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Saxophones Yamaha YAS-280 - Refining a Classic

Yamaha have had a superb "Student" sax almost since they started making the things , they`ve had plenty of ups and very few downs - the 275 got bad press for glueing the joint to the bell even when it was made in Japan and further moans when they started making this model in their Indonesian plant - the reality is that the bell joint thing can be fixed and there`s nothing wrong with the Indonesian plant but Both ghosts have been laid to rest with the release of the 280 model ......
Yamaha-YAS280-4.JPG



Like the 275 made just before it, it`s made in Indonesia , but on going through the horn, you`d not know, the build, parts quality etc is every bit as good as a Japanese Made YAS-62 MkIII and the setup a damn sight better than the 62-III I had (though the action was heavy as they tend to be from the factory) ..

Also like the 275 and predecessors, it continues with the long key guard, this is the same as the YAS-62 Mk1 Purple Logo but without adjustable bump stops (they`re interchangeable) , the old YAS-61/21 two point bell stay and pearl high-F key touch dating from the same era has also made it this far as have the Stainless steel springs and the Strapless construction, I find this amazing but none of it hampers the performance .

Two things which have changed on the 280 are the Neck receiver which is now very much like the YAS-62's and the octave rod allows the fitting of custom necks including old ones off Purple logo 62s (which I tried) . the second is the mod to the low B-C# connection which first appeared on the 62 Mk3, Both are excellent additions .

Yamaha-YAS28.JPG


These are classed as "Student" Saxes (I prefer the term "Budget") but at over £700 , neither are words I`d choose, it`s a lot of cash but saying that I feel this horn is worth the asking price, the refinement after adjustment is up to 62 MkIII levels under the fingers (though the old Mk1 62s are slicker) .

the sound is if anything better than the latest 62 because the 280 actually comes with a copy of the 62 Mk1 Neck instead of the 62-III`s rather tame "62" version (which I thought was a bad move as it De-Yamaha'd the horn even more than the G1 did) .. I swapped between the neck off my 62 Purple Logo and the stock 280 neck and couldn`t hear a damn difference - laying them out, they`re exactly the same, the length octave pip position, the lot ! . I had to buy a Mk1 neck when I had a 62-III - no need with the 280, it comes with one right in the case . as you can imagine, this horn rips, makes the 62-III with its stock neck sound dull and flaccid, in fact the sound reminded me of the old YAS-21 (arguably the most lively of the Yamaha Altos)

when compared to my classic `89 Purple Logo YAS-62 using the same neck for easy A:B'ing , it lacks the Nth degree of refinement in the upper register, the midrange is a tad recessed and the low end actually a bit deeper but all this equates to about 10% (similar to the Diff between a Mk3 62 and the Mk1 both with the Mk1 neck) , the horn feels better to me than the 275s I`ve played (Japanese) and more like the YAS-62-III which is not a bad thing..

IMO the biggest difference between the YAS-280 and a YAS-62-III with a Mk1 neck on is Snob Value, the little niceties the 62-III offers over it aren`t deal breakers as far as I`m concerned and this line of horns has proven itself to take on heavy Pro work and last the distance as well as the 61/62/82 line . Don`t thnk of this as a "Student" Horn, think of it as a way of saving a LOT of cash (even more when you don`t have to buy a Mk1 Neck) - if you don`t like the bright lively delivery of the 280`s 62-Mk1 clone neck then you`re better off with a different make of Sax because the G1 (MkII) and "62" (MkIII) Necks just hold these horns back in my book .

Bad Bits ? . the case is a cheaper version of the 62 Mk-III case thankfully without the useless magnetic flap but still a light zipper job of questionable longevity - I still think that Yamaha ought to cave in and put the modern bell brace on these things , I know they do it (along with the even sillier lack of bump adjusters) to protect the "intermediate" 480 model but to be honest, the improvements to the 280 and the dumbing down of the 62-III have realistically squeezed out any point of the 480 model to begin with ..

the 280 still hasn`t got a tilting table or blued steel springs (so like the Mk1 62 in that respect) but I find tilting tables actually slow things down, and stainless springs were good enough for the 61 & 62 Mk1 - a weird thing is that they have stuck with the old YAS61 style front F pearl touchpiece which really is bizarre, especially when even the cheapest Chinese jobs have the modern teardrop style (and Bump adjusters, and tilting tables and blue springs, Ribbed construction etc LOL ) .........

This leaves me seeing and Hearing the YAS280 as a sort of Indonesian knockoff of the YAS-62 Mk1 with some YAS-61 stuff left on - and made by Yamaha themselves ........ Hey, that`s pretty damn good in my book ! .

July 1st 2015 Update

I spent quite a while A:B-ing this horn again against the 1989 vintage Purple Logo 62, the minor difference between the two in sound (the 280s deeper low end and recessed mid, less refined highs) is barely noticeable from 10 feet away , in all fairness is far from night and day from the playing position and after a lube (the 280 had sat as little more than an ornament before I got it) , its losing that New horn stiffness (Remembered that from the 62 Mk3) and although I doubt the keywork will ever be as slick as the Purple Logo horn, I`m sure it`ll match the MkIII .. Anyway as a Tenor player who only doubles on Alto , it`s good enough for me (leaves me to add a Selmer or whatever :) .......

The 62 Purple Logo is now SOLD which says a lot for the 280 . I will say that I doubt it`d have happened if the neck had been the same as the one on the Jap YAS-275 I had as buying a Mk1 or modded YAS21 neck would up the cost quite a lot .....
 
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Ads

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As an Update

After deciding to stick to one Sax last September (Tenor of course) I`ve missed having an alto so when I decided to grab another serious one, you can bet what it was - a YAS280 and it sounds and plays every bit as good as the last one . OK I did grab a scruffy Elkhart a month ago to see if I was going to play Alto much and when I did, looked for a mint 280 :)
 

kevgermany

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Not bad, holding out for nearly six months.
 

Rob Pealing

sax in a kayak (apprentice sax tamer)
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As an Update

After deciding to stick to one Sax last September (Tenor of course) I`ve missed having an alto so when I decided to grab another serious one, you can bet what it was - a YAS280 and it sounds and plays every bit as good as the last one . OK I did grab a scruffy Elkhart a month ago to see if I was going to play Alto much and when I did, looked for a mint 280 :)
You could regret selling the JDX6 to me now, but I am not selling................. yet!
 

Ads

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it actually was a full 6 months so didn`t do too bad Kev .. As for the JDX6, rather on the bright side for a Yamaha ..... thankfully I kept the fantastic (and unreplacable) LAW LCM .

When the Elkhart has gone I`ll be back to 2 saxes which is more than enough ..... says a lot for the YAS280 holding its own on Alto agains the SA80-II Tenor ;)
 

Greg Strange

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Everybody needs a nice alto in their life...:thumb:

Greg S.
 
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Ads

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UPDATE - Another 4 months gone by and still SA80-II + YAS280 swinging beautifully, have no need or want to "upgrade" the 280 and going by the longevity of YAS21s - and how long I had the Tenor MkVII , PLUS how I`ve managed to keep off these GAS inducing forums, this pair will live me out :D
 

Jeanette

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UPDATE - Another 4 months gone by and still SA80-II + YAS280 swinging beautifully, have no need or want to "upgrade" the 280 and going by the longevity of YAS21s - and how long I had the Tenor MkVII , PLUS how I`ve managed to keep off these GAS inducing forums, this pair will live me out :D
Nice to hear from you, do visit from time to time.

Jx
 
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Ads

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Thanks - I`ll check in and stick in my 2P worth from time to time but ain't getting into the sax "trying" ratrace again, thankfully it didn`t develop into GAS but it was bad enough - LOL ..
 

Ivan

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... but ain't getting into the sax "trying" ratrace again, thankfully it didn`t develop into GAS but it was bad enough - LOL ..
The difficult path of the recovered addict

We knew you had it bad with squeeze boxes

I didn't know this forum re-awakened the NEED

Well done @Ads

Be strong

Get yersel' a bari for goodness sake
 

Ads

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It didn`t reawaken any "need" - I joined because I was adding Alto and wanted to checkout the options which I did and enjoyed as I did Sops (don`t need one so ain't now got one) - Enjoyed a few tenors along the way too and managed to replace my worn out MkVII ..

I need a Bari like a hole in the head :confused:

in all the time I was on here, I went through less horns than David and Prof did in a week - LOL
 

BigMartin

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It's been a pleasure dealing with you, @Ads, and if you find any more interesting items in the back of a cupboard, do let us know.
 
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Ads

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It's been a pleasure dealing with you, @Ads, and if you find any more interesting items in the back of a cupboard, do let us know.

You too Martin and thanks - apart from a few odd mouthpieces fro sax and clarinet, All I have is a vintage wooden recorder and of course my two saxes ...
 

kevgermany

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Good for you Ads. Pity the forum rekindles your addiction. Mines completely under control, just need to face up to a big clear out. Scary to think how much cash is tied up in saxes and mouthpieces that don't get used.
 

Ads

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Good for you Ads. Pity the forum rekindles your addiction. Mines completely under control, just need to face up to a big clear out. Scary to think how much cash is tied up in saxes and mouthpieces that don't get used.

I managed to keep it away from being an addiction but it certainly got me curious about trying different horns alto wise (started out and went back to Yamaha) - and Tenor wise gave me a divergence into Yamaha and then back to Selmer again where I came from - LOL ...

Give this place its due, if it hadn`t been for the forum I`d not have even dreamed of trying a "Student" Yamaha , least of all a battered YAS21 , it was a total success and gave me the sound I wanted from an Alto even if mechanically it was rather crude . the 275 was (as always Japanese or Indonesian) a bit lacking in liveliness but the 280 upped the ante in build quality (near 62 Mk3 levels) and sound (more like a 21 than a 275) so that`s sorted ..

If I started hanging around here, I`d end up messing with Keilwerth SX90 (non Rs) no doubt to try and "get into" the handling (always liked the sound) , maybe in both alto and Tenor but the SA80-II and 280 do more than enough and it`d be just Curiosity and divergenece I can well do without .

Enjoyed learning how to setup and maintain saxes though and apart from dent removal, have managed quite a bit. Valuable stuff which if I`d learned decades ago , my MkVII wouldn`t have ended up in the state it was
 

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