I started off with a visit to Yamaha Artist Services on 5th Ave. It wasn't a very fruitful experience. In their defense, they were gearing up for the 2017 NAMM show at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California from January 19 - 22, so they did not have any of their prized horns available. I actually wish I could attend, but that’s the first week of my spring semester at LIU Brooklyn.
But their representative informed me that they probably wouldn't have their showroom ready to show me anything for another month. It looked a little like a ghost town in there. So, unfortunately, it doesn't look like Yamaha is in my future. But you never know.
So then I went to Roberto's Winds on W.46th Street and tried the Selmer Series III sopranos. They are very good horns. I loved the action and the mechanics. The sound was good, but not particularly ear grabbing. In Selmer’s defense, what makes them special is that the sound is not as built in, which can often be the case with Yamahas and Yanagisawas. So there is more room to personalize them, which, unfortunately, takes time. And I have reminded myself that these are instruments, not reeds, so it's not always going to be an immediate love affair. You have to sit with it for a week or two, or longer to figure it subtle nuances. But if I had to play the Selmer Series III for the rest of my career, I would not be unhappy.
I then tried the RW-Pro Series One-Piece Soprano (Antique) and I liked it very much. As I discussed with Roberto, his horns don't have the mechanical sophistication of the Selmers, Yamahas, and Yanagisawas, but they certainly hold their own in terms of having a full-bodied sound and great intonation. His sopranos are actually more in tune than my old YSS 62. Now it could be my set-up, too. As he explained to me, his horns use a better grade of metal than the average modern horn. His horns are comparable to the Theo Wanne’s in that they have an old school rawness and bigness of sound, but are a little more challenging to maneuver. This is not as much the case with the Theo Wanne horns.
My day concluded at the Julliard School on 65th Street, where I went to meet with saxophonist Bruce Williams, a longtime Yanagisawa endorser who was gracious enough to let me check out his silver Yanagisawa soprano, which I'm looking forward to digging into tomorrow.
And as an extra surprise, I ran into bassist Ben Wolfe, a Juilliard faculty member, and my old Purchase College classmate saxophonist Sam Dillion. So as rapper Ice Cube said, "It Was a Good Day." The search continues.
Stay tuned tomorrow.