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Intermediate Tenor Saxophone

Hi all,
So I really don't know much about buying saxophones, as I just got into playing it two years ago, switching from clarinet. Now that I've gotten a feel for the Tenor, I'm looking to buy either a respectable student model or intermediate tenor saxophone of my own. I've been looking at some Yamahas, especially the discontinued YTS 475 and current YTS 480. Yamaha instruments have served me relatively well so far, so I started there, but I'm also looking for recommendations for a decent used intermediate or student level sax for under $1500. Any recommendations, links, or general tips would be appreciated.
 

Helen

Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
Administrator
Hi there. Welcome to the Woodwind Forum--or WF as it is commonly referred to on this site.

I wrote an article for my website in 2014 on exactly this topic that's full of photos to illustrate the points I'm talking about. Then Pete (another Admin here on the WF) further added a few points to it and published it on this forum's blog. This version is not illustrated however, so I suggest that you look at both versions.)

In case you don't plan to buy a horn in person, I have an article on my website that deals with with buying a horn online. However, buying a sax in person is always the better way to go.

I never recommend a person buy on eBay unless they have extra $ for repairs/overhauls in case the instrument is not as advertised. Your chances of getting burned through eBay are reduced if you buy from a reputable dealer like quinn the Eskimo vintage horns, sax quest, or another reputable brick and mortar store that has an eBay acc't. However, the chances are always there that the instrument will get damaged in shipping, and collecting for shipping damage can be a challenge.

As far as the Yamaha models you mention, I'd have to check--Pete would know for sure--but many of the newer non-pro ones are no longer made in Japan. Personally, if it were me, I'd make sure that if were to buy a Yamaha, it were a made in Japan model. I know the 52 was. After that, I can't say for sure. Pete... What say you?
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Last I heard, it was only the student models no longer made in Japan. However, Yamaha is supposed to still be doing their own quality control and are supposed to own the facilities. Well, if seeing a pic of a big building with "Yamaha" on the side is any indication :). They have facilities in both China and Indonesia, IIRC.

As far as eBay goes, I tend to agree with the rule-of-thumb to have $300 in your back pocket for repairs, just in case, and I agree with Helen that you shouldn't buy from folks that aren't well known, which I've tended to do by number of sales + the number of positive comments. Negative comments don't necessarily mean anything: you have to look at them. Some of the folks I've bought from had negative comments in the form of, "$Thing arrived broken. Seller replaced immediately. 1 star." That being said, here's some eBay stuff that's all Buy-it-Now:

YTS-52. $1200. It's exactly what you ordered. I owned a YBS-52 for several years. I used it through college.
YTS-23. $849. If you want a little cheaper and go with a student model. Also great horns and I owned one or two for a few years.

On the outside looking in:

Buffet Dynaction. $1200. I owned a Dynaction alto for a few years. Nice horns. My teacher at the time liked it as much as his minty Mark VI.
Beaugnier Getzen. $1050. If you like French-made horns.
Buescher Super 400. $1500. Monster pro horn, but slightly out of your price range.
YTS-61. $1400. Old Yamaha pro model. Also slightly out of your price range.
Another YTS-61. $1275. Also slightly out of your price range.

The problem with the Buffet and Beaugnier is that you could have some tone holes that leak and need to be resoldered. One of the techs that post here could mention the prices for that.

I saw a couple of Keilwerth-made horns, as well, but they were in a little bit too bad of shape to recommend. Also, this is obviously not a comprehensive list. Be a tad wary of stencils: both Yamaha and Yanagisawa did make some horns for Vito and can be a good deal. These horns are stamped "Japan." The 7133 is a horn by KHS, which, for our purposes, means "Jupiter."

Finally I recommend that you invest in a nice mouthpiece. Even if you get a good student horn, which is what I'd characterize a Yamaha 23 as, a good mouthpiece will make the horn sound better and make it easier to play -- provided the horn's in good shape, of course.

EDIT: Added a couple horns.
 
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pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Adding more:

NEW YTS-380. $1470. Nine available. Remember that you have to pay for shipping ...
Here's another for $1563.

If you're interested in dealing with a Japanese storefront, they're only $1260, new.

Opinions:
If the tenor was only being used occasionally, there's no real reason not to go for a 23. They're good horns. If you're going to play more often than that, the YTS-61's are the best bang for the buck. If it has to be new, those YTS-380s are impossible to beat.

I've also noticed that a couple of rather big-name Japanese dealers are starting to dip their feet into the eBay pool. Yamaha and Yanagisawas are MUCH less expensive in Japan than in the US.
 
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Thank you so much! All of these saxophone brands can be quite confusing, having to check with where they're made and all. I'm definitely going to look into some of the recommendations, as you've given me so many good ones! Some of these are quite beautiful, especially some of the older ones. These are great. Thanks so much!
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
You're welcome. I do want to re-highlight the fact that the 61s are very good horns. Folks have posted that they're more mellow sounding than the 62s -- and "bright sounding" has been the major complaint about Yamahas. However, my opinion is that the "brightness" is more a function of playing style and mouthpiece.

Also, your question is somewhat inspiring. I think I'm going to take a closer look at what's currently on eBay and see what good value ("best bang for the buck") horns are currently out there.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
It's just a good price. Do remember that shipping and customs could be a bit, too. 475 vs. 61 would be an interesting argument. I think I'd still go with the 61.
 
hello there....the european yts475 is euros....
also,yamaha now make these in indonesia and china,so most if not all intermediate yamahas are now NOT made in japan,and all student models are NOT made in japan...
from what i can gather....
i wonder where rts25604 lives,what country?
cheers,philip
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
also,yamaha now make these in indonesia and china
What's your source for this? I haven't yet seen a Yamaha intermediate-class horn (i.e. a model starting with a 3, 4, or 5) stamped "Made in Indonesia" or "Made in China." Student horns, yes.
 
my source is myself...i have seen a few 475's,and now before buying any yamaha,i ask to see the serial# area,where "made in indonesia" is very clear on the new horns...i am sure now that all if not all intermediate saxophone by yamaha are not made in japan anymore...
i will keep an eye out for you for the other models if you want?...
cheers,philip
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
That'd be kewl. There are so many models of Yamaha out there, it's something to take notice of. FWIW, my various 23 and 52 saxes were from Japan, as was my YCL-34.
 
just got an email from quinn the eskimo about the yts480's he's selling....made in china...
also have sent a couple of emails to some people i know in japan and asked them too,......even about the 62's,but i am still thinking they are made in japan still(even though they are intermediate horns)....

also asked about the yss475,but for some reasoning in my brain,i reckon they don't make enough of them to have the machines sent to china/indonesia,not like alto's and tenors....that said,the labor costs in those countries would be around 1/3 of japanese labor costs....
we'll see soon....

23's and 52's were all made in japan,many were assembled/lacquered/padded in USA though...
the 275's were first made in japan,and the last of them i have seen were made in indonesia....so anything after that model,the 280 etc,are made in indonesia/china...

cheers,philip
 
have had a couple of emails from japanese sax sellers,they saying the yts480's they are selling are made in japan....
also they say the yss475 is japanese,as is the yts62....
will keep you updated as i hear more...
cheers,philip
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
Missing a few student models in that roundup, 2ndHand. 21, 24, 25, 26. IIRC, the first Indonesian-made Yamaha student horn was the O1. I'm fairly sure the 24 and 26 are still being sold, too.

In any event, it doesn't look like the country of manufacture for any of Yamaha's horns makes too much of a difference in the horn's value, on either the new or used market. This does mean, though, that I need to be a bit more wary of these in the future -- and that I might have to hunt down some threads comparing Japanese-made Yamahas to horns sourced in other countries. And farming out work to China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Indonesia (and the Czech Republic, if you happen to be interested in intermediate Keilwerths) isn't just the future, it's now.

I think that means that Yanagisawa is the only "big" manufacturer that doesn't do any outsourcing.
 

pete

Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Administrator
That was interesting reading. I'll share.

1. The Yamaha China plant is owned by Yamaha and has been producing horns since 2000 (this also means that I'm late to the party :)), so we have 16 years of time for folks to say that horns coming out of Yamaha China are junk. I didn't see any comments to this effect. Anywhere. Mind you, I didn't do the world's most thorough search, but when I search for Yamaha haters, I'm not immediately finding anything.
2. There appears to be some Yamaha stuff being made in Malaysia, which is immediately north of Indonesia, but they're two separate countries.
3. There are still Yamahas being assembled in the US using parts from Yamaha China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Of course, that doesn't matter for the 40% or so of our members that live outside the US -- or, possibly, for the 60% that live in the US.
4. I saw at least one Yamaha dealer insisting that there are counterfeit Yamaha student horns out there. I didn't search terribly hard on that, but it's fairly easy spot counterfeit Yamaha pro horns: they cost about 1/5th what they're supposed to.
5. It's not very clear if Yamaha Japan is still making student/intermediate horns. Stephen Howard mentions that he was starting to see "Made in Indonesia" in 2007, but there appears to have been some cross-over then, still.
6. It's overly confirmed that Yamaha pro models are still made in Japan.

FWIW, all of the Yamaha horns I owned were produced prior to Yamaha Indonesia opening in 1998.

There was some comment that horns stamped "Made in Japan" are selling for more because people are starting to think that they're better than horns produced elsewhere, even though nobody's really proven that. I did see a couple folks trying to say that the brass is lower quality in China and/or Indonesia, but most of those folks get shot down with arguments like, "OK. Go buy a 475 stamped 'Made in Japan' and one stamped 'Made in Indonesia' and let's do some play tests. Oh, the Indonesian one is 5 years old and was flattened by a steamroller and the Japanese one is fresh off the line? Well, you need to get the Indonesian one completely overhauled to make a valid comparison."

Also, FWIW, when you have to order through the Yamaha parts catalog, you're not going to find four different part numbers for a YAS-275 body. You're not given the option of which country to buy the part from.

Bringing this all full-circle or TL;DR: I see nothing that really convinces me that Yamahas produced in countries other than Japan are of any less quality than the ones produced in Japan. It's also been between 9 and 18 years that they've been around and people are still recommending them.
 
a few things....
indonesian saxes here in australia are cheaper than the previously made japanese ones...

i personally would rather my yamaha saxophone made in japan than anywhere else.....

-- snip --

i have only seen saxophones made outside of japan only in the last 3 years or so,so i am pretty sure that if there was a yamaha plant in china in 2000 they were not making saxophones in that plant,back in 2000.....

a seller from japan told me today that his yts380's he is selling has made in japan on them but they are assembled in indonesia....

as a secondhand saxophone dealer,i will focus on buying japanese made saxophones.....i will see how these indonesian/chinese ones are like in 10 or 20 years to see how they held up/or fell apart.......

my thoughts....
cheers,philip
 
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