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The 875EX is not for everyone. Some consider the Yamaha sound to be too thin; some consider the Yamaha sound to be too brilliant (I find it quite brilliant). Recently, I spent some considerable time speaking with a member of Yamaha's team. I started off qualifying a few questions I had about the development of the 62 (the original one) and the 82Z, but the topic quickly progessed to the 875EX. I could not help but be impressed with the dedication Yamaha claims to have put into this horn (actually, quite distinctly, the alto, soprano, and tenor). I was surprised to hear that Yamaha's development of the 875EX alto was truly a dedicated effort. The Yamaha representative was quick to point out that the 875EX alto was not simply built from the original 875; it was apparently systematically developed to provide a new voice to the Yamaha line. I had already recently spent a few days comparing the 875EX, the 82Z and the Selmer Serie II; these were all somewhat older horns that have been professionally set-up. The results were somewhat surprising and added to the conversation.

So, a friend and I spent a few days playing among the three saxophones and rated them in categories, subjectively evaluating ergonomics, intonation, response, build quality and tone color. The tests are all flawed (some more than others), but this thread does provide two individuals' perceived ratings in the captioned areas. Also, players usually spend time getting to know their horns, so this evaluation does not allow for such. But it was fun, which is the reason I decided to post it.

Ergonomics:
We both found the Selmer Serie II and the Yamaha 875EX to be outstanding with the 875EX probably coming out slightly ahead of the Serie II. The right hand pinky keys on the 875EX were much more comfortable and smooth than the 82Z and somewhat nicer than the Serie II; the Serie II also felt somewhat bulky perhaps being a bit oversized. We both found the overall Serie II action to be noticably louder than the 875EX and 82Z; I think this is a common theme on the Serie II horns I have played given their internal springs. The palm key placement also went to the 875EX with the Serie II coming in second. The 875EX's palm keys were immediately accessible and are set quite high. The 82Z's palm keys are lower and are similar to the Mark VI.

Intonation:
The results of this section are simply anecdotal as the methodology is flawed; you can save your time and skip this section if you like. Essentially, I played each horn with its original neck, and then the friend played the same. After warming up and playing three notes to adjust mouthpiece placement, we respectively played each note for between two and three seconds trying not to adjust pitch and just trying to discern the baseline pitch of the notes on the horn. We took our respective turns recording the readings and marking the pitch variance on a sheet of paper. We had to be very careful not to adjust pitch, which is one reason we selected a shorter pitch duration. We did not get overly scientific with quantitative ratings because my methodology for assessing intonation in this test is significantly flawed. We did come to some broad generalizations, however. Consistent between both players, the Serie II has excellent intonation (< + or - 10 cents on each note) and seems to possess more stable A2 (Bb3) and above. The 875EX also has excellent intonation and may have more stable low register (F1 and below) and also fairs somewhat better (probably insignificant results) in the middle register than the Serie II. The 82Z performed far worse than the other two horns; I was somewhat surprised by this. The 82Z on C#2 and C#3 was > + or - 15 cents the vast majority of the soundings. Several palm key notes had the same issue. I have stated before that the 82Z is a bad match for the G1 neck, and I believe this is one of the prime issues. On the other hand, the 875EX plays quite well with the G1 neck.

Response:
We evaluated the perceived ease, speed and clarity of response among the three horns by playing static tones, passages, and overtones. We both found the 875EX to provide the fastest response, we disagreed on ease of response between the 875EX and the 82Z (they both respond with perhaps a little too much ease), and we both agreed that the 875EX and 82Z offer the most clear response. The Serie II is great, but Yamaha has this response thing down. I would be interested in playing the Serie III and perceiving its response.

Build Quality:
The 875EX was the hands down winner in this category while the Selmer came in second and the 82Z came in third. The 875EX has no perceivable issues whatsoever; it is simply as perfect as it gets. The Serie II had to have its tone holes desharpened; they were very sharp. Also, the Serie II's neck joint screw needs to be fastened with plyers to secure the neck tenon adequately. The 82Z was a mess. It's action has way too much play between the posts, its bell and bow tone holes were not level, the C#1 key sticks like its going out of style, the little screw adjustments adjust themselves, and manipulating the front F key drives the rod out nearly three millimeters.

Tone Color:
Selmer Serie II: This horn is an amazingly full and dark sounding saxophone. I have not played any other horn that achieves the fullness this horn has. Also, this horn is homogenous from Bb 1 on up. This is a very fine instrument with a full and even dynamic range.
Yamaha 82Z: This horn sounds like a Serie II in the low end and the 875EX in the high end; it's sound is not homogenous. I can't say much more. I have been a fan of this horn in the past, but it may primarily belong in the jazz genre. It is a great sounding horn nonetheless.
Yamaha 875EX: This horn is brilliant. Again, this horn is brilliant. But this horn's sound is also dense and wonderfully homogenous. My friend asked, "What gives with the EX?" I don't know "what gives," but this horn, while not as full as the Serie II, possesses a richness that is quite nice. The EX also has an enchanting quality; I was driven to it time and time again. It perhaps has a very unique bore taper. I greatly enjoyed the G1 neck on this horn.

Finally, this post/thread is not intended to contribute to some body of literature re. saxophones. I had the time to quickly write a review, much of which has been covered previously, and capture some opinions publically on the forum. Thanks for reading.
 

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Nice job, thanks. I would say that my findings were similar. About the only thing I would point out is that all three of these horns are outstanding, so I would avoid the use of phrases "far superior" and "far worse", etc. IMO when evaluating the differences in these saxes, the saxes are so good, I find the differences relatively minor. BTW, you guys must've had a lot of fun. Did the beer inventory at the local 7-11 suddently take a dip? :D
 

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Thanks for the review. While I myself have not done the side by side comparison, I am a "Yamaha turn Selmer turn back to Yamaha" guy. I had a awesome original Custom alto and foolishly decided to switch to a Series III. I eventually had Series III sop, alto and tenor. While I liked my sound on the Selmers, when I heard myself I couldn't help but notice that the "brilliance" wasn't there any more like I had with the Custom. Well, now I own an EX soprano and alto and just ordered my tenor on Friday. They just feel right to me.
 

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Yes, it is an amazing horn! I love my 875EX tenor! When I was buying my horn I also tried 82Z and Selmer Ref 54. The 82Z just didn't have the rich full sound that the 875EX has. I liked the Ref 54 alot, but just couldn't afford it. But I'm very happy with my 875EX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Nice job, thanks. I would say that my findings were similar. About the only thing I would point out is that all three of these horns are outstanding, so I would avoid the use of phrases "far superior" and "far worse", etc. IMO when evaluating the differences in these saxes, the saxes are so good, I find the differences relatively minor. BTW, you guys must've had a lot of fun. Did the beer inventory at the local 7-11 suddently take a dip? :D
Thank you, Gary. I took your advice on language and changed a few statements, though I probably missed a few. The beer inventory did take a dip; I think we were using a tuner but it could have been the DSL modem. :shock: Hmm???
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
How did the G3 neck work on the 82Z? Did it improve some of the intonation problems you guys were having?
I will generally only play the 82Z alto with a G3 neck, but stuck with factory standards in this case. The G3 neck provides focus and improved intonation, especially for the 82Z. The 875EX needs less help re. intonation.
 

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Since starting just on two years ago, I've had in mind that one day I will probably want to get my "perfect horn". Not sure if perfect is possible anymore, but - I've narrowed things down quite a lot, and this review is very very helpful.

I currently play, and love playing, a YTS62II. There's three horns I will try out when I'm ready; The 875EX, 82Z, and Mauriat 66R - all tenors. For whatever reason I'm not drawn to Selmers at all, and vintage saxes? No thank you.

Who knows? I may end up keeping my 62
 

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Another well-thought out and honest appraisal by Rasberry. Out of curiosity, how do you think a serie III would have compared?
 

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How did the G3 neck work on the 82Z? Did it improve some of the intonation problems you guys were having?
Bfoster64 definitely a big yes for me!
The G3 did improve and resolve all those intonation problem,,for me anyways!
No comparaison in intonation,,that G3 did it!
My regards
Saxobari
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Another well-thought out and honest appraisal by Rasberry. Out of curiosity, how do you think a serie III would have compared?
The Serie III alto, tenor, and soprano are amazing horns. If one were to compare a Serie III alto from Randy Jones' Tenor Madness to an equally set-up 875EX alto, it would simply come down to individual preference. My experience has been that the Serie III alto has a fuller sound while the 875EX has a more brilliant and resonant sound. The 875EX plays quite effortlessly; I think one has to train themselves not to push too hard since the horn does a lot of the work, but the horn will take nearly everything you throw at it. I think the Serie III will pass the same test. Again, the choice between these two horns is going to come down to individual preference.

I compare a lot to Dr. Tenney's alto and soprano mouthpieces (his tenor pieces as well). These mouthpieces allow the player to shape his or her sound (within parameters)--his mouthpieces play perfectly. I hear some people offer concern that Tenny's pieces don't give them a cut and dry sound, but I don't want a mouthpiece that provides a cut and dry sound. I want to shape my sound, and Dr. Tenney's mouthpiece allows for such within healthy parameters.

The two saxophones fit into the category of allowing one to express his or her individual voice. If one wants a fuller sound, I would likely suggest the Serie III. If one wants a more brilliant and resonant sound, I would likely suggest the 875EX.
 

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The 875EX plays quite effortlessly; I think one has to train themselves not to push too hard since the horn does a lot of the work, but the horn will take nearly everything you throw at it.
An excellent point. I've had an EX tenor for 2 weeks, and without much quality time to adjust, and found myself very easily blowing sharp during a big band rehearsal. I tried a few necks with it, and the G1's did not get along with my EX at all; I was hoping to find a G1 to "spread" the tone a little for big band, but it was not to be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
An excellent point. I've had an EX tenor for 2 weeks, and without much quality time to adjust, and found myself very easily blowing sharp during a big band rehearsal. I tried a few necks with it, and the G1's did not get along with my EX at all; I was hoping to find a G1 to "spread" the tone a little for big band, but it was not to be.
As one pushes more air into the horn, does the horn's intonation remain static, does it go flat or sharp, or is it contingent?

I failed to mention in my many paragraphs that the 875EX has the smoothest and easiest playing low end of any horn I have played.
 

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I've had an EX tenor for 2 weeks, and without much quality time to adjust, and found myself very easily blowing sharp during a big band rehearsal.
I'm not sure that was Rasberry's point. My EX alto has excellent intonation, but like any saxophone, I had to learn the patterns of where it is sharp and where it is flat&#8230; then; compensate. A sax with great intonation needs the least compensation. The problem with discussing intonation, is that it is different for every player. However, most sax players who have played many horns, like the intonation on the EX series.
 

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I failed to mention in my many paragraphs that the 875EX has the smoothest and easiest playing low end of any horn I have played.
Good point. On my alto EX, i am able to get a sound in the low register very close to the same notes on a tenor. In other words, if i choose my phrases carefully, i can fool people into thinking they are hearing a tenor. By the way, the Buffet S-1 alto has an equally easy playing low end, but it doesn't get that fat tenor sound like the EX.
 
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