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Saxophones My first sopranino

Nick Wyver

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Minster On Sea
Some old buggers try to relive their youth by buying sports cars and younger wives. I like to be a bit different. I appear to have acquired a sopranino - sax, that is, not a small, high voiced opera singer.
It's a Bauhaus Walstein and seems jolly good.
I like it. So far. I only got it about 3 hours ago.
I've never had one before and I'm not really sure why I've got one now.
It came with a no-name plastic mouthpiece (it's so small!) and an old, apparently somewhat used Rico reed that may be a real one or a cut down soprano. Vandorens on order.
Still, it works.
Any advice regarding possible mouthpiece upgrade, technique, pitfalls, etc. would be most welcome.

And at the risk of offending anyone's ears here is my first effort on the shriek stick (as Mr Noble refers to them). Backing track is Love Groove by Pete - probably available on this site somewhere.
I bought one (almost by mistake) in 2022 - also Bauhaus Walstein - from Martin (Mr Bauhaus himself). It was NOS (New Old Stock) and cost me less than £400. It had a couple of minor setup issues that @Stephen Howard sorted out and Martin kindly sent me some Vandoren Eb clarinet reeds that fit and work well with it.

I have a nice Pillinger mouthpiece for sopranino and I tend to use a Yanagisawa metal piece that sounds good and tunes well.

I don't have many occasions to play it but it is fun.

Art Themen used to play some great 'nino but I think has given it up. I can't think of many other performers on it, but you are sounding good already.

Which one is it? Do you know what the difference is between the two he's got listed?

Ed made my 'nino piece for me and it is the P model in bronzite with his S126 facing on it (1.2mm tip, 0.047"). It has a round throat that is medium in size.

Looking at the Pillinger website page that covers sopranino models, I find it a little confusing as it also cover Bb and C soprano mouthpieces and doesn't seem to explicitly mention my P model as being available for sopranino ! It seems that the S model (for 'nino as well as soprano) has the smallest throat (and is like the Selmer Soloist), the P model has a larger throat (still circular) and the L model a still larger throat, probably like a Link and not circular.

I have looked back in my old email exchanges with Ed but can't find the ones where we discussed sopranino pieces. I remember that the facing is one of his soprano facings (shown on his website as equivalent to a Link 4* and Selmer C* for soprano).

Ed is very good to communicate with although his turnaround times for making pieces vary according to his workload.

The other piece I play is the Yanagisawa metal in a 7 tip size (1.27mm tip, 0.050"). It also has a round throat and quite wide side rails.

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Although I don't play mine that much these days I use the Yani metal 7, didn't get along with Selmer nino pieces, I knew of one player that used the Vandoren mouthpiece but it's very expensive compared to others.
I eventually found my emails from Ed Pillinger dating from when he made my sopranino mouthpiece. I didn't realise that was as long ago as 2004 which was just after I bought my Orsi curved sopranino.

Here are some extracts from what Ed wrote to me at the time:
Regarding the sopranino, I certainly did make a sopranino mouthpiece for Pete Thomas and can reproduce one for you to try.
Bearing in mind the nature of the beast which usually means some tricky intonation, I deliberately made the tone chamber and throat quite small. This should help keep the middle and upper register left hand notes under control.
I'm not sure about going for an over wide facing, again for reasons of control and also tone. .............. I seem to remember that I put a facing rather like a soprano C** on Pete's.
Hope that helps, although it is from 20 years ago !

I'll probably have to stick with the no name mouthpiece for a while but at least I should have some proper nino reeds soon. Meanwhile I've been chopping about 8mm off Bb clarinet and soprano reeds so they fit in the space available. Both work but I haven't managed to work out which is the best.
Selmer C* works well for me on Bauhaus Nino but the no name that came with it was passable. Hercules trumpet pegs work well as a stand if a bit bulky relative to the thing that rests on it.
I use the Hercules flute / clarinet peg and that works well. The trumpet peg works for my R&C Saxello and straight sopranos too.

And talking of soprano and sopranino, someone posted this video over on SOTW of gerard McChrystal playing both soprao and sopranino.


He seems to play the vocal line on a MkVI soprano and the trumpet part on his modern Selmer sopranino. Lovely sound on both. And he has arranged it in concert Db.



He seems to play the vocal line on a MkVI soprano and the trumpet part on his modern Selmer sopranino. Lovely sound on both. And he has arranged it in concert Db.
Playing overlapping horns. Who knew that was a thing?

Video complete with full-performance-mode soprano/nino porridge stirring action, for pathos, plus that wiggly finger technique to close
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