Yamaha YTS 23 Tenor Saxophone Review

Whether you are a student who has just begun to play saxophone or you have a little more experience, at some point you are going to need your own high quality instrument.

This is especially important if you need to practice at home regularly outside of the school year, or if you take private lessons outside of school. However, a good saxophone, even used, can be quite costly.

Fortunately, the Yamaha YTS 23 provides many of the quality and features of of a professional instrument at a more student friendly price. 

The Yamaha YTS 23 makes BIG's list of the best saxophones for beginners and gets a BIG 4.8 stars.

Special note: The Yamaha YTS23 was recently replaced by the Yamaha YTS26.

BIG Rating


  • Optimum Intonation and Venting for exceptional clarity of play.
  • Power-Forged Nickel Plated Keys for durability and longevity
  • Clear-baked Epoxy Lacquer Finish keeps instrument looking like-new
  • Tapered Pivot Screws for easy adjustment
  • Waterproof Leather and Wool Felt Pads provide crisp, distinct tones
  • ​All Yellow Brass Neck, Body, and Bell creates exceptional quality of sound
  • ​Ergonomic Key Positioning and Design for maximum playing comfort and performance
  • ​Adjustable Plastic Thumb Hook for quick adaption to any player’s style and method.
  • Specifications
  • Key: Bb
  • Neck: Standard
  • Neck Material: Yellow Brass
  • ​Body Material: Yellow Brass
  • ​Bell: Yellow Brass
  • ​Key-Material: Yellow Brass
  • Key Buttons: Polyester
  • ​Finish: Nickel-plated (keys; Clear-baked epoxy lacquer
  • Front F Mouthpiece: Yamaha 4C Mouthpiece Cap
  • ​Spring Type: Stainless steel
  • ​Pad Type: Waterproof leather and wool felt with plastic tone boosters.
  • Bell Decoration: Stamped
  • Mounting: Post on body

Yamaha YTS23 Tenor Saxophone Review

The YTS 23 is a well-built tenor saxophone that both starting students and seasoned players can appreciate for its comfortable play and balanced feel. Yamaha started manufacturing the current series of 23 models in the 1970s, and while there have been minor changes over the years, the design remains largely intact from the originals. 

Precise and Comfortable Hand and Fingering Positions

Like all Yamaha saxophones, the YTS 23 also features an adjustable thumb rest to allow players to maintain precise and comfortable hand and fingering positions regardless of method or play style. They keys have also been specifically shaped and positioned to maximize their playability based on mechanical necessity. Every aspect of the instrument has been built from the ground up according to a player’s perspective, focusing closely on providing comfort, accuracy, speed, and playability overall. With the Yamaha YTS 23, there is no need to adjust your play style to fit an unnatural or awkward key layout.

Tough Finish Stands the Test of Time

One of the best things to love about this instrument though is the finish. Clearly, the designers for the YTS 23 know how much abuse a saxophone can be exposed to in the hands of a new or less experienced player. Every inch of the yellow brass on the neck and body has been coated in a protective layer of clear baked lacquer, keeping the brass shiny and new looking for the lifetime of the instrument. Overall, the YTS 23 possesses a simple and unfussy construction that is both elegant and built to last.

Tone Hole Pads Form Strong Seal

The tone hole pads are similarly designed with longevity in mind, as they are composed of waterproof leather and wool felt with plastic tone boosters that create a strong seal when closed. Keys are nickel plated and power-forged to provide and exceptional life span while maintaining their playability and smooth action. The nickel finish on the keys is every bit as tough as the lacquer coating the body of the instrument, and though they have a distinctly machine-punched appearance, they are sturdy and provide excellent action.

Octave Key Mechanism Well Fitted

Some find the octave key mechanism on this model a little unusual, but it is both responsive and stable when adjusted, and over time remains well fitted even after years of use. Individual key pillars are expertly fitted with generous bases, providing smooth, balanced, and stable key action.

Pivot Screws Provide Custom Fine Tuning

Pivot screws are fully adjustable, straight-tapered, have a nylon lock, and are non-headed. This allows for custom fine tuning of the action of the keys, and the stainless steel springs are both responsive and durable. The overall design of the action and tone hole positioning possesses optimum intonation and efficient venting, providing clear concise play with every note.


  • High quality, durable construction
  • Numerous professional features
  • Ergonomic design
  • Exceptional playability
  • Full-body lacquer clear coat


  • Bell bow joint is glued, not clamped
  • Sling ring is smaller than most
  • No tilting table for the key keys

Yamaha YTS 23 Tenor Saxophone Sound Check

Wondering how the Yamaha YTS 23 sounds? Give it a listen in the video below.


All in all, the Yamaha YTS 23 tenor sax is an excellent choice for students in need of a personal instrument that can stand up to the wear and tear of daily play without needing extensive maintenance or repair work. The model series has also been through multiple revisions and improvements since Yamaha first started making them back in the 1970s, so their engineers and designers have clearly had significant time to fine-tune and improve on drawbacks and shortcomings of previous model years. Choose the Yamaha YTS 23 for your student tenor saxophone, and know that you have a quality instrument that will give you years of faithful service and exemplary play.

The Yamaha YTS23 tenor saxophone gets a BIG 4.8 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.