- How to Find the Best Sopranino Saxophone - May 31, 2022
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When I played the saxophone seriously, I played alto and tenor, but I never had the chance to learn how to find the best sopranino saxophone. However, as a piccolo player, I think I’d love the small saxophone.
Like any instrument, you need to know what you should look for when shopping. While you can use some of the same steps as you’d use with a larger sax, you have unique things to consider.
Bottom Line Up Front: To find the best sopranino sax, look at some reputable brands, and save plenty of money. I’d look into trying models like the P. Mauriat Professional Saxophone.
How to Find the Best Sopranino Saxophone
When looking at the various types of saxophones, you may want to consider the sopranino sax. It’s one of the smaller instruments, so it can be good if you have trouble holding the larger saxophones.
But like any instrument, I’d recommend choosing your sopranino sax carefully. That way, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying the learning process, so you can get better in less time.
Here are some tips you should know to help find the best sopranino saxophone for you.
Consider the Sax Brands You Play
Before you look into buying a sopranino, I think you should at least play (and possibly own) an alto and a soprano. Those saxophones are easier to come by, and the alto is a common size for beginners to learn.
Take a look at the brands of the saxophones you play, regardless of the size. Some brands, like P. Mauriat, make saxophones in a variety of sizes.
So if you play a sax from that company, you may like the sopranino from them. Unfortunately, not all saxophone brands will make a sopranino, but it can help you focus your search if you know and like how one brand plays.
Start Saving Money
I’ve seen a couple of relatively affordable sopranino saxophones, but most are quite expensive. As soon as you know you want to find a sopranino sax, start saving some money.
Certain models cost thousands of dollars, so the more money you have to spend, the more models you can try. That will increase the chances of you finding the best model for you.
If you can’t afford to save thousands of dollars a month, that’s okay. Even a few dollars can help, especially since your search for a rarer instrument can take longer than you may expect.
When you’re looking for a new alto or even a soprano sax, you may be able to go to your local music store. Since the sopranino sax is so uncommon, your best bet is to shop online.
You can look at various music stores to find the available models since not every store carries every brand. Depending on where you live, you might need to look at stores based in other countries.
However, that’s one thing I love about the internet; you don’t have to limit your search. You may just need to be patient once you decide which model to buy.
Sopranino saxophones can have the standard lacquer that you’ll find on a lot of other saxophones. However, some may have a gold lacquer or another type of finish.
The finish can affect how the instrument looks, and it may have a small impact on the sound. Look at the saxophones you have and the finishes on those models.
Consider if you like how one finish affects the sound more than another. Then, you may be able to help choose the best finish on your new sopranino saxophone.
Personally, I’d look for an instrument that doesn’t have silver on the body or keys. Silver doesn’t seem to react well to me, so I’ve dealt with a lot of tarnish on my silver flutes.
Ask to Borrow One
I would ask the saxophone players that you know if they or anyone they know has a sopranino saxophone that you can borrow. If you can borrow one, you’ll be able to test it out and determine if you like how it feels and sounds.
You’ll need to get your own reed to test the instrument, but this is a lot more cost-effective than buying a sax first. In some cases, you might realize that the sopranino is a bit too small for you.
If you find you like the instrument, you may know which brand or model to look for. Or you might decide you want to look at other companies.
Listen to Recordings
I don’t know anyone who owns a sopranino sax, so I would find some recordings online. YouTube is an excellent option since it’s free, and there are more videos of rare saxes than you may think.
Students can also check out Naxos for classical music recordings. You should have access through your university, so you can find plenty of albums.
If you’re out of school, you can pay for a Naxos subscription or join a musical organization that offers access. I’ve played the sax and flute, so I’m a member of the National Flute Association, and Naxos access is a membership benefit.
Work on Your Soprano Chops
Another essential step in how to find the best sopranino saxophone is to practice the soprano sax. It’s a bit bigger, but it’s the saxophone closest in size to the sopranino.
I would spend plenty of time practicing a soprano, and it’s easier to find and buy one. That will make switching to the sopranino a bit easier since you’ll know how to form a tighter (not tenser) embouchure for the smaller saxes.
Plus, if you decide to focus on the sopranino sax, you’ll most likely still need to play the soprano and even the alto. That way, you’ll have a better chance of getting gigs since the sopranino isn’t very popular.
Think about Used Models
It can be easy to want the newest, shiniest sopranino saxophone. However, buying a used model can be an easy way to save money and still get an instrument that plays well.
I’ve bought used instruments and saved quite a bit of money that way while getting a playable instrument. Plus, you open yourself up to more possible models, including antique saxes.
Just make sure you vet the sellers and can inspect the saxophone’s condition yourself. That can help you avoid a scam, so don’t buy a used saxophone without seeing it first or having the option to return it for a refund.
Verify It’s a Sopranino
I don’t know why sellers do this, but I’ve seen some people listing items as sopranino saxophones. However, when you click on the listing, it actually says the instrument is a soprano sax.
My best guess it that people are trying to get their instruments to show up when you search for a sopranino sax. They might hope you miss the fact that it’s actually a soprano.
This shouldn’t be an issue with new saxes, but it can happen on the used market. So be sure to ask the seller for more details, such as the key.
You can also ask the seller to send a recording of them playing a full-range chromatic scale. Compare it to the pitches on your tuner to make sure the range starts on a sounding Db4, which will confirm it’s the right saxophone.
Stick to Reputable Brands
If at all possible, stick to more reputable brands when shopping for a sopranino sax. Especially on sites like eBay, you’ll find a lot of models that cost less than $1,000.
I’d love to get a cheap sopranino sax, but I know it’s better to save a bit of money and get the best model I can afford.
Now, some models in that price range come from good brands, and they may work well. However, a lot of them might not work well, so you’d waste your money.
In that case, you’re better off continuing to save money to afford a better sax. You may have to wait before you can get the instrument, but it will be so worth it.
Know What You’re Getting
Since the sopranino sax is rare, I understand not wanting to spend more money than you have to. If you want to go with a cheaper brand, you can do so as long as you know the risks.
Like any cheap instrument, the quality will probably be relatively low. The saxophone may need repairs within a year, and your repair technician might not be able or willing to fix it.
I got a really cheap flute when I first started, and it did its job. However, within a year, I had to upgrade to a better model because the flute was holding me back.
Even if your tech will fix the sax, the repairs might cost more than the value of the instrument. And depending on the brand, the sax may require tools and parts in different sizes from reputable models.
Don’t Forget Accessories
Of course, you can’t just buy a sopranino saxophone and play it right out of the box. At the very least, you’ll need a mouthpiece and a few reeds.
Many good sopranino saxes come with a mouthpiece, and I’d recommend Vandoren sax reeds since they’re really the only sopranino sax reeds out there. But keep in mind that you’ll need to get multiple reeds, and they can die out over time.
I’d recommend finding a few places to buy reeds and that you stock up. That way, you’ll be able to play your sopranino and not worry about having to rush to find the right accessories.
Try the Sopranino Sax
If you can, you should try the sopranino sax that you’re considering before you purchase it. Maybe you live close to a store that carries a few models, so you can do a trial there.
Or you might be able to order a few models for an in-home trial. If that doesn’t work, you should make sure the store offers a return policy.
You’ll need to pay for the instrument, but you can use the return period to test it out. If you don’t like the model, you can return it, or you might luck out and enjoy the first one you test.
I might also look into attending the North American Saxophone Alliance (NASA) convention. You may find more saxophones available to try there.
Have a Practice Plan
I’d recommend knowing what you can play on the sopranino sax before you buy one. One of the most famous pieces that uses the instrument is Ravel’s Bolero.
Since I enjoy arranging music, I might also arrange a piece of music just for the sopranino saxophone.
But you can also play solos for the alto sax on your sopranino since they’re in the same key. Having a plan can help make the purchase worth it, and it can help you decide when you need to buy one.
Best Sopranino Saxophones
A lot goes into choosing the best sopranino saxophone. Part of that is knowing what models are available in the first place, and the next part involves eliminating the low-quality options.
I looked at quite a few sopranino saxophones online, and some were much better than others. To narrow down the list of options, I stuck to models from decent brands.
Then, I made sure to include options at different price points. Here are some of the best sopranino saxophones I found.
The Thomann TSI-350 is an excellent sopranino saxophone for anyone on a budget. I like that it features a brass body with a gold lacquer finish on top, so it looks and sounds great.
You can listen to recordings of the instrument in different styles, so you can make sure you enjoy the sound. Plus, the instrument comes with a mouthpiece and a protective case.
I don’t like that you’ll only be able to get this model directly from Thomann, and it can take a while to ship. However, it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a three-year warranty.
- Easy to play
- Good materials
- Nice sound
- Comes with accessories
- Takes a while to ship
- Not for professionals
John Packer Atom Sopranino Saxophone
Another relatively affordable option is the John Packer Atom Sopranino Saxophone. I love that instrument has a rose brass body that can offer a warm tone, which is hard to get on higher-pitched woodwinds.
The mechanism is precise, so it’s easy to play fast on this sax. It’s a good choice if you want to play in a jazz band, and you’ll get a mouthpiece as well as a reed and a case so that you can start playing.
You can try the instrument for two weeks to make sure you like it, but I wish the return period was longer. If you keep the sax, you’ll get a two-year warranty in case something goes wrong.
- Good design
- Easy to play
- Warm tone
- Precise mechanism
- Includes accessories
- Somewhat short return period
The Yanagisawa SN-981 is an excellent professional sopranino saxophone. It has a brass body with gold lacquer to help you get a nice sound out of the instrument.
I think it’s great that you can find this model on eBay, and it’s a new model, so you don’t have to worry too much about the condition. But it will cost you more than many other options, so I probably wouldn’t purchase it.
If you plan on playing the sopranino sax a lot, this is a good investment. It’s also a nice choice if you have a Yanagisawa sax and like how it plays.
- Good sound
- Suitable for professionals
- New condition
- Easy to play
- From a popular sax brand
- Quite expensive
- Not for beginners
P. Mauriat Professional Sopranino Saxophone
You can get the P. Mauriat Professional Sopranino Saxophone for just a bit more money. It features gold lacquer on the body, and there’s also hand engraving.
The mother of pearl key touches are smooth and help facilitate playing, but I don’t really like the feel of mother of pearl buttons. If you’re a serious saxophonist or have another P. Mauriat model, you may want to get this sax.
Of course, it’s not the best fit for everyone, so be sure to take advantage of the trial period. Then, you can always return it if you find it doesn’t work well for you.
- Gold lacquer
- Smooth keys
- Trial period
- Easy to play
- Nice intonation
- Pretty expensive
- Only for serious players
The Selmer (Paris) Jubilee Sopranino Saxophone is a professional model, and it’s quite unique. It shares many features with the Series II and III models.
But you can also enjoy a lighter touch on the octave key, which I think is great. This model has the standard lacquer finish you’ll find on many saxophones, so it looks great.
You can get a nice sound, and it’s a great option if you like Selmer instruments. Unfortunately, the price is way too high for most players, even some professionals, so I wouldn’t recommend it for most players.
- For professionals
- Good sound
- Looks amazing
- Light touch
- Similar to other Selmer saxes
- Way more expensive than the competition
FAQs about How to Find the Best Sopranino Saxophone
Answer: You may want to play a sopranino saxophone to help improve your skills I’d also recommend it if you want to play in orchestras since it’s a part of Ravel’s Bolero, and you won’t have much competition to get that gig.
Playing the sopranino can help set you apart from other saxophone players. Then, you may get more performance opportunities.
Answer: I believe kids shouldn’t play the sopranino saxophone, at least not as beginners. The instrument may be small, but it can be less forgiving than the larger saxophones.
It’s better for a kid to wait until they’re big enough to hold and play the alto sax. Then, they can learn the soprano and eventually the sopranino saxophone.
Answer: The sopranino saxophone has the same written range as all other saxes (Bb3 to F6). However, it sounds a minor third higher than written.
That makes the sounding range a Db4 to Ab6. It sounds an octave higher than the alto sax and two octaves above the baritone sax.
Answer: You should think about how much use you expect to get out of the sopranino sax. If you plan on using it a lot, you can justify spending a few thousand dollars.
However, if you think you won’t play it that much, you may want to start with a cheaper model. I’d probably look at models around $2,000 or less since the saxophone, in general, isn’t my main instrument.
Answer: I’d say you can start to learn the sopranino saxophone after you feel comfortable playing the alto and soprano saxes. Those models are more common and are easier for beginners.
Plus, you can usually borrow or rent at least an alto sax. That way, you can make sure you like playing any type of saxophone before you invest in a sopranino.
Final Note on How to Find the Best Sopranino Saxophone
Knowing how to find the best sopranino saxophone is not something everyone wants to learn. But if you like playing other saxophones, it makes sense to expand your range up.
I’d recommend the John Packer Atom for beginners or the P. Mauriat model for more serious players. Save up some money so that you can choose from a few models to get the best playing experience possible.
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