The alto saxophone has been a part of the modern American culture for generations. The smooth sound coming from the bowl has sustained jazz performers playing on street corners during the Great Depression, hoping that someone would drop a loaf of bread by their feet.
The melodies from the best alto saxophones have resonated in jazz clubs for decades and crossed over into popular music-making; the Saxophone an instrument to be admired, revered, and respected in all genres.
The alto saxophone is always on an E flat pitch, and one of the most incredible things about the Saxophone is that the fingerings are the same on every single model.
This means that if you can play one Saxophone you can play them all, making it one of the most accessible instruments to learn and play. Before we dive into the top list, let’s discuss different types of saxophones.
Different Types of Saxophones
As you may have assumed by now, saxophones come in a few different variants. The primary division is on baritone, tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones. Of course, there are also the super-small soprillo and sopranino and super-large contrabass, bass, and tubax saxophones. However, you won’t be looking into these if you’re a beginner as they’re fairly specific in their use. So it’s just the four basic types: soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.
This is the smallest of these main four types; the soprano sax gets pretty close to an average clarinet. What’s more, it’s even an utterly straight instrument in most cases, and it’s in the key of B-flat. However, they might be challenging to beginners, mostly due to having a smaller mouthpiece and requiring more air pressure to make them sound good.
Alto sax is easily the best option for absolute beginners. It comes with the conventional curved shape; it’s a bit larger than the soprano sax, although it’s still pretty light. Additionally, you won’t need more muscle work to make it sound right. Alto saxophones are pitched in the key of E-flat and can usually reach the high F-sharp note in most cases.
Tenor saxophones are the “standard” and are what is usually associated with this group of instruments. They’re pitched in B-flat, but it’s an octave below the soprano saxophone. Of course, this also comes with a larger mouthpiece, ligature, and reed compared to the alto and soprano. Tenor sax is most commonly used as a lead instrument in jazz music.
While, at first glance, it might not look like a saxophone, baritone belongs to this group of instruments and is the lowest-pitched one of the four basic types. In most cases today, they’ve pitched in the key of E-flat, exactly one octave below alto saxophones.
Our article will be reviewing alto saxophone, our top list features, and factors we considered while preparing our list.
Below we take a look at Most Expensive Alto Sax. We are finding the best Alto Saxophone, or Alto Sax, as it is commonly referred to as being challenging.
This is mainly because of the number of sax brands producing very similar models, meaning it can be hard to find stand-out products. Let’s get started.
Selmer La Voic ll Alto Saxophone Outfit
The SAS280 La Voix II alto saxophone is a quality instrument that comes well-equipped for the advanced player.
The SAS280 is built to provide the best sound possible, with a yellow brass body and a traditional bell shape that produce a focused tone and ease control of pitch.
Blending the notes becomes easier for a better overall sound experience.
This Saxophone is in the Eb key and provides a decently warm sound. Another more professional feature of this instrument is the essential styling.
Styled ergonomically, you would more commonly find on pricier models, the key placements allow for more comfortable fingering and a more effortless playing experience. The result is a smoother, more fluid sound.
The SAS280 Saxophone is a good-looking instrument with expert craftsmanship you can expect from Selmer.
It comes in a variety of lacquer finishes to better fit your aesthetic preference.
What is the Most Expensive Saxophone
Other features on this Saxophone include treated leather pads with metal resonators, plenty of adjustment screws, a mini rib construction, and a neck made to minimize resistance when in use.
It includes a carrying case, a mouthpiece with a ligature, and a caring kit for maintaining your instrument.
The Selmer SAS280 is undoubtedly a quality instrument, but some find that the sound seems brighter than expected, especially compared to the richer sounds of Selmer’s own Paris series instruments.
- Clear Lacquered body, neck, and bell
- High F# Key
- Includes: Trek-style case, Selmer mouthpiece, ligature and cap, and care products
- Multiple adjusting screws
- Leather pads are treated for more extended wear
- Keys are light to the touch allowing for faster finger action
- Keys can loosen over time, requiring adjustment.
YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophones
The YAMAHA YAS-280 is known for being one of the best student alto saxophones currently available to purchase.
Yamaha is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of alto saxophones, so buying with such a reputable company is a good idea, especially when purchasing a beginner alto saxophonist.
Constructed with yellow brass and a gold lacquer finish, the YAMAHA YAS-280 is true to the traditional design features of an alto saxophone.
There is an option to get the instrument with a silver-plated finish if you prefer that style.
The YAMAHA YAS-280 is made in the classic E flat key. It includes the high F sharp and front F auxiliary keys to allow students the opportunity to reach all the notes that professionals will be accustomed to.
One of the significant aspects of purchasing the YAMAHA YAS-280 is that it comes equipped with a solid and durable case, giving students peace of mind when traveling to practices and gigs.
The instrument also contains various upgrades from previous student models. These include a new neck receiver which comes with a durable screw to improve the responsiveness and durability of the mechanism.
The low B-C sharp connection is also significantly improved to create a clear response from those notes.
Another technical addition is an adjustable thumb rest which allows for precise and comfortable hand positions when playing the YAMAHA YAS-280.
Yamaha has got everything covered when it comes to comfort and precision engineering. This gives students the best chance of successfully learning the instrument.
- It Is Ergonomically Designed
- Robust neck receiver
- Ease To Access Notes
- Stylish design
- It is constructed from a light but durable frame.
- Yamaha 280 comes with a bonus storage case.
- Its keys are responsive.
- It comes with a bonus backpack.
- The student saxophone is coated with a gold lacquer finish for a more professional look.
- Yamaha 280 is pricier than most beginner saxophonists.
- It lacks a cleaning kit.
- Yamaha 280 is not ideal for a professional saxophonist.
Selmer AS42 Professional Alto Saxophone Black Nickel
The Selmer AS42 is an entry-level professional alto saxophone, designed best for new professional players who have only previously used beginner or intermediate alto saxophones.
Constructed from yellow brass but with a black nickel finish, this alto saxophone has a distinctive silver-looking appearance that will undoubtedly make players stand out from the crowd.
The Selmer AS42 is a high-quality alto saxophone through its various design features. The neck and mouthpiece are made from Henri Selmer’s Paris patented design.
The instrument includes many engravings on the bell, which reveal the yellow brass beneath.
It also features known as essentials for modern alto saxophones, including a high F sharp auxiliary key and an adjustable thumb rest to give extra comfort while playing.
The instrument also features multiple adjusting screws to help players customize the instrument to their preferences.
The Selmer AS42 contains a fully ribbed construction which is common among professional alto saxophones.
This means that the instrument’s sound is warm, but the feel of the instrument is heavy.
For those who are lighter-bodied and need to play the Saxophone over long periods, alto sax’s like the Selmer AS42 can be pretty hard work.
Despite this, investing a significant about of money in the Selmer AS42 is a sure-fire investment in quality engineering that produces beautiful hearty and warm alto saxophone tones.
This instrument is perfect for a solo player who has to perform many improvisations. The appearance and tone of the Selmer AS42 deliver a substantial impact on an audience.
- Silver body with beautifully engraved pattern
- Henri Selmer Paris neck
- Henri Selmer Paris mouthpiece
- Ribbed construction
- Blue steel springs
- High F# key
- Multiple adjusting screws
- Includes a beautiful carrying case
- It weighs 15 pounds, with a dimension of 10 × 14 × 29 inches
- Instrument key E-flat
- Rich tones both in altissimo and lower notes.
- Comfortable hold and essential play
- It may come at a higher price point
Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone
The Jean-Paul USA AS-400 is one of the best budget pick alto saxophones currently available.
Accessible at a supremely affordable price, this alto saxophone is designed with beginners and young players in mind.
The price point is also designed to make the Saxophone accessible to new players as other products required a hefty investment.
Constructed with yellow brass and a lacquer finish, the Jean-Paul USA AS-400 gives apparent visual similarity with more expensive professional products.
Suppose you are a beginner or simply looking for an affordable saxophone. In that case, this alto saxophone will allow you to save money and fit in with the rest of the ensemble, as the cheaper construction does not radically affect visual appearance.
The Jean-Paul USA AS-400 includes a carry case for that extra durability, as well as a cleaning kit to help you maintain the instrument.
It is always essential for beginner players to get used to maintaining their instrument from the start; otherwise, bad habits will make the instrument decay over time.
The Jean-Paul USA AS-400 includes a nickel-plated mouthpiece and nylon resonators to add comfort and quality to the produced sound.
Although these features are not as precisely engineered as other more expensive alto saxophones, the sound produced is sufficient for a beginner to become accustomed to the alto saxophone.
The Jean-Paul USA AS-400 is non-ribbed, making it slightly lighter to play, which is ideal for younger players. This is an instrument designed to be a gateway into the world of alto saxophones.
- It is constructed with a lacquered beautiful yellow brass for its body.
- The alto saxophone is in Eb key
- It has even essential action
- It has a robust contoured carrying caseto ease transportation
- It comes with 1 Rico reed, a carrying case, and grease, a pair of gloves, cleaning cloth, swabs, and mouthpiece.
- This piece weighs 2 pounds, with a dimension of 7 × 26 ×12 inches.
- Model number AS-400
- It is designed for beginners and intermediate players.
- Affordable price
- Gateway instrument
- Less quality design
- No engravings
THE WILMINGTON ALTO Eb Alto Saxophone
The world deserves a saxophone made well, plays great and in tune, and is entirely repairable. The Wilmington Alto Sax is precisely that. An excellent and well-made saxophone that is not unbelievably expensive.
Don’t be fooled by the reasonable price of this outstanding Saxophone; it is made thoughtfully and solidly and under the watchful eye of professional saxophone repair technicians.
The Wilmington alto is a great no-nonsense instrument, priced as a student-level instrument but standing up mechanically against many professional models.
It plays with a warm, clean tone and has an ample low end. The entire body is made of nickel silver, which we believe is a factor in its resonant and rich sound character. This material is very hard and resists denting and bending.
The body is sandblasted inside and out for a satin finish and coated with clear lacquer. The engraving on the bell was designed by Jaice Dumars and carried out with traditional hand engraving techniques.
- Key contacts under Side Bb, C, and E. High F# key. Adjustable Low C# to Low B mechanism.
- Most of the keys are mounted on pivot screws instead of rods for a longer-lasting setup.
- All screws and rods are stainless steel to avoid rusting.
- The octave stem is designed to sit below the tenon to reduce the possibility of getting bent.
- The nickel Silver body is much more rigid than a traditional brass body and will resist bending, denting, and misalignment.
- It’s fairly easy to play
- It’s versatile
- Learning other woodwinds will be easier
- It can be played solo or with a band
- It improves your memory
- Your first few lessons will sound honky
- They can be cumbersome to carry
Mendini By Cecilio Eb Alto Saxophone
If you are just a beginner and on a budget, then the Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L is the perfect instrument to start learning on.
It has everything the best alto saxophone for beginners should have at a fraction of the price. It is sold as a kit, so the user can get all the accessories needed to play the Sax.
For the beginning stages of an awesome career in playing the Saxophone, this Sax is a perfect, budget-friendly instrument to start making beautiful music.
It is important to note that the user will grow out of it, so the price is so lovely because you can still save up for that incredible Saxophone that you will use to dazzle the crowd in that underground jazz club.
This alto saxophone comes with a whole host of accessories, again making it perfect for beginners. These saxophones extras consist of a highly durable hardshell case, neck strap, 10x 2.5″ reeds, a cloth and rod for essential cleaning, and a pair of gloves. Also, as a bonus, Cecilio has thrown in a 92-D tuner and a pocketbook.
The warranty on the Mendini is for one year covering manufacturing defects. It is made of a rose brass body and weighs around 12 pounds meaning it shouldn’t be too heavy for young players.
- The Mendini is ideal for beginners yet also suitable for accomplished players.
- It is pitched at E flat with a high F sharp and boasts an impressive construction.
- It has a ribbed build and high-quality stainless steel tone boosters.
- The low B flat spatula keys have been designed in a tilted style, making it exceptionally easy to play and wonderfully simple for new saxophonists to achieve a great sound.
- Quality construction and sound
- It comes with an excellent range of accessories
- Lightweight and durable
- The inlays are a faux mother of pearl, which is expected for the price but still a con.
- The materials are of lower quality than a more expensive saxophone.
ammoon Alto Saxophone
This alto saxophone from Ammoon is one of the most elegant-looking horns on the market right now, which is staggering considering its price tag.
It is made of a gorgeous red bronze with a striking antique finish and a carved pattern surface that make this Sax stand out.
It is designed for professional and novice saxophonists alike and is suitable for solo players and used within jazz bands and classical music accompaniment.
It boasts water-resistant pads and a bluing steel needle for maximum durability. The abalone shell key inlays are super comfortable and make playing easy and free-flowing.
In terms of accessories and associated equipment, Ammoon has outdone themselves. It comes with a professional carrying case measuring 24x6x11″, which is generously padded for maximum protection.
Should you opt for this alto saxophone, you will not only be getting a quality product but also a whole host of essential supplies to keep you stocked up for the foreseeable future.
With alto saxophones in this price range, many players can be hesitant, and rightfully so as there are enough horror stories out there to put anyone off.
However, they have no choice as horns in the high hundreds, or even thousands of dollars are just not feasible for many.
However, you can rest assured that this release from Ammoon would be a fantastic first saxophone for fledgling players of any age yet has the quality and durability to continue impressing you as you improve progress.
- It is made of red bronze.
- Antique surface design with carve pattern.
- It has water-resistant leather pads and bluing steel needles.
- Comfortable shell key inlays.
- There is also a high-quality mouthpiece, cleaning cloth, straps, gloves, cork grease, and much more.
- This alto saxophones range is E flat to F sharp, and it hits the full complement flawlessly.
- Suitable for players of all levels, this could easily be a beginner purchase that lasts you a lifetime.
- Gorgeous design and build
- Great accessory range
- Excellent value for money
Prelude Student Model AS711 Alto Saxophone
The Conn-Selmer AS711 is a Prelude student alto saxophone. The essential design is made to allow correct and comfortable hand positioning.
It has a yellow brass body which includes ribbed construction and a detachable reinforced body to bow connection, giving it added strength and durability.
The Prelude series of entry-level instruments are built to stringent specifications and is at relatively affordable prices. They combine value and performance, making them excellent choices for student bands.
The features of this Sax include the left-hand table rocker mechanism with an articulated C# adjusting screw.
It also has a High F# key carved mouthpiece with the cap and a ligature, neck strap, engraved bell, dark lacquered body, and access.
Cork grease, as well as an adjustable metal right-hand rest for the thumb #2-1/2, Reed, child leather pads and metal resonators, and a hard shell carrying case. It also includes necessary accessories and a maintenance kit.
- Yellow brass body with clear lacquer finish
- Yellow brass key material
- It comes with a hard carrying case, reed, mouthpiece, cork grease, ligature and neck strap, and maintenance kit.
- It weighs 3 pounds, with a dimension of 28 × five × 9 inches
- The instrument key is F
- Model number AS711
- Made from high-quality materials
- Fairly reasonable price considering its qualities
- Excellent tone
- It comes with a great hard case
- Nothing at this price level
Before you purchase a new sax, you should take some time to consider how you will use it and what you intend to do with it to ensure you get the most out of it for the amount of money you’re prepared to pay.
This will be key, as saxes have limited storage space and, as such, might not be the right size for everyone.
If you want to have as much space as possible to store all of your musical equipment, then sax size is of paramount importance.
To find the perfect Sax for yourself, measure the length of its arms, find out how many buttons it has, and check the measurement of whatever case it is that you plan on using it in.
A good sax is easy to play. Sax players and students will tell you that it doesn’t matter how good the sound is; if it isn’t playable, no matter what, that Sax isn’t for me.
A saxophone that doesn’t allow you to maneuver around the buttons and give you the option to add some extra breathing or breathing exercises will not turn out the way you hope.
Construction and Materials
Construction-wise, saxophones can be ribbed or non-ribbed. However, almost all of the modern saxophones feature ribbed construction.
If you’re not familiar, this is about the posts or the knobs on the body that hold the keys and how they’re attached to the body.
However, student-oriented saxophones, as well as those that replicate vintage stuff, are non-ribbed.
This particular trait can make the instrument feel noticeably lighter, which is a good thing if you’re a younger beginner.
When it comes to building materials, saxophones are most commonly made out of yellow brass. However, there are also saxophones with either entire bodies or just specific components made out of other materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 more miniature 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.
Who invented the alto saxophone?
The alto saxophone is part of the saxophone family of instruments invented by a Belgian guy named Adolphe Sax.
His father was also an instrument maker, so he built and repaired instruments from a young age.
The skills learned in his father’s shop allowed him to experiment with bass clarinets, eventually inventing the Saxophone in 1846.
The innovative approach of Sax was to combine the agile frame of a woodwind instrument with the projection of a larger brass instrument.
The first versions of the alto saxophone had fewer keys than modern models, with legends such as Bb, high E, and F being absent.
Who is the best alto saxophone player in the world?
There are lots of fantastic saxophone players in the world, and there’s no way you can point to a particular musician and say that he or she is the best.
Saxophones have been used in various genres, with many great musicians creating their style and staple sound.
While you can’t talk about the best saxophone player in the world, you can talk about influential musicians who helped develop and refine alto saxophone vocabulary and technique.
Among some of the most popular were Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker, and Cannonball Adderley.
How much does an alto saxophone usually weigh?
An alto saxophone typically weighs around 4 pounds and 5 ounces. This is about double the weight of soprano sax but less than half of the weight of a baritone saxophone.
The weight of alto saxophones and other sax types had considerably increased from the lightweight instruments of the 1920s when they first reached the spotlight.
However, the weight has stabilized in the late 1960s. Since alto saxophones are more compact and lighter than most of their counterparts, these make great instruments for beginners since they’re easier to play and handhold, not to mention somewhat cheaper.
What are the best saxophones for beginners?
If you are new to the world of Sax, it can be overwhelming at first, but you will indeed find a model that suits you. Its lightweight design should make it easy to grip and to move around. With this instrument, beginners can get started on a musical journey.
Saxophonists are a category of musicians who are very lucky to have so many incredible instruments available to them.
Many brands in this area take incredible pride in the craftsmanship that goes into their products, and the sounds they create are just fantastic.
The brands mentioned above are some of the best saxophone brands in the world. It is nearly impossible to miss them in bands, ensembles, and music stores. They will produce the sound you want to express each time you play.
Hopefully, this guide is helpful enough to get you on the right track to purchasing the best beginner saxophone for your needs, wants, and desires. Feel free to share our post