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I gig for a living. I've gone through a number of tenors, Conn (fireworks), Selmer Modele 26, Pan American (back up horn), Mark VI, Bundy (back up horn), Mark VII, Couf Superba II, Grassi Prestiege, and MacSax classic. The MacSax I had custom finished with 2 coats of silver colored nickel for me. It's a nice horn and I'm happy with it.

I used the MacSax indoors and used the Grassi as a backup and outdoor horn. Recently I decided to get the Grassi overhauled and found a Yamaha YTS-52 on Reverb at a price not much more than an overhaul job. The Grassi hasn't been overhauled in over a decade, so I'll probably sell it as-is, it has more than paid for itself in gig cash.

So I expected the Yamaha to be an OK horn for that weekly outdoor gig on a quay over a salt water lagoon and a decent back up horn.

And trying it out, that was my first impression. But the more I play it, the more delighted I get. The more I play it, the more I like it.

The intonation is perhaps the best of any sax I've ever owned, it's very free blowing, and it has a very flexible tone. It doesn't get quite as bold as my MacSax, but it goes from very sweet to very aggressive depending on breath support and oral cavity shape. Much sweeter than the Mac and as aggressive but when overblown it's thinner. More scream than honk. That's good in a different way. It's a true joy to play.

I'm using a Link Tone Master 8NY on it. I tried my Berg 100/0 but the Link sounds much better. I put on a very old hard rubber Link 6 just for fun, and it came off with Getz-ish tones. I play pop/rock/blues for a living so the rubber Link was just for fun, not for gigs.

It's not a backup horn, but an alternate horn. That is the delightful surprise. I'm gigging with it all week.

If all Yamaha saxes are this nice, I wonder why more people don't rave about them on the SOTW forums???

My next horn might also be a Yamaha.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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Nice! And I'm not surprised. The 52 series was a great line of affordable high-quality horns. My Yamaha 52 alto got me through college capably, I got it for a grand on eBay my senior year of high school and it never let me down. When I was playing in the North Texas One O'Clock Lab Band with it, I was the only dude who wasn't playing on a $5k plus Mark VI or similar. I used it on the first couple Snarky Puppy records, too. I sold it to a member here a few years back but I'd buy another one without hesitation if I needed one.

I sold my Mark VI tenor in 2008 for a Yamaha 82z, and that has been my main instrument ever since. It blew the pants off that old VI, which I sold for a ton of money compared to what I paid for the Yamaha, and it's been by far the best instrument switch of my life so far. I absolutely love Yamaha saxophones. They feel great, they sound great, and they do exactly what they're supposed to do.
 

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The 52 is an incredible horn period . They can be had pretty cheap and my repairman told me they are the same as a 62 without the engraving . I’ve played them and love them! My 62 series 3 plays all my gigs while my mark 6 stays at home. They are easy to play and in tune with a great sound.
 

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Many people do rave about them, as well as lots of other horns that play really well that aren't vintage Selmers or other vintage horns but the SOTW illuminati lean pretty hard towards vintage horns so these impressions are often discarded or devalued.

Yamaha's student and intermediate level horns play really well. It's difficult for many people to justify the price of them new because they aren't as cheap as most would expect compared to the lowest line pro horns like the YTS-62. However, used, in good condition, they can be a great value as are the Yani 901 saxes (which strictly speaking aren't student level horns but...) that can often be found at very reasonable prices used. The guys at Liberty Music did a pod cast on how well the YTS-26 plays.

I'm glad it's been such a pleasant surprise for you. Your reaction is like the one I have when I put on a pair of pants I haven't worn in a while and find a $20 in one of the pockets :)
 

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The 52 is an incredible horn period . They can be had pretty cheap and my repairman told me they are the same as a 62 without the engraving . I’ve played them and love them! My 62 series 3 plays all my gigs while my mark 6 stays at home. They are easy to play and in tune with a great sound.
I thought the 52 was post on body construction and the 62 used ribbed construction. Is that not true?
 

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So I expected the Yamaha to be an OK horn for that weekly outdoor gig on a quay over a salt water lagoon and a decent back up horn.

And trying it out, that was my first impression. But the more I play it, the more delighted I get. The more I play it, the more I like it.
My two cents on a comparable YTS-62III (one cannot buy a new 52 anymore). My story is different, but I fully share notes_norton's excitement and surprise.

I never knew or played anything else but, perhaps, one of the most controversial, in terms of quality assessment, vintage horns, B&S Blue Label. It accompanied me on my thorny road to decent craftsmanship, including squeaky highs, a bit-through Link, shortage of breath and other inconveniences one must go through while learning without a teacher.

6 years into the adventure, I decided I'd had enough of those high E to F#, which stubbornly resisted getting high enough; of that low B, which leaked despite being repaired twice; and of that lingering suspicion that it might sound like a tin horn to listeners, although to me it sometimes sounded OK.

After trying a few expensive vintage horns, including a late VI, and a few new horns, I still could not find a compelling reason to give up on the Blue Label, although common sense was telling me: every single one of those horns must be much better than the Blue Label. So one morning I just called the local Long & McQuade and ordered a new YTS-62III.

I've been playing it for 3 weeks now and can confirm that all the ravishing reviews from Yamaha fans, as well as the deprecatory reviews from Blue Label detractors (notably, Haines and milandro) were true.

62 is made for people with human fingers and ears, not for robots with adjustable swivels and sound sensors indifferent to pitch, like the Blue Label. After years of reluctance to explore certain tonal transitions - they felt so clunky and sounded so false, I am finally not afraid to play whatever comes to my mind. It all sounds true and right, and a few clunky transitions due to the change of horn are easily remediable through practice.

Near retirement, I won't be able to afford a more expensive instrument, but I feel I won't need one. Just like that old Russian song: 'For years I saw you in my dreams, but only met yesterday'.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I gigged all week with the 52, left my MacSax at home. I still love the MacSax, so instead of having a 'good' horn and a 'backup' horn, I now have 2 'good' horns.

I don't remember my VI that well, except the intonation was challenging, the tone was nice, and it played well. I bought it new for $600, played it hard on the road, and when I sold it, it was in well-worn shape. The VII had nice tone, but it wasn't flexible, same tone whether I played gently or tried to overblow it so I didn't keep it long. The High F# key was nice for playing rock in guitar bands though. The H.Couf Superba II was one of my favorites, great tone and the best high F# key, but it turned green and pitted like the skin of a cantaloupe. I play were people wear tuxedos, so I need a nice looking horn.

I know a lot of people love those vintage horns, but for me, I gig with the horns, I want them to sound nice, respond nice, and look nice. They are tools to make a living with, not an investment, so how they work is important, and the Yamaha 52 works well. From my experience, newer horns have better intonation.

I still can't believe more people don't rave about the Yamahas. Perhaps there just isn't any prestige in the name.

Anyway, I'm delighted with it.

Insights and incites by Notes

PS. talking about investment. The $600 I spent for the Mark VI in 1960 buys about what $4,865 buys today. So if I kept it with original lacquer, it wouldn't have been an investment at all, just a hedge against inflation, and I wouldn't have been able to play it on about -10 years worth of gigs.
 

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I thought the 52 was post on body construction and the 62 used ribbed construction. Is that not true?
I'm sure Notes can verify if his 52 is ribbed but you may be thinking of the Yanagisawa eg. the 990 is ribbed and the 900 is not. Both are pro level horns.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
yes,thats true.
also the pearls on the 52 are plastic,plus the neck is a student model neck with a lacquered octave lever.
That doesn't bother me at all. It plays well. It's a good tool.

I gig for a living. The only things that matter to me are how it sounds, how good is the intonation, and how easy/difficult it is to get tonal nuances out of it.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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If all Yamaha saxes are this nice, I wonder why more people don't rave about them on the SOTW forums???

My next horn might also be a Yamaha.

Insights and incites by Notes
I think it's human nature that we tend to value things that are rare over things that are easy to acquire. Yamahas are available just about everywhere, for relatively cheap, and I think it leads to an overall feeling that they're just kind of ordinary. You do occasionally read some raves on SOTW, but not many. All I know is the ones I've owned (a 23 and a 62) were great, and great bargains. Would love to get a Z at some point.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think it's human nature that we tend to value things that are rare over things that are easy to acquire. Yamahas are available just about everywhere, for relatively cheap, and I think it leads to an overall feeling that they're just kind of ordinary. You do occasionally read some raves on SOTW, but not many. All I know is the ones I've owned (a 23 and a 62) were great, and great bargains. Would love to get a Z at some point.
You make a good point there.

Well it makes it good for people like me who use the sax as a tool to make a living playing music. Less money for a quality tool that does the job well makes for more take home pay.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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I recently played a YTS 52 with a 62 neck and a 62 with same neck and I could not tell the difference.
 

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I recently played a YTS 52 with a 62 neck and a 62 with same neck and I could not tell the difference.
Thanks for that. Another 52 may be in my future.

I've noticed through the years that sometimes the difference between the top level product and the product just under it is mostly cosmetic and the actual improved value other than the looks is past the point of diminishing returns. Like that regular Strat-o-caster guitar and the "Guitar God Signature Model" that costs way more and has minor differences.

Of course, if you are buying for a collectors item, or to impress others, it might be worth it to you. There is more than one right way to do this.

Insights and incites by Notes
 
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