I recently purchased the Yamaha YDS-150 digital saxophone

I paid $799 + tax of $61.40 from Sweetwater online. Their sales guy did not know anything about woodwinds and even less about this instrument. He did try hard for what it’s worth.

Ok, I’m not creating this Post to diss on Sweetwater. They were fine to deal with and they did allow me to order the Roland AE-10 with it and return either or both if I did not like them. I did return the AE-10 for a restocking and cleaning fee and shipping that came to $53.08 which was more than I was told it would cost to return the instruments but still worth it to me to get to try out both instruments for a week or so.

No one in Lincoln or Omaha (and so anywhere in) Nebraska carries these two instruments that I could find so ordering online was my only option.

I am more than satisfied with the YDS-150. I cannot say enough good things about this digital musical instrument. It is quite simply fantastic. The best thing about it is that it produces a professional sound (when connected to external speakers) for any of the four types of saxophones (i.e., baritone, tenor, alto, & soprano). You can hear it for yourselves on any number of YouTube videos such as here and here. This is real and not faked in anyway.

I’m not being paid or compensated by Yamaha or anyone else to write this endorsement. I’m seriously doing this blog out of the sincere desire to share my happiness with others.

First off, like a keyboard or piano, you have to know how to play a real saxophone before you purchase one of these digital sax if you want to sound like they do. The pretty girl on a YouTube endorsement video pulls it out of the box and starts playing a very nice little jazz/rock piece on it. You’re not going to do that. Even if you already know how to play at her level you still have to put batteries in it or hook it up to a power source (neither of these are included) and plug in an external powered speaker and READ the instruction manual so you don’t mess the instrument up.

The internal speakers on the YDS are for quiet practice on your own. They are OK but nothing like the sound you get when you plug in external speakers. And if you’re a beginner it will take you years to play like she does.

I do not recommend learning to play a saxophone on a YDS because you should suffer like I did to learn, through hours and years of practice, to produce a decent sound on a real woodwind instrument. A beginner will of course be able to slowly play a simple scale and have it sound perfect which is nice but not at all realistic on an actual acoustic saxophone.

And just to say it: A whole band of 5th or 6th graders (and on up) playing with digital instruments would be a whole lot easier on the ears of their instructor and their parents. And I think you could make an argument that with a digital wind instrument perhaps a whole lot more kids would stick with music for their entire lives if they could produce a really good sound right out of the box.

As I noted on my ‘about’ page I have played the saxophone in band in high school and I have played the flute for about 46 years now. It takes years of practice, unless you’re naturally gifted which I am not, to play a musical instrument satisfactorily.

The flute and saxophone have very similar fingering. So I’ve kept up my fingering skills over the decades by constantly playing my flute. If you don’t know how to already play a saxophone it will still take you years of practice to become adept at keying the thing just so you know. The only shortcut, and it is wondrous, with using the YDS is that it produces a professional quality sound for you by simply blowing into the mouthpiece. You still have to have breath control, tonguing skills, fingering agility, know how to sight-read music, and basically be a trained musician to really have fun with it.

Could a beginner have fun also. I suppose but that depends on what you want to accomplish. The nuances a skilled musician makes with his or her mouth and embouchure is what really separates the good ones from say, me. I played the flute very decently to be sure but I was no where near the really gifted or professionals. My grandson is going to start the saxophone next semester in 5th grade at school. I can play along with him so that he can hear how he should sound but he needs to learn, in my opinion, how to play a real instrument with a real reed and conquer it. As technology continues to evolve perhaps one day there will be an entire band with digital instruments. And as with the electric guitar I’m certain the really gifted and those who put in the hard word will still stand out from all the rest.

When playing the YDS I can control a lot of sound output by knowing how to do that on a real woodwind instrument. But as you can hear for yourself in the honest video I linked to above a real professional sax player still sounds better than the same guy when playing the YDS but it is pretty darn close. And for a duffer like me (on the sax) it opens up a whole world of beautiful sound I could never produce on a real sax, after all of these years of neglect and especially at my advanced age. Also I can play for a much longer period of time because my embouchure doesn’t get tired and wear down.

So if you used to play the saxophone or still do but can’t currently produce a really, smooth, professional sound but want to – I highly recommend the YDS-150. If your current keying skills are nonexistent or just suck they still will on the YDS, but the practicing to improve them is fun and a whole lot easier than trying to do it on a real sax.

Also when you download the YDS app you can add keying for any note (not already in use) which is also really cool and fun.

One last plug. I purchased the Tomplay app which has loads of musical scores that you can play along with that are really cool and so much fun. Tomplay typically has a well known song or piece you would like to play in easy, intermediate and advanced scoring. The cursor moves along with the accompanying music and you can also adjust the tempo to your comfort zone. Together with the YDS I have been having about as much fun as you can have with music. For instance I have always wanted to play Baker Street on the saxophone and had no realistic chance of doing that well. Now I can!

And no, I’m not being paid by them to endorse Tomplay I’m just passing it along for my musically inclined readers.

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