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problems playing sop

C_Claudemonster

Formerly saxgirl22
Messages
399
Hi all, you may notice I have my Borgani curved sop advertised for sale on here. I love this instrument but have found that I struggle to play soprano in tune in general! I'm a reasonably good tenor and alto player and can do 3-4 hour gigs no prob but soprano kills my mouth and I have terrible tuning issues (unfortunately on the Borgani!) I had the Borgani checked not so long ago and it was a slight pain with tuning to begin with but has been corrected accordingly. However, the other night I was playing it, it seemed fine for 1 or 2 numbers and then with the m/piece right on it went almost half a tone flat?! I'm hoping this is me and not the sax and I can get some tips on playing this sax better.
I'm a bit upset really as the sax has a wonderful tone and I want to percevere with it to see if it is actually myself that is the problem.
I played it on a selmer D vintage m/piece (quite a close lay with a no. 2 alexander superial reed) then swapped to a yamaha plastic 4c m/piece which made life easier but i'm thinking it could be a m/piece issue and would like some suggestions from the experts!
Thanks in advance
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
It might be a mouthpiece issue. I recently bought a new custom soprano mouthpiece - made in consultation with Joe Giardullo of Soprano Planet - a firm that only produces soprano mouthpieces, even then in consultation with individual players. His attitude is that 1,000ths of an inch can make a difference. Since receiving my mouthpiece everything plays more easily, in tune and the mouthpiece only covers about half the cork (all my other mpc's are virtually covering it. I would say that a soprano, to my mind, has the most demanding embouchure, though I recently listened to Jan Garbarek playing solidly for 75 minutes.

Most of the mouthpiece makers I know seem to generally express concern about the quality of Selmer mouthpieces. Additionally some more vintage pieces also are not necessarily well designed to play on more recent instruments - generally 60's onwards (similar problems exist with cornet, trumpet and trombone mouthpieces (either vintage mouthpiece on modern instrument, or vice versa.

Why not send Joe an email - he is a very talented professional soprano player, knows his stuff and could maybe shed some light on your situation. He is reachable on info@sopranoplanet.com - do mention that I suggested you contact him - nice bloke!

Kind regards
Tom
 
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Morgan Fry

Senior Member
Messages
447
#2 reed sounds pretty soft for a D. Sopranos all have much more flexible pitch than any larger sax, so it's much more up to you whether you play in or out of tune. I suspect your problem is mostly fatigue. Just keep practising things like your overtone exercises on it, try a harder reed and you won't have to work so hard to keep the pitch up, you may have to push in generally.
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
I suppose I am left wondering the degree to which the small scale of a soprano set up influences intonation, and how much accuracy plays a part in sound. My new mouthpiece is so much better regarding intonation and pitch accuracy than the other mouthpieces I have, which may mean that any slight imperfections are writ large; similarly with saxes. Pete has compared his original BW to a Buescher True Tone soprano, and the BW intonation sounded much more accurate, when compared to the embouchure contortions involved in the latter. I imagine part of this is due to contemporary methods of production.


Kind regards
Tom
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
It doesn't matter what you stick on a sop or even what sop you've got, you still have to play it in tune. Same with any woodwind instrument - but the smaller they are the harder you have to try.

I used to teach a very good piano player. She had wonderful aural skills. Play her a chord on a piano and she'd tell you what notes were in it. On sax though she'd tune it to concert A and expect everything else to be in tune (piano players mentality I suppose). Unsurprisingly, her tuning was crap and, the weird thing was, she didn't seem to notice. I'm still puzzled by it. I haven't got a clue about piano chords but I know if I'm playing in tune or not.

My first sax was a Truetone soprano. I was pretty rubbish at it then (35 or so years ago) but I could probably manage it now. My current sop I've had for 28 years (a Yanag) and I reckon I'm used to its little foibles now.
 

SaxyMalcolm

Member
Messages
77
The Yamaha 4C is a highly regarded mpc for soprano, another IMO is Vandoren Optimum. I have found that I get good results using Vandoren 2.5/3 classical reeds (blue box) You need to really focus the air stream when playing Soprano, lots of harmonics practice and playing the upper register without using the octave key helps shape and strenghten your vocal tract muscles, which will help in your tuning/sound
 
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baritonesax

Member
Messages
256
It's probably fatigue, mainly. If sop kills your chops, as you say, that suggests you need to practise it a bit more than you do already. I found it hugely tiring getting my soprano playing as "together" (relative term) as it is now.

Also, I sometimes find that I need to push my mouthpiece a bit further in as the horn warms up. Sops are finicky like that!
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
I am currently doubling with a Tenor and Soprano. I’m struggling myself with developing my chops for the Soprano. I’m great for about ten minutes or so then my intonation becomes a little erratic. My current mouthpiece is a Brancher J15 Metal and as great as it is I’m struggling with its very small physical size and debating about switching to an Ebonite simply because it’s bigger in the mouth.

I like big tip openings on my Tenor and Alto but for some reason I prefer it smaller on a Soprano. Somewhere between 0.060 and 0.068.
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
I like big tip openings on my Tenor and Alto but for some reason I prefer it smaller on a Soprano. Somewhere between 0.060 and 0.068.
If you're struggling with intonation then you definitely want to stick with a small tip opening and harder reeds.
 

Two Voices

Senior Member
Messages
1,113
If you're struggling with intonation then you definitely want to stick with a small tip opening and harder reeds.
I am, my current mouthpiece is 0.060 (#6) coupled with La Voz Medium Reeds. I think my biggest problem is the sheer minuscule size of the metal soprano mpc which is giving me embouchure fatigue faster than I reckon an ebonite mpc would. However, I am trying out some various positions of the straight soprano which has helped it securing a tighter seal of my embouchure, thus allowing my to play a tadge longer!
 

TomMapfumo

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,219
The Yani HR mouthpiece might fit the bill - Howarth have them for £60 - in size 6. Alternatively you could stop the botox injections .............:shocked::w00t:;}
 

Nick Wyver

noisy
Subscriber
Messages
5,949
I'd suggest giving a Bari a go too.

Er, obviously, that's the mouthpiece people rather than the big sax.
 

Luluna

Señora
Subscriber
Messages
693
After reading this thread I'm wondering if it's just me that can't get anything above high G to work..... new Yani just out of the box - but I've been playing bari and tenor mostly - now have been asked to play alto and sop. In a sweat.....

Curved neck or straight neck for the high notes..... ???
 
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