Yanagisawa B901/2 versus B991

So, I am pondering getting a modern bari. Taking pricing into consideration limits it to the Yanis B901/2 or the B991. The B991 features, in addition to improved cosmetics, ribbed construction, double key arms on low A/B/Bb, and metal felt bumper adjustments screws (what Yanagisawa can possibly save from making the latter in plastic on the 900 series complete beats me). From looking at whatever pics I have been able to find, it is a bit hard to locate the ribbing on the 991. Moreover, my understanding was that ribbing is of much less importance on big horns because the feet of the post can cover a substantial area and the curvature of the tubing where the feet of the posts attach is less. With regards to the double arms, none of the other major manufacurers have included them in their design. How important are these features in terms of sturdiness of the instrument? Do they prevent damage over time and offsett the additional costs?

Also, discussion about materials aside, is the bronze version more prone to damage, i.e. is the bronze softer, or is this unsubstantiated?

Thanks for any thoughts you might have on this matter.
Well, have you playtested 'em? That's the end-all, be-all.

FWIW, note what I've mentioned about the Yamaha 52 (34) vs. the 62: the 52 has a two-piece bell and that does make a difference in the playability of the bell notes. Now, I don't know if the Yani baris have the same difference, but I think it'd be worth it to investigate.

There's also pricing to consider:

B901: $5479
B902: $6179 (Bronze)
B991: $7049
B992: $8079 (Bronze)

(See my thread on new pro sax prices.)

In other words, are the difference between the models WORTH the price differences? As I've mentioned with the YBS-52 vs. 62, the one-piece bell, snazzier lacquer and engraving, and mother-of-pearl keywork vs. nylon wasn't enough to justify the almost $2000 extra for the YBS-62.

And we all know that material really doesn't make a difference in tone, right :)?

The double-arm construction is relatively popular on Chinese/Taiwanese horns. Here's Yani's blurb: "Two separate arms combine their strength to prevent twisting or distortion of the cup. Durability is also improved." Mmm. Yah. I've never had a problem without the double-arm design. I could accept that it'd make the action on the keys with double-arms a bit more positive, especially on a horn with big key-cups, but I haven't tried it.

See also http://www.yanagisawasax.co.jp/en/baritone/901/ and http://www.yanagisawasax.co.jp/en/baritone/991/. The G# cluster is supposed to be a tad different, too. There are some other differences listed, too. Hey, the 992 has resonators on those pads ....

Y'know, looking through their info, it makes me wonder if the entire 991/992 has ribbed construction, or it's just the "seat of one left hand side key" and "one key column long seat" (gotta love Japanese to English translations) on the upper stack. I'm too lazy to look for really big pics of the horns to check.

FWIW, I've seen a couple horns without ribbed construction and they had posts pulled off. I think, however, that if you're relatively careful with your horn, it's not a big deal. The other "however" is that the additional metal *may* actually affect the tone in a positive way.

... But, it comes down to playtesting ....

EDIT: OK, I lied. I did check. USAHorn.com has really big pics of the Yani baritones. Check out http://www.usahorn.com/new/Yanagisawa/Saxophones/
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Here's Yani's blurb: "Two separate arms combine their strength to prevent twisting or distortion of the cup. Durability is also improved." Mmm. Yah. I've never had a problem without the double-arm design. I could accept that it'd make the action on the keys with double-arms a bit more positive, especially on a horn with big key-cups, but I haven't tried it.
This is the point in a nutshell. I simply cannot tell from the pics, USA HORN included. I can get better pricing that what you mention.

I didn't want to get into the material and sound discussion. My opinion doesn't matter, but, FWIW, Peter Jessen does not agree that material doesn't matter, although he might qualify that in a way that would satify the sceptics. I cannot remember the details of his thoughts on the subject, but I remember being surprised that he thought material wasn't indifferent.
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While looking for a new bari, I play tested at USA Horn a B901 and a B902 side by side earlier this year. Both beautiful horns. IMO, these two examples had distinctive differences in sound qualities. I preferred the B901 as it was more lively and resonant. The B902 was more centered and even. I was offered to try a B991. I declined due to sticker shock. Or worse, I might of liked it too much :emoji_rage: I really can't imagine the extra money would be worth it for a B991 or B992. The B901 I tried was such a no excuses horn on it's own no question.

I ended up getting great deal on a used YBS-52 in very good shape for less than half a new B901. For the part time player I am, that's plenty for me. Of course YMMV.
I repaired a nearly new bronze tenor. The sheet metal was frighteningly soft. I like Yanagisawas, but I'd get a brass one.
Great. I own a A992. Doesn't seem fragile to me at all but then I obviously take obsessively good care of it. Anyway, thanks very much for the info. Much appreciated. When you say you like Yanis, does it extend to their current baris or is the brass thinner than on Selmers, Yamaha, Keilwerth? I briefly owned a series I bari but ended up selling it for a vintage Conn. I really like the latter but would like a bari with modern keywork.
I would throw in my $.02 for the humble YBS-52. Over the years I have played several Mark VI baris, an SBA, a pro model Yani (so long ago that it didn't have a model nember - B6 perhaps?) and a YBS-62 - all low A. I also owned a Conn 12M for a while. My favorite of all of them was the SBA, but it wasn't for sale, and I probably couldn't afford it if it was. The Yani was nice, but felt a little stiff to me, and the ergos didn't suit me very well, since I have rather small hands. I didn't like the Conn ergos at all, and also had problems finding a mouthpiece I liked that would play in tune (a well documented problem).

The Yamahas just played. They felt natural in my hands and had the nice bark I was looking for to play R&B. I really couldn't discern any difference in tone or feel between the 52 and 62, so I sold the old Conn warhorse and picked up a used 52. I've been playing it for over 15 years, and it has needed minimal maintenance, other than getting a big dent in the bow removed when I first got it. For a while I was seeing these sell for well north of $3000, but lately I have seen a few go for closer to $2000. If I had my heart set on a new horn, I would probably go for the same thing.
I don't play baritone saxophone, but I have had some experience with soprano and alto Yanagisawas - both bronze and brass.

The bronze Yanagisawas I've owned (and still own) are the A992, the SC902, and the S992. I've also owned an SC901 and still have an S901. In addition to those, I have an Antigua 590LQ (claimed to be a copy of the Yanagisawa S991). The A992 and SC901 are now gone from my closet - nice enough but no cigar when compared to my other altos.

I've always claimed that material or finish doesn't matter but my opinion is waffling a bit. When I play all of these horns (especially the sopranos) I can hear a difference between the brass and bronze sopranos. I like the sound of the brass saxophones better - more power, more focus.

The truth is, though, that when I switch between the bronze and brass horns, it only takes about 10 seconds of playing and the past memories are just that - past. Whatever horn I am playing at the time is the one I like. They all play well and the differences are SO subtle that I doubt that anyone listening to them would have a strong opinion either way, if they'd hear any differences at all.

I've never had a durability issue with my bronze saxophones. What I HAVE had was lacquer-wear issues. Every Yanagisawa soprano (bronze and brass) I've owned has had the lacquer wear off quickly - mostly from the touches and rods where my hands come into contact; plus the back of the tube on my S992 has large patches of missing lacquer. This did not happen on my A992 and I played it enough to have it happen.

If I were to buy a new soprano, it would be the S991. As far as baritone goes, I don't know but I'm guessing the brass would be just as good - and cheaper. DAVE
I've said it before and I'll say it again here; whenever I play my YB 991 people ask me what make I'm playing. The sound is so nice. No one asks me that about any other instrument I play besides the Eppelsheim bass sax. And since my son has played a YB 990 and I a YB 991, we have enjoyed using a stellar instrument that never seems to need maintenance like it's smaller cousins.

<I've not played the YB 901 but own a YSC 901 curvy that I luv.>
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Having play tested many brass and bronze Yani's, I think size matters when it talking about them. That is, the bigger the horn, the greater the differences. I own a SC-992. Never felt it offered much contrast against the brass models. OTOH, the baritones had personalities of their own.
Thanks for all the great responses - much appreciated!

The YBS-52 is virually the same cost as the B901. The B991 is a step up but if it requires less maintenance then the difference is quickly made up for. I gather an SBA in good condition will be hard to find and costly. I could afford a new Selmer if I really wanted to but I find the series III to be overkill budgetwise, particularly my skill level taken into account. The series II seems like a great horn but again, quite expensive and with Selmer's quality control issues not an attractive option. Given that I may move continents next year and thus will have to ship several horns overseas, I really most of all am looking for a rugged built bari with modern keywork. I know that Yanis come with better quality control than any other make but if the metal is soft and prone to damage, then the extra care in craftmanship will do me little good. Any suggestions/shared experineces will be received with gratitude. Given that UPS kindly delivered my Mulligan era Chu with one end of the horn poking through a crushed case and yet the horn was OK, it must be possible to construct a bari with solid build. I am not expecting anything like a Conn but something I can carefully pack and unwrap at the other end without major work required. Prices, but new and repair are likely to be much higher whereever I am headed. Meanwhile, I would like to enjoy the horn, which will be true for anything mentioned above.

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Hi Steen. From all the horns you mentioning as new, re: options for you, I assume you're looking for a low A horn?

In any event, you mention an SBA, but not a VI. Any particular reason for that? The reason I ask is that there are a lot of really good VIs out there, and the prices on the baris are not nearly what they were a few years ago. The trick is to take your time, and to shop around. Of course your best bet would be to be able to play test the horn first.

My low Bb VI and I have been together for over a decade now, and I wouldn't part with it for anything. I defies all the usual Selmer hype (it's a relaq from 1967), but is the most flexible bari I have every played. It is equally at home in a classical, jazz, big band, or rock and blues setting. Switch the mouthpiece, switch your attitude, and you've got a totally different sounding horn.

If you are looking for a player's horn, as opposed to a collector's horn, they are out there, and can be had for a decent price. The last few I remember seeing on eBay sold for 3,540 & 4,050. Also there was a BA that recently sold for 4,000. (The were all low Bb horns.) They were all in decent shape with original lacquer, but I would budget on an overhaul just be be safe.

Anyways, I'm just putting that out there. Perhaps you've dismissed the idea of a VI, but if you haven't play tested a couple yet, perhaps you should at a vintage sax dealer near you. While no 2 VIs are alike, they do share a lot of common features.
Thanks Helen. I will take your VI from the calender in a heartbeat.:) Platesting a lot is not an option the way it should be. Very few options left in Boston, and my curent work schedule also prohibits it. I have nothing against VIs but my experience with buying vintage tenors on ebay have been rather mixed, because of packaging issues. Most people simply don't know how to pack a sax in a way that carriers (save for USPS, which I have had good experiences with) will not destroy it. I passed on a newish USD 800 YBS-52 not so long ago because the seller clearly did not know the value of the horn (I told him but by then it had already sold) simply because I felt rather certain that it would arrive damaged. Second, I am picky. I have never (touch wood) damaged a horn, and don't feel like starting out with one that needs a load of repairs. Finally, I presently do not own a car and repairs tend to take time if major. I (only) have to put in 60-hour weeks over the next few months, which is less than normal, so I would like to get started right away with putting a couple of hours on the horn every day. That said if you know of a VI in great shape, I would definitely be interested.
Playtesting a lot is not an option the way it should be.
Oooh. It HAS to be an option. I wouldn't buy a horn sight unseen unless I knew I could send it back on THEIR dime. And, with the money involved and the time it might take to ship it back, you can't afford not to playtest.
Just a thought - has anyone tried one of these?


Pretty good price for a new bari, and USA Horn does an excellent job with packing / shipping. They also have a pretty good trial / return / warranty policy.
Well, if you're gonna go that route, a lot of people have said that the Kessler Customs compare favorably to the Yani 901-series and they're cheaper than the RS Berkeley. Hey, Red Brass.

I've been after Kessler to send me one to test for awhile, now.
I tried out a RS Berkeley bari at USA Horn at the same time I tried the Yani's. It's a solidly built horn. Heavy even. Very responsive throughout the whole range. Tended on the bright side. Ergos not as good fit for me as the Yani or Yamaha. The upper stack tended to be flat in the lower octave. Was fine in the second octave. I guess it could be fixed with a good setup. Horn was fresh out of the box. The Berkeley lacked some of the refined feel you get from the other two brands. But, not by much.

Buying the YBS-52 used was a better deal for a better horn. And, I know it'll hold it's value.
Thanks Helen. I will take your VI from the calender in a heartbeat.:)

I'm sure you'd like the Porsche too. ;-) Better chances of that, then of of the horn. :emoji_relaxed:

I have nothing against VIs but my experience with buying vintage tenors on ebay have been rather mixed, because of packaging issues. Most people simply don't know how to pack a sax in a way that carriers (save for USPS, which I have had good experiences with) will not destroy it.

I can understand that. I am very leery of buying horns on-line. I've never bought anything through eBay. I have however, bought a few horns through on-line dealers--my Mark VI bari was actually one of them--and just recently 2 vintage saxes through a SOTW friend in Europe. So far I've had luck with all my purchases. No damage, unless you count a slightly-bent rod on the high E key of a Klingsor tenor as damage.

Second, I am picky.

You have every right to be. As a matter of fact, so am I.

I have never (touch wood) damaged a horn, and don't feel like starting out with one that needs a load of repairs.

Understandable. That of course limits your choices. In the case of a vintage horn, you would be better off buying from a reputable on-line dealer such a Gayle at Vintage Sax, or Sarge at World Wide Sax, etc. You know they are going to pack it right, and you're going to get a sax that is coming to you in top playing condition.

I have only ever bought 1 horn new: my Medusa bari by B&S. It was a bit like a new car: it depreciated the minute I took it out of the store. The advantage of buying any horn slightly used, or vintage (Mark VI , BA, and probably a few other models I can't think of off the top of my head notwithstanding) is that someone else has already eaten the depreciation.

Not having a lot of time to run around to play test saxes is rather problematic, because even if you went new, of course there are a lot of factors to consider. You might like a certain horn's sound, but the ergos don't work as well for you as another horn's. Sometimes it comes down to trade-offs. Also, I might like the Medusa, you might hate its key layout, and not be able to work with it. So while looking for our input might be a useful guide, in the end, you will still have to play test the sax for yourself, and YMMV drastically from ours.

Do you have some holidays coming? Perhaps you should plan a saxophonist's holiday and go to a city that has some shops. Play as many as can--new and old--and take lots of notes. Perhaps the horn of your dreams is waiting for you somewhere; just waiting to be found.

The tenor of my dreams was waiting for me in Seattle. I thought I had it for the last 25 years in my VI. Then on a whim, I played a bunch of Zephyrs that Sarge had. I feel in love with the ugly duckling in the bunch. Its sound was like nothing I had ever heard before. My VI tenor has now been relegated to back-up horn. Go figure...
I am, since last March, the very happy owner/player of a Yani B992P. It took a year to get it, but it was honestly worth the wait. The horn plays beautifully, in tune from top to bottom and (depending on mouthpieces and embouchure) is capable of producing good classical and/or jazz sounds. The bronze does seem to make for a "warmer" or "darker" tone - at least to my ear.

And the peg!! The adjustable floor peg has made this my favorite horn. I generally play in a seated position so the peg allows me to play without a harness and all those neck or shoulder weight bearing difficulties. It also gives me a wider freedom of movement by avoiding the use of a stand (Im keeping my my Sax-rax though, for my old BS52 - still a lovely horn). -- Is there any reason why don't baris come standard with a peg?
Is there any reason why don't baris come standard with a peg?
Just guessing here, the peg makes the horn heavier for those who prefer a strap/harness. I toy with adding a peg to mine but there is no driving need at this point. I've seen Professor Jay Easton use his stand, tilting the instrument to play rather than lifting it.
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