Yamaha YAS-23 vs. YAS-26: Head-to-Head Comparison

Picking between the Yamaha YAS-26 vs. the YAS-23 might seem a bit daunting, given that the former is an improved version of the latter.

Still, we’ve taken the time to scrutinize both horns and really focus on the differences -however slight- that could help you choose one or the other. Without further ado, let’s delve into it!

Yamaha YAS-23 vs. YAS-26: Short Answer

To cut to the chase, if you want to play tones that are on the brighter end of the spectrum while saving some money, you should opt for the YAS-23. On the other hand, go for the YAS-26 if you want a more robust build quality, crisper sound production, and easier playability.

Image Product Details   Price
Yamaha Yas 26 Yamaha YAS-26 Better Build Quality & Sound Production Check Price
Yamaha YAS23 Yamaha YAS-23 Better for Brighter Tones Check Price

The Full Comparison

Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. In this section, we’ll go over certain aspects that you should consider when picking a sax, and drawing a comparison between how either instrument lives up to those aspects.

Design and Construction

Yamaha YAS-26 Standard Alto Saxophone Lacquer with Nickel Keys

Naturally, the design and construction of both horns isn’t the difference between day and night, but the YAS-23 weighs 14.25 pounds, while the YAS-26 is around 3 pounds lighter at 11.5 pounds, which makes it easier to carry around and handle. The thing is, despite being lighter, it’s not any less sturdy and its build isn’t any less reliable.

Both the YAS-23 and YAS-26 come with a brass body, neck, keys, and bell and both have adjustable thumb rests that facilitate playing. The YAS-26 does come with a neck design that accommodates all Yamaha sax necks, which makes it an excellent choice for advancing players.

The pads on the YAS-26 are waterproof leather, which are easy to maintain and durable. On the contrary, the ones on the YAS-23 need relatively frequent changes, which should be something to keep in mind when choosing. 

Still, the power-forged keys on the YAS-23 have a nice feel to them when played and seem durable. Both have lacquer finished to extend their lifespan and their materials are, overall, durable.

  • Winner: Yamaha YAS-26

Yamaha YAS-26 Standard Alto Saxophone Lacquer with Nickel Keys

Handling and Playability

Before we even get to the end of the paragraph, the winner here would be the YAS-26 hands down. This is because its ergonomics are improved over the YAS-23 in specific, as it’s the model up.

So, with the YAS-26, you’ll get smoother keys with a more even response and tension. Not to mention, the sealing is better, which prevents any leakages from happening, as the case is quite common on the YAS-23 horns.

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What’s more, the pads are well-leveled, and the neck receiver is designed to enhance the speed of the response to enhance playability and sound. The YAS-26 also facilitates playing the C# and low B keys simultaneously with its rolling feature.

  • Winner: Yamaha YAS-26


Yamaha saxophones, in general, are known for their high-quality sound, even on student models like the YAS-23 and YAS-26.

The YAS-23 has incredible intonation and resonance mixed with good resistance and timbre, which allows it to produce a sound quality that makes it excellent value for money -a bang for your buck even.

On the other hand, the YAS-26 comes with more focus on response, good tones, and it also has great intonation. The difference is that the YAS-26’s instrument key is E Flat while the YAS-23 is Ee, which is why the latter is a better option for brighter tunes, including jazz, blues, and classical rock.

Winner: Tie

Pros and Cons In a Glimpse

Yamaha YAS-26


  • Improved key connections
  • Tone production is rich and full
  • Enhanced design for better ergonomics
  • Adjustable thumb hook makes handling easier
  • Equipped with a case and accessories


  • Manufactured in China or Indonesia
  • More expensive than the YAS-23
  • Mouthpiece will need replacement

Yamaha YAS-23


  • Excellent intonation and sound quality
  • Highly durable
  • Comes with an adjustable thumb rest
  • Great production of bright tones
  • Consistent tuning


  • Sound quality isn’t as good as the YAS-26
  • Less solid feel to the instrument


So, to summarize everything, I’d say the Yamaha YAS-23 is a very good choice by and large, it only falls short when compared to the Yamaha YAS-26, which only makes sense because it’s an improved version of it.

I’d say that if you want to save a couple of bucks and you’re not using your horn for solo playing, long-term, or have a true passion for the instrument, you can use the YAS-23 for band practice.

On the other hand, the Yamaha YAS-26 is a better choice if you’re practicing the sax long-term, and you want to upgrade your horn along with your skills.