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Hello, I'm a 20 year old tenor player who has been playing for 2 years now and I want to buy another instrument, and I've narrowed it down to Soprano and Clarinet since I want to compliment the tenor's low register with a high registered instrument.
My band plays music inspired by Pat Metheny and Jaga Jazzist mainly, but also Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock and a couple of Progressive Metal bands (djent bands if you are familiar with the term). That being said I want an instrument with a smooth sound (just not squeaky) that fits a modern jazz band of 5 people.
I have a limited time to practice though since I study engineering and am engaged in a couple of other regular activities.

I have been able to distinguish a couple of positives and negatives about the two:

Soprano:
+ Easy transition from tenor (less time needed for a good result)
+ Sounds great in many cases
- Expensive
- Not very varied sound compared to the tenor
- May sound a bit squeaky

Clarinet:
+ Cool sound mostly
+ Good variation from the tenor
+ Cheap
- Difficult to learn
- A very classical instrument (may not fit our music...?)
- Limited sound variation?

What do you guys think?
 

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I dont really see how either are going to compliment the type of music you are playing; however, both are GREAT jazz instruments especially for more traditional New Orleans style jazz. I grew up an alto player then picked up the clarinet in college [actually was pretty easy to learn and within in a semester, I felt pretty proficient] The nice thing about being a saxophonist and switching to clarinet, you immediately produce a more jazz like sound than the traditional classical sound it is known for in modern music.
I started playing the sop several years ago...more fun and versatile than clarinet imho. Not squeaky if you put the time in. A decent horn can be expensive. Totally different sound than tenor. Fingerings are same as tenor but don't expect it to be so easy.

Good luck
 

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I do not see Soprano as a double. Clarinet will open up a lot of playing opportunities and the earlier you start the better. Might as well grab a cheap flute and get that going as well. Clarinet is very frustrating but not impossible.
 

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Neither of these instruments will be easy, especially for someone with "limited time to practice." Frankly, I would not recommend that someone with only two years of experience on tenor pick up a second horn. I'd wait another year or two. However, you're an adult and it's your band, so if you're eager to double, go ahead. But if you won't be able to put in a lot of work right now, I'd stay within the saxophone family. The soprano will require a substantial embouchure adjustment, but at least it's closely related to the tenor embouchure. The clarinet will require a new embouchure and new fingerings. I started on clarinet and then picked up the sax, so I don't have direct experience of the transition you would need to make, but players who move from sax to clarinet typically describe the process as challenging.

Finally, just remember that there's a difference between really being able to play a horn, and saying that you can play it. If you want to add soprano or clarinet to your band and have it sound good, have it sound musical, you're going to have to work hard. For example, squeakiness is not inherent in the tone of either of these horns, but it is certainly a risk for a beginner.

Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

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Since you don't really have time to learn a 'new' instrument stick with the saxophone family.
You won't have to do any thinking when making the horn swap on the bandstand.
 

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Although I have done a lot of clarinet playing and teaching, I feel the soprano would be best for the type of music you listed and clarinet takes years to master.
 

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Soprano fingerings are the same as tenor but the embouchure is not. The soprano embouchure is tight. My lips get tired after about 6 minutes of playing. On tenor I can play for hours and not worry. Also, Good luck getting in tune on a soprano. I have a soprano soooooo out of tune, it is in the key of A. I'm not kidding, spot on in the key of A. Intonation can be fixed with a tighter or looser embouchure, so don't think it is hopeless. Another thread (http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?215723-Soprano-Sax-Intonation) discusses intonation issues. And they vary from sax to sax too. I recommend a straight soprano because it is easier to get a straight piece of tubing the right length than a curved one.A straight soprano and a regular curved tenor sound different. The soprano is kinda a waa sound and a tenor mneeh sound (at least when I play it).

Clarinet fingerings are similar to a saxophone's fingerings, but different. The fingering for F# on a saxophone is the same for B natural on the clarinet. And the fingering for F on a sax is the same a clarinet Bb fingering. But to "change octaves" (I think the "octave key" on a clarinet raises the pitch a twelfth, not an octave), there is a button you press but at the same time you have to be covering a tone hole. And I really don't like clarinet mouthpieces. They are just uncomfortable and awkward. And I doubt this effects play at all, but I think the reeds are too small. I'm a tenor/bari player, so I'm used to huge reeds compared to soprano sax/clarinet reeds. I know the soprano sax and clarinet reeds are interchangeable, but the soprano mouthpiece and reed look much better than a fat clarinet mouthpiece and that dinky reed. Clarinet is fun to learn, but I don't really like playing it.
 

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I recommend a straight soprano because it is easier to get a straight piece of tubing the right length than a curved one.
Huh? Where did you hear this? The vast majority of saxophones are curved. I doubt that measuring the tube correctly is a problem for any reputable sax manufacturer.

But to "change octaves" (I think the "octave key" on a clarinet raises the pitch a twelfth, not an octave), there is a button you press but at the same time you have to be covering a tone hole.
It's called the register key.

And I really don't like clarinet mouthpieces. They are just uncomfortable and awkward. And I doubt this effects play at all, but I think the reeds are too small.
Clarinet reeds are not too small. They are the right size for the clarinet mouthpiece, which in turn is the correct size for the clarinet. What exactly is your experience on this horn?
 

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BuescherFan I think you are talking apples, pears and oranges when you are comparing the clarinet, soprano sax and tenor sax. Granted the tenor, alto, soprano saxes use the "same" fingerings, but to play each well, the technique is different. I have no trouble playing in tune with my soprano sax, a Cannonball Global Series. What make is yours that it is so out of tune? When you say the emboucher is tight, perhaps that is your problem. The soprano sax takes a slightly firmer emboucher, but the emboucher should be relaxed. If you get tired after 6 minutes of playing a soprano sax, you really need to find a teacher who can help you with your emboucher both on the tenor and soprano sax. The clarinet is an entirely different instrument, whose emboucher has some semblance to a saxophone, but again, to play well it requires patience, a teacher and practice. I'd also beg to differ that the clarinet and sop. sax reeds are interchangeable. They may fit, but quality sax reeds are different from clarinet reeds.
 

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I think it is a toss-up since you say you have limited time to practice. Clarinet is much easier to play in tune (just get a slightly shorter barrel… like 64mm) but different fingerings. Soprano is louder, harder to play in tune but possibly better for the type of music you describe. Clarinet can definitely lead to more paying jobs than the soprano will.
 

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LostConn and Twistofer, Buescherfan is just a high school kid. They have done lots of reading and
dabbling, but have very little in the way of 'life experience' with any of these horns.

Buescherfan,
A Bb soprano the tunes in the key of A needs the mouthpiece shoved on a LOT farther.
The brass for straight and curved sopranos, as well as any other saxophone, is cut by a machine that is preset for the precise length required for that particular section of the sax, or entire horn if it's 'one piece'.
The fingerings on the saxophone are the same as the MIDDLE register of the clarinet with the exception of B,C,and C#.

And Twistofer, there ARE soprano sax players that prefer clarinet reeds over sax reeds.
I have a wood clarinet mouthpiece that prefers a soprano sax reed. It all depends on the mouthpiece and personal preferance of the player.
A 'quality reed' is a 'quality reed' regardless of instrument.
 

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LostConn and Twistofer, Buescherfan is just a high school kid...

And Twistofer, there ARE soprano sax players that prefer clarinet reeds over sax reeds.
I have a wood clarinet mouthpiece that prefers a soprano sax reed. It all depends on the mouthpiece and personal preferance of the player.
A 'quality reed' is a 'quality reed' regardless of instrument.
True enough, bandmommy...but since we are dealing with a high school young person (I personally detest calling these young women and men "kids;" it's disrespectful), let's teach them to use the right equipment. Once they develop proficiency like you, they can then learn to choose. As Mr. Scott (Star Trek) said, "Laddie, the right tool for the right job."

PS: I should have said a quality sax reed is different from a quality clarinet reed.
 

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Just a quick comment on the style of music you play and suitability of clarinet... Jaga Jazzist (really great band by the way) has a lot of clarinet stuff going on. So if you dig them, soundwise no problem with clarinet IMO.
 

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buying another instrument doesn't mean it will suit you and you will find that if you're honest about artistic and life choices, making glib generalizations about what is suitable and requires the quickest learning curve because you are SO busy with everything else...sorry dude you don't sound like a modest, or deferential person and it's pretty hard to take what you said seriously.
 

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Go with the horn that speaks to you most. If youre not passionate about either why even bother?

Clarinet is a serious endevour and not for the feint of heart. Its an entirely seperate major in college. As others have said most start on clarinet and move to sax so going the other way is just plain difficult if you havelt already been playing in school programs.

A soprano sax will b ring you plenty of bang for the buck as a "double" and many tenor and alto guys use one very effectively (Jerry Niewood, not to mention Shorter) and nobody is telling them they should pick up clarinet or flute.

Clarinet can bring you gigs but the guys that I know who are giggingh on sax, flute, and clarinet are all music majors who have played these instruments from the 5th grade onwards.

Keep it simple: My vote is soprano especially for you. Dont sweat the ebrouchure for soprano just go with a bigger size MPC which makes switching easier (at least for me).

As others have said flute is a great one to double,. You can take it everywhere with you and theres no reeds to worry about. Take a few lessons to get your embrouchure right then practice.....I sit in front of the TV and practice mine just to get horn time on it (no replacement for true practice I know....)-
 
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