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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey Y'all,

First I would like to provide a little background information that I hope will help with the feedback I receive. I'm in high school and have been playing for around 5 years. I am lead tenor in my school jazz ensemble and think I have outgrown my rental Yamaha YTS-23, so I want to upgrade to a "professional" model. I've been doing a lot of reading on this forum (this is an absolutely fantastic resource with some very knowledgeable people) and think I have decided on a Yamaha YTS-61. I've played a lot of horns made by the big manufacturers (Yamaha, Selmer, Conn, Yanagisawa, etc.) and Yamaha is by FAR my favorite, just something about them.

I don't really have access to a lot of music stores or resources with a large variety of horns so I need to buy online. So, my question is, would the YTS-61 be a good first step, or are there better options that I can get (used) for around the same price?

On a side note, are there specific horns that lend themselves well to a jazz/rock type sound? Or does that depend more on mouthpiece, ligature, embouchure and technique?

Thanks,
Nico
 

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In general, the YTS-61 is a very good "bang for the buck" choice. And if you really love Yamahas, then it's a wonderful choice. I assume you've examined the going rate for these horns on eBay, here, Craigslist, etc. You should be able to find an horn in excellent shape for a modest investment. I enjoy my 61 a lot. I can't say whether it's the absolute best used tenor available at its price point, but mainly because I don't believe there's a specific answer to that question.
 

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There are a lot of folks, as you probably already know, who would say that you can never really 'outgrow' a YTS-23. But you have an excellent excuse: going from a rental to owning. And you are committed enough at this stage to go ahead and buy something you really like. I don't think you can go really wrong with any of the professional Yamaha models. I've never played a 61, but it receives high praise and will probably hold its value reasonably well. It's legendary for being a Mark VI clone, so it should be great for rock or jazz, as should a 62, which is similar. But far more important than the horn are all the other factors that you list, so if you run into any horn that really speaks to you, I would say go for it, regardless of the model. If you can't try before you buy, just get the best guarantee you can that the horn is in top playing condition. Do you have a good technician to help you evaluate instruments? Best of luck!

PS: You will get a lot of good advice here, but I would also recommend that you check out Stephen Howard's review. He has some reservations about the '61 that are worth considering, and he has excellent reviews of the other Yamaha models as well.

http://www.shwoodwind.co.uk/Reviews/Saxes/Tenor/yamaha_yts61.htm
 

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Chances are you may also like some of the earlier Yanagisawa tenors.
They are all good and should fit within the same budget as a YTS61.
 

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The 61 is well respected. If you really like Yamahas, and you really like the 61 particularly, before you plunk down the dollars, I would give the Yamaha YTS 82Z a blow. You might find it to be a bit more substantial than the 61.

(And if you do find that to be the case, give the Selmer Serie III a blow. You might find it as ergonomically superb as the Z and with a bit more depth to the sound. But don't try the Selmer if you can't afford it. It will only lead to heartbreak.) :twisted:
 

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61s are great horns, and I think you hit the nail on the head with your question - would the 61 be a good first step? of course it would, and you leave yourself open to discover other horns that might sing to you and work their way into your heart. I seek out 61s for my school program, because the price to performance ratio is pretty much unbeatable.

I got my VI when I was 14, and didn't know anything except that it was better than my mexiconn and the King Cleveland before that. But my VI didn't really sing to me until I had it set up properly. If you go for a 61, or a Yani or whatever, do yourself a favor and get it fixed up by someone who can help you discover the horn's true potential. I'm lucky to have my school horns worked on by the same master tech that brought my own Vi to life - there really is no substitute for a great tech. (Thanks Claudio!)
 

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Nico I'm not sure where you are located but I would recommend you try out as many different horns as you can to make your decision. Yamaha makes good horns, but there are a lot of other horns out there that YOU might like even more. Forget about what everyone else says. Ideally you want to get the best sounding horn that plays well and fits in your budget. You wont know until you try them so I'd recommend trying before you buy. Otherwise if you have to buy online make sure you are buying from a reputable seller that is selling you a good playing horn. Lots of horns out there are good saxophones except they are not in good playing condition and need an overhaul or repad.

I always would rather buy a horn I can play first before agreeing to a purchase price. If you are trying out the saxophone and you notice it isn't in the best playing condition you can use that to help get a lower sale price as well. Good luck on your search.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks to all those who have replied so far, this information/insight was very helpful.

However, a new development has taken place in my quest for a pro tenor sax. I have found a King Super 20, a Dave Guardala New York Tenor, and a King Zephyr all for around the same price as the Yamaha.

Jazz/rock/RnB are my main genres, so I want a horn that lends itself to expressiveness, and can produce a beautiful sound with the right piece and chops, but can also handle and produce a nasty growl.

So would any of the other horns be better suited for this than the Yamaha 61?
 

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If the Super 20 is a good one I'd choose that. Much better horn than the Yamaha. Do you know the serial numbers of the Super 20 and the Zephyr?
 

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If possible, get a YTS-21/23/275 for cheap, and throw some money in for a good overhaul. Other than the high F# key, there really isn't much that separates this model from the 61. As a matter of fact, Yamaha designed the 61 first before stripping down the extra frills and designing the student model 21. The horns are virtually the same where it counts, and nothing much has changed with the student line throughout the years. The most important word is maintenence. If your student model Yamaha is lacking somewhere, it's probably because it's leaking.

Now IF a high F# is important to you, look for a good mid to professional range Yamaha. They're all pretty consistent up to the Z series. I recommend these over the 875's solely because they have the smaller Mark VI like pinky keys. The 875's are closer to modern Selmer's. They're not bad horns, but I think that they take a step back ergonomically.
 

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I own a full pearls Super 20 tenor and own a Yamaha 875EX tenor. I prefer the sound of my King to the Yamaha. Both are good horns. Get the one you like more and fits in your budget.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
If the Super 20 is a good one I'd choose that. Much better horn than the Yamaha. Do you know the serial numbers of the Super 20 and the Zephyr?
The serial number for the zephyr is 43032 and the super 20 is 488743.

The seller of the zephyr said that the "right eyebrow anchor by the C# key fell off" but he will include the piece so it can be repaired. He also says that the horn is in good playing condition. Should I be wary of this? I wasn't aware of a part called the elbow anchor...

Is the zephyr a step up from the super 20 or vice versa??
 

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Have you looked into the straight tone hole version of the TM Custom? That may be a viable option if they still offer it. But a used Yamaha is also a solid amount of horn for the price. Happy hunting!
 

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Nico:

Older Zephyrs key guards look like eyebrows rather than the more usual stamped or wired keyguards.

That is probably what the seller is referring to.
 

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The YTS-61 was my first professional tenor...Purchased by my dad in 1972..along with a Levelaire 7* mouthpiece.i was junior in High School.

I played this horn until the mid 1990's,when I sold it to a young man in high school for $800.00

They are great horns,capable of anything you can throw at it.In fact that's the horn I'm playing in that pic to the left..
 

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jazz, rock, funk, fusion and gospel on tenor, alto and soprano
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The Dave Guardala is the best option you mentioned. Best horn for the price by far. The key action is excellent (including the high f sharp key), the tone is world class and the lacquer is beautiful. The Guardala is one of the most underrated horns in history. Please don't comment on this unless you have played one for yourself. I loved my Guardala alto so much I found a Guardala tenor online. I have been playing Guardalas since 1998. I dropped the alto off a school desk once. The construction is so rugged it survived the fall, needing only a minor adjustment. Just make sure it is a top end Guardala, with made in Germany engraved in the bell, and lacquered keys that match the horn. Don't buy one with nickel plated keys (that's an easy way to identify the lower end model). Regarding styles, it's all about the mouthpiece and reed. A good horn is a good horn for any style of music. I have my jazz/funk/rock mouthpiece and matching reed, and classical mouthpiece/reed and this horn is great for everything.
 

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jazz, rock, funk, fusion and gospel on tenor, alto and soprano
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The retail price for the DG New York model was around $4,500 when these horns were new. They play like $4,500 dollar horns, for around $1,800 used. I think the reason they are so cheap now is because Dave Guardala turned out to be a conn artist who ripped off numerous people, so the brand value went down with Dave's reputation. I would never buy a new Guardala product, because I wouldn't want Dave to ever get a dime from me. But he doesn't get anything from his used instruments, so why not buy a used Guardala?
 

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You can't go wrong with any of the horns you've mentioned. Find one you like and get to the music. :)
 

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A Greene is on to something here. They are all good horns. I should qualify my previous statement. What I should have said was the Guardala is an excellent option if fast, modern key action, including a high f sharp key is important to you.
 
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