Vintage American Soprano Saxophone


These are without a doubt, the best sounding and most notoriously out-of-tune soprano saxophones ever. The design aspect which makes them sound so wonderful and makes you want to buy one, makes them incompatible with modern (and vintage) mouthpieces, and thus begins the endless quest to find the mouthpiece solution. Even the original manufacturers didn't know what to do with the wonderful sounding thing they had created. With everything right, C#3 was always hopelessly sharp using the standard keywork/tone hole scheme.

The American solution (in contrast to the somewhat better method incorporated by the French on Selmer/Buffet sopranos - a half-hole C#3 mechanism) made C#3 come out of the C tone hole - it is a very sharp C3. To make the best of this very compromising solution, the mouthpiece has to have a very large chamber - thus the common belief that you need a large chambered vintage mouthpiece to play these horns. The fact is, while such a mouthpiece makes the C# gizmo key work sort-of, it is far from the the right design for the rest of the horn. The mouthpiece volume/frequency characteristics of these mouthpieces are not even close to those which might allow the horn play in tune. The only redeeming quality this design has is that it makes the horn pretty much uniformily out-of-tune throughout it's entire range, so the bad C#3 doesn't stick out so much..

The MartinMods Vintage Soprano solution is based upon a thorough understanding of the acoustical characteristics of vintage sopranos - you can't solve what you don't understand, folks. On soprano, mouthpiece shape and volume/frequency aspects are super critical. The window where these overlapping design parameters allow the horn to work optimally is very narrow. It pays to be meticulous. Outside that window, the horn will still play, but intonation, note stability, and tonal center will suffer.

Using a MartinMods Vopt/RF soprano mouthpiece you disconnect the stock C# gizmo linkage. The mouthpiece allows the horn to function at it's full potential. A perfect C#3 comes out of the C# tone hole, the scale is as even as any modern soprano, and the tone is more centered and retains that "Vintage Soprano" warmth and flexibility. The ideal soprano (with keywork upgrades - info to be added soon).

Audio Sample

- performed on an unregulated, partially leaking, Martin Handcraft straight soprano (my first - I played Mk6 sopranos for years), shortly after buying it (enough time to make the mouthpiece) - C# gizmo disconnected!!



Vopt/RF Mouthpieces

Fabrication Time: 14 to 30 days

Email for price/more info


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