Blurbage, from one of Yamaha’s sales fliers:
"This has to be one of the most exciting things to happen to the sax world in modern times. Finally: a modern sax that actually captures the sound and feel of those treasured classic saxes of the past!—while adding state-of-theart intonation and mechanism. Based on the scale of the classic ’62’ models, the new Custom Z saxes have bodies that are made of a special brass alloy for lighter weight, a great playing ‘feel,’ and the kind of tonal flexibility you’ve always dreamed of. The Z plays evenly in all ranges, and gives you a huge dynamic range for as much—or as little—sound as you want. The Custom G1 neck helps produce a quick and agile response, while key action and placement feel just right. You can create whatever style tone you’re after, from vintage to contemporary, and there’s no need to sacrifice comfort for sound. These horns literally ‘have it all’."
I think the point behind this horn was to have a “jazzier” version of the 875 — or, for that matter, just a “Custom” that’s really a jazz horn. The 855 and 875 were GREAT horns, but I could argue that they really leaned more toward the classical market, as they had a very dark, lush tone. I’m told that the 82 is a somewhat darker horn than the 62, but nowhere near as dark as the 875 — and the redesigned neck is also an added bonus. Tragically, I’ve never played an 82Z, so I can’t really say.
82 vs. 875 vs. 62
The 82Z and 875EX are both made with “specially imported French brass” and the 62 has “annealed yellow brass” (see this Yamaha brochure (page 2)). Mmmm. OK. I can’t find anything that says that French brass is extra-special and the material a saxophone is made out of does not have an impact on tone quality (see my rather long article to find out why). Yamaha does mention that this new alloy is somewhat lighter.
One thing that can make a difference is the bell: the 82Z has a two-piece and the 875 has a one-piece. This is the same difference between the 52/34 baritone and the 62 baritone and I’ve noted that the two-piece bell design makes the bell notes a bit more difficult to hit.
Looking at the parts order list, the 82Z is a combination of parts from the 62, 855 (yes, the venerable 855) and 875 — with a few new things thrown in. In my opinion, that means that the horn is probably the best of all worlds. However, note the above brochure that mentions that the 82 is “based” on the 62.
A few years ago, when I was working on saxpics.com, I came across an interesting horn, the Yamaha 6×6. People consider this a prototype of one of the Custom horns or possibly the 62II. One of these days, I’ll try to do a comparison. It’s pretty.