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Soprano Straight Sax Vs. Curved Soprano Sax

straight soprano curved soprano

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#1 Ken Ng

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 08:51 AM

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Unlike other saxophones, most soprano saxophones are straight rather than curved. A curved model, shaped like a miniature alto sax, was popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and in recent years it has enjoyed a renaissance. Whether a saxophonist chooses a straight or curved instrument often depends on personal preference.

Projection

Probably the biggest difference between the straight and the curved soprano sax is in how it projects sound. The straight sax thrusts the music out at the audience, while the curved instrument projects it upward. Consequently, the musician may hear himself better with the curved sax, but the audience hears the straight sax better. But there's a trade-off. The straight sax usually requires two microphones, one at the bell and one near the keys. This is sometimes mitigated by clipping a specially made double mike across the bell of the instrument. The curved model only requires a single microphone, as it will pick up sound from the bell and the keys.

Tone

While neither sax has the tone of a larger sax--the soprano is tuned an octave higher than the tenor saxophone--the straight soprano has a more nasal, metal-edged sound than the curved version, making the straight sax sound more like an oboe. John Coltrane used this tone to great effect in his recording of "My Favorite Things," giving it a Middle Eastern flavor.

Tuning

Many saxophone players say it is more difficult to keep a curved soprano in tune than a straight one.

Comfort

The musician holds the curved saxophone closer to her body, so she doesn't have to reach out to work the keys. However, the keys on a curved saxophone are more crowded. The straight sax is more tiring, because the sax player has to hold the instrument up with outstretched arms rather than letting the neck strap do the work. The straight sax is better when played while standing up. Both instruments are hard to play; though less breath is required to produce sound, the reed action on the smaller instrument is stiffer, and it takes strong lip muscles to produce a sound.

History

Adolphe Sax, who invented the instrument in the 1840s, produced several instruments to cover tonal ranges from contrabass to sopranino. The original soprano saxes had a straight body; the curved sopranos became popular in the 1920s but eventually faded out. Though the curved model made a comeback in the late 20th century, the straight version remains the most popular.

Professional Use

Soprano saxophone is a niche instrument in music, as tenor and alto sax have a deeper, warmer tone and are easier to play. But several players used soprano sax to create their own sound. Coltrane, Sidney Bechet, Steve Lacy and Wayne Shorter used the instrument extensively in jazz, while Kenny G made a name for himself in pop. All of these musicians preferred the straight soprano to the curved version.

[via: eHow]

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#2 jlaurent517

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 09:22 AM

My first sax was a straight soprano. I have loved that version ever since. I was initially a clarinet player turned sax player. Now I mostly play the alto. I simply cannot get used to the curved sopranos. It just doesn't feel religiously correct! lol!

#3 Ken Ng

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 09:26 AM

I have a straight one as well. I was hoping to try out the curved soprano, it's cute and lovely. Look tiny but have beautiful sweat tone to it.

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#4 NickClarke

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:23 AM

I prefer and have a straight one too. Due to the length of the horn, the curved soprano I think is maybe too small?



#5 sunhyung

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:43 PM

I usually play alto and baritone, occasionally tenor.

Only played straight soprano once and could roughly get the feel how it's like...

I really love that oboe-like sound of straight soprano, as well as the kind of sound Dave Koz produces with curved soprano.

For me, who wishes to be a missionary one day(I'm a student now), curved soprano might be more useful as it seems easier to carry around.

Hmmm one question; when I tried straight soprano, it was very tiring for my arms to hold the sax.

I'm not used to it at all, but is that normal for people who just started playing soprano?

Thanks for the awesome post! :)



#6 Ken Ng

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 10:30 AM

Hi, yes it's normal if you feel it that way.

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#7 inesuki

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:13 PM

I play the alto and just bought a straight soprano, always wanted one. First two weeks of playing were hard but now I am delighted with it.

 

I dont know why but think I couldn't play the curved one. Too similar to the alto (in shape).



#8 SammTheClown

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 01:53 AM

love the curved one



#9 MrSaxobeat

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 02:15 PM

Thanks, this is very helpful, now I play alto and I love it but was thinking of getting a straight soprano. I like the sound of it and would like to play it too. I think this feeling got to me since I have heard Kenny G playing. I don't want to buy anything expensive first, maybe something good for beginners, I've seen "Paulo Mark" for sale for a reasonable price. Could Anyone give me a little bit of help and guidance :) PLEASE?



#10 ahkuji

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Posted 17 August 2015 - 09:26 PM

I kind of like the curved one, it's like a mini alto and the tight grouping of keys is comfortable in a way.

#11 bassman1983

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Posted 20 March 2016 - 04:41 PM

straight






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