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I recently became the owner of a AWO20 bronze alto. Previously I have only ever used my Mark VI that I bought brand new in 1966. That's right, 53 years with the same horn. That includes college music major, Army band and countless other uses over the years. I just got an urge for something new. I am mainly a classical player. The Yanagisawa is superb! Love the sound, feel, intonation, everything.

My question is why don't more players use them? Why are they so hard to find? I compared it to the Yamaha Custom 875 EXII and it was an easy choice. And the Yamaha is a great horn, too but the Yani just seems smoother.

Any ideas? Just curious.
 

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I totally agree - I recently bought an SW02 bronze soprano, one piece, and it's amazing. Superb feel and ergonomics, and I much preferred the sound of the bronze over the brass. I also tested against a Yamaha, and Selmer, and the Yani just had that something extra.
I think more and more people are opting for the Yani horns.
 

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Hard to find? I can easily name a few local players here who play a Yanagisawa soprano.
 

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You can ask the same question about any of the top-tier marques. I think you are viewing this from a too-narrow lens. The issue involves both personal and financial concerns.

Most neighborhood music stores don't have the capability to keep in stock a sufficient variety of top-tier instruments for the general public to walk in, play-test and walk out without making a purchase. Those days are mostly over. Even if they did, most of us know that we can order the same model from overseas and buy it at a significant discount over U.S. prices. I'd love to buy locally but the price differential is just too much to ignore - or to support local buying. I'm talking a $1200 difference - at least when I last bought a new Yanagisawa.

I've bought and played several new Yanagisawa sopranos and altos over the years - and I still have my AW01. It is the best of among several vintage altos I own - and I usually favor vintage over modern. But for sopranos, as good as the Yanagisawas have been, I have two vintage sops that outplay anything I've tested or bought new.

As far as brass vs. bronze, few have had the opportunity to play the two side-by-side. I have - on one occasion, because I owned both at the same time. The difference wasn't that great AND any perceived differences could be attributed to the normal variances one finds among any group of saxophones - and not because of the body-material, regardless of marketing hype.

For me it isn't a matter of affordability but of playability. Others may not have the same priorities that I have. If I really needed a new soprano or alto, I'd buy a Yanagisawa from overseas, but others don't see it the same way. That is the way it is. DAVE
 

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I'd love to have a Yani but I'd have to sell my VI to get it. I guess if I hit the lottery the first thing I would buy would be a Sterling silver two-neck soprano with gold plate keys. I also would like to try a tenor with Sterling neck and bell, like a Super 20. The question on the tenor would be, do these things really blow, or are they just pretty? I guess I'll have to try one someday.
 

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I recently became the owner of a AWO20 bronze alto. Previously I have only ever used my Mark VI that I bought brand new in 1966. That's right, 53 years with the same horn. That includes college music major, Army band and countless other uses over the years. I just got an urge for something new. I am mainly a classical player. The Yanagisawa is superb! Love the sound, feel, intonation, everything.

My question is why don't more players use them? Why are they so hard to find? I compared it to the Yamaha Custom 875 EXII and it was an easy choice. And the Yamaha is a great horn, too but the Yani just seems smoother.

Any ideas? Just curious.
In terms of new pro level instruments, in the UK I see a fairly even split of people playing Yani and Selmer for classical (I'm mainly classical too), and possibly slightly fewer Yamahas. Yanis are very easy to purchase in the UK though. I had a AWO20 bronze alto for a year or so - and loved how well it was made and so beautiful. I liked the tone but I wanted a cheekier sound (and I found it a bit heavy)... after a while with a Yamaha 82Z I switched to a Ref 54 and it just gives me a bit of everything I'm looking for. I play Yani sop (SWO20) and love it.
 

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I'd love to have a Yani but I'd have to sell my VI to get it. I guess if I hit the lottery the first thing I would buy would be a Sterling silver two-neck soprano with gold plate keys. I also would like to try a tenor with Sterling neck and bell, like a Super 20. The question on the tenor would be, do these things really blow, or are they just pretty? I guess I'll have to try one someday.
My soprano is a Yani 992, but since you brought it up, I think the S20 tenors and altos are awesome - my personal favorite over all others. I have both the Silversonic and S20 / sterling neck in the tenor. They sound identical to me. Mine are 29 serial #’s apart. That probably has a lot to do with it. I’ve played a bunch of them in my search for “The One”. Somehow I ended up with a pair! Ah well....no more GAS I guess. I prefer the late Cleveland models after they resized the octave key. The older models pinch my thumb, but thats just me I think. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for others...

....anyway- my Yani Sop is in the bronze, and it’s a nice sax - well put together; obviously high quality, but I’m no judge of sopranos. I just don’t enjoy it enough to have any real experience. In hindsight, I’d rather have the money. Maybe it will appreciate. I bought it mint, but at a used price and it’s not getting any mileage here...
 

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I believe a lot of it has to do with availability. A person that might be able to confirm some, but also may not share the specifics unless he knows the person asking, is Dave Kessler. I know that I personally live in a HUGE market for pro horn sales to students being on North Texas.
Most of these students have the Yamaha Custom horns, and that is pretty much because that is the only pro horn readily available in the area. Being a private teacher, I pushed to have Selmer and Yanagisawa presented more at a big upgrade event and almost every selmer and Yany horn sold. Then one of my students wanted to buy the WO2, bronze horn and Conn-Selmer was out of stock. They were back ordered for the WO10 and the WO2 at the time. So we had to purchase and basically reserve the next one that arrived in the USA to come to North Texas.
Yes, I know Kessler as well as a few other stores have them in stock, but huge stores like Music and Arts where this occurred does not.
I honestly believe Yanagisawa’s lack of dominance is simply a supply limitation.
The horns are great and in my opinion the “light” model horns are my favorite modern altos.
A small disclaimer is that all of my comments are about alto. There sopranos always sell like crazy here and I only played a tenor once years ago.

So I believe the answer is small supply.
 

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It may be a location thing or just pure chance but I know nearly as many Yanagisawa people as Selmer people. It may also be the cost, Yanagisawas are not exactly cheap.
 

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I find this question a bit odd. I see a lot of people buying Yanagisawas.
Indeed. Maybe the OP can explain what he meant, because it confused me too.

It may be a location thing or just pure chance but I know nearly as many Yanagisawa people as Selmer people. It may also be the cost, Yanagisawas are not exactly cheap.
More, I'd say ... I know more people with Yanagisawa sopranos (which are valued highly, AFAIK) than with Selmers.
 

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I like the Yani tenor and altos I've owned better than the Yamaha tenors and altos I've owned. For soprano, I prefer my Yamaha 62 over everything else. For tenor and alto, I like my Mark VI's better....but I do keep a T991 around the house because I love the way that horn is made and it's fun to play.
 

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I have an old yanagisawa T4 that I bought when I was looking for a bar/road sax. It feels ergonomically really close to a Selmer but just doesn’t have the same “ring” to the sound. Built well and durable. I’ve thought about selling it since I found a re-lacquered BA to use as a backup instead but I probably wouldn’t get much for it.
 

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The early Yanis got the reputation for being bad MK VI clones, and sax players are remarkably conservative about brands. I played a MK VI tenor for many decades, then up and sold it. I bought a used Yani tenor for about $1600 and spent the rest on a Taishan Winds Bari sax off ebay. It was the best move I ever made. That Yani plays just as nice as the Selmer (well, close enough, anyway) and I wound up with two great horns instead of one famous one. Don't get me wrong, I still love Selmers, but I haven't suffered one bit from switching to the Yani. It's actually a bit more precise in intonation than the Selmer, or so it seems to me.
 

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I believe a lot of it has to do with availability. A person that might be able to confirm some, but also may not share the specifics unless he knows the person asking, is Dave Kessler. I know that I personally live in a HUGE market for pro horn sales to students being on North Texas.
Most of these students have the Yamaha Custom horns, and that is pretty much because that is the only pro horn readily available in the area. Being a private teacher, I pushed to have Selmer and Yanagisawa presented more at a big upgrade event and almost every selmer and Yany horn sold. Then one of my students wanted to buy the WO2, bronze horn and Conn-Selmer was out of stock. They were back ordered for the WO10 and the WO2 at the time. So we had to purchase and basically reserve the next one that arrived in the USA to come to North Texas.
Yes, I know Kessler as well as a few other stores have them in stock, but huge stores like Music and Arts where this occurred does not.
I honestly believe Yanagisawa’s lack of dominance is simply a supply limitation.
The horns are great and in my opinion the “light” model horns are my favorite modern altos.
A small disclaimer is that all of my comments are about alto. There sopranos always sell like crazy here and I only played a tenor once years ago.

So I believe the answer is small supply.
My experience here in Colorado would tend to agree with your observations on this Andre. It's very difficult to find a Yani to try in Colorado. The chain music stores like Music & Arts, Guitar Center, etc. don't really stock saxophones at all. The larger private stores Rockley, Flescher-Hinton, Kolacny cater almost entirely to the rental market and stock few pro-line horns. That leaves Sax Alley as really the only game in town for any kind of selection of pro gear. I am sure Tim will get you a Yani if that's what you really want but it isn't a brand he stocks a lot of like Yamaha, Mauriat, Eastman, etc.

I'd also speculate that the total return for most dealers is better on other brands. Selmer, Yamaha, and Mauriat do a lot of advertising and so those brands are very familiar to most and easier to sell. I suspect the margins are better on the Taiwanese brands and on Yamahas as well making them more desirable from a business context as well. I'd also guess that right now with the economy generally good, that Yani is selling everything they can make so they aren't looking to expand into other markets in the US that are largely under-served like much of the western US and other somewhat rural areas.
 

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Cool article: https://headwindmusic.co.uk/blog/awo2-vs-awo2o
I was recently considering AWO2 vs. AWO20 vs. Custom Z, and Bruce Williams (from NJ) made a clear case for the AWO2 so I took his advice and ordered one, without even playing one first.
I could not imagine myself being happier with a horn than I am with the one I got.
I've been playing since 1974 - Yamaha then Mark VI and Custom Z, now AWO2.
 

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Cool article: https://headwindmusic.co.uk/blog/awo2-vs-awo2o
I was recently considering AWO2 vs. AWO20 vs. Custom Z, and Bruce Williams (from NJ) made a clear case for the AWO2 so I took his advice and ordered one, without even playing one first.
I could not imagine myself being happier with a horn than I am with the one I got.
I've been playing since 1974 - Yamaha then Mark VI and Custom Z, now AWO2.
Nice, they are great horns! I'm been building up to adding a Bari to the collection and I've preferred the BW02 to the BWO20 when I've been demoing them. And there's a huge price difference there.
 

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Cool article: https://headwindmusic.co.uk/blog/awo2-vs-awo2o
I was recently considering AWO2 vs. AWO20 vs. Custom Z, and Bruce Williams (from NJ) made a clear case for the AWO2 so I took his advice and ordered one, without even playing one first.
I could not imagine myself being happier with a horn than I am with the one I got.
I've been playing since 1974 - Yamaha then Mark VI and Custom Z, now AWO2.
I have an AWO2 as my back-up alto as well. I chose it over an AWO1, a Reference 54 and a Custom ZII. I still prefer my Mark VI, but it's a great horn and comes pretty close to the VI!
 

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I lucked into an A880 last year for $1,000. A guy actually got it out of a storage locker he won in an auction. It played pretty well. At a gig 2 months ago - through circumstances caused by my lack of understanding aerodynamics combined with wind and a towel draped over my sax - my A880 blew off an outdoor stage onto concrete during a break, as I watched in horror from about 15' away.

The sax landed right on the neck and the neck was folded. (underslung octave key!) Also, the Eb keyguard was bent inward. I took it to our local OUTSTANDING repair shop and for $68 I was back on the stage with it the next weekend. The tech kept going on and on about how unbelievably well the horn played. I was like "yeah, it's a good horn," but I didn't understand why he was going on and on about it. What I didn't realize is that this tech actually took time to level some keys and repair a small leak that he found after he made the obvious repairs.

Let me tell you, every time I pick that horn up I can't believe how well it plays. Had it not hit that concrete I would still be thinking I had a pretty good alto for the price I bought it for. But now, I'm playing the best alto I've ever owned, and I'm comparing it to a Super Action 80, Buescher Big B, Super 20 (not full pearls) a Dave Guardala (German made) and a Unison S300II. This Yani beats them all hands down and I can't imagine ever playing a horn I like better than this one!

By the way, Schmidt's Music in Pensacola, FL did the work. Dave's been around for nearly 40-years and has some world-class techs.
 

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I find this question a bit odd. I see a lot of people buying Yanagisawas.
Me too. And though I have a preference for vintage American saxophones, I have no problem recommending Yanagisawa horns to folks seeking good value in a known, tried and true brand. Thing is for me however, the horns they make that I particularly dig are the solid silver ones; and those go for crazy money. Not to say that it's the material that makes the difference. I would instead expect that a lot of additional care and individual attention went into manufacturing them.
 
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