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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

There is no doubt that the Yamaha YAS-23 is the most recommended student alto saxophone made. However, I rarely see any information on the forums as to "why" it is the best choice? Is the key action superior, intonation, long-term durability, physically easier to play, etc?

So my question to all you sax veterans is, what specific qualities makes the YAS-23 a superior student saxophone?

Thanks!
-markcr
 

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Good key action, solid intonation, reliable build quality, durable, and easy to play.

- Saxaholic
 

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Yes, they are expensive for a student horn, but I've played few tenors that I preferred over my 23. Maybe I just got lucky.
 

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Buy used and get a good deal. I have one I'm selling for $400. Not too bad considering it's been completely gone over and put into perfect playing shape.

- Saxaholic
 

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Buy used and get a good deal. I have one I'm selling for $400. Not too bad considering it's been completely gone over and put into perfect playing shape.

- Saxaholic
You are correct and I'm not arguing. In fact I just sold one for my grandson, who lucked into a King Zephyr alto. Sold the YAS23 for $400, bought the King for $450. The King's in o.k. shape but not real pretty - about 70% lacquer, but so what?

Back to the YAS though. Sure, they seem to retain some value but considering the initial price of about a grand +/- new (depending upon where you buy one), $350 - $400 is pretty much the going loss of value rate for a student horn. Bundy II, Conn whatever the current number, Jupiter, and many others, all take a huge hit compared to new price. I sure am not knocking the horn - my grandson played his for 3 years with no problems.


Seems to me that prices of horns of "lesser stature," those that sell new in the $2K to $3K range lose a lot more resale value relative to purchase price than do the "elite" Selmer's, Yani's, Yammie's, et al. Resale prices look to be "brand" driven, rather than quality driven. And of course there's nothing anywhere as good as a 60-year old Selmer MKVI ;-)

However, all that aside, Yamaha YAS23's are "so good" because they're recommended a lot. And they're recommended a lot because they're "so good." Circular logic. ;-)
 

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I recommend them to students as one option to consider if they want a new(er) sax (and I always tell them to find a used one). Same goes for Yamaha made Vito's (which are 23's in disguise).

However, they aren't necessarily my first recommendation if the student is open to older instruments. There are many older/vintage saxes that are equally well built (if not a little more sturdy) and play just as well...for even lower prices than a used 23.

But even only looking at modern saxes, there are enough solid Taiwanese saxes out there that a 23 is just one of a handful of options open to a student.
____________________________________________________________

While I don't consider them the student sax, here's why I recommend them to students:

(*)They can be had for a decent price as used saxes.

(*)They've been around long enough and were produced in such high numbers that they're common as dirt...so it doesn't take much looking to find a good deal on one that's in solid condition and playable.

That's really about it. They can be a solid contender as a student sax for someone looking to buy used. Best sax ever? No. Worst sax ever? No.

Just one of a number of options available to someone looking for a sax to get started on.
 

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Buy used and get a good deal. I have one I'm selling for $400. Not too bad considering it's been completely gone over and put into perfect playing shape.

- Saxaholic
I'm not arguing about this, but your point is interesting. Buy used is indeed one way to get a good deal. But I wonder; if a new YAS23 costs say, about $2 grand +/- and it's sold for $400, is that such a good deal for the seller? I just sold, for my grandson, his YAS23. Got $400 for it. As I recall, we bought it new about 3 years ago for $1600.00. Getting $400 is a $1200 reduction from the original price - 75%! which is pretty much the going rate reduction for used student horns - and obviously a heavy hit. Bundy's, Conn's, and to a lesser extent Jupiter's, Antigua Winds, L.A. Sax and others lose roughly the same percentage. The best deal would be if one bought a used horn for say, $400 and sold it for $450 or more. You don't say what it cost you to have your horn "tech-ized" but it had to increase the loss.

But cost aside - the YAS my grandson had served him well. What makes it "so good" is that its recommended most by band instructors, along with Bundy and Conn. Recommended a lot, it has to be good, right? Again, I'm not knocking it. The YAS used, can be bought for $300 - $600. But there are others as well. My grandson happened upon a mid-50's King Zephyr for $450 that's in pretty good shape. Now, that's a good deal. The YAS23 is indeed a fine instrument. But it is, after all, a "student" horn and likely to be replaced after say, high school or even college. Seems to me, if the budget allows, that a used, more "professional" horn would be a better choice.

I'd suggest to the OP to check with JaySF. He's on SOTW and has a website. He has a lot of pretty good horns for reasonable prices. I nearly bought one from him but the kid got the King first.
 

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It's called "Lean Six Sigma". Yamaha uses this quality manufacturing philosophy and many others appear not to. In LSS, engineers continuously try to find ways to increasingly reduce deviation in parts in the belief that this also reduces and number of defects. The end result is not only less defect, but also a huge increase in consistency. Thus, the vast majority of YAS-23 saxes will all perform pretty well the same way. Usually, you don't get "good ones" and "bad ones". Almost all are "good ones".

So it doesn't matter how a model of saxophone is designed or what features it has if there is no consistency in the product. Yamaha uses a good design and consistently makes every sax to that specification. The YAS-23 is probably not the "best" student model sax. But there is a lot of evidence to suggest it is the most consistently good student model sax.
 

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You are correct and I'm not arguing. In fact I just sold one for my grandson, who lucked into a King Zephyr alto. Sold the YAS23 for $400, bought the King for $450. The King's in o.k. shape but not real pretty - about 70% lacquer, but so what?

Back to the YAS though. Sure, they seem to retain some value but considering the initial price of about a grand +/- new (depending upon where you buy one), $350 - $400 is pretty much the going loss of value rate for a student horn. Bundy II, Conn whatever the current number, Jupiter, and many others, all take a huge hit compared to new price. I sure am not knocking the horn - my grandson played his for 3 years with no problems.


Seems to me that prices of horns of "lesser stature," those that sell new in the $2K to $3K range lose a lot more resale value relative to purchase price than do the "elite" Selmer's, Yani's, Yammie's, et al. Resale prices look to be "brand" driven, rather than quality driven. And of course there's nothing anywhere as good as a 60-year old Selmer MKVI ;-)

However, all that aside, Yamaha YAS23's are "so good" because they're recommended a lot. And they're recommended a lot because they're "so good." Circular logic. ;-)
They are surely an option in the ever increasing market for saxophones. There are other options to consider. For a complete beginner, I think, used, they are probably the best bet.

- Saxaholic
 

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I think the two most important words when looking at a student sax are "Solid" and "Reliable" - The YAS-23 has stood the test of time, you can pick up an new 23 or a 30 year old 23 and they will be "solid and reliable" - Now my son has had a 23, he loved it, and he also has/had a King 613 Cleveland. he got lucky with the King as it had not been played for 20 years, and was in great condition - it may even equal the 23 in terms of quality, and it too is solid and reliable. Unlike the 23, the King has no resale value. On the up-side I bought both students sax's used and have not lost anything on the resale. BTW, my son prefers the King, regardless of its 'perceived resale value'. One has to wonder how todays Taiwanese and Chinese brands 'today's student' model will be around in 30 years, and have a reputation that is 'Solid and Reliable' !?

Considering the range of student horns available today, with in reality a short life span, the YAS-23 could even be considered almost an intermediate horn - its so good.
 

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They have the good feel and quality construction mentioned above. The tone/intonation/quality of sound seems to be what gets them accepted by folks who generally only look at more expensive horns; why they are considered an acceptable backup for a gigging pro.
I got into saxophones as a late bloomer with a Chinese horn which held up well and sounded great to me. I then found a used YS-23 alto in a pawn shop, and the difference was striking. Comparing the two, the better sound from the 23 was like comparing tapping on glass to tapping on crystal.
I donated that horn to a junior high school when I thought I was giving up the sax due to tinnitus. When I couldn't give up the sax, I bought another one which I am equally pleased with. I now have a 23 tenor on layaway, and am really looking forward to getting it.
As to the drop-off in price between new and used, I think that is just the marketplace. Since they are so well thought of, and Yamaha is a huge manufacturer, there are lots of 23's out there, especially the alto. They are the "Ford" and "Chevy" combined of student horns. That availability keeps prices down in the used market.
 

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I´ll second most of the sentiments already expressed here. It is a good, reliable, well-built horn, it plays in tune and is quirk-free and I, as for a huge number of people on this forum, learned to play on a YAS-23. It was my first love as far as saxes are concerned.

However, I helped a friend choose an new alto for her 10-year old son (who had been renting some no-name Chinese horn) so I took them to Howarth´s in London to play a range of "entry-level" saxes now that the boy was ready to commit to playing (and owning). The thing that distressed me about the YAS 275 as compared to the 3 or 4 others that we tried (Buffet, Howarth´s own-brand Taiwanese, Jupiter, Trevor James) was how terribly tinny-sounding it seemed compared to the others. OK, so maybe one-person´s "tinny" is another person´s "bright" - but the the 275 was startlingly different from the others. Was the YAS 23 as bright as that?
 

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Don't forget the YAS-21 as well as the YAS-23.

They are well made and reliable with good intonation and action and a good player can obtain a pretty good sound with them and a beginner can also make pleasing and encouraging sounds on them.

The YAS-21 and YAS-23 also match with various mouthpieces very well and the classic Yamaha 4C mouthpiece with a YAS-21 or YAS-23 is a very good beginners setup IMO.
 

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However, I helped a friend choose an new alto for her 10-year old son (who had been renting some no-name Chinese horn) so I took them to Howarth´s in London to play a range of "entry-level" saxes now that the boy was ready to commit to playing (and owning). The thing that distressed me about the YAS 275 as compared to the 3 or 4 others that we tried (Buffet, Howarth´s own-brand Taiwanese, Jupiter, Trevor James) was how terribly tinny-sounding it seemed compared to the others. OK, so maybe one-person´s "tinny" is another person´s "bright" - but the the 275 was startlingly different from the others. Was the YAS 23 as bright as that?
Probably - but the way to counter it is to use a warmer mouthpiece. It's a lot easier to knock back a brighter horn than it is to pull up a warm one.

Regards,
 

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they're affordable ,especially when used.
most of the time anyone interested in playing the saxophone gets a scare when they learn a bout the price of the instrument. A starters guitar can be picked up for a third of the prize or less. Since they have been recommended by teachers a lot as an easy to play starters horn they can be found second hand. For a lot of people it's the cheapest option, a beautiful second hand Conn, King, Buescher is way more expensive over here. and you get a good saxophone ( no quirks , good intonation).
 

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While you're at it, consider a used Vito made in Japan. They were made by Yamaha and are virtually the same horn as the Yamaha student model at the time of manufacture, but for a lower price. Look carefully, though. The Vito made in Korea is a Jupiter. Early Vitos are even better. Some were made by Yanigasawa, others by Beaugnier.
 

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One additional thought -

There is an acceptance on the part of peers, educators, and yes - even repair technicians - with this model. That's a few less sources of pressure a beginning band student has to deal with. They will have plenty of time later on to take their stand on more important issues than which saxophone to start on. And BTW, I totally concur with the Buy USED comments.
 
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