Looking for a professional-level saxophone that can keep up with you for the rest of your playing career? In this article, we’ll take a look at everything you need to know about , from company history, makes and models to our pick of their best instruments.
Before diving into all the details and intricacies of this top saxophone brand, let’s have a look at our favorite alto model:
|Yanagisawa AWO10 Alto Saxophone||Check Price on Amazon|
Firstly, it’s worth noting that with performing artists in mind, so if you’re looking for a cheap beginner sax to get started on, this is not the place to start. only make
If, on the other hand, you have the budget and desire for an excellent quality model to help you turbo charge your saxophone playing. a Yanagisawa could be for you.
The company produces saxophones with an excellent and a build quality that your technician will thank you for.
In 1894, Tokutaro Yanagisawa started repairing imported wind instruments for the military band. This quickly evolved into a fully-fledged factory.
In 1951, Tokutaro’s son, Takanobu built his first prototype . Since then, Yanagisawa has remained a family company.
The ethos has remained one of providing excellence in both build quality and craft, with a belief that each craftsman imparts their own personality and soul into each to produce a certain and quality , just as the player would.
Yanagisawa makes, models and codes
At first, the model numbers of the Yanagisawa series can be a little hard to understand, so we’ve put together this list of the model numbers that should help you better understand the key difference.
The first part of the code relates to the instrument and series
- SN = sopranino
- SWO = soprano
- SCWO = curved soprano
- AWO = alto sax
- TWO = tenor sax
- BWO = baritone sax
The next part relates to the specific model & material
- beginning with a 1 = brass
- beginning with a 2 = bronze
- beginning with a 3 = silver
The final part of the code relates to the lacquer finish
Most saxophones come with a thin lacquer, with some other brands offering a vintage finish.
All the . listed without a suffix will come with this thin lacquer that will help protect the but can dampen the resonance of the body of
For those that want to try something a little different, look out for models with the following letters in the name.
- U = unlacquered (Note that these models are not suitable for many marching bands or military bands as unlacquered saxophones will naturally tarnish over time developing a vintage patina)
- S = silver plated (Silver-plated saxophones offer a brighter resonance than normal lacquer, but not as much as .)
- PG = pink gold plated (This is a type of lacquer that is used largely for cosmetic reasons. It offers the same level of protection as a clear lacquer and no real discernible tonal changes to regular lacquer)
So, as an example, the AWO1 is a classic alto model in regular brass finish – phew!
Our Top Pick: The WO20 range of
For us, the WO20 gives players the best bang for their buck.
This solid is still on the pricey side but is considerably more affordable than its solid silver siblings and offers an incredible and ergonomic design.
Yanagisawa Saxophone Guide: model-by-model
Like all of the models on this list, the WO1 model is available as all the main types of saxophone: straight , , or .
The WO1 is the upgraded model from the old 901 series, which is still a very good even today, and available for less than brand new .
The re-engineered and holes have led to an even stronger tonal core than its predecessors, along with a few differences to make playing considerably easier.
The front F key has been redesigned to be more ergonomic, slanted so it fits under the with greater ease.
Blue steel strings give the player a quick response – this is immediately noticeable when you try them out, but if the action feels a little stiff most reputable shops will be able to set up your for you.
The WO2 is essentially the same beast as the WO1 with one key exception, the material.
A revamped version of the 902, the WO2 is made from solid bronze, rather than the solid of the WO1.
This gives a more complex , richer and warmer than the . It still offers all the improvements and ergonomics of the WO1, with blue steel springs, Teflon coated octave system and ergonomic front F key.
The WO10 is the upgrade to the WO1.
Made from , the WO10 has all the same modifications as the WO1 and more.
The WO10 has double key arms, a fully ribbed construction and an underslung octave mechanism.
The double key arms increase durability and ensure the low B and C pads will continue to seal for years to come, and the underslung octave mechanism does help avoid some damage but is largely cosmetic.
A ribbed construction adds weight to the the considerably heavier. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, but a good quality will be required. strap, giving a warmer , but does make
The WO20 offers the same key features as the 10, but is a solid .
This does put the cost up considerably but also allows a much warmer and more complex which couples perfectly with the ribbed construction.
For most people, including professionals, this is about the best bang for your buck that you’ll get in the Yanagisawa series, as can raise the price to absurd levels very quickly, even for an increase in the quality of .
The WO30 model features all the same features as the previous. The core difference once again is the material.
The and the body are both made from .
With silver being a much softer metal, there is a bar on the to avoid any pull down over time, and as a result, this model does not feature an underslung octave key.
The Same as the WO30 model, with the bow and body made of , and the and made of .
Due more to the sheer amount of metal required for the , the price from here increases very quickly.
Same as the WO33 model, the bow and body are made from bronze, while the and are made from .
This is at the highest end of Yanagisawa saxophones, featuring all the previous features back to the WO20 without the underslung octave mechanism.
This is to accommodate the , body, bow and .
This is a truly impressive , with a price point to match.
If you’re looking specifically for an , check out our article on the best professional a s for jazz.
For a more general breakdown, head over to our post on the most famous saxophone brands internationally.
The label ‘Discover Jazz’ is attached to articles which have been edited and published by Jazzfuel host Matt Fripp, but have been written in collaboration with various different jazz musicians and industry contributors. When appropriate, these musicians are quoted and name-checked inside the article itself!