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Top 6 Best Yamaha Saxophones On The Market In 2019 Reviews

We’ve come to depend on Yamaha when in need of superb, quality musical instruments. It’s little wonder, therefore, that Yamaha Saxophones are some of the most sought after saxophones in the market. The brand sure knows its business.

Catering to a wide audience range, Yamaha carries all kinds of saxophones to suite different players at different skill levels. From beginner saxophones to professional saxophones, Yamaha has something for everybody in its offerings.

If you’re in the market for a Yamaha saxophone, then the last thing you want to be worried about is quality. Yamaha saxophones are known for their quality. Hence, they come highly recommended by sax tutors.

In fact, their more advanced models have been used by some big time sax players like Phil Woods, Otis Murphy, and Nobuya Sugawa.

A bigger question, therefore, is what Yamaha saxophone would suit your style and pocket. If this is your question, then you’re at the right place. Read on to find out how to pick the best Yamaha saxophone for you as well as our 6 very best ones.

yamaha saxophone
Photo by Adam Walker

Top 6 Best Yamaha Saxophones To Buy In 2019 Reviews

NameSizeSkillKeysFinish/ColorWeightAccessories
Size
Alto
Skill
Beginner/Student
Keys
Eb
Finish/Color
Gold lacquer
Weight
13.8 pounds
Accessories
Strong plywood case, Yamaha 4C alto saxophone mouthpiece, with care products
Size
Alto
Skill
Professional/Advanced
Keys
Eb
Finish/Color
Black and gold
Weight
16.4 pounds
Accessories
Lightweight case
Size
Alto
Skill
Intermediate
Keys
Eb
Finish/Color
Gold
Weight
17.7 pounds
Accessories
Soft shell carrying case
Size
Alto
Skill
Beginner/Student
Keys
B – C sharp
Finish/Color
Gold lacquer
Weight
0.16 ounces
Accessories
Carrying case, cork of grease
Size
Tenor
Skill
Professional/Advanced
Keys
Eb
Finish/Color
Gold lacquer
Weight
24.1 pounds
Accessories
Semi-hard, backpack style carry case
Size
Soprano
Skill
Professional/Advanced
Keys
Unknow
Finish/Color
Unlacquered
Weight
11.25 pounds
Accessories
Unknow

1 Yamaha YAS-23 Standard Alto Saxophone

The Yamaha YAS-23 is one of Yamaha’s entry-level saxophone models. There’s a lot to benefit from as a beginner if you decide on this model. We will be going into them shortly on this review.

First and foremost, don’t let the term “entry-level” confuse you. The YAS-23 does not underperform at all. It sounds every bit as beautiful as the Yamaha reputation is known to produce.

But what we love even more is how this saxophone still comes in pretty affordable even with such great performance. For musicians just starting out without all of the money for a super high end saxophone, this saxophone offers an excellent compromise.

And here’s a small tip. Yamaha has actually discontinued this model. So, it’s even way cheaper than it was the first time it came out. But the quality, nonetheless, remains the same.

For instance, it features the F auxiliary key, plus leather pads which come with wool felt. With these two features, students will be able to enjoy using this model even as their skills advance. Plus the keys are so ergonomically designed, the player will play each note accurately and conveniently too.

So, this might be your first sax, but we can assure you that constant practice on this will help you transition to more advanced models very smoothly.

The YAS-23 is a great option if you need something to play in a band, jazz club, or some small venue. The YAS-23 makes a great student saxophone, and that goes without saying.

Yamaha YAS-23 Standard Alto Saxophone
Our rating:4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

Pros
  • Quite affordable.
  • Excellent sound quality and intonation.
  • Comes with high end features like the F auxiliary key and leather pads (with wool felt).
  • Lightweight and comfortable to play.
Cons
  • Might fall a little flat on altissimo notes being an entry-level sax.
  • There are newer and better upgraded Yamaha student sax models.

2 Yamaha YAS-875EX Custom Series Saxophone

The Yamaha YAS-875EX is an advanced level sax which we understand might not be within the easy reach of every player. If you didn’t know, the 875EX models are Yamaha’s priciest saxophones. However, they do give the best sound, intonation, look, and feel.

If you think you have the guts for this item, then keep reading this view to find our honest take on it.

Firstly, the Yamaha launched the 875EX series based on the success of its preceding custom line. This time, Yamaha has redesigned this saxophone to give it even better performance from sound to intonation.

The looks of this sax are also killer. It’s so easy to tell the level of craftsmanship Yamaha put into making the instrument. Everything looks detailed from the body, to the finish, to the delicate engravings on the bell.

Also, we found that this saxophone offers way better resistance than any other line of Yamaha saxophones. And thanks to the neck here, the sax is poised to give a better resonance with a way snappier and more comfy response.

In size and shape, Yamaha has modified this sax to give an exceptional projection. Plus, the keys also come redesigned such that they feel better and make the sax even easier to handle.

Let’s not forget to mention the bell of this sax too. It now features a two-point brace which makes playing more efficient. So, even with minimal effort, you can still get this sax to blow minds.

At about 16 pounds, this sax is, no doubt, somewhat heavy. And with the price, we can see how one might be intimidated. But nevertheless, we already mentioned earlier that this is not for everyone. And we still have lots of Yamaha saxophones for you to check. So, worry not.

Yamaha YAS-875EX Custom Series Saxophone
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros
  • Excellent, authoritative tone.
  • World class construction.
  • Improved resistance and flexibility.
  • Professional grade instrument.
Cons
  • This is a really pricey sax.

3 Yamaha YAS-480 Intermediate Saxophone

For the intermediate sax players in the house, the Yamaha YAS-480 is dedicated to you. It’s an excellent choice for those hoping to upgrade from a budget instrument to a more advanced sax. It’s definitely high-end, yet not too pricey that it is cutthroat.

Here’s our take on this sax…

This is a gorgeous saxophone especially with its stunning gold finish. And to make it even more eye-catching, this comes with a floral motif (hand carved, by the way) which is subtle yet attractive. So, if you’re the stylish kind looking for something that suits your taste, the YAS-480 would serve.

Besides beauty, this is a highly customizable sax. Yamaha designed this to work with just about any Yamaha custom neck at all. So, it’s comfy and convenient. Also, with its left-hand seesaw key, you’d be able to un-stick the g# valve which in turn gives you a way nicer sound.

Since we are on this turf, can we say that we love what Yamaha did to the neck of this sax? It’s not just how it can fit with nearly any other Yamaha neck, it’s how the neck makes the sax sound. The tone and sound quality are beautiful and bold, neither airy nor weak – two things you want to avoid.

Now, in addition to this beautiful sax, Yamaha also throws in a quality carry case which makes this easy to store and transport. Just be careful though, because it’s not a hard shell case. Or you could even change it out altogether if you want.

The saxophone itself is also pretty easy to use and we think you’re going to enjoy yourself with this sax.

Yamaha YAS-480 Intermediate Saxophone
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Pros
  • Decently priced for an intermediate model.
  • Sound is rich and beautiful.
  • Note and tonal adjustment features make this sax easy to use.
  • Comes with a carrying case
Cons
  • Mouthpiece is of mediocre quality.
  • Carrying case is soft shell rather than hard shell.

4 Yamaha YAS-280 Student Saxophone

Alright, now we look at a student/beginner saxophone model from Yamaha which is the YAS-280. Of course it comes with exceptional quality as you’d expect from Yamaha. And even though it’s a beginner’s sax, it’s still impressive the performance this gives.

Now, although this is a student sax, it’s still a bit out of the entry-level sax league. It’s a bit high end in the first place. But then again, it actually performs way better than most cheaper beginner models.

Anyway, this saxophone comes in lightweight. So, it’s comfortable to hold and use even for a young player. Plus, it’s also ergonomically designed with a stable neck which makes the YAS-280 playable by all kinds of individuals.

And that’s not all about playability. The action here is one of the best we’ve seen in student sax models. It is fast and comfy which is totally important especially for beginners. Considering the fact that they will be spending long hours at a time on this sax in the coming weeks, the comfy action is a huge plus.

As usual, Yamaha does not promise a boatload of accessories. What they can assure you of though, is a good carrying case, as well as a cork of grease.

This might be a tough deal for beginners especially because there are better deals from other brands with a wider range of accessories for a cheaper price. Nonetheless, their performance is not to be compared with that of the YAS-280.

Yamaha YAS-280 Student Saxophone
Our rating:4.1 out of 5 stars (4.1 / 5)

Pros
  • Lightweight and convenient for the beginner to play.
  • Impressive and durable build quality.
  • Intonation and sound are smooth and powerful.
Cons
  • A bit pricey for a student sax without many accessories.

5 Yamaha YTS-62III Professional Saxophone

The Yamaha YTS 61 and 62 models are an all-time favorite for many band directors and this isn’t a new development. These saxophones have been receiving a great deal of love for a long time now.

And why not? They boast a superior construction quality and are quite durable. And the sound? Of course, totally awesome. So, you see why these come in highly recommended.

For the first time on our review today, we’re looking at a tenor saxophone. If you didn’t know, there are different sizes of saxophones and each size gives its own sound, tone, and appeal.

Tenor saxophones make great beginner saxophones, after alto saxophones actually. And in tone, they are usually a tad deeper than alto saxophones with a lot of soul that feels a little velvety ish.

That said, the YTS-62III encapsulates everything we love about tenor saxophones. Its tone is warm and beautiful and sounds great right out of the box.

Like we said, construction is great which makes the sax look beautiful. But beyond that, because the bore here is slightly narrower, this sax gives a pretty fast response and better tonal control as well. And yeah, the intricate engraving on the bell too makes this instrument more attractive.

Also, Yamaha worked on the low B to C sharp connection. So, you can rest assured of a clear response even at lower ranges.

Lastly, Yamaha throws in a pretty good-looking, contemporary style carry case to help with moving the instrument. It also keeps your investment safe and looks good while at it.

Yamaha YTS-62III Professional Saxophone
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros
  • Tone is rich and warm.
  • High quality construction.
  • Attractive looks.
  • Deep, rich sound.
Cons
  • Quite pricey.

6 Yamaha YSS-82Z Series Professional Saxophone

Finally, we round off with what will probably be our most professional sax on review today – the Yamaha YSS-82Z. If an unparalleled professional, high end sound is what you’re here for, then look no further than here.

This soprano sax was born to deliver. This is an entry-level professional instrument with the performance of a beat. It offers tonal flexibility with a lighter weight that makes this comfortable to use.

Sax players looking to bring in a bit of a vintage sound to their performances would love this sax. Every note you play on this will fill the room with melodious notes of eras past.

This particular model offers two neck options – the curved and the straight. This one is the curved neck though. Plus the neck is a one-piece so there are no joints between the neck and the body which gives the sax a faster response.

There are different finish options for this sax from the gold lacquered to the black lacquered, to the unlacquered to the silver-plated. This is an unlacquered finish, by the way.

There’s also the mother of pearl keys, as well the hand-engraved bell which add to the luxurious looks of this sax.

To make this sax really comfortable, you’ll find a high F sharp key, ergonomic keys, plus an adjustable thumb rest to allow for ideal finger placement.

Still on sound quality, there is a vent tube on the lower part of the sax which helps to eliminate noisy action. And with the post rib plate, you get an improved resonance with a solid feel.

Lastly, the pivot screw on this sax makes the instrument really to maintain. And with the included case and shoulder strap, this will be pretty easy to move around.

Yamaha YSS-82Z Series Professional Saxophone
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros
  • Thanks to the ease of playing the highest notes, this sax makes a great choice for jazz players.
  • Narrow rib design facilitates a quicker response.
  • Made from brass alloy making the sax lightweight.
  • Quiet key action.
Cons
  • Not so versatile, better suited to jazz players only. Will work with other music genres with some work, though.
  • A bit expensive.

Buying Guide For Best Yamaha Saxophones

Like we mentioned earlier, Yamaha carries all kinds of saxophone for all kinds of players at different skill levels. In our guide, we will lead you through some of Yamaha’s most popular sax series, showing you the target audience Yamaha made them for.

The 280 Series

In this series, Yamaha carries mostly alto and tenor saxophones targeted at beginners. So, you could call it its entry-level saxophone series or student saxophone models.

Be that as it may though, 280 models give excellent intonation and high playability. They are usually quite lightweight being made from brass-alloy. They also come with ergonomically designed keys as well as adjustable thumb rests.

saxophone reviews

The 480 And 475II Series

These series are Yamaha’s saxophone models dedicated to the intermediate players. So, people looking for the upgrade from student saxophones will find something here. Just like the 280 series, it’s mostly alto and tenor saxophones for the 480 series.

Now compared to the 280 series, there is a bit more resistance here, flexibility, as well as better sound, of course. Intonation is also much better as sound maintains an even tone through all the octaves.

In the aesthetics department, the 480 and 475II models come with a hand-engraved pattern which makes the sax look distinctive.

The 475II series are mostly soprano saxophones and that’s about the only difference between the 475II and the 480 series. Both series are nearly the same in nearly every other regard as we’ve already discussed.

The 475II soprano sax is a great way to transition to a soprano sax for those interested.

The 32 Series

This is where Yamaha carries its intermediate baritone saxophones. These saxophones usually look quite professional, nonetheless, they are still quite moderately priced. Keys are also ergonomically designed making the sax easy to play even though it’s a bit large.

Players are going to enjoy the tone, intonation, and fast response of the sax. In fact, it’s so good, intermediate players as well as entry-level professional players would love using this.

Lastly, 32 models are usually pretty attractive with their hand-engraved patterns they usually sport on their bells.

32-saxophone-review

The 62 Series

This is the collection of Yamaha’s popular professional saxophones. In performance and quality, these guys stand out. Their springs are made from hard steel and with their slightly narrower bores, they give better tonal control and a faster response.

62 saxophone models are huge favorites for many musicians thanks to solid cores, deep tones, and moderate resistance. Plus, they look good too thanks to the delicate way in which Yamaha constructs these models.

All we’ve discussed above go for all sizes of 62 models. That is, tenor, alto and baritone saxophones.

The Custom 875EX Series

These are among first pick when talking about professional saxophones. They come with exceptional quality thanks to Yamaha’s years of research and interaction with performing artistes.

These saxophones produce quality sound with rich tones. Plus, they offer the best response of all the Yamaha models currently available. Also, they have a much larger bell which makes them give excellent projection and a sound that’s well balanced too.

Everything is upgraded on the custom 875EX series, from the neck to the bell, to the keys, to the overall looks of the saxophone. All these work together to make these saxophones look luxurious, as well as enhance their performance.

Conclusion

The Yamaha YAS-875EX Custom Series Saxophone makes it as our favorite Yamaha saxophone today. The quality of construction, tone, and sound here is indisputable.

And even though it’s super pricey, it’s also super worth it, especially since there are pricier instruments that this sax still comfortably competes with.

Top 6 Best Yamaha Saxophones On The Market In 2019 Reviews
5 (100%) 69 votes

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