Yanagisawa 3 Series

Vital Stats

Tenor Introduced: 1954
Alto Introduced: 1956
Discontinued: 1966
Available Pitches: Eb alto, Bb tenor.
Available Finishes: Lacquer, silver plate.

Brief Model Notes

In 1954, Yanagisawa launched their first model, the T-3 tenor saxophone [prototyped in 1951]. This first [horn sold] was silver plated and engraved with the design of a castle. Incidentally, this first [horn] was said to have been bought by an American soldier at the Komaki music store in Tokyo. In 1956, [the T-3 was] followed by the A-3 alto saxophone. (Source.)

The 3 Series horns superficially look an awful lot like the Martin Committee “III.” Interestingly, post WWII, the German manufacturer, Julius Keilwerth, also made a conscious decision to switch from a Conn-inspired design to a more Martin-like design (see “The First German-Made Julius Keilwerth Horns” section of Helen’s article). The difference is that the Keilwerth horns were almost a direct copy pf the Martin and the Yanagisawa 3 Series horns just look like the Martin Committee. As an easy example, if you look at the octave mechanism from both horns, the actual key touchpiece looks identical, but the rocking mechanism on the Yani is closer to a Selmer design.

I attempted to translate and transliterate a bit from this website. It looks like the 3 Series changed quite a bit through its short model run: you’ve got keywork that changed from cast to pressed and a switch from brazed toneholes to drawn. (If anybody out there can translate more accurately, please drop me a line.)

Serial Number Information

The 3 Series horns have a seven, eight, or nine-digit serial number. The form is essentially,


121265123 = 12th of December, 1965.
2364313 = 3rd of February, 1964.

The problem is that you eventually get serial numbers in the form of,


Which could either mean 3rd of December, 1964 or 23rd of January, 1964.

The last two or three numbers of the serial number may be stamped in multiple places on the horn.

See http://purple-cat.info/sense/saxophone/yanagisawa_a3.html for some examples.  Further serial number research can be found in my thread on the Woodwind Forum.

What’s That Extra Number?

Occasionally, you’ll see a three or four digit number stamped above the serial number.  So far, I’ve seen 300, 400, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000, 1100, and 1200 stamped on 3, 4, and 5 Series horns.  These numbers may be arbitrary, refer to the region/country the horn was sold, or could be a lot number.

Please take a look at these two Japanese articles for more information.

Prima Engraving

The horns engraved “Prima” were sold to the Japanese market through Prima Gakki.  Horns without the “Prima” engraving were sold through Zen-On. (Source.)

Additional Pictures

A-3 Overhaul
Purple-Cat.info A-3 & T-3
Nakkan Winds. Small A-3 pics.
Yoshi3444 Flikr album. Nice pics of an A-3, T-3, and SC-800.
Sax Vintage on Facebook. T-3 pics.

Pete Hales Written by: