Yamaha YAS 480 Alto Saxophone Review

Yamaha has produced an excellent intermediate-level alto saxophone in the Yamaha YAS-480.

The Yamaha YAS-480 saxophone is designed specifically for the middle or high school-level student who is serious about their craft, and ready to take their playing to the next level.

If you’re the parent of a budding saxophone player at home, then you know that as your child’s skill progresses, so do their needs when it comes to their instrument.

The design of the Yamaha YAS-480 is directly influenced by higher-end Yamaha saxophones, with extra features built-in that cater to your child’s growing enthusiasm and skill.

If you’re looking to buy an alto sax that’s a step up from where your child is now, the Yamaha YAS-480 is the one you’re looking for.

The Yamaha YAS 480 makes BIG's list of the Best Intermediate Saxophones and gets a BIG 5 stars.

BIG Rating

Hightlighted Features

  • Hand-engraved bell pattern gives this horn a unique, special design
  • Curved neck based on the YAS-62 professional series for improved intonation
  • Octave key system gives you the option to swap out the included neck for Custom Z or Custom EX-style necks (not included)
  • Key guard contains adjustable screws for minute technical adjustments
  • Improved low B-C# connection for consistent C# closing
  • Full-bodied, rich tones from the lower range of the saxophone
  • Backpack-style case for ease of transport while looking and feeling great

  • Specifications
  • Key: Eb
  • Material: Yellow Brass
  • Finish: Gold Lacquer
  • Mouthpiece: AS-4C
  • Neck: YAS-62 design
  • Key: Polyester
  • Auxiliary Keys: Front F and High F#
  • Ligature: Yellow Brass
  • Tone Holes: Drawn
  • Spring Type: Stainless steel
  • Pads: Waterproof leather with wool felt
  • Bell: Hand-engraved design
  • Thumb Hook: Adjustable

Yamaha YAS 480 Alto Sax Review

Professional Sounding

The Yamah YAS-480 alto sax has everything a developing player needs. To start with, it is capable of making professional-sounding music. In fact, the YAS 480 is made so that its entire range -- from the lowest to the highest notes -- resonate and sound great. The curved included neck is modeled after the 62-series line, which were known for their superior sound. However, one of the unique features of this horn is that it was built with flexibility in mind. The octave keys were designed so that you can actually swap out the included neck for other Yamaha necks from the Custom Z or Custom EX lines (sold separately), if that is your preference.

Looks and Sounds Great

The Yamaha YAS 480 looks great, too. It’s constructed with high-quality yellow brass and a gold lacquer finish, which is strong enough for the horn to withstand the usual bumps and scrapes you might expect in middle or high school, but also delicate enough to afford the saxophone with a deep, rich tone. Furthermore, the bell of this horn features hand-engraved patterns and styles of design which help this sax to stand out from others visually as well as aurally.

Easy to Adjust

As your child becomes a better player, they will also start to learn more about their instrument -- how it works, how it’s put together, and how they can get the most out of it. To help with that, in addition to being able to change necks, the Yamaha YAS 480 also allows for adjustments in other areas as well. For example, the durable thumb rest is adjustable so he or she can maintain a comfortable grip without sacrificing movement or flexibility. The separate key guards also come equipped with adjustable screw tap stoppers to allow for professional-level adjustments.

Great Accessories

The Yamaha YAS-480 comes ready to play. The convenient carry case is not your typical hard case; instead, it is a softer (but still durable) backpack-style case that can be worn with shoulder straps -- for easier carrying on long walks -- as well as the more traditional hand-held style for shorter jaunts. The included 4C mouthpiece plays great, and can handle any style of reed, but can also be swapped out for other mouthpieces if they are preferred. The included ligature is also yellow brass. The YAS-480 also comes with a shoulder strap to help keep it stable whether your child is sitting for a concert, or marching on the field.


  • Design lets all notes ring, including the very high and low ones
  • Compatible neck lets the player swap out for their preferred design and sound
  • Waterproof pads help to keep the saxophone in better condition longer
  • Comes with all accessories needed to pick it up and play, right away


  • None that we could find!

Yamaha YAS 480 Alto Saxophone Video Review


The Yamaha YAS 480 is an excellent intermediate-level alto saxophone for the middle or high schooler that has progressed in their abilities to the point where a beginning horn just won’t cut it. The flexibility of this sax makes it stand out, allowing students multiple ways to personalize their playing experience, and the high-quality construction simply makes this saxophone sound great. That “None” in the Cons feature above is no fluke -- there simply isn’t anything about this saxophone that would make us think twice about recommending it to you as your child’s next saxophone! With all that in mind, the final verdict is clear: if you’re looking for an intermediate-level horn, you owe it to yourself and your child to check this one out; you won’t be disappointed.

The Yamaha YAS 480 gets a BIG 5 stars and is highly recommended.

BIG Rating

Still not sure which sax to buy? Visit BIG's Saxophone Buying Guide for more information and buying tips.