Whether you’re the parent of a young student just starting out on the saxophone, you’re a musician looking to learn a new instrument, or you’re looking to pick up a new hobby as an adult, the decision to purchase a sax is an exciting one. But, it can also be daunting! What type of saxophone should you choose? What brands are best? How much should you expect to pay? Let’s answer these questions and more as we discuss the best saxophones for beginners.
What Should Beginner Saxophonists Look For?
The saxophone is a gorgeous instrument! It’s also one of the larger, heavier and more expensive woodwind instruments (much more so than a flute or clarinet), so take that into account if you’re selecting an instrument for a young student or if you’re on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are lots of student saxophones available for good prices and you can always find high quality used saxophones, so don’t despair.
Beginner / Student Altos
One of the most popular saxophones for the beginner is the alto. It is heavily featured in melodic sections of the woodwind score, and many band directors are happy with many alto sax players in beginning band programs.
Altos are a great choice for the beginner because the embouchure and airflow techniques you’ll learn while playing the alto will easily transfer to other saxophones, should you decide to change or add a different one to your repertoire. Most student altos feature keys with a loose action that makes it easier to move between notes. Altos are smaller than tenors, meaning they’ll be somewhat lighter to carry and also possibly less expensive.
Take a look at these great beginner altos:
Beginner / Student Tenors
Tenor saxophones are what most people think of when they picture a saxophone. The tenor is incredibly popular in jazz and other styles of music for its mellower, lower pitched sound compared to the alto. While somewhat bigger and heavier, any beginner who is able to handle the weight and size of a student tenor saxophone will be making a great choice. As with the alto, the embouchure and playing techniques will allow you to move easily between other styles of saxophone.
Give these student tenors a try:
Other Styles of Saxophone
The sopranino, soprano, baritone and bass saxophones are better suited to intermediate saxophonists who have already mastered the alto and/or tenor sax. In general, beginner sax players are steered away from these much smaller and much larger models. However, should you choose to play any of these styles, there are some excellent options out there.
Recommended Saxophone Accessories
Players who are starting out should be sure to stock up on quality sax accessories. After the instrument itself, saxophone mouthpieces and saxophone reeds are the most important items to purchase. Every student saxophonist will have his or her own preferences when it comes to mouthpieces and reeds, so be sure to try out many different brands and styles to determine what works best for you.
To protect your investment, you’ll also want to have a great saxophone case, a good mouthpiece cap, and plenty of woodwind care & cleaning supplies on hand. You may also want to buy some basic parts & tools, so you can make minor repairs.
Take a look at some of these top brands for saxophone accessories:
- Popular reed brands include Vandoren, D’Addario Woodwinds, Legere, and Rico
- Student saxophone mouthpieces from Yamaha, Vandoren and Selmer Paris are always excellent choices
- Gard, Protec and GL Cases make durable and affordable cases that will protect your instrument
Buying a Student Saxophone
Deciding to play the saxophone is exciting and you should be proud of your selection. Choosing the right instrument for you or your student is critical, so be sure to give it some serious thought. As with any major decision and purchase, research, experimentation, and advice from professionals are invaluable. Enjoy your beginner saxophone and when you’re ready to step up, check out of our selection of best-selling intermediate alto saxophones.