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Bottom line up front: If you’re looking for an affordable but high-quality soprano sax, you should check out the Jean Paul USA SS-40SP soprano saxophone. It’s beautiful to look at and plays like a dream!
So, you ventured into the world of playing the soprano saxophone. Congratulations! No matter what your fellow band friends say or the jokes they may make, the soprano saxophone is one of the most rewarding instruments you can play.
Whether you’re adding this instrument into an arsenal of instruments you already play, or this is your first time touching an instrument, there’s a lot to learn about the soprano sax. If you’re just starting out your journey, it’s important that you don’t let any experience saxophone players talk you out of picking up the soprano sax.
Personally, I love playing the soprano saxophone because of my experience playing the flute and piccolo. I love how small this instrument is, how easy it is to carry around, and how much fun it is to play. But enough about my personal preferences! It’s time for you to get better acquainted with a soprano saxophone.
So that’s why in this guide, I’m going to go over how you can find the best soprano saxophone on the market for your personal preferences, music abilities, and where you want to go with plain the soprano sax. Keep reading to learn more!
What is a Soprano Saxophone?
The soprano saxophone is the third smallest saxophone in the saxophone family. Following the soprano saxophone, there’s the soprano saxophone and the soprillo saxophone.
The soprano saxophone is one of the four most commonly played types of saxophones. You may have also heard of the alto saxophone, the tenor saxophone, or is a baritone saxophone. Between these four, the soprano saxophone is the smallest and the highest-pitched.
Many people think that some soprano saxophones are a part of the clarinet family. However, this isn’t true. Many soprano saxophone models have a straight body, although some have a slight curve to them.
What are the Different Types of Soprano Saxophones?
That’s right; there’s more than one type of soprano saxophone. The type of soprano saxophone you choose will depend on your personal opinion and your playing style. Let’s take a quick look at the different types of soprano saxophones available on the market.
Japanese style soprano saxophone has an open bore, much more so than the French stop the soprano sax. As a result, it produces an open tone that doesn’t have as much focus. Don’t take this as a bad thing, though! The Japanese-style soprano saxophone does come with its own unique benefits that the French-style soprano sax can’t offer.
As a result, the Japanese style soprano sax tends to be a lot easier for people to learn how to play. As far as the physical feel of this instrument, if you do have previous saxophone experience, you may find that this instrument feels very similar to how an alto saxophone plays.
You won’t really feel too much of a difference in terms of the resistance the instrument provides and how much breath support you’ll need to play.
If you find yourself interested in playing the soprano saxophone casually, the Japanese-style soprano saxophone will be a much better fit for you. You won’t have to struggle between switching between the alto/tenor sax and playing the soprano sax, unlike how you would struggle by switching to a French style.
I like to explain how the sound comes out of a French-style sax to people that are interested in playing this instrument. The French-style soprano saxophone has a design that focuses on a tidal bore, which helps to contribute to a focused tone.
If you were to physically see sound coming out of the form of the soprano sax, you would see a cylinder come out of the bore because the bore is compressed so tightly together.
With a french-style soprano saxophone, I would highly recommend people interested in strictly performing with this instrument regularly look into playing it. Due to the tidal bore only French-style soprano saxophones, you need to play the instrument correctly to get the proper response out of the soprano sax.
Do you Have to Transpose with a Soprano Saxophone?
Alto and baritone saxophone is in the key of B-flat. This is one and a half steps above instruments that don’t have to transpose. Yes, you do have to transpose with a soprano saxophone. However, the soprano saxophone is in the key of B-flat. This means that your soprano saxophone plays one step under instruments that don’t have to transpose.
Now, if you’re new to the world of music, what exactly does this mean? If you were to play a C on a piano, you would have to play a B flat on a soprano saxophone to hear the same note.
The process of doing this is referred to as transposing. So, if you were to play a C Wala piano played a C, the notes wouldn’t be the same. That’s why you have to transpose while you’re playing the soprano saxophone.
Is there Any Difference Between a Curved Versus a Straight Soprano Saxophone?
You need to know that you can buy a soprano saxophone in a large variety of configurations. You can purchase a straight soprano saxophone, you can buy a fully curved soprano saxophone that looks like a miniature alto sax, or you can buy a straight soprano saxophone that comes with removable curved and straight necks.
So, how do you know which one is the right option for you?
Soprano saxophone with a straight neck allows you to hold it closer to your body, similar to how you hold a clarinet. I find this position more comfortable to use, but again, it’s because I grew up playing the flute. I would sometimes use a neck strap when I was playing a soprano saxophone, but you don’t have to; it’s completely up to you.
Plus, you can sit down or stand up while playing the soprano saxophone. When you’re playing, you’ll aim the horn of the instrument at the crowd or at the floor, whichever fits the style of music you’re playing.
With a curved soprano saxophone, the instrument’s curve helps it blend in better when you’re playing with an entire saxophone section. This is because the curve of the saxophone projects the notes you’re playing forward, which isn’t something that you can achieve with a straight neck soprano saxophone.
A straight neck soprano saxophone is a lot more challenging to use a microphone with. Due to the lack of curve in the instrument, a soprano saxophone typically needs microphones to be properly heard. However, a curved neck soprano saxophone usually only requires one microphone.
This shouldn’t be a huge drawback, depending on what type upsetting and that you’re planning on performing with the soprano saxophone. However, it is something that you should be aware of if the difference in microphones would really make a considerable difference to you.
How to Buy a Soprano Saxophone
Now, with all of this information about the soprano saxophone, you’re probably ready to get on the market and purchase one. However, you must have a little bit of knowledge before you go out and purchase your first soprano saxophone.
Thankfully, there’s a lot of high-quality soprano saxophones out there. But, there are many cheap ones on the market too, which is why you need to know how to buy a soprano saxophone before you put a bunch of money out there.
Plus, if you’re considering purchasing a vintage soprano saxophone, there’s a whole other list of criteria that you will need to purchase the instrument.
If you already have experience as a soprano saxophone player, you probably already know what to look for when you’re shopping for a newborn. This means that you’ll look at the tone holes, the integrity of the body, the pads, Rod’s, and any previous repairs made on the instrument.
But, if you don’t have any idea how to purchase a soprano saxophone, don’t worry! I’m here to guide you through that too.
Set Realistic Expectations
If you’ve never played the soprano saxophone before, you need to make sure that your expectations are set up to the right level. You shouldn’t go out with the intention to find the greatest soprano saxophone in the market, especially if you want to start if you want to stick with the instrument.
What does that mean, though, is that you need to find the best Apprentice saxophone for you. There’s a lot of unknowns that come with buying a brand new instrument, especially one as challenging as a soprano sax. Keeping your expectations in check will make sure that you don’t go over budget and you don’t end up with an instrument that you don’t enjoy playing.
Also, it’s important for you to make sure that you’re using a mouthpiece that you know and trust. Since the instrument can be so finicky, as I discussed below, there’s a lot of things that can happen when you are using a mouthpiece that you aren’t familiar with or that you don’t like.
So, if you find that you’re having a difficult time having any positive experiences with a soprano saxophone they’re trying out, I would highly recommend that you change out the mouthpiece that you’re using.
Don’t Just Stick with One Music Shop
If you’re having a hard time finding a soprano saxophone that you like, I would also highly recommend that you take out different music shops. Even if you have an instrument supplier that you’ve known, trusted, and used for many years, it doesn’t mean that they’re the best supplier for soprano sax models.
You may have more experience going to a shop that’s well-known for selling soprano saxophone models. So, don’t be afraid to shop around and try out different models.
Best Soprano Saxophone Models
Now, it’s time to finally discuss the best soprano saxophone models on the market! Now that you have a better idea of how to buy a soprano saxophone and what to look for in a sa[rano saxophone model, it’s time for us to discuss the best models on the market.
I chose these soprano saxophone models based on specific criteria. I chose these models based on availability, affordability, positive customer reviews, ease of use, and the reputation of the brand. Now, let’s take a look at the best soprano saxophones on the market!
Selmer SSS280oR La Voix II
The Selmer SSS280oR soprano saxophone has a traditional bell flare, which helps to contribute to the amazing sound quality and perfect tone that makes this soprano saxophone great for professional players.
In addition, this saxophone comes with adjustable screws that allow you to tune the sax to the pitch that you prefer playing out without harming the overall sound quality of the instrument.
This is a straight neck soprano saxophone too. This sax comes with rose brass, topped off with clear lacquer. It’s in the key of Bb and ranges all the way to a high G#. If you do decide to move forward with this soprano sax, it comes with a 45-day return policy and a two-year limited warranty.
Along with the purchase of your saxophone, it comes with a case included. In addition, you’ll find treated leather pads that come along with this saxophone. If you’re looking for an instrument that doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, look into this soprano sax.
- Lightweight and easy to carry around
- Keys are compact and super easy to play on
- Outstanding tone and intonation
- Since the instrument is tall, the case isn’t comfortable to carry around on your back
- Depending on your current budget, you may find that this soprano sax may be too expensive for you
Jean-Paul USA SS-40SP
I absolutely love the way the Jean Paul USA SS-40SP looks. Not only is it a beautiful silver-plated sax, but it’s a curved neck sax too. You get a full lifetime warranty when you purchase this beginner and intermediate level saxophone.
In addition, this sax comes with a Rico H ligature, a mouthpiece, and a carrying case, all included with the purchase of this saxophone.
Not only is this a great instrument that allows you to take your performance capabilities to the next level, but you don’t have to compromise on the quality of your soprano sax because you can’t afford a super-high quality instrument. The price of this instrument is almost unbeatable!
- Easy to hold onto
- Ergonomic keys that fit your fingers perfectly
- Comes with ligature, reed, swab, carrying case, mouthpiece, cork grease, all with your purchase
- Curved soprano sax
- Super affordable
- It may feel a little bit bulky
- Keys may be difficult to fit onto your hands if you have large hands
Yamaha Custom YS–82Z
Are you looking for a soprano sax that comes from a brand you know and love? The Yamaha Custom YSS-82Z is a professional-grade Yamaha soprano sax. It comes with a 5-year limited warranty. This soprano sax is in the key Bb and ranges all the way to a high F #.
This is a straight neck soprano sax. But, there’s a lot of extras that come with this soprano sax. You’ll find that this instrument was hand-engraved and comes with a Faux front key. Plus, you’ll find that there are the mother of pearl key buttons and a 4 CM mouthpiece included too.
- Vintage feel
- It won’t cost an arm and a leg
- Amazing range, especially for the price of this instrument
- Adjustable thumb rest
- Easy to maintain
- Isn’t a super versatile soprano sax, really only great for jazz musicians looking for a huge range
The Kaizer SSAX-1000 is a super-advanced soprano saxophone. While it’s designed with a sturdy yellow brass, this adds to the visual appearance and tonality of the instrument. In addition to the sturdy brass build of this instrument, the steel springs of this soprano sax help to add an advanced response too.
In addition, you’ll find professional-grade leather pads on the keys, which help to add control and comfort while you’re playing the instrument.
Personally, my favorite part about this instrument is that it comes with a 45-day free trial. So, there really isn’t anything you have to worry about if you don’t fall in love with this instrument. Also, it comes with a lifetime warranty if there’s anything that happens to your soprano sax!
- It comes with a polishing cloth, cleaning rod, ligature set, lubricant for a mouthpiece, and a mouthpiece
- Affordable price tag
- It comes with a 45-day free trial
- Not a great option for intermediate soprano saxophone players
Answer: A lot of people assume that because the brand on saxophones has a smaller body than other types of saxophones, that it means that they are easier to play. However, while the lightness and portability of the soprano saxophone is a benefit of the instrument, it isn’t a great instrument for beginners to start off with.
In the music community, soprano saxophones are known for being very difficult to learn how to play. People that have a Trine embouchure are able to overcome the difficulties of playing the soprano saxophone because they can use their mouth to alter the tuning of the instrument.
However, if your beginner that’s getting to start off playing an instrument, I would highly recommend that you start off with the alto saxophone rather than the soprano saxophone.
Answer: Playing soprano saxophone is a lot harder to play than other types of saxophones and other instruments because of the tuning difficulties that are commonly associated with the instrument.
However, if you are an experienced musician and have previously played the saxophone in the past, I wouldn’t shy away from playing the soprano sax if you’re truly interested.
If you are an individual that has experience playing an alto or tenor sax, it is going to take an adjustment for you to get used to playing the soprano sax. Don’t expect that you’ll be able just to pick up his instrument and master it immediately. You will have to keep up with regular practice to ensure that you stay fluent with this instrument.
Answer: From my experience playing the soprano saxophone, I would highly recommend that you learn how to relax. I personally know that I tense up while I’m playing some insurance, especially if it’s not one that I’m super confident in. learning how to relax while you’re playing the soprano sax will help to ensure that your pitch stays on tune.
If you are somebody that tends to tense up while you’re playing, it’ll cause you to have to type of an embouchure while you’re playing. As a result, you’ll be very Out Of Tune.
A lot of soprano saxophones that are produced today are designed to be played like a tenor saxophone. For you to achieve this, you’ll want to take your mouthpiece and make sure, but it’s covering a good portion of the cork.
By pushing in the mouthpiece until it won’t push in any longer, you’re actually going to help yourself out in the long run. It’ll make the soprano sax a lot easier for you to play. By doing this, you’ll notice that the soprano sax plays almost as a tenor saxophone does.
That’s not the only thing that this does. Pushing in your mouthpieces far as it’ll possibly go will also help you to achieve that luxurious soprano saxophone sound that you hear in a lot of jazz recordings.
If you have no problem playing the saxophone but find that the sound that you’re producing with your instrument isn’t what you wanted to be, I would also highly recommend you try out this trick. It’s really crazy to think of How much of a different move in your mouthpiece just a little bit makes in the overall quality of your sound.
Another problem that I commonly noticed with people who are learning how to play the soprano saxophone is their response to their instrument.
Since many soprano saxophone players get uncomfortable with playing the soprano sax, simply because it’s a little bit more difficult, they struggle to maintain the intonation of their instrument. Again, this problem is easily solved by adjusting the mouthpiece on your cork.
Since the soprano saxophone is so small, even if you only adjust your mouth is a little bit, it can drastically impact the embourcher of your instrument. By ensuring that even at a minimum, your mouthpiece is covering at least 60% of the cork, you may find that your instrument runs a little flat.
But, this will counterbalance if your embouchure is so tight that you’re playing Sharp. So, before you get frustrated with the soprano saxophone that you purchase, make sure that you try these tips to ensure that the problem isn’t actually your instrument but really just how you’re playing the instrument.
Answer: Personally, my favorite soprano saxophone n this list is the Jean-Paul USA SS-40SP saxophone. I love the price tag, range, and how easy it is to play this sax!
However, just because I highly recommend this saxophone doesn’t mean you have to go with this sax. There are a lot of outstanding options in the market, and all of the saxes I recommended in this guide are really amazing!
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