This was the first saxophone that I played on when I started 15 years ago. The Yamaha YAS 23 was the saxophone model that was offered by the music shop when I started in the school band. As a musician, music educator, and saxophonist, this is still a model that I recommend for a beginning saxophone player.
Neck Material: Yellow Brass
Body Material: Yellow Brass
Bell Material: Yellow Brass
Key Material: Nickel-plated Yellow Brass
Key Button: Polyester
Auxiliary Keys: Front F
Tone Holes: Drawn
Springs: Stainless Steel
Pads: Waterproof Leather
Thumb Rest: Adjustable Plastic
Pivot Screws: Tapered
This is a big point when it comes to student model instruments. It is a fairly safe assumption that in the hands of a 10- year-old, the instrument will go through some amount of abuse. I have had my YAS-23 for 15 years now, and it still plays. Over the years, I have used it for beginning and middle school band, outdoor marching band, and outdoor pep band games. I have even fallen on the marching field with it, and it still played. With routine maintenance, this instrument can last years.
As far as saxophones go, the tone quality isn’t stupendous. However, for a beginning level saxophone, it gets the job done quite well, and a beginning student can sound great on it. The YAS-23 has a decent tone quality, but doesn’t offer the depth of timbre that the upper level models offer. After a few years of playing, I upgraded my mouthpiece/ligature/reed setup from the stock Yamaha mouthpiece that came in the case. This had a noticeable effect on the tone.
The intonation tendencies on my particular horn are pretty standard. There are particular notes that tend to be sharp or flat, as they are on most saxophone models.
The YAS-23 plays quite well, and students will find that this model offers a great ease of playing. The key action is about average. I always notice a difference when switching between my Yamaha, and my professional level Selmer. My Yamaha never feels quite as smooth as my Selmer.
A great choice for a beginning saxophone student. My own YAS-23 has been an absolute workhorse for me for the past 15 years. It provides decent tone, intonation, and response. Most importantly, it is durable and reliable, seldom needing anything more than routine work done.
Note on price:
Saxophones are one of the more expensive instruments to start on. A new student model saxophone that is well built is going to easily cost over $1000. If you are on a budget, my suggestion would be to look at used instruments, or at a different instrument.