What Type of Saxophone Should a Beginner Buy?

What Type of Saxophone Should a Beginner Buy?

Featured Sheet Music: Rapsodie pour Orchestre et Saxophone, Claude Debussy, 1903

Are you a beginner looking to start your journey in the world of music with a saxophone? Choosing the right saxophone can be a daunting task, especially with so many types and brands available in the market. But fret not! We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know to make the right choice.

In this article “What Type of Saxophone Should a Beginner Buy?”, we’ll take you through the key factors to consider when choosing a saxophone, from the differences between soprano and alto and tenor saxophones to the structure and care of the instrument. We’ll also provide you with a comprehensive guide to the different types of saxophones, including recommended beginner models.

But that’s not all! We’ll also introduce you to the top sax brands and models for beginners in 2023, so you can make an informed decision when purchasing your first saxophone.

So, whether you’re a complete beginner or looking to upgrade your saxophone, read on to discover everything you need to know to choose the right saxophone for you!

Musical Instrument Guide: Saxophone Contents

The saxophone is a unique and powerful musical instrument that has been used to create some of the most iconic melodies in music history. Its origins date back to the mid-19th century and can be traced to the mind of Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax. With its original distinctive yellow brass body and reed mouthpiece, the saxophone’s structure is both visually and audibly striking. For those interested in picking up the saxophone, it’s important to understand the different types of saxophones available and what to look for when selecting the right instrument. Additionally, proper care and maintenance of the saxophone are crucial to keeping it in good condition and ensuring the best possible sound. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s always something new to learn about this amazing instrument.

Types of Saxophones

The saxophone is a sophisticated and versatile woodwind instrument that has become a staple in jazz and classical music. There are four main types of saxs in the saxophone family: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone, each with its unique tone and characteristics.

The soprano sax is the smallest and has a bright, high-pitched sound often used in classical music, while the alto sax is slightly larger with a warmer tone that is perfect for jazz solos. The tenor sax, commonly used in rock and roll and blues, has a deeper, richer sound than the alto, and finally, the baritone sax produces the lowest notes with a bass-like quality. All four saxophones offer distinct personalities and sounds, giving musicians a range of options to choose from when composing or performing.

Also, the saxophones can be classified based on the level of the sax player (professional alto saxophone, student alto, intermediate saxophone, etc.)

Charlie Parker, known as “The Bird,” is considered one of the greatest jazz alto saxophonists of all time, along with other famous names like Sonny Stitt and Cannonball Adderley. Their influence ranges from bebop to hard bop and modern improvisational techniques. These legendary musicians have shaped music history and continue to inspire new generations of saxophonists.

Parts of the Saxophone

The sax is a beautifully crafted instrument that has been making waves in the music industry for over a century. It has a unique sound that is distinguishable from all other instruments, making it a fan favorite. The saxophone has several parts that make up its body, each with its own set of functions. The parts include the body, neck, mouthpiece, ligature, and reed. The mouthpiece and reed are particularly important for beginners as they significantly affect the sound produced by the instrument. The mouthpiece is responsible for shaping the tone and projection of the saxophone, while the reed creates sound by vibrating against the mouthpiece. As a beginner, it’s essential to use beginner sax mouthpieces and reeds to help produce the best sound quality. It may take some time to perfect one’s playing technique, but with consistent practice and the right equipment, you can become a pro saxophonist in no time.

The Soprano Saxophone

The soprano sax is a unique instrument that has a distinct sound that captures the attention of listeners. This saxophone is smaller in size than its counterparts, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in character. The soprano saxophone has been used in various genres, from classical to jazz, and many famous players have contributed to the saxophone’s prominence.

John Coltrane, Sidney Bechet, and Kenny G are just a few famous musicians who have used the soprano saxophone to create memorable performances. Each player brings their unique sound and style to the instrument, showcasing its versatility and beauty. The soprano saxophone’s high-pitched sound can evoke emotions and leave a lasting impression on anyone who hears it.

The Alto Saxophone

The alto sax has been a staple in the world of jazz and popular music for almost a century. Its versatility makes it an essential instrument for any saxophonist, from beginners to professionals.

Charlie Parker, known as “The Bird,” is considered one of the greatest jazz alto saxophonists of all time, along with other famous names like Sonny Stitt and Cannonball Adderley. Their influence ranges from bebop to hard bop and modern improvisational techniques. These legendary musicians have shaped music history and continue to inspire new generations of saxophonists.

The Tenor Saxophone

The tenor sax is a captivating instrument beloved by musicians and audiences alike. Its rich sound and versatile range have made it a staple in jazz and other musical genres for decades.

Numerous famous players have contributed to the instrument’s popularity, including John Coltrane, Stan Getz, and Sonny Rollins. These artists, among others, have demonstrated the exceptional beauty and depth of the tenor saxophone. Whether you’re a lifelong fan of the instrument or a newcomer to its enchanting sound, there’s no denying the immense impact it has had on the music world.

The Baritone Saxophone

The baritone sax is a popular instrument among jazz and blues musicians. Its deep and rich tone adds a unique element to any musical piece.

Famous players such as Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams, and Harry Carney have brought the baritone saxophone to the forefront of jazz music. These skilled musicians have demonstrated the complexity and versatility of the instrument, as it can be played as both a supporting and leading voice in a musical ensemble. Whether you enjoy traditional jazz or modern compositions, the baritone saxophone is a must-hear instrument.

Overview of the top brands that manufacture saxophones


When it comes to saxophones, few names hold as much weight as Yamaha. The Japanese company has been manufacturing instruments since the late 1800s, and its saxophones have earned a reputation as some of the most reliable and well-built on the market. Yamaha offers saxophones for players of all levels, from beginners to seasoned professionals, and their instruments consistently receive high marks for their intonation, tone, and playability. In addition to their standard saxophones, Yamaha also produces a range of custom models, allowing players to tailor their instruments to their exact specifications. With a commitment to quality and a track record of excellence, it’s easy to see why Yamaha remains at the forefront of the saxophone world.


When it comes to sax brands, Selmer is a name that frequently comes up in discussions. Founded in 1885, Selmer has a long history of producing high-quality instruments that have become legendary in the music world. From Adolphe Sax himself to musicians like Johnny Hodges, Stan Getz, and John Coltrane, Selmer saxophones have been at the forefront of jazz and classical music. The company’s commitment to craftsmanship and sound quality has made them popular among professional musicians and students alike. Whether you’re a seasoned saxophonist or just starting, a Selmer saxophone is certainly worth considering.


Eastman is a musical instrument company that has been producing quality saxophones since the early 2000s. Their instruments are renowned for their craftsmanship, sound quality and affordability. Eastman’s saxophones are used by professional musicians around the world and have earned numerous awards and accolades. The company offers a wide range of saxophones, from student models to professional-level horns.

Jean Paul USA

When it comes to saxophones, Jean-Paul is a brand that stands out amongst the rest. Jean-Paul has built a reputation over the years as a manufacturer of high-quality saxophone instruments. The brand prides itself on using only the finest materials to produce the warm and rich tones that musicians crave. Jean-Paul was founded with the philosophy of producing affordable instruments without compromising on quality. The brand has delivered on this promise, as many professional saxophonists have praised the Jean Paul saxophones for their consistent sound quality, ease of playability, and overall craftsmanship. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, Jean-Paul saxophones are worth considering as your go-to instrument.

Paul Mauriat

Paul Mauriat is a French company that manufactures saxophones. They are known for their hand-made instruments, crafted from start to finish with the utmost care and attention to detail. Their range of horns includes sopranino, alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, as well as other accessories. The company was founded by Paul Julien André Mauriat, an orchestra leader and conductor who specialized in easy-listening music. All of their products are designed to provide superior sound quality and playability for musicians of all levels.


When it comes to high-quality saxophones, Yanagisawa is a name that often comes up within the music community. This Japanese company has been creating saxophones since 1893, and they are often known for their craftsmanship and attention to detail. Yanagisawa’s saxophone models have gained a reputation for their refined sound, ease of playability, and consistency across the different saxophone ranges. The company is also known for using high-quality materials, including bronze, brass, and silver, to create its instruments. Overall, if you’re looking for a reliable and exceptional saxophone, Yanagisawa is a brand worth checking out.


When it comes to saxophones, Keilwerth is a brand that has been around for over 90 years. Their journey started in the 1920s when the company’s founder, Julius Keilwerth, began crafting saxophones by hand in his small workshop in Germany. As word of his exceptional craftsmanship spread, Keilwerth’s reputation grew, and soon saxophonists all over the world were clamoring for his instruments. Today, Keilwerth continues to produce top-quality saxophones that are loved by musicians across all genres. Their dedication to innovation and tradition has made them a favorite among professionals and beginners alike.

Famous Saxophonists: Soprano, Tenor, or Alto Sax.

Charlie ParkerOne of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. He is often referred to as “Yardbird” and “Bird”. Alto Saxophone 
Sidney BechetThe first important soloist on the soprano saxophone in jazz history. He was also a bandleader, composer, and occasional vocalist.Soprano Saxophone
Dexter GordonConsidered one of the greatest tenor saxophonists of all time. He was known for his warm tone and melodic improvisations. Tenor Saxophone
Stan GetzKnown as “The Sound” because of his warm, lyrical tone, he was one of the most popular tenor saxophonists in history. Tenor Saxophone
Lee KonitzA pioneer in cool jazz, he is considered one of the great alto saxophonists in jazz history. His style has been described as abstract and introspective. Alto Saxophone
Zoot SimsA tenor saxophonist who played with a big-toned sound and had a wide range of expressions from growling to tenderness. He was known for his bluesy playing style. Tenor Saxophone
Ben WebsterAn influential swing-era tenor saxophonist who had an unmistakable sound that could be both powerful and delicate at the same time.  Tenor Saxophone

Which Beginner Saxophone is Right for Me?

Choosing the right beginner saxophone is an important decision. There are several factors to consider when trying to find the perfect match for you. Some of these factors include skill level, budget, and tone quality. If you are just starting, it may be wise to invest in a budget-friendly option. However, if you are a more advanced player, you may want to consider investing in a higher-quality professional saxophone. It is also important to consider the type of music you will be playing and how your saxophone will fit into your overall sound. With so many factors to consider, it can be overwhelming to choose the right beginner saxophone. We have rounded up some of the top options for beginners based on skill level and budget to help you make the best decision for your needs.

When it comes to choosing a sax for beginners, it’s important to consider which one is right for you. The two most common options are the alto and tenor new saxophones. While a professional alto saxophone may produce the best quality sound, it’s not necessary for those just learning how to play the saxophone. As a beginner saxophone player, intonation should be your biggest concern. This is why a student alto saxophone or even a used saxophone may be the best option for those just starting out. Whether you decide on a new or used instrument, the choice between an alto or tenor saxophone ultimately comes down to personal preference. Remember, the best beginner saxophone is one that you feel comfortable playing and will push you to become a better saxophonist.

What to look for in a beginner saxophone

When looking for a student saxophone, it’s important to keep a few key factors in mind. First and foremost, you’ll want to consider the instrument’s playability. As a beginner, you want to be able to easily hit the notes and produce a clear sound. Look for a saxophone with a relatively low resistance level, which will make playing easier. Additionally, make sure the instrument is comfortable to hold and ergonomically designed, as you’ll be spending a lot of time playing it. Ultimately, by keeping these considerations in mind, you can find a beginner saxophone that will serve you well as you take your first steps in learning this iconic instrument.

When searching for a saxophone that fits your specific needs, don’t overlook the value of seeking advice from someone in your network. Utilizing the expertise of acquaintances or friends who already play the saxophone can be a valuable resource in helping you pinpoint the best instrument to suit your unique ergonomic requirements and skill level. Try to play the sax so you can assess the quality of the instrument and sound. So reach out to your sax-playing pals and take advantage of their insider knowledge!

7 Best Saxophones for Beginners [2023]

Best Soprano Saxophones

Yamaha YSS-475II Soprano Saxophone – This model is perfect for beginners who want a reliable and durable instrument. It features a gold lacquer finish and includes a case and mouthpiece.

Selmer SAS80 II Soprano Saxophone – This model has an ergonomic design that makes it easy to play. It also features a high F# key and adjustable thumb rest for added comfort.

Eastman 52nd Street ESS652 Soprano Saxophone – This model is great for those just starting out as it offers a warm tone and excellent intonation.

Jean-Paul USA Student Curved Soprano Saxophone – This is an unusual model for students as it has an ergonomic design that makes playing easier. JP also has the usual straight Professional Soprano Sax.

Paul Mauriat PMSS-185 Soprano Saxophone – This model is perfect for those who want great sound quality. It features a classic finish and a professional case.

Yanagisawa S-WO20 Professional Soprano Saxophone – This model is great for professional players as it offers superior sound quality and excellent intonation. It also has an ergonomic design that makes playing easier.

Keilwerth SX90 Professional Soprano Saxophone – This model is perfect for advanced players as it offers superior sound quality and excellent intonation. It also has an ergonomic design that makes playing easier.

Best Alto Saxophones

Yamaha YAS-280 – This is a popular choice among beginners and professionals alike. It features a durable design and produces a rich, full sound.

Selmer SAS280R Alto Saxophone – This is another great option for those just starting out, as it offers excellent intonation and an easy-to-play feel.

Eastman’s 52nd Street – This model is also worth considering, as it has a bright tone and good projection. Its vintage aesthetic and hand-hammered bell give it a classic, yet modern feel.

Jean-Paul USA AS-400 – This model is an affordable option that still provides great sound quality.

Paul Mauriat’s PMXA-67R alto saxophone – This is perfect for those who want to take their playing to the next level.

Yanagisawa’s A-WO1 – This model offers superior intonation and response.

Keilwerth’s SX90R Alto Saxophone – This is one of the best instruments available on the market today, with its advanced keywork and warm tone.

Best Tenor Saxophones

Yamaha YTS-26 Standard Tenor Saxophone – This is a great option for those just starting out. It features an adjustable thumb rest and a high F# key for added convenience.

Selmer STS280 Tenor Saxophone – This is a great choice for those who want something with more advanced features. It has an adjustable neck strap and an ergonomic design that makes it comfortable to play.

Eastman ETS281 Student Tenor Saxophone – This is a great choice if you’re looking for something with good sound quality and durability. It has an adjustable thumb rest and a high F# key as well as a low Bb key.

Jean Paul USA TS-400 Tenor Saxophone – This is perfect for those who want something with superior sound quality but don’t want to break the bank. It has an adjustable neck strap and ergonomic design that make it comfortable to play.

Paul Mauriat PMXT-66R Professional Tenor Saxophone – This model features a ribbed construction and adjustable neck strap for added comfort while playing.

Yanagisawa T-WO1 Tenor Saxophones – This model features ribbed construction and an adjustable neck strap making it perfect for those just starting out on their musical journey.

Keilwerth SX90R Professional – This model features ribbed construction and an adjustable neck strap making it perfect for those just starting out on their musical journey as well as experienced players alike.

Best Baritone Saxophones

Yamaha YBS-480 Student Baritone Saxophone – This is an excellent choice for beginners. It features a high F# key and adjustable thumb rest for comfortable playing.

Selmer Paris Super Action 80 Series II Baritone  Saxophone – This is a great option for those just starting. It has a warm sound with great intonation and response.

Eastman EBS251 Baritone Saxophone – This is an ideal choice for beginners due to its easy playability and excellent tone quality.

Jean Paul USA BS-600 Intermediate Baritone Saxophone – This is a choice for serious students as it is an intermediate-class saxophone.

Paul Mauriat PMB-185 – This is the perfect model for beginner and intermediate players. It has a classic finish and a hard case.

Yanagisawa B-WO10 Baritone Saxophone – This is perfect for those just starting on baritone saxophone as they have excellent intonation and response while producing a warm sound.

Keilwerth SX90 Professional – This is the optimum choice for the modern baritone saxophone player.


What are the benefits of buying a new saxophone?

When it comes to buying a new saxophone, there are a variety of benefits to consider. One of the biggest advantages is the improved sound quality. New saxophones provide a clearer and more consistent tone, making them ideal for professional musicians or serious students looking to enhance their performances. Additionally, new saxophones are less likely to develop mechanical issues, thus reducing the need for costly repairs. Another perk of buying a new saxophone is the level of customization available. You can choose from a range of finishes, key configurations, and other features to suit your playing style and aesthetic preferences. Overall, investing in a new saxophone is a great way to take your playing to the next level and enjoy a high-quality instrument for years to come.

What are the benefits of buying a used saxophone?

Well, there are several benefits to buying a used saxophone. Not only can they be more affordable, but they often come with some unique history and character that a brand-new instrument might lack. Plus, if you’re a beginner, buying a used saxophone can be a great way to test out the instrument without spending too much money upfront. Just make sure to do your research and inspect the instrument thoroughly before making a purchase. Happy saxophone shopping!

What are the differences between an Alto and a Tenor saxophone?

If you’re new to the world of saxophones, you may be wondering about the differences between two of the most commonly used types: alto and tenor. While both belong to the same family of woodwind instruments, there are a few key distinctions that set them apart. The most noticeable difference is their size, with the tenor being larger and heavier than the alto. This size difference directly affects the sound each produces, with the tenor having a deeper and more robust tone while the alto has a brighter and more piercing sound. The choice between an alto or tenor saxophone ultimately depends on personal preference and the style of music being played.

Which is better for a beginner, an student Alto or a Tenor saxophone?

While there is no right answer, each has its strengths and uses. The Alto saxophone is generally considered more suitable for beginners because it’s slightly smaller and easier to play. It also produces a brighter, more piercing sound that’s perfect for jazz and pop music. On the other hand, the Tenor saxophone is larger and produces a deeper, richer sound that’s ideal for classical and orchestral music. Ultimately, your choice of the sax will depend on your personal preferences, musical style, and budget. Whichever one you choose, remember that learning to play the sax is a journey, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and explore different options.

What are the characteristics of each type of saxophone?

Every type of saxophone has distinct sound qualities and features that can affect your style of play. Tenor saxophones are great for jazz and classical music, as they offer a large range of dynamics that can easily be projected. Alto saxophones produce a sharper tone and allow musicians to practice intricate rhythms and be heard in a larger ensemble setting. Soprano saxophones, on the other hand, are known for their bright, nasal sound that often cuts through louder sections of music. If you’re looking for something with a strong resonance, baritone saxophones have an incredibly deep tone, unlike any other member of the family. All four types of saxophone have their pros and cons; it just depends on your playing style and the sound you’re aiming to achieve!

Summary: What Type of Saxophone Should a Beginner Buy?

In conclusion, selecting a beginner sax can be an overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to keep in mind that price is not always an indication of quality, and trying out the instrument before purchasing is highly recommended. As a final thought, we recommend going for a reputable brand within your budget that offers a reliable warranty and customer support. Remember, the most important thing is to find a saxophone that you feel comfortable playing and that inspires you to keep exploring the world of music.

Happy playing!