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Forum Contributor 2010, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've been getting heavy back into soprano lately. Unfortunately I don't have a terrific instrument: I have a Musica German-made sop that is 95% certain to be a B&S stencil. It's an all-right horn, intermediate probably. But at the moment it's not time to buy, so I'll use this one until I can afford a better one.

Here's the question: there are (big surprise!) intonation problems. At first I assumed I was the problem (and I likely am at least part of the problem), but a few days ago, working with my tuner, I noticed something objective. Everything is sharp from D2 up to A2. And: if I tune the horn to D2 with the octave and then take my thumb off the octave, the note goes 15 cents (or so) flat. Using the octave key, when I play a scale up, at A2 the intonation goes sharper again (back in tune). So one octave vent is out of tune.

Is there anything I can do about that myself -- as a reasonably logical person but without training or special tools? Or do I need to take this to my tech for a solution?

Thanks!
 

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Forum Contributor 2010, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #2
The workaround is to play D2-A2 without using the octave key. That's no problem, and when I do that those notes are right in tune. But still, the machinery ought to work right. Any advice would be appreciated.
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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Does a more experienced soprano player have the same problem with it?

Pitch of sopranos depends hugely on the way they are played. (in conjunction with the other variables: mouthpiece, mouthpiece position, and reed)
 

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Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
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Embrochure development/flexibility and airstream

control and familiarity with the horn over time will fix this
 

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Forum Contributor 2010, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #5
Yes. I have a lot less experience on the sop than on the tenor and alto, but I've played since 1959. In this case the problem is with the instrument, I'm sure. Holding the sop in exactly the same position, with exactly the same setup, in the same breath, taking my thumb off the octave key results in the pitch flattening by @15 cents between D2 and A2; above A2, when the other octave vent is engaged, the pitch problem goes away.

Rereading my initial post, I see I mis-wrote what happens above A2 -- the horn does not go "flatter" as I initially wrote, it goes back in tune; sorry, my error, fixed now.
 

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Forum Contributor 2010, Distinguished SOTW Member
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Discussion Starter #6
Thomas said:
Embrochure development/flexibility and airstream

control and familiarity with the horn over time will fix this
I don't think so. This is not the usual soprano intonation problem (that kicks in, for me, above C#3).
 

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Gordon's question is the one to answer. You need to find an experienced soprano player to try the horn.

In MY experience, some sopranos are just out of tune - more so than the larger saxophones. I've owned some like that.

Maybe some adjustments to the key heights can solve the problem or placement of leather crescents in the tone holes, etc. But if the horn is out of tune, you'll play heck with fixing it.

Another possibility is mouthpiece/reed combos. I have some soprano mouthpieces that don't play as in-tune as do others. Good luck with solving this. DAVE
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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"In MY experience, some sopranos are just out of tune - more so than the larger saxophones. I've owned some like that."

I totally agree. Especially with lesser-known brands.
Probably less effort put into evolving them into having decent pitch, because sales are so low.
 
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