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Yamaha YMP-204M

 

 

 

Marching Mellophone

Yamaha YMP-204M

Rating:

 

Technical Data

 

This technical data was obtained from the manufacturer's website (here). 

This new mellophone offers newly designed valve slides and bracing points to improve intonation and create the sound that is preferred by such groups as the 8-time DCI World Champion Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps.

New Leadpipe

Bracing has been removed to help create a more open and free-blowing feel

 

Modified Slide Lengths

The first and third valve slide lengths have been modified to improve the overall intonation and tonal coloring.

 

Improved Weight Distribution

The improved weight distribution places more of the weight near the players' hands creating a more comfortable instrument.

 

Quick Bell Flare

The improved bell shape provides optimal projection while producing a clear and soaring sound.

 

 

Honed valves
The precise fit between valve casings and pistons after honing means no air leakage.

Pressure-formed tubing
Perfectly rounded tubing results in less turbulence and a smoother air flow, thus allowing for an excellent scale and reduced resistance.

Laser-fused pluzuma-welded slides
A high-energy laser fuses the brass together for a virtually seamless bell which allows continuous, even vibrations.

Hand-lapped valves and slides
Hand-lapping valves and slides ensures an absolutely perfect fit and seal between the valve pistons and casing or slide parts. Such a perfect fit helps to achieve smooth air flow and smooth action and improve the response and intonation of the instrument.

Well balanced
All Yamaha marching instruments are well-balanced so they are easy to hold while marching.

Heavy bracing
All Yamaha marching instruments have heavy bracing throughout so they are more durable at vulnerable points and can withstand marching band.

  • Level: Marching Mellophone

  • Key: F

  • Bore: 0.462"

  • Bell Diameter: 10"

  • Leadpipe Material: Gold brass

  • Body / Bell Material: Yellow brass

  • Finish: Clear epoxy lacquer (YMP-204M); Silver (YMP-204MS)

  • Mouthpiece: MP-14F4

  • Pistons / Valves: (3) Nickel-plated, nickel alloy

  • Case: MPC-203M

  • Mouthpiece adapter included

 

Yamaha YMP-200 Series Timeline

 

According to promotional material from Yamaha, the company became involved in wind instrument manufacturing in 1963, when the Japanese company Nikkan established a wind instrument factory in Saitama, Japan. Yamaha contributed financial and technical assistance, marking this early venture as the beginning of Yamaha wind instruments. In 1965 the first wind instrument to bear the Yamaha name, a trumpet, was produced, and the company displayed trumpets, trombones and saxophones at the 1967 Chicago NAMM show. Nikkan and Yamaha merged in 1970, and Yamaha opened the world's largest wind instrument factory in Toyooka, Japan the same year.

Yamaha wind instrument production came to America in 1974, when Yamaha Musical Products (YMP) opened a factory in Grand Rapids, MI. A short 15 years later, in 1989, YMP opened a new state-of-the-art factory in Grand Rapids and celebrated the completion of its 5,000,000th wind instrument two years later in 1991. Unfortunately, sales do not always match the production capabilities of a company. Yamaha had 200,000 unsold wind instruments in storage as of 1990. Declining sales promoted the closure of this facility in 2006, shifting manufacture of these instruments overseas.

 

The YMP-201 was available from 1986 through 1997 and was a traditionally-wrapped mellophone featuring a smaller bore (.449") and a large flare diameter (12"). A bell-front variant (YMP-201M) was also offered around this time.

 

 
 
The YMP-201 was a traditionally wrapped classic mellophone. A bell-front marching version YMP-201M was also produced with a 10" bell and slightly larger bore size.  

 

Production dates haven't been confirmed for the YMP-202M, but the instrument was known to be in production prior to 2000 and was in production through 2003.

 

On January 13, 2004, Yamaha announced the release of the YMP-203M Marching Mellophone that featured an all new flare that was a marked improvement over the YMP-202M.

 

Within two years Yamaha was releasing the YMP-204M Marching Mellophone that featured a reconfiguration of the mouthpipe that helped to counteract a troublesome high "F" that was an ominous trait of the YMP-202M and YMP-203M.

 

 

Opinions

Itís difficult to review the YMP-204M without making references to the 203M, which is a fine horn. With the 204M they managed to fix some of the slight flaws in the 203M, as well as attempt to make the horn unique in its own right.

YMP 201M & 202 Flare YMP 203M Flare YMP 204M Flare

The dramatic flare revision seen in the YMP 203 is retained in the YMP 204 design, but our reviewer suggests the flare diameter has been slightly reduced in the new model.

There are two noticeable physical differences between the 203M and the 204M. First, the bell on the 204M is about a quarter inch smaller than the 203M. This slight difference gives the horn ever-so-slightly more focused sound than the 203M. Additionally, the first bend in the tubing coming off the mouthpiece is closer to the player, making the manufacturer put the pinky hook on a little extended bar (the hornís most recognizable physical trait). Granted this doesnít make the horn play any different, but it makes life a little better for people with larger hands, as they can just wrap their fingertips around the pipe and use that little pinky hook extender as a prop to keep the horn up.

A change in the leadpipe geometry on the YMP-204 has helped with the top line F-shudder that was synonymous with the YMP-203. This change required an extended pinky ring. This feature, along with the tuning slide bracing, embody this model's most distinctive visual modifications. Yamaha Product Photo

But the proof is in the playing. First and foremost, the 204M fixes the thin slot that the B-flat (top line F) fell into. On the other hand, the extreme top register (written A above the staff and higher) is a little more of a strain than the 203M was. Donít get me wrong Ė itís extremely reachable, clear and focused. It just takes a wee bit more effort.

A member of the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps participates in the hornline warm-up with her Yamaha YMP-204 in Indianapolis on July 8, 2006 with what appears to be the stock MP-14F4 mouthpiece. Photo by Scooter Pirtle

Tone-wise, the 204M is a bit more focused than the 203M. Whatís that? The 203M was unfocused? No, not really, but if you play both the 203M and 204M side by side for a while, you begin to see that the 204 blows a little more freely and has a slightly more open tone, which also may be a partial result of a lightly smaller bell. If you loved that velvety 203M tone, you should switch to a larger mouthpiece to compensate. The tone is nowhere near as harsh as the DEG Dynasty, but slightly brighter than the dark and mellow YMP-203M.

A member of the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps prepares for her July 8, 2006 Indianapolis performance utilizing a Yamaha YMP-204 with a non-stock mouthpiece that appears to be a Curry TF series. Photo by Scooter Pirtle

As with the 203M, the pistons are tight and fast, but can also react badly to dust and dirt.  Keep those valves well oiled.

Members of the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps warming up with their Yamaha YMP-204s with non-stock mouthpieces (IYM Larry Kerchner model M-1). Photo by Scooter Pirtle

Overall this is a brilliant horn. It was hard to imagine one could find any flaws (other than the unfocused F) on the 203M, but the 204M takes the Yamaha line up one step.

 

- Alan David Perkins (email)

Guest Contributor


Special thanks are extended to Alan for contributing this review. Check out Alan's tremendous mid-voice resource online at: http://www.alsmiddlebrasspages.com/mellophone