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From student to professional, from baritone through soprano, there’s a Yamaha saxophone for every player. For students, the Yamaha YAS-26 alto and YTS-26 tenor saxophones offer an ideal starting point. Intermediate players often step up to Yamaha 480 Series models. Professional players can choose from three models, including those in the beloved 62 Series.
Great for beginners, the Yamaha YAS-26 alto and YTS-26 tenor sax models are a solid investment for school band programs. Both are easy to play and demonstrate Yamaha’s commitment to quality. Made with a yellow brass neck, body and bell, the YAS-26 and YTS-26 reflect Yamaha’s excellence in materials and workmanship.
Yamaha 26 Series keywork is made with yellow brass and has nickel plating that defies wear for even the most diligent student. Both instruments have polyester key touches that ensure good performance and durability. Water-resistant felt and leather pads, stainless steel springs and adjustable straight-to-tapered pivot screws are all standard on the YAS-26 and YTS-26.
No two saxophonists are built the same, so Yamaha equips their instruments with a movable thumb rest that allows for comfortable hand placement. This makes playing easier, helping growth on the instrument. The Yamaha 4C mouthpiece ships with every YAS-26 or YTS-26 saxophone and comes with a yellow brass ligature. A plastic mouthpiece cap is also included to protect reeds while the instrument is on a stand or in the case.
Music is an image business at the top of the scale, but even on an instrument designed for the learner, pride of ownership is important. A gold-lacquer finish is supplied with Yamaha 26-Series saxophones, offering beauty that inspires the player and protects the instrument. Their bells are stamped with Yamaha’s logo, a sign of quality recognized across the world.
In the Yamaha intermediate sax line, a baritone saxophone is introduced. Lisa Simpson aside, beginning saxophonists are rarely asked to play baritone, so Yamaha chooses not to produce one in the 26 Series. The YBS-52 is the most popular baritone on school purchase orders, both for its sound and its sturdiness over time. Once in high school, someone needs to anchor the sax section, and if that player is lucky enough to play a YBS-52, inspiration and motivation will follow. It has a range down to low A and features a front F mechanism.
The YAS-480 and YTS-480 are the intermediate offerings in Yamaha’s alto and tenor saxes. The chief advantage relative to the 26 Series is the 480’s annealed 62-style neck. The 62 Series is a popular Yamaha professional saxophone design that has since undergone two major revisions. The original 62 became an industry standard quickly, and once its top-to-bottom redesign happened, the original 62 neck design was transferred to the intermediate line.
The importance of the neck in a saxophone’s overall quality is not easily overstated, as it is crucial to intonation, response and tonal color. In addition to the 62-style neck, the 480 Series Yamaha saxophones feature a gold baked-epoxy lacquer finish, which is thinner than the gold lacquer finish found on the YAS-26 and YTS-26. This allows for a lessened influence on brass resonance. Since the baked epoxy finishing process fuses it with the horn’s yellow brass, the increased hardness provides a greater resistance to scratching.
The three professional designs in Yamaha’s alto and tenor saxophone lines are the 62III (the second redesign of the 62 Series), the 82ZII and the 875EX, which are all available in alto, tenor and soprano. The professional-level baritone saxophone Yamaha offers is the YBS-62, which is mostly unchanged from its launch in 1978. It remains a preferred instrument by professional players.
The YBS-62 features an annealed yellow brass neck, body and bell. Yamaha’s annealing process is a highly controlled heating and cooling technique that gives the brass optimum density for superior tone. It also contributes to the sax’s resistance, and ultimately to its overall playability.
In the professional saxophone world, there are some “holy grail” instruments that have achieved near-mythic status due of course to their design and manufacturing quality, but also in part to having been in the hands of the mid-20th century’s saxophone greats. Modern precision manufacturing by saxophone makers like Yamaha has changed that paradigm. The 62III Series, the 82ZII Series and the 875EX Series all fit into this myth-busting category.
The YAS-62III and the YTS-62III feature a two-piece bell, hand engraving, integrated key posts, hard steel needle springs and the redesigned 62 neck, whose slightly narrower bore provides a fast response and superior control. They also include an improved mechanism from low B-C# that ensures consistent closing of the low C# key and promotes a clear response from notes in the low range of the instrument. Both are available in a silver plating that many players say adds a detailed presence and unmatched resonance to their Yamaha saxophone.
The Yamaha YTS82ZII, or “Custom Z” as it is commonly called, underwent a neck-to-bell revision in 2013, the tenth anniversary of its introduction. Features include a one-piece bell for improved low-end response and a broader palette of tone colors. Its hand-engraving is delicate, detailed and beautiful. Another attractive attribute of the is its V1 neck, which has a wider bore than the Yamaha 62III neck, and provides a flee-blowing feel and an expanded control over dynamics. Its adjustable front F mechanism, metal resonators, a lighter thumb rest and other attributes inspire some to prefer the 82ZII to the 62III.
The lighter weight of the Yamaha 82Z instruments is very popular with soprano saxophone players. The YSS-82Z is available in gold lacquer, black lacquer and unlacquered, as well as with a silver plating. The gold lacquer model is available with a curved neck. Other attractive features of the YSS-82Z include its ergonomic key layout design, revised rib plate, adjusting pivot screw and lower vent tube (which reduces noise on the lower vent key’s action). Its initial design was largely based on the class 62 Series instruments, but it did not undergo the redesign of the YAS-62III and YTS-62III, so the Yamaha 62 Series is not offered in a soprano saxophone.
Lastly, the Yamaha 875EX sax design, or Custom EX as it is popularly known, is available across the line except for baritone. It commands a particular popularity within the soprano category, thought by many to be the finest soprano saxophone in current production. It has a great dynamic range, impeccable intonation and a beautiful sound that is rich in harmonic content. The YSS-87EXHG adds a high G key for players who really want to tickle the top.
Like the soprano, the 875EX tenor and alto saxophones can be found in gold or black lacquer, unlaquered for a dryer sound, or with a silver plating. They are equipped with the new G3 neck and a redesigned octave key and seesaw key. Its bell-to-body brace, the 82Z-style front F mechanism, mother-of-pearl key touches and hand-engraving also contribute to its popularity among professionals and advanced amateurs. From the low A honk of the baritones to the high G of the sopranos, Yamaha has a saxophone to suit every taste, every ability and every player.
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