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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
Long time lurker here, who have finally managed to come up with a topic of my own.
I have found a Yanagisawa S990 soprano which I may be able to buy for a decent price (I think). However, a usually well-informed acquaintance of mine says that these are known to have intonation problems. Is there any truth in this? I´m aware that Yanagisawa changed the tone hole placements between the 990 and 990u tenor and alto models, but was there ever a S990u and were there any significant differences from the non-u version? I own an A990 and have owned a T990, but have never experienced any intonation problems with them (quite the contrary, actually) but I suppose a soprano would be more sensitive in that respect?

So I would be grateful for any input from you S990 owners out there. I am also curious to know about any differences between the S990 and both earlier and later Yanagisawa sopranos (apart from the detachable neck and high G, of course).

Best regards

Saxray
 

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I have tried a few Yanis of different series , including S990 and I believe the thing that really stands out is how easy they are to play in tune. Well there's always a black sheep in the herd, but even the S6 ( Mark VI copy) has less intonation issues than the average VI. Yanagisawa sopranos are outstanding from any standpoint.
 

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Actually I forgot to add that I never really had MY OWN soprano before. I used to borrow a Mark VI, a buescher, a Yani S990 or a SA 80(I) from a couple of friends. Yanagisawa was my inspiration to buy my own soprano. One might prefer some other texture of sound and that's a personal thing but when it comes to soprano making those guys really set the standard. Compared to the S990 my S902 is just darker and I find it a bit more focused. I think the keywork is different as well if I remember correctly but nothing biggie. Mine I just got it brand new but that's it.
 

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Thanks, that fits a lot better with what I have previously heard about Yanagisawas (and with my own experience with the altos and tenors)! To be honest, I was quite surprised by his objection, but I don´t think it was based on any personal experience.
 

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Congrats on your purchase! I´m sure the 902 is a very nice horn! For myself, I am just a hobbyist (and not a terribly good one, at that) who plays tenor most of the time, and I´m looking to buy a soprano just for the fun of it. Even though I would prefer a good quality brand, I´m not really prepared pay full price for a new one right now. So as long as there are no major flaws to consider, I´m prepared to take a chance on the S990 without looking too much at other models. Besides, my soprano experience is very limited so I don´t think I would be able to properly evaluate the finer details at this stage.
 

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Congrats on your purchase! I´m sure the 902 is a very nice horn! For myself, I am just a hobbyist (and not a terribly good one, at that) who plays tenor most of the time, and I´m looking to buy a soprano just for the fun of it. Even though I would prefer a good quality brand, I´m not really prepared pay full price for a new one right now. So as long as there are no major flaws to consider, I´m prepared to take a chance on the S990 without looking too much at other models. Besides, my soprano experience is very limited so I don´t think I would be able to properly evaluate the finer details at this stage.
I would definitely go for that S990. Excellent horn, really well built, really clean tone. Too clean for some people. For me is just right what I want. Most important, the only horn any human may need for a life time.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I would definitely go for that S990. Excellent horn, really well built, really clean tone. Too clean for some people. For me is just right what I want. Most important, the only horn any human may need for a life time.
Sound great! I haven´t actually seen it yet but I´m very tempted. It´s for sale in a store, but they have sent it away for some pre-sale adjustments so they can´t provide me with any photos for the moment. Unfortunately, I won´t be able to play test it beforehand, but I think I´m willing to risk it unless it turns out to be in really bad shape cosmetically.
 

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I've owned a number of Yanagisawa sopranos over the years, including the stencil Dorado 600 in the late 1960's or early '70's (can't recall now). My remaining Yanagisawa is the curved SC902. None of them have presented intonation problems. DAVE
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I've owned a number of Yanagisawa sopranos over the years, including the stencil Dorado 600 in the late 1960's or early '70's (can't recall now). My remaining Yanagisawa is the curved SC902. None of them have presented intonation problems. DAVE
Thanks, I have gathered you have a lot of experience with soprano saxophones in general and Yanagisawas in particular, so that is really good to hear. As I wrote earlier, I haven´t bought it yet but I´m really tempted. I will let you all know how it turns out.

/Saxray
 

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Please if you end up getting it just let us know your view of the instrument.
 

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Enjoy your time with your Yani, those are excellent horns. Now you can get in touch with Joe from Soprano Planet who can craft a mouthpiece especially for your horn. :D
 

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Soprano sax is the hardest to play in tune in my opinion. That may explain some of the comments because people will complain about the intonation on any brand of soprano.
 

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I came from Clarinet > Alto > Soprano, so no tenor, and for now, exclusively soprano. To me, difficulties of any kind in playing the soprano rarely arise from instrument design and certainly not from a well-made horn like Yanagisawa of any vintage, although I am sure each model has its own characteristics and quirks. I think many “problems” come from failing to realize how different the soprano is from other saxophones. One cannot just play a soprano the way they play the tenor and get optimal results.

In my limited experience, the first key to the soprano is a relatively higher tongue position and faster, more focused airflow. This is almost the opposite of what most tenor players are taught, “hot breath" or something like that, but it saved my aching chops, even with the hard reeds I use to get the sound I want.

The second key I found for intonation and other issues was a horn that is well setup and doesn’t leak.

Third, I found a good, well balanced mouthpiece is more enjoyable, easier to play and will remedy most remaining intonation issues. For me, so far, this has required custom refacing by a reputable refacer, but there are a few manufactured mouthpieces that are hand finished by reportedly competent craftsmen. This does not mean you have to spend a fortune on a mouthpiece, but, in my experience, an investment here is money well spent.

With alto and tenor, you can get away with a lot more than you can on a soprano. The spaces and tolerances are smaller and more exacting. With these three bases covered, I think anyone can have a great experience with a soprano.
 
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Good advice twocircles.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well, here comes a quick update for those who are interested. So far, the Yanagisawa has failed to materialise. Instead, I have had a second hand Yamaha YSS-475 on home trial. Lovely sax, but coming from tenor and baritone, I found the intonation to be a bit of a problem, to put it mildly. I tried it with the standard Yamaha plastic mpc, a Yanagisawa HR, a Selmer Concept and a Jody Jazz HR 6. I was almost ok with the Jody Jazz, but with the others I was horribly out of tune, especially the middle C# which was really (and I mean really!) flat. I do realise that the problem was with the player and not with the sax, but in the end I decided to return it. I´m still curious about the S990 though, and if it turns out to be in good shape I might still purchase it. Further updates will come!


/Saxray
 

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That Yamaha is a pretty capable horn and you are right, coming from the big horns you might have intonation issues with soprano. Well it happens to everyone at some point, but if you are not totally happy with the intonation after a few days, just don't buy it. It might be that particular horn. My Yani plays in tune (within reason) with any mouthpiece I have tried or own and I haven't had it for so long. I have tried on it my Navarro maestra, my mouthpiece cafe espresso, a jody jazz hr, a crappy(this particular one) Bari Hr, a modern meyer, the yanagisawa HR mouthpiece, a Theo wanne Gaia 1 and it doesn't say "NO" to anything. Be patient and find a Yanagisawa or a Custom Z yamaha. It's better to spend a bit more once than spending less several times..
 

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After writing the above, I visited the store´s website. Apparently, they had now gotten it back from the repairer and had put up some pictures (without telling me...). As it turns out it wasn´t a S990 at all, but a S900 (or similar). Nothing wrong with that, but since it seemed to be pretty worn, it wasn´t that much of a bargain anymore.
I think I´ll pass on this one and wait for the next opportunity. Thanks to all who chimed in!


/Saxray
 

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Ahhh! What a shame!! Just be patient the new swo series is out and there are some people who want to always have the latest model, like if it was phone. You might find a good s901, s902, .... for a good price.
 

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A friend of mine just got an S9030 in Canada for 1500 usd. It's virtually new. It was just a kid who wanted to have the latest model. It doesn't happen everyday, but it does..
 
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