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Thread: HELP! Yamaha or Selmer Alto Sax?

  1. #1

    Default HELP! Yamaha or Selmer Alto Sax?

    Guys.. I wanna buy a new alto sax but i have no clue which one to choose! The price isn't a problem.. i'm not sure whether i should get a yamaha 875EX or 82Z or a Selmer. I have no idea about Selmer or its models.. I don't know what's the difference between YTS and YAS yamaha saxes too! I play a yamaha sax by the way and I live in Jordan where the best sax you can find is a Chineese one! I'm leaving to the states soon and i'll get my new sax from there. If you know any site that compares these saxes please let me know.

  2. #2
    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    saxyaz - These are different saxes and which one you would like best is highly subjective.

    I don't know what your itenerary is but I would suggest witholding judgement until you get to the US and try each of them out there. Depending on where you are going, there are Forum members who can suggest where you might find a good selection to try out.

    Regarding the Yamaha designations, Y=Yamaha, S=Sax and the T and A (sorry, couldn't resist) = Tenor and Alto, respectively.

  3. #3

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    Gary, thanx alot! obviuosly the question about the A and T was a stupid one! I have no idea how i missed that although I've been surfing the web for an alto sax for days! anyways, according to your experience, which is the best Yamaha and the best Selmer out there? I don't want to get stuck with trying two many saxes since I already have to try different necks and mouthpieces.. I will visit Rochester, DC and Huoston over 3 months..

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    saxyaz: Over the last two years, I've tested a bunch of new and vintage altos, and bought a few, too. This week, I bought a new Ref54 Selmer alto. I did not buy any the many Yamahas I've tested. I posted a little more in a Re54 thread under Selmer. Yes, there may be a Yamaha alto out there that is superior to my Ref54, but based on my experience, the Ref54 is the finest saxophone I've ever played. DAVE

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    Distinguished SOTW Columnist / Forum Contributor 2008 Hurling Frootmig's Avatar
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    Dave,

    I haven't played near enough Ref 54 altos but on the ones I have played I haven't been blown away. I vastly prefer the 1960 Mark VI that belonged to my Grandfather or my JK SX-90 straight alto. Maybe I haven't come across the right Ref yet.
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  6. #6

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    Dave, thanx for ur reply but what is exactly the Ref54 Selmer? is it a new one? i really don't have any idea about Selmer saxes.. if you can add any useful info it would be appreciated since it seems you have a good experience with Selmer

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    Hurling: My MKVI is 1962 vintage and is a nice horn, better than some other MKVIs I'd played. I also had a straight JK alto. While both were good horns, neither one of those was even close to this new Ref54.

    The other Ref54s I tried were really good, too (three others, in all). One had a sticky G# pad, the other was unwrapped as I watched. They both needed a bit of tweaking but were obviously (at least to me), quality instruments far beyond what I'd tested over the past few years. As you have undoubtedly experienced, some horns just speak to you. All of the Ref54 altos I played spoke to me.

    Saxyaz: There is much written on this site about the Ref54. To save you some research, though, Selmer recently issued a "new" tenor series called the Reference line . . . 54's for the year 1954 when they first released the MKVI, and 36's for the year 1936 when they first released the Balanced Action (two famous Selmer models).

    The Reference tenors have received genearlly favorable reviews, albeit just like any saxophone, some love them, others are not impressed and prefer other makes/models.

    Now, Selmer released the Reference 54 alto to honor the MKVI altos. At first, the altos were going to be known only as "Reference" models because Selmer was not going to simulate the old Balanced Action models in their new alto line. But, later they added the "54" to the model name. My Ref54 is so marked ("Reference 54" on the bell).

    The Ref54 alto is finished in a honey-gold lacquer much like the old MKVI. Plus, the key mechanism has been simplified from the Serie III line.

    At Kessler's I compared the Ref54 to a Serie III alto. The Serie III was much brighter and the added upper C# vent seemed to be more bother than it was worth (but I don't have that much experience with the Selmer Super Action 80 lines, so maybe that extra mechanism solves some problem - who knows?).

    If cost is no problem for you, I'd try to locate a Ref54 alto to try before laying down your dough for a Serie III or a Yamaha, etc. Good luck. DAVE

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    Forum Contributor 2008 Mike_K's Avatar
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    saxyaz - you can find into about the Ref 54, as well as other Selmer models and other brands at http://www.saxforte.com. Also check out the Selmer Paris site: http://www.selmer.fr/html/english/sax/sax.htm.

    I agree with Dave - the Ref 54 is the best horn I've ever played.

    Dave - congratulations on your new purchase! I read your post when you first tried one out and decided not to buy it - was wondering how long it would take for you to change your mind.

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    Forum Contributor 2008 Mike_K's Avatar
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    It's interesting too that on the Selmer Paris site they still refer to it as the "Reference" - no mention of 54 and no engraved "54" on the sax in the photo.

    (Sorry to post this in the Yamaha forum - just following the thread )

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    Mike_K: I agree this is not the place to get deep into Selmers, but there is some logic to following the conversation where it started. Yes, I finally got up off a dime (as they say) and popped for the Ref54. Glad I did. DAVE

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    The most prolific Distinguished SOTW poster, Forum Contributor 2014 gary's Avatar
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    saxyaz - there is a ton of pro and con discussion on this Forum about various saxes. You probably will want to spend a lot of time going through the many threads.

    I notice you will be in DC. I would suggest you taking a trip to Chuck Levin's "Washington Music" which is actually in Rockville, Maryland, but just adjacent to DC. They are known for carrying a good selection and giving reasonable prices.

    Ref 54's aside, I think you might also want to check out the Series III Selmer and a Yamaha Custom EX or 82Z to give a little balance to your search. Good Luck.

  12. #12

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    saxyaz,
    I agree with Gary totally. I have never been a great fan of yamaha, but, if an 82Z is good enough for Phil Woods... And I am playing a Custom soprano which I have come to really like. One of the reasons I recommend Yamaha's and Yanagisawa(I play an A9937 and B991) is the fact that they are so consistent and well regulated from the factory. In the end, it's what feels and sounds best to you.
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  13. #13

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    I just recently tried the 54 alto, and was very underwhelmed. I thought the horn had way too much resistance, and the ergos on the right hand (R-hand pinky keys to be specific) were annoyingly off kilter.I did find visually quiete beautiful, however. Granted, I've only played that one, and I will reserve final judgment on this horn until I've tried at least a few more, but at this point, I much prefer the 82Z.
    These things are so subjective, however, that I must always stress to try out as many of both as possible, as you will be the one living with your choice.

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    Distinguished SOTW Columnist / Forum Contributor 2008 Hurling Frootmig's Avatar
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    To respond to the original post.

    I have played the most recent incarnations of the 62 and 82Z and the older 875EX. To me the most immediately impressive horn was a silver 62 II alto. It just flat out played. The 82Z reminded me of a decent Mark VI in terms of response and action. The Selmer core isn't there but it has a nice tone. The older 875EX tenor would be a great horn for classical and I really liked it with the newer G1 neck.

    On a side note to Dave. I've only played this one straight alto but my tech was playing it in the shop right after I got it and one of the other guys had a straight at one time and sold it because he didn't like it. Apparently he couldn't put mine down. It's a killer horn with a tone unlike anything else I've ever played.
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    Hurling: There will always be ONE saxophone that plays like no other. I've experienced that many times with various sizes and brands. That your straight JK is a killer is believable, alright. I wouldn't describe mine as being like yours, but it was good.

    That's why I'm hesitant to brand all Yamahas (or whatever brand) as bland (my general experience) because it well may be that I haven't come across the ONE Yamaha that blows me away - and I've owned Yamahas and tested a bunch. I just wouldn't recommend Yamaha because of my mediocre experiences with them.

    Same with Selmers and Yanagisawas - I've had some good Selmers (certainly the new Ref54) and some dogs. All of my Yanagisawas have been good horns, but there may be some dogs out there.

    My JK straight was a nice horn (sold it to fellow SOTW poster) too, but it was a logistical nightmare for me. The rack was difficult and took up valuable space on stage. So, as unusual as it was, and as good as it played . . . bye-bye. DAVE

  16. #16

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    Guys, I'd really like to thank you all.. you've given me such an insight into this issue.. and Gary I will make sure to visit that place to try some saxes.. I had in mind all the models you mentioned, so I guess i'll try them all.. apparently, as everyone agrees, it is the way the horn responds that will help me make up my mind.. by the way, can you give me an estimate of how much does these saxes cost? a rough number would be fine..

    again thanx alot guys.. I'll keep checking in to get more of your advice.

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    Saxyaz: I paid $3850 for the Ref54 in Las Vegas (Kessler's). Several weeks ago I tried a few new Yamaha altos (62, 62II, Custom and Z - lacquered and unlacq). I don't recall the specific prices but the Custom and the Zs were under $2500, (maybe even $2200.00?). The 62s were cheaper.

    A couple of years ago, a Yanagisawa A992 (bronze) ran around $2900.00. I think they are higher now. Many Internet discounters advertise on eBay. You may be able to determine a ball-park price by following the new-horn auctions there.

    Some web-sites will quote prices, too, but I noticed that Matthews Music (The Netherlands) did not list prices the last time I checked there. DAVE

  18. #18

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    Hurling: What mouthpiece did you use when you played the 62II alto?

    Also, to the original poster: The best prices I've found on Yamahas are at prowinds.com and wwbw.com. I believe the 62II is around $1700 (lacquer) and $1800 (silverplated), and the 82Z in lacquer is around $2200.

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    Distinguished SOTW Columnist / Forum Contributor 2008 Hurling Frootmig's Avatar
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    Martha,

    I played my standard alto setup, a Selmer Scroll Shank Soloist and Hemke reeds.
    "We'd all play like Stan (Getz) if we could" - John Coltrane

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  20. #20

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    Martha, thanx for the sites. you are right, they have good prices but i don't know if it's safe to order a sax online without even trying it! I'll check the sites once more to see if they have any stores other than the internet one.

    Dave, thanx to you too! the difference is almost the double between yamaha and selmer! that even puzzles me more since everything I read on the net pictures the 82Z or 875EX as the best saxes ever! and the material about selmer saxes is very minimal. I can't wait to try tem all to decide..

    regarding the necks and mouthpieces, how can I reach the best combination? or are there any standard combinations that produce the best sound? as for the reeds, Rico has been a great choice for me but it wears out so quickly! Vandoren reeds, strange enough, didn't play like the Rico ones! I feel I will spend hours trying all these options! I still have many questions but let's keep them a few at a time..

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