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Saxophones Need help selecting a Tenor

Tinncupp

New Member
Messages
14
Hoping to get some good advice here so please bear with me as I describe what I'm looking for. I've been playing alto sax since I was in the 4th grade and have been told I was an "above average" player (I was playing with high school level regional bands as a 5th grader). Unfortunately, I stopped playing after college and now (about 20 years later) have decided to pick it up again. My main motivation is that I'm playing in an 80's cover band (currently playing keyboards) and want to play some sax as well (we do a lot of 80's pop and some classic rock).

I still have my circa. 1977 Buescher Student Alto and while its in need of a major tune-up/over haul, I've been able to tool around on it a bit. Although my embouchure is not nearly where it used to be, I still (after some warm-up) can get a decent sound out and can play runs, scales, hit high/low notes with a decent tone, etc. (not kidding myself though, I need time and practice). Anyway, the point of sharing all this is to give you some idea of my skill level leading up to my question.

I'd like to get an intermediate tenor that has some "runway" in it to grow with me as I advance in my playing towards the "pro" level. I need it to be playable now though so I can gig with it along the way. I'd really appreciate it if anyone reading this could throw some suggestions my way on some options to take a look at. The only one I've read about that seems to be a contender is the Yamaha YTS-62III. I'm sure there are others (hopefully not as expensive) as well.

Sorry about the dissertation here but hopefully with the level of detail provided, those of you on this forum who know more than I do can help guide me towards some good options. Thanks in advance for your comments/suggestions.

Cheers,
Bryan
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Subscriber
Messages
655
The Yanagisawas are excellent also. The TW01 and the TW01U (unlaquered, if you like that look and a little extra resonance) are well liked indeed and are good value. Definitely worth a look if you have been considering the Yamaha 62.
There will of course be other makes that fall into that price range, but frankly nothing is as well made as the Japanese instruments.
 

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,578
There are many horns in the $1500 - $2500 bracket. Ideally you’d spend 4 hours in a huge store choosing one but that isn’t an option at the moment. So, I think it comes down to which makes of horn you are least likely to be disappointed with and I agree with @David Roach - Yamaha and Yanagisawa. They are nicely put together and feel great under the fingers. In your situation, you’re gonna end up grabbing the horn for a short solo and then chucking it back on a stand whilst lunging back to the keyboard again. It might well take some stick, so you won’t go wrong with these horns.
They’ll fit gig bags/flight cases too. Buying 2nd hand from a reputable shop will either see a decent saving on new price or a higher model.
If buying 2nd hand, a mouthpiece might not be included, or not one that you might like.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
Subscriber
Messages
6,332
@Tinncupp - are you looking for a new horn or a secondhand one?
Do you have an approximate budget?
 

CliveMA

Member
Messages
687
I play a Yamaha YTS-62iii, bought new in February. It is very easy to play. Everything just works the way you'd hope. Any specific questions about it I can help you answer?
 

DavidUK

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,041
Have you read @Stephen Howard 's review of the YTS-23? Here: Yamaha YTS23 tenor sax review

It was his favourite for 25+ years until he succumbed to a TJ Raw. I was tempted by an absolutely mint 23 yesterday for £500 but then remembered I'd had one before and sold it as my Grassi 2000 Professonal was better. In fact, the Grassi blew away a mint, newly set up, 62 Purple Logo when my pro player tutor tested them side by side. I also remembered that I sold the Grassi as I almost never play tenor, so why do I hanker after another (I have my superb Freemont Mirage after all!).

@nigeld bought the Grassi from me - I can't recall which tenor it replaced.

You won't find a decent Yanagisawa tenor for £500, but the 23 could be a real contender if you want to spend less than a 62 or Grassi (both around £1000+ used).

I may be wrong, but I'd have thought a 62III would perhaps be eclipsed by the sound of an earlier 62? Have you played any version of the 62, I, II, or III?
Going earlier means you may need a set-up or some light repairs but Yamahas are hardy old things. Yanagisawas perhaps a little more delicate, certainly the earlier models, but Saxophones are all they make so they should know what they're doing by now, hence their popularity amongst the higher priced pro horns.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
Subscriber
Messages
6,332
@nigeld bought the Grassi from me - I can't recall which tenor it replaced.
The Grassi replaced my Yanagisawa T991. The Grassi was more fun to play.

A used, Grassi Professional 2000 would definitely be a contender, but they don't crop up often.

An old Yamaha YTS-32 would be another possibility. Like a 62 without the extras.
 

Stephen Howard

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,088
I may be wrong, but I'd have thought a 62III would perhaps be eclipsed by the sound of an earlier 62? Have you played any version of the 62, I, II, or III?

Yeah, you'd be wrong. While there are differences between the different marks, they're quite subtle - and most players would be hard put to spot them if they were unfamiliar with the different iterations, or didn't have any to compare side-by-side.

As for the Grassi 2000 - I was going to review one a couple of years ago, but from looking at my notes it appears I got bored halfway through due to the indifferent build quality. I did at least get as far as a 'washup line':

"It's OK, but the build quality, the quirky action design and the very slight deadness makes it a horn that's outclassed elsewhere."

If the OP is playing '80s cover/classic rock, a Yamaha's going to be a more versatile horn. I did that gig for 30 or so years on my old YTS23 (with a Dukoff D8).
 

Tinncupp

New Member
Messages
14
The Yanagisawas are excellent also. The TW01 and the TW01U (unlaquered, if you like that look and a little extra resonance) are well liked indeed and are good value. Definitely worth a look if you have been considering the Yamaha 62.
There will of course be other makes that fall into that price range, but frankly nothing is as well made as the Japanese instruments.
Thank you David, I'll take a look at those models, appreciate the suggestion.
 

Tinncupp

New Member
Messages
14
There are many horns in the $1500 - $2500 bracket. Ideally you’d spend 4 hours in a huge store choosing one but that isn’t an option at the moment. So, I think it comes down to which makes of horn you are least likely to be disappointed with and I agree with @David Roach - Yamaha and Yanagisawa. They are nicely put together and feel great under the fingers. In your situation, you’re gonna end up grabbing the horn for a short solo and then chucking it back on a stand whilst lunging back to the keyboard again. It might well take some stick, so you won’t go wrong with these horns.
They’ll fit gig bags/flight cases too. Buying 2nd hand from a reputable shop will either see a decent saving on new price or a higher model.
If buying 2nd hand, a mouthpiece might not be included, or not one that you might like.
Thank you Pete, I think you nailed it as far as the reality of my situation. Definitely open to 2nd hand.
 

Tinncupp

New Member
Messages
14
@Tinncupp - are you looking for a new horn or a secondhand one?
Do you have an approximate budget?
Nigel.....I'm open to either but was probably initially thinking more new. My budget is flexible but I came into this thinking $1500-$2500. I'd be happy to go higher (or lower) for the right horn that will truly meet my needs.
 

Tinncupp

New Member
Messages
14
I play a Yamaha YTS-62iii, bought new in February. It is very easy to play. Everything just works the way you'd hope. Any specific questions about it I can help you answer?
Hi Clive, good to know! I'm curious as to what your buying criteria were and what specifically you liked about the Yamaha compared to any other makes you may have been considering/tried out.
 

Tinncupp

New Member
Messages
14
Have you read @Stephen Howard 's review of the YTS-23? Here: Yamaha YTS23 tenor sax review

It was his favourite for 25+ years until he succumbed to a TJ Raw. I was tempted by an absolutely mint 23 yesterday for £500 but then remembered I'd had one before and sold it as my Grassi 2000 Professonal was better. In fact, the Grassi blew away a mint, newly set up, 62 Purple Logo when my pro player tutor tested them side by side. I also remembered that I sold the Grassi as I almost never play tenor, so why do I hanker after another (I have my superb Freemont Mirage after all!).

@nigeld bought the Grassi from me - I can't recall which tenor it replaced.

You won't find a decent Yanagisawa tenor for £500, but the 23 could be a real contender if you want to spend less than a 62 or Grassi (both around £1000+ used).

I may be wrong, but I'd have thought a 62III would perhaps be eclipsed by the sound of an earlier 62? Have you played any version of the 62, I, II, or III?
Going earlier means you may need a set-up or some light repairs but Yamahas are hardy old things. Yanagisawas perhaps a little more delicate, certainly the earlier models, but Saxophones are all they make so they should know what they're doing by now, hence their popularity amongst the higher priced pro horns.

@DavidUK thank you for taking the time to provide some great feedback. I read the reviews of the 23 and also looked at the Grassi 2000 Professional. I'm curious about what made the grassi such a better instrument in your opinion? @nigeld do you still have the instrument? What do you like about it? To answer your question, I've not played any of the Yamaha's. Is the 23 considered an intermediate or pro level instrument?
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,971
@Tinncupp - are you looking for a new horn or a secondhand one?
Do you have an approximate budget?
That's a good budget for a Tenor

Yamaha is a brand which people land on...or get pushed towards...very often. And by many standards they are a really good choice.

But they are not the only choice. Nor are they the 'obvious' choice.

Lotta good makes and models out there.

$2500 for new...can that actually get you a new 62III ? Seems a bit low....

Yamahas have a certain 'sound'...it's a nice sound (once you get past their student models), but it's a particular sound.


Nigel.....I'm open to either but was probably initially thinking more new. My budget is flexible but I came into this thinking $1500-$2500. I'd be happy to go higher (or lower) for the right horn that will truly meet my needs.

As you, @Tinncupp , already play....rather than taking advice from folks on the internet, it'd be better to try out some yourself. The issue becomes "meeting your needs". How does one define that ?

There are a number of good, readily-available models both new and used for $2500...but to 'set one apart' from another for YOU isn't gonna happen on an internet thread. So all we can do here is suggest some models to consider.

back to trying out - I know that might be challenging at moment; I dunno whether things are still shut down in your area or not...if so, do you know any other sax players around who might own a Yama ? If not, are there are music shops which rent convenient to you ?
 
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Tinncupp

New Member
Messages
14
@JayeNM I think I mentioned in my reply to @nigeld that I'm open to a new or used instrument but in either case, was thinking of $1500-$2500 for a budget (although I can go higher if it means getting the best instrument for my needs vs. getting one that "will do".).
 

JayeNM

Formerly JayePDX
Messages
1,971
(BTW...Grassi 2000's are excellent saxes. In every way. I have refurbed a half-dozen of them (not to mention another 20 other Grassi models), - nothing mediocre about either mechanics, action, build, blowing response, or tone of a model 2000 in good tack.

It makes absolute sense to me why one would knock off a Yamaha or Yani as a player's primary horn.

They aren't too easy to come by, however. One need be a bit patient).
 

GJ77

Senior Member
Messages
714
That was interesting, and having played a lot of those instruments myself, it confirmed what my own impressions as a player have always been:
1. I’m a Selmer Paris guy. It’s not snobbery, that’s just the sound I’m drawn to and hear in my head as the benchmark tenor sound.
2. I liked the Forestone when I played one, and I liked it here.
3. In general, I prefer Yani to Yam (though both are wonderfully built, it’s just a personal preference).
4. Rampone have a definite allure and a very pleasing and distinctive voice.
By the way, none of this helps the OP, sorry, so I’ll just chime in and say a new Yani TW02 or a used T992 would probably be my preferred options, budget permitting, or even a used Selmer Series 3.
 
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