The Yamaha Xeno trombone is a group of four professional trombones made by Yamaha in Japan. They are called the Xeno trombones and are Yamaha's premier symphonic trombones. Trombonists Peter Sullivan of the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra and Larry Zalkind of the Utah Symphony Orchestra were involved in the design and testing, and they play and endorse these trombones.
The Xeno models 882O and 882GO are nearly identical, with the former featuring a yellow brass bell, and the latter featuring a gold brass bell. The bell choice can depend on your playing style as well a your sense of aesthetics. Generally, we find the yellow brass bell to have a more stable sound and a bit more projection. The gold brass bell tends to have a wider, broad sound with some warmth to it. A prettier sound we'd say. But the gold has a bit less projection and stability. A malleable sound, we'd say. You can spot the 882O and 882GO easily by the inclusion of a balance weight.
The Xeno models 882OR and 882GOR were introduced later, and have a few differences in the details. These were developed with Larry Zalkind, Principal Trombone of the Utah Symphony Orchestra.
Both yellow and gold brass bell options are available as the 882OR, and 882GOR, as above. The R stands for reverse, as both main tuning slide and the F-attachment slides on these two trombones have the reverse setup. This means that the tuning slide fits over the top of the horn on the small side, and then fits inside the horn on the large side. This reduces errors in taper, and reduces gaps between adjustable slides and the body of the horn. As an example, King and Conn trombones also tend to have reverse tuning slides, and Bach trombones generally do not. Some players find that the reverse setup plays a bit more open and free. Others may prefer the more efficient feel of the traditional setup. We can't say what improvement might come from the reverse setup on the F attachment loop. Since this is all cylindrical tubing, either the gap of a slightly pulled slide is in one place or another. We'll call it style.
Other differences in the reverse model Xenos are a wider hand slide, which can also broaden the tone a bit, one removable mouthpipe, which aids cleaning and allows a simple exchange if the player wishes for another size mouthpipe. Yamaha has been testing some other sizes of mouthpipes, but we think you won't want to know what they cost.
The reverse model's Balanced Response rotary valve is slightly different. It has a larger diameter and more open ports to lessen resistance and mimic more closely the open feel of a straight trombone.
This is not to say that all players should run out to buy the reverse model Xeno trombones. We hope they do, and we have operators standing by. We find that many players like the standard model Xeno for several reasons: The feel of the standard tuning slide and standard rotor may offer a faster response with less air, and for many it gives a feel of something to push against. The narrow hand slide may be a more comfortable grip for small to medium size hands. The narrow slide also tends to narrow the bandwidth of the tone a little, for a slightly hotter sound and sharper attack. Finally, the standard model is less expensive.
All these trombones are outstanding players, and are Yamaha's best effort to date. Thoughtful design plus a lot of handwork in each instrument make these horns lively and very satisfying to play. The bells are hand hammered and hand spun, giving them a life and sound that may have been missing from Yamaha's earlier offerings. (This is not your father's Yamaha trombone.) The rest of the workmanship is typical Japanese perfection, with absolutely silent hand slide and rotor action, a comfortable grip with an adjustable thumb paddle, and a beautiful and diminutive hard case for convenient travel.
We can hear from Peter Sullivan...
Peter Sullivan Biography
Born and raised in Timmins, Ontario, Canada, Peter Sullivan has become one of North America's premier orchestral trombonists. Formerly the principal trombonist of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, Peter enjoyed a 14-year tenure with the orchestra. In 1999, at the invitation of Mariss Jansons, he accepted the position of Principal Trombone with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
As a soloist, Peter has performed on many occasions with both the MSO and PSO as well as with many regional orchestras and wind ensembles. In 2005, Peter gave the world premiere performance of Jennifer Higdon's Trombone Concerto with Jan Pascal Tortelier conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony.
Peter has been on the faculties of McGill University, The Banff School, The Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan and has given master classes all over North America and around the world. He currently teaches at both Duquesne and Carnegie-Mellon Universities in Pittsburgh.
He received his education at the Universities of Ottawa and McGill in Montreal as well as the Aspen School of Music. His teachers have included Doug Burden, Ted Griffith, Per Brevig and Christian Lindberg. He regularly performs alongside many of today's greatest brass players with groups such as the Grand Teton Festival Orchestra, Chicago's Music of the Baroque, the Summit Brass and the Xeno Trombone Quartet.
Peter's discography includes numerous orchestral recordings with the Montreal, Pittsburgh and Toronto Symphony Orchestras and solo and chamber music recordings including the release of J.S. Bach's complete Art of Fugue with the PSO Brass Ensemble.
Peter Sullivan is a Yamaha Artist and was instrumental in the design of the new Xeno Orchestral model trombone, his instrument of choice.
The YSL-882OR was developed with Larry Zalkind, Principal Trombone of the Utah Symphony Orchestra.
The balanced response rotor system helps air release evenly into the F-attachment slide creating a smoother transition from the Bb open horn to the engaged F-attachment..
Both the main tuning slide and the F-attachment tuning are reversed, allowing for a less restricted airflow throughout the instrument.
The open wrap has a more open feel and quicker response while using the F attachment.
Eliminating sharp turns in the crook will open the feel and response of the instrument.
The rotor paddle is adjustable for optimum comfort.
Using a mechanical linkage on a rotor gives it strong, smooth operation.