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Hello,

At the moment I am in the process of buying a new saxophone. I tried a few horns in the shop and the Yamaha Custom 875EX and the Yanagisawa AW01 are my favorites. In terms of sound I’m leaning more towards the Yamaha, but the Yanagisawa feels better action-wise.

One thing: with the Yani the palm key notes come out effortlessly, but with the Yamaha I really have to put pressure on the mounthpiece to get them out. Is this inherent to the horn or does it also have to do with tweaking and/or mouthpiece setup?

Thanks!
Rens
 

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One thing: with the Yani the palm key notes come out effortlessly, but with the Yamaha I really have to put pressure on the mounthpiece to get them out. Is this inherent to the horn or does it also have to do with tweaking and/or mouthpiece setup?
Both. It's clearly an attribute of the horn (mostly caused by neck design, I think, although the main body tube probably affects this response as well), but that doesn't mean "tweaking" can't help. A different mouthpiece or reed can make the response a little easier on a resistant horn. You just have to find the setup that enhances high-note playability while still retaining the tone you want. That's not always simple.

Also, Yamaha makes a variety of necks. Which one does your EX have? Perhaps an aficionado here can recommend a freer-blowing alternative.

Twenty years ago, I was comparing new top altos (Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa). I ended up with the Yanagisawa A990µ because, among other things, its palm key notes were free-blowing and responsive, whereas on the Yamaha 875 (no EX back then) they were thin and muted, and a chore to get out. I guess some things haven't changed.

I still have that A990µB, but I also play a Selmer SA80II now. The Selmer is more resistant up high than the Yany, and I've spent a fair amount of time addressing this issue in the manner suggested above.
 

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Hello,

At the moment I am in the process of buying a new saxophone. I tried a few horns in the shop and the Yamaha Custom 875EX and the Yanagisawa AW01 are my favorites. In terms of sound I’m leaning more towards the Yamaha, but the Yanagisawa feels better action-wise.

One thing: with the Yani the palm key notes come out effortlessly, but with the Yamaha I really have to put pressure on the mounthpiece to get them out. Is this inherent to the horn or does it also have to do with tweaking and/or mouthpiece setup?

Thanks!
Rens
The palm key thing could be a combination of issues. Could be the mouthpiece, could be your embrouchure/airstream, could be the neck (as suggested).

Yamaha currently makes 3 necks:

C1: Produces the most "compact" sound, has the most resistance, probably the darkest. This one is designed for classical soloists. It's an improvement on the M1 neck.

E1: The in between neck. Less resistance than the the C1, a little brighter. This is the one designed for band playing, Broadway shows, anywhere where maximum flexibility is key. It's an improvement on the G3

V1: The most free-blowing and the brightest. They provide this with the 82Z now, so I guess it's the jazz neck. Thing is, it's an improved G1, which they used to put with the 875EX and 82Z so I'm not sure that it's fair to pigeonhole it.

If you can, try some different necks. I know jazz guys who use the C1/M1 and classical guys who use the G1/V1. (A LOT of classical guys seem to use the G1/V1, actually, and people who are after a Desmond type sound use the C1 or E1.)
 

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Rens: In my experiences in testing and buying new alto saxophones, I've found that the Yamahas I played were much dependent upon how well the dealer set up the horn before the sale. While with Yanagisawas, I've found them to play well right out of the box - and I've seen them unpacked without a dealer set-up, handed to me to play - and they played great.

Admittedly, my experiences have been limited to a few of each brand compared to the entire community of new Yamahas and Yanagisawas. But I think your experience with one Yamaha could be thought of the same way. Until anyone has played hundreds of these different models, it would be inaccurate to attribute a certain playing characteristic to a whole line based on one experience. Meaning . . . maybe not all Yamahas will give you that upper-range difficulty you had in playing one of them.

On the other hand, most of us do evaluate a brand based on limited experiences, mainly because we don't have the time, the resources, the location, OR the desire to do extensive testing. Much like cars and guns, we read a road-test or range-test or two, and at least narrow our choices accordingly.

Based on my experiences, and reading about others' experiences, I settled on Yanagisawa (mine is the A-WO1). I am VERY happy with it. If possible, I'll suggest you test more than one Yamaha before making your decision. DAVE
 

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I've had a bunch of Yanis, the old 990 through almost the whole line of saxes except alto, I've had two yas 62 mk1 and yes the Yamaha palm keys where so so, EXCEPT one silver Yamaha 62 mk1 I borrowed one time for a gig, that one was nicer than the others. But I've never had any issues with Yanis though they are quite dull or too perfect how you want to look at it.
 
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