The Soprillo Saxophone is a piccolo saxophone. It is technically known as the sopranissimo saxophone. Currently, it is only manufactured by one company: Benedikt Eppelsheim Wind Instruments in Germany.
In the saxophone family, it is considered to be the highest and smallest, sitting just above the sopranino.
It is pitched in Bb, and is one octave above the soprano saxophone. Its written range is Bb3 to Eb6, or concert pitches Ab4 to Db7. It is not considered a standard instrument for jazz or orchestral groups.
One unique quality of the soprillo, as opposed to the more common soprano saxophone, is the placement of the octave key. On a soprillo sax, the octave is actually part of the mouthpiece! This is unusual to see in practice, but makes sense acoustically.
As the soprillo is only thirteen inches long with the mouthpiece attached, the tone holes are extremely close together. Therefore, the octave key would need to be placed much closer to the source of the sound – the vibrating reed – than on other saxophones. Because the keys are so small, the pearl buttons almost completely cover the keys and tone holes. This is a very small saxophone for most players. Playing the soprillo requires exceptional strength. Because the embouchure needed is very firm and the range is exceptionally high, it is only recommended for professional players. There are a handful of excellent players, however!
- Nigel Wood
- Peter A. Schmid
- Randolph D. Emerick
- Todd Groves
If you’re curious about purchasing one or hearing one in action, it is available through Benedikt Eppelsheim’s website. They also have high-quality audio clips and pictures to satisfy your curiosity: www.eppelsheim.com/soprillo