C Soprano Saxophones
a relatively rare breed, as saxophones go.....
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The C-Soprano saxophone was mainly produced during the 20's, in the same era as the C-Melody (C Tenor) saxophone, but almost certainly aimed at a different market - it's difficult to imagine the C-Sop being played in the parlour by a relatively inexperienced player ! The first were almost certainly intended to play the oboe parts in Military marching bands. A Conn advertisement from the 20's, listing the Conn 2-M C-Soprano at $95 for the polished brass, and up to a whopping $200 for the burnished gold model, announces "Has a thin reedy voice, much in vogue for jazz and novelty effects". Ah, Vaudeville then ?
Not as popular as the C-melody, and produced in fewer numbers, but nevertheless a beautifully expressive little instrument. As with it's bigger brother, the C-Soprano does have a reputation for problematic intonation. However a properly regulated C-Soprano saxophone, with a suitable mouthpiece, and in the hands of a good player, is very capable of being a really useful addition to the saxophone family - pitched (as it is) in 'C', and therefore able to read all 'concert pitch' music without the need for transposition.
Production of C-Soprano saxophones was within the same companies that manufactured C-Melody saxes, and manufacturers (naturally...) were mostly in the States. The same system of "stencilling" was used, but, because there were so few C-Soprano's actually produced, the stencils were by no means inferior instruments. My own Conn stencil C-Soprano is pure Conn, just minus the rolled toneholes and without the actual Conn name.
1920's Lyon & Healy catalogue, describing -
The Lyon & Healy "Artist" Straight Model_C Soprano Saxophone -
which was keyed to High F, not Eb, as with most : -
The C-Soprano has one small disadvantage in that, apart from the 20's 'stock' mouthpiece originally supplied with the sax (which is often missing, either lost or sold separately), there are currently only a couple of manufacturers supplying alternative 'C' Soprano mouthpieces. This has led to increasing use of Bb soprano sax mouthpieces on C Soprano saxophones. Choice of a suitable mouthpiece, as with the C-Melody, always has a major influence on good intonation. More about that in the Q&A section.
C Soprano Players
All Soprano's gallery