The saxophone market is awash with instruments marketed as the best saxophones for beginners. But when shopping for a beginner-friendly saxophone, you should always look beyond the marketing clichés. For a sax to qualify as beginner-friendly, it must, above all, be user-friendly.
If you have never played any wind instrument before, it can be confusing to know where to start. Here are a few tips to hopefully help get you off in the right direction as a beginner saxophone player.
There seems to be an endless number of instrument manufacturers these days. In addition to the long-established major players like Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, and Kenilworth, several Chinese manufacturers are making good quality instruments for beginner saxophone players.
If you are unsure about the quality of instruments from a less well-recognized brand, these reviews should help you decide and acquire one. Let’s get started.
Types of Saxophone
There are four common types of saxophone to choose from, plus a bunch of crazy ones that we’ll show you at the end of this article!
- Soprano saxophone
- Alto saxophone
- Tenor saxophone
- Baritone saxophone
What are the Best Brands?
When looking at the best alto saxophone brands, there are five very popular brands that the music world respects. All of these brands manufacture professional quality alto saxophones and ensure their players will be well equipped when performing.
Here are the best saxophone brands for beginners:
One of the most popular brands for young beginners, the Yamaha brand produces fantastic options for kids and students who are starting off and finding an interest in the instrument.
Perhaps they are in the band at school or starting a jazz club up at home. Regardless, Yamaha is the top brand.
The music shops will be heavily equipped with the Yamaha brands, and rightfully so. After all, they have been producing super high-quality student instruments at outstanding prices.
These used to be two separate brands, but they have come together as a merger and have positively impacted jazz music.
Many legends of the past encourage youngsters to go with the Conn-Selmer brand as it has brought them to the place they are today in professional music.
The Conn-Selmer company produces amazing quality saxophones are known for their tone and sound. In addition, they are handmade, making them very unique.
- Mendini by Cecilio
Best for a saxophone on a budget or for those who are looking for a cheap alto saxophone, the Mendini by Cecilio brand can be a great option for you. You can buy these alto saxophones on Amazon, which is great for all of us.
This company produces some of the finest woodwind instruments after being known as a brasswind company for years.
Yanagisawa has been producing some of the highest quality saxophones in today’s music world.
The sound quality you will get when playing a Yanagisawa sax is pure gold. It’s a trustworthy brand, and getting one of these can help any player out.
Rising to the top of the musical instrument-producing companies, Jupiter has stepped up their game. High schools and junior high students have raved about these instruments, especially the alto sax.
Alto and tenor saxophones are the most common for beginners; we’ll go into below for reasons. Still, all 4 have their unique style and attractions, regardless of whether you’re a complete beginner or playing music. For more detail about the type, read our article here.
YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophones Student Alto saxophones
The Yamaha YAS-280 student saxophone is for beginners but is a bit pricey. Students looking for the rich sound that Yamaha specializes in can get behind this instrument and take some serious notes.
This alto saxophone is well built and is fit to last until the user is ready for a professional level sax. The usual ‘intermediate sax’ is unnecessary if this sax is the one you start with. Playing small gigs and practicing with a band is excellent with this model.
The Yamaha YAS-280 is one of the best, if not the best, beginner alto saxophones. It will give you that sound you have heard on albums that brought you to want to play this beautiful instrument. This one will never disappoint.
As a beginner, it cannot be easy to get good with a low-quality saxophone. Many ergonomic features on the instrument determine how easy it is to play.
Some of them include the angles created between the hands, fingers, and wrist. If those angles are efficient and well-crafted, the sax will be much more pleasant to play.
In turn, you’ll be able to practice for much longer. The YAS-280 was built with comfort in mind. This instrument is easy to play and ideal for long practice sessions and rehearsals.
- Easy to find the necessary accessories for this sax and are affordable.
- Depending on where you purchase this specific sax, it will come with a neck strap and a cleaning kit.
- It shows a shiny, smooth, and clean look so you can look your very best on stage.
- Not for professional players.
- Excellent intonation
- Very comfortable to play
- Built with excellent materials
- Visually appealing
- Excellent for beginners
- On the expensive side
- F and F# keys are a bit close together
Lazarro Professional Gold Lacquer Eb E-Flat Alto Saxophone
The Lazarro Professional Black-Gold Keys Eb E Flat Alto Saxophone Sax is the best saxophone you could get for a beginner.
The instrument comes with free accessories and comes in a very beautiful black finish. Customers on Amazon were very impressed with the sound quality and with how good the saxophone looked.
The neck strap that comes with it was also one of the customers’ features by surprise. It’s nothing like the quality you would expect from a beginner saxophone.
The case that comes with the saxophone is also of very high quality. The case is made from hard plastic and has a black exterior finish with a red interior finish.
The case is extremely sturdy. According to the customers who purchased the case, the case also fits perfectly into the overhead compartment.
- Lazarro Alto Saxophones are perfect for any level of Players
- It features quality sound
- It’s durable
- Fantastic for beginners
- It comes with a free mouthpiece, reed, case, and several freebies
- Great sound for the price
- Very easy to play
- Includes a sturdy case and a neck strap
- Sound can be temperamental
- Not as durable as expected
- Some parts may require some cleaning and oiling
EASTROCK Alto Saxophone
Yet another product that East Rock is churning out is my favorite saxophones for the money. East Rock m, any people(including me) are looking for the best saxophones for beginners.
If your a beginner, beginner, and their parents, probably search for Best Alto Saxophone for Beginners. As a good beginner player, you may need a good beginner saxophone.
This is because good saxophone is an essential part of your instrument-playing life.
We think an Alto Saxophone is one of the main instruments for a beginner. For beginners, the tone is easier to play, so it is better to use Alto Saxophone.
It can be easier to learn the notes by using Alto Saxophone. Besides, it is easier to get instruments for an Alto Saxophone, but it is hard to get other instruments for a beginner since it is not common.
Also, with the saxophone, you can find a carrying case, one reed, a plastic mouthpiece, eight cushion pads, one cleaning cloth, one cleaning rod, a pair of gloves, alcohol pads, and a long strap.
It measures 25.5 inches in length, 12.2 inches in width, and 7.3 inches in thickness, and weighs 10.85 pounds.
- Handmade from high-quality materials.
- It has an ergonomic key design for enhanced comfort while playing.
- Visually appealing
- Perfect for beginner/student players
- Bags included and packed well for travel
- Nice weight and balance
- Good construction and materials
- Average mouthpiece.
Glarry Student Alto Eb E-flat SAX
Considered to be a must among beginner and young saxophone students by experienced teachers, this model offers a lot of quality for low economic value. If you are still unsure if playing the saxophone is your passion will last many years, this is an excellent introductory option.
It’s made out of brass for durable performance, and compared to other models, you can find it in different styles according to your preferences, such as plain gold, black, and gold.
If you want something unique, they offer a gold option with a subtle but beautiful hand-carved design.
Its ergonomic design makes it easy to play, offering a vibrant and tuned sound. Luckily for you, it also includes a safety case that can be carried in up to 4 different ways along with one mouthpiece, gloves, three aglets, and a reed.
The Glarry Student Saxophone weighs 135.1 ounces, and its dimensions are 24.01 inches in length, 10.24 inches in width, and 5.51 inches thick.
- If your kids want to study saxophone, it is the best choice
- Durable materials keep your saxophone glossy
- Easy to play, and it has a pleasing vibrant feel with a well-centered sound.
- The case can be carried easily in 4 ways to protect the safety of your saxophone.
- Works great
- Good sound
- Easy to play
Glory Professional Alto Eb SAX
As a beginner saxophone player looking to get your start in the saxophone world, you may not want to spend a lot of money to buy your first saxophone. The Glory Professional Alto Eb SAX Saxophone is an excellent option if you are on a budget.
The Glory Professional Alto Sax features a body made from seasoned grenadilla wood with a gold lacquer finish that feels smooth. The saxophone’s neck features a black plastic composite that allows for a smooth glide of the bow.
The bell and bow are made from stainless steel, and the whole saxophone has a nice classy look to it.
- It can make the perfect choice for a novice, as its compact size ensures that it is easy to use even by a child with small hands.
- The attention to detail is great, as it feels like the manufacturer thought of everything, including the covering of the pads with leather for durability and comfort.
- You can make great use of the key height screws present to obtain the sound you want from playing this instrument.
- Overall, the key layout is very comfortable and intuitive, and the metal thumb rest also contributes to the excellent convenience of this model.
- High-quality materials and craftsmanship
- Excellent intonation
- Great tone, perfect for beginners
- Nice accessories with the purchase
- Good for experienced players
- Not loud enough for professional players
- The mouthpiece is hard to clean
- It does not come assembled
- Not for advanced players
LyxJam Alto Saxophone
Craftmanship can be seen in this instrument that is specially designed to boost the performance of new musicians offering easy mobility in the keys, which are made of faux mother of pearl, accentuating its gold lacquered finish.
The company LyxJam makes sure that good sound quality is a priority for its products and efficiently covers the user’s needs when he or she is playing it.
Plan to travel around with it. You will find it very easy because it also comes with a cushioned case that can be used in up to 4 different ways for your convenience, one strap, greaser, one mouthpiece and ligature, and a cleaning pipe and cloth for any potential dust that may accumulate.
It is tuned at E flat and measures 26.1 inches in length, 12.2 inches in width, and 6.5 inches in thickness. This model is considered to be on the lightweight spectrum being only 9.2 pounds.
- It has excellent tones and responsive action that makes it a great first saxophone for beginners.
- Even professionals are impressed with its quality for a beginner sax
- It has the pristine sound quality
- It’s a high-quality saxophone with sturdy construction
- Produces smooth sound
- It comes with a one year warranty
- Some complaints of not receiving cord grease
- The neck strap feels cheap
ammoon Eb Alto Saxophone
This is one of the best saxophones for beginners. It is a very cheap pick for new saxophone players.
The design is very aesthetically appealing. The case is excellent, thick, and sturdy. It has velcro for the neck, no worries of your saxophone falling out if the case should ever fall over. It is also very light, which makes it easy to carry around.
This saxophone comes with a solid design meant to offer superior performance for many years to come.
You can also make sure that it lasts for a long time by maintaining it in good shape and cleaning it with the included cleaning brush and cloth.
The provided cork grease will allow the mouthpiece to slide easily inside the neck to avoid any damage.
You also get a padded carrying case and a neck strap that you can use to comfortably play the saxophone without tiring your hands while also making sure you don’t drop it by accident.
- If you’re looking for a model that looks just as good as it plays, this is the one for you.
- The black body combined with the gold finishing touches makes this instrument a truly beautiful one. It is a classic design that always impresses.
- It has a soundhole that is accurate, and thanks to that, the instrument can offer you a rich sound every time you play it.
- With leather pads with metal boosters, the saxophone will help you have a comfortable time playing.
- It is made to last for years, and you can increase its lifespan with the help of the cleaning brush and cloth that come with it.
- It comes with an adjustable case
- It is lightweight
- Padded backpack for extra protection while biking
- Good product for beginners
- The setup might be confusing for some
- The strap isn’t very good
YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophones Student Alto saxophones
The quality of Yamaha products is always impressive, and their saxophones, no matter the price, never fall short.
The YAS-280 alto saxophones are classic, full-size, and professional-style saxophones that strike the perfect balance between range and a feeling of comfort.
They are the ideal size and weight for students. They sport high quality, alternate lacquer finishes, and a professional style neck.
The saxophones also come with numerous high-quality accessories, including a lighter for easy practice, string, and mouthpiece.
This Yamaha saxophone set is my favorite saxophone set currently on the market. It is the best saxophone brand for beginners.
The full-size body is something very special is something that many beginner saxophones lack. And with the Yamaha name, you can expect a high-quality product.
- Continuous keyguards
- Adjustable thumb rest
- High F# key
- Bell inner ring
- Front F key
- Brass body
- Body and key mechanism silver-plated
- Very nice sound
- Quality saxophone
Mendini By Cecilio Eb Alto Saxophone
This beginner’s saxophone from Cecilio has a gold body with all the keys you would need to learn. Mendini saxophones have a big bore that favors new players. Because of the intricacies of the many parts used in making the Mendini Alto saxophone, it is tested and perfected from the factory before being sold.
It is perfect for most music instructors and is one of the top choices. One of the major advantages of buying a Mendini saxophone is that it is covered by the one-year worth of manufacturer warranty, covering you against any issues with the saxophone during that time.
The saxophone is also equipped with a chromatic tuner with Metronome that is easy to read and tune instruments. A portable pocket booklet with important information about the saxophone is included.
Other accessories in the saxophone package are gloves for playing, a lint cloth for cleaning, a pack of ten reeds, and a hard carrying case that is well-lined with a plush interior to protect your saxophone during transportation or storage.
This saxophone is quite light and produces a warm tone with the provided mouthpiece. There are enough accessories to keep you playing for a long time without needing another one as you learn how to play.
- Thanks to how it’s made, this saxophone should be a great option for beginner players and experienced saxophonists as well.
- It has a ribbed construction, which makes it strong, meaning that this instrument will last you for years.
- With the Gold lacquer applied to the body, this instrument is undoubtedly a pleasure to look at.
- You get all you need to start performing, including a quality mouthpiece with the ligature and cap, and you also get a pair of soft gloves to treat everything with care.
- It has excellent sound quality.
- Best for beginners
- It’s durable
- You won’t be using the case for too long as it will fall apart rather quickly.
Eastar Alto Saxophone E Flat Student
Instead of the classic brass material, you will find that the AS-II-Ab is made of almost pure copper instead, giving it an antique look for all the vintage lovers; the copper will not be affected by aging or fading and will last many years due to the multilayers of paint on it. 100% welded lead-free to provide safety to all the customers whenever they are playing it or just around it.
High-quality pads made of leather that help hold the airtightness, the needle springs are also made of blue copper for a fast reaction between each note played and pressed.
For the inlaid keys, Eastar decided to use the faux mother of pearl to keep a classic style that matches the antique look of the paint. Each key is also oiled to prevent them from getting rusty or getting stuck.
Suitable for beginner students who are just getting started in the music world and want an easy-to-play saxophone to help them in their journey.
The saxophone is tuned in the standard F# key, so the student doesn’t struggle with tuning. The kit includes different accessories to keep your instrument clean, tidy, properly, and organized like a carrying case, one real leather strap, grease for the cork parts, mouthpiece set, six different reeds, one cloth, a pair of gloves, cleaning brush, and a saxophone stand.
- The Easter AS-II Student Alto Saxophone looks excellent for its price range, with its multilayer painted gold lacquer doesn’t fade with time.
- You will notice that each key comes with a gasket that makes it feel better when pressed and guarantees a longer lifespan.
- Its sound performance will surprise you, as it’s much better than what you may expect for the price, the result of research employed for stabilizing the bass effect.
- Several accessories will make your day, such as the carrying case, that ensures that you will have where to keep your saxophone protected from damage during travels.
- Before being shipped, this saxophone receives a professional tone adjustment.
- Quality materials are used to make this option.
- A variety of accessories to help you clean and play the saxophone are included with your purchase.
- It may be harder to tune this option than some other instruments.
Now that you have a handle on the general types of saxophones and their quality grades, it’s time to look into some of the more specific things to watch out for when you start shopping for your instrument.
These are the details that will help you sift through the finer points of your options, allowing you to choose the perfect saxophone for you.
The traditional material for saxophone bodies is yellow brass, and that’s by far the most common that you’ll find on today’s instruments.
There are some alternatives, however, especially when it comes to bells and necks. It’s not unusual to see a saxophone with a brass body but a different metal for the bell, neck, or both.
Some of these other metals include bronze, copper, and sterling silver. While these alternatives will darken the horn’s tone, they also affect the price and may require special handling.
For these reasons, they’re usually found on professional saxophones. You will be less likely to see exotic metals on an intermediate model and much less likely to see them on a student model.
2. Post Construction
You will notice one feature when looking at saxophones because they are described as having either “ribbed” or “non-ribbed” construction.
This is referring to the way that the posts are attached to the body. The posts are small knobs that stick out from the instrument’s main body, providing attachment points for the key system.
In a ribbed construction, these posts are soldered or brazed to flat pieces of brass, which are in turn attached to the saxophone itself—these “ribs” help to strengthen the posts so that the instrument will better hold its adjustments.
Non-ribbed construction is usually seen in student saxophones and sometimes in vintage American-made models. In these instruments, the posts are attached directly to the body.
Although that does mean sacrificing a bit of strength, it also makes the saxophone more affordable and shaves off some weight, so it has its advantages as well.
3. Key Layout
Although the general key layout is standardized for all saxophones, there are certain additional keys and features that you will find only on some models.
These may help play notes at the edges of the instrument’s range or simply make a note easier to play. Here are the typical ones that you can expect to encounter:
- High F# key:Most modern saxophones have this key, which allows you to much more easily play an altissimo F#, meaning an F# above the high C.
- High G key:Typically found on soprano saxophones, this key simplifies the playing of an altissimo G.
- Front F key:A saxophone with this key allows you to play an altissimo F with your index finger.
- C# resonance key:Selmer Paris Series III alto saxophones are known for this key, which improves the clarity of the middle C#.
- Low A key:This key can be found on most modern baritone saxophones.
- Tilted spatula:The spatula is the pinky key. If the spatula is tilted, it means the angle has been adjusted to give your finger a better grip on it.
With a saxophone, it’s important to note that if the sound isn’t quite what you want, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the entire horn is a no-go.
Changing the neck can make a huge difference in the instrument’s tone and responsiveness, so if you have a saxophone that’s almost right but seems just slightly off, this may be the only change that you need to make.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Where was the alto saxophone invented?
Adolphe Sax is the man who would invent the saxophone in the 19th century. Originally from Dinant, Belgium, Adolphe spent some years in Brussels attending the Royal Conservatory.
Shortly after relocating to Paris in 1841, he began working on a new line of instruments that would lead to the first saxophones.
He obtained a patent for his invention in 1846, but the instrument never became part of the orchestral instruments despite some support.
However, due to the saxophone’s ability to project a strong sound while also being agile and suitable to playing technical parts, the instrument was rapidly adopted by the military in France and other countries.
2. Which alto saxophone should I buy?
There are quite a few options when it comes to finding an alto saxophone. However, there’s no simple answer to which saxophone model you should buy, and there’s no right or wrong option. The choice depends on your level, as you’d probably want a smaller saxophone if you’re just starting.
The budget might also influence your buying decision. You might want to invest a small sum of money on your first saxophone kit or be willing to spend a hefty amount of money on an upgrade, especially if your skills are more advanced.
3. What are these types of saxophones made of?
Most modern saxophones come with bodies that are mainly made of brass. This might surprise you, as these are called woodwind instruments.
The springs that operate the keys and ensure a fast response are usually made of either blued or stainless steel. Most key touches are made of modern plastics or mother of pearl.
There are also deviations from the norm, with some alto saxophones being made of polycarbonate materials, with varying degrees of success.
The reed is usually made of giant cane, while the mouthpiece can be made of rubber, plastic, bronze, or even steel.
4. How to clean an alto saxophone?
Keeping your saxophone clean and maintaining it is extremely important in its performance and how long it lasts.
If you want to keep your beloved instrument in top shape and have it working perfectly for many years to come, then you should learn proper cleaning techniques and clean your sax often.
You can clean the interior with a special cleaning rod, while a flexible swab can help you properly clean the mouthpiece.
A cleaning cloth is also needed for the exterior. You can use cotton swabs to remove grime from the keypads. You might also want to use a special disinfectant for the mouthpiece.
5. What are alto saxophone reeds?
A reed is a part of a woodwind instrument such as the alto saxophone, which creates its distinctive sound.
Contrary to brass instruments where the sound is made with the lips against the mouthpiece, saxophones feature an oscillating wooden reed.
Many reeds are made of Arundo donax cane, although other materials have been used successfully.
Many advanced players will experiment with different types of reeds, which can vary in strength, texture, or cut.
The length of the reed also influences the sound, so saxophonists tend to try many different combinations until they settle on one reed.
Beginner saxophones are challenging to choose without any guide to help you through the way. This Yamaha YAS-280 saxophone review is to help you go through consider the positive and negative outcomes of buying this saxophone.
It is not only an impressively looking instrument but also, you’ll get to hear premium and awesome sound through this instrument! Since it’s designed just for beginners, it has a rather simple design and consumes lesser energy while playing. The manufacturers have included an exceptional mouthpiece with this instrument that will prove to be useful as you go.
Hopefully, you found the best beginner saxophone suitable for you. Use this article as a starting point and find the one that suits you now.