As a saxophone player, whether a beginner or very experienced, you want to improve your sound. Learning new music, working on that ever-elusive perfect tone, and becoming more comfortable playing for an audience are ongoing endeavors. Many factors affect your playing, some obvious, and some you may not have thought about recently.

Your Equipment

First and foremost, play the best instrument you can afford. If you’ve been playing a beginner or student instrument, consider stepping up to an intermediate horn. If you’ve always wanted a Selmer saxophone, the Selmer SAS280 is a dream to play and very affordable with financing. Similarly, if you’ve been playing an intermediate sax that you love, but have a craving for something new, check out some professional level instruments and decide if it’s time to trade up. Yamaha makes superior, yet affordable, saxophones such as the Yamaha YAS-62III silver plated professional model.

If you aren’t able to invest in a new instrument, you can affordably purchase a new, superior mouthpiece. If you play or are interested in playing more than one music genre, it is worth purchasing multiple mouthpieces that will better accommodate different styles.

Also pay attention to your ligature. Get in the habit of tightening it regularly and if you don’t like the sound you’re producing, replace it. Because your sound is generated through the vibrations of the mouthpiece and the reed, and the ligature holds them together, the ligature can definitely affect your sound! A leather or synthetic ligature provides a rounder sound, while a metal ligature gives higher volume and projection in the sound. Experiment with different materials.

Commit to using only high-quality reeds. Because they are replaced so frequently, reeds represent a real expense, but you will spend less in the long run by purchasing the best available. By the way, never leave the reed in your mouthpiece!

Service your instrument annually. Your saxophone represents a significant investment and keeping it clean and well maintained will extend its life and value.

Your Technique

Breathe! You’ve heard it before, but it matters no matter your playing level. Learning to consistently use deep breathing from your diaphragm will do wonders for your sound. Record yourself playing the same phrase first with normal, shallow breathing and then, again, with deep breathing. The difference can be huge.

Posture and position are essential to playing your sax. Playing position affects the angle at which your fingers reach the keys, so it is important to be consistent. Good posture will also help with breathing.

Pay attention to your physical movements. Are you pressing the keys too hard? Are you moving around more than necessary? Are you using a neck strap? Are you practicing or playing to embouchure exhaustion? Anything that causes fatigue will impact your playing.

Make working on timing a habit. When you’re learning a new piece of music, use your metronome or, if appropriate, a backing track.

Your Inspiration

Some days when you settle in to practice, you’re in the zone. Everything comes easily and time flies by. But not every day is like that. If you’re experiencing this, try a couple of these tips to refocus:

  • Set a goal. Knowing that you’re working towards a specific goal provides focus and renewed purpose.
  • Make a playlist of tracks from your favorite musicians and listen to them when you need inspiration. What is it about their style and sound that draws you in time and again?
  • Set aside time to read about and research your instrument and your favorite musicians. Watch some of the terrific content available online. There may be a story or idea that is just what you need. There are countless YouTube videos, podcasts and blogs to explore.
  • Incorporate meditation or mindfulness into your routine. This can help you focus and be present in the moment, which can really help your practice routine.
  • Take a break. If you just can’t get your head into practicing, do something else like taking a walk or straightening up your music room. Creativity and inspired playing can’t be forced.

Buying a Saxophone with Woodwind & Brasswind

Becoming an accomplished musician takes a lot of work, but brings great satisfaction.

You can count on products and expertise from Woodwind & Brasswind, which has been meeting the needs of students and professionals for decades.

Each purchase is backed by Woodwind & Brasswind's 100% Satisfaction Guarantee, giving you 45 days to decide if the instrument is right for you. If it’s not everything you need it to be, you can return it for a full refund.* While making sure you find the right instrument is important, making sure the price is right matters, too, and Woodwind & Brasswind’s 45-Day Price guarantee means that if you find the same model saxophone for less elsewhere, we’ll make up the difference. As musicians of all levels have done for decades, you can buy from Woodwind & Brasswind with complete confidence that you received the best instrument for the very best price.