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Saxophones Just bought a soprano

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
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3,904
Oh, dear.

I didn't quite make it to a year before buying my third sax. It's a Bently soprano, claimed to be as new from a closed down music shop. Got it on eBay for just under £100. I'm hoping the low price is at least partly due to the nasty bright red colour rather than the quality of the instrument. Haven't picked it up yet---will let you know how I get on.

I hope this doesn't count as GAS, after all it's only my first sop >:). My excuse is that we just lost our holiday in Cornwall due to van problems (have ranted about our problems with Mercedes elsewhere in this forum). My wife egged me on --- honest, it wasn't my fault >:)!
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Er, enjoy?!

(don't want to quash your excitement but my general perception is that gaudily coloured instruments should be avoided like the plague!?)

It'll be good tuning practice for your chops anyway, though may I recommend getting a quality mouthpiece? I can't imagine the one in the box will be much cop...

Hoping you'll report back that everything's fine!

Nick
 

BigMartin

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3,904
(don't want to quash your excitement but my general perception is that gaudily coloured instruments should be avoided like the plague!?)
Well, Bently get a mention on Stephen Howard's site so I figured it was worth a punt. Might have to invest in some shades to play it in, though.
It'll be good tuning practice for your chops anyway, though may I recommend getting a quality mouthpiece? I can't imagine the one in the box will be much cop...
Graftonite B7 on order, thanks.
 
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jonf

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3,680
The thing with buying a sax for less than a ton is that even if you don't like it, the chances are you can pass it on without negligible loss. And anyway, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to play OK. A while ago I started a thread about a sop I'd bought of eBay for £60 new (actually I bough several, but that's another story), an unbranded Chinese one, complete with white polishing glove. Guess what? It played great, really, really well. Not quite up to the standard of my BW or Buescher True Tone sops, but still very good, certainly good enough for a student doing their grades up to Grade 8.

I've also got a black lacquered, rather tarty looking tenor, bought new of eBay. Again, plays fine, top F# down to bottom Bb, no problems. Cheapo Chinese, again, plays fine.

Hopefuly yours is the same.

Jon
 

BigMartin

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3,904
Picked up the sop today. Very pleased so far. (I really don't like the colour, though ;}). Plays from bottom Bb to top G, straight out of the box even with the nasty supplied mouthpiece. Did a quick recording of one of the Greg Fishman etudes I've been working on:

DeadAudiolink Removed

Who knows how long the horn will last, but at that price it doesn't need to last very long.
 

saxnik

Member
Messages
381
Sounds pretty good - happy to be proved wrong! Hopefully the new piece will make it even better.

Nick
 

BigMartin

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Messages
3,904
Sounds pretty good - happy to be proved wrong! Hopefully the new piece will make it even better.
Cheers. Yeah, the mouthpiece is pretty shoddy. Hoping to make it sound less oboe-ish with the new one. Nothing against oboes, but they're just not saxophones, are they?
 

TomMapfumo

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Messages
5,219
It does sound pretty decent - you obviously managed to get some lovely playing out of it - Well Done!:w00t::w00t:

AB7 should be a good mouthpiece for it. What reeds are you using? I've been trying out a range of reeds on mine, including Vandoren ZZ, V16 & Java, Rico RJS, Rico Royal, Marca Jazz and Alexander DC. All sound pretty good, but it splits between more straight down the line playing ones (Royal, V16 & Java) and the others - with DC and Marca Jazz being most characterful.

Keep it up! What is the upper octave like, soundwise?

Kind regards
Tom
 

BigMartin

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3,904
It does sound pretty decent - you obviously managed to get some lovely playing out of it - Well Done!:w00t::w00t:
Thank you.

AB7 should be a good mouthpiece for it. What reeds are you using?
That was recorded using the reed supplied with the sax. (I tried not to think about the hygiene issues.) Ordered 3 Rico orange box 2.5s with the B7, just to guage the strength. The seem a tad hard right now (arrived today), but will persevere for a while and maybe try sanding one down a bit.

I've been trying out a range of reeds on mine, including Vandoren ZZ, V16 & Java, Rico RJS, Rico Royal, Marca Jazz and Alexander DC. All sound pretty good, but it splits between more straight down the line playing ones (Royal, V16 & Java) and the others - with DC and Marca Jazz being most characterful.
Any chance you could post some clips for comparison?

Keep it up! What is the upper octave like, soundwise?
The word "piercing" comes to mind, but thats kind of what they're for, right? Intonation seems OK.

Cheers,
Martin
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
Hi Martin!

I would not really know how to go about putting clips online - not a technical wizard, but could ask one of my daughters who uses youtube etc. With regard to the upper octave I have learnt to psh a stronger jet of air into a soprano sax (as Jan Garbarek is wont to do, as I have been told. For me the upper octave is clear without being so piercing, and the lower octave sounds a little less "wooden".
I speculate that the jet of air may well result in a more homogenous sound, avoiding some of the extremes in sound of playing a soprano (albeit I play a curved one).

Kind regards
Tom
 
Messages
509
Hi Martin,
just listened to the recording and i have to say it sounds really nice looks like a real bargain!

regards zoot
 

BigMartin

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Messages
3,904
Thanks everyone. At the risk of sounding like an advert, the guy I bought this from has more to sell. If anyone's interested,it might be worth keeping an eye on eBay.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Martin, HOW you have come on since your first recordings!!!!
Sorry guys, here I go again :-
If you decide to sand a reed (and trying one wouldn't be a bad idea), an emery board for finger nails is a good tool, 50 times back and forth each side. Try it and continue until it blows effortlessly.
I had a friend over last week, who has been playing tenor for about four years. He brought his m'piece with him and we played a few numbers. His tone was not good, and I noticed he was pushing loads of air through the sax. We took the m'piece off and sanded the strength 2 reed until low "D" blew nice and easy. He was amazed at the difference, going longer before having to breath, and far easier to play vibrato.
Hey I have at least one convert ;}

John.
 
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BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,904
Martin, HOW you have come on since your first recordings!!!!
Thanks John. Finally got round to having some lessons (with Mike Hall from the RNCM. Can recommend him to anyone in the Manchester area if you want to learn to play jazz).

Sorry guys, here I go again :-
If you decide to sand a reed (and trying one wouldn't be a bad idea), an emery board for finger nails is a good tool, 50 times back and forth each side. Try it and continue until it blows effortlessly.
I had a friend over last week, who has been playing tenor for about four years. He brought his m'piece with him and we played a few numbers. His tone was not good, and I noticed he was pushing loads of air through the sax. We took the m'piece off and sanded the strength 2 reed until low "D" blew nice and easy. He was amazed at the difference, going longer before having to breath, and far easier to play vibrato.
I've had some success with using fine grade wet-or-dry sandpaper (use it wet and give the reed a rinse before you put it back on the mouthpiece to try it) on a good flat surface. you need to press down on the curved surface of the reed (we're sanding the flat side) and be careful not to knacker the tip. In my clarinet playing days I used to try shaving different bits of the curved surface to alter various qualities of the sound and never got the hang of it. But for just weakening a reed the above seems to work OK.
 

johnboy

Senior Member
Messages
1,179
Funny how we all have different ideas about it. I never touch the flat side, only sanding the sides, curving inwards to maintain the flame/bullet shape but finishing the stroke a half inch (old money) from the tip. I also have read about removing materiel from some parts to arrive at different tones, but think I'll stick to making the reed soft enough to use the "lip out".
I always sand my reeds on the m'piece. It goes against the flat surface business, but works for me and saves a lot of time.
Keep posting your sound clips it is good to hear your progress :welldone

John.
 
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