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Yanagisawa Lacquer

4295 Views 21 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Sidepipes
I have just taken delivery of a Yanagisawa A992 and I have discovered some small blemishes in the lacquer coating in a couple of places. They are not particularly prominent and one has to look closely to find them, but I would have expected the lacquer job on the body to be perfect. What do people think?
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You asked what we think, so my response is, "how does it play?" A few lacquer blemishes (that are hard to see, no less) wouldn't bother me, but if its enough of a distraction for you that you won't enjoy the horn or want to play it, then I suppose you should send it back. Maybe the bronze has something to do with it. All in all, it's not something that would concern me.

Maybe I'm not getting something, but this reminds me of the thread a while back by a person who was upset that the lacquer on his Ref. 54's octave key was starting to wear off after a couple months. The level of concern seemed unwarranted to me then, but maybe I'm missing something.
Thanks PC - that is helpful as I can see where you are coming from. I just needed to get things into perspective.
It's not a big deal indeed, but one should expect from a new horn that it's in perfect condition...
amoram said:
It's not a big deal indeed, but one should expect from a new horn that it's in perfect condition...
Well, not necessarily. Though these professional-grade horns are largely mass produced, there is a lot of hand finishing that goes into them. And I think Yanigasawas on the whole will be in "more perfect" ;) condition out of the box, on average, than Selmers. Indeed, if you mean "perfect condition" to mean that the horn will play out of the box without any tweaking, then on average, a brand new Selmer is shipped in relatively poor "condition."
I've noticed that the lacquer wears pretty quickly on yanagisawas, (I have 2) but they play so great who cares. If your horn plays well, I would keep it because the lacquer is going to wear naturally just from playing it. I've had my alto only 6 months and there is already half the lacquer gone from the thumb rest. I've always thought a saxophone should look like it gets played a lot anyway.
I think it's down to the buyer.

Some buyers may say (as one poster has) that if it plays okay a few minor blemishes wouldn't bother them. Others may want a new product to be immaculate. Personally, if I fork out for a new product I would expect it to be immaculate. That's what I've paid a premium price for as opposed to getting one in "near mint" condition from the used market.

If it doesn't bother you then play it and feel good. If it bothers you then I personally feel you're justified in contacting the vendor, politely explaining the situation and seeing what their response is.

How the vendor handles it will be a good measure of their quality; anyone can shift boxes, handling matters when things go wrong is a different issue...
I've owned several new Yanagisawa saxophones (A992 included) - still have two that I bought new (S992 and SC902). Most of them had lacquer-wear issues, especially on the palm keys, side keys, and long rods.

My S992 (which is a great soprano, especially after an overhaul by Scimonetti's) has probably the worse lacquer wear of all of mine. All of the aforementioned areas have lost their lacquer, plus there are three large patches on the back side of the tube where the lacquer is gone. Believe me, I am gentle with my horns and the only explanation for this is poor lacquer from Yanagisawa.

I routinely hit those areas with a polishing cloth to take the roughness off of the touches and rods - THAT I find distracting. A quick hit with the cloth will make those touches smooth again.

STILL, if I was going to buy a new soprano, a new Yanagisawa would be my first choice. I just haven't found anything else that plays as good. DAVE
The bend in the upper stack of my 902 bari started losing lacquer within the first two or three weeks I had it and it's kept flaking off in the four years since. It's a great horn despite being ugly as sin. A few rods are also losing lacquer and the thumb hook has long since become bare brass. I'm not complaining, though.
I've had four Yanis. A880 from about 1980, lacquer loss is mild and only at high wear areas--what you'd expect on a sax of this age. T901 from about 1999, absolutely no loss. B901 (Vito VSP), also about 1999, very mild lacquer loss on some rods. S990 from early '90s, significant loss on table keys and rods.
Thanks guys!
These replies have been most illuminating and encouraging.
The instrument plays beatifully.
All my Yanis have more than 'typical' lacquer wear for their age. My T992 actually seems to be the best. My S991 started blistering on the back very early and the lacquer just polished off with gentle wiping. My B991 is about a year and a half old and the side keys, palms, thumbrest all show significant wear, although I have cared well for the horn (still no dents and no real scratches even on a bari!!!). My A880 is ugly as sin and it's probably < 20 years old. Much uglier than my 30 year old Couf bari.
I bought a mint A990 Yani and it has a lacquer issue as well.The horn's laquer is great except for the LH third finger key.It almost looks as if it is a part from another horn because the spray isn't covering the arm.It bothered me for about a day.From what other members have said,Yani's lacquer issues are common.
Do what I did and get an unlacquered horn. Miraculously, I've had zero lacquer issues with my A991UL. :p
Somehow this thread reminds me of the question: Why does a top flute cost so much more than a top sax, even if you subtract the (small) cost of the value of the sterling silver or the cost of the gold.

There is a lot more work in making a sax, surely. About twice as many moving parts for a start.

If we payed two or three times as much for the sax, then we would probably experience the level of perfection quite often (but not always) found in a professional flute.
Gordon (NZ) said:
If we payed two or three times as much for the sax, then we would probably experience the level of perfection quite often (but not always) found in a professional flute.
In light of what other top-of-the-line woodwind instruments cost, I can live with the imperfections of a mass-produced saxophone. But I understand the feeling of disappointment when you've forked over your hard-earned cash and got something that wasn't perfect. I felt the same way about my Mustang GT convertible when I bought it a few years back. After a while though, the imperfections stop bothering you.

So let them vent. It's a necessary process. :)
SaxyA: Well, I for one am not venting. I'm merely responding to another post, telling my experience.

Finish IS important to many posters and they deserve to know what to expect from a top-shelf saxophone like Yanagisawa. But they also need to know that it doesn't really matter in the long run - and I think that's been a consistent message in this thread. DAVE
As the originator of this thread I have been both enlightened and encouraged by the genuine, informative responses it has produced. I think Dave Dolson is exactly right in his final, succinct summation. As I said earlier, the instrument plays beautifully. Thanks again to all.
My experience is that Yanagisawa and Selmer finishes have the most problems (Selmer has had some periods where they didn't clean all the solder flux and the lacquer started blistering around all the fittings in the first month or two...often before they left the showroom floor. Yamahas are amazing...I see a lot of old, beatup YAS23s with pretty nice lacquer. I have also noticed that Keilwerths are very good at holding up. YMMV...the early Kings were also very good.

I also don't particularly care about the lacquer much on a horn; doesn't seem to help it play at all better. Everything else about Yanagisawas (from a manufacturing quality) is better than anything else I see, can argue about liking the way it plays, but their quality control is amazing....remember, they only make saxophones.
I suppose the reason that minor imperfections in the lacquer are allowed through the inspection process (I find it hard to believe that Yanagisawa's professional quality inspectors would fail to notice such things) is that by the time the final inspection is carried out and the imperfections are noticed, a decision must be taken on whether or not to scrap that particular isntrument and start again, which would be a prohibitively costly exercise. I therefore believe that when minor lacquer blemishes are found that do not threaten the integrity of the lacquer coating, they are simply let through for reasons of cost. Not to do so would presumably add considerably to the cost of perfectly produced instruments.
It is far easier, one imagines, for high quality ceramics manufacturers, such as Wedgwood for example, to simply smash imperfect items, but they do sell "Seconds" which have minor imperfections, which is a marketing concept that I have never seen adopted by saxophone manufacturers, unlike retailers who regularly sell slightly damaged instruments at a reduced price, the damage having been acquired on display or wherever, after leaving the factory.

I also think that my expectations were just so high that I was taken aback somewhat to discover the minor blemishes on my new A992, the lacquer on my Yamaha YAS275 being absolutely perfect from new. I have been using the mouthpiece supplied with the A992 (no.7) on my YAS275 and with a 2.5 Rico Royal reed, it's a nice combination and has opened up the instrument in a way that the Selmer S80 c* with the same reeds did not. One lives and learns, I suppose.
Now I want to see how the A992 gets on with the Selmer S80 c* and my newly acquired Selmer Soloist D.
Thanks again to everyone for their most perceptive and pertinent comments.
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