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· Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
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Hello everyone,

Does anyone else have a SBA Soprano? There are only a very few around. Mine is gold plated, 40xxx, which is even rarer.

I love its sound, like a vintage Selmer should have. But like the soprano MKVI's, it has those palm keys that are not really comfortable, and intonation issues - which I fixed anyway with the embouchure.

I am considering buying a modern soprano, with a warm sound too. I am looking into R&C saxellos, Yanagisawas and Borganis, What would you say that comes closer to the SBA sound?

Also, is there a market for the SBA soprano? How to find out what is its value? I am not sure, but depending on its value I would possibly consider a trade for a modern soprano plus cash, if there was the chance. Unfortunately I can not afford to be a collector... I prefer playing music than collecting instruments!

Thanks a lot for any input!

Cheers to all

Andrea
I have an SBA soprano as well as a 90xxx Mark VI and a 101xx Mark VI. My SBA is in perfect condition, but I was disappointed in how it plays and sounds compared to my Mark VIs. I don't think this is an SBA issue, but just the inevitable differences of one soprano to another from this era, as there was a lot of artisan production (by hand) involved and the variables for all sopranos are considerable. I play on many sopranos, and I have zero problem with the left hand palm keys, even if they are more awkward than later, more ergonomically designed mechanisms.
My Mark VIs are the warmest, most lyrical of modern sopranos. I use it along with my Buescher curved sopranos, which offers an even greater expanse of this tone quality. (On all my Mark VIs and Buescher curves I have had an alternate high F key installed for essential practical use.) Over the last few years, I have replaced my Buescher curved with modern Rampone sopranos. I play both a Rampone curved and the saxello version. These offer a tone quality most like my older sopranos, but with obvious improvements. None of the other excellent modern sopranos offers this particular depth or warmth of sound, despite being first class instruments in all other respects. You can hear my Rampones on my latest solo CDs plus some videos on Facebook and Youtube.
Paul Cohen
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
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563 Posts
Thanks for sharing your considerable experience, @Paul Cohen . When you say “”None of the other excellent modern sopranos…”, does that include the bent-neck Borgani Jubilee? I ask because Borgani was included in Andrea’s opening post, and my experience includes the Selmer and Yanagisawa sops, but not the R&C models. I’m hoping to learn from anyone that has played all these unicorns.

Respect and regards,
George
Unfortunately I have no experience with Borgani sopranos. My experience with Borganis from earlier generations was not a positive one, so I have not sought them out. Of course, the new generation is completely different from the ones I played years ago, so it is a comparison no doubt worthwhile. However, when I discovered the Rampones, my search ended, as they work so well. I own four (plus two of their sopraninos), 2 curved and 2 semi curved, and one of my students purchased a straight version. All have the same warmth/darkness and are sufficiently consistent in their playability/mechanism/build to make them highly recommended.
Paul Cohen
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
Joined
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563 Posts
It looks like the biggest difference between this horn and my Mark VI is the absence of the half hole high C# mechanism, which I think was introduced to tame the high register, and has since been widely emulated by other manufacturers
Yes, I do wish for that half-whole mechanism, but I have learned to tune well without it, a combination of tenacious voicing and a catalogue of viable alternate fingerings.
Paul Cohen
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
Joined
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563 Posts
Thanks all for your great comments that actually help me to decide what to do with my soprano quest!

Paul, your experience with the SBA, MKVI's and Rampone is really invaluable. You confirm my choice for the latter as the modern horn that I should be looking for. About the SBA, I believe your "negative" experience with yours is not what I am having with mine. But I don't have a great MKVI to compare it with, so maybe if you tried mine you would still not be happy with it, who knows. I too managed to tame its tuning high up with embouchure and voicing, but I can't completely get over the difficulty with the palm keys. The pinky table is ok though, I actually like it. In any case, I think that I would be more comfortable with a modern horn, so I will go for a Rampone, and I actually love the idea of a Saxello, so I will look for one (silver I believe)!

One last question to Paul. Have you got an idea of what could be the value of this SBA? If I decided to trade it for a Rampone, how much would I be looking for from it? As I said above, I am not a collector but a player (even if not a Pro) and I prefer to keep just the horn that I actually play instead of having more horns.

Thanks again all for you great comments!
I'm sorry but I do not have an accurate estimate on the value of your SBA soprano. I'm not a dealer, so I am sure to be not up to date on these values. For other discussions about the Rampones, etc, feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]
Paul Cohen
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member and Sax Historian
Joined
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563 Posts
I do not find my sop to be “resistant” - but that is something that I would ultimately tune with mouthpiece selection if it were. The most resistant horns that I have experienced were usually ones with leaks. I certainly defer to Paul Cohen whether to attribute resistance to the copper body of the curved sop, or if there is something else going on there.

I also have a J-K straight sop in the house right now, and find that both blow similarly with choice of mouthpieces (Wanne Mantra 6 or Phil-Tone Sapphire 7). FWIW, I play a pretty free-blowing setup on my tenor (Phil-Tone Intrepid 7*, Rigotti 3M, Borgani Jubilee), so I think that if there were “resistance” issues with either sop, I would notice.
Forgive the unpopular reply. Resistance will certainly increase with a leaky instrument. But the main determinant of resistance is the bore. The curvature of a semi-curved (saxello) and fully curved soprano will increase the resistance of a horn compared to its straight counterpart. The material of the instrument will have zero impact on the resistance. I like the extra resistance of my Rampones, as I use it to create the tone I prefer for my classical work, and it allows me a greater palette of tonal colors and nuance. The resistance is not unlike my early Mark VI or Buescher and Conn sopranos.
Paul Cohen
 
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