I needed a soprano for my regular Tuesday night band, but didn’t have much money. I was able to purchase a Chinese made horn on EBay for $250, and it plays surprisingly well – but I’ve had problems with it since the metal is soft and construction leaves a lot of room for improvement – so it doesn’t stay in adjustment very long. It also isn’t very well in tune with itself over the range of the instrument. I need something better.
Another opportunity came up for a Yamaha YSS-475, which is a decent student horn – but I could only afford a used one from a pawn shop that arrived completely unplayable and although I’ve spent many hours working on it, I haven’t been able to get it in good enough shape to replace my Chinese horn. It would cost at least $500-750 to have it overhauled by my instrument technician. I don’t have the cash.
I love the soprano – and desperately desire a GREAT, not a compromise horn. I always come back to Selmer – although I’ve owned and played other excellent instruments, I’m a Selmer saxophone guy.
I haven’t tried a curved soprano, but the Chinese one has a curved neck, which puts my hands in a much more comfortable position than a straight neck.
My two picks in order of preference would be the Selmer (Paris) (I’d be happy with an older Super Action 80 as long as it was in good adjustment) and the Yamaha Custom. I had a Yamaha soprano years ago which was loaned to me by Jackie McLean and it was a nice horn. I still prefer Selmer.