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Hannah is a writer, avid flute player, and self-proclaimed band geek. Since 2013, Hannah has run her own music blog, where she talks about instruments, playing, and instrument care tips. While Hannah’s instrument of choice is the flute, she also has expertise in most brass and woodwind instruments.
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When you think of a saxophone, you probably picture an instrument with a neck that sticks out and a bell with a curve. But if you want to break away from that design, you may want to know how to find the sopranino saxophone.
The sopranino sax is too small to handle the traditional curve shape. It looks like a gold clarinet, but it’s still very much part of the saxophone family. If that sounds interesting, you should consider learning the smaller sax.
What Is The Sopranino Saxophone?
The sopranino saxophone is a member of the saxophone family. It’s the second smallest member after the soprillo saxophone, and it sits between that and the soprano sax when it comes to size and pitch. Sopranino was the smallest instrument that Adolphe Sax made when he developed saxophones. Because of its size, the sopranino saxophone is almost always straight since having a curve can make it harder to play.
Composer Maurice Ravel called for a sopranino saxophone in his work Bolero. However, the instrument hasn’t been as popular as the bigger soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones.
How To Find The Sopranino Saxophone
While it may not be the most common instrument, playing the sopranino saxophone can be fun. If you like the higher pitches of soprano sax and want to learn even more, the sopranino is a logical next step. However, you should find a good instrument to learn on. That way, you can make the most of the sopranino sax, and you’ll be able to play it for a while.
Consider the following steps in your search for the best sopranino saxophone.
Find A Soprano Saxophone
Before you play the sopranino, you should learn the soprano sax for a few reasons. First, the soprano saxophone is much easier to find, especially if you don’t have a ton of money.
If you’re new to playing the sax, the soprano will also be an easier instrument to learn first, though you may want to start on the alto. There are also more music and performance opportunities for people who play the soprano sax.
Give yourself time to get used to the straight design of the soprano. Consider how you need to position your embouchure to get a good sound on the instrument. After you get a handle on the fundamentals of the soprano sax, you can look for a sopranino. Then, you’ll be able to transfer some of your skills to the smaller sax.
Consider Your Budget
The price range for sopranino saxophones can vary considerably. As you start to shop for an instrument, consider how much money you have to spend on one.
You may find a good sopranino for around $1,000. But it’s just as easy to spend more than $10,000 on a quality instrument. If you don’t have that much money to spend, you may want to save up or spend more time on the soprano sax. That way, you’ll have plenty of funds to shop for the best sopranino saxophone for you.
New Or Used
Another factor to consider is if you want a new or used instrument or if you don’t care. If you need to buy a used sax, you can save quite a bit of money and still get something of good quality. But you may need to wait longer before you find a uses sopranino sax for sale. When you buy new, you might be able to order an instrument right away. However, you’ll need to pay full price.
Used instruments also come with the risk of not having had recent maintenance or repairs. While you may save money on the initial purchase, you might have to take it to a good repair technician and spend more cash just to get it in playing condition.
Get Some Accessories
As with any other saxophone, you can’t play the sopranino sax right out of the case. You’ll need a few accessories, and it can help to buy those separately so that you have the best gear available. First, consider buying a mouthpiece, especially if you’re buying a used sax. That way, you won’t have to worry about the instrument not coming with one. And you can use a better mouthpiece for a long time.
If your mouthpiece doesn’t come with a cap or ligature, you’ll also need those. The ligature will keep your reeds in place, and the cap can protect the mouthpiece when you put it away. Of course, you also need plenty of reeds so that you can practice and perform on your sopranino saxophone. Even if you already have a soprano sax and some reeds, they won’t fit the sopranino, so you’ll need to stock up.
Now that you’re ready to get a sopranino saxophone, you should do some shopping. Look at the websites of a few music stores, check out eBay, Craigslist, and tell other saxophone players about your search. Finding a good quality sopranino saxophone can take a while, so giving yourself more options can help. Then, you won’t have to miss out on a good deal or worry about waiting as long to find something.
When you find a suitable sopranino saxophone, ask the seller if you can test it out. If not, consider if the store or seller offers returns so that you can give the instrument a try, especially if it’s a more expensive option. Trying a sopranino sax before buying one gives you the chance to decide if it’s right for you. Some players take to the instrument easily, while it can be a struggle for others.
Part of knowing how to find the sopranino saxophone is knowing when to walk away. You may find a great deal, but if the instrument is from an unknown brand or if there are problems with the sax, it’s not worth purchasing. Since the sopranino saxophone isn’t super common, one won’t always be available for sale. Patience is essential not only for finding a sopranino but for finding the best sopranino for you.
And being patient will give you more time to save money, so you can afford a better instrument. You may not have to budget as much for your purchase.
The Best Sopranino Saxophones
Know that you know how to find the sopranino saxophone, consider a few models that you can buy new. You may find more options in the used market, and you can find other new ones for sale. However, some sopranino saxophones aren’t made very well. You could spend thousands of dollars only to find that the instrument will break after a week of playing.
As you start to narrow your search for a sopranino sax, compare the following instruments.
John Packer JP146 Atom
The John Packer JP146 Atom sopranino sax is an excellent choice for someone looking to start the instrument. It features a rose brass body, which helps keep the instrument from sounding too shrill. There’s a precise mechanism and brass keys that make the sopranino easy to play. You can play it in jazz and on your own, and it sounds great in a variety of styles.
It comes with a mouthpiece, ligature, and reed, so you don’t have to buy those separately. You also get a shoulder strap to help hold the saxophone, and everything comes in a sturdy case. While this instrument isn’t cheap, it’s more affordable than other new sopranino saxophones. The model is reliable, and it has decent intonation.
- Warm sound
- Good intonation
- More affordable than some
- Not for beginners
- Hard for people with larger hands
P. Mauriat 50-SX
Another fantastic sopranino saxophone to consider is the P. Mauriat 50-SX. The saxophone is of the same great quality as other instruments from the company. It has great tone quality, and the response is quick. The intonation is also very good, so this sopranino is suitable for a variety of musicians.
This model combines the neck and body into one piece, so you can put everything together quickly. And the straight neck design also helps make it easy to play.
The gold lacquer helps give the instrument a warm sound, so it won’t sound too bright like other small instruments. While not the cheapest, it’s a good compromise on price and value.
- Excellent quality
- Easy to set up and play
- Warm sound
- Good value
- Not for beginners
Selmer (Paris) Jubilee Sopranino Saxophone
If you’re a serious saxophone player and want to make the sopranino one of your main instruments, you should try the Selmer (Paris) Jubilee Sopranino Saxophone. The sax is part of Selmer’s Jubilee line, which they made to celebrate 125 years of business.
This model has many of the same features as the Series II and III instruments. However, you also get a new octave key with a light touch, so it’s easy to play. Like other small saxes, this one has a straight neck design, and it’s of great quality. The model doesn’t have any special body material or lacquer, so it looks like your standard saxophone.
You get a mouthpiece and ligature with it, so you don’t need to buy those. But this instrument is quite a bit more expensive than other sopranino saxophones, so it can take a while to save up for the cost.
- Great design
- Fantastic features
- Comes from a well-known brand
- Easy to play
- Very expensive
- Not for casual players
Question: Can you play the sopranino saxophone as a beginner?
Answer: Ideally, you would have some experience playing other saxophones before you start to play the sopranino. The instrument is very small and requires a lot of control to make and maintain a good sound.
Many sopraninos are also expensive, so they can be a waste of money if you aren’t sure you’ll play it long-term. Plus, it can be hard to find performance opportunities if you don’t play the alto, tenor, or soprano saxophone as well.
Question: How hard is playing the sopranino saxophone?
Answer: Playing the sopranino saxophone can be very hard. You need to have a smaller (but not tighter) embouchure since the mouthpiece is quite a bit smaller than on other saxophones.
It also requires a lot of control to keep the instrument from sounding too shrill and bright. Be sure you can get a good sound on a larger instrument before you start learning the sopranino.
Question: Can you teach yourself the sopranino saxophone?
Answer: You can teach yourself how to play the sopranino saxophone. If you’ve played another saxophone, a lot of the fundamentals stay the same, such as the fingerings and the basic parts about blowing and using your air.
However, a teacher can help guide you as you get used to the smaller saxophone. The keys are closer together, and your lips need to be very good at maintaining an embouchure. A teacher can also help motivate you to work on your sopranino skills.
Another thing that can help you teach yourself the sopranino sax is if you’ve played the E flat clarinet. The two instruments are similar in size and range, so you might be able to transfer concepts related to breathing and embouchure formation.
Question: Where can you play the sopranino saxophone?
Answer: The sopranino saxophone isn’t common in concert bands or marching bands. But it does appear in some music in jazz as well as in certain contemporary classical pieces.
If you want to play the sopranino with piano or another instrument, you can use music for the alto sax since it’s in the same key and will sound the same except a bit higher.
Playing music for the E flat clarinet is also an option. Just make sure the written range doesn’t go below what the saxophone can play.
Question: Are sopranino saxophones expensive?
Answer: Many sopranino saxophones cost a lot, particularly if you want to buy a new one. However, you can look for used sopraninos to bring the price down, sometimes by quite a bit.
Still, you probably can’t find a good quality instrument for much less than a thousand dollars. If you want more features, prepare yourself to spend even more.
Question: How long is the sopranino saxophone?
Answer: The sopranino saxophone measures 46 centimeters, or about 18.1 inches long. Sopranino saxophones are easy enough to carry around, so they can make a good travel companion if you want to practice.
However, you need to make sure that you can practice where you are. You don’t want to annoy the people in the rooms next to you or worry about the hotel kicking you out.
Question: What’s the sopranino saxophone range?
Answer: The sopranino saxophone has the same written range as the other saxes. However, it’s in the key of E flat and sounds a minor third above the written pitch.
That means the lowest note sounds like the D flat just above middle C. The top note on the sopranino saxophone sounds like an A-flat an octave above the treble clef.
Final Note On How To Find The Sopranino Saxophone
Whether you want something to take on trips or expand your saxophone playing, you should know how to find the sopranino saxophone. A good instrument can help you progress from a newbie to an advanced amateur or professional.
But the sopranino sax isn’t very common, so it may take a while to find the best model for you. As long as you have some patience and time to practice other saxophones, you can become a good sopranino player.