to see what tones are off and how much. Are there any patterns? Is tone x sharp in both octaves? etc...
If he tries some other mpc:s, repeat the procedure (perhaps not ten times though).
 

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To the original question: What kind of intonation problems is he having? Are certain registers flat/sharp or is there a general lack of control? Have you read Paul Coat's articles on sop sax and the mouthpiece pitch exercise? I think there are 3 areas that may help. Approach/embouchure development, MP Chamber size, MP Tip opening (control vs flexibility).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone. I'm always amazed with the breadth of knowledge and variety of opinions presented on this channel. My son is already reading the Paul Coats articles and we may be doing some mouthpiece trials as well. The feedback from everyone is very valuable and certainly appreicated.
 

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Try a Runyon Quantum Spoiler.

I have turned 5 different soprano players onto this piece and they are ALL amazed.

I also use one.
 

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Gange,
I also play an S15 on SX90II. I was looking at lots of other pieces for more projection & better high notes then happened to try a different S15. Yow - played better than mine, A month later happened to try another - Yow, blew the other two away.
The moral, - if you like the S15 sample a bunch from WW & BW or some other place and see if you can find what your looking for right at home.
These were all stock by the way.
 

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The Super Sessions are very good players, especially in the more open tips. For the money, the Bari HR is also a very nice playing piece. I ended up with a Tenney Slant Link that I love, but I don't know if it was worth 5 or 6 times what the Bari was.

I didn't see where you said what tip opening his SR Tech Pro is? I would suggest trying something in the < .070 range, and see how his pitch is. In general, pitch is more variable on all saxes with larger tip openings, but this can be magnified on soprano. However, with some work, he can make most any opening work, intonation wise. It just takes time to learn the traits of the mpc/horn combination.
 

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I just went though finding a mouthpiece and found a few that I really liked. I tried a metal Brancher and refaced Runyon Custom from MOJOBari and thought they both played great. I ended up going with the Morgan Vintage because the profile seemed easier for me to get used to. I've been mostly a tenor player for the past 10 years and the small profile of the Brancher and Runyon were very hard to get used to. Anyway, all three pieces were excellent and I would highly recommend any of them. I found MOJOBari to be extremely helpful in searching for a piece.
 

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Mojo knows his stuff, I bought a sop piece (and others) from him and love it.

Regarding the C* - A couple weeks ago I played a concert behind Chris Vadala. His soprano tone blew me away - full tone and MY GOD was it loud. He was also playing alto and tenor on the concert but the sound he got from his soprano was so much bigger than that of the other two horns you would swear his soprano was mic'd. At break I asked what he was playing on his soprano - yup, it was the unadulterated soloist C* that came with his mark 6 soprano back when he bought it new with a rovner dark and a hard reed. :shock:

:!: I never in a million years would have guessed a C* was what he was playing. :salute:
 

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Soprano intonation is more likely to be an issue on a wider tip opening mouthpiece and or a softer reed. I think the SR is meant for a loud, jazzy sound and it might be difficult to control. My approach is to use a much more closed mouthpiece with a harder reed - I use a Selmer Soloist B* (but I am sure it is a bit more open than the grade suggests) and a 3.5 or 4 reed. That set up does not lend itself to pitch bending - voluntary or otherwise! A modern equivaklent would be a C* Selmer S80 or a Vandoren S27. However, this is a full-on classical set-up that might be a bit too straight for some. I would suggest maybe he tries a Selmer D facing mouthpiece and a no 3 reed.
 

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The problem with the Bari is that it starts wide and gets wider. The smallest tip is 58. I bought a Bari 66 thinking it would compare well to what I play on tenor (7 or 100). But the piece was hard to blow on sop. I have had to start with pieces at 47 to 50. While anyone who has played other saxes can blow a wide sop piece, the problem is blowing it properly and in tune. Maybe you have a knack for it or I got a bad piece.
 

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Lenny,
I picked my S15 from a larger population. However when soloing through a shout section in big band (or with amplified band) it is just not enough. :p It just locks down on me. The SS I however will take whatever I have put into it. So far.
I have never made peace with microphones when playing the soprano.
 

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I have never played an SR Tech Pro on soprano, but WWBW has the tip opening listed at .057 with a moderate baffle and a square chamber. While this might not be the ideal mouthpiece, if you like the sound I would go with it. As previous posters have mentioned, intonation on the soprano can be tough even with a very stable, resistant and unflexible mouthpiece.

That being said, I myself use a Bari .064 and have some of my students do the same. I have also heard people get great sounds out of Selmer D's, HR Otto Links and probably many others.

Final advice, it can't hurt to have a Selmer D in your case. It will be a nice contrast to the SR Tech Pro, and will probably get some good use in quartet/wind ensemble settings.

One final tip. I find with myself and my students that, although tuners are very useful, they don't improve our ears that much. You have to be very careful how you use them, or you just end up getting good at keeping the needle in the middle, not improving your ear. For me, and my students, I have found that playing scales and arpeggios over a drone vastly improves intonation and trains the ear. I use this CD of cello drones myself. It is fun to improvise/practice with, and it has greatly helped my students.

http://www.navarrorivermusic.com/cello_drones.php

I will stop now. Too much coffee!
 
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