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Discussion Starter #1
Wondering what folks on here think about the following...

I am a recreational player who has the ability to invest in an upper end horn soon.
Aside from the 'try them all!', etc I am wondering about the merits / disadvantages of the following two tenors, of which everything i listen to and all the reserach I do has me leaning toward two very different horns:
1. Vintage Selmer MK VI
2. New Yani TWO20

I use a Theo Wanne Gaia 3 mpc which i got recently and LOVE.
I have an intro Tenor, a Saxophone.com 'pro' series unlacqured red brass horn that is ok, but...time to make a move and upgrade.

I have the budget for either, and i fully understand that the horn outranks my current ability, but that's ok.
I know vintage can equal quirky nagging issues, etc, but i live close to NYC and have the benefit of amazing repair techs who also sell great vintage MK VIs and can set them up terrificly.

What else should i think about as i venture into play testing both of these and making a final decsion.
I totally get sound and my sound will make a difference, but if I LOVE both, and have to choose, what other factors would one consider?
 

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I know vintage can equal quirky nagging issues, etc,
How do you know that? I suspect you've read it here and elsewhere, but that's a huge over-generalization. And I wouldn't say a MKVI has 'quirky nagging issues'. It could be considered a step up in that regard from older horns, but even that is an overstatement. Many of the best of the vintage American horns from the '30s on up are fine instruments without any more nagging issues than a modern horn. Probably this myth about vintage horns comes from a player who picks one up that is full of leaks and hasn't been kept in decent playing condition.

So, just for a start, I'd take the 'quirky nagging issues' thing out of your thinking in regard to a MKVI. You're on the right track about getting whatever horn you pick up put into top condition.

I don't know enough about Yani horns to make a comparison, but I've owned a MKVI tenor for over 30 years and it's a fine, top notch horn.
 

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The thing is, while I don't believe that all Mark VI's will have "nagging quirky issues," I do believe that it is more likely that you will end up with one that does have those issues if you go with a Mark VI than if you go with a Yanagisawa TWO20. You are more likely to end up with a dog of a horn if you go with a Mark VI than if you go with a WO series Yany. That's just the nature of the beast. As many great VI's as there are, there are also many that are outright dogs that no tech can change from being a dog.

I love my current Mark VI alto, and you would have to pry it from my cold, dead hands before I'd part with it. However, even after having taken it to 3 top techs, the low B and B flat still play very sharp and still tend to warble every now and then (moreso with certain mouthpieces than with others). The other 3 VI's I've owned at certain points had similar/identical issues. On the other hand each WO Yany (and even Yamaha) I've bought has played (more) in tune and evenly from top to bottom right out of the box (even the secondhand ones) regardless of which mouthpiece I use.

Issue notwithstanding, I've still chosen to go with the VI (this particular one that I've kept) as my primary horn since there is still something "magical" about its tone that the other modern horns still can't quite measure up to.

Main takeaway is you have to be more judicious and careful when choosing a VI, and it will require more time and effort than you would need if you decide to go with a Yany, but you are more likely to find that special horn if you go with a VI. That's based on my experience, at least.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What I wonder is for my current ability if a top to bottom even horn like the Yani would be more appropriate.
I don’t know if I could sort the dogs from the “good ones” or the “magical ones” without someone else telling me it’s magical.
Don’t get me wrong, I can distinguish tone etc pretty well, but I wonder if an even, great horn like the Yani horn gets “out of my way” until the “magical” part is more apparent to me. The Yani prices are also appealing...don’t get me wrong, I can afford either but why pay more if it comes with potential for issues.
 

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If you don't trust your own ability to judge, then it would be best if you enlist the help of someone who has the ability (your teacher, a pro that you know, etc.). That's what I did when I bought my first VI a couple of years ago (after having played on-and-off on a Yamaha 875EX for around 10 years or so). I took a couple of horns to him and he gave me his thoughts and recommendations after playing them and A-B'ing against his own VI's.

With the Yany's, you can pretty much buy one online from a reputable dealer without having tested it and you'd be fairly certain of getting one that will play well right out of the box (but the upside will not be as high as with a great VI, assuming you are fortunate enough to find one).

What I wonder is for my current ability if a top to bottom even horn like the Yani would be more appropriate.
I don’t know if I could sort the dogs from the “good ones” or the “magical ones” without someone else telling me it’s magical.
Don’t get me wrong, I can distinguish tone etc pretty well, but I wonder if an even, great horn like the Yani horn gets “out of my way” until the “magical” part is more apparent to me. The Yani prices are also appealing...don’t get me wrong, I can afford either but why pay more if it comes with potential for issues.
 

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What I wonder is for my current ability if a top to bottom even horn like the Yani would be more appropriate.
I don’t know if I could sort the dogs from the “good ones” or the “magical ones” without someone else telling me it’s magical.
Don’t get me wrong, I can distinguish tone etc pretty well, but I wonder if an even, great horn like the Yani horn gets “out of my way” until the “magical” part is more apparent to me. The Yani prices are also appealing...don’t get me wrong, I can afford either but why pay more if it comes with potential for issues.
I'm not going to go so far as to say some VIs are dogs and others are magical. I think that's a major exaggeration. While it's true there is variation among them, especially given that Selmer made some changes to the VI along the way, I would bet that most, if not all, of them are top quality horns and the differences are not huge. I could be wrong about that, and some here will certainly say I'm wrong, but man I've heard a lot of players sound great on their VI and they aren't all playing the same horn or one of the rare so-called 'magical' ones. I don't believe I had any extreme stroke of luck to get one of the magic horns when I picked up a used tenor way back in '81, that was the only one in the small shop where I found it. If it was one of the rare magic horns, I guess I should be playing the lotto.

But yeah, motteatoj I totally understand what you're saying. Just keep in mind that playing condition is a huge factor, so you have to be reasonably sure that whatever horn you try out is in good shape. Living near NYC, no doubt you can go into a reputable shop and play test some horns that are in top condition (mechanically). You have some playing experience, a great mpc, and I'll bet if you play test a good MKVI you will know it! The feel and sound is the thing and you don't have to be a great player to make that assessment. Trust yourself. When I tried out that horn I bought all those years ago, I wasn't a very good player, but man I knew immediately I had to have it.

As to the Yani tenor, like I said I can't really help you there. I play tested one some time ago and thought it was a very good horn. But it wasn't my VI. Hopefully someone on here can give you some info on the Yani. I doubt you'd go wrong with either horn. But you'll have to try them and make your own decision.
 

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I would add that you mention the Yany and the VI being in the same price point. My biggest concern is that you are likely looking at lower price VIs.

People are saying that there is a possibility that a VI could be a dog. I would imagine then that the chance of a VI being a dog is raised significantly since you would be looking at lower price VIs.

What you need is someone you really trust that is a great player to visit a handful of *private* sellers. The big saxophone stores are going to sell the really good instruments for a lot more money.

My last thought is I can’t imagine how you came to the WO-20 being the closest in comparison to the VI. I am guessing you just judged based on what was popular instead of playing/sound characteristics? What you might want to consider as well is the T-WO2.
 

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What made you choose between these two models?

I’m into vintage saxophones and especially Selmers but I’ve tried a lot of new horns and there are many great horns, both vintage and new and not only Selmer and Yanis.

I’ve been working in a music store that is a Yani dealer and it seems like many people believes that the WO20 is a “better” horn than the WO10 because it’s more expensive. I personally like the WO10 more and I think it’s closer to a Mark VI than the WO20. I don’t know what your’e looking for in your new horn but the WO20 is darker, more spread and more “elegant” sounding. The WO10 (brass instead of bronze) is more focused and more lively than the WO20.

If I was going to buy a Yani coming from my Mark VI and with my sound ideal I would definitely choose the WO10.

You say that you live close to New York, why not take a day and try a lot of horns from different eras and see what you like.
 

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I sold my Selmers when I found my current Yany.

There is nothing jazz or R n B or hard rock it won't do.

Find what works for you.


Dat
Sax
Man
 

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I have just recently switched to a Yanagisawa WO20 bronze alto after playing the same Mark VI that I bought new back in 66. I love everything about the Yani. Keywork, intonation, response, name it. It’s actually quite a bit heavier than the VI but feels great. In the end, if you can get a good VI, you must try both and decide for yourself. It’s all personal and what you’re looking for. I only got the Yani because after 53 on the same horn, I decided to try something different. Both are great.
By the way, I’m just north of you in Putnam Valley. Happy to answer any other questions I can.
 

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I currently own a TWO20 and a few Mark VIs. I really like my Yany (see my avatar), but rarely get it out since having acquired a Mark VI. I'm not going to sell it at least any time soon as it is a great horn, but I am just in love with the playing experience I am having with my Mark VIs at the moment. My Mark VIs were all set up by excellent techs, and all have a high F# key. I bought into the "MarkVis are are just myth and hype" thing until I actually played one. The least expensive of my Mark VIs cost twice as much as my nearly new mint TWO20. The TWO20 is a different, to my ear more focused sound than my VIs, but whether that is better or worse is totally subjective. If I had to pick only one to keep today, it would be one of the VIs.

My opinion and experience is no more valid than anyone else's on here, but just something to add to your decision making process.
 

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Play test as many as you can and buy the one that you love.
IF you can't get comfortable with that strategy:
a. for your own peace of mind relative to new manufacturing buy the Yany. As you get more comfortable, keep trying other instruments and if you find one you like better, buy it. It sounds like you will have less out of pocket cost to start, but MAY have more depreciation on a new Yany (compared to a VI) should you sell it when you purchase another. Of course I may be wrong about that depreciation.
b. IF you're concerned about the Yany depreciating should you prefer a VI when you feel comfortable that you are making an informed choice then shop more for a well set up VI, and consider having a trusted friend play-test it with you.
Either way I hope and suspect that you'll have a wonderful instrument!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sorry, a few clarifications...

- I was not suggesting that these two horns cost the same, meant i would purchase either one.
- The issue with the Yani at the moment is i cannot find a tenor TWO10 or 20 to play test, the closest one according to Conn-Selmer reps is in Maryland! My thinking was to start with playing that one as I know i can always order one then try as many Selmers (and anything else reco'ed in shops while I am there) for contrast, knowing that if a good MK VI is lurking in a shop it might be gone by the time i compare to the Yani.
- I would ONLY buy a MK VI from a shop around here from a tech that will do an amazing set up (Roberto, John Ledbetter, etc) or one i could have John check out as he does work for me today. That may limit my choices but for this investment its "Go Big Or Stay Home". I am not looking for a 'bargain' if it is a MK VI

I do appreciate all the insights, keep them coming, they do help!
 

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Have you considered a road trip to visit PM Woodwinds or Tenor Madness?

SotW member SimonJazzSax now works at Tenor Madness, and can arrange to help select a horn with you.

OTOH, just buy a Yanagisawa, and accept that it may either suit you well, or be the next horn on your path. There is little reason to think that a Mk VI is the Grail (unless you already have it in your hands, and know that’s the one for you).

Enjoy the path.
 

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I had a Yanagisawa 992 and a Mark VI tenor at the same time, and played them side by side. My opinion s: I think the Yani keywork is a little better than the VI, though the VI is great. I think the tone of the VI is better than the Yani, but the Yani sounds great too. The biggest difference to me is the resistance. I am used to a free blowing tenor, and the Yani is more free blowing, while the Selmer bore design offers more resistance. Again, just my opinions.
 

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I am used to a free blowing tenor, and the Yani is more free blowing, while the Selmer bore design offers more resistance.
In addition to my MKVI, I have a Buescher Aristocrat 156, which is a very free blowing tenor. And while I like that in some ways, at the same time what I prefer about my VI is the increased resistance, which gives me something to 'push against' and seems to give the horn more punch. That resistance is one of the qualities I really like in my VI; it gives a nice feeling of 'resonance' (which may or may not be the right term, but that's how it feels).

motteatoj, I don't know if any of this helps you much. It sounds like you live where you can try out some good MKVI tenors, so I'd suggest trying them and see for yourself how they play. Having a great mpc like that Gaia is very helpful when trying out horns, so that will be a benefit.
 

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I have a 105xxx Mark 6 tenor and a Yani 990t. JohnInDenver beat me to the punch on the resistance point. The Yani is less resistant than the Selmer's original neck but about the same as the Ponzol I have for the 6. The 990 is brighter which works very well for darker mouthpieces.

Earlier Yani's had several factory necks and I assume they were not just cosmetic differences. Keep in mind when trying 6s how much a different neck can make to the way it plays.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The 'punch' issue is one that has come up now here a couple of times.
When i played trumpet (for a long time prior to realizing sax was the path now!) what I learned about new Yamahas vs. some of my vintage stuff is that they were amazing horns that lacked that last bit of character or punch, and I was a bit concerned Yani's might be in that same classification...amazing horn, amazing workmanship, lacks something.

All these comments actually do help.
So the lack of the TWO20 inventory locally has me thinking of another question for you all...
The 990s, yes i know they are different horns, but would they give me some indication of feel and sound if that is all that is around?
 
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