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Thread: Selmer SA sIII VS Yamaha YAS-875EX

  1. #1

    Default Selmer SA sIII VS Yamaha YAS-875EX

    Hello All!

    I am looking to buy a professional model alto saxophone and am caught between buying a Yamaha or a Selmer, as often happens to new players looking to buy.

    I don't really have the option of trying both of them, though I would love to be able to, and I was just wondering if I could have some input on the ups and downs of each of them from anyone who has played/owns either of these models, or both even. I'm starting University and will be studying classical music for the next 5 years, so that's what it will be used to play mostly, though I will be playing some jazz now and then too.

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Chris Peryagh's Avatar
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    I reckon you won't go wrong with the Yamaha 875EX as the Yamaha is less likely to go wrong and is much more comfortable to play, unlike the Selmer which can have all sorts of things wrong with it from day one, and a lot more things to go wrong with it over time.

    If the 'improved' open C# vent packs up on the Selmer Series III alto (it's an additional vent closed by LH finger 1 and the 8ve key) then it will impair the entire sax unless you know how to adjust it. And it means you can't go from C# to D repeated or legato by playing upper D (8ve xxx|xxx) and only lifting LH 1 and 2 for the better tuned C# (8ve oox|xxx) = on the Series III this is flat, and the open C# isn't exactly brilliant. The Series III also has a longer crook, so you'll probably have very little or no cork showing for the sax to be in tune with itself. The 8ve mechanism doesn't feel positive in it's action as it has to close the C# vent as well.

    I have played the Series III and Series II, and I do think the Series II is better, though I definitely prefer the Yamaha 875EX to them both. And not only that, I have a repeat offender in the form of a Series III alto which I'm fed up of seeing when something different goes wrong with it each time it comes in to me - the owner wishes she went for the Yamaha instead as she once had a Yamaha, and she feels she was ill advised into getting the Series III.

    Out of the choice you have of the two, I'd definitely say go for the Yamaha 875EX.

  3. #3

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    Thanks so much for the good advice!

    I've heard tons of good things about the Yamaha professional horns, but have been leaning towards getting a Selmer only because they seem to be more well known and my prof has been advising me to, because he believes them to be the 'standard' instruments to play on. I've also heard that the Yamahas are better for players with smaller hands (like me) since I found that the Selmer series II I tried was quite uncomfortable to play the left hand pinky finger keys and I have to adjust my whole hand to reach the low Bb key properly.

    Another thing that worries me is that the Selmer series III I have been looking at to buy is a used instrument, and I don't really have any idea why it was sold to the store from it's previous owner. The store says it is in Like New condition, but it could have been sold because it was having problems, such as the ones I have read about here with other serie IIIs.

    One of my concerns about the Yamaha YAS-875EX though is that it will not be as good for classical playing. Is it built for classical?

    Thanks again ^-^

  4. #4

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    The 875EX was designed specifically for classical playing. I've heard conflicting stories, but the main design consultant was either Eugene Rousseau (who's been the main force behind Yamaha saxophones for the past couple of decades) or a duo of Nobuya Sugawa and Jean-Yves Fourmeau. Within the past few years, Yamaha split their Custom models into two horns - the 82Z is meant for jazz, and the 875EX for classical.

    I've also played both the Serie III and the 875EX (and the Serie II also), and of those three I wholeheartedly believe that the 875EX is superior in every respect.

  5. #5

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    Yeah, since both are pretty safe buys, go for the one with the best ergos. The Yamaha (IMHO) is the winner by far in that catagory. but also talk to your University teacher and ask what he reccomends.

  6. #6

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    Ergos the yamaha 875 ex is awesome!
    But I like my projection and I believe that the Serie III is definitely a slightly brighter horn with faster response.
    Yeah, if I were to go again, Id probably get a Serie II or the yamaha 875ex but then again, the differences are small between the horns and not enough for the audience to hear or great enough to buy another horn.

  7. #7
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Chris Peryagh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Made4Music
    One of my concerns about the Yamaha YAS-875EX though is that it will not be as good for classical playing. Is it built for classical?

    I don't think saxes are built for a specific style of playing - generally any sax will do anything you want it to as you and your setup are the determining factors in the way you sound, not the instrument. My 875EX gives me everything I want from it, and with a predictability I like - I know what it will or won't do, there are no surprises with it.

    I feel the Yamaha is much more stable intonation-wise compared to the Selmer, and there's very little embouchure adjustment needed to keep it in tune, but I do feel when playing the Selmer it needs more work to pitch certain notes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Peryagh
    I don't think saxes are built for a specific style of playing - generally any sax will do anything you want it to as you and your setup are the determining factors in the way you sound, not the instrument. My 875EX gives me everything I want from it, and with a predictability I like - I know what it will or won't do, there are no surprises with it.
    I disagree with this, although it's much easier to play jazz/rock/etc. on a "classical" type horn than to play classical on a "jazz" type horn. There is a reason that you don't see many hardcore classical players playing on Custom Z instruments, for example. They're set up to be lighter, brighter instruments, and they are therefore not well-suited to play classical music. Can you play classical with them? Sure. Will it be as easy as playing on an 875EX? No.

  9. #9
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Chris Peryagh's Avatar
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    Ok, so list all the modern horns made specifically for 'classical' music, and all those made for Jazz/Rock.

  10. #10
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    OK, no problem:

    Classical
    Keilwerth Prestige
    Yamaha 875EX
    Selmer Mark VII

    Jazz
    Yamaha Custom Z
    Selmer Hummingbird
    Selmer Reference Series
    LA Sax anything
    Keilwerth SX-90R (designed by Peter Ponzol, who is a jazz player)


    Now, as I said before, this doesn't mean that you can't play jazz on a "classical" horn and vice versa, (I play classical tenor on a Keilwerth SX-90R), but these horns were designed by particular types of players for their particular style of playing and marketed at the different players as well. For example, the 875 is a heavier horn than a Custom Z, and is designed to produce a darker sound. Does that mean you can't play jazz on an 875? Of course not! Does that mean you can't play classical on a Custom Z? No! But it might be easier for you if you played the classical on the 875 and the jazz on the Z. Depends on the player.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickBusarow
    The 875EX was designed specifically for classical playing. I've heard conflicting stories, but the main design consultant was either Eugene Rousseau (who's been the main force behind Yamaha saxophones for the past couple of decades) or a duo of Nobuya Sugawa and Jean-Yves Fourmeau. Within the past few years, Yamaha split their Custom models into two horns - the 82Z is meant for jazz, and the 875EX for classical.

    I've also played both the Serie III and the 875EX (and the Serie II also), and of those three I wholeheartedly believe that the 875EX is superior in every respect.

    The way that I understand it, the 875EX is an extension of the original 875, which was designed by Rousseau. Certain "tweaks" were added by Formeau and Sugawa for the "EX" model. I would expect that if Yamaha makes a new model anytime soon that has a new model number (975?), it will be designed solely by Formeau and/or Sugawa, as I believe that Rousseau has retired from his position with Yamaha, but I could be wrong. Steve P can probably clarify this further.

  12. #12

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    What about Yanis, would they be a Jazz or a classical horn?

  13. #13
    Distinguished SOTW Technician Chris Peryagh's Avatar
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    When the Yamaha Custom series was first introduced, there were two altos with identical keywork that was different to the 62 style keywork to put Yamaha saxes on par with Selmer and other top pro models (as the 62 was the only sax of it's kind in it's own price range) - the YAS-855 and YAS-875. It was the YAS-855 that was the less popular of the two and was discontinued. I notice in Japan the tenor is also available in EX form as well as the 875II. I tried both the 82Z and 875EX when they first hit the shelves here in the UK. I liked both very much, but I felt I could push the EX much harder without going unconscious - except on the upper G# which kicks.

    We still have the 875 alto and tenor, and without doubt my 875 tenor has enough grit to make any gravel pit jealous. But it can be played as subtle as an alto flute or flugelhorn as well.

  14. #14

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    I know that the EX is based off the SP series which sugawa had input on. Only like 500 SP were made I think.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max
    I would expect that if Yamaha makes a new model anytime soon that has a new model number (975?), it will be designed solely by Formeau and/or Sugawa, as I believe that Rousseau has retired from his position with Yamaha, but I could be wrong. Steve P can probably clarify this further.
    J. Max,
    Do you happen to know if Yamaha will be introducing a new classical alto in the not so distant future, lets say the next year? I believe the 875 EX was introduced in 2002 and that would be a pretty short lifetime for it if it were to be replaced this soon.
    Yamaha YAS-62II Alto w/ Selmer S-90, Vandoren Optimum, Hemke 3.5
    Antigua 590 Soprano w/ Vandoren SL4 , Rovner Light Lig and Vandoren 3.0

  16. #16

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    What's a bit curious is that at least in 2004, Sugawa was still playing on a regular 875. You'd think that if he was actually the guy who made the changes to the EX, those changes would reflect his preferences and he'd be the first player to get one.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by J.Max

    Selmer Hummingbird
    Selmer Reference Series
    They're the same thing!!

  18. #18

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    Well, sort of. But the bird engraving makes the horn play more in tune.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickBusarow
    Well, sort of. But the bird engraving makes the horn play more in tune.
    I almos thought you were serious .........You were joking, weren't you?!?!

  20. #20

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    No, I'm totally serious. It makes the lower stack notes resonate a little differently, or something.

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