Yanagisawa: 900 & 990 Series

Including the 90 and 99 Models

Vital Stats

All Models Introduced: Between 1990 and 1992.
Alto and Tenor Discontinued: 1995.
Other Models Discontinued: 1997/8.
Available Pitches (900): 
Curved Bb soprano, straight Bb soprano, Eb alto, Bb tenor, Eb baritone (low A)
Available Pitches (990): 
Straight Bb soprano, Eb alto, Bb tenor, Eb baritone (both low A and low Bb)
Available Finishes: Silver plate, lacquer, black lacquer

Available Finishes: Silver plate, lacquer.
9930: Sterling silver body, lacquer keywork and bell.  Introduced between 1992 and 1995.
9933: Sterling silver bell, lacquer body and keywork (possibly only available on alto and tenor).
Introduced between 1992 and 1995.

Available sterling silver necks.  Available gold-plated necks.

Brief Model Notes

The popularity and acceptance of Yanagisawa as a major name in quality saxophone production during this period gave the company more confidence to strive forward for their goal of perfection. With the introduction of the -900 and -990 series in baritone and soprano saxophones, the quest was on to prove to the world that another major innovation was due. The S-990 detachable neck soprano was the worlds first saxophone to have a high G key.

The success achieved here eventually saw the introduction of the -900 and -990 series alto and tenor saxophones in September 1992. Now the skeptics, who claimed that only the baritones and sopranos were very good, started taking the altos and tenors very seriously indeed. (Barnes & Mullins Archive.org Article.)

If you can say that the 800/880 were clones of the Selmer Mark VI — and darn good ones, from what I read — the 900/990 are a shift closer to the Selmer Super Action 80 style. This is evident in the change of the big bell-to-body “O” ring, which had morphed into the Selmer S80 3-point connector. The keywork is more ergonomic and elongated. In a more graphical way, which horn is the Selmer?


That’s not to say that Yanagisawa didn’t make a 100% clone of the Selmer Super Action 80. There are additional adjustment screws and arms on the F/G/G#:

1995 A-990. From www.soundfuga.jp.

There’s probably no such thing as a 900 or 990 sopranino.

The SN-901 was listed on the Yanagisawa website up until 2001, was replaced by the SN-981 in most markets, then it reappeared again and was available through 2014. According to some of my other reading, the difference between the SN-800 and SN-901 is just the thumbrests: the 901 has brass thumbrests and the right hand one is adjustable. That’s not insanely significant, but it is an obvious visual difference. Also, I can’t find anything on Google for “SN-900” or “SN-990” — other than my websites saying there isn’t an SN-900/990.

Someone send me a catalog!

Serial Number Information

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 and some odd ones that I’ve found.

 Additional Pictures

BTW, the Yani’s the bottom horn in the comparison pics :).

Pete Hales Written by: