I went with a friend the other day to an instrument auction as there were a few saxes listed. Most weren't really any good but on the list of lots, there was a Yanagisawa alto listed with a serial number that didn't seem to correlate to any of the Yani charts I've seen. Anyway, when I got there I had a look at the horn and found it had A-4 engraved next to the serial number.
As I was looking for an alto I thought a bid or two would be worthwhile and so managed to get the alto.
I was a bit nervous as I hadn't played one of these before (but I have had an A991 for a few years) but when I got it home I was rather pleased with how it plays.
The horn doesn't have a high F# but thats no problem. The keywork fells a bit more chunky than the 991 I have but despite signs of a lot of use (marks, wear and scratches to the finish) it's still slick.
The horn will need a re-pad soon as some of the pads are looking a bit old and hard (some very old and hard!!) but it's playing nicely as it is.
In comparison to my A-991 (baring in mind it's probabily got a few leaks!) it has a more rounded tone, with out as much cut to it but it doesn't seem all that far away from the 991. The action is nice and comfortable and the altissimo pops out easily.
I hadn't really heard much about these before and am pleased with the horn. Probabily the best part of it is I managed to pick it up (including taxes) for £370!! (less than the cost of a new student Yamaha sax!)
So, from my experience so far, I'd say that these A-4's are defenatly worth checking out if you come across one!!