Yamaha YSL-691 Trombone
The Yamaha Corporation is well known for making high-quality products, including everything from pianos to digital mixers—to motorcycles! Its professional trombones, like the YSL-691, are no exception: they are finely crafted, precision-made instruments.
The YSL-691 is a .508-inch-bore tenor trombone with an 8-inch yellow-brass bell—the same bell size as a Bach 36 or a King 3B—and has a brilliant gold-epoxy lacquer. Yamaha includes three screw-in leadpipes with this horn.
I tested the instrument at home and on the job with a Broadway pit orchestra. It took a little getting used to, but once I did I found it to be a very easy horn to play. It’s very responsive, and it plays evenly in all registers. I also was able to be very flexible throughout the partials. The horn blended easily enough in the pit with a King 2B and a Bach bass trombone. I had no trouble controlling dynamics with the YSL-691, from very soft to blaring and back again. The differences between the three leadpipes were, for me, subtle and mainly showed up as changes in intonation. With this many choices you could end up like a trumpet player talking about mouthpieces!
The horn is very light, and the ultra-lightweight slide has a very comfortable feel. The slide was slightly misaligned right out of the box. Though a good repairman could fix this easily, it prevented me from fully enjoying it. Trombone and water seemed to work better than Slide-O-Mix for lubrication, perhaps due to the close tolerance within the slide. The tuning slide worked perfectly.
Overall the horn has a bright, somewhat thin and rigid sound. The YSL-691 is not as easy as other trombones to change the character of your sound at will. This is not so much a problem in a Broadway pit or in other commercial settings, but as a jazz player I could see needing some time to overcome this inflexibility of sound. Any horn’s going to take some getting used to, though.
The suggested retail price of just over $2,000 seems high, but with this horn you’re paying for the precision work: the special process gold epoxy lacquer, the airtightness, the laser-fused bell, etc.
It’s definitely a contender, though it may require a bit more trying out to be certain it’s the horn for you.