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Woodwind instrument
Classification Single-reed
Hornbostel–Sachs classification422.212-71
(Single-reed aerophone with keys)
Inventor(s)Benedikt Eppelsheim
DevelopedLate 1990s
Playing range

      \new Staff \with { \remove "Time_signature_engraver" }
      \clef treble \key c \major ^ \markup "written" \cadenzaOn
      bes1 \glissando ees'''1
      aes'1 ^ \markup "sounds" \glissando \ottava #1 des''''1
Soprillo in B♭ sounds a minor seventh higher than written.
Related instruments
Orchestral saxophones:
Specialty saxophones:

The soprillo (also known as the piccolo or sopranissimo saxophone) is the smallest saxophone, developed as an extension to the saxophone family in the late 1990s by German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim. It is 33 cm (13 in) long including the mouthpiece, and pitched in B♭ one octave above the soprano saxophone.


Adolphe Sax's 1846 patent for the saxophone specified a family of saxophones in several sizes and pitches, ranging from the giant subcontrabass in B♭ to the sopranino in E♭. In the late 1990s German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim created a Piccolo-Saxophon (lit.'piccolo saxophone') to extend the family upwards. Pitched in B♭ a fifth higher than the sopranino, he called it the soprillo.[1] It is sometimes also called a sopranissimo saxophone.[2]


The soprillo is pitched in B♭ an octave above the soprano saxophone—it is half the length of a soprano, measuring 33 cm (13 in) with the mouthpiece attached.[3] Constructing such a small saxophone presents several challenges. The keywork only extends to a written E♭6 (sounding D♭7) rather than F or F♯ like most saxophones, and the upper octave key has to be placed on the mouthpiece.[2]

The very small mouthpiece requires a correspondingly small reed and a tightly focused embouchure, making the soprillo difficult to play, particularly in its upper register. There is very little demand for soprillos, reducing the economy of scale and making the soprillo more expensive than more common saxophones like the alto or tenor.[4] The Eppelsheim soprillo is the only piccolo-sized saxophone manufactured.[1]

Performance and repertoire[edit]

There is very little music written explicitly for the soprillo given its short history and extremely high pitch. British saxophonist Nigel Wood has written several pieces for it, and recorded Soprillogy, a CD of music performed on soprillo.[5] Saxophonists Vinny Golia, Jay C. Easton and Berni Attilio also perform and record on soprillo.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Soprillo". Munich, Germany: Benedikt Eppelsheim Wind Instruments. Retrieved 27 September 2023. B♭-Piccolo-Saxophon
  2. ^ a b Wood, Nigel. "The Soprillo". Nigel Wood Music. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  3. ^ Cohen, Paul (September 2000). "Redefining the saxophone, Soprillo and Tubax: new saxophones for a new millennium". Saxophone Journal. Needham, MA: Dorn Publications. 25 (1): 8–10. ISSN 0276-4768.
  4. ^ "Interview mit Benedikt Eppelsheim". Saxophonforum: Die deutschsprachige Saxophoncommunity (in German). 13 February 2008. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  5. ^ Wood, Nigel. "CD – Soprillogy". Wareham, UK: Saxtet Publications. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  6. ^ Cook, Richard; Morton, Brian, eds. (2006). "Vinny Golia". The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (8th ed.). London: Penguin. p. 514. ISBN 978-0-141-02327-4.

External links[edit]