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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just picked up my Soprano Sax from Dan my horn tech. He gave it the full-resto. Our old friend Tod Dickow was in the shop, played it and loved it. Tod remembered playing it 40 years ago at some jam that I would have never remembered. He plays basically the same Selmer Soprano, his a 1950s serial number, mine is a '72 or something.

So my Soprano has been in a closet forever. I never really practiced on it in my '20s. I got a Selmer silver scroll shank D and played #3 Rico Royals. I just gigged it every night for 6 or 7 years... then I burned out on the music business... and quit playing. Horn was rode hard, put away wet. haha

So, Tod is a great player, no doubt. He is playing a Selmer E silver scroll shank... that's been worked on... haha. The silver Selmer Scroll shank D mouthpiece I have seems like a Dog right now. I got a new orange box of 2 1/2 Ricos. I'm not getting them to play. They squeak and I think it's the MP. I tried massaging some other random new reeds in a drawer. They are not working for me either.

I found a new #3 Fibracell. It was popsicle stick hard, so I scraped it until it played ok. Pretty hard to get the reed on the tip right. It plays... but still too much work.

I'm playing tenor 25 hours a week. I play in #3 Fibracell premier reeds. I have four in a holder and rotate one every day. Once they break in, they all feel the same and last months. At some point, I might have this Selmer Soprano D worked on. I remember it as a good playing mouthpiece. But I was in my 20's and had chops.

I'm basically starting from scratch, I'm a total noob here. I have no idea how this stuff is supposed to work.

I want to play an easy set up, so I can play an hour every morning. I want to work on Bozza Etudes and Caprices, Marcel Mule Arias, Bach, etc. Beautiful sounding, accessible music, so I can go busking, and not play the Bebop and Blues junk I think is hip. Nothing inspires confidence more that a couple women walking by plugging their ears. I think I'm totally killin' ATTY... then one lady says; Can you play Phantom of the Opera?

I'm not a huge Legere fan. I spent probably $500 on tenor reeds, and found one that finally worked. But I don't like how they go soft as they warm up... other stuff like spit sticking to the back of the reed. I think I want to try to play Fibracel soprano reeds. Probably softer than #3-medium, but I'm just supposing.

I'm playing 3 Link STMs and a Tone Edge on Tenor that like the #3 Fibracel premiers. I'm not necessarily married to metal mouthpieces. I wonder if any Link guys out here are playing Fibracels... what mouthpiece, tip, reed strength, etc?

Should I just get a middle of the road Selmer or Vandoren student mouthpiece? Something to learn how to produce sound on, while I try other set-ups? Like what models, tip?

Any Tone Edge guys playing Fibracel? I want to do the same thing I do on tenor, have 4 reeds and rotate them. I know I can scrape legere and Fibracel reeds to play on a mouthpiece. Most of the time anyway.

I want to find a mouthpiece that plays 2 1/2 Fibracels right out of the box. So as reeds go soft over time, I can break new ones into the rotation. I need to be able to pull off the cap and hit it. I have a big hour glass that drains out in 18 minutes... poof, off to the next corner...
 

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there is nothing wrong with Selmer S80 ( or a Yamaha 4C for that matter) mouthpieces and if you find the reed hard buy a C* they are everywhere (I must have at least two somewhere but you are in the States). Good luck!
 

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So the mouthpiece sat around all that time too - have you cleaned it with special attention to any build-up/corrosion on the table? All it takes is one little bump and reeds get real dodgy. Don't sand it or anything, just scrub it with a terry cloth or toothbrush. Other than that, sounds like you need a softer reed on soprano at least until you get used to it again. I play a 1 1/2 Fibracell on soprano but the mouthpiece is open - .090.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
there is nothing wrong with Selmer S80 ( or a Yamaha 4C for that matter) mouthpieces and if you find the reed hard buy a C* they are everywhere (I must have at least two somewhere but you are in the States). Good luck!
Yeah, a C*. When i had to pick up Alto in the Army Band, I had my pick of new Mark VIs, settled on a low A horn I took out of the plastic. There were a shelf full of new boxes of Selmer hard rubber scroll shank mouthpieces. C* is how I started on alto for a few years. Ended up on 5* Tone Edge. Thanks for reminding me.



So the mouthpiece sat around all that time too - have you cleaned it with special attention to any build-up/corrosion on the table? All it takes is one little bump and reeds get real dodgy. Don't sand it or anything, just scrub it with a terry cloth or toothbrush. Other than that, sounds like you need a softer reed on soprano at least until you get used to it again. I play a 1 1/2 Fibracell on soprano but the mouthpiece is open - .090.
Dan put it in his cleaner at the shop. It developed a dozen or so pin head sized pits on the table. Can't feel them, hard to imagine it is any problem... but I'm clueless in this department. It looks like maybe a wet reed was left on it or something. Other than that it's clean and straight, really nice looking plating over all. If it played half as good as it looks...

1 1/2 strength and an open mouthpiece sounds right to me eventually. I saw Chris Potter twice back in the spring and was reminded how much I like his Soprano concept. He has to be playing an open set-up, because he moves a lot of air through the horn!! I was watching my bootleg video clips and realized, I'm still trying to play it like a clarinet. It's not a clarinet mouthpiece for sure. I feel so inept. I don't even know how to produce sound. It's very humbling. I might have to break out the metronome and do long tones...
 

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Clary, stick with the tenor for now - that one still needs a ton of work.

Remember, Trane got the tenor up to a certain level before the soprano came into the picture.
The same was true for Potter, Lucky Thompson and many of the greats .
 

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Pits on a table don't really matter except in the most extreme of cases.
'Clarinet position': sometimes I do it but I play a 'tipped-bell' which allows the use of a strap which comes in handy for when you're playing it more straight out like it should be. I find that when I hold it like a clarinet, it actually helps it sound like one. Sopranos typically have the most resistance of the usual horns (except sopranino) which is normal, so that's mainly why I use the softer reed.
I also think every hour spent on soprano is equal to two hours on the larger horns, chop-wise. its a great way to get better on it while improving your chops for all of them.
Definitely go soft to start out with. You can always go higher later if you need to.
 

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Well, neither Selmer (Paris) nor Vandoren make any "student" mouthpieces. I'd say that when you hear a recording of "classical" music on the soprano it's a 95% probability that you hear a Vandoren or Selmer mouthpiece.

The Selmer Concept is an excellent mouthpiece for soprano (I haven't tried the other models), as are Vandoren Optimum, V5 and Profile, for musicians of any level.
 

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I'm loving my Selmer Concept on soprano. While the tip-opening is smaller than a C*, the piece really sings for me, playing acoustic trad jazz. YMMV.

I have an S-80 C*, an S-80 D, an Airflow (scroll-shank) C*, and a Yamaha 4C, but the Concept is far superior to any of the others (need I say again - FOR ME?).

I used to go by the old saw about using stronger reeds for closer-tipped mouthpieces. For MANY years, I played pieces with tips in the .065 to .072 range, using shaved down #2 reeds (mostly Vandorens or Alexanders). But when I switched to the C* range, I ended up using the same reeds (with just a bit less shaving). Of course, my soprano embouchure is over 60 years old. I have no need for stronger reeds or more volume - the Concept gives me everything I need. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Clary, stick with the tenor for now - that one still needs a ton of work.
No lie, huh?

Part of what this is about is wanting to go downtown and play on the street, esplanade, the bridges, but I'm not going to play tenor out there any more. For a bunch or reasons. Mainly a soprano is easy to transport, set up/put away.

Pits on a table don't really matter except in the most extreme of cases.
'Clarinet position': sometimes I do it but I play a 'tipped-bell' which allows the use of a strap which comes in handy for when you're playing it more straight out like it should be. I find that when I hold it like a clarinet, it actually helps it sound like one. Sopranos typically have the most resistance of the usual horns (except sopranino) which is normal, so that's mainly why I use the softer reed.
I also think every hour spent on soprano is equal to two hours on the larger horns, chop-wise. its a great way to get better on it while improving your chops for all of them.
Definitely go soft to start out with. You can always go higher later if you need to.
Good stuff, what I need to hear!

Well, neither Selmer (Paris) nor Vandoren make any "student" mouthpieces. I'd say that when you hear a recording of "classical" music on the soprano it's a 95% probability that you hear a Vandoren or Selmer mouthpiece.

The Selmer Concept is an excellent mouthpiece for soprano (I haven't tried the other models), as are Vandoren Optimum, V5 and Profile, for musicians of any level.
Cool. Like I said, I'm new to this. I had to start from scratch when I went to pick up the Tenor again too. That was brutal. I was killin' cats for the first three years... then I only wounded them at close range for two more. haha I'm a Selmer kind of guy. I will try a Concept...

I'm loving my Selmer Concept on soprano. While the tip-opening is smaller than a C*, the piece really sings for me, playing acoustic trad jazz. YMMV.

I have an S-80 C*, an S-80 D, an Airflow (scroll-shank) C*, and a Yamaha 4C, but the Concept is far superior to any of the others (need I say again - FOR ME?).

I used to go by the old saw about using stronger reeds for closer-tipped mouthpieces. For MANY years, I played pieces with tips in the .065 to .072 range, using shaved down #2 reeds (mostly Vandorens or Alexanders). But when I switched to the C* range, I ended up using the same reeds (with just a bit less shaving). Of course, my soprano embouchure is over 60 years old. I have no need for stronger reeds or more volume - the Concept gives me everything I need. DAVE
Cool. More great stuff I need to hear.

If I don't LOVE it at some point... it will have to find somebody else to love on it. I do love playing Tenor, and my new horn "Miss New York" is so much fun. It's not like I'm missing out, or need additional fun in my life.

I will post video as I get this sorted out...
 

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I've played a Vandoren S15 (V5 model) for about 20 years and recently switched to the Concept. In the process I also tested the Optimum which were also great but I found them too similar to the S15 to justify the "investment", so my advice is to try both the S15 and some Optimums as well. They come in tree sizes. If you can lay your hands on a Profile even better. It is very new and it comes in only one opening, SP3. Personally I have not tried it on soprano but the alto version is great.

(Edited: AP3 is the alto version)
 

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. Of course, my soprano embouchure is over 60 years old. I have no need for stronger reeds or more volume - the Concept gives me everything I need. DAVE
Well, my soprano embouchure is only about 40 years old, but it's not been used much in the last 35 or so. That said, when I am playing louder than the trumpets on a Selmer C* mouthpiece, and I'm not even pushing real hard yet, why on earth would I want a louder rig?
 

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Hey Tenorcat,
Nice to see someone else on here from Portland. Where does your horn tech work? I have been using Fred Vogel for twenty years and he is great and often booked up, so always looking for an alternative just in case.
Seriously what a good problem to have, I mean you already have a horn! I am still waiting to buy mine, probably go with a Barone, but right now there鈥檚 a 3 month waiting period. Is everything more difficult with a soprano, or does it just seem like that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
woodamand, I met Fred about 20 years ago. He worked on my stuff when I first moved here. Great guy, fantastic clarinet player, helped me out a lot. But, I had to leave horns for him to work on, and he had busy times with school horns... no "appointments". So he turned me on to Miguel Maldonado who was working at the store on weekends, and out of his basement over in Felony Flats. Fred never had time to work on his own horns because he was too busy. Miguel was working on Fred's horns. We could go over there and have him fix/tweak stuff, then play test. haha

But if you have Mark VIs or Balanced Action that need full overhauls, dent work or modification... it's not really what they do. That is all Dan does.

I have nothing but good things to say about those guys. If I had a straight horn that just needed pads, it would be $500... same job in the BAy area $1000 to $1500. I have much to say about other businesses in our area, and certain supposedly journeyman techs who are a nightmare. Maybe there is a good sax repair guy, who builds pro horns in PDX. I never found him.

So that is partly why my friend Daniel Dierkes has taken time to help me the last five years. He is in South San Francisco, so that doesn't really help you out up here. Unless you have a lot of money! Everything is three time more expensive in the Bay Area. I go down there all the time and have places to stay. Dan has great dent skills and tons of tools. He works on pro horns for pros... more than worth it for me to go down there. I trust him to make to make it play right... "Do what it needs Dan." My horns play and his set-ups last a long time.


It has been a weird few days... the short version is got 10 stitches in my left hand, it's in a splint for a week. Didn't break it, probably should have. Ouch! Not going to be playing for a few weeks with only one hand. I just got gas and groceries, then scraped together my last $800. I going to leave now to look at Yamaha YTS23 that looks really clean in the photos. It was a high school student's horn and the Dad is selling it. I can't even play test it!

This might be my new busking horn. Got to run...
 

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It has been a weird few days... the short version is got 10 stitches in my left hand, it's in a splint for a week. Didn't break it, probably should have. Ouch! Not going to be playing for a few weeks with only one hand.
Always something isn't it ? Bummer ..
 

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woodamand, I met Fred about 20 years ago. He worked on my stuff when I first moved here. Great guy, fantastic clarinet player, helped me out a lot. But, I had to leave horns for him to work on, and he had busy times with school horns... no "appointments". So he turned me on to Miguel Maldonado who was working at the store on weekends, and out of his basement over in Felony Flats. Fred never had time to work on his own horns because he was too busy. Miguel was working on Fred's horns. We could go over there and have him fix/tweak stuff, then play test. haha

But if you have Mark VIs or Balanced Action that need full overhauls, dent work or modification... it's not really what they do. That is all Dan does.

I have nothing but good things to say about those guys. If I had a straight horn that just needed pads, it would be $500... same job in the BAy area $1000 to $1500. I have much to say about other businesses in our area, and certain supposedly journeyman techs who are a nightmare. Maybe there is a good sax repair guy, who builds pro horns in PDX. I never found him.

So that is partly why my friend Daniel Dierkes has taken time to help me the last five years. He is in South San Francisco, so that doesn't really help you out up here. Unless you have a lot of money! Everything is three time more expensive in the Bay Area. I go down there all the time and have places to stay. Dan has great dent skills and tons of tools. He works on pro horns for pros... more than worth it for me to go down there. I trust him to make to make it play right... "Do what it needs Dan." My horns play and his set-ups last a long time.


It has been a weird few days... the short version is got 10 stitches in my left hand, it's in a splint for a week. Didn't break it, probably should have. Ouch! Not going to be playing for a few weeks with only one hand. I just got gas and groceries, then scraped together my last $800. I going to leave now to look at Yamaha YTS23 that looks really clean in the photos. It was a high school student's horn and the Dad is selling it. I can't even play test it!

This might be my new busking horn. Got to run...
Yeah you really have to book in advance for Fred. Funny story: he once chased some shoplifters out of the old store downtown by playing my Martin Tenor, which he was repairing, at great volume. It was a loud as hell horn! I know Miguel also, did some work on my horns as well. Guess I know everybody up here then, good to know. How did you mess up your hand? Mend soon I hope
Dana
 

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Just a note as I hijack this thread:I have joined the soprano players club, just got a beautiful used Phil Barone horn from a SOTW member. After playing all the horns I could here in Portland, I came to the conclusion that my right wrist just could not stand the strain of supporting a straight horn, meaning single neck. I played a couple of Yamahas a yss-475 and an ex-875 back to back. I liked both horns but having the ability on the 875 to use the bent neck meant that I could play for a long period of time with no pain.
Looking at what was available to me with my budget in two neck horns was what made me go for the Barone.
After a couple of days playing it, I have to say I think it鈥檚 great. The intonation is easily as good as any of the other horns that I tried, I can hit the low notes without a lot of effort, and the tone is really good. Even my wife likes the tone, which she sure didn鈥檛 when I had my Buescher straight soprano a few years back.
A big shout out on here to all the helpful advice that people have given me on a bunch of threads, as I searched for a horn really appreciated.
 
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