Every Yanagisawa saxophone I've owned has been worth the price. Right now I have three Yanagisawa sopranos . . . S901, S992, and SC902, all purchased sight-unseen and untested. I have also owned Yamaha saxophones (a soprano YSS-62-S, and an alto Custom Z).
My experience is insufficient to make an objective comment about what you may expect out of an individual saxophone, but if it were me, I'd buy a Yanagisawa over a Yamaha most of the time. The exception would be if I were testing both horns side-by-side and I liked the Yamaha better.
I have played a few other Yamaha straight sopranos (including the 475) within the last five to ten years - none came to the level of my own Yanagisawas. Still, they were decent instruments.
I'd recommend testing before buying, but if you can't do that before purchase, I'd feel comfortable in choosing the Yanagisawa. DAVE
I'm with Dave on this. From my experience over the last 40 years being a soprano player and having owned 62R's, Yani's and Selmers, Yanagisawa's in my view are the finest sopranos made. A better comparison to a Yamaha 475 would be a Yani 901. Although the 475 is a nice soprano, it doesn't have the fullness and richness of sound the Yani has and it lacks the attention to detail when it comes to construction.
Play test the horns side by side, including your Conn. You will discover preferences for one horn over the other with such a test. Mouthpiece/reed combos will also have an affect on these preferences, too.
I am another Yanagisawa advocate. Every one I've played or owned has been satisfying -- even a very nice playing B6 stencil I have. As far as curved vs. straight -- I'd say the straight tends to be an easier blow in the way of resistance and intonation, but the curvies tend to have a better tone and have a built in monitor. Straight sopranos are tough to mike and tough to hear as a player. Curved sops don't have this issue.
As a comparison to Yamaha - the top of the line Yamahas (82Z, 875) have better feel, keywork, action, and raw power over the Yanagisawa, but you're splitting hairs. Yanagisawas have the edge in tone, intonation, and 'uniqueness'!
Yup, the Yanagisawas with the "2's" are bronze, the "1's" and "0" are brass, with the exception of their solid-silver line. Both are clear-lacquered. There is lots of disagreement as to whether or not there is a tonal difference between brass and bronze. I don't want to start a whole argument here, but I've concluded (my own personal opinion, mind you - please don't flame this topic) that the finish doesn't matter, nor does the presence or absence of lacquer.
The material with which a horn is made MAY make a difference. In my experience in comparing similar saxophones in bronze and brass (altos, sopranos both curved and straight) is that the bronze horns are a bit warmer/darker, while the brass has an edgier bright tone. PLEASE - your experiences may be different.
As to curved vs. straight. I've also had heated disagreements with others about this. But in MY opinion, the audience won't hear a difference; the player will. And that is because the bell comes right back into the player's face. Curvies are great for airplane travel (more compact case) and for loud playing environments where most of the time a player couldn't even hear himself think. With the curvy, you MAY hear your horn.
I have recorded with straight and curved sopranos and I'd defy anyone to listen and tell me which horn I used on recordings. They all sound like me playing a soprano.
S901 vs. Yamaha 475? I own an S901. It is the same as the S991 except that it has a fixed straight neck. My S901 plays with the same great sound, volume, intonation, and ease of response as do my other Yanagisawas. And when I think about the 475's I've played, the S901 seems better to me.
I have not played an S901 alongside a 475, but after playing the 475's, I did not reach for my AMEX card (which I normally do if I test a real player). I haven't played a Yamaha soprano yet (and yes, I've played the hi-end models; and there still is a Yamaha YSS 62S in my family that was once my main gigging horn) that has the raw power and individual sound-character of my Yangisawas. True, the Yamahas look nice and feel good but no better than the Yanagisawas, in my view. Much of that has to do with the player, though.
Dave's comments are right on! I have owned three versions of the Yani curved starting with a Martin labeled horn that had lots of intonation issues
I think moved up to the 901 (?) earlier version of Yani curved with B/Bb keys on opposite side) then finaly my horn for life the SC992A. This axe is a real joy to play.
Prior to playing Yanis I had an old Selmer VI straight which never worked right for me. No experience playing Yamaha to compare. I also like the ergos on the curved
and the direct feedback and always play with a strap to take the weight off the hands.
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