Yamaha YTS62 tenor saxophone (with notes on the MKII version)
Guide price: £2150
Date of manufacture: 2001
Date reviewed: April 2004
For a long time, Yamaha's pro level horn
- now superseded by the Custom and Z series horns, yet still holding
its own...and quite effortlessly too
I was sorely tempted to review this instrument by
writing just one word - 'Yup'.
To those who own one of these horns that single word would have
been quite adequate to describe this instrument, but in the interest
of, well, interest I'll try and pad it out a bit.
This particular horn is one of the last of the Mark
I models - the new version (the Mark II) has a few 'improvements',
such as a new crook socket, a redesigned octave key mechanism and
a new crook.
I've tried the new crook, but for personal preference I rather like
the old one for its neutrality.
One of the most notable features about these horns
is the build quality. I really don't believe any other manufacturer
comes close to the quality of lacquering you find on Yamaha horns,
and the three years worth or regular use this horn has had hasn't
left so much as a spot on the finish.
The keys are well finished, the pillars and fittings are solidly
soldered in place, everything is just so neat and tidy.
Mechanically the horn is just as well built. Proper
point screws are used throughout - and there's some adjustability
built in from the factory. This is great news when the time comes
to take up a spot of play in the action. There's a full set of regulation
adjusters on the main stacks as well as the usual adjusters for
the Bis Bb. G# and low C#. The bell brace and bow clamp are substantial
and the bell key guards are decorative but tough.
I'd mark the horn down a point on the use of synthetic
key pearls though - a horn of this quality (never mind the price)
should have proper mother-of-pearl buttons (I'm sure earlier versions
Although they look presentable enough they really don't have quite
the same feel or grip as proper mother-of-pearl, and on a hot stage
this could result in fingers slipping off the pearls. It's only
a theory, mind you - I'd have to get one hot and sweaty to confirm
criticism is the proximity of the thumb key to side C cup.
Ordinarily this shouldn't present a problem, but if that cork under
the octave key isn't set just right it's possible for the thumb
key to foul the side C when the octave key is pressed down.
There a slight chamfer to the underside of the key, which means
that someone at Yamaha had spotted the potential for a collision
- and if that happens on your horn then it's time to have that cork
You'll certainly know about it when it happens - you'll either get
an annoying click every time you press the octave key - or you'll
lose everything from top B down, as the octave touchpiece pushes
the side C key cup open.
Under the fingers the action feels very comfortable.
New horns will benefit from a bit of tweaking to the action as it
tends to be set quite hard from the factory - but once tweaked,
the action is capable of being fast yet light.
Stainless springs are used throughout, which is a good option if
you're a particularly wet player.
The bell key spatula cluster is nicely laid out and
fits comfortably under the average hand. The whole thing is only
supported on one pillar, but it looks to be quite substantial enough
- though I'd have preferred to see something that offered a bit
more support in the event of a knock.
The C# spatula benefits from a bit of tweaking - it sits just a
little too high for my liking, but this is true of many horns that
use this arrangement.
The link plate from the low B to Bb is good and sturdy, and once
correctly set shouldn't give any appreciable trouble.
regards setup, it used to be that Yamahas were renown for working
'out of the box' - but these days my feeling is that their quality
control isn't what it used to be. For the sake of another thirty
or so pounds on the cost of the horn I'd strongly recommend having
your repairer spend a little while setting the horn up properly
- with particular attention to the right hand key stack and the
It comes with a decent enough case, though I'd have
liked to have seen a bit more space between the lip of the bell
and the top of the case...I'd certainly think twice before sitting
on the top of the case when the horn's inside (yes, we've all done
As for playability, well, it rocks!
The 62 has bags of power and projection, but no matter how hard
you push it there's never a sense that the tone is getting away
from you. It has a remarkable combination of thrust and control
that allows you to play by the seat of your pants and never quite
fall off the chair.
And what's the sound like? Well, it's like anything
you want it to be.
Tonewise the 62 starts out warmer than its cheaper brethren, and
if you want to accentuate that warmth or pull more cut and brightness
from the horn it'll simply follow you. Responsiveness comes built
in at the factory.
I mentioned earlier on that the new models have a different crook
- I think it's worth experimenting with these as not every improvement
is actually an improvement. I've found the original crook to be
just fine both in terms of tone and tuning, and it better suits
my preference for a brighter tone.
The low notes are gorgeously crisp on this horn, and yet retain
all the warmth you need if you fancy a spot of subtone smooching.
Similarly the top notes are nicely refined, with less of the tendency
to shout that the cheaper models have.
The evenness of tone is remarkable, with only the mid D requiring
a little extra forethought (a tricky note on any sax anyway).
So, a classic pro horn that ought to be on any prospective
buyer's shopping list - and despite its newer, flashier competitors
from the same factory it's still a horn that make me go 'Yup!'.
Notes on the MKII YTS62 (April 05):
It's hard to spot any differences in the latest version
of the 62. There are some changes to the bell key spatulas and the
octave key mechanism, and the horn features a beefier crook socket.
Probably the biggest change is the inclusion of the new crook (in
this case the G1 model). I didn't notice any particular change in
the way the horn felt under the fingers, but then neither did I
notice anything undue worth commenting on - so perhaps the changes
to the keywork will be noticed more by some than others.
Much is made of the annealing process that the brass is subjected
to during the horn's manufacture, but I suspect that the redesigned
crook makes more of an impact to the tone. Annealing is a process
involving heat, which reduces the stresses and strains that build
up in the metal as it's worked. One way to put those stresses back
in is to hit the metal...a process known as work hardening. Every
time you press a key down you'll impart a small shock to the body
of the horn and over time this will result in work hardening. In
other words you'll be back where you started from. It's a nice selling
point, but I wouldn't place too much relevance by it.
The tone is slightly different though. It's less pushy than the
MKI, more laid back - but with extra smoothness in the upper register.
For dyed-in-the-wool Yamaha fans (like me), it's perhaps a bit of
a shame...I've always loved the exuberance and fireworks of the
older models - but for newcomers and fans of warmer horns these
changes should prove to be quite appealing.
I'd be quite happy with a MKII, though I'd want to put back that
classic Yamaha bite by using the old crook.
The case supplied is of the semi-soft variety, quite
sturdy yet light. Certainly good enough for gigging around with
- and the fitted shoulder strap is a useful addition.
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