YBS-61 Octave Key Fix

A permanent fix for the stuffy high “G.”

Yamaha’s YBS-61 baritone sax, made over 30 years ago, was an excellent instrument. However, the original octave vent design caused the “G” and “G#” in the second octave to be stuffy, unfocused, and uncentered.

Why? The lower octave vent is at the wrong location – too far down the body tube – which causes the problems with those pitches. Yamaha eventually corrected this problem in later versions of their YBS-61 by redesigning the octave mechanism and moving the body octave vent higher up the tube.

For years, there have been rumors of a “factory recall” issued for the earlier YBS-61’s, and many of these instruments have been improved by relocating the octave key. When our shop was approached with the task of doing this modification, we contacted Yamaha for advice. A “Warranty Service Manager” responded with the following:

There really wasn’t a ‘recall’ on these instruments that were discontinued over 30 years ago, those are the the type of things that are conjured up on sax blogs. I do have some notes on a procedure that is not guaranteed to be better or worse. You are welcome to try it but the results are not a guarantee that you or the customer will like it better. Good luck with this and have a great day.

Maybe there was no official recall – and no guarantees – but Yamaha did, in their later production, relocate the body octave vent to the same location recommended by the aforementioned “procedure.”

To do the conversion, we performed these steps:

  1. Drill a hole for the new octave vent.
  2. Solder the new octave vent in place.
  3. Disable the original vent. You could remove and patch over the body tube; we chose to plug the existing vent by machining a brass insert and soft soldering it.
  4. Fabricate an extension and solder it to the existing key.
  5. Setup and regulate the octave mechanism as needed.

The image on the left is an original YBS-61. The image on the right is the same horn after we performed the update.

And here are more pics of the updated sax.

The end result? The “G” and “G#” were dramatically improved, and no longer required any favoring to respond.

Thanks again for working on the horn. I am VERY pleased. I was seriously considering figuring out how to get a 62 if the fix didn’t work, but I love my horn even more now. I really appreciate your work.

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