YAMAHA YAS-280 – Student Saxophones Full Review 2022!

YAMAHA YAS-280 – Student Saxophones Full Review 2022!

If you are looking for a good student saxophone, there’s a variety to choose from and sometimes you may hear different opinions about which one is best. 

Today we are going to talk about the Yamaha YAS-280, an instrument considered to be one of the best options on the market so far for those who are looking to start learning to play the saxophone.

 Here’s what to expect from this sax, pros and cons, and things to take into consideration while choosing your first sax from the countless saxophone models available on the market.

What is YAMAHA YAS-280

Made by lead brand Yamaha, the Yamaha YAS-280 is the successor of the acclaimed YAS-275 with improvements to make it even better than its predecessor.

 It is produced in Indonesia; and, although Yamaha Japan also sells the YAS-280 for European and Asian markets, the version found in the USA is a superior model.

Yamaha has been producing high quality saxophones for beginners and advanced players alike, among other instruments, since 1967, and the Yamaha Yas-280 is designed for beginners needs specifically but built with high quality materials and finishings. 

It’s a reliable student alto saxophone with consistent intonation.


What Comes in the Box?

Besides the Yamaha saxophone, the box comes with a set of accessories such as the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece with reed and ligature, suitable for any type of music and great for beginners.

The Yamaha YAS-280 comes with its own backpack-style high quality case with accessory pockets on the outside, 2 carry handles and hide-away straps. 

Even though the case is a backpack, it opens wide enough to allow easy access to the sax and, also, has storage space inside.

 Another feature is that it includes a 1-inch-wide nylon neck strap with an open plastic hook to help you carry your instrument while playing.

The Build Quality, Measurements and Weight

The Yamaha Yas-280 is made from high-quality components to make it durable and able to withstand extensive use.

 It is made with thick brass and heavy-duty valve guards. The mouthpiece is superb, and it comes with conveniently accessible adjustment screws, as well as highly durable neck fastener and solder joints.

 The key touches are made from stylish white polyester.

However, compared to other saxes, this one is lightweight, weighing only 13.23 lbs. and measures 29.92 inches in length by 9.84 inches in width and its height is 14.96 inches.

Another pro of the Yamaha instruments is that replacement parts are easy to find so you won’t have issues prolonging the life of your instrument.

The Tone and the Sound

Yamaha saxophones have always had perfect intonation, and you can expect the same from the Yas 280, which makes it easier to produce a great sound. 

It plays smoothly through all registers while maintaining intonation, making it a good choice for both students and experienced players.

Besides producing rich, warm, accurate and pleasant tones, the sound has good resonance to fill up large spaces with bright sounds and superior intonation.

The neck design facilitates tuning, and you could even use an app-store tuner, so you don’t necessarily need to invest in a chromatic tuner.

Yamaha also improved the low B-C# connector and features a high F sharp key, making low and high keys more accessible.

The Looks and Appearance

The attention to details of this Yamaha student saxophone is exceptional. It features gold lacquer finish and bell hand engravings. 

The keys are durable, nicely shaped, and ergonomically placed to make it easier to use. 

The added white polyester pads that cover the vents’ holes make it more beautiful. 

As an added touch, keys are made from faux Mother-of-Pearl which gives it a stylish, professional, and elegant look.

This is no simple, toy-like beginners’ instrument. 

The Yamaha YAS-280 student saxophone is a piece of musical art that won’t only play beautifully and help you learn and improve your skills; it will make you look like a professional.

So, if aesthetics is important to you and you are looking out to impress your peers, this is the right way to go.

Ease of Play

The Yamaha Yas 2080 student alto saxophone has been designed with beginners in mind, therefore it is lightweight, and the neck receiver’s rigidity has been improved and firmly set in place with a tightening screw.

Modifications made to the low B-C# mechanism ensures full consistent closure of the pads, preventing air leakage, producing stronger sound on the lower register and contributes to the consistency in intonation.

It comes with an adjustable thumb-rest to ensure easy reach for small hands so there’s no need to stretch your fingers, thus making it more comfortable to play for long periods of time.

Ergonomic features, such as angles created between hands, fingers and wrist have been taken into consideration to make it easier to play.


This Yamaha saxophone was built with comfort in mind, so that students can play for longer periods of time and improve their skills. 

That comes from the ergonomics of the instrument, which makes this model very comfortable to play.

The materials used on the sax are of the highest quality and it’s a beautiful instrument to simply look at with its yellow brass and gold lacquer finish. 

Changes were made to the neck receiver to make it more efficient to play and Yamaha improved the high F-sharp and low B to C sharp connection. Overall, this Yamaha alto sax has amazing intonation.

If you are concerned about durability, the YAS- 280 is catered to amateur use, therefore it’s made to handle some wear and tear. 

And improvements made to connectors and bracing make it more durable, especially for players that are not savvy on how to take care of such an instrument.

The pads covering the vent holes guarantee an airtight cover on the instrument’s tube to prevent leakage.


If you do a general search about Yamaha saxophone prices you will find that they are not cheap, and the Yamaha YAS-280 is no exception. 

The price tag is set at around $1,340.00 USD which place it among the pricier beginners’ saxophones.

It also comes without a cleaning kit, so you will need to purchase it elsewhere.

The F and the F# keys are close to one another which may be confusing.

Yamaha designed this sax with the intention of it being extremely durable and reliable, and they accomplished this.

 However, you will not be a student or amateur forever and professional players have different skills and needs, therefore you will need to get another instrument later.

How much should i spend on saxophone
Image by oovstudio from Pixabay

Comparison with other student saxophones

The Yamaha saxophone is not the only student saxophone option available, there are other choices; so, let’s compare the Yas-280 to what professionals consider to be top contenders.

The Etude EAS-100 Alto Saxophone is made with high quality materials and durability in mind.

 Its key work has been designed for smooth control and sound production. 

When purchasing it you will also get a carry case, a cleaning kit, a ligature, and a mouthpiece. And price wise, it is placed on the lower scale costing only $249.99 USD.

The Etude EAS-100 competes with the Yamaha YAS-280 with its sound quality, how easy it is to play it and its durability.

Another option is the Legacy AS750 student Alto Saxophone, made with sturdy materials to endure wear and tear from amateur players.

 Aesthetically it has a clear lacquer finish making it very pleasing. It also has great intonation and tone. 

The Legacy AS750’s box includes a mouthpiece, a neck strap, a ligature and a backpack and it costs $259.99 USD. 

Like the Yas-280, this student sax is easy to play, durable and has a fancy finish.

The Mendini E flat Alto Saxophone is a third option that competes more on the aesthetics level. 

It comes in a variety of colors, faux Mother-of-Pearl keys and features a gold lacquered finish. 

It also has fast play keys to make playing it easier and leather pads. 

The Mendini saxophone includes a hard-shell case, neck strap, a pair of gloves, ten reeds, a pocketbook, and a chromatic tuner. This one has the lowest listed price costing only $209.99


The Yamaha YAS-280 student alto saxophone is a highly recommended instrument if you are looking for a premium high-quality sax.

Although it is rather expensive, compared to other entry level saxes, it can be considered as an investment in your musical future and you could also later sell it as second hand and, if it has been well taken care of, it will retain some of its value.

This sax will definitely make your beginners journey more enjoyable and stylish, so if that is something you value and can afford, this is the way to go. 

Additionally, if you’re planning on going on this path make sure to check out our article that sheds some light on the how hard is it to learn the saxophone as a beginner and few tips on the way to being a professional.