Yamaha YTR-8310ZS Bobby Shew Custom Z
Packaging: On opening the carton, a cardboard tray contains plastic bags neatly enclosing valve oil, slide grease, polishing cloth, owners guide, leather tag, shoulder strap, and case divider. Beneath this, there’s another bag containing the elegant leather-covered, zippered two-trumpet case.
The case has a full-length side pocket large enough for sheet music, method books, or various small accessories (but not mutes or most types of trumpet stand.) On the bottom of the case is a second zippered compartment which contains backpack straps, a very handy feature. The plastic zippers function flawlessly. Opening the case, one finds the trumpet snugly held in a molded Styrofoam shipping cradle and padded with Air-Quick packs. A Bobby Shew Jazz mouthpiece is included.
The instrument: On removing the trumpet from its protective plastic bag, one will notice the excellent workmanship, attention to detail, and the high quality of the fit and finish. The silverplating is flawless. The hand feel and valve action of this instrument are reminiscent of a Bach Stradivarius, with the overall design, as well as many parts, being distinctly Bach-like, particularly the valve block, caps, and finger buttons. My educated guess is that this is intentional, and the instrument will probably feel familiar to Bach owners. For a horn that retails at well over $3,000, I would have liked a bit lighter valve action, and perhaps stainless steel or nickel pistons rather than Monel.
Tone/response: Using my all-around mouthpiece, I was impressed by the consistency of response and tone throughout the entire range of the instrument. Compared to my usual working instrument (Schilke B6) the tone has a little more edge, which probably contributes to my perception that it is louder for a given input of playing energy.
The blow is easy throughout all registers, with quite consistent resistance and no “backing up” in the upper register. (My experience with some earlier Yamaha models had been quite different.) In the low and middle register, the tone color is quite pleasant and warm enough for dreamy, introspective ballads, and I expect that overall, the instrument would blend well in a section.
Switching to my lead mouthpiece, the tone brightens up a bit, especially in the octave above the staff, while the slotting remains quite precise, imparting a sense of confidence in the instrument’s capabilities.
Intonation: The intonation, checked against my tuner, is pretty good, with most notes in the middle register being within two or three cents of center. Interestingly, D and C-sharp above middle C were just about spot-on with no adjustment of the first and third throws. This could explain why the lower register valve combinations from A-flat down were noticeably flat on the tuner. The mid-upper register from top-line F to high C tended to blow slightly sharp; above that, the pitch was generally very close to center. In general, the pitch discrepancies were quite manageable.
Overall impressions: Although I did not have time to take this instrument out on a job to put it through its paces under fire, I’m confident that it would perform very well under almost any performance circumstances. Yamaha states that this was designed as a versatile all-around instrument, and, in my opinion, they have met this goal very well. I would not hesitate to recommend this instrument to an advanced student or professional player.