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Hello all,
Does anyone have any experience with a solid sterling silver series III soprano? I'm currently looking for a good series II or III soprano and some of the lacquered horns seem to be just a bit brighter than I'd like. I was wondering if solid silver may darken the sound any? If anybody has played them and has any thoughts, let me know! Thanks
 

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Most people on this forum say that silver makes things brighter. Personally me and many other people think they darken the sound of the horn. Maybe our vocabulary is not the same.
 

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It won't do anything other than double the cost and add a lot of weight to the horn, which in the case of a soprano is going to be a real pain.

If you need a darker soprano look around at other makes and models. Darken the sound with your mpc and reed...it's a lot cheaper.
 

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I have no experience with a solid 3 sop but I have a silver plated one and it definitely sounds different to the lac ones I've played. I actually prefer my lac V1 soundwise. The necks on the 3 make a big difference in response with the straight neck being more responsive with my set up. I like the feel of the curved best though.
I had a solid Yani for a bit that didn't resonate for me as well as the brass/bronze models and was very heavy which is detrimental in sopranos.. It put me off solid silver but I'd like to try a SS 3 just out of curiousity. I think piece/reed choice obviously has a big impact too.
Dave R has knowledge of the solid horns I believe.
 

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I can confirm from my own experience that the solid silver S3s do sound different to the laquered and to the silver plate. I own a silver plate S3 and feel that it is a heftier sound than the laquered ones. The solid is typical of sterling silver:- it's more refined in tone and sounds like it has a broader spectrum of harmonics (although I doubt that's scientifically accurate!). I have a ss neck on mine and it goes a little way towards the sound.

A close pal of mine bought one on a trip we did together to Selmer in Paris; he took a long time choosing it and went back for a second visit because the first one he tried was rather 'dead' - it can happen with silver, I tried a ss tenor that felt unresonant although it was not a set-up issue. Don't ask me why. My pal sounds excellent on his; by nature it's very assured and aristocratic in tone and it's very loud when needs be too, just full of quality.

BTW don't let anyone tell you that finish makes no difference - they just can't hear it ;) :D :D !
 

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I think the difference in the sound that you hear is due to the much smoother bore of the solid silver. They tend to do a great job of polishing the inside of the neck and body tubes when it comes to using the more expensive materials.

I think a solid copper body Selmer would be just as good as a SS. They seem to do a much better job of polishing the inside of copper necks as well. Standard brass feels likes it's been burnt to crisp with ridges, bumps and rough spots inside the neck. It also feels like it's a thinner gauge material when using standard brass, but that might just be the wieght.

At any rate I have a standard III soprano and with the cost of these babies as high as they are the SS seems kind of ridiculous.
 

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I agree the cost is prohibitive for most people, although if you are a pro, it's worth getting the instrument that works for you. The Solid silver necks are a good half way point for those of us on a budget (ie most of us!!).
 

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DaveR said:
I agree the cost is prohibitive for most people, although if you are a pro, it's worth getting the instrument that works for you. The Solid silver necks are a good half way point for those of us on a budget (ie most of us!!).
That's a good point, and worth making, Dave.
For a pro cost doesn't enter the equation in the same way, because if you need the right tool to do a job, then you'll buy it.

Most people wouldn't spend the same amount of money on photographic equipment as a professional photographer, but nobody complains that a top of the range pro camera is too expensive. A pro will buy one (or two!) because he needs it to do the job, and everybody else buys a less expensive camera that suits their needs.

I get a little wound up when people complain about the price of a pro sax, or about the cost of SS necks or horns. There's always the option of buying a cheaper instrument that meets ones needs.
Personally, I think that SS does make an appreciable difference to the sound and response of a sax, and if it's a difference that you want, then the price of a SS Selmer is in keeping with the prices of other Selmer saxes.

If you want to see prices of special finishes that are out of proportion to the normal standard finish, just look at the prices of silver and gold plated Yamahas! They even charge more for an unlaquered horn than for a laquered one!
 

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heath said:
I think the difference in the sound that you hear is due to the much smoother bore of the solid silver.
while this seems like pure speculation
there is some acoustical reasearch that backs this up. not that they work it more or pollish it better but rather the different metal work different and therefore create subtle dimensional differences.

of course the different metals also reflect and absorb sound in different ways leading to more or less wave addition and cancelation resulting in different tones as well.

anyody here want to play a plastic flute ?
 

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Finishes

The theory that finish doesn't make a difference in tone production is fairly illogical.

It's pretty simple to test this out: ring a brass bell, then ring a silver bell. If your hearing is good, you'll hear a vast difference. If material doesn't make a difference, then why don't the big 4 make their horns out of nickel? Or aluminum? Metal is metal, right?

We already know from centuries of metallurgy that different materials have different intrinsic qualities. Steel is stronger than iron, and doesn't oxidize. Aluminum is lighter but not quite as strong. Gold is soft and heavy. It's a matter of physics that materials of different atomic makeup and density will resonate differently. So why are people constantly claiming that material doesn't have any effect on the sound of an instrument?

Yesterday, my saxophone teacher brought over 5 sopranos of same model and different finish to our conservatory for everyone in the studio to evaluate and come to a decision as to which one to purchase for the school. Our studio includes 5 Master's candidates, 3 Doctoral candidates, and 5 undergrads. After several hours of each of us playing the same excerpt in the same room on every horn, we all reached some consistent conclusions, using a lacquer horn of the same model as a baseline:

Gold plated horns are much darker than lacquer horns, very full and rich, and can lack for projection. They seem somewhat muted, at least to our ears, but have a definite rich character.

Silver plated horns are brighter and more colorful than lacquer horns. Although the metal is heavier, they generally are not lacquered. They sound "sweeter" and blend well despite their colorful nature.

Black Nickel horns have a certain "raw" quality about them. They sound darker, but project very well.

Solid Silver horns are VERY sweet sounding, and have a certain flute-like quality about them. It sounds as though there is a distinct limitation of high partials, which on a soprano makes the instrument more similar in timbre to the other members of the saxophone family.

These are our observations and are not intended to be taken as gospel, it's just what we all heard consistently through independent testing.

That said, I really enjoyed playing the silver horns.
 

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Macdaddy: I TOTALLY disagree with you and the anecdotal so-called test you report. However, that doesn't mean we have to be angry about it, which I am not. That's all I have to write about it because this subject has been overdone to the max. Best of luck in your saxophone career. DAVE
 

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I think bore(size/taper etc) has a bigger impact on sound then finish. But I do believe finish makes a differance.
 

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heath said:
It won't do anything other than double the cost and add a lot of weight to the horn, which in the case of a soprano is going to be a real pain.

That is why the Mark VI is still the best. With the added weight of the big palm keys, the detachable necks, the large lower stack mechanism, the high f# ----and lordy the high G key (both easy to play on the VI)-- and the fork e/f mechanism the "new" sopranos are just too darn heavy. Kill your right hand and thumb and then you try a strap which messes up your embouchure or your neck position. Sometimes progress is meaningless. I held a new B & S Sop the other day-- felt like a bari!!!!:D
 

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weight

There are people who play solid silver SIII sopranos without a neckstrap with perfect technique... like Claude Delangle. I think the weight is really a negligible issue in the grand scheme of things, especially when you are talking about a difference of grams when discussing larger palm keys. We're not trying to run races with the damn things, we're trying to sound good.

Is my solid silver alto heavier than others? Yes. By my digital scale's reasoning, a whopping 167 grams heavier than a Reference :rolleyes:
 

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If 167 grams of additional weight (in an alto) would cause problems with fatigue and technique, how would you be able to play tenor or baritone?

Flutists learn to play gold flutes in a much more difficult posture than we have to deal with, and there's not a lot of complaining abut weight coming out of that camp.

I suppose it's all subjective, but it seems silly to make a fuss over less than half a pound when the larger horns can weigh 2 or 3 times what an alto or soprano does, and we play those happily.
 

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macdaddysax26 said:
Yesterday, my saxophone teacher brought over 5 sopranos of same model and different finish to our conservatory for everyone in the studio to evaluate and come to a decision as to which one to purchase for the school...After several hours of each of us playing the same excerpt in the same room on every horn, we all reached some consistent conclusions, using a lacquer horn of the same model as a baseline:

Gold plated horns are ... rich... have a definite rich character.

Silver plated horns are brighter ...

Black Nickel horns ...sound darker....

Solid Silver horns ...have a certain flute-like quality about them.

These are our observations...
Yes, observations being the key word.
Next time try it blindfolded.
 

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My apologies for having an opinion that differs from yours.

It was so nice of you to edit out most of the useful information I included in my post. I didn't realize that as musicians we so erroneously use the words "bright", "colorful", "dark", "sweet", and make analogies to other instruments of the same family. What an idiot I am!

Somebody asked what experiences, if any, people had. I gave them mine. I've owned horns made of solid silver, brass, copper, and black nickel plated aside from the individual sampling I brought up. I included thoughts on projection and blending as well. Is there really any need to be rude about it?
 
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