Yamaha 82Z Saxophones – Celebrating 20+ Years!

12th December 2023

This blog, with accompanying videos, is here to celebrate 20+ years of the Yamaha 82Z range of Saxophones. This model launched Yamaha firmly into the pro Saxophone market in all areas of the world, and gave modern players an exciting and credible alternative to vintage Saxophones. Find out more about the Yamaha 82Z history and the current range below…

Yamaha 82Z History

In the early 2000’s Yamaha wanted to launch a new professional Saxophone range to sit alongside their 875 Custom models. They worked alongside the legendary Saxophonist Phil Woods to develop the 82Z model which launched in Alto and Tenor variants during 2002. The Soprano models (two variants) came along in 2011 but there has never been a Z Baritone Sax. Don’t be fooled by the YBS-82 Baritone, that is an 82, but not a Z model!

The original Yamaha 82Z Alto & Tenors ran from 2002-2012 and then a MKII version came out in 2013. The MKII version included the following updates/improvements:

  • New V1 neck – larger bore for more powerful tone
  • 1-piece hand hammered bell for enhanced resonance
  • Low B-C# connection improved for better regulation
  • Lighter thumb hook and thumb rest to reduce weight
  • Newly designed floral engraving pattern
  • Adjustable front F key

We had to wait until 2011 until the 82Z Soprano models arrived and when they did it was worth the wait! Both models were one-piece, with the 82ZR having an inbuilt curve at the neck.

Different Finishes

Throughout the last 20+ years of production Yamaha used the Z range to introduce different finishes to the line-up, and indeed a couple of special variants of Z also arrived. In terms of finishes, the classic gold lacquer was joined by silver plate, black lacquer and unlacquered models.

Here at Dawkes we really love the unlacquered and black versions because they add a little something extra to the sound. The unlacquered model resonates with absolute purity and it sounds a little more raw. Whereas the black model feels a little tubbier sounding. A subtle difference but due to the physical layers of lacquer being thicker it does just affect the tone a little.

Special Yamaha 82Z Models

Yamaha have released various unique Z models such as the WOF (without top F# key), the Atelier Edition which had a special ambler lacquer, a C1 neck (for a more concentrated sound), an overweight thumb screw and directly soldered pillars to the body (instead of on body ribs).

Most recently (late 2023) they have launched the ZA models in Alto and Tenor. They feature an amber lacquer which is a really deep, luxurious shade of amber gold (pic far right above). Check out the video below to hear Sam & Simon discussing and demonstrating this beautiful new edition.

Choosing/Buying a Yamaha 82Z Saxophone

Here at Dawkes we keep a range of Yamaha 82Z Saxophones in stock in a variety of finishes. Each Saxophone is professionally checked and set-up by experienced Woodwind Technicians in the Dawkes Workshop prior to sale.

If you wish to visit us in store you can even pre-book a time and testing room of your choice to play and compare a range of Saxophones. Each Yamaha 82Z comes complete with a pre-sale check, 2 year warranty, hard Yamaha case, mouthpiece, ligature and cap. Please contact us with any queries and we’ll be happy to help.