The 61 was replaced in 1978 by the 62 series, which is a few years before the Selmer Super Action 80 made its way onto the scene (appx. 1981). In my opinion, Selmer discovered that Yamaha and Yanagisawa were going to be “the next big thing” unless they did ”something” — and hopefully the ”something” wouldn’t be too late and cost too much. Whether Selmer succeeded in that is your opinion.
My opinion, regarding all of the Yamaha saxophones, is that the higher up on the scale, from “student” to “professional,” the better the horn is. However, the price isn’t always worth it. The 32, 52, 475 and 575 share the same body tube as the 62, it’s just that these models may have different necks, bells, brass composition and cosmetic differences. The “cosmetic differences” have nothing to do with the horn’s tone or intonation, but do have a bit to do with playability — such as the recessed mother-of-pearl keywork as opposed to glued-on nylon inserts. However, the player needs to decide if those differences are worth the price disparity between the 62 and those other models.
- Introduced (SATB): 1978 (1981 for the curved model)/1978/1980/1983.
- Discontinued: 1990/1992/1994/1994.
- Finish Choices: Gold lacquer, silver plate.
- Introduced (ATB): 1992/1994/1994.
- Discontinued: 2002/2002/NA.
- Finish Choices: Gold lacquer, silver plate
- Introduced (AT): 2000
- Finish Choices: Gold lacquer, black lacquer, matte lacquer, and silver plate. I believe you can get unlacquered and gold plate, as well. (The unlacquered finish and gold plate finish are available on the Custom models.)
- Introduced: 1990
- Finish Choices: Unlacquered, gold lacquer, black lacquer, matte lacquer, silver plate and gold plate.
61 vs. the 62
Here, I’m going to quote from the Stephen Howard review regarding the changes from the 61 to the 62:
“For the most part the differences relate to the keywork. The biggest difference was the move to straps on the 62 (whereby a set of pillars is fitted to a brass strip that’s then fitted to the horn) as opposed to the individually fitted pillars on the 61.
“The size and shape of the bell key spatulas was changed – they became slightly smaller. The front F key touchpiece changed from a traditional pearl to a plain brass curved touchpiece (thus improving the ‘hitability’) and the F# and top F# touchpieces lost their mother-of-pearl covers and became plain brass.
“The design of the G# mechanism changed – the link bar moved to the front of the horn, although I always felt the rear mounted link on the 61 was rather effective. There was a new octave key mechanism, based on the Selmer style ball pivot and the thumb rest lost its mother-of-pearl cover.
“There were a few other minor differences too – the aforementioned side trill key links, the design of the low C# connecting link, the bell brace and a couple of pillar design changes. The decor on the bell key guard changed too.”
62 vs. the 62
Yes, the 62 vs. itself.
There were several “releases” of 62 models. Yamaha lists 12 different alto models on their parts page.
Let’s make life a little simpler:
The reason WHY there are three 62 models after 2002 (010001, 110001, C0001) is somewhat of a mystery: all the part numbers appear to be identical. I believe it’s because Yamaha introduced some other finishes. Strange they’re not listed.
In any event the visual differences are so minor that it’s virtually impossible to search the web and create specific galleries of 62, 62E and 62II horns unless you specifically know which one is which — especially considering that Yamaha doesn’t have consecutive serial numbers.
There is some discussion that earlier 62 models (not the 62II model) used different brass composition. I cannot find any documentary evidence of this and there doesn’t appear to be parts for a specific range.
62 vs. the 62II
The 62II was introduced around 2002. It actually is a better horn than the 62 and there is one major difference: the neck and receiver are completely redesigned. However, the first few tenor necks produced were subject to a recall ….
Allegedly there is a somewhat different brass composition used in the 62II and the higher pro models now: “annealed brass”. This shouldn’t make any tonal difference (see this for why), but it could make a durability difference.
I encourage you to read the Yamaha product page on the 62II.
62 vs. Custom
A lot of people are shocked that there are professional models of Yamaha beyond the … well … professional model. Yup. The Custom horns have different bores, necks, octave key mechs, bows, engraving, bell-to-body brace, etc. Which is fine, unless you want a baritone — there aren’t any Custom series baritones.
I’ve played the Yamaha Custom 855, the forerunner of the Custom 875, and 62 alto next to each other and the Custom is … sublime. That series of horn is just about perfect, in my opinion. But it’s almost 50% more than the 62. I’m not sure that the Custom 875 would be 50% better than your 62II, but you can always check it out. It’s also a much darker horn. I’m told that the 82Z is less dark, but still more than the 62.
Some people might have you believe that the finish — which is currently gold lacquer, matte lacquer or silver plate on the 62II — makes a significant difference in tonal quality. It doesn’t. I wrote a nice article on this awhile back.
Looking over the prices on USAHorn.com, silver plate on the 62II is only about $100 more. I’d definitely get that: it’s a more durable finish.
The YSS-62, 62R and 675
The Yamaha 675 Soprano has a removeable neck, and both straight and curved are included. The YSS-62, a fully straight soprano and the YSS-62R, a straight soprano with a curved neck, were both discontinued in 1991. The replacement was a horn with interchangeable straight/curved necks, the YSS-675.
To make my life easier, I’m including the YSS-675 here.
It’s a nice looking horn. However, I don’t like straight- or curved-neck sopranos. I only sound good on a fully-curved (i.e. “alto sax shaped”) soprano.
I’ve never heard anyone say anything really bad or really good about the YSS-675, but I’d recommend that you check Yanagisawa’s offerings after you try this horn: Yani’s name was built on the intonation and response of their soprano and sopranino models.
Official Catalog and Website Information
NOTE: The VIEWER pages go to the Yamaha Japan website (http://yamaha.jp), but the pictures, if you click them, allow you to zoom in on the product. It’s kinda like QuicktimeVR (if anyone remembers that). It’s kewl. Try it.