Intonation on Soprano

Intonation on Soprano

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Many players make all kinds of claims about the supposedly “inherent” intonation issues of the soprano sax and pronounce that it is somehow much harder to master than alto, tenor or baritone. They really believe it, but it isn’t true.

Why do they believe it? Because their experience with soprano probably was much more problematic than their experience on the other horns. Fair enough, but the conclusion that the soprano itself is at fault doesn’t follow.

The simple fact is that playing soprano seems more problematic because mass produced soprano saxophone mouthpieces are, invariably, just terrible. Not their sound or their feel. The actual metrics of a typical soprano mouthpiece are a disaster.

Another simple fact: this is no different than most alto or tenor mouthpieces. But……. On soprano, small variances make HUGE differences in the ability of the mouthpiece to allow a player to experience good, dependable intonation.

Here’s just one of many experiences that have proven this again and again. I had a serious, well know pro come to my shop for a mouthpiece. I worked on it while he was there. When we had exactly the right sound and response, he was very pleased. But he was experiencing a few intonation issues, Specifically, G2, A2 and Bb 2 were more than a little sharp consistently. I determined where in the chamber this was occurring, made a very small, minute adjustment and, it was much better. Another infinitesimal adjustment and….. perfect intonation. Now, he could have “worked around” the problem, I’m sure. But then everything else becomes more complicated and, well, no fun and just another pain in the neck that needn’t be.

In another case, it wasn’t the chamber but the facing. In another case, it was the chamber and the facing.

Read as many of the comments on the website as possible. You’ll hear from people worldwide how their soprano life changed instantaneously when their mouthpiece was correct. That goes for the head of woodwinds at Berklee to pro and amateur players on every continent of the world.

You can ride a bicycle with square wheels if you want. But, why would you want to do that?