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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,
I have a gleaming, shiny Yana 901. When I play it I really have to pump some air through it to get it to sound ok. Palm key notes are a real problem: I have to ready my self when I move from low to high and vocalise quickly, otherwise the sound comes out low or just plain bad.

Here's the interesting thing. I recently renovated my first sax - a Martin low-pitch from around 1924. It's my first attempt so it's far from perfect. However, using the same mouthpiece (Selmer S80 C* with Fibracell 3 reed), the high notes just flow effortlessly and I seem to require much less air pressure throughout.

I want to know why this can be. There are no leaks on the Yana, but - due to my ineptitude, probably a few leaks on the Martin. Has anyone any insights into this? Is it the key heights, for example? Or a general regulation issue? Or is it expected that the Martin should be easier to play and I just have to improve my technique? Or What?!!!!

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks
 

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I suspect that the Yana has a leak somewhere up top.First run your leak light through the upper area around the high E and palm pads. Also it could b ethe neck fitment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
thanks for your suggestion. I've run a leak light through it and can't spot any problem. I know those lights are not perfect but for such a difference I'd expect a visible leak. The neck is a very tight fit and I can't see a problem there, either. The fact that I have problems playing the F and F# notes, though, suggests that a leak is not the problem because all ports are open for those notes anyway.

Am I right to expect a similar response from both saxes? I'm not too experienced so I thought that maybe my technique was lacking when playing the Yana.
 

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Even with no leaks anywhere, saxophones do differ in the amount of resistance they present. This is a function of tube design, especially that of the neck. Palm key notes are one of the areas where differences in resistance can be most noticed by the player. I've always thought of Yanagisawa horns as having moderate-to-low resistance (my Yani A990µ has less resistance than my Selmer SA80II alto, so the palm key notes are easier), but perhaps compared to Martins, they have more resistance. And I haven't played your specific Yani alto, of course.
 

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Still sounds like a leak problem. But it may not be from the sax. Could be from the mouthpiece, at the neck cork, and/or table flatness problem on the mouthpiece with the reed.
 

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How about trying a more open mpc than that S80 C*? If there is no leak that is the first thing I would try. You could just be blowing your brains out on that closed-up thing and not getting the air through the more modern horn to play the palm key notes. A C* was fine back in the 20's but these days for a modern horn you need at least a 7 opening I'd think. If you look on a mouthpiece facing opening chart you'll see that the smallest tip mpc that Yanagasawa makes is the equivalent of a Selmer F, i.e. a Link 7* compared to a C* which is a Link 5. At the very least, if you want a Selmer piece try an E and see if that doesn't help. I have played a Selmer SS D for years on a '28 True Tone and it is great and also played well on the Jupiter alto I had for a year, although I felt that a more open piece would of been better for me on it.
 

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I imagine that Martin blows completely different than any modern horn. The two instruments stated likely have ridiculously different interior designs. I played that Yani model for months. You are likely just not used to the design.

I don't want to jump to say practice more. I would say spend more time exclusively on the Yani and see if the issue goes away.
 

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How about trying a more open mpc than that S80 C*? If there is no leak that is the first thing I would try. You could just be blowing your brains out on that closed-up thing and not getting the air through the more modern horn to play the palm key notes. A C* was fine back in the 20's but these days for a modern horn you need at least a 7 opening I'd think. If you look on a mouthpiece facing opening chart you'll see that the smallest tip mpc that Yanagasawa makes is the equivalent of a Selmer F, i.e. a Link 7* compared to a C* which is a Link 5. At the very least, if you want a Selmer piece try an E and see if that doesn't help. I have played a Selmer SS D for years on a '28 True Tone and it is great and also played well on the Jupiter alto I had for a year, although I felt that a more open piece would of been better for me on it.
Certainly not a tip size problem. No problem on my A880 with a Riffault R4, which is more closed than a Selmer C*. But it does take a different approach than some vintage saxes. I had intonation problems on the Yani to begin with, because I had been compensating for intonation problems on the older saxes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thank you all for your posts. I've not been back here recently so it's good to read your comments.

Andre suggested I practice more with the Yani and and that turns out to be the best suggestion. The Martin is definitely easier to play - even with a poor technique - while the Yani is less forgiving. I've really focused on improving my embouchure and air support and this seems to have done the trick.

I suppose it's the age old "sax" problem - the problem is the person who is playing, not the sax. Having said that, it's really forced me to concentrate on my technique and I've noticed some serious improvement as a consequence. I'll never complain about my equipment again!
 

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I just came upon this thread. Are you writing about sopranos, altos, tenors?

I'll disagree friendly-like about any era of saxophone playing differently. I do that based on my experience with 1920's through mid-eras to current instruments.

I have a '26 Martin soprano that plays just like my modern Yanagisawa and my mid-era MKVI. I have a 1932 Cigar Cutter alto that blows just as easily as my new Yanagisawa A-W01 (which is very similar to the A-901), and I have Buescher altos that play just the same - all using whatever mouthpiece(s) I have set-up for testing purposes (like an S-80 C*, a Soloist C*, Soloist F, Super Session F, Brilhart Ebolin 3*, Meyer 6S-M, etc.).

AND, I don't think the venerable C* goes back to the '20's - could be wrong there, but the S-80 Selmer mouthpiece design is more modern than it is vintage.

I realize the OP came back and reported making some progress in familiarizing himself with his Yanagisawa, but in MY experience, Yanagisawas, assuming they are as delivered by the factory and are still sealing well should not offer any difficulty. I've owned several of them over time and they were ALL great players. Immediately upon picking up one that I had not yet played, the things just sang, and easily.

I agree with Bruce who posted early that he thought the OP's saxophone had a leak. Leaks are subtly in many cases (a hair or other debris stuck on a tone hole, an octave pad rising ever so slightly when it shouldn't, a faulty pad that is torn somehow or not always closing at a light touch, or other VERY subtle mechanical issues. Playing difficulties could even be because the mouthpiece is not sited properly on the cork causing the player to try to bring up the pitch subconsciously.

I've written this before, but it may be a good thing to take the horn into good sunlight and slowly work all the mechanisms and watch how the interact to spot some unusual motion (or lack thereof). Also, has the OP looked at all sides of each pad as the light passes down the horn?

I just can't buy that a tight Yanagisawa would play like this. DAVE
 

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I just came upon this thread. Are you writing about sopranos, altos, tenors?

I'll disagree friendly-like about any era of saxophone playing differently. I do that based on my experience with 1920's through mid-eras to current instruments.

I have a '26 Martin soprano that plays just like my modern Yanagisawa and my mid-era MKVI. I have a 1932 Cigar Cutter alto that blows just as easily as my new Yanagisawa A-W01 (which is very similar to the A-901), and I have Buescher altos that play just the same - all using whatever mouthpiece(s) I have set-up for testing purposes (like an S-80 C*, a Soloist C*, Soloist F, Super Session F, Brilhart Ebolin 3*, Meyer 6S-M, etc.).

AND, I don't think the venerable C* goes back to the '20's - could be wrong there, but the S-80 Selmer mouthpiece design is more modern than it is vintage.

I realize the OP came back and reported making some progress in familiarizing himself with his Yanagisawa, but in MY experience, Yanagisawas, assuming they are as delivered by the factory and are still sealing well should not offer any difficulty. I've owned several of them over time and they were ALL great players. Immediately upon picking up one that I had not yet played, the things just sang, and easily.

I agree with Bruce who posted early that he thought the OP's saxophone had a leak. Leaks are subtly in many cases (a hair or other debris stuck on a tone hole, an octave pad rising ever so slightly when it shouldn't, a faulty pad that is torn somehow or not always closing at a light touch, or other VERY subtle mechanical issues. Playing difficulties could even be because the mouthpiece is not sited properly on the cork causing the player to try to bring up the pitch subconsciously.

I've written this before, but it may be a good thing to take the horn into good sunlight and slowly work all the mechanisms and watch how the interact to spot some unusual motion (or lack thereof). Also, has the OP looked at all sides of each pad as the light passes down the horn?

I just can't buy that a tight Yanagisawa would play like this. DAVE
Its an Alto he was talking about. And a Martin Alto plays vastly different from a Yani Alto. He solved his problem. Just as I had suspected. Wasn't the fault of the Yani. He had been compensating for the idiosyncrasies of The Martin for so long, that something as centered and focused as the Yani was throwing him!
 

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The horn design shouldn't affect back pressure at all. If you blow thru the neck with no mouthpiece, there's no resistance or difference in horns. This would be the max air flow possible thru a horn. The air flow with a mouthpiece will be fractional to that, so there shouldn't be any contribution to back pressure from the horn or neck.

You must have a leak somewhere, and leak lights don't find all leaks, such as the octave pads, or keys that wobble so they seal or leak depending on how you land them, etc. My favorite trick to find leaks is to use plastic wrap or saran wrap over the bell, seal all keys down to low Bb, and suck thru the neck. A horn with no leaks will quickly go to full vacuum, and you won't be able to pull any air thru. Any leak no matter how small, will let a lot of air thru. Its easier with a helper, but while you have the keys down and sucking, try to press down on various pads, or wiggle the keys to stop the leak. Eventually, you will find the offender or offenders, and you can address those pads or keys.
 

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Nah . . . I don't buy that about Martins vs. Yanagisawas. And, where exactly does it say it was an alto? DAVE
Ok. I re-read from the beginning. Me, and a few others, were assuming Alto. The OP never mentioned pitch. If it soprano, I will concede. You're right, Dave. If it's Alto. I stand my ground.
 

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I too THOUGHT the OP meant alto, but without having said it . . .

I've played them all except for a Grafton. From the earliest saxophones I've played up until the latest, they are all conical tubes with tone holes. I defy you to look down an old Martin and find anything different from an A-W01 Yanagisawa. A few years ago, there was a guy subbing in my band and he had a VERY nice old Martin (split-bell, I'm not sure of the model) and we switched altos for a tune - he on my Ref 54 and me on his Martin.

His Martin was an alto saxophone, that's all - nothing different from my Ref 54 really (well, my Ref 54 had front F and interconnected left-pinkies). He commented that my Ref 54 was BRIGHT! I had to laugh at that because I always thought it was among the warmer altos in my closet - just goes to prove the subjectivity of such things.

But back to Martins vs. Yanagisawas, show me the differences. DAVE
 

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I too THOUGHT the OP meant alto, but without having said it . . .

I've played them all except for a Grafton. From the earliest saxophones I've played up until the latest, they are all conical tubes with tone holes. I defy you to look down an old Martin and find anything different from an A-W01 Yanagisawa. A few years ago, there was a guy subbing in my band and he had a VERY nice old Martin (split-bell, I'm not sure of the model) and we switched altos for a tune - he on my Ref 54 and me on his Martin.

His Martin was an alto saxophone, that's all - nothing different from my Ref 54 really (well, my Ref 54 had front F and interconnected left-pinkies). He commented that my Ref 54 was BRIGHT! I had to laugh at that because I always thought it was among the warmer altos in my closet - just goes to prove the subjectivity of such things.

But back to Martins vs. Yanagisawas, show me the differences. DAVE
Those subtle differences is why we all get different interpretations from saxes, depending on mouthpiece, reed, and our own approach to the instrument. I still belive there are saxes on the extreme ends, with the vast majority probably residing in the middle. So, we are both wrong, we are both right. My wife can tell when I get on a dark sax vs a bright one. Same high baffle mpc and reed on both.
 

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Oh I agree that there will be subtle differences in tone, intonation, and even response among all the saxophones. Some of that, especially response, comes from how the pads seal.

I'm not arguing tone here, I'm arguing that the OP's Yanagisawa should play just as easily as his Martin. If it doesn't, there is something wrong somewhere on that Yanagisawa . . . Martin, old TT, King, Conn - it doesn't matter. DAVE.
 

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I'm not arguing tone here, I'm arguing that the OP's Yanagisawa should play just as easily as his Martin. If it doesn't, there is something wrong somewhere on that Yanagisawa . . .
I agree, with one caveat. Some vintage American horns are a bit more 'free-blowing' than many modern horns. But the difference the OP describes sounds more like a leak in the Yani.

One thing I would ask the OP is if the Martin plays better, even needing work, why not get it in top-playing condition and use it instead of the Yani?
 
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