The Saxophone Buyers' Guide

The Saxophone Family

The four most commonly used saxophones are, from highest in pitch to lowest: The Soprano, the Alto, the Tenor and the Baritone. For most beginners, it is advisable to start on the Alto Saxophone as it is arguably the easiest saxophone to play and is comfortable to hold.
  • Alto Saxophone - The Alto is in the key of Eb and is probably the most commonly used of all saxophones.
  • Soprano Saxophone - The Soprano, whilst being smaller and weighing less than the Alto, does present more of a challenge for the player and therefore is not recommended as a starter instrument. It requires greater breath control and a more developed embouchure in order to produce a good sound and play in tune. The Soprano in in the key of Bb and is most often seen with a straight body, but curved Sopranos are available.
  • Tenor Saxophone - The Tenor Saxophone sounds a fifth below the Alto and a full octave below the Soprano. It is considerably larger than both the Alto and Soprano Saxophones and is similar to the Alto in terms of playability but, due to its larger size, it is not an ideal starter instrument for a young child. It would, however, be perfectly suitable for an adult or teenage beginner.
  • Baritone Saxophone - The Baritone plays an octave below the Alto and is the largest of the four saxophones. Being heavier and requiring some effort, we wouldn’t advise the baritone as a starter instrument.

Saxophone Manufacturers

  • Stagg - The Stagg saxophones are made in China and are our entry level instruments. They represent good value for money and give beginners the opportunity to get started without breaking the bank. However, we would usually recommend that after a year or so of playing, if the player is progressing well, they should be looking to upgrade to higher quality instrument such as a Jupiter or Yamaha.
  • Jupiter - Coming Soon
  • Yamaha - The Yamaha saxophones, from the entry level to the professional level, are good quality instruments. Yamaha’s manufacturing standards are consistently high and the build quality tends to be very good. Whilst the Yamahas are more expensive than the Jupiter or Stagg instruments they are undoubtedly of a higher standard with improved intonation and a better sound.

Saxophone Accessories

  • Reeds - The reed attaches the mouthpiece and is held in place by the ligature (see below). As air is blown through the mouthpiece the reed vibrates thereby producing the sound. Beginners should start on a lower strength reed, usually strength 1½ but sometimes strength 1 whilst the muscles in their mouth are still developing. A good reed can make a big difference to the tone and playability of your saxophone and it is well worth buying good quality reeds and trying out a few brands to find one that suits you.
  • Ligature - The ligature holds the reed onto the mouthpiece. New saxophones will come complete with a ligature and mouthpiece. These ligatures are usually a simple metallic device with two adjusters to strengthen or loosen the ligatures grip on the reed. Some players will wish to upgrade their ligature and we stock a number of ligatures to accommodate this.
  • Strap - All new saxophones will come with a basic adjustable neck strap. If the instrument is still uncomfortably heavy, a harness can be purchased, designed to distribute the weight around the upper body.