Yanagisawa: 800 & 880 Series

Including the 80 and 88 Models


Vital Stats

SN-800 Straight Eb Sopranino (to altissimo F#) introduced between 1977 and 1980.
S-800 Straight Bb Soprano Introduced: July 1978.
SC-800 Curved Bb Soprano Introduced: 1979.
A-800 Eb Alto introduced between 1977 and 1980.
T-800 Bb Tenor introduced between 1977 and 1980.
B-800 Eb Baritone (low A) introduced between 1977 and 1980.

S-880 Straight Bb Soprano Introduced: 1985.
A-880 Eb Alto introduced between 1978 and 1980.
T-880 Bb Tenor introduced between 1978 and 1980.
B-880 Eb Baritone (both low Bb and low A) introduced between 1977 and 1980.

Note that there are no 880 sopraninos or curved sopranos.
All 8xx models discontinued between 1990 and 1992.
Note that the 500 Series, the SN-600 Eb sopranino (altissimo E), S-6 straight soprano, and B-6 Eb baritone (low A) were still available through the 800/880’s lifetime.

Available Finishes: Silver plate, lacquer.
8830: Sterling silver body, lacquer keywork and bell (possibly only available on straight soprano models).  Introduced appx. 1988.
8833: Sterling silver bell, lacquer body and keywork (possibly only available on alto and tenor).  Introduced appx. 1988.
8835: Sterling silver bell and body.  Lacquer keywork (possibly only available on alto and tenor).  Introduced appx. 1988.

Available sterling silver necks.

Official Yanagisawa Catalog

Brief Model Notes

At a 1977 music instrument fair, Yanagisawa announce[d] a new line of soprano, alto, and tenor models epitomizing the “Yanagisawa Technology” philosophy, thus completing a full lineup of 15 models in five saxophone categories, from sopranino to baritone. (Source.)

The 800 [Series] sopranos were completed and added to the range in July 1978 … [and i]n 1979, Yanagisawa finally succeeded in making their first curved soprano, the SC-800. (Source.)


I again can’t get folks to agree on a good starting date for the 880 Series:

My favorite article says 1980.
sax.mymusictalk.com says 1978.
Yani’s official website says between 1978 and 1985.
The Saxess Blog says 1980.
Yani Australia says 1978.

The earliest 880 I have seen pictures of is this sn 00102063 tenor. That’s 1980. So, I think 1980 isn’t a bad starting date to work with, but I’d leave wiggle room for slightly older horns.

There are a number of articles that say that the S-880 straight soprano with the detachable neck was introduced in 1985:

Yani Australia
Rioja Sax
The Sina Blog (The Flying Keys Blog)
Barnes & Mullins, the UK Yani distributor, nails it down to June, 1985.

The Official Yanagisawa website just says “1978-1985.”

I don’t have a ton of S-880 pictures, but the earliest horn I have pictures of is a 1985 model. In any case, I don’t think you’ll have a problem distinguishing the S-880 from the S-6 or S-800, because of the removable neck.

800/80, 880/88, 500, 600, and 6 Model Differences


  • The 880 is made with a higher quality and thickness brass (“French brass”) and, because of the additional thickness, the tone holes are shifted somewhat.
  • The 880 features plate construction.  That’s where a bunch of key posts are soldered to a plate, then soldered to the body.

Note that the 800 and 880 were the professional line from Yamaha.  There may be some minimal bore differences between the two, because of the thicker brass on the 880, but that’s it.  Also, as far as I can tell, the SN-600, S-6, and B-6 were completely unchanged.  So, your choices were:

Student: 500 Series
Older professional model: SN-600, S-6, and B-6.
“Introductory Professional”: 800 Series.
“High-End Professional”: 880 Series.

Several other companies have “remarketed” their older professional horns as a kind of “intermediate” model when their new pro horns came out.  SML, for instance, re-engraved their old pro horns as “Standard” models.




  • Easy.  There are no 500, 6, or 880 curved sopranos.



Let’s look at two B-880s. Here’s a sn 00118865 (1984) horn and a sn 00130055 (1986) horn. There are a lot of keywork differences between the two. You can see that the 1986 horn has the “ergonomic” low C and Eb and that the chromatic F# is now an oval pearl, rather than a rectangular key without a pearl. The altissimo F is now a pearl teardrop, rather than a round button.I simply don’t have enough B-800 or B-880 examples to give you a better guide right now, but you can probably count on those “ergonomic” low C and Eb keys to only be on 880s.  I also think that the B-800 and B-880 may have been special order horns, so the differences between the B-800 and B-880 might never be consistent, except for the 880 using imported brass and the 800 using Japanese brass. That’s rather hard to show.

New on Jan. 21, 2020:
I have gotten an awful lot of e-mails from folks trying to find out if they have a 6-Series, 500, or 800.  That’s a really, really difficult question to answer when the horn has a serial number that puts the horn from about 1977 to 1982.  Here are some notes:

  • We know, almost definitely, that all 800s and 880s have that Yani “coin,” mentioned above.
  • The B6 baritone had some keywork upgrades around 1977.
  • Yanagisawa stencils from this time are generally 800s, but some could be 6s.  Look for the double-arm on the low C key.  You’ll only see that on the 800/880.
  • There is really no good way of telling a 500 from a 6 series horn.  The 6 may have a thumbrest that’s more reddish and it has those stainless steel springs.  That’s hard to spot.  It’s possible that all the 500s also have red enamel in the Yani logo on the neck, but that can wear off.

I’ll eventually look into this a bit more.  Yes, I also know that a couple horns in my gallery are in the wrong places.  I’m working on that, too.

Serial Number Information

For some horns, you may see a couple 6 or 7 digit serial numbers in the form of …


7801543 = July, 1980.
12801543 = December, 1980.

For the majority of horns, though, you’ll see a serial number starting with “00” that does not have an embedded date.  Check out my thread on the Woodwind Forum for these serial numbers.


Additional Pictures


Doctorsax.biz: lacquer straight Bb soprano, sn 00142759 (1988)
Doctorsax.biz: more pics of the above horn.
Doctorsax.biz: lacquer Eb alto (Martin stencil), sn unknown.
Doctorsax.biz: lacquer Bb tenor, sn 00128018 (1985).
Doctorsax.biz: lacquer Eb baritone (low A), sn unknown.

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