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Intonation on 82Z tenor

I'm making a trip to my tech this weekend, but I thought I'd see if anyone else has experienced this problem.

I recently picked up a YTS-82ZUL w/o F#, I love just about everything the horn offers and the tone is incredible. My problem is that the horn wants to play sharp, especially up top. This is a 2005 horn and came after the neck problems were supposedly resolved (Yamaha says the problem was on the alto anyway).

Now, I haven't played much tenor since College, but I can play my wife's Series II without this problem. I'm still adjusting to the horn, but to get the upper register even close my mouthpiece (Jody Jazz HR) can't be more than .25 inches on the neck... Maybe I just need to play some longtones and get my tenor chops back, but this just doesn't seem right.

Anyway, I'm going to have my tech measure key heights and troubleshoot the horn. I can't detect any leaks, it seems to play flawlessly except for the sharpness....

Anyone else run into this on their Z tenor? hope I can get it figured out because I LOVE the horn!
Try the Selmer's neck on it. After that I would try a couple of other Yamaha necks and see if that's the issue.

I haven't had a problem like that with any of the 82Z's I've played.
You may want to check the mouthpiece pitch you are putting into the horn. For classical tenor a concert G is recommended. Many jazz players play 2 or 3 half steps lower than this on their mouthpiece to add more edge to the tone.

Playing higher than this pitch on the mouthpiece on tenor will cause the octaves of the sax to be too wide and will exacerbate the notes that are typically a bit sharp. Once the mouthpiece pitch is established, you can also check the pitch of the mouthpiece and neck together which should be no higher than a concert E.

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but in many cases if the upper register plays sharp the solution is to push the mouthpiece farther on to the cork and to play lower on the pitch by opening the teeth and relaxing the throat.

I know it sounds counter intuitive, but in many cases if the upper register plays sharp the solution is to push the mouthpiece farther on to the cork and to play lower on the pitch by opening the teeth and relaxing the throat.


Just FORCE yourself to relax. It takes a LOT more air, but you can do it. Think of tenor as being a different instrument that just happens to have the same fingerings as your alto. Your sound on both horns will improve as a result.
Huh... I'll give it a try! Maybe I'm using an alto approach without realizing it.

Any reason this would be more of a problem on the Yamaha then the Selmer? I usually switch back and forth between alto and bari and don't have this problem on either horn, but JBT's point makes a lot of sense. Maybe I am approaching the tenor the wrong way after being away from it for so long.

Thanks for the advice everyone, I'll let you know how it goes!!!
I had a 82Z for a couple years (swithed to a Ref 54) and it took me a little while to get the intonation in the upper register under control. IMHO it has to do with the Z being such a free blowing horn with very little resistance. Try to focus on relaxing your embouchure, that worked for me.
I had a 82Z for a couple years (swithed to a Ref 54) and it took me a little while to get the intonation in the upper register under control. IMHO it has to do with the Z being such a free blowing horn with very little resistance. Try to focus on relaxing your embouchure, that worked for me.

Thanks, I'm discovering this horn responds drastically to embouchure changes. I couldn't resist trying JBT's suggestions before heading off to work this morning. Initially blowing the mouthpiece alone I was up at a very sharp concert A. I loosened up and refocused and was able to hit concert G with some concentration. When I added the neck I almost immediately got the concert E that was suggested. I didn't really have time to work with the horn, but I can get wildly varying pitches with VERY slight adjustments.

I'm starting to understand this is me more than anything and that I am matched up with a VERY free-blowing and flexible horn. I'm just a tad surprised that it is this difficult for me to control and I want to blame the horn!

I did try the Series II neck on the horn, but I need to rig up an octave extension to play it.

I can't wait to tame this beast!
Aside from all the excellent mouthpiece/embouchure advice you've already been given, & have started to experiment with, I'll only add one thing: Yamahas are different animals to Selmers.

I've been a Selmer and vintage horn player all my life. On those rare occasions where I've played a Yamaha, I can't begin to be able to play them in tune. I'm so used to adjusting for each note to bring it into tune, that I automatically make the adjustments in my embouchure and don't realize I'm doing it, thereby taking the Yamaha very much out of tune...Somthing that it shouldn't be doing.

So given you've got experince with Selmers, it's just one more thing to be aware of. Yamahas are designed & built so that that embouchure corrections for intonation are not "supposed" to be necessary. I put supposed into quotes, because I don't have enough first hand experience with the brand to know if that is really true, or if the adjustments are just more minor, or different.

I do know one thing, if I were to get a Yamaha, I would have to spend a lot of time getting to know it, and relearning how to play in tune. It sounds to me, like this is in part, what you're currently experiencing, when you say: "I'm discovering this horn responds drastically to embouchure changes".
I had exactly the same problem with my YTS 82ZUL, which had the newer neck. D3 was almost D#3. This was with a link stm 7*.

My teacher and two other pro tenor players (all Mark VI players) had the same experience with my 82Z tenor. The dealer replaced the neck, and it didn't help. The store's tech couldn't suggest anything.

It could be corrected somewhat by using a Selmer C* mpc and/or the neck from a student model Yamaha tenor, neither solution being acceptable because I don't play a C*, and the other neck produced a tone even thinner and brighter than the usual Yamaha sound.

I sold the 82Z to the student of a teacher at the store. The teacher, who also owned a YTS 82ZUL, declared the problem to be player-related. He has since sold his 82Z. The student who bought the horn at his teacher's urging is still, I am told, having upper register intonation problems.

Neither Yamaha nor the store were willing to make it right. I no longer deal at that store nor will I buy another Yamaha anything.

I think its a congenital problem that finds its way into only some 82Zs, and I was unfortunate enough to get one of them. Many other players swear by them.
What you've written here is very interesting Al. It makes sense that no brand can be 100% perfect, 100% of the time, regardless how much computerization goes into the design and manufacturing process. It is too bad about the lack of customer service you've received. Doesn't do much for their corporate image, nor that of the store you bought it from.
I'm not sure this applies to the problem Al described about his Yamaha Tenor, but I am tossing this post I wrote a while back on another forum as food for thought. My personal opinion is that as players we are sometimes too quick to blame the instrument when there is an intonation problem---especially with a top brand professional model saxophone. There are numerous acoustical variables affecting the intonation that are separate from the saxophone itself that also need to be explored and addressed before laying blame on the instrument.

YAS 875 Intonation Discovery
First of all, I didn't know where to put this topic. It could fit under the Yamaha heading, the acoustic heading, on the tone producing one. If a mod sees fit to move it that is fine with me.

The other day a customer who had just purchased a new Yamaha YAS 875 Custom at our store brought it into the shop and wanted to know if we could fix the intonation. He said the side C was flat and the octaves were not in tune. I told him I would try some different things to see if they would help. I cut some of the felt under the side C key to allow it to open more and that problem was solved. Then I tackled the octave tuning problem.

When the mouthpiece was set on the cork so that the low F# and G were in tune (not flat) then the high F# and G with the same embouchure were at least 20 cents sharp. I know all about playing on the correct mouthpiece pitch, taking the right amount of mouthpiece in the mouth, playing with breath support, not biting for the high notes, but none of this knowledge seemed to provide a solution.

My SBA Selmer Alto and most of the student saxes I play test after repairing them play these octaves well in tune with my set-up and embouchure so I didn't think it was me. I tried adjusting the key heights, tried 6 different G1 necks, tried a different mouthpiece, even tried other YAS 875's in the store. They all had the same octave problem. I was stumped.

Then I noticed that the major difference between the Custom alto I was trying to get in tune and all the other saxes I have played is that on the Yamaha the mouthpiece almost covers the entire neck cork to bring the sax up to A=440 pitch. Anything less than that the low notes are so flat that they can't be lipped up to pitch.

Finally I tried pushing the mouthpiece on to the cork so that the low notes were just slightly flat and then bringing them up to pitch by slightly firming the corners of the embouchure. Then I opened my oral cavity and throat more than I usually do, keeping the low octave note in tune with the firm embouchure and pressed the octave key keeping the embouchure exactly the same.

Viola the upper octave was dead on, not only with F#, but with G, A, Bb, B and so on. Once the exaggerated opening of the oral cavity was coupled with the extra firm embouchure, the intonation of the octaves locked into place.

The only explanation I can come up with is that the fact that this model of Yamaha is made to be played with the mouthpiece so far onto the cork that it requires the player to adjust the "upstream" opening to compensate for the mouthpiece not having sufficient volume to recreate the "missing part of the cone".

I don't know if any of this makes sense to somebody else. Is there anyone who has more playing experience with the Custom altos who has had a similar experience.

Update time!

Well first off, I'm keeping the 82Z. I discovered that, yes, I was indeed using my alto embouchure on the tenor (waaay to small). Now that I've worked exclusively on tenor for a couple weeks I'm back in the swing of things.

I also took the horn down to my tech with the venting chart supplied to me by Yamaha and the key heights were pretty open across the whole range of the horn. I guess a previous owner had them opened up some. Since I've had it back I slapped a Rico Graftonite on it and I can dial in the intonation easily. Once I am really hitting consistently I 'll take the JJ or another mouthpiece for a spin to see what results I get.

Hey thanks again for the words of wisdom everybody!
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