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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi I just started today on sotw forums. I have a big comparison question.

Alright I've been playing on a student model for a very long time and I know it's time for me to switch to professional. BTW. it's alto sax.

For the saxophone's price range, it's not a problem. I've never tried these instruments and my local music store does not have any of these instruments in stock.

Saxophone:
Yanagisawa 991, 992, 9933 Silver?

Yamaha 62II, Custom Z series?

Selmer Reference 54? (My band teacher just bought a new series III from them and the newer versions are terrible.... bland sound)

Mouthpiece:

Vandoren Optium AL 3

Other mouthpieces that have a nice circular chamber inside.

And a jazz mouthpiece recommendation


My preferences: I play a lot of classical, jazz, and blues music. I need either one mouthpiece thats good on both or two mouthpieces (I own the Vandoren Optium so it's fine). Also, please tell me what kind of yamaha, yangis, or selmer you're recommending (lacquer, black lacquer, silver, bronze, etc.). If recommending any please list the advantages of it above the rest and maybe for the saxophones broaden my ranges a bit. :mrgreen:

Thanks! :colors:
 

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From what you write, you want a good all-purpose instrument. Unfortunately, you'll be swamped with personal preferences - every single horn you list will find its advocats, and it'll be more or less pure chance which one will "win" in this thread. I'll try not to start that - this forum sees probably half a dozen similar threads a week, and they all turn out pretty much the same. That said, just to make things more difficult ;) - add the Selmer SuperAction 80 II to the mix (this is *not* a recommendation - I just think it should be there, especially regarding your goal).

Which "student model" do you play, and how does it work for you? What are your sound preferences - what do you expect from the horn? What horns have you played and/or heard (the Series III was a good example - since you don't want to go there, we can probably rule out at least some of the more obvious choices)?

In the end, if you don't have a chance to play the instrument first, there's always a considerable risk that you'll end up with something you don't like or something that doesn't justify the price you have to pay. The more "special" a horn may be, the less certain you can be that you get what you want. That's all I will say for now.

Let's see how this goes, then.

M.
 

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I am currently using the Yanagisawa A992 for jazz, symphonic, gospel and even rock.
PARASCHOS wooden neck, SELMER vintage soloist C* mpc with PARASCHOS ligature.
play as many horns as possible for you decide. get that which has a better chemistry and helps you with your tonal concept.
A992 has buttery action, good response, centred, great intonation throughout the ranges. It lacks some edge which I compensated with the neck :)
 

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Welcome to SOTW. I agree that most of it will be personal preferences, but what else is there? Of the three brands/models you listed, I've owned three of them (A992, Ref 54, Custom Z). I still have the Ref 54 - 'nuff said.

But, when getting into finishes, it doesn't matter. Take some time and read through this site before coming back to this issue. You will see that many of us don't believe that the finish matters regardless of the marketing hype and the myths put forth everywhere (not just SOTW) about the various finishes.

Mouthpieces? VERY personal and the ones I like may not come close to what you like. This is something you must sort out for yourself. However, once you get there, in MY opinion, a good sounding and playing mouthpiece can play any kind of music you can push through the horn. DAVE
 

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Since you included classical playing in your list, I'll say this:

If you try a Reference 54 alto, make sure you test the low note response from C-Bb at low volume. Some people experience response problems that result in a gurgle/multiphonic. Others have no issue.

It's a design issue, not a leaky pad issue. You should test any horn before buying, but this is especially true for the Ref 54 alto, in my opinion. I am one of the people who experienced this problem. There are solutions, but when you pay $4-5000 for an instrument, it should play well for you without resorting to "fixes" or after-market necks.
 

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awholley: I agree that some have experienced the gurgles with the Ref 54's, and I agree that it is a design problem (more accurately, a mechanical problem, not the bore or taper, etc.). I realize you probably emphasized "OTHERS HAVE NO ISSUES" to avoid another discussion of that. But I must comment, as I have before, about this issue. No argument intended, just a discussion to refresh some memories OR to state something some readers may have missed in previous discussions.

I have not experienced those gurgles on my Ref 54 alto or the several others that I've played. Yes, I've been able to induce gurgles by not fingering the left pinky-table accurately.

Just this morning, after reading this thread (and posting), I took a close look at my Mark VI and my Ref 54 altos. Both have similarly designed left-pinky tables. That includes the rectangular bar that runs at the bototm edge of the low C# and the low B touches on the table.

On my MKVI, that bar causes NO movement when touched or pushed alone (separate from the other touches in the table). On my Ref 54, when that connecting bar is touched, it causes the low C# to rise ever so slightly. What happens is that if the player does not precisely hit the low C# or the low B touch with the left pinky, the low C# rises.

With a precise fingering, the low C# remains closed. The movement of the low C# is difficult to see and/or assess. I had to hold the horn in front of me so that I was facing the bell, work the left-pinky table while at the same time watching and pushing on the low C# pad to detect movement. I detected movement. This has been true with other Ref 54's I've looked at. They all showed low C# movement when that cross bar at the bottom edge of the left-pinky table was touched. When I ensure precise actuation of MY left pinky table and I do not touch that cross bar, my Ref 54 (and all those I've played) speak those low bell notes with authority. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
To answer some questions....

First, my local store does NOT carry all these instruments... I've tried out their Yamaha 62II and it sounds good.... but I want to consider others before purchasing.

@ Moonmind I have a Jupiter 667GN (the lowest of the Jupiters XD)

@ Nef I need more than just an opinion give me some reasons why?

@ Dave Thank you so much for that input of the gurgle noise in the lower registers and also detail about the instruments from selmer

And about the mouthpieces.... Someone just please tell me two good mouthpieces... one for classical and one for jazz. BTW.... my band store does not have most of these instruments in stock.
 

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Dave: The only problem I see with personal preferences is that what works for me may or may not work for you - but of course, opinions of very experienced player like Steve and you are valuable.

All this aside, I'd say that both the Yanagisawa 991/2 and the Selmer SuperAction 80 II (*not* Series III) are somewhat better all-around players than the otherwise impressive Reference 54, but that's just my view. Of the three, I also think the A-991 offers the best value for money. If, on the other hand, the final perspective is solo work, I'd prefer the Reference or the Yamaha 82z...

iMusic (blues): Since you've got that Jupiter, you know a good deal about how a Selmer SA80II feels - it's a pretty solid copy... But the Selmer is a lot more refined in all aspects, including sound. The biggest advantage is the fat low end. The A-991 is less in-your-face - but extremely even and well balanced with precise intonation; it's also very mouthpiece-friendly and blends well - though it has its own warm and round tone. IMHO, that's a great starting point for just about every path you may want to take. I got to play the Yanagisawa A-991 only after buying my SA80II - had I known it before, I'd have chosen the Yani instead...

M.
 

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Classical: I've witnessed great tone from Yamaha 4C to Selmer S80 and everything in between (I personally like neither). I use a Drake Ceramic Custom. It's designed as a hybrid between Classical and Jazz, since I play very little classical. It's my "old school" Jazz piece, as well as my Classical and Concert Band piece. It's an .080 tip size. Most true classical players seem to prefer .070 and smaller.

Jazz: I really like my Drake Contemporary .085. Great lead piece, and though it's of a high baffle design (something some Altos players dislike), it doesn't lose fullness in tone, or the ability to blend when needed. Simply the best Alto piece I have ever played!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
@ MoonMind So.... do you recommend the yanagisawa 991

@ NissanVintageSax I've never heard of Drake Mouthpieces. I just need a mouthpiece that has a circular chamber for classical, and any recommendations for jazz mp's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
After talking to my private teacher about saxophones... He said that the yanagisawa's (991/992/9937 ?) are a bit bright sounding. I kind of need a saxophone that's not to bright but not to dark either (I play jazz too and classical)
 

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iMusic: Any hint as to where you actually live? In the middle of the ocean may be Hawaii, the UK, or Australia, but who knows? It may affect the direct advice we give you about what to buy and equally important, where to buy it. How do you see these purchases being made? Mail order? Internet? Travel to a store that has a decent selection so you can select one?

We can all give you ideas about what to consider - I agree that the Serie III Selmer is not a good choice - the ones I've tried were painfully bright (another subjective descriptor, for sure). Much brighter than any Yanagisawa I've played/owned.

I've owned two Yanagisawa altos (A880 and A992). They were both good horns - if anything plays well right out of the box, it would be Yanagisawa. But even then, they need to be shop-checked before the sale. I've tried a number of Yamaha Z's and the best one I came across, I bought used (and I was on the hunt for one). Even then, I sold it back to the seller because it wasn't my cup o' tea. I still haven't found a Yamaha I've really liked.

With a few exceptions (the Serie III being one of them) most saxophones can be "darkened" a bit by the player, using good technique and by selecting the right mouthpiece/reed combo. I've even been able to affect tonal quality by using a different reed and the same mouthpiece. My advice would be to take everyone's advice with a grain of salt and make your own decisions about brightness and darkness.

The A992 should play pretty dark, but I personally prefer the tone of lacquered brass over lacquered bronze (and those differences are subjective, open to argument, and very subtle if they exist at all). Still, my favorite modern soprano is a bronze S992 Yanagisawa - go figure.

Mouthpieces? I still don't think there is a huge difference between what one uses for classical playing and jazz playing, but others are adamant about this issue. Personally, I've used a Selmer S-80C* for my acoustic jazz playing - no one threatened to put me in jail because I used a so-called "classical" piece for jazz. It is one of those things that players love to disagree about. DAVE
 

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iMusic: This is another proof of the point I was trying to make in my first post: Is the A-99* a bright-ish horn? No way, sir, at least as far as my experience goes - but of course, your millage may vary... There's only one way to determine your own take on the truth: Try the horn. And yes, for the purpose you describe, I dare recommend the A-991.

M.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
@ Dave... Again thank you for your great detailed advice :). I live in Hawaii :p (so nice guess). I'm currently "borrowing" my teachers vandoren optimum AL 3 mouthpiece. I personally like it because of it's circular chamber. The square chambers of the s80, 90, etc. don't seem to fit me because I sort of overblow and square chambers kind of surpress my air. Overblow, I don't mean I play loud, I control dynamics very well, but I mean like the intonation and the focusing of my tone isn't great with square chambers (air isn't square). The circle chambers help me focus my sound. And about the reed, I use vandoren 3's (meh go figure).

@ MoonMind I also appreciate your help as well. I am a little bit on the Yanagi side because there's something in me that just connects me with the Yanagisawa saxes... I don't know what but it's like... my calling :p. But on the serious side, can you possibly compare the a991 to the a992 to the a9937 (the silver saxophone it's almost a ref 54 price)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Actually can someone help me on comparisons

a991= gold lacquer


a992= bronze?

a9930= mostly sterling silver (body neck) lacquer (bow bell)

a9937= all sterling silver
 

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After talking to my private teacher about saxophones... He said that the yanagisawa's (991/992/9937 ?) are a bit bright sounding. I kind of need a saxophone that's not to bright but not to dark either (I play jazz too and classical)
He has never heard one with the right mouthpiece then. I have a friend that plays a Yani 991 and he has two mouthpieces: A custom Tenney Link, completely redesigned for Classical, that is so dark, if you heard it on a recording, you would swear he was playing a 1920s vintage American sax, and one so bright it can "peel paint"!

www.drakeceramicinstruments.com
Some of the best mouthpieces made. Up there in quality to Wanne, Tenney, Lawton, and others, with what I would call reasonable prices, and excellent customer service! He makes mouthpieces in resin, resin hybrid, metal, and ceramic. All are round chamber, and he builds them from no baffle to high baffle, and straight sidewalls, to round sidewalls, and short facing curves to long facing curves (though his longest facing curve isn't as long as a Tenney or a Lawton).
 

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I can see where this thread is going because it's a repeat of many others. Nevertheless -

OP - for my own personal usage, nothing played as versatile, with as much finesse and yet with the flexibility to play all genres as the Selmer S80 Serie II.

I see the kind of qualifier questions you keep coming back with, so you probably want to know this - I played (in Germany) lead alto in one big band, alto II in another, played alto/tenor/flute in a pop/classic soul/disco band and principal alto in a regional wind ensemble and occasionally played classical solos as part of recital series (such as Amy Quate's "Light of Sothis" or Jacques Ibert's "Histoires").

My tonal concepts are-
- classical: a conservative and traditional French traditional sound.
- - Rousseau NC5 mpc/Vandoren Trad 3.0 reeds
- jazz, full bodied and staying away from the bright side
- - Ponzol HR Vintage mpc/Rico Royal 2.5 or 3.0
- pop/soul, on the bright side, ala Candy Dulfer
- - same as jazz setup unless more punch and cut was needed, the I'd use a Ponzol stainless steel alto mpc.
 

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iMusic: I haven't had the opportunity to play a 993*, so I can't comment on those, but I compared a couple of A-992 and A-991 to my SA80II. What struck me about the Yanis:
1) Consistency: They're very well made and reliable. In fact, this is also true when you compare A-992 to A-991 - they're very, very similar. That's why I recommend the 991...
2) Evenness: Tone, action, intonation - all well balanced, solid and predictable. I actually had to force myself to *not* automatically compensate for quirks I was used to from the SA80II.
3) Neutrality and versatilty: They'll take everything you put into them and do what you make them do. Some think this is a lack of character - I think it's a rare chance.

As much as I appreciate the strengths of my SA80II, especially the booming low end and the solid core sound, I also know that compared to the Yanis, it's really quite capricious, especially in terms of intonation. It has a tad more power to release, though - which can be important. Anyhow, though I didn't get the 99* (I came very close...), I had the opportunity to snatch a A-6 for little money just recently - now, this is *not* a 99* soundwise (it's considerably brighter, but with a very strong, warm and charming core - I love it), but it's also very reliable and even throughout, and extremely responsive - that's a boon, especially when playing jazz and blues since it makes shaping the tone a manageable and enjoyable task. I now prefer the A-6 to the SA80II for everything except classic. That's not to say that the SA80II is actually a bad horn - far from it. It just makes you work harder for several decisive aspects.

M.
 
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