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VITO 7133 Alto, on the bench.

This being a stencil of the somewhat ubiquitous Yamaha YAS-23, this is the second I've had pass to me and the third Yamaha overall. I cut my teeth on padding saxophones on a YAS-23 about fifteen years ago and this has been an on/off hobby ever since.

I don't expect anyone to be paying attention, but this was part of that lot of instruments I bought from a second-hand instrument chain, Music Go-Round about a year and a half ago. As I recall, the lot came to $250 for this, a dilapidated Buffet E-11, and a Vito Clarinet.

It puzzled me why they gave up on these instruments so cheaply since this Alto was in fact playable when it was sold to me and the cosmetics were far better than a lot of instruments like this that undoubtedly came out of at least some marching band duty. The answer may have come when I tried to actually disassemble this thing. Before I get to that, I think it bears mentioning that the Eb keyguard was missing a screw and one of the three flanges wasn't lining up with the screw hole on the guard. This was easily fixed with a spare screw after a quick adjustment with brass pliers. The real trouble came when I went to remove the rod from the upper stack....the screwdriver could not reach through the upper G post to remove the rod screwed into the other post. I corrected this in about five minutes with brass pliers and a rubber tap-mallet.

This is a picture that describes the operation.


This picture is after the fix. The Screwdriver could not line up with the rod in the light blue circle because of the post (yellow arrow). The hammer shows the direction the necessary adjustment.

Other pics of the horn after cleaning and during re-assembly.

I have a question.

Would you replace these pads if you were selling or buying this horn?

Low C#


Middle B and C:


Low C:


Alt F#



Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
If you ran an eBait ad saying, "Overhauled student horn. Needs nothing. Ready to go!" then, yes, I'd repad it.
I don't actually call anything I do an overhaul, and this certainly isn't an attempt at one. It does seem no one trusts 'Ebay Overhauls' unless it comes from someplace like Kessler, Saxquest, Quinn, etc.

BTW, I did replace the low C, C#, and Bis as I couldn't get the C or Bis to seal properly. Some of the other pads were a little dirty, but the felt soft and the pads seal well.
Well, as I'm almost done, just a few minor checks and putting the touches back on are all that is left to do.

I really like these instruments and working on them is relatively easy due to a number of factors:

1) Adjustment screws on the stacks
2) Very tight tolerances between keywork.
3) Even toneholes
4) Everything lines up nicely. Not much really gets in the way of anything else when working on things. Almost everything from disassembly to setting spring tension can be done with all other keys on so you don't have to constantly take things apart. Apparently designed with the technician in mind.

Some issues:

1) plastic key touches are easy to melt...I removed with heat, but still managed to singe a couple.
2) spring tension set very high, though it is easy to adjust...

On to more difficult projects....


Content Expert Saxophones
Staff member
It does seem no one trusts 'Ebay Overhauls' unless it comes from someplace like Kessler, Saxquest, Quinn, etc.

I would adjust that sentence a touch to read: "No savvy buyer trusts....Ebay Overhauls...."

In the end just too many have been burned by buying junky-playing horns online. That's why I always tell people: If you buy a horn that you can't play-test first from someone who isn't a dealer (or the horn from a dealer isn't buying advertised as being overhauled), budget for an overhaul. This way if it doesn't need it you'll be ahead, but if it does need it, then you won't be short.
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Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I would adjust that sentence a touch to read: "No savvy buyer trusts ... Ebay ..."

I've not bought too much stuff -- and I just mean general stuff; I think I've bought one sax -- and I've never had a major problem. I've had to return a couple things and either I've got them replaced or I've got my $ back, so YMMV. Even with that said, when someone asks me about a horn to buy on eBay, I always say to budget for around what WorldWideSax charges. That's for an overhaul, of course, and for professional horns. "Playing condition" isn't an overhaul, even though some people think it is :D.
I think the only horn I have bought of eBay wasn't too bad. It's certainly playable having yet to do any work on it.
Yes, "Playing Condition" adverts are essentially saying "the minimum has been done to get this to where it can be sold"

However, I have no problem with this given the economic realities. Putting 15-20 hours into a student alto that was bought for $50 and can maybe get $350 after putting $50 of materials into it makes little sense for a professional shop.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Putting 15-20 hours into a student alto that was bought for $50 and can maybe get $350 after putting $50 of materials into it makes little sense for a professional shop.
Mmmm. That gets into the monetary value vs. playability value. That's with the owner, though, not the repairman.

Somewhat in keeping with this thread, a brand new YAS-26 student horn is $2166 at WWBW.com. You can buy a YAS-23 or better for $400ish off ebay and that'd leave you a LOT of cash to spend on getting the horn fixed. Hey, WorldWideSax only charges $824 for a rebuild and that's for a pro horn.

I looked, quickly, at sold ebay Buffet SuperDynaction altos (because I've said, for years, that Buffet Dynactions and better are undervalued). Highest prices were $1000 and $999. You could throw $824 at one, still come in cheaper than a student horn, and get a really, really decent professional horn. The monetary value of the horn would be in the $1200 to $1500 range, but the playability is going to be in the $3000 range or more. There are also a bunch more pro horns that hover around that $1000 mark.
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I agree about new YAS's and other student horns. Every time I see that some parent has put an almost new student instrument on Craigslist, I feel bad for them and the depreciation hit they have to take.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
Rentals can sometimes be good things. I honestly didn't know how much rentals are for the school semester anymore, so I looked it up on Dave Kessler's website. It's not bad: $180 to $220 a full 12 months. Yes, you're going to get one of Dave's Tawanese Yani copies, but they're supposed to be pretty good copies. It's also rent-to-own. I think that's pretty decent.
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