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Saxophones Which is the easiest size sax to learn on?

Jane M L

Member
Messages
265
Location
Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion
I'd been assuming
1] that a smaller instrument would be easier on small hands
2] That I should play the instrument that is played on the music I want to emulate/get.sort.of.like...
3] that the high altissimo range would be easier on the soprano

So i chose soprano to play with the dawn chorus as Sam Newsome on Blue Solliloquy, A Love Supreme.

Now I'm thinking I should have gone for an alto, as being easier to play, with lots of deep notes and I could add Ben Webster style to my short repertoire. and am very drawn to the Academy Jericho j6 with 3 years warranty. The cheapest model is £279 , a copy of a Yamaha 62 [what does that mean to you experienced players on the forum?]
Any thoughts?

P.S. I just can't get both immediately on a whim which would be my normal scorpio way of behaving. I shall pop down to Swansea soon and try some different models in the shops and repairers. But in a way, I think my very restricted budget might mean that the Jericho would be fine for a few years anyway. Help.
I really want to be advised just to go ahead and get the Jericho and settle in to just learning for a year or so, but would it be the easier option?
 
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QWales

Senior Member
Messages
732
Location
S. Wales, UK
As already stated the Jericho is highly praised here but if you want to compare and contrast with something similar you can try the Artemis which can be purchased for pretty much the same price. Although not stamped, it is a Trevor James student model.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,070
Location
Berkshire, UK
There is a Jupiter 500 on eBay in "perfect" condition with a lot of extras - books, cds, etc - currently at £193 which is great value. Good saxophones for students, good quality horn, right price. Two hours to go on bidding!
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Location
Worcestershire
I shall pop down to Swansea soon and try some different models in the shops and repairers.

Sounds like a definite cue for Skabertawe Tom to introduce himself!

Definitely definitely definitely do that! Have a blow on a few altos. You may be thrilled at the tone and range you find you can already get after having played a sop for a few weeks. The alto should prove much easier to learn in terms of range, intonation, and tone. I can't speak for the size of your fingers but I'm positive that most children that learn sax do it on alto. As for altisimo, that may take a while on alto but an eternity on sop (except when one doesn't mean to of course!) ;}
 

Jane M L

Member
Messages
265
Location
Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion
Thanks everybody for replies. That you all reply so quickly and encouraging me has got me realising that I should just research again and again and rather than jump today just take my time and got to south Wales soon to try some different examples. I've found lots of the reviews here on the cafe site now that can help . I have so little experience that trying out the feel of the various brands and models in the flesh will help the direction I take in the end.
I imagine too that with 2.5 months to go on my soprano hire I will find it easier to choose an alto towards the end of that time.

The excellent warranty and 45 days trial could be a clincher for the Jericho........ and i like the way it's advertised as being as good as the Yamaha.
But if someone were to say that the Jupiter 500 would be a much easier play...
Or if someone were to say how much they regretted buying the Jericho...
 

Jane M L

Member
Messages
265
Location
Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion
I can get to a reasonable B using the octave key, and an almost C. Perhaps I'm doing better than i think on the soprano? And will be all the better prepared when I try out some altos Abertawe way.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,070
Location
Berkshire, UK
There are a number of good student saxophones including Jupiter, Trevor James, Jericho, Gear4Music to name just a few. I started with a Roy Benson a few months ago which I really enjoy. However I wish I had done the same as you and rented until I knew more and had further experience. It would have saved me money! Also the mouthpiece costs come into the equation.

I ended up taking advice from members on this forum and my local music shop Dawkes. It has been invaluable. Good luck with your playing.
 

QWales

Senior Member
Messages
732
Location
S. Wales, UK
Using the standard mouthpiece that comes with the Sax can sometimes slow your progress playing notes throughout the range. I can't speak for the Soprano (other than it is supposed to be harder to play than the alto) but I don't remember having any issues playing from low D to high c sharp on my alto, pretty much from the outset. It came with good after market starter mouth piece and when I upgraded this I found that all of a sudden I could get the full range from low b- to high f+.
 

Ivan

Undecided
Café Supporter
Messages
7,702
Location
Peeblesshire
Don't let your GAS karma get out of kilter

Whatever you buy you DEFINITELY need both a soprano and an alto

After all if you haven't already got those you'll interrupt the natural progression to tenor and then baritone and the GAS genie will be very very angry

If the GAS genie gets angry he'll never let you play altissimo. He's spiteful like that.














I think I need a lie down
 

Jane M L

Member
Messages
265
Location
Newcastle Emlyn, Ceredigion
thanks QWales - I've been wondering about that but I've hired the sop from a lovely repairman who said that the mouthpiece was a good one [[ though unbranded ] when initially I enquired about upgrading the mpc. However I couldn't resist trying a Graftonite and a Bari esprit, both of which were easier and somehow looser, but in the end less sure and clear than the original. I'm wondering whether a yamaha 4c would help. I can sell them on ebay if quite useless but meantime my embouchure is ok for thst Ben Webster deep sound but hit and miss otherwise.
 

ProfJames

Elementary member
Messages
12,070
Location
Berkshire, UK
That is a reasonable price for a virtually unused 567. I put a Yam 4c on my soprano and it helped me enormously. However it can become addictive - GAS (gear acquisition syndrome this forum calls it).
 

Saxdiva

Older, wiser, should know better....
Messages
533
Location
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
I can get to a reasonable B using the octave key, and an almost C. Perhaps I'm doing better than i think on the soprano? And will be all the better prepared when I try out some altos Abertawe way.

Hi Jane, welcome to the forum! The good news is you have rented your sop so any decision is possible! If you can, I'd go back to the shop and just play as many altos as you can within budget. We all have differences in hand sizes and the sounds we like so one person's favourite is another's least liked.

Altissimo is a while off. Just to be sure - that's notes outside the normal range of the sax, not the higher notes using the octave key that you've mentioned. Sorry if you knew that - just wasn't sure.

Most importantly - enjoy the journey!
 

MandyH

Sax-Mad fiend!
Café Supporter
Messages
3,572
Location
The Malverns, Worcs
I had a Jupiter 500 alto for the first 15 months or so of my sax journey. At the first lesson with my new teacher (after about 8 with a previous and useless teacher) she put a Selmer C* mouthpiece on it and it became a different (and better) animal than with the stock mouthpiece. I took my grade 4 exam with it, and got a distinction, so I treated myself to a sax upgrade at that point, part exchanging the Jupiter for the same price that I had paid for it - £150 at the time.

I would say try all the saxes that you can within your budget, the one you may have expected to be best may not turn out to be so.

I certainly took that view when I bought my Yani A901, I had had every intention of taking home a Yamaha YAS62, but it didn't feel as good for me as the Yani!
 

PaulM

Member
Messages
143
Location
West Berks
Hello Jane,

Should you decide to buy a soprano to replace your rented one, you might be interested in my experience with Jericho saxes. I bought one of their sopranos recently. I'm new to the soprano and didn't want to spend megabucks on a sax that I might not play much. Given the recent sad news, I certainly don't want to knock the company's products. So, here's my honest and hopefully dispassionate view of the sax that I bought.

First of all, it played straight out of the case. I use a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece with it and my tuner says the notes are in tune. When I get into the palm key area, its a bit wayward, but that's almost certainly my novice soprano chops and not the sax.

I noticed the G# pad was rather sticky (not at all unusual). On closer inspection I discovered that it wasn't the pad that was sticking, but the spring that opens it hadn't been properly seated in its post and had rotated so that almost no force was being applied to the lever. Rather than faff about sending it back, I spent 5 minutes re-seating the spring and all is now well. I had a look over the instrument and generally the tone holes are well finished apart from those for the lowest 3 notes which have rough feeling edges. I've not taken it apart to investigate further, but I doubt it would need much more than a light sanding to put right. The other thing of note is the crude way the front F key mechanism presses down on the B key via a glued on wedge of plastic.

Is the Jericho up to Yamaha build quality? Not really in my opinion. I own two Yamaha horns; a YAS275 and a YTS62. They both look and feel better engineered to me. Then they are also significantly more expensive than the Jericho; the cheapest Yamaha soprano is around 5 times more than the Jericho. I'm happy with my purchase because the Jericho represents good value for money, but its not a Yamaha at a fifth of the price.
 
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jrintaha

Senior Member
Messages
283
Location
Helsinki, Finland
As to answer the question in the topic, the soprano is harder to play in tune than the bigger saxes; the shorter the tube the bigger part your embouchure plays on the pitch. So in that sense the alto will be easier. And tuning-wise a tenor would be even easier; however, on the tenor I feel the low notes are far more difficult than on the alto - it took me a few months before I could play the low C, B and Bb comfortably when I started on the tenor. The tenor also has the difficult 2nd octave G and G# which I've never had trouble with on the alto.
 

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