All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Saxophones Which Soprano Sax for a very promising younger player?

teegee

Member
Messages
35
Locality
Hants, UK
So, this is where we are.
My son Freddie, aged nearly 14 - who has had a load of invaluable help with sax and mouthpiece choices from this forum in the past - is now looking for a replacement soprano sax.
He's a talented musician, grade 8 and a music scholar, who loves playing jazz and has been fantastically fortunate to have been taught by an utterly inspiring old hand.
Freddie has been playing the alto for 5 years, and thanks to past help from this forum, now plays a purple logo YAS 62 alto. So he is sorted for the time-being on the alto side of things.
More unusually, for about 4 years he has also been playing the soprano sax, in his school jazz band, in which he's one of the lead players and principal improvisors. He/they make a great noise, which was professionally recorded this summer. (If interested in getting an idea of his standard of playing, you can hear him playing his hero Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur" on SoundCloud at : https://soundcloud.com/search?q=petite fleur freddie graham , and see him on a recent busk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH_gu7MWSAU ).
Freddie has been playing on an entry-level Yamaha soprano sax, but it's probably not really doing him justice any more and everyone thinks it's time to move on with a replacement soprano to help take his playing to another plane.
So I would really welcome recommendations of a suitable soprano sax for him now to move on to. Given that, on the alto side, he managed the step up to the YAS 62 with no difficulty a couple of years ago, I see no reason not to go straight to what might be considered a 'professional' level soprano.
He has been playing a straight rather than a curvy soprano, and I am working on the basis that he'd probably prefer to continue to do so if given the choice.
I am hoping to find something good costing up to £1,500 (including second hand).
All your thoughts would be very gratefully received.
 

Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,336
Locality
North West UK
as far as I know there isn`t an entry level Yamaha Soprano - the cheapest is the intermediate 475 model which is 90% of a 62 level pro model (the 62 was called the 675 later and seems to be discontinued now according to Yamahas website) a 475 is well up to regular professional use . I can`t imagine how it could be holding him back . the 475 costs about the amount you're specifying new, about £1000 used ..

Yes there are higher end models including the 875EX and Z customs and high end Yanagisawas but you`re talking thousands .
 
Last edited:

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,914
Locality
Just north of Munich
If it was me the ones I'd look at are the top end Yamahas and whatever you can find from Yanagisawa. Also well worth talking to our mod Aldevis about his Sequoia's...

A PPT mouthpiece is a must.
 

Jeanette

Organizress
Cafe Moderator
Messages
27,185
Locality
Cheshire UK
I agree with the above see here for details re Aldevis' Sequoia. It may be worth a visit to London if you can because I am sure he will give you lots of good advice with no pressure to buy.

Jx
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,946
Locality
Burnley bb9 9dn
The difference between a professional and a student model is more about the build quality than the sound production.

Players at the top of their game can find subtle nuances between instruments. Even with the same make and model. If he has an instrument that fits his hands and is in good playing condition the sound produced is all about the player not the instrument.

A bad player won't sound any better on an expensive instrument and a good player can make a student model sing.

I wouldn't worry about the instrument. Do what ever it takes to keep him interested and keep him developing his musicality.
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,784
Locality
Betelgeuse
Aged thirteen and grade 8? That's brilliant going. A Yamaha sop wouldn't hold back anyone, let alone a lad with the talent to progress so far.

However, if you think he'll be further inspired by a new sax, for the money you'd be prepared to spend I'd go for a used Yanagisawa sop.
 

kevgermany

ex Landrover Nut
Café Supporter
Messages
21,914
Locality
Just north of Munich
At this level of ability anything less than a top line instrument will hold him back - because he'll be capable of outplaying lesser instruments. I'm not talking about paying for bling, but I do mean tuning, fast, responsive keys that seal properly with a very light touch.
 

griff136

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,062
Locality
I live in Exmouth Devon.
Before you "upgrade" from a great sop, can I ask what set up - e.g.mouthpiece, ligature and reed Freddie uses on the YSS 475. You may find that upgrading the mouthpiece and a change of reed strength or style of reed, can be a massive improvement on tone. I see you're in Hants so not far for a trip to sax.co.uk to try out a whole load of variations before upgrading.
If you do decide to upgrade there are great options of which Yanagisawa would be my personal first, followed closely by Yamaha, but the best way is to go try as many as you can.
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
Café Supporter
Messages
8,783
Locality
Beautiful Springville, Utah USA
I'm going to have to side with Colin on this one. The differences between the Yamaha YSS 475 and the more expensive "professional" models are things like plastic vs mop touches, lazer vs hand engraving, yellow brass vs French brass, one piece vs separate neck, welded posts vs ribbed, pivot screws without heads vs pivot screws with heads. They have the same drawn toneholes, springs, pads, high F# key, adjustable thumb rest.

Any good technician can set up an intermediate saxophone with good ergos to play technically as well as a professional instrument. The tone quality is not going to change between the two. The professional model may raise the players prestige among his colleagues and his self image, but you really can't buy a better sound. If you could, we'd all sound great if we had enough money. :)
 

teegee

Member
Messages
35
Locality
Hants, UK
as far as I know there isn`t an entry level Yamaha Soprano - the cheapest is the intermediate 475 model which is 90% of a 62 level pro model (the 62 was called the 675 later and seems to be discontinued now according to Yamahas website) a 475 is well up to regular professional use . I can`t imagine how it could be holding him back . the 475 costs about the amount you're specifying new, about £1000 used ..

Yes there are higher end models including the 875EX and Z customs and high end Yanagisawas but you`re talking thousands .

You are absolutely right. The answer is that I made a mistake; his soprano is not in fact a Yamaha soprano at all, but an ELKHART
 

teegee

Member
Messages
35
Locality
Hants, UK
So, this is where we are.
My son Freddie, aged nearly 14 - who has had a load of invaluable help with sax and mouthpiece choices from this forum in the past - is now looking for a replacement soprano sax.
He's a talented musician, grade 8 and a music scholar, who loves playing jazz and has been fantastically fortunate to have been taught by an utterly inspiring old hand.
Freddie has been playing the alto for 5 years, and thanks to past help from this forum, now plays a purple logo YAS 62 alto. So he is sorted for the time-being on the alto side of things.
More unusually, for about 4 years he has also been playing the soprano sax, in his school jazz band, in which he's one of the lead players and principal improvisors. He/they make a great noise, which was professionally recorded this summer. (If interested in getting an idea of his standard of playing, you can hear him playing his hero Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur" on SoundCloud at : https://soundcloud.com/search?q=petite fleur freddie graham , and see him on a recent busk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH_gu7MWSAU ).
Freddie has been playing on an entry-level Yamaha soprano sax, but it's probably not really doing him justice any more and everyone thinks it's time to move on with a replacement soprano to help take his playing to another plane.
So I would really welcome recommendations of a suitable soprano sax for him now to move on to. Given that, on the alto side, he managed the step up to the YAS 62 with no difficulty a couple of years ago, I see no reason not to go straight to what might be considered a 'professional' level soprano.
He has been playing a straight rather than a curvy soprano, and I am working on the basis that he'd probably prefer to continue to do so if given the choice.
I am hoping to find something good costing up to £1,500 (including second hand).
All your thoughts would be very gratefully received.

Sorry everybody, Freddie's current soprano is an ELKHART, not a Yamaha at all !
 

Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,336
Locality
North West UK
Wow.. now the Elkhart 300 series Curved model is a serious horn, the Straight Deluxe bronze is also, these are the absolute best bearing the Elkhart name but even they aren`t up to the standard of the Yamaha 475 by any means and there are cheapo Elkharts also (the 100 series and the Vincent bach without 300 series written on) which are real cheap beginner horns..

I`m a big Yamaha fan for Altos and Tenors but when it comes to Sopranos, I`d personally buy a Yanagisawa - I`d suggest looking for a used one , a 900 series , it`ll be a massive upgrade and a horn for life within your price bracket, they do really cost a lot new though.
 

Tenor Viol

Full of frets in North Shropshire
Café Supporter
Messages
6,465
Locality
Whitchurch, North Shropshire UK
Just watched/listened to the two clips: fantastic.
 

Pete Thomas

Well-Known Member
Commercial Supporter
Messages
15,524
Locality
St. Mary's
You'd are in Hamshire, I would give Woodwind & Brass Ltd a call and go round there to try out a few bauhaus sopranos, these are great sopranos.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,331
Locality
London
Sorry everybody, Freddie's current soprano is an ELKHART, not a Yamaha at all !

As a very personal opinion:
While I strongly believe that my endorsed instruments have the biggest potential of developing a personal sound, some teachers might raise an eyebrow, and Sequoias are still pretty unknown around.

Many instruments would be an improvement, but I would focus on Yanagisawa models.
Yamaha are great, but I personally find them somehow too constrictive.

I never got along with Selmer soprano, but they are common among classical players.

Below these three, Sequoia and Bauhaus (always check the overall tuning before you buy!).
Below these, keep the Elkhart and have it serviced.

You should plan a full day in the shop, better with a teacher.

Mouthpiece is essential too. What does Freddie currently play?
 

Ads

Well-Known Member
Messages
4,336
Locality
North West UK
I agree about Yani - but the Bauhaus / Elkhart thing depends on which Elkhart it is - I`d put the 300 series or deluxe up against the Bauhaus anyday of the week - the problem with all these , especially the bronze ones is the weight, they ain`t half heavy for a straight sop , I had the Elkhart deluxe in Bronze and it gave me thumb ache in no time , the Bauhaus SS-PD (top of the range regular model) is about the same weight .

A Yanagisawa will be a lot lighter , slicker to play too (going by the curved models anyway, I`ve not played a straight Yani) a good step up from all the above IMO , especially for a teenager with lighter hands and peers to impress.. if you`re going to spend real money, it also is a benefit to buy something which will keep its value and last a lifetime, Yanagisawa are top of the tree there..

I`m sure there are used 901s etc out there .
 

teegee

Member
Messages
35
Locality
Hants, UK
Before you "upgrade" from a great sop, can I ask what set up - e.g.mouthpiece, ligature and reed Freddie uses on the YSS 475. You may find that upgrading the mouthpiece and a change of reed strength or style of reed, can be a massive improvement on tone. I see you're in Hants so not far for a trip to sax.co.uk to try out a whole load of variations before upgrading.
If you do decide to upgrade there are great options of which Yanagisawa would be my personal first, followed closely by Yamaha, but the best way is to go try as many as you can.
Set-Up: I'm checking the precise details, but the sax is an entry-level Elkhart - a 100SS, I think. He changed from the mouthpiece it originally came with to a Bari Esprit earlier this year, which has been a success. Rico Royal 2.5 reeds. Still using the ligature which came with the sax.
 

teegee

Member
Messages
35
Locality
Hants, UK
As a very personal opinion:
While I strongly believe that my endorsed instruments have the biggest potential of developing a personal sound, some teachers might raise an eyebrow, and Sequoias are still pretty unknown around.

Many instruments would be an improvement, but I would focus on Yanagisawa models.
Yamaha are great, but I personally find them somehow too constrictive.

I never got along with Selmer soprano, but they are common among classical players.

Below these three, Sequoia and Bauhaus (always check the overall tuning before you buy!).
Below these, keep the Elkhart and have it serviced.

You should plan a full day in the shop, better with a teacher.

Mouthpiece is essential too. What does Freddie currently play?

His current preferred mouthpiece is a Bari Esprit.
 

teegee

Member
Messages
35
Locality
Hants, UK
Wow.. now the Elkhart 300 series Curved model is a serious horn, the Straight Deluxe bronze is also, these are the absolute best bearing the Elkhart name but even they aren`t up to the standard of the Yamaha 475 by any means and there are cheapo Elkharts also (the 100 series and the Vincent bach without 300 series written on) which are real cheap beginner horns..

I`m a big Yamaha fan for Altos and Tenors but when it comes to Sopranos, I`d personally buy a Yanagisawa - I`d suggest looking for a used one , a 900 series , it`ll be a massive upgrade and a horn for life within your price bracket, they do really cost a lot new though.
And if a 900 series Yani, which one ?!
 

Popular Discussions

Top Bottom