Pros: durable, well, made, decent intonation, solid rental
Cons: The Yamaha 475 is much better and costs only $100 more
The Yamaha YAS-23 alto sax is a solid model for beginning players. These are well-made instruments, with fairly comfortable key placements, reasonable intonation and decent sound. That is why they are often the rental instrument of choice for music stores that have dedicated rental stock.
Obviously, the stores need to provide instruments that a beginner can play relatively easily but also will be fairly robust in not needing frequent repairs. This particular model does both very well. I have students who have used this model well into high school.
Its made of lacquered brass, with power-forged keys. It also comes with a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, which works well for beginning players.
Yamaha is one of the four major manufacturers of pro-line saxophones, which also include Keilwerth from Germany, Leblanc from France, through the Japanese Yanagisawa brand and Selmer, from France. Leblanc and Selmer are now jointly owned, although they are maintaining both Yanagisawa and Selmer brands. Of these 4, Yamaha has the best quality and selection by far in the beginning and intermediate instrument categories.
This is the best model available for a rental where the (supposed) equity build up can be applied to a better instrument.
Ive also seen this model used in rent-to-buy arrangements. I explored this more fully in myRent or buy your childs first instrument
epinion, but I am generally against rent to buy arrangements for beginning students. Parents love such arrangements because they think they are getting nothing for their rent and the rent to buy makes them think they are getting something. They like it even better because the store supplies a new instrument, for example, this one. Well, what they really get 4 years later is that their child who has played for 4 years and is ready for a better quality instrument now owns a student instrument that has been used for 4 years. Worse, the amount of the rental has greatly exceeded the cost of the instrument. The parents are going to have to get the student a better instrument anyway and all that rent paid will not help them buy the newer instrument.
Now, some parents dont like getting used instruments, some of which can be worn heavily, for rental. However, if the (supposed) equity build up can be applied to a new, better instrument than that arrangement has much more value than the rent to buy a student horn. The other value that parents forget in rental arrangements are that repair costs are included in the rental. Repairs can be expensive, particularly if a kid is careless or hard on an instrument. Better for the player to learn good instrument care without incurring the cost for bad instrument care.
In terms of buying new, street price on this is around $1600 - $1700. Yamahas next better model, the 475, has a street price less that $100 more, but is clearly better in terms of sound, key placement and comfort and includes a high F# key not found on the 23. Yamahas next model the 62II is about $600 more than the 23 and is TREMENDOUSLY better in terms of sound and keywork.
Ive seen 23s for sale used for under $700. This might be a good alternative if you are pretty sure the player will stick with the instrument and the instrument is in good repair when you buy it.
So, I recommend this model as a rental (but not a rent to buy, which I generally do not recommend for beginning instruments) and I recommend this model being purchased used for a beginning student who has played for maybe a year and is likely to continue.
Thanks for reading. God bless!
Please check out some of my other epinions pertaining to music education and equipment:
Guardala Super King Tenor Sax Mouthpiece
Yamaha 62II Tenor Sax
How to get your child started on an instrument
How to find the right music teacher for you or your child
Rent or buy your childs first instrument
How to buy a decent musical instrument on Ebay
Improve Your Intonation
Ear Training I - Beginning and Intermediate Players
Ear Training II - Prelude to Improvisation
Ear Training III: Time to Learn Tunes and PLAY
My worst gig
Putting a Jazz Band Together
Being a one man band for fun and profit
I compose the way I play
What music has helped me learn about myself
Fast fingers are important
How I help my students learn new music
I learned about a lot more than music from my music teachers