Saxophones have been around since the 1840s and are seen in nearly every genre of music. You hear it in jazz songs, can recognize them in soul songs, and listen to their parts in classical and concert performances. Alto saxophones in particular are one of the most commonly played saxes – in part because they’re so versatile.
If you want to get into playing the alto sax, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll cover everything you need to know to find the alto sax that’s best for you, whether you’re a new musician, purchasing an instrument for a student, or a seasoned pro looking to branch out. We’ll also explore the ten best alto saxophones on the market, diving deep into what makes them stand out and sharing a sound sample for nearly every instrument on our list.
- How to Choose the Right Alto Saxophone
- Top 10 Best Alto Saxophones 2021
- 1. Best Overall Alto Saxophone: Jean Paul USA AS-400 Alto Saxophone
- 2. Best Budget Alto Saxophone: Mendini by Cecilio Saxophone
- 3. Most Included Accessories: Eastar AS-II Alto Saxophone
- 4. Best Premium Alto Saxophone: Yamaha YAS-62 Professional Alto Saxophone
- 5. Best Alto Saxophone for Self-Learners: Yamaha YAS-280
- 6. Best Alto Saxophone for School Students: Lazarro 360-NK
- 7. Best Alto Saxophones for Intermediate Players: Yamaha YAS-480
- 8. Best Alto Saxophone for Serious Students: Selmer SAS280 La Voix II
- 9. Best Alto Saxophone for Professionals: Selmer Paris Series II
- 10. Best Alto Saxophone for New Students: Kaizer Alto Saxophone
- Alto Saxophone FAQ
- Guide to Picking the Perfect Alto Saxophone
- Final Thoughts
How to Choose the Right Alto Saxophone
An alto saxophone is one of the most common saxophones and is pitched at E flat. It’s a solid choice for players of all skill types depending on the style and brand. Below, we’ll cover some of the main factors for you to look for so that you can get into playing your favorite pieces as soon as possible!
Factors to Consider When Buying an Alto Saxophone
While all saxophones might look similar, you’ll need to get down to the details if you want to find your perfect fit. In our reviews, we’ll cover the biggest factors that’ll contribute to finding the right alto sax for you.
Different alto saxes are created for different proficiency levels. If you’re just a beginner, splurging on a professional alto sax may not do much besides drain your bank account. If you’re an advanced player, beginner alto saxes may not get the precise tone and sound that you’re looking for.
While most saxophones are made of brass, some can be made of silver or other expensive ingredients. The keys can be made of metal, plastic, or a variety of other materials as well. Depending on how you envision the look, feel, and sound of the saxophone, you may prefer one material over another.
Alto saxophones can come in different weights. If this will be your first, we recommend going with a lighter alto saxophone so your arms don’t get tired during your first practice sessions. However, once you’ve got some more experience under your belt, you can begin trying out saxophones of different weights that might pique your curiosity.
There’s a wide range of prices when it comes to saxophones. Beginner alto saxophones can be as low as a few hundred dollars, making it a less expensive investment. Professional alto saxophones can end up being thousands of dollars due to their specific material and build style. Purchasing an alto sax isn’t a small decision, so you’ll need to shop with a clear idea of what you’re envisioning. Do you plan on playing as a hobby, or would you like to perform in the future? Knowing your goals will help you determine how much you’re willing to spend on your alto sax.
When it comes to a saxophone, some require more care on your end than others. Taking good care of your alto saxophone means it’ll last much longer, and you shouldn’t have to shell out another few hundred (or thousand) dollars on a replacement anytime soon.
While the maintenance required from you depends on the price and materials, you can also see if the manufacturers offer any warranties so that you can play with peace of mind at the start. You can also read more about maintenance and care for your saxophone here.
With a saxophone, you’ll need to make sure you have all the accessories you need to play successfully. You can learn more about the individual accessories here. Keep accessories in mind when you’re buying a saxophone since they can add up to be costly quickly!
Now that we’ve covered the basics for alto saxophones, we’ll get into our top choices below.
Top 10 Best Alto Saxophones 2021
1. Best Overall Alto Saxophone: Jean Paul USA AS-400 Alto Saxophone
Why we like it:
For a balanced option of price and quality, the Jean Paul alto saxophone is a perfect choice. It gets you consistent tones and sounds when you play without needing you to spend a fortune on your first saxophone.
- Weight:11.8 lbs
- Finish:Brass, Gold, Silver
- Accessories Included:Reeds, Mouthpiece, Case, Cleaning Kit
- Sound Sample:Listen Here
This alto saxophone is good for beginner and intermediate players who are serious about learning. It comes in brass, gold, and silver finishes for you to pick from, and the sound and tone are on point, even when compared to some pricier options. In addition, it’s easy to tune and keep tuned as you play so you won’t constantly have to worry about that.
It comes with many accessories that you might need so that you won’t have to make too many purchases right off the bat. In addition, the key placement is designed so that you’ll be able to play a lot of notes in a short amount of time without the sounds getting muddled as you play. The fluid key design also balances the sound and intonation perfectly for beginners.
The only con is that the cleaning cloth doesn’t come with a string, so you won’t be able to use it to clean the interior of the alto saxophone. However, if you plan on playing the sax for a long time, you’ll need to invest in a high-quality cleaning kit at some point, so upgrading your cleaning kit now isn’t too much of an issue. This saxophone manages to balance price with quality, giving you a well-rounded option.
- Good for beginner and intermediate players
- High-quality sound and tone for its price
- Comes with many accessories to get you started
- Easy to tune and keep in tune
- Key placement designed for fast playing
- The cleaning cloth cannot be used on the interior of the saxophone
2. Best Budget Alto Saxophone: Mendini by Cecilio Saxophone
Why we like it:
The Mendini saxophone is a great choice for beginners who don’t want to splurge. It comes with most of the accessories you’ll need, and the included tuner makes it easy for you to keep your saxophone tuned and functioning.
- Weight:9.63 lbs
- Finish:13 Different Finishes Including Gold Lacquer
- Accessories Included:Tuner, Mouthpiece, Case, Reeds, Neck Strap, Cleaning Kit
- Sound Sample:N/A
If you want to practice on an alto saxophone without needing to drain your bank account, the Mendini sax is a good option. It’s sold as a kit with almost every accessory you’ll need, besides the stand (if you’re wanting one that comes with a stand, too, check out the Eastar saxophone). It’s easy to tune, especially with the included tuner in the kit.
The materials and durability won’t match up to those of a professional saxophone, but they’re still good for the low price point. In addition, this saxophone also comes with a one-year warranty and the case itself is durable enough for most transportations. It also comes with a music pocketbook on saxophones to teach you the basic fingerings and scales.
Once you get more advanced, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to an intermediate saxophone since this one is primarily geared towards beginners. In addition, the tone can be a little too rich for some preferences, so keep that in mind before purchasing. Like many other options, while it does come with many accessories, you may want to purchase your own mouthpiece, reeds, and neck strap.
- Affordable saxophone with relatively high-quality materials
- Sold with many accessories you’ll need
- Comes with a tuner to help you tune your saxophone
- Includes music pocketbook to help you get started
- One year warranty
- Only suitable for beginners
- May need to upgrade some accessories
- The tone can be a little too rich
3. Most Included Accessories: Eastar AS-II Alto Saxophone
Why we like it:
The Eastar AS-II alto saxophone comes with everything you need to get started, from reeds and mouthpieces to a stand! If this is your first purchase, you’ll be able to play without needing to worry about any additional purchases.
- Weight:7.04 lbs
- Finish:Transparent Lacquered Gold
- Accessories Included:Reed, Mouthpiece, Cleaning Kit, Case, Stand, Neck Strap
- Sound Sample:N/A
The Eastar AS-II comes with everything a beginner might need for their saxophone, including a stand to place it on. It’s the only one on this list to include a stand, so you’ll easily be able to get everything set up. In addition, it also has a one year warranty which speaks for its durability and sturdy construction.
The saxophone itself also has leather pads that help with better elasticity when you play, and the tone of the saxophone has minimal noise levels so you can switch between high and low pitches easily. It balances the intonation well for a beginner saxophone and is plenty affordable.
However, once you’re more advanced, you’ll need to purchase a new saxophone for yourself. If you want a saxophone that you’ll be able to use during your beginner and intermediate stages, you should consider the Jean Paul USA Saxophone.
Unfortunately, some of the saxophones do leak, so you may have to return it to the manufacturer after receiving it. While the warranty does cover this, it’s still another step for you to take before you get the perfect sax. In addition, the neck strap and mouthpiece included aren’t the highest quality, so you may want to invest in some other ones on your own.
- Comes with a stand and other accessories
- One year warranty
- The saxophone has leather pads for better playing
- Minimal noise levels when switching between pitches
- Balanced intonation at an affordable price
- Some alto saxophones may arrive with leaks
- The neck strap and mouthpiece may need to be upgraded
- Only suitable for beginner levels
Why we like it:
The Yamaha YAS-62 alto saxophone can keep up with advanced players thanks to a specially designed neck that allows for better control and faster response. This is the perfect choice if you want to purchase one saxophone without needing to upgrade.
- Weight:6 lbs
- Finish:Gold or Silver Finish
- Accessories Included:Case, AS4C Mouthpiece
- Sound Sample:Listen Here
The Yamaha YAS-62 saxophone is suitable for players of all levels, though it is better suited for advanced players. It’s designed for fast playing and responses, with a special 62 saxophone neck that’s narrower than some of the other alto saxes. In addition, the case that’s included is durable for saxophone transportation.
Since this isn’t technically a beginner saxophone, it also doesn’t come with all of the accessories that you may need. However, the saxophone itself is much higher quality than your typical beginner sax, with polyester key buttons, an adjustable thumb rest, and even an AS4C mouthpiece.
It is on the pricier side for a saxophone, but the design of the narrow neck bore gets you a faster response when you play. This in turn leads to better control over the tone and sound of the instrument. In addition, it’s also lighter than many other saxophones, though this can be a pro or a con depending on your preference.
The two-piece bell is also hand-engraved which adds to the overall look of its modern and sleek appearance. Another possible option for professional saxophonists would be the Selmer Paris Series II, which also comes in modern design and is geared towards professional players.
- Made of high-quality materials
- Good for more advanced players
- Polyester key buttons and adjustable thumb rest
- Better control and faster response for sounds and tones
- Durable case for transportation
- Does not come with many accessories
5. Best Alto Saxophone for Self-Learners: Yamaha YAS-280
Why we like it:
For all the self-learners out there, the Yamaha YAS-280 saxophone is a good place to start. It’s an advanced version of a beginner saxophone, letting you experience the joys of a high-quality saxophone without the expensive price point.
- Weight:13.23 lbs
- Finish:Gold Lacquer
- Accessories Included:Neck Strap, Case, Mouthpiece
- Sound Sample:need correction
The Yamaha YAS-280 is a good alto saxophone if you plan on teaching yourself how to play. It’s high quality, and as a result, a little easier to play than some of the lower quality saxophones. It is a slightly more advanced beginner saxophone, so you’ll also be able to use it for many years of practice before upgrading to a more professional alto saxophone.
It does arrive with a sturdy case and neck strap, though the neck strap is a little flimsy. The mouthpiece is suitable for beginners, so once you get more advanced you might want to trade it out for a better one. In addition, this saxophone also includes the high F# key which some of the less expensive options won’t have, and replacement parts are easy to find for this Yamaha sax.
The tabs themselves might need some practice before they’re pressed and depressed easily, and you’ll want to make sure your saxophone is in tune when it first arrives. Unfortunately, this kit does not include a tuner, unlike the kit you receive when you purchase the Mendini saxophone.
However, the tabs for the F and F# keys are close together, so it may be easy to hit one instead of the other during practice. In addition, occasionally, the saxophone may be shipped without a neck strap.
- Advanced model for beginner sax
- Suitable for self-learners of the alto saxophone
- Includes a high F# key
- Easy to find replacement parts for all Yamaha saxophones
- High quality and usable for many years
- The F and F# keys are too close together
- Neck straps are a bit flimsy
- May need to replace the mouthpiece once you get more advanced
6. Best Alto Saxophone for School Students: Lazarro 360-NK
Why we like it:
The Lazarro 360-NK alto saxophone is perfect for students who need a saxophone for their band classes. It comes with most accessories you’ll need and a music pocketbook that has information on the basic fingering positions.
- Weight:7 lbs
- Finish:21 Different Colors and Finishes
- Accessories Included:Mouthpiece, Reeds, Ligature, Case, Strap, Music Pocketbook
- Sound Sample:N/A
For kids learning how to play alto saxophone for their school bands, the Lazarro 360-NK is a handy, budget-friendly option that comes in many different colors and finishes. They’re also durable, which is a must if you need to transport this saxophone to school and back. It also has a music pocketbook with it that contains basic information about fingering and tips to get started.
The saxophone itself is made according to international standards, and all have the same high sound quality and mechanisms despite the different color choices. The student will be able to choose a color that they enjoy, and the saxophone arrives with many of the accessories needed to get started with playing the alto sax.
However, that being said, the accessories for the saxophone aren’t the best, and the reed isn’t very high quality so you may need to purchase more on the side. In addition, you might also want to invest in a better mouthpiece that fits your new reed as well.
As it is less expensive, it can also be relatively harder to tune when compared with other pricier alto saxes and does not arrive with a tuner like the Yamaha YAS-62.
- Durable and budget-friendly
- Comes in many color choices
- Made according to international standards
- Comes with most accessories you’ll need
- Includes a music pocketbook to help beginners
- Requires more tuning
- The accessories included aren’t high quality
- Need to invest in more reeds and a new mouthpiece
7. Best Alto Saxophones for Intermediate Players: Yamaha YAS-480
Why we like it:
The Yamaha YAS-480 saxophone is best for intermediate players who want to step up their practice sessions. With a special seesaw key design and an enhanced professional neck, you’ll be able to play for longer periods of time without discomfort.
- Weight:13.2 lbs
- Accessories Included:Yamaha Case, Mouthpiece, Polishing Cloth, Ligature
- Sound Sample:Listen Here
If you plan on taking your saxophone playing to the next level, the Yamaha YAS-480 is a good choice for you. It’s more expensive than beginner saxophones, but it’s played much easier with a consistent tone. It also comes with an enhanced 62-style professional neck, and it is compatible with other custom Yamaha necks if you ever need to replace it.
The instrument itself is silver plated, and the keys are easy to play, press, and depress when needed. It also has a left-hand seesaw key design to make it more comfortable for long periods of practice. In addition, you’ll be able to have a message or name hand-engraved onto this alto saxophone if you’d want.
However, the case it arrives in is soft, rather than a typical hard shell. This means it won’t be able to withstand strong impacts, so you’ll have to be careful when you transport it. However, a soft case is also lighter than a hard case which could be a plus. In addition, since this isn’t a beginner saxophone, it also won’t come with a cleaning kit so you’ll have to invest in one separately.
Once you do get more advanced, you may want to upgrade to the Yamaha YAS-62 which has the same neck but a higher-quality saxophone body.
- Enhanced 62-style professional neck
- Compatible with other custom Yamaha saxophone necks
- Keys have a seesaw design to make playing more comfortable
- The soft case is lighter to transport
- Can have a message engraved onto the saxophone
- Arrives in a soft alto saxophone case
- Does not come with a cleaning kit
- A more expensive intermediate option
8. Best Alto Saxophone for Serious Students: Selmer SAS280 La Voix II
Why we like it:
If you’re planning on playing more seriously, the Selmer SAS280 is a solid option. With professional key styling and fluid key motions, you’ll easily feel the difference between this and beginner alto saxophones.
- Weight:7 lbs
- Finish:Silver, Black Nickel, Copper Body, Lacquer
- Accessories Included:Case, Mouthpiece, Cap, Ligature
- Sound Sample:Listen Here
The Selmer SAS280 is a bit more expensive than other saxophones on the list, but like many other Selmer products, its quality makes up for the higher price. The saxophone itself has professional key styling to help players with more accurate fingering, and the keys themselves move easily when pressed and depressed.
While switching between registers can cause the tone to sound off, professional musicians can control this with practice to keep the saxophone playing consistent sounds. The design of the saxophone itself is traditional, giving you perfect intonation with blended sounds as you play. From the low end to the altissimo, you’ll be getting high-quality music from this saxophone.
Keep in mind that this saxophone isn’t very well suited for beginners. If you do want an option that can be geared towards the beginner and intermediate skill level, you might want to consider the Jean Paul USA Saxophone instead.
Since switching between registers take a bit of work, and the higher price point of the saxophone makes it a costly investment, we recommend this for intermediate or advanced players. This saxophone also comes with a case, mouthpiece, cap, and ligature.
- Professional key styling
- Keys move fluidly when pressed and depressed
- Full range from low end to altissimo
- Comes with case, mouthpiece, cap, and ligature
- Good intonation and blended tones
- Tones may change when switching between registers
- More expensive product
- Not recommended for beginners
9. Best Alto Saxophone for Professionals: Selmer Paris Series II
Why we like it:
If you plan on playing the alto saxophone professionally, the Selmer Paris Series II is a solid option. It’s sleek and elegant, with a specialized mouthpiece and ergonomic design to make your music sound better without the added physical strain.
- Weight:15.45 lbs
- Accessories Included:Case, Strap, Cleaning Cloth, Mouthpiece, Leather Pads
- Sound Sample:Listen Here
If you’re looking to be a professional saxophone player, the Selmer Paris Series II will take you a long way. It arrives with an S80C mouthpiece that offers an optimized acoustic resonance, and the gold-toned lacquer finish helps it look sleek and elegant as you perform. In addition, the octave neck key is designed to be lighter and easier to press for transitions.
The engraving and design are sleek but traditional, making this the perfect instrument in a modern world. In addition, it comes with an adjustable thumb rest and leather pads to make practicing and playing easier on you, essential for those long rehearsals. The bow to bow ring also has Henri Selmer’s original signature to add to the finished look.
However, keep in mind that this is a high-quality instrument meant for professionals, so the price is much higher when compared to beginner instruments. It has dynamic sound and tone variations when you play, but you’ll need to practice more to be able to get the full benefit from this saxophone.
The high price and skills required mean that this alto sax not a great choice for beginners. If you’re interested in getting a good quality saxophone that is still suitable for beginners, you should consider the Yamaha YAS-62.
- Arrives with S80C mouthpiece
- Design of saxophone is sleek but traditional
- Comes with adjustable thumb rest and leather pads for increased comfort
- Bow to bow ring has Henri Selmer’s engraved signature
- Octave neck key is easy to use
- Need to practice to get full use out of this alto saxophone
- Not suitable for beginners
10. Best Alto Saxophone for New Students: Kaizer Alto Saxophone
Why we like it:
If you’re a new student, the Kaizer alto saxophone is an easy way to help you get started. It comes with a kit of several handy accessories and a 45-day free trial so that you can test out the saxophone before committing to it.
- Weight:7 lbs
- Finish:Nickel, Black Nickel Gold, Lacquer
- Accessories Included:Case, Mouthpiece, Ligature, Cleaning Kit, Lubricant
- Sound Sample:N/A
Kaizer’s alto saxophone comes with a 45-day free trial, so you can return it anytime within this period if you find yourself not enjoying the sax. If it’s your first every saxophone, this is a safe way to test out whether you want to start your hobby as a saxophonist. It also has a lifetime warranty so you’ll be able to get replacement parts for your saxophone if it breaks.
Keep in mind that this saxophone is better suited for recreational players. This means that if you have a child who wants to play the alto sax and is getting ready for their school band, this is probably a better choice for you. This saxophone isn’t as sturdily constructed as other options, and as a result, you may also end up with air leaks (though the warranty covers this).
The saxophone itself comes with enough items to help you get started, such as a case molded for this saxophone, a cleaning kit, and a mouthpiece. It also comes in three different finishes for you to pick from, and the body is made from brass. However, the brass itself is softer than other saxophones, so the sound quality may diminish because of this.
- Comes with a 45-day free trial
- Includes case, mouthpiece, and cleaning kit
- An affordable option for your first alto saxophone
- Three different finishes
- Lifetime warranty
- Material is a little softer causing sound quality to diminish
- Air leaks may occur after extended use
Alto Saxophone FAQ
If you still have questions about the alto saxophone, we’ve got you covered. Below, we answer the most common questions about alto saxes.
Actually, the alto and tenor saxophones are thought to be the best choice for beginner players. The alto saxophone’s size and weight are between the tenor and soprano saxes, and it offers easy fingering positions for new players to learn. Since alto saxophones are also one of the most common types, it’s easy to find many tutorials and videos online that can teach you how to play.
This depends on how seriously you plan on playing. If you only want to play for a few weeks and just want to test it out, it could be more economical to rent a saxophone. However, if you plan on playing as a serious hobby, you end up saving money in the long run by purchasing a saxophone.
Yes, all parts of the alto saxophone are usually replaceable, so you won’t have to purchase an entirely new instrument each time. However, some parts can end up being expensive to replace. Either way, do your best to keep your saxophone in good shape by taking good care of it.
That’s up to you to decide, depending on your skill level and goals. Beginners are better off purchasing a more budget-friendly saxophone, while intermediate players and advanced players may want a higher-quality saxophone to advance their skills. With the wide range of prices, there’s sure to be a saxophone that falls within your budget.
Guide to Picking the Perfect Alto Saxophone
While alto saxophones are one of the more affordable saxophone types, you still want to make sure that you purchase the right one for yourself. After all, you’ll want a saxophone that you genuinely enjoy playing if you ever want to start practicing your jazz licks with ease!
Introduction to Alto Saxophones
Alto saxophones are commonly pitched in E-flat and are one of the most used saxophones alongside the soprano and tenor saxes. Since they’re so widespread, you’ll find that a lot of saxophone music is played using alto saxes, making this a good choice for beginners who are teaching themselves how to play.
Which Saxophone Type Is Right for Me?
When it comes to saxophones, there are technically 14 types that are available for use. However, we’ll only be looking at the differences between the top three types to help you figure out the best choice for your goals. We’ll cover these three types from lowest sounding saxophone to highest sounding saxophone.
The tenor saxophone has the lowest sounds out of the three, and this contributes to a deeper tonality. Aside from sound, the fingering positions for the tenor and alto saxophones are identical with the same positions needed, even though the tenor saxophone is a B-flat instrument.
However, the space between the keys themselves are a little more pronounced on the tenor saxophone, so if you have smaller hands you may prefer an alto saxophone. The tenor sax is also the biggest and heaviest option out of the three and requires more air to play when compared to the alto and soprano.
The alto saxophone is a good mix between the tenor and soprano saxes, though it’s the only one of the three in E-flat rather than B-flat pitch. However, due to the balanced combination, it also makes it known as a “beginner” saxophone, since more players start out practicing on an alto.
While the alto saxophone is lighter and smaller than the tenor saxophone, it’s still bigger than soprano saxes. The tones from an alto saxophone are the traditional tones you might expect to hear when jazz music plays, and its widespread use makes it easy to find online videos that can teach you how to get started or offer you inspiration.
Soprano saxophones are the smallest of the three, but also requires more skill than the alto or tenor saxophone choices. Because it’s both higher pitched and smaller, it comes without a bend and requires more practice to create a good sound from it. You’ll need to work harder to stay in tune.
However, if the music you want to play often comes in higher pitches, you may want to consider the soprano. They also come in a straight body rather than a curved body and don’t have a bend like alto and tenor saxophones have.
Alto Saxophone Materials
While we covered a bit of the main features in saxophones above, we’ll be diving into the composition and material makeup of these instruments now. The design, brass, and finish can all contribute to the tone of the alto saxophone.
Saxophones are usually made of brass, and they can contain different concentrations of copper and zinc. In addition, some can also be made of bronze, silver, or plastic, all of which affect the overall tone that your alto saxophone produces. Because these sounds are slightly different from each other, we’ve provided a sound sample for nearly every saxophone listed above.
Testing the Saxophone
Before you start playing on your saxophone that you’ve purchased, you’ll want to test it first to make sure everything is in order. You should go through all parts of the instruments and make sure nothing is broken. This means you should focus on the intonation, keys, and if there’s any leaking.
When you check intonation, you want to make sure the saxophone can be tuned and used properly. You can do this by moving the mouthpiece into the neck to get sharper sounds, and pulling it away from the neck to get flatter sounds. Repeat the process one or two times to make sure you can hear a difference.
With key function, you’ll need to press down on each key and make sure it rises again quickly to the starting position. You’ll also want to check the sound quality of every note when you play and make sure it’s in the right pitch. With leaking pads, you’ll need to examine the exterior of the saxophone to make sure it doesn’t look broken.
Purchasing a saxophone is fine and all, but you’ll need to outfit your new investment with some handy accessories to get the most use out of it. While beginner saxophones may come as a kit with most of the accessories that you’ll need, such as the Eastar saxophone, intermediate and advanced saxophones will require you to buy the accessories on your own.
Below, we’ll cover the basis for what every musician should buy along with their saxophone.
Reeds and Mouthpieces
The reed and mouthpiece are essential accessories for your alto saxophone. While most beginner saxes might come with them included, you may want to purchase your own if you have a specific tone and sound in mind.
The biggest factor in choosing a reed is the reed thickness. Reeds normally range from 2 to 5, where 2 is on the thinner side and 5 is on the thicker side. Thinner reeds are easier for beginners to use since they vibrate with less effort, and play with a brighter tone. This tone also makes thinner reeds idea for jazz and pop music genres.
Thicker reeds have a warmer tone and are harder for beginners to use. However, this isn’t to say that all advanced players should solely stick to thicker reeds, since they may want the brighter tone that thinner reeds offer.
Reeds are also meant to be replaced, so you’ll need to account for that in your budget. However, resin reeds are easy to maintain and last longer than some of the more traditional reeds available in the market. Our recommended reeds would be the D’Addario Rico Alto Sax Reeds.
The reed needs to fit with the mouthpiece for you to reach the reed’s full potential. While there are jazz mouthpieces and classical mouthpieces, different combinations of reeds and mouthpieces get you different sounds and tones. The mouthpiece is also connected to the neck of the saxophone using a ligature.
For example, a deeper tone can be achieved by using a mouthpiece with a large tip opening and a reed on the thicker side. Our favorite mouthpiece is the Yamaha 4C.
When you’re not playing your saxophone, you definitely don’t want to have to carry it around with you on your breaks. And sure, you could put it in your case, but then you’ll have to continuously zip and unzip your bag to get your saxophone out!
With a saxophone stand, you can safely place your saxophone in an easy-to-reach place where it’s safe and out of danger, without needing any more work on your end. One of our recommended alto saxophone stands would be the Hercules DS530B which can fold up to easily carry on your trips.
When you’re playing the saxophone, it’s all too easy for your mouthpiece to get loose once you get a few hours into a practice session. Mouthpiece cushions can protect both your teeth from your mouthpiece and your mouthpiece from your teeth. They can also dampen the vibrations in your mouth as you play. Our favorite mouthpiece cushions would be the Wingkind cushions.
We all know that saxophones can get expensive. The last thing you want is for your new saxophone to break in your car when you drive over a pothole a little too quickly! Saxophone cases often have a cushion around the edge and make transporting your prized sax much less stressful on your end.
Some also come with mouthpiece storage, such as the Gator Cases saxophone case. Besides, you’ll be much better off carrying a case with a strap around, than transporting your saxophone and mouthpiece separately on your own.
Saxophone straps go around your neck and connect to your saxophone so that it won’t hit the floor when you let go. They’re like a safeguard, and essential if you don’t want your prized instrument hitting the ground too hard. Our recommended saxophone strap would be the Rinastore strap.
Maintenance and Care
When it comes to your saxophone, you want it to last as long as possible so you won’t have to worry about replacing it. This means taking good care of your alto sax, even if it takes a few extra minutes per day. If you’re not sure you have all of the materials to clean your saxophone effectively, you can also consider investing in a portable alto saxophone cleaning kit, such as the Luvay care kit.
The mouthpiece should be cleaned after each use by getting wiped down and sanitized. Also, make sure to remove it from the body of the saxophone and clean it carefully with a soft cloth.
When it comes to the saxophone neck, you’ll need to disassemble the instrument to get access to the inside in addition to the outside. You’ll then need to carefully clean the inside and outside using a cloth to make sure that all pieces of the saxophone stay sanitary.
The alto saxophone is versatile and timeless, used by jazz and classical players for decades. It’s one of the most beginner-friendly saxophones and contains enough nuance and expression for advanced players to continuously improve. If you’re interested in getting into playing the saxophone or looking for a way to sharpen your jazz skills, the alto saxophone is a solid choice for you.