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Saxophones Borgani curved sop & parisian ambassador alto

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Hi all, haven't posted for a while but I do have some questions! I have recently purchased a vintage borgani curved soprano sn 1505, don't know the age but it is very unusual in the sense that it has a fixed neck! It is with a technician at the moment and he says all action is very good and it's a very nice sax but the spatula keys have a tendency to play almost a tone and a half out of tune and he's looking at this to see if this can be rectified - just wondered if the fixed neck has anything to do with it or does it sound like a bit of a write off - and it was like this before I took it to him, so he's doing his best to try and get this sorted but it's proving a bit of a challenge.
Also, I purchased last night a Parisian ambassador alto sax of eBay for a total of 115 pounds which I consider a bargain but it was on a sold as seen basis, had some pitting but plays ok apparently! I don't know alot about these saxes so would be great if someone could advise! Spur of the moment purchase!
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
I have had one of those Borgani's and sold it to a SOTW member who , I guess, will be reselling it soon because he has a flourishing business in second hand saxophones.

I don't know if Kev's comment on soprano's is relative to the Borgani soprano but in that case I strongly disagree, the Borgani is , in my opinion, well tuned and reasonably made.

As to having a fixed neck I don't think that there were many soprano's (curved or otherwise ) of this or older generations ( I think this is an early '70 one mine was just 100 newer than yours) which featured a removable neck, so it is rather common for this sort of saxophone not to have a removable neck.

The design of this horn is not very different from the Orsi and looks very similar to the Santoni -Parè that apparently Jan Garbarek plays ( probably a Orsi stencil ) I have had and sold to the same SOTW member also a Kings (Orsi Stencil). In both cases I liked the sound but I thought that the mechanics were not at the same level of more modern curved soprano, namely my BW...... .

 

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Thanks for the replies. I will see what happens tomorrow when I pick the sax up. It may be all ok butI would consider another m/piece if not!
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
I don't know if Kev's comment on soprano's is relative to the Borgani soprano but in that case I strongly disagree, the Borgani is , in my opinion, well tuned and reasonably made.
Generalising, not specific...
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
best of luck, both the Borgani and the Orsi sounded just fine with open, round, big chamber mouthpieces. Again there is nothing wrong with a saxophone with a fixed neck, the great majority of the vintage ones were like that. The mechanics of this specific sax are not sophisticated but, although simple, adequate and reasonably robust. The key height might be the problem here but it can be adapted. I don't think that they are inherently out of tune.
 

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Hi All, got my Borgani back all sorted and in tune! Think i've fallen for this one, it's got a lovely sound and will just take a bit of me getting used to playing the soprano properly as I'm finding it a challenge on the higher keys (m/piece issue I think)

My olds parisian ambassador also arrived today and what a mucky sax it is! Looks like it's seen better days and my reaction was 'erghhh' when I picked it up :( But although it's ugly I will probably put this in for repair too as I reckon it will be a nice sounding horn

:)
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Subscriber
Messages
21,947
Good news on the Borg! Have fun.

Yep, get the Olds sorted. it'll love you for it!
 

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Hi Milandro, well I don't have the Borgain any more and the Parisian ambassador came back from the workshop and it was described as playable but 'not a good instrument' so it is now a lamp in my parents lounge. It looks nice and I wouldn't have done that to it if it was fully functional and had more than 6 months life in it but the tone holes were so badly corroded :(
I moved the Borgani on as the top D, Eb, E were incredibly out of tune and it just wouldn't improve (or me) and I just struggled so have no sop at the mo but am looking for a modern curved one which will hopefully have a better chance of playing more tunefully, although I find soprano very difficult so no rush on that front as I have too many saxes!
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
Alright, I was just curious.

One of the problem with the soprano is that many people tend to have out of tune high notes because they put the mouthpiece too far back, then they tense the embouchure to compensate for that and this tension makes the intonation worse as the notes go high.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
Hi All, got my Borgani back all sorted and in tune! Think i've fallen for this one, it's got a lovely sound and will just take a bit of me getting used to playing the soprano properly as I'm finding it a challenge on the higher keys (m/piece issue I think)

My olds parisian ambassador also arrived today and what a mucky sax it is! Looks like it's seen better days and my reaction was 'erghhh' when I picked it up :( But although it's ugly I will probably put this in for repair too as I reckon it will be a nice sounding horn

:)
There's a quick fix for mucky/sticky saxes....
1) get one of those vapour hand held devices (got mine for £12)
2) put the stinky sax inside the bath
3) have a go spraying the hot vapour where it matters most (if possible...if not do the whole lot).
Really quick and satisfying (nearly a liberating experience!)...saved me long messy hours of scrubbing a very sticky goo from the innermost intimate parts of a Yani 901 Tenor (it looks like a real beauty now).

I was looking for a vintage Borgani soprano myself - but these apparently are getting more and more expensive so I opted for another Italian vintage: the Rampone & Cazzani...still waiting for it to arrive and I hope the tuning of the paddle keys isn't off by a minor third?! (are you sure yours was that much out of tune?)...some of these Italian oldies can spring some odd surprises sometimes - some keys aren't there at all (as they were meant for poor people = saving as much as possible by omitting certain keys?!) and in one case you'll find extra keys - my Borgani Tenor for example has the top F# right at the top (no linkages to the right hand).
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
the reduced keywork wasn’t reduced because Italian instruments were meant for poor people but because there was a tradition of band instruments which followed military band requirements to have reduced keywork the so called “ strumenti ministeriali”.......

Anyway, on sopranos especially reduced keywork was often present on older American instruments too and often times, ike in Italy, there was a line of fully developed instruments which was run alongside simpler instruments.

Most Italian curved sopranos that I came across don’t have a front F, to make the horns simpler and perhaps because altissimo on a soprano isn’t a priority for most players.
 

zannad

Member
Messages
410
the reduced keywork wasn’t reduced because Italian instruments were meant for poor people but because there was a tradition of band instruments which followed military band requirements to have reduced keywork the so called “ strumenti ministeriali”.......

Anyway, on sopranos especially reduced keywork was often present on older American instruments too and often times, ike in Italy, there was a line of fully developed instruments which was run alongside simpler instruments.

Most Italian curved sopranos that I came across don’t have a front F, to make the horns simpler and perhaps because altissimo on a soprano isn’t a priority for most players.
Maybe I didn't express my idea of these "strumenti ministeriali" properly....surely at that time (60's 70's) some Borgani and Grassi were fully fledged instruments (all keys and more...) but why omitting a few keys in certain band instruments if not for keeping cost down? Hence, making them more affordable for students or military staff...then, Martin made instruments for military bands too but I've never heard of any of these with missing keys (apart from the top F#)...I mean if the technology is there why limiting the true potential of a sax if not for economic reasons?

Anyhow, do you have any experience of Rampone & Cazzani sopranos? how do they compare with Borganis...they both have a fixed neck which is apparently a bonus.
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
sopranos and baritones with reduced keywork (co-existing with models with extended keywork) were rather common until the ’30 within the American saxophone era.

Yes the marching band instruments had reduced keywork instruments because of budget reason and because the repertoire of these bands hardly, if ever, had any call for these notes to be played.

It remains to be seen whether having a fixed neck is an advantage and especially to whom. Almost all the early sopranos made anywhere in the world, straight or curved, had a fixed neck.

In the curved soprano design this limits greatly the possibility to clean the instruments with any effective method. The straight soprano can be cleaned well.

Some “ Vibrationists” think that cutting out a neck in any saxophones or any instrument for that matter reduces the efficiency with which the “ OH! So Important! “ metal vibration travel from the upper regions linked to the mouthpiece down to the rest of the saxophone.

I am not a “ vibrationist “ and I simply think that it adds a constructive complication and a potential mechanical weak spot (the octave key link) with the advantage of cleaning the saxophone or to exchange necks (but this only makes sense on the staight saxophone) to suit those who would prefer a straight or a curved neck.

The Older Italian sopranos (made before 1990), nice though they are, Rampone & Cazzani, Borgani, Grassi, Orsi, Alfredo Santoni, are instruments which weren’t as sophisticated (in the mechanics) as the modern ones but often times their body tube has remained the same even though the mechanics evolved greatly.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
Back in the 10's or 20's is was difficult to make a straight tube in one piece. It was easier to make a body-bow-bell construction. The output was better for the manufactor. And tonewise I also think the curved soprano is more lyrical.

I think the reason why some older saxes are missing keys is that they were constructed and built for the music of the era. When they wrote music for big bands/concert bands..... in concert C, baritones with low A (as an option was) became available. Players who were playing in big bands, concert bands maybe also played in rock/blues band. So they brought thier low A bari to the gigs or recordings. Today low A baris is standard. Selmer made the high F# in the early 60's (-62?) also as an option because the music changed. Also standard today. There was a market for the high F# saxes. Today we have the high G saxes. Maybe we get a tenor to low A?

The first American manufactor that had a range from high F to low Bb on all thier saxes as standard, was Holton.

Thomas
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,380
Back in the 10's or 20's is was difficult to make a straight tube in one piece. It was easier to make a body-bow-bell construction. The output was better for the manufactor.
I don't understand this - to make a curved alto, tenor, baritone, bass etc the manufacturer would have to make a long straight tube for the main body. That tube would be the easy bit, just by wrapping brass sheet around a straight, near-conical mandrel and joining up the edges, as manufacturers do today.

Making a bow and curving bell would be much harder and then there would be the complication (and extra cost) of fixing them together.

Can you explain what you mean about the difficulty of straight tubes ?

Rhys
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
I don't understand this - to make a curved alto, tenor, baritone, bass etc the manufacturer would have to make a long straight tube for the main body. That tube would be the easy bit, just by wrapping brass sheet around a straight, near-conical mandrel and joining up the edges, as manufacturers do today.

Making a bow and curving bell would be much harder and then there would be the complication (and extra cost) of fixing them together.

Can you explain what you mean about the difficulty of straight tubes ?

Rhys
I base my information on conversations with other “saxophone people” (pros and amateurs). So you should take it as “non-science”.

From what I heard the problem with doing a one-piece saxophone is to get good intonation. The lowest tone holes on the tube is critical. When LaSax constructed (mock-up) their straihgt alto and tenor they used small bore Martin sax with soldered tone holes. They could “move” the low tone holes on the tube so they got the right intonation. I think LaSax spent a lot of time before they got it right. I think their saxes were made in Tawain. Also to do the flair on a soprano in one piece must be harder compared to a flair on a bell-piece.

The machine that did the drawn tone holes was expensive and it was just Conn and Buescher that could afford to invest in those machines. King, Martin and Holton had soldered/brazed tone holes. Other manufacturer that had drawn tones holes, made their tone holes with different methods. So my late Buescher TT is a much better sax compared to my older Buescher soprano, because the machine did a better job.

How many mass produced saxes made quality control? Were the first made saxes with new tools better than the saxes that were made just before re-tooling? Were the saxes that were sold under their own name better than the stencil saxes?

It makes sense to do a soprano from a straight conical tube (why are doing detachable necks, just to produce different tone/sound?). Fewer pieces and less complex fittings compared to a non-curved soprano. Was it just different tone that the manufacturer wanted to achieve with the curved soprano? They spent a lot of efforts in making different (curved) sopranos; straight, Buescher Tipped-bell, King Saxello, Lyon and Healy (Holton) Perfect Curved and fully curved sopranos. Just the two first were made in one-piece. But none have detachable necks. I think it was a competition between manufacturer. They were all advertised as improvements to the tone/sound, feel and mechanism. Some of the odd curved sopranos were not good, unplayable according to some collectors. But I still think there is a different between the straight and fully curved soprano. I prefer the tone of a straight soprano.

Of topic, and once again you should perhaps see this as information that you can live without!

Thomas
 

milandro

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,483
actually there are one pieces saxophones made of two pieces (you can clearly see the bulge where the two piece of metal are soldered) and some are truly made of one piece alone and the difference is only in the type of manufacture.

As far as I know (and I know several people in Taiwan in the saxophone making) LA sax only ever sourced their products and never conducted acoustic research or made prototypes.
 

thomsax

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,807
actually there are one pieces saxophones made of two pieces (you can clearly see the bulge where the two piece of metal are soldered) and some are truly made of one piece alone and the difference is only in the type of manufacture.

As far as I know (and I know several people in Taiwan in the saxophone making) LA sax only ever sourced their products and never conducted acoustic research or made prototypes.
Well, I'm not sure about the LaSax straight alto but according to an article in Saxophone Journal, vol 22, #3, Nov/Dec 1997 the LaSax straight tenor protype was made by a guy called Dave Schottle.

Thomas
 
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