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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am returning to soprano after many years away and am carefully researching which sop to buy. Many people here claim that vintage sop's have a better sound and I have to ask what exactly is a vintage sound versus a modern one? What modern artists have that "vintage sound" and who is noted for a more modern one? Wayne Shorter is my favorite player but I listen to everybody I can, though I admit I don't care for Bechet's vibrato so much. The sop's I'm looking at are the Rampone & Cazzani R1 Jazz and the Selmer SA II on the high end, and the Antigua Winds Yani copy on the low end.
 

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I think a vintage sop is usually darker. But they can be combined with a brighter mouthpiece to get a more modern sound, but more complex.

Try getting a Soprano Summit (Bob Wilber, Kenny Davern) recording for some strong vintage sounds on vintage tunes, but a modern recording. I think Tom Scott plays a straight Conn.
 

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dave1953: I contend that a soprano player achieves the kind of sound he/she wants to achieve through concepts, goals, and mouthpiece set-up. I own both new and vintage sops and they all sound like me when I play them. I'm sure a be-bop/modernist player could make any of my horns sound tinny, snake-charmerish and strident (is that a knock on modern-style players? Not necessarily but that's what I hear from most of today's players, many folks like that sound - I don't).

Because I love 1920's jazz AND Bechet, I strive for an older sound - warm, full, lot's of vibrato, eventhough I don't sound like Bechet nor would I ever make such a claim. But there are few players on the scene these days that play with a "vintage" sound and style. Some who come to mind are Bob Wilber, George Probert, Walter Sereth, and Stan MacDonald. They all have different, yet "trad" styles.

I prefer vintage sopranos over my new ones (S992 and SC902 Yanagisawas, the best new sops I've played - and I've owned others, including a tipped-bell Rampone, Saxello, MKVI, Yamaha YSS62S, silver Serie III, etc.). One reason is being authentic in my type of music. But the other is tone (subtle improvements over the new horns) and ease of response. My favorite vintage sop is a Buescher True-Tone straight silver from the late '20's. I also have a gold-plated straight Conn (1923) and a second Buescher TT. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Dave,

I was just listening to Soprano Summit on the way into work and I agree, great sound. The TruTone certainly is welll loved here in this forum. I did see one at SaxQuest that I was considering but I hesitate because I am worried about the build quality and the cost/hassle of getting it fixed when needed. Also, is the keywork that much different than modern keywork that it would be difficult to get used to?

Dave
 

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Dave1953: The keywork is . . . well, different, yet similar to other sops. The palm keys are separate like bigger saxophones (unlike the MKVI and older Conn sopranos with in-line palm keys) but they are not nearly as prominent as are the palm keys on new sops and bigger saxophones. The TT's palm keys are closer to the horn's body - folded in closer. I have palm-key risers on one TT and none on the other. I adjust accordingly.

The left-pinky table is of the older style and there is no front-F nor hi-F#/G mechanisms on my TTs. A few minutes with a Buescher and you'll feel right at home. Same with Conns, and I suppose Martins and Kings. but I am most familiar with Buescher and Conn.

In the TT's defense, everything falls to hand on my TTs and I don't use those ultra-high notes anyway. I LOVE my TTs.

As far as build-quality, it doesn't get much better than a vintage Buescher soprano. Yes, Yanagisawa, Yamaha, JK and even Selmer (albeit Selmer may need some or a lot of tweaking after purchase) are nice, well-built horns. But I have yet to find a repair tech who couldn't easily repair my TTs or Conns. And my vintage horns stay playable just as long as do my new saxophones. The vintage horns may even be more easily repaired than the newer designs with their added mechanisms.

Those Soprano Summit recordings were well done. Both Wilber and Davern are super players. I believe that Davern has since decided to keep with clarinet only.

I neglected to mention Johnny Hodges on soprano - he studied with Bechet. Hodges' soprano is a whole different thing than Bechet's, but still excellent, just like his alto. If you like Soprano Summit, I'm sure you'd like some of the other current trad-soprano players. You can e-mail me for details. DAVE jazzdolsonatcomcast.net
 

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I like both, the modern horns if you can find one with the right sound that isn't thin and brittle in the extremities of the range. Overall, I prefer my TT because it is thicker, has a more resonant and complex sound overall. I had to go to a Saxello style sop to get the thickness of sound out of a modern horn. In the end, you play what works best for you, there is no one else who can work this for you other than yourself.
 

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It's hard to question the build quality of an instrument that's over 80 years old and is still in demand; such as the Buescher Tru-Tone soprano. This might just be my experience and I'm not sure how this will translate to other players, but I find the Tru-Tone easier to play with the lip than a modern horn which relies more upon the fingers.
 

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Grumps' remark: "I find the Tru-Tone easier to play with the lip than a modern horn which relies more upon the fingers" makes no sense.

I have a several sops, one of which is a TT. I also have a soprano that is less than 2 years old. I mean no offense, just that statements like the one grumps made above really have no meaning and people starting out or trying to make a decision should ignore them.

SaxDuck
 

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Gosh, Grumps and Saxduck, now you have me wondering what that statement means. My 2 cents worth: Grumps is saying that it's easier to use embrouchure to produce a tone economically, without fingering. For example, this would mean changing octave without using thumb.
 

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Oh, I wouldn't expect Saxduck to get my remark, even though I did say, "This might just be my experience and I'm not sure how this will translate to other players." He's still trying to make up for past threads and that is what motivates his attack upon my credibility. But for only 2 cents MJ, you're right on the money.
 

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Grumps, I'd give you at least a nickel for that comment. :D My experience has been the same. Dave1953, I play a '28 Conn that I moved to after being dissatisfied with a brand new Series III. The III had a thin, sort of antiseptic sound that just did not move me at all. The vintage horns have an extremely expressive, resonant sound that tugs at my soul.

Grumps, I don't know if you meant this, but I find it much easier to bend notes, scoop up on attacks, play with vibrato effects, etc. on my vintage axe than I did on the Selmer. Every note is very flexible. The III seemed really rigid, as though you played the horn only the way the designer intended for it to be played. Maybe good for classical, but too square for me.

Also dave1953, Bootman and others with greater expertise can probably advise you better about sop mpcs, but I find that a modern SRTech Pro metal mpc with a Rovner Dark lig works well and sounds very nice on my vintage Conn. I also like the Selmer S80 for my horn.
 

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Zman said:
Grumps, I don't know if you meant this, but I find it much easier to bend notes, scoop up on attacks, play with vibrato effects, etc.
That is exactly what I meant Zman. I probably should have just put it that way in the first place, but I'm sure most folks understood what I was getting at.
 

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I like the sound of the straight Conn. It has warmth, it has body. To me the new sops seem to sound thin and nasally, as if they want you to sound just like Kenny G. Oops, did I say that?
 

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Forgive the slight digression, but intonation may come into the purchase equation, too. My 1928 TT sop is spot on from bottom to top. This is not to suggest that others are not, but simply to say that this one takes some beating.
 
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