Yamaha Alto Venova YVS-120: First Impression and Review

This section covers Yamaha wind instruments such as the Venova YVS-120 and YVS-100 as well as MIDI controllers WX5, WX7 and WX11.

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Yamaha Alto Venova YVS-120: First Impression and Review

Unread post by shelly0624 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:27 am

I just received a very interesting reed instrument in the mail, the Yamaha Alto Venova. It's described as a "casual wind instrument", but it definitely has a saxophone sound. There are two models; the Soprano YVS-100, and the Alto YVS-120. I received the Alto Venova. The attraction for me is portability. My husband and I love the outdoors, so we hike, have picnics in the park, on the beach, and go camping a LOT. So, if you can take the Venova to places like that, it would, indeed, be a casual instrument. Hey, I'm totally into casual.

I was excited and curious to unbox it and check it out. The outer box is large, approximately 28" X 16" X 12". The actual box that held the Venova is smaller, at about 24"X 6.5"X 4.5". Ample amounts of linked poly air pillows surrounded the smaller box inside so there wasn't a lot of movement during shipment. It arrived quickly.

Upon opening the box, the first thing I saw were booklets on an upper lid. To the left was an orange booklet with the title, "Let's Play Venova". It was in several languages. The pages are black-tabbed on the edge so you can find your language quickly. The English version starts on page 12 and instructs you on the basics of how to get started. Songs and fingering charts are on pages 95-103. On the left, a gray booklet, is the owner's manual. A diagram shows the accessories, the various parts of the instrument, and how to clean and care for it. The Venova is completely washable with water, an obvious advantage over a brass saxophone.

I lifted the upper lid of the box and found a sturdy, almost indestructible, black plastic case. It had a place on each end to secure the included shoulder strap. I was impressed with how really hard and strong the case is. With the shoulder strap attached, it's definitely an instrument you can take anywhere. You slide the two fasteners over to open it.

I opened the case and the Venova, itself, was wrapped in cellophane with a cleaning swab next to it. It's about 23" long. My first impression was how the Venova felt. There is actually a quality thickness and durability to the ABS resin and I really like the glossy white finish. Tactilely, it had a smooth, high quality feel--light--but still substantial. The "meandering", sort of intestinal pipe structure looks a little strange but it shortens the distance between holes so one can play all of the notes with fewer keys, like a recorder. There is an upper branched pipe and that's what gives it the saxophone sound. Instead of multiple pads, this instrument is simplified, with fewer of them, and all washable. I could really see this instrument in schools, especially when I think of the expense of renting an instrument. This one they can keep, at a lower year-long cost. For me, having only a half-year of clarinet in grade school band, it's not at all intimidating, but looks fun. With the thumb-hold in the back, it feels natural in my hands. I'm interested in having my 11 year old granddaughter try it too...

You can separate the body. The upper and lower halves can be pulled apart for cleaning. You can remove the mouthpiece, which comes with a protective cover that can also be removed. EVERYTHING is waterproof, (I know I keep mentioning that, but when you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do...well...Washington is green for a reason).
About the reed. The synthetic reed is supposed to be suited for beginners, but they recommend a natural cane reed as one gets accustomed to playing. It might be best to switch it out sooner than later, as customers discovered that a natural reed improved the sound quite a bit. The mouthpiece is an equivalent to the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece for alto saxophones.
The Venova is in the key of F, and has a 2 octave range.

So now....
I will embark on the venture of learning how to play. I'll learn a little bit before I go out into nature ( ...so as not to scare the animals).
On YouTube, I found a sweet Venova solo to inspire me.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First contact:
Here, in the Pacific Northwest, many people keep candles and oil lamps handy because in the fall and winter the power goes out. Because many places here are heavily wooded, occasionally the wind will blow a tree branch down onto a power line. Today was a day like that. This is perfect, I thought to myself, I can try out the Venova. Many of my favorite things don't need to be plugged in, so this was a great opportunity! With candles lit and wood stove glowing, I took the Venova out and put it to my lips. Something that sounded like a cross between a buck in rutting season and a Canada goose blasted into the room. After a fit of laughter, (mine and my husband's), I decided that maybe, after all, I really DO need to follow instructions. Not usually my first instinct. I'm more of a watch-and-learn person (as opposed to a read-and-learn). The Venova comes with a booklet that teaches the basics, including fingering, but I decided to wait until the power came back on to start my video lessons on the Yamaha website.

https://usa.yamaha.com/products/musical ... oduct-tabs

Another link, starting with lesson 1:


There are 12 mini lessons; short videos that take you step by step. The right breath strength and control is important to make a steady, even, sound. While the fingering is like a recorder, it is definitely a reed instrument and plays like one. Also, I found out, learning how to mouth the reed (embouchure) is not only important to produce the right sound, but the right pitch. I realized that I will be spending some time on videos 2,3, and 4; working on fingering, embouchure, and breath control before going much further. With just a little practice I was able, most of the time, to play long, even, notes. This was accomplished in one night. I know that I will get better with time. I'm going to get the natural cane reed. The interesting thing about the Venova, for me, is that I find myself wanting to pick it up. It's easy to grab and play. It sort of beckons to you. Overall, I think it's a fun instrument and I'm going to enjoy learning more. It's certainly different from anything I've ever tried. I've heard the Soprano Venova and in my opinion the Alto Venova has a deeper, richer saxophone sound.
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Last edited by shelly0624 on Sun Nov 03, 2019 5:39 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by Saul » Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:44 am

Fantastic review Shelly. Really enjoyed reading that. ((i)) ((i)) ((i))

Can't say I have ever gravitated toward wind instruments much although I did play around with the tin whistle at one point. Soon went back to guitar :/:

The Venova would be of more interest to me if it had a sort of flute type sound rather than that clarinet/sax sound? I wonder if Yamaha have any plans for something along those lines in the future.

I can though see the Venova being very popular, especially in schools. It is ideal for the music room as well as the school budget! :)

Do keep us posted on your progress (Y)
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by shelly0624 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:11 am

I thought the same thing.. a flute-sounding instrument would be more suited for me too. Along with guitar, a flute has a sweet, earthy sound. It kinda got me thinking.. "Hmmm, maybe I should try a recorder." I think I saw some on the Yamaha website. Nevertheless, there is something fun about these. A person does a lot of laughing at first. Some pretty crazy sounds come out until you figure out how to "lip" the reed.
Last edited by shelly0624 on Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by Saul » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:49 am

Yamaha do actually make a very budget friendly instrument called a Fife which gives a much more flute like sound and is often used in Celtic music :)
Yamaha Fife  YRF-21.png
Yamaha Fife YRF-21
https://uk.yamaha.com/en/products/music ... index.html

Much more my sort of instrument although I don't think it would be replacing my guitars any time soon :think:
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by shelly0624 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:58 am

I want to learn to play THIS! :D :D :D :D

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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by Buzzard » Tue Oct 29, 2019 5:57 pm

Wow, Thanks. ((i))

This topic is a brilliant read, I truly enjoyed it.

Fascinating instrument, doesn't look like much, but it can make some beautiful tones.

Rock on Shelly. :D

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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by shelly0624 » Tue Oct 29, 2019 6:51 pm

Thank you Peter.. it's been fun :)
I wanted to post this video also. It was a live performance with, what looks like, a video from someone's camera or cell phone ..so it's a little rough. But it's the same musician from Brazil. He seems to capture the style I like.

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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by parametric » Wed Oct 30, 2019 4:00 am

While we're looking at Saxes, THIS is the Sax Piece I wrote. . . .



It's about half it's original length, as once I found the melody, I really got into it and couldn't stop going over and over. . . . :oops:

The end notes of some of the phrases are w a y too long to be realistic - which I'll eventually sort out . .

All the sounds are Presets on my Alesis Fusion 8HD. The Sax sound is called "Lush Life" :roll:

I "rode" the PB Wheel much of the time to impart a more "singing" tone, and also to do the little downward glisses at the ends of

some of the phrases . . .

Always been my hope to get a REAL SAX Player to play it - sometime . . . .

P.S. There is Another version I did (The Music is the Same) - which is STRANGE, inasmuch as it has my GRANDFATHER (d.1964)

doing a Recitation over it . . . .

Curious? - The FULL story is here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10783&p=63898&hilit ... her#p63898

or if you just want to listen:



Chris
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by shelly0624 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:03 am

Ooo-ooo, I can't wait to take a listen. I like to listen when the house is dead-quiet. One doesn't just listen to music, they experience it. I always get excited about the host of instruments you can integrate into a piece of music.. just with a set of keys..
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by shelly0624 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:49 pm

Wow, that sax sounds like the real deal. Very nice!
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by shelly0624 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:05 am

I just listened to the "Rain" piece. Wow.. beautiful poem, beautiful sax solo. Your grandfather was a poet, to be sure. How cool that old technology and new could come together to preserve his words, along with your music... grandfather and grandson. In the poem.. was it about the loss of someone, a woman? It looks like the gift of wordsmithing runs in the family. :)P That sax is very realistic. Amazing...
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by parametric » Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:26 am

Yes Shel . . . . I was puzzled about WHERE that poem came from . . .

I did some poking about online and only ever found ONE reference that seemed "close" . . .

Curiously, it came from your side of the Pond . . . . Published in the Syracuse Standard August 18th 1865 . . . .

Rain Poem.rtf
WordPad file
(3.12 MiB) Downloaded 3 times

Where my Gandfather came across it, I really don't know - he never mentioned it . . . .

As his narrative mentions 1896, and that he had memorised it "recently" - he would have been in his twenties . . . .

The Line "Rain upon the Whins" confounded me for a while, but apparently it comes from Whynnes which is

Late Middle-English for thorny bush, like Brambles or Gorse that we have in quantity on Dartmoor . . .

Anyhow, Grandpa rearranged it to a degree, and quite well, I thought.

Who the lady was - we can only speculate - as GrandPa didn't write it . . . , but perhaps she was a lost love, or perhaps

died young or tragically?

Who knows? Some have pondered that these are rather dark thoughts for a 20-something to be having . . .

It just struck me as an idea to put the two items together - and it was quite fun doing so . . .

Glad you enjoyed it . . . (Y)

Chris
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Re: First Impression and Review: Yamaha Alto Venova, Yvs-120

Unread post by shelly0624 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 5:22 am

I thought your grandfather wrote it ;) It had a few dark, mysterious, and melancholy, notes. (Very cool). In any event, your grandfather, in reading it, added great dramatic flair ... which is probably why I thought he wrote it. What a great peek into yesteryear. It's interesting what we leave behind for others after we're gone.
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