A curved Bb Soprano for Fifty Quid….

blessing-curvie I’ve just bought a ‘curvie Bb soprano’ on ebay – very expensive, but as an impulse buy probably worth it…   I was tempted when magginisupplies were knocking them out for £99, but £50 for a curvie ?  I’m sure I can easily fix the small neck problem !  All the other purchasers have left reasonable feedback, and I have a Blessing flute tucked away somewhere, and they are (were..) a sensible make. 

Obviously Chinese, and it’s ‘dumping time’ somewhere, for used Blessing curvies… 

blessing-curvie-neck The listing says " They come with a case and a crook, all keys are there and saxes are in pretty good condition but will need some work to get playing, like keys adjusting and new cork here or there. The crooks need spring, pad and screw. There maybe the odd dent".  No problem !  Intriguing that the seller had five of them, all with the same problem, five missing screws/rods for the octave mechanisms – you are now entering the Twilight Zone….

I’ll post the saga, as it unwinds, be with me sometime next week (as may well my 20’s Conn straight stencil from the US)

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24 Responses to A curved Bb Soprano for Fifty Quid….

  1. ukebert says:

    Hmm, interesting to see how it is. £50 is incredible.

    However, child and curved sop? Doesn’t bear thinking about.

  2. al says:

    It was a fad, a decade or two back, to start aspiring virtuoso toddlers on ‘small alto’s’ (i.e. curved soprano’s) – same as tiny Eb clarinets for kids whose fingers couldn’t stretch to Bb’s. I guess it was all that woodwinds could offer against the half and three-quarter size violins…

    I have no worries about the quality, bearing in mind it’s only a basic instrument, it’s the possible damage or missing bits… I’ll soon be surrounded by soprano’s, all that’s missing now is a ‘nino. I even sent a very diplomatic (last) email to ‘musicmakernc’ – I really would like proper closure on that, although the Lyon & Healy soprano is probably long gone, sold to someone else for a higher price.

  3. Lewis Pelham says:

    Short of a nino? R&C make a beauty for just over two grand….does anyone need a nino that much I ask.
    Where could you ever play it. Being new to sopranos, I find that, despite being keyed to high F#, the range is more limited than an alto or tenor simply because good manners dictate that one should not play above high D….so, with a nino, there would be little point in fitting palm keys.

  4. al says:

    Lewis – I totally agree, I very rarely venture above top C (C3 to be saxually correct) on C-Sop, preferring the more expressive lower regions… It’s all about (for me) tone rather than pitch.

    I’ll keep an eye out tho’ for a disillusioned owner of a cheap and cheerful Chop-suey ‘nino ! They have to start appearing soon, as the rest of the family start to put pressure on the aspiring wailer… 🙂

  5. ukebert says:

    I’m not a great fan of ninos I have to say. And IMHO it is easy to play a saxophone badly, and even easier to play a sop badly. Those poor parents having to listen to their children practising…

  6. al says:

    But you see the (flawed) logic ? Parents with aspiring woodwind ‘child prodigies’, for whom the alto is too big at five or six, and with no real knowledge of saxophones, often saw the curved ‘nino as a half-size alto… 😦 Like a half-size violin.

    Same as the Kinder Clarinets, or those ABS things. Well intentioned (“which the road to hell is paved with…”) parents, if the kids survived those, then the full-sized instruments would have been a doddle ! But I wonder how many kids were put off for life, trying to play a curved soprano ! Or a mini-clarinet, with an Eb reed/mouthpiece. aaargh !!!

  7. Lewis Pelham says:

    Spare a thought then for the children of an aunt of mine who taught violin…they were brought up to the ghastly sound of badly played fiddles in the adjoining room.
    I still think that I had a narrow escape when she refused to teach me because I am left handed…tell that to Jimi Hendrix!

  8. ukebert says:

    See the best instrument to teach youngsters, if only for the comparative lack of tuning difficulties, is undoubtably the Piano.

  9. alan says:

    Agreed – teaches all the music fundamentals, including chords. Always an asset for any wind player to have some keyboard skills under their belts (or ‘in their portfolios’ if you prefer to talk posh…).

    I thoroughly regret (now) that my piano teacher sent me back to my parents after just one lesson, with a note along the lines of “..shows neither musical aptitude nor inclination...”

    Although I might not have taken up clarinet, and then sax and flute, had I been any good on the piano ?

  10. ukebert says:

    I dunno, I did.

  11. alan says:

    Arrived fine, today, despite wrong tracking number 😦 – obviously neck needs attention, and there’s a missing neck socket screw and well as the neck pivot rod. Apart from that, just a few spots of missing lacquer from rubbing – thankfully no sign of the “There maybe the odd dent“. 🙂

    Very impressed, solid keywork , comfortable, not amazingly modern, no tilting pinkie table (sigh of relief) – key layout is very much like my 80’s Jupiter, has front-F spatula and high F# key. Pictures later.

    (update) Having given it the ‘once over’ – I may just send the neck off to be fixed, I don’t have any pivots of the correct diameter, and the tiny spring fixing screw thread doesn’t match any I’ve got. All my spares are much older…. Probably most techs have got suitable bits – shouldn’t cost the earth. Maybe I’ll try Stephen Howard. The problems on the main body are just standard ‘regulation’ and ‘sticky’ stuff. It’s a dinky little thing, very pretty…

  12. alan says:

    There are a few problems (sigh…) 😦 – pictures to follow shortly !

  13. alan says:

    Well, there is a problem, other than the missing bits on the neck – and a little mote than just a bit of setting up.  The little blighter has been dropped at some time, forcing the bell brace back into the body, and buggering (old Cornish multi-purpose descriptive) two tone-holes…

    For more gruesome pics, click here.  Steve Howard has offered to sort out the missing bits on the neck, but the question is – do I have a go at the bodywork, or do I get it done professionally ?

    UPDATE – for some reason the file with more pics doesn’t always open – if you have problems, try pasting the following url’s into your browser (with either .html or .xhtml – both work. Let me know if it’s still a problem (or indeed if it works for anyone ?)… Could well be (having tried it on a selection of browsers, that only .html files really work – the new editor I use only seems to produce .xhtml files, and that seems unchangeable, grrr…

    http://cmelodysax.co.uk/blessing-soprano.xhtml (or)

  14. ukebert says:

    I can’t open your xhtml file for some reason Alan.

    But Ouch. Sets you teeth on edge just looking at it.

  15. ukebert says:

    Dreadful brace anyway, it’s supposed to spread the load, not concentrate it in one place…

  16. Lewis Pelham says:

    ukebert. I know what you are saying, but no matter how evenly you spread the load, and over however large an area, it only then needs a huge bump to result in even more damage. One of those no win situations. Where on earth did that dreadful expression come from? I must be turning into an American

  17. ukebert says:

    That is of course true Lewis. Catch-22, to use another hackneyed phrase 🙂

  18. Ross Challender says:

    Alan, I have a more up-market curved sop out of Taiwan. I believe the neck on your sop
    is from an older straight soprano. They do fit and do the job – about five degrees less curve than the genuine curved sop neck. Our local music store imports from China. I will check out their curved sop tomorrow – it seems identical.
    The tilted bell is real! These horns are cloned from the Yani. and they cloned that
    feature as well.

  19. alan says:

    UPDATE – for some reason the file with more pics doesn’t always open – if you have problems, try pasting the following url’s directly into your browser (with either .html or .xhtml – both work). Let me know if it’s still a problem (or indeed if it works for anyone ?)… Could well be (having tried it on a selection of browsers, that only .html files really work – the new editor I use only seems to produce .xhtml files, and that seems unchangeable, grrr…

    http://cmelodysax.co.uk/blessing-soprano.xhtml (or)

  20. alan says:

    ukebert (also see previous posting) and Lewis – a later method is often for the bell-brace to be at the side on the body, away from the toneholes, and with two joints. That ‘between the toneholes’ is just perfectly ‘accident prone’, isn’t it ?

    Hello Ross – welcome ! I know from the stats that a lot view this blog, it’s really heart-warming when a new voice joins us, even very occasionally… After all, it’s FREE to comment, not much else in life is free 😦 Again, Welcome !

  21. Lewis Pelham says:

    Absolutely…”between the toneholes ” is too close to “between the eyes”.
    Ross, How nice to have another visitor to our party…knowledgeable too.

  22. Ross Challender says:

    I checked out the curved sops at the importers today.They are the same
    horn, Alan, as your Blessing.They also import the straight model and the necks, both straight and curved, are interchangable! The curve is a little less than my
    Taiwanese sop so your neck, if not the original, is quite compatable. I test played two with a Yamaha 6C and they are very acceptably in tune. Quite bright and easy to play to F#. G & A popped out fairly easily too! Well worth the investment of time to get it playable.
    Just quickly! This Chinese factory makes a student alto cloned from a Yamaha 275 and a tenor based on the Mark 7/SA80. Their baritone has a big sound but is a real lemon!
    The right-hand has been keyed and coupled one tone hole lower than standard. Still, the same horn is being sold as a “student model” on a number of US sites!

  23. alan says:

    Ross – Yes, the Blessing seems to be a copy of the original Yani SC901 – very solidly copied, I have to say, even down to that Y brace. Thanks for the pointer and research – good to know that there is a degree of interchangeability between the clones (and maybe even the originals). I can see the fascination with ‘curvies’, they’re such cute looking things.

    The ebay seller is going to send me one of his part-populated spares horns (he started out with 90 Blessing curvies…) with an undamaged body – happy to do a bit of tweaking as I rebuild – they were sold on that basis anyway. In the meantine I have the recently arrived 20’s Conn stencil straight Bb Sop to play with, so no rush.

  24. al says:

    Second (replacement) curvie soprano arrived today – this one has had the brace resoldered, possibly had the same sort of damage and maybe been de-dented ? The toneholes either side of the brace will certainly need levelling… But the seller is trying, I guess. So now I have two here to play with 🙂 Not going to be a quick fix…

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