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Yanagisawa is considered one of the “big four” professional saxophone makers in the world, representing Japan alongside Yamaha in that group. Keilworth and Selmer are the other two. Our participation with Yanagisawa is broad, covering most of their common instruments, but all models can be ordered with a minimum wait time. Like most saxophone manufacturers, Yanagisawa offers the full complement of horns: baritone, tenor, alto and soprano. They also produce curved sopranos and a sopranino.
The WO series consists of five primary models within each saxophone type—WO1, WO2, WO10, WO20 and the WO37. These model distinctions exist across the baritone, tenor alto and soprano saxophones. The WO1 and WO2 models differ only in that the WO1 is made of brass and the WO2 is made of bronze. In terms of features, the WO1 and WO2 are identical in the following ways:
C#-Bb table key linkages—the seesaw linkage between the C# and Bb table keys facilitates faster, smoother fingering technique.
Adjustable vibration-damping bar—this enhancement dampens vibrations in the right-hand F# key, which stabilizes notes in the lower register.
Mother-of-pearl touches—indented mother-of-pearl key touches are attractive, afford the fingertips a more natural fit and feel, and are less slippery than plastic touches when wet.
Metal thumb hook and rest—designed to make minimal contact with the body, the thumb hook enables the instrument to resonate more freely while the brass thumb rest allows for smoother response and improved tonal balance.
Pointed pivot screws—for the precision and reliability, pointed pivot screws ensure that center arms or hinge rods are an exact fit.
Sealed, waterproof pads—airtight pads facilitate balanced, leak-free play while quality waterproofing extends pad service life.
Needle springs—blue-steel needle springs are more elastic than stainless-steel. They also offer faster action and make difficult passages easier.
Tri-point brace—the tri-point bell-bow brace ensures stability and enhances resonance.
Like the WO1 and WO2 models, the WO10 and WO20 differ in that the WO10 is made of brass and the WO20 is made of bronze. In addition to all of the features of the WO1 and WO2, the WO10 has dual arms that prevent the larger key cups from twisting or flexing under pressure. The WO10 also features a slider mechanism between the C# and B table keys that allows smoother transitions between these notes. The WO20 distinguishes itself from the WO10 through its bronze construction, but it also offers metal tone boosters, which enhance tonal clarity and ensure excellent response at any volume.
The WO37 comes equipped with everything that comes standard on the WO20, along with solid silver tubing. It is available for special order with custom engraving in any of its special finishes: gold plate, pink gold plate or clear lacquer.
Baritone, tenor, alto and soprano The organizing principle described above repeats itself across the entire saxophone family within the Yanagisawa line, and represents a great place to look if you are curious about this brand. They have been manufacturing instruments for more than a century, but have become real players in the professional saxophone world in the last forty years.
The naming system for Yanagisawa WO series saxophones is pretty logical. The altos are A-WO1, A-WO2, A-WO10, A-WO20 and A-WO37. The tenors are T-WO1, T-WO2, T-WO10, T-WO20 and T-WO37. The baritones are B-WO1, B-WO2, B-WO10, B-WO20 and B-WO30BSB (the silver model). The sopranos are S-WO1, S-WO2, S-WO10, S-WO20 and S-WO37. They also produce three curved sopranos (SC-WO10, SC-WO20 and SC-WO37) and a sopranino.
Yanagisawa’s first saxophone was produced in 1954, but they did not attempt a professional instrument until 1978 with the 880 series. The design that made them a real contender was the 990 series, and the most popular part of that line was the 992.
Like the WO series, the 992 was available in baritone, tenor, alto and soprano models: B-992, T-992, A-992 and S-992. The 992 featured bronze construction, pointed pivot screws, airtight waterproof pads, metal resonators, blue steel springs, double-braced arms and a tri-point balanced bell brace. Its design involved a complete re-tooling of the 880 series that included re-positioned tone holes for superior pitch accuracy and playing action.
In the 992 instruments, both ends of the octave key axis rotate in a receptacle Teflon-coated to ensure a smooth operation every time. They also feature white shell keys that allow for player's fingers to rest comfortably in the indentations. The white shells also enhance the beauty of the instrument, while also preventing the player's fingers from slipping during technically difficult passages.
Like the WO series, the posts in the 992’s construction are connected to a single metal rib that is soldered to the body of the saxophone, which adds to the instrument’s durability. All of the 990 instruments have been replaced by the WO instruments, but are very sought-after used if a brand-new WO series instrument is out of the price range.