Monday, 27 June 2011

Ooh - shiny!

Remember in my last post I mentioned spotting a secondhand Yamaha YAS62 sax in Chamberlains music store in Haslemere?

It's now resting gently in its stand in my living room.  Yes, gentle reader, I went back to the shop two days later, gave it a good blow in their practice room (which was more like an unsoundproofed storage cupboard, frankly) and decided that it was infinitely better than the student horn I've been using since the 1980s.

Here she is, in the case she came in, which was pretty beaten up.  Fortunately they gave me a free lightweight Reunion Blues gig case which has a strap so you can carry it on your shoulder or across your back.

Taken outside in the sunshine, on the bridge.   She's in very nearly almost perfect condition, there's just the smallest dent above the thumb rest on the back, but she was secondhand so small imperfections are to be expected.

Just look at that beautiful, almost Art Deco-style, swirly, curvy one-piece key guard that just swoops around the bottom and up the front of the bell - gorgeous.

The sax is an instrument that's crammed with pads and buttons and levers, but it is actually easier to play than it looks - if you can play a recorder or, perhaps, a clarinet, then you can play a sax.

It's maybe not terribly clear in this photo (you can click on the pics to make them bigger) but the bell of the YAS62 is engraved with swirls and stars.

It's a professional standard saxophone as opposed to the student version that I've been using.  This means that it's been built to a great level of accuracy, there are more keys and levers than my old one and - what surprised me - it's appreciably heavier.  This indicates to me that the metal is thicker which will affect the tone of the instrument - a richer, heavier sound.  It sounds like an alto sax should.

Some more photos, I think - indoors, this time:

The buttons here are Mother of Pearl, and these are the ones that are played with the left hand - index finger on the top button, middle finger on the third one down and the ring finger on the bottom one that is at an angle.  Your little finger operates the collection of four keys (that are in a sort of circle arrangement - called spatulas, I believe) below and to the right (in the picture) of the bottom Mother of Pearl key.  The three levers on the right, a bit higher than the spatulas, that look a bit like snakeheads, are called palm keys and, as the name suggests, you operate them with your left palm.  There are similar sorts of key arrangements that you operate with your right hand, below all this lot.

I suppose it is a bit complicated, really.

One more look at her on the sofa.

The sound is noticeably (to me, anyway) different from my old sax, although I'm not too sure about the mouthpiece.  There are any number of combinations of style and size of mouthpiece that can be used with at least 5 different thicknesses of reed, all of which will affect the sound you make, so that's a whole other area I suppose I ought to wade my way through.

Anyway, I just thought I'd show you my new acquisition - the single most expensive thing I think I've ever bought (possibly more than my first ever car!)  I'm definitely getting it insured, probably by joining the Musicians' Union.

So all I need now is some gigs to play it at!!

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