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Saxophones Yani 992 or Selmer SA80ii?

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43
Locality
Abercarn, South Wales
I'm thinking of getting a second hand tenor: Yanagisawa 992 or a Selmer SA80 series ii. Does anyone have any advice for me (other than play them and see which I like the best)? The Yanagisawa is slightly more expensive than the Selmer but both are just about within my price range. Unfortunately I won't be able to play them next to each other to directly compare them. Currently, I play a Yani 800 series tenor (which I'll be keeping as a backup).
 

jonf

Well-Known Member
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3,985
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Betelgeuse
I play tested them against each other, along with a Mauriat, Yamaha YTS62, Trevor James sig custom, a Keilwerth and a couple of other Yanagisawas. Of all of them, the 992 stood out for me as much better than the rest, and I bought one, new. It was expensive, but I haven't regretted it for a minute. For me, the ergonomics were just perfect, and the tone and flexibility of the sound I could get were the best of any sax I've ever played. Action is perfect for me, a certain firmness but very responsive. The SA80 was good but just didn't stand out.

After five years or so, the Yanagisawa has also been totally reliable. No work has needed doing, no sticky keys or loosening springs or anything like that.

This is my view, and others will have their opinions, which will doubtless differ from mine. However, this is what I've found. I've owned over 80 saxes, including top notch ones, vintage classics from France and the US, as well as cheapies from China and dodgy Eastern European student models from the 1970s. the 992 is, for me, the best sax I've ever had.
 

David Roach

Senior Member
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723
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London
Based on your current choice of tenor, and a recent very good experience with a borrowed T902, I would say go for the T992. Selmer Series 2s can be good, but they are still a bit hit and miss from the p-o-v of factory set-up. You would need to budget for a good professional technician to set a Series 2 up properly, whereas the T992 will most likely play very well. (It would seem a bit perverse to go for a Selmer when you've been playing a Yanagisawa already ;)).
 
Messages
43
Locality
Abercarn, South Wales
Thanks for the advice. (Nice to see the Flying Spaghetti Monster is alive and well in Betelgeuse, how is my favourite red giant these days?) I'll give the Yani a test drive first.
 
Messages
43
Locality
Abercarn, South Wales
Well.... I tried the Yanagisawa 992s, but the feel and sound of my Yani 800 was strangely closer to the Selmers that I tried. Weird. I ended up getting the Selmer because I preferred the tone, but I'm keeping my old Yanagisawa as a back-up sax. The Selmer was bought off a sax repairer, so the set-up is good. It just goes to show that you need to try before you buy.
 

Ivan

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Peeblesshire
I'm happy with
Well.... I tried the Yanagisawa 992s, but the feel and sound of my Yani 800 was strangely closer to the Selmers that I tried. Weird. I ended up getting the Selmer because I preferred the tone, but I'm keeping my old Yanagisawa as a back-up sax. The Selmer was bought off a sax repairer, so the set-up is good. It just goes to show that you need to try before you buy.
I'm quite content with my SA80ii tenor

But then I've been utterly monogamous since I purchased it in the 90's so I've yet to experience what other makes and models can offer
 

SopJob

Member
Messages
86
Locality
Stuttgart region, Germany
Hi, I've got an SA 80 II tenor. Bought it 2005 (new) and preferred it over a series III. Maybe I was just lucky with this one, but the tone
is all I ever wanted. It's got that singing quality. I've compared it with a Ref 54 recently and still would not give it away.
I'm afraid that I can't say much about the Yani 992. I guess you have to make your own choice.
 

Ivan

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Peeblesshire
I wonder why Selmer continues to produce SA 80 II having brought in the series iii which was presumably an improvement... could it be it wasn't?
 

Pauline

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347
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Hull, UK City of Culture 2017
I bought my Selmer SA80 series II tenor in 2008 from a well respected shop who told me they didn't stock the series III as they were unimpressed with them.....
 

David Roach

Senior Member
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723
Locality
London
I wonder why Selmer continues to produce SA 80 II having brought in the series iii which was presumably an improvement... could it be it wasn't?

I think that's a tad cynical ;), the S3 tenor is a very good horn, but having owned both, and currently playing an S3 (last 12 years) I appreciate that they are considerably different in character within the 'Selmer thing'. The S3 is tone-wise quite a bit different to the S2 (which I played for 15 years); it's more tightly focused and lighter to play, and I'm not talking about physical weight (although the S3 is a little less heavy weight-wise due to the absence of body straps etc). The S3 articulates more easily and is easier to obtain a warm core to the sound IMHO. I find the S3 more to my liking because I can do more with the sound, I always found the S2s, although terrific players, a bit less flexible and in a recording studio their sound has a tendency to spread all over the place, more so than any other horn I owned, which can be an issue I suppose.

It's a pity Selmer's quality control has been so utterly rank over the years. They are trying very hard to rectify that, and the not-before-time removal of Vincent Bach as importers in the UK will hopefully see a vast improvement in the standard of Selmer horns in the shops. I think the problem was that Selmer shipped the horns on the understanding that Bach would set them up before sale, but of course that was never done. I went to Bach a couple of years ago to try a handful of S3 sopranos for an insurance claim, and only one out of four was anywhere near playable. In the USA the shops expect to set Selmers up before purchase, in the UK it seems the dealers were not prepared to do this; understandable perhaps, but very bad for business :( and has tended to produce this reaction in smaller dealers......
I bought my Selmer SA80 series II tenor in 2008 from a well respected shop who told me they didn't stock the series III as they were unimpressed with them.....
which is ludicrous, but understandable under the circumstances.
 

Ivan

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I think that's a tad cynical ;), the S3 tenor is a very good horn, but having owned both, and currently playing an S3 (last 12 years) I appreciate that they are considerably different in character within the 'Selmer thing'. The S3 is tone-wise quite a bit different to the S2 (which I played for 15 years); it's more tightly focused and lighter to play, and I'm not talking about physical weight (although the S3 is a little less heavy weight-wise due to the absence of body straps etc). The S3 articulates more easily and is easier to obtain a warm core to the sound IMHO. I find the S3 more to my liking because I can do more with the sound, I always found the S2s, although terrific players, a bit less flexible and in a recording studio their sound has a tendency to spread all over the place, more so than any other horn I owned, which can be an issue I suppose.

It's a pity Selmer's quality control has been so utterly rank over the years. They are trying very hard to rectify that, and the not-before-time removal of Vincent Bach as importers in the UK will hopefully see a vast improvement in the standard of Selmer horns in the shops. I think the problem was that Selmer shipped the horns on the understanding that Bach would set them up before sale, but of course that was never done. I went to Bach a couple of years ago to try a handful of S3 sopranos for an insurance claim, and only one out of four was anywhere near playable. In the USA the shops expect to set Selmers up before purchase, in the UK it seems the dealers were not prepared to do this; understandable perhaps, but very bad for business :( and has tended to produce this reaction in smaller dealers......

which is ludicrous, but understandable under the circumstances.
Thanks David

I'm very pleased that a whiff of cynicism has provoked you into writing this mini-review. I haven't seen much written here about Selmers so your view and experience is particularly valuable

What you say about Selmers being poorly set-up chimes absolutely with my own experience of buying a tenor (SA80 II) in the 90's that I never took to and made me think I was intrinsically an alto player (1980's SA80). It wasn't until I ended my voluntary exile from playing a couple of years ago, saw on t'internet that it's a good idea to get a tech to look over your horn every so often (never in my case) that I realised the problem was not that I was unable to play tenor, it was that I was unable to progress on a poorly set-up tenor
 

David Roach

Senior Member
Messages
723
Locality
London
Thanks David

I'm very pleased that a whiff of cynicism has provoked you into writing this mini-review. I haven't seen much written here about Selmers so your view and experience is particularly valuable

What you say about Selmers being poorly set-up chimes absolutely with my own experience of buying a tenor (SA80 II) in the 90's that I never took to and made me think I was intrinsically an alto player (1980's SA80). It wasn't until I ended my voluntary exile from playing a couple of years ago, saw on t'internet that it's a good idea to get a tech to look over your horn every so often (never in my case) that I realised the problem was not that I was unable to play tenor, it was that I was unable to progress on a poorly set-up tenor

Thanks. That's such a pain for you! What a drag. It's really not a surprise that Yanagisawas are the 'market leaders' these days, because when you pick up a new Yana, it just works. It isn't until you get a good tech to set a Selmer up properly that you realize how good they can be after all. Selmers really have not done themselves any favours in the UK until they sacked Vincent Bach - Yea! Let's hope they start to get things right in the UK from now on. Howarth's, for instance, now get their Selmers directly from Paris, let's hope they give them a good set-up too!
 

tzadik

Member
Messages
392
Locality
Friulandia, Italy
The Yanagisawa T992 have to be compared with Selmer Series III, and not with the Series II.

Despite the fact, the Series III is commonly used for classical music purposes, the improvements did with the Series III (tenor and alto) make the instrument much more versatile for any kind genre/style.
I've played a Series II for 11 years... and being not into classical musical it was always tricky if you used the Series II with large chamber mouthpieces of baffled pieces.
Most of the issue were (and still are) with the neck. The Series II tenor has an anachronistic neck profile (and bore) that compels you to play in a very unconfortable position (when stand up).

The Series III even just for a matter of playing position is much more comfortable. Then they upgrade the keywork and they made a new neck with a different bore (smaller) and profile (lower with a more open angle).

So the Yanagisawa T992 is a great all-rounder... as well as the Series III.
But the Series II is more specific for classical stuff.

Another option is to take a Series II and replace the original neck with a Series III neck... which really enhances the horn.
 

Ivan

Undecided
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8,030
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Peeblesshire
Another option is to take a Series II and replace the original neck with a Series III neck... which really enhances the horn.

I was seriously worried you might say something like this because it's probably within my budget to give it try

Must resist, must resist
 

SopJob

Member
Messages
86
Locality
Stuttgart region, Germany
I wonder why Selmer continues to produce SA 80 II having brought in the series iii which was presumably an improvement... could it be it wasn't?
Hi Ivan,

my decision to buy the SA 80 ii was based on personal experience. The middle Eb on the Series III sounded like the middle D, that is, a bit muffled (apart from being slightly sharp, which is normal). On the SA 80 ii, the Eb was clearer. There was absolutely no reason to buy a horn with a disadvantage and pay 200 Euros more for it. :).

I can't really comment on the rest of the Series III. It's too long ago.
 

tzadik

Member
Messages
392
Locality
Friulandia, Italy
It's just a matter of how your sax technician/repairman is skilled or how you send the air into the instrument.

The Series II used to go out from the factory with a higher action... and besided this, the weird neck profile makes the resistance distribution over the registers very "weird"... something average classical players usually like... because you send inside the horn a very little amount of air... and the horn gives you back some brightness.

You have more attack of the sound but less "connection"... so the average saxophone player have to work on that... using mouthpieces with very little attack (that's why most of modern days classical mouthpieces have such a huge tip width).



The Series III is designed to be smoother, more even sounding... so if you want "presence" (or zing) you just need to switch the way you physically send the air into the horn. And of course... being lighter and ergonamically more confortable (even from the better neck profile), you have way more headroom.

That's it.

Older Selmer like Mark VI/SBA worked the same way... with a different tone/colour/resonance.
 

SopJob

Member
Messages
86
Locality
Stuttgart region, Germany
Hello tzadik,
all that seems to end up in an intellectual discussion. Let me just say that 9 years ago, I selected the horn that worked best for me from the stock of the shop. Stop. I don't really care what Selmer had in mind when they designed the Series III. By the way, I am a jazz player to 92.81 percent. I don't feel uncomfortable when I play the horn standing, and the neck of my SA 80 ii is fine.
 

tzadik

Member
Messages
392
Locality
Friulandia, Italy
Yeah... it happens!
But it's always a matter of your concept and of the way you physically play...

It's not about being "jazz", "classical" or "folk"...

I had a Series II for 11 years... so...
 

fibracell

Senior Member
Messages
614
If you change the neck on a series 2 tenor to a ref54 or series 3, wouldn't that mess up the instruments overall tuning?
 

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