Professional Instrument Series: Saxophonist Dave Koz

Internationally renowned musician Dave Koz has been playing a saxophone that he’s had for over 20 years. The Yamaha artist’s main alto is a silver-plated YAS-62 sax that was his backup until the theft of his car and some of his instruments in 1997.Yamaha Alto Saxophone

On all of his instruments, Koz uses Rico Royal plasticover #3 reeds with the standard Beechler ligature. Rico has endorsed himfor years and hand picks his reeds. He prefers plastic over traditional cane because of their consistency and extra brilliance. His mouthpiece of choice is a metal Beechler #8 with some baffle work done by John Yoakum from LA. He has a few other mouthpieces he uses to achieve a darker tone, even though he is primarily known for his bright pop sound and doesn’t often stray from that.

The premier artist’s tenor saxophone is a classic Selmer Mark VI tenor, circa 1963. The neck has been stripped and silver-plated, but the rest is standard Selmer issue. Koz says the plating on that horn added a bit of a brighter sound and a little more immediacy. He has a few other beauties, like the new Ishimori tenor, but says the VI has unbeatable warmth that he has loved since high school.

For over two decades, Dave’s mouthpiece has been a Berg Larson hard rubber 110 with more of Yoakum’s baffle work. He has played a few different tenor mouthpieces, but likes this one for its “beautiful, warm, exact sound.”Dave uses a Winslow ligature and the Rico #3 again. Koz doesn’t follow trends and figures, “If it’s working, if it’s feeling good, I just go with it until further notice. I’ve been playing on the same mouthpieces for a long time because they’re working!”

Famous for his soprano sax sound, Kozhas a couple of soprano saxophones he regularly uses. For recordings he uses a Yamaha YSS-62S that is beautifully silver-plated and straight. In live settings, Dave prefers the ease of the curved soprano sax and has owned a couple of vintage nickel-plated Conn curved sopranos circa 1914. He says they are “a little hit and miss from that era” but this particular one he plays nowsounds amazing. He has a few others that just aren’t quite the same. “That one is just special. It has a beautiful sound.”Koz likes it with the bell facing up when he plays live so he can hear the pitch. He also likes the sound with a clip-on mic better when he performs live. He uses a plastic Couf #8 mouthpiece that is the same as the Runyon mouthpiece with no added baffle, with a Rovner ligature.

Yamaha Baritone Saxophone

Although Koz doesn’t play baritone saxophone often, he does own a Yamaha YBS-62 bari sax, standard lacquer and uses it for the odd recording geared with a Berg Larson plastic mouthpiece with the included ligature.

Learn more about Dave’s music and check out his recordings at



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