Yamaha YAS280 Alto Saxophone Review

The Yamaha YAS280 is a quality alto saxophone that is comfortable, fun to play and a great option for those just learning to play saxophone.

One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of beginners make when buying a saxophone is that they get something inexpensive enough to get into it, but not expensive enough to stick with playing.

The Yamaha YAS280 fills that gap by providing a high quality instrument at a reasonable price.​

The Yamaha YAS280 makes BIG's list of the best saxophones for beginners and gets a BIG 4.3 stars.

BIG Rating

Highlighted Features

  • Lightweight and ergonomically designed so that it it really easy to hold and play, especially for beginners
  • More stable neck receiver than previous models, so you don’t have to worry about over tightening and breaking screws in the neck
  • New low B-C# connection makes it much easier to hit lower notes without reaching for them
  • Features a high sharp key that makes it easier to hit the high range in your playing
  • Adjustable thumb rest that you can easily change to your personal comfort preferences
  • Faux Mother-of-Pearl keys that add a beautiful visual touch to this instrument
  • Specifications
  • Key: Eb
  • Bell Type: Two piece
  • Bell Decoration: None
  • ​Keys: Faux Mother-of-Pearl (polyester)
  • Auxiliary Keys: High F#, Front F
  • Thumb Hook: Adjustable
  • Finish: Gold Lacquer
  • Neck: 280 style
  • ​Mouthpiece: 4C
  • Case: Included

Yamaha YAS280 Saxophone Review

Ergonomically Designed for Young Players

The first aspect about the Yamaha YAS 280 alto sax that we really like is that it is totally ergonomically designed for the younger player. With cheaper models you may find that the instrument is uncomfortable to hold and play for long periods of time, but with the YAS280, you will find that it sits comfortably in your hands so that you can play it for hours without wearing out or cramping up. It’s also really lightweight too, so that your shoulders don’t wear out from wearing the saxophone strap.

Neck Receiver More Durable

Another facet of the of the YAS280 saxophone that we really appreciate is that Yamaha has made the neck receiver much more durable than is has been in previous models. The new improved neck receiver is really helpful when it comes to preventing breaking screws on your saxophone. Most young sax players have a tendency to over tighten the screws on the receiver of their saxophone, which can cause it to break. The more durable receiver on this model with stop that from happening.

Easy To Hit Low Notes

The Yamaha YAS 280 alto sax comes fully equipped with an improved low B to C# connector which makes it much easier for the player to hit those tough to reach low notes. For beginner saxophone players especially, this is extremely valuable to have, so that you are not straining as much and getting frustrated while playing.

Easy to Hit High Notes

The Yamaha YAS280 also features a high F sharp key so that you are able to hit higher notes more easily. With the lower B to C# key connector and the high F sharp key added to this instrument, it makes this saxophone an excellent choice for any student or saxophone novice.

Stylish Faux Mother-of-Pearl Key Buttons

Other models of this saxophone just have nickel keys, which are totally fine and fully functioning. Though, if you want your saxophone to look as good as it plays and sounds, you'll enjoy that fact that the YAS280 comes with faux Mother-of-Pearl key buttons. This is a nice feature that adds some style to your sax.


  • Perfect for students and first time players
  • High F sharp key that allows you to hit higher notes with ease
  • B to C# connector key for getting lower notes easily
  • Stabilized neck with a safety screw that protects your instrument
  • Faux Mother-of-Pearl key buttons for a quality finish


  • This model may be great for beginner saxophone players, but isn’t the ideal choice for intermediate to experienced saxophonists
  • The instrument is made in Japan, and can be shipped from there. So if you order it online, you may want to count on a long time to ship.

Yamaha YAS280 Alto Saxophone Video

UK Saxophonist Alastair Penman demonstrates Yamaha YAS-280 Alto Sax


The Yamaha YAS280 alto saxophone is a great choice for a beginner saxophonist. The YAS280 saxophone makes it easy to reach those hard to hit high notes and sweet low notes. It is ergonomically designed for ultimate comfort, and is really easy to hold and play. If you are looking for a great starter alto saxophone, you can't go wrong with the Yamaha YAS280 saxophone.

The Yamaha YAS280 saxophone gets a BIG 4.3 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.