Here at Dawkes Music we stock a wide range of Yanagisawa Saxophones for sale. Yanagisawa are one of the most popular upgrade professional level Saxophones and this is our ultimate guide to the brand, the range and all the differences to help you choose.
The Yanagisawa company started out as a Wind instrument repair business in 1894. Mr Tokutaro Yanagisawa began by repairing imported wind instruments for the military musicians in Japan. Throughout a period of national instability and war, Mr Yanagisawa developed the techniques to begin producing musical instruments for the first time on Japanese soil. Fast forward to 1951 and his son, Takanobu, made a prototype Saxophone after following in his father’s footsteps in the family business. To put this in context, although some instruments were already being produced in Japan they were of a very basic quality. Over in Europe and the US there were classics such as the Selmer Super (Balanced) Action, the King SilverSonic, Conn 10M already in production and being used by professional players.
International recognition and indeed sufficient quality don’t happen overnight with regards wind instrument production. Although they had a full range in place by the late 1960’s (15 models from Sopranino to Baritone) the first real impact internationally was with the Elimona Series (800 series) which were in production from 1978-1985 (see image below). We still see some of these Elimona models crop up on the second hand market and they are really great Saxophones, especially the Soprano S880 which was the world’s first Straight Soprano with a removable neck – and arguably the world’s first Soprano which is pretty much in tune top to bottom!Contact Us
The 1990’s saw the introduction of the 900 series which helped cement their hard-earned regard from players and dealers around the world. The classic A901 Alto Sax went on to be a huge seller, directly competing with the popular Yamaha YAS-62 series at the first pro upgrade level of the market. Throughout the 1990’s Yanagisawa continued to push the boundaries of manufacturing by producing bronze and solid silver instruments, sometimes combining both materials to make some very interesting sounding Saxophones. The range was being chosen by well-known professional players and Yanagisawa began to cement its position as one of the top 3 worldwide Saxophone brands alongside Selmer and Yamaha. In 2014, the new WO series was launched. The Alto WO was first up and in the following years the Tenor & Soprano have followed and most recently the Baritone.
There are five models of Alto, Tenor and Baritone now available. Soprano has six straight options and three curved. There are spec differences and also material differences. Let’s take a look at the material differences first and how that might affect the sound…
So, we’ve established the first choice you can make is around the material difference used on the Sax. Now, let’s take a look at some of the spec differences as you go through the range:Contact Us
These are the most popular models and whilst the choice is commonly framed as being between the cheaper, or perhaps ‘intermediate’ version vs the more expensive ‘pro’ version we’d encourage you to take a different view of these models. There are certain additions on the O10/O20 which may assist in playability (more on that later), but we would argue the real choice here is in the type of sound and resonance you want between the two types of design. The O1/O2 models are a little lighter because the key pillars are soldered directly onto the body, whereas on the O10/O20 models there are a series of long ribs that run down the body which the key pillars are soldered to. The addition of the ribs adds weight which arguably increasers the density to the sound (O10/O20) but some players actually prefer the lighter, more agile response of the O1/O2 series.
In fact, most of the differences are about weight, the more specs added to the O10/O20 makes them heavier to hold and thus heftier in tonal feel. The O1/O2 models feel brighter and lighter – this is clearly then a choice as to what sort of tone you may prefer rather than a better or worse situation.
The main tech spec differences are listed below:
The new WO Series was introduced first with the Alto models in 2014, this replaced the old 900 series. Since then, Yanagisawa have employed a staggered introduction from Alto, through Tenor & Soprano with Baritone being the most recent update. Since the 1970’s Yanagisawa have only had 3 major model family updates; 800 Series, 900 Series and WO Series. So, you can see they’re not exactly trigger happy when it comes to changing things, something we highly commend as consistency is a virtue too few manufacturers seem to hold at the moment.
So, What Changed?
Quite simply, everything! That may sound a little dramatic, but the bore size, tone hole positions and core brass composition all changed. You can’t get more fundamental than that. However, and this is the clever part, despite these fundamental changes, Yanagisawa stayed true to the extremely comfortable, ergonomic layout of the keys and the incredible evenness of tone and sound quality. In fact, they simply improved those already strong points even further.
Full Spec Differences WO vs 900: