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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. I've played guitar for nearly 30 years, but I'm new to sax. I've been playing for a month on a borrowed sax, and I've been making good strides. Unfortunately, my local tech and my teacher both agree that the sax isn't going to last very long; it needs much more work than it's worth. I'm looking to buy my first sax, but I want one that will last a long time.

I think I've narrowed it down to a few:
One is a Yanagisawa 900 Series. It has a good bit of lacquer missing, but no dents. It's listed without a mouthpiece for $1200.

The second is a Yamaha YAS-52. I've found a few of these options. One is in "flawless condition" for $1000. I have found another in very good condition with a Meyer 5 mouthpiece for $800. The third of the 52's I found was listed in good condition with a Selmer C* mouthpiece for $950.

The third (admittedly, it's a bit of a long shot) is a Theo Wanna Shakita prototype (it doesn't have the model name engraved on it). It's in great condition for $1000.

The Yanagisawa and the $800 Yamaha have 30-day return policies; the others come as-is. I'm leaning toward the two with return policies, but which one? Is the Yanagisawa that much better an option? Is the Selmer mouthpiece worth that much more than the Meyer? Which would you choose?

Thank you for your help.
 

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Play condition would be the deciding factor for me. The 900 sounds like a good deal. The mint Yamaha 52 will always be worth a grand if you keep it that way. Neither of those mouthpieces are that great. They should not affect your decision.
 

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Of the saxophones you mentioned, I would pick either the Yamaha or Yanigasawa horn that is in the best playing condition (this has more to do with pads and keywork rather than lacquer). The Yamaha YAS52 and Yanagisawa A900 saxophones are both great in general, but since these are both aged, you might need someone who doesn't work for the store that can really play to figure out if they're any good to play. Otherwise, as you're learning to develop your tone, you'll wonder "is it me or the saxophone that's the problem?" If they are in perfect playing condition, then the Yanagisawa may be the better deal. It really depends on how well the particular horns in question play.

I generally recommend that beginners start off with a new student saxophone to take equipment out of the learning equation. At the price point (and lower) you're looking at, you can get brand new saxophones from many different brands (including Yamaha, Cannonball, Jupiter, Conn-Selmer, Kessler, and Allora) if you buy online. Note that you'll probably still need to bring that new saxophone to a technician to have it set up properly after it's shipped to you, so add at least $40 to the price. All the saxophones I mentioned will last a long time and are easy to play when properly set up. There are many people who play on so-called "student horns" and sound phenomenal.

By the way, the Meyer 5 or Selmer S80 C* mouthpieces are perfect starter mouthpieces though depending on what you are looking to play (the Selmer S80 C* will be easier at first but less flexible in the long run as compared to the Meyer 5). They're worth at $50 - 75 depending on the condition.
 

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Both the Yani and Yamaha sound like good deals. Both companies have great quality control, both will have good resale value, prices seem very reasonable on both (assuming good playing condition). If you have the opportunity to play test them, do it. Don't worry about the mouthpiece or any accessories being included or not: the horn is the important thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for your response. I wish I could play them, but the store that has them is 12.5 hours from me. The company also has a store location near me, so, if I were to buy one and not like it for any reason, I can return it locally. But I will have to buy one before trying it.

Thank you again.
 

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I just recently started playing sax. I've been a drummer for 50 years and have noodled on guitar a bit.

I bought a Yanagisawa A880 in very good shape and spent $120 on a tune up. I feel like I have an instrument that I can play for as long as I want. I am amazed at how good the intonation is across the written range, even for a rank beginner like me. I can get clear tone from the bell through the upper register palm keys.

I'm using the standard beginner mouthpiece Yamaha 4c with Rico royal 2.5. I did splurge on a nice ligature, Marc Jean, because I wanted to see if it made any difference (it did in that it seems to allow less effort, maybe it's in my head, but it works for me).

I'm sure I will change mouthpieces at some point, but at this point I don't anticipate changing horns.
 

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I would definitely go with one that has a good return policy.

If I understand correctly, two instruments with return policy are sold by the same company? Did you ask if they would be willing to send both instruments to the local store so you can try and compare them? If you think you might like one of them, maybe with a deposit they will be willing to ship both instruments.
 
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