Yanagisawa Wind Instruments
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Yanagisawa Wind Instruments is a Japanese woodwind company known for its range of professional grade saxophones. Along with Yamaha they are one of the leading manufacturers of saxophones in Japan. The company currently manufactures sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones.
Yanagisawa was founded as a family-owned brasswind company in 1896 but only started producing saxophones following World War II. They initially offered repair and modification services for saxophones, then started limited production of instruments based on those that came through their repair shop. They started regular production with the release in 1954 of their T3 silver-plated tenor saxophone, followed in 1956 by the A3, their first alto saxophone. The T3 model Tenor and the A3 model Alto were based on a Martin Committee III design. They were followed by the T4, A4, T5, and A5 models in the mid-1960s, based more on a Selmer Mark VI design. Their product line was expanded with the introduction of the B6 baritone saxophone in 1967 and S6 soprano in 1968. Starting in the late 1960s, Yanagisawa exported saxophones sold under various distributor's names, providing a large portion of the instruments sold under the Vito (Japan) brand and representing Leblanc's Martin brand for saxophones starting in 1971. In 1978 the 800 series models were introduced, which became the first Yanagisawa saxophones exported under Yanagisawa's own name. In 1980, the 500 series was introduced for sale under other brands in the student/intermediate market. The Yanagisawa name soon became known for the impeccable workmanship, accurate intonation, and playability of its products. With the growth of Yanagisawa's reputation, interest in finding Yanagisawa instruments sold under other brands has become heightened in the used instrument market. The Yanagisawa soprano saxophone designs became influential throughout rest of the industry, comparable to the influence of Selmer (Paris) and Yamaha saxophones in other ranges. Yanagisawa introduced innovations including detachable straight and curved necks and a high G key for its 990 series soprano saxophones.
The company is notable for making saxophones from materials other than the standard brass, i.e., phosphor bronze and solid silver, and combinations thereof. Their first solid silver saxophone was produced in 1972 and instruments made from phosphor bronze began to be produced in 1992. The 8830 model alto and tenor saxophones, introduced in 1988, combined silver necks and bells with a brass body tube, reminiscent of the King "Silversonic" instruments. Similar combinations are offered in current production, as illustrated by Yanagisawa's 2015 range of alto saxophone offerings:
- Awo1 - made entirely from solid brass. The entry level professional saxophone from Yanagisawa.
- Awo1U - same as Awo1, but unlacquered
- Awo1B - same as Awo1, but black lacquered
- Awo1S - same as Awo1, but silver-plated
- Awo2 - made entirely from solid phosphor bronze (except keywork, which is brass)
- Awo2S - same as Awo2, but silver-plated
- Awo10 - made entirely from solid brass (underslung neck)
- Awo10U - made entirely from solid brass (underslung neck - unlacquered)
- Awo10S - same as Awo10, but plated with silver
- Awo10GP - same as Awo10, but gold-plated
- Awo10B - same as Awo10, but coated with black lacquer
- Awo20 - made entirely from solid phosphor bronze (except keywork, which is brass)
- Awo20U - same as Awo20, but unlacquered
- Awo20S - same as Awo20, but silver-plated
- Awo20PG - same as Awo20, but plated with "pink gold" (80% gold and 20% silver)
- Awo20GP - same as Awo20, but gold-plated
- Aw030 - solid silver crook and body with solid brass bell and bow
- Awo32J - solid silver crook and bell, solid phosphor bronze body and bow (designed exclusively for jazz, so no 'lyre' socket)
- Awo33 - solid silver neck and bell; solid brass body, bow and crook
- Awo35 - solid silver neck, body, and bell; solid brass bow
- Awo37 - solid silver crook, body, bow and bell
- Awo37PG - same as Awo37, but pink gold-plated
- Awo37GP - same as Awo37, but gold-plated
The permutations are increased by the fact that it is possible to buy a solid brass, silver, or bronze neck from Yanagisawa and fit it to any of the nine instruments listed above e.g. adding a solid silver neck to the Awo10 or Awo20, or a phosphor bronze neck to the Awo10, Awo33J or Awo37 etc.
Notable saxophonists using Yanagisawa products
Professional saxophonists performing on Yanagisawa instruments include Gary Bartz, Jay Beckenstein, Plas Johnson, Ed Wynne, Steve Slagle, Peter King, Vincent Herring, Snake Davis, Greg Osby, Antonio Hart, Jean Denis Michat and Paul Corn (Composer of the Paul Corn Jazz Collective).