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Yamaha Sax :: Sax Reviews :: Yamaha

Yamaha Saxophones - Silver Custom Z Alto Test

Play Testing the new Yamaha Alto Silver Custom Z Sax


You can read my review of the un-Lacquered Yamaha Custom Z Alto here. I had the un-Lacquered Alto for 3 month to play and evaluate. It was a great little Sax!

Many times, the saxes sent to a reviewer to test are hand picked and set up perfect for the best possible outcome by the manufacturer. The Silver Custom Z I tested was off the store shelf and was a real example of a sax that you might get when ordering from any store.

A Little History

After 3 months with the un-Lacquered Z Alto, I found a few things that made that sax a wrong choice for me. Now would be a good time to remind the reader that we have a Disclaimer page, explaining the personal nature of Saxophone Tests. You should read it to better understand where we are coming from when we comment on these instruments and how to use the information to help you make the best determination for you when shopping for a new Saxophone.

Yamaha Silver Z Test

I loved the Silver Z! The un-Lacquered Z was really nice but the Silver just killed me.

The tone was full and lively. The low end had a huge sound and the top end was rounder and fuller sounding than the unLacquered and Lacquered Altos previously tested. There was no thinning in the upper register and the overall power and volume of this sax was really impressive. I think I even liked the A2 B3 C3 C#3 range on this sax better than my Yamaha 875.

Dynamics were extreme from really soft to very loud. The Silver Z was very expressive and really fun to play. I found myself choosing this sax over my Yamaha 875 time and time again.

Typical of Yamaha Saxophones, the key placement, feel, pitch and quality of construction was the epitome of a pro horn. I did notice over that month that the Silver Saxophone is a lot more work to keep up. I found myself cleaning it all the time, first because I wanted it to stay sharp for the lucky guy or gal that would be buying this sax, but second because it showed finger prints and dirt much easier than other finishes I have previously owned.

I was pretty tormented by this sax, really hoping to keep it for my own, but not sure how I could afford to. I even took it out on a few gigs to show it off. One gig in particular was very interesting.

Public Sax Test

I like having other people listen to me on a new saxophone and value the third party opinion with the uttermost respect.

One night I had my band playing and new many of my musician friends would be there throughout the night. I had already played it for 2 of my dear friends and 1 did not like it, the other was pretty undecided.

It was late in the gig and I decided to play my Yamaha Black 875 and Yamaha Silver Z on the same song to give the audience the chance to vote for their favorite. What happened was pretty amazing. I played the head on the Z and then soloed on the 875 using the same neck and Meyer 6M NY mouthpiece. I realized that I liked the Meyer 6M more on the Silver Z and my Guardala BeBop Gold on the 875, so I changed the mouthpiece and played them both again with the Guardala.

I asked them to vote on which sax they liked better and people started voting with comments for each. The biggest thing for most was seeing for the first time how a sax and mouthpiece changes the sound. Most people just could not get over the difference each made.

The actual vote was 1 more for the 875 than the Z, but basically a split decision. We ended up having a discussion on the pros and cons for 10-15 minutes. Of course my band chimed in and they were split too. 2 guys liked the Z and 2 liked the 875.

A close female friend of mine said she still liked my sound on my 875 and Guardala. One of my longtime sax player friends said he really liked the Silver Z but thought I sounded more like me on the 875. Comments included the Silver Z was more expressive, the 875 had better (really) high notes, the tone seemed fuller on the black one, and the silver one seemed easier to get around on.

I played each again, without the band, with my favored set up for each and a few more people agreed the Black 875 was probably best, but it was not unanimous by any account.

What I realized was, the Silver Z is really fun to play. It was new and really quick when kicking it up. The overall experience is fun! My 875 is a little more work but has a very mature sound and seems to be the most flexible overall of the two. The 875 is also who I sound like and that does come into consideration for an old guy like me.

Yamaha Silver Z Sax Test Conclusion

I do have to admit that the main deciding factor in keeping the Silver Z was the money. I have a large investment in a bunch of wind instruments at this time and it made little sense to buy another Alto with 2 Vintage Altos coming any day now. My one consolation was a word from the shop that I borrowed the sax from. The owner said that this Silver Sax was totally replaceable. He said that Yamaha has gotten more consistent in there manufacturing over time, and chances were, I could order one online in 6 months and I would like it just as much.

This guy is a sax repair guy and sax manufacturer and I really respect his opinions, so I let it go and hope to get one later next year. Who knows, it could be my main axe by late 2007.

For more Yamaha Saxophone Reviews - Back to Yamaha Reviews Home

Yamaha Silver Z Alto Review date 10/06

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Yamaha Black Custom 875 Alto Saxophone Greg Vail - GV