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What should a beginner buy? First sax: Yamaha YAS 280 or YAS 62III or Yanagisawa AW01?

ChampagneBears

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Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
I’m a re-learner (technically not a true beginner) currently renting a new alto sax - Yamaha YAS 26. I have no problems with it and am actually rather surprised at how good it sounds and how easy it is to play (even after 30 years away!). After this year of rental, I think I’d like to buy my first sax. Or maybe rent for another year, I don’t know yet.

By way of background, I’m an adult who is currently playing with a concert band. I am also currently looking for a teacher and hope to do exams. I’d like to explore both classical and jazz. I don’t intend to play professionally. I’m female with average female sized hands.

From a practical perspective, the Yamaha YAS 280 would be a great choice. It’s the least expensive at CAD$1,800 retail. It’ll last me a very long time (maybe forever) and due to it’s reputation and relative affordability, I suspect it will have great resale value and will be easily saleable.

But then the temptation sets in and I wonder if I should splurge for a pro sax, such as the YAS 62III at CAD$3,700. And since I’m up that way already, why not splurge just a bit more for a Yanagisawa AW01 at CAD$4,425? I think this will be my limit price-wise.

What do you folks think? Should I be practical or succumb to temptation? I’ve watched a lot of YT videos doing blind tests of student saxes vs pro saxes and I honestly couldn’t tell a difference. But maybe I’m not experienced enough right now to know if there’s a difference. I’ve read how they are built differently but how will this affect my playing and enjoyment? Maybe not much...it’s just that the brand name and the “pro” label seems so enticing.

Thanks for your thoughts.
 

MandyH

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Definitely recommend trying before buying.
on my last Alto I went to buy a Yamaha and came away with a Yanigasawa!
For my Baritone I went for Yani to match the Alto & came away with Yamaha!

but I would question the prices of the Yani AW01 and Yamaha 62 that you quote, here in the U.K. there is only £200 between them!
 
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ChampagneBears

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Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
Definitely recommend trying before buying.
on my last Alto I went to buy a Yamaha and came away with a Yanigasawa!
For my Baritone I went for Yani to match the Alto & came away with Yamaha!

but I would question the prices of the Yani AW01 and Yamaha 62 that you quote, here in the U.K. there is only £200 between them!
I guess the moral of your story is...try before you buy because you just never know! ;)

Canadian pricing is a funny thing. We are a very big country but a very small market, especially with respect to niche items, and the Yanagisawa would be a niche item. Yamaha’s simply got a bigger market share and more competition. Other than this one national chain store that sells new Yanagisawa’s, I don’t believe there are other local shops that do, at least I couldn’t find any. Yamaha’s have at least a couple of sellers, in addition to Amazon, so I suspect the Yamaha’s here are sold more competitively priced. Sucks for those who want a Yani. Good for those who want a Yamaha.
 

Jeanette

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I had my heart set on a Yamaha tenor a few years ago but when I tried a few it wasn't my favourite. I actually decided tenor wasn't for me but you really need to try.

Love my Yamaha sop though :)

Jx
 
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ChampagneBears

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Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
I had my heart set on a Yamaha tenor a few years ago but when I tried a few it wasn't my favourite. I actually decided tenor wasn't for me but you really need to try.

Love my Yamaha sop though :)

Jx
Tenor isn’t for me at this moment. Getting back into playing I’ve decided to do it with alto for the relative ease and size. I played tenor as a teen and always thought it big for me, but I try to keep my mind open. I’d love to “graduate” to a soprano as my second sax though.
 

sizzzzler

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London
It may well be cheaper to visit sax.co.uk. They have a shop in London with every model to try out and you wouldn’t have to pay VAT. I’m not sure if you would have to pay duty on arrival in Canada. Here in the U.K. the Selmer Paris Seles Axos Alto is under £2000 without VAT. if you do visit the selmer is worth trying.
 
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ChampagneBears

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Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
It may well be cheaper to visit sax.co.uk. They have a shop in London with every model to try out and you wouldn’t have to pay VAT. I’m not sure if you would have to pay duty on arrival in Canada. Here in the U.K. the Selmer Paris Seles Axos Alto is under £2000 without VAT. if you do visit the selmer is worth trying.
Thanks. Unfortunately, there will very likely be import duties to pay. Problem is, there’s no way of figuring out how much, at least I don’t know how to do it properly. Importing an instrument from the UK that was made in Indonesia (YAS 280 as an example) with materials from who knows where...just complicated. It is MUCH cheaper though.

It’s unlikely I’ll be visiting London anytime soon. :(
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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Given your situation and lack of opportunities to physically try out different horns, would making an offer on your currently rented Sax be an option? Might be worth asking the question if you're happy with the 26.
 

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
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I live in Nova Scotia, I visit the UK regularly. I reckon I saved about Ca$500 by buying my YAS 280 in the UK, reclaiming the VAT (UK equivalent of HST/GST) and paying the import duties.
Incidentally I rented a YAS26 for 3 months (from Long & McQuade) and was happy so bought the 280 which I think a better sax.
 
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ChampagneBears

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Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
Given your situation and lack of opportunities to physically try out different horns, would making an offer on your currently rented Sax be an option? Might be worth asking the question if you're happy with the 26.
Hi! I can and will try the 3 different horns I noted. It's just that we don't have that many shops here. I can also make an offer on the sax I'm renting, but I'd really like to at least go with the YAS 280 if I'm buying because it has the high F# key.
 
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ChampagneBears

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Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
I live in Nova Scotia, I visit the UK regularly. I reckon I saved about Ca$500 by buying my YAS 280 in the UK, reclaiming the VAT (UK equivalent of HST/GST) and paying the import duties.
Incidentally I rented a YAS26 for 3 months (from Long & McQuade) and was happy so bought the 280 which I think a better sax.
Thank you! Looks like we are in a very similar situation! Do you remember how much import duties was? I know there will be HST for sure.

I went to sax.co.uk yesterday and pretended to buy a sax and found out shipping is £75. Without the VAT, I could be saving up to CAD$1,000 on the Yani, and a couple hundred on the YAS 280 and 62 models. That's significant enough that I"m seriously considering ordering from there.

My only 2 concerns are 1) rate of duties - I suspect it could be 0 - 6%, based on what the internet says (and we all know the internet tells the truth :p); and 2) warranty - my understanding is that warranties don't apply if you leave the country of purchase. That is, if I buy from a UK dealer, I won't get a manufacturer's warranty. That's because they want to protect Canadian dealers, but I'm not sure how the warranties are actually worded in this case. With saxophones, I'm also not sure how important warranties are. I've never heard of people actually needing to use their warranties, especially Yamaha's and Yani's, which are very consistent straight out of the box? Any thoughts on this?
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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Hi! I can and will try the 3 different horns I noted. It's just that we don't have that many shops here. I can also make an offer on the sax I'm renting, but I'd really like to at least go with the YAS 280 if I'm buying because it has the high F# key.
In that case, with those choices, I don't think you can really lose. Try them out, decide how much you want to spend, and you're guaranteed a very decent sax. I've owned a YTS 280 for the last 2 1/2 Years. My first Tenor. It's a great horn. I'm starting to get the twitch to 'upgrade' but not because the horn isn't able to do what I want. As you mentioned, the 280 could seriously last you for as long as you want. The others you mentioned could as well.
 

saxyjt

I have saxophone withdrawal symptoms
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France
Have you considered visiting the neighboring country? There may be more competitive prices and less taxes than imports from Europe. But I don't know!
 
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ChampagneBears

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Greater Toronto Area (Canada)
Have you considered visiting the neighboring country? There may be more competitive prices and less taxes than imports from Europe. But I don't know!
I just did a quick check online. Looks like the Brits have better prices than the US for saxes, especially Yani's. Due to their weak currency, the Brits can offer a better deal overall. Import tariffs don't seem to be different whether imported from US or UK in this case.
 

jonf

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Betelgeuse
Hi, I own two Yanagisawas, have played a fair few 62 series Yamahas (alto and tenor) and have in the past owned a YAS 280. If I were in your position, where you live, I would buy the YAS280. It's a very good sax, and all the sax a player ever really needs. I only bought my own Yanagisawas as a bit of an indulgence when I got a tax rebate, otherwise I'd have been happy with a YAS280.

Whichever sax you buy, the next important thing to do - and this is the really important thing - is forget the whole purchasing thing, never agonise about whether you bought the right sax and just play the thing.
 

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
Subscriber
Messages
1,069
Location
Greenfield, Nova Scotia, Canada
Thank you! Looks like we are in a very similar situation! Do you remember how much import duties was? I know there will be HST for sure.

I went to sax.co.uk yesterday and pretended to buy a sax and found out shipping is £75. Without the VAT, I could be saving up to CAD$1,000 on the Yani, and a couple hundred on the YAS 280 and 62 models. That's significant enough that I"m seriously considering ordering from there.

My only 2 concerns are 1) rate of duties - I suspect it could be 0 - 6%, based on what the internet says (and we all know the internet tells the truth :p); and 2) warranty - my understanding is that warranties don't apply if you leave the country of purchase. That is, if I buy from a UK dealer, I won't get a manufacturer's warranty. That's because they want to protect Canadian dealers, but I'm not sure how the warranties are actually worded in this case. With saxophones, I'm also not sure how important warranties are. I've never heard of people actually needing to use their warranties, especially Yamaha's and Yani's, which are very consistent straight out of the box? Any thoughts on this?
Hello @ChampagneBears , sorry I have been so tardy on getting back to you. I have found the receipts etc. I paid 780 sterling in Dec 2014, of that 130 was VAT ( equivalent to PST and GST or HST) The exchange rate at the time was about 1 sterling to 1.8Ca$
I claimed the VAT back and paid CA$105 import duty (the GST on Ca$700) because I was CA$700 over the personal exemption of Ca$800. The personal exemption was 800 because I was out of Canada for over a week. If I remember correctly a YAS 280 from Long and McQuade was about Ca$1800 excluding tax at that time. At the end of the day I paid Ca$1275, so I reckon I save about Ca$800.

If you do decide to have a sax buying trip abroad as you come back into Canada ask Customs for a Y38 card for the sax, it is proof that you have paid all the relevant duties and means that when you are an international star you will not be accused of smuggling your shiny new sax back into Canada. ( I have taken my to the Philippines and back to the UK )

I did not worry about the warranty, I simply assumed it would be an international one.
 
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