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The Yamaha 875EXW


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
We were first introduced to the Yamaha 875EXW alto sax in this thread. It's a limited-edition horn, with only 50 available.

First things, first: I've played an original 875 a longish while ago and found it to be one of the nicest horns I've ever played. I've also been very happy with every Yamaha I've owned, and I've owned quite a few, from the YCL-34 clarinet to the YBS-52 baritone sax. I think that the entire 875EX series is probably exceptional.

So, I took a look at the thread, checked the linked picture and thought, "Not bad looking horn. Reminds me of a marching-band instrument, though."

Well, what irked me enough to start this forum section? A bit of Yamaha ad copy:
Yamaha said:
For players that are typically very ‘bright’ players, the white lacquer may in fact be the ‘darkest’ sounding instrument. Greg figured that the lacquer coating is thicker than the black lacquer 875EX (true), and by adding lacquer to the inner bell (which has a lot of surface area) it gave the instrument even more focus. Since the lacquer coating changes how the metal vibrates, changing the inner bell to a lacquered finish would certainly have some impact on the tone.
I then posted my original article and a similar one from Steven Howard on how the material that a sax is made out of hasn't been proven to affect the saxophone's tonal characteristics -- and, not only that, it's next to impossible to test. I got a private response to this that said that Selmer, in developing one of their horns, DID find out that the lacquer thickness/density/whatever makes a difference -- but this article doesn't appear to be available on the web.

Now, in my searching for this article, I did find a couple more things about saxophone mouthpieces and the material they're made of doesn't make a difference: the proportions do. The same was said about CLARINET mouthpieces, in a different article.

In my opinion, Yamaha's turned the hype machine up a little.

What do you fine folks think? Does anyone have a lead on this Selmer article? I'm thinking about writing to Selmer Paris to see if it's available ....

Carl H.

Distinguished Member
Distinguished Member
(Funny, a heartburn ad is on this page!)

I think variances from horn to horn are far more significant than the finish on the inside or outside of a "woodwind" instrument. Between metal, hard rubber, plastic and wood, all my clarinets sound pretty much like clarinets. If it mattered that much they would each sound distinctly different, but they do not.



Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I also agree that the individual variances in construction make much more of a difference, particularly if the horn is handmade to any great extent, as the Yamaha Custom series is supposed to be.

Paul Cohen said:
Whatever difference the parabolic cone (theoretically) makes in the sound pales in comparison to the mammoth difference in tone, pitch and response small changes to the neck and upper body bore dimensions create. Trying to find and define the mythical parabola misses the huge point of other far more signficant delineators and influences (from http://saxpics.com/buescher/truetone/index.htm#Parabolic and originally posted on SOTW)
I would really, really like to do even a moderately unscientific test on the affects finish has on an instrument. If we're talking Yamaha, though, it'd have to be on the 62-series, as those horns are mainly machine made.