How to Find the Best Alto Saxophone: Our Top Tips!

The saxophone is known by many as the coolest instrument created. The inventor of the saxophone, Adolphe sax, created the saxophone with an intention to replicate the voice. The saxophone is primarily known as an instrument of expression through its own voice. Out of the four most commonly used saxophones, the alto saxophone is the best saxophone for any beginner or amateur player to start on. In this guide, I will explain the various things to look out for when purchasing the best alto saxophone for you. 

Decision making tips 

Saxophone Brands 

There are hundreds of saxophone brands available on the market. However, not all of these brands are good. I have created two lists of saxophone brands. The first list is the best of the best saxophone brands available. The second list is a list of saxophone brands that are known to be very cheap, but somehow still producing good sounding horns. 

Reputable Alto saxophone Brands

Cheap Alto Saxophone Brands

  • Selmer 
  • Yamaha 
  • Jupiter 
  • Mendini 
  • Jean Paul USA 
  • LyxJam 

Reputable Alto Saxophone Brands 


Selmer is one of the best if not the best saxophone brand in the world. The French based company has been around for over a century perfecting their saxophones for optimal performance. The Selmer company has a long history and reputation for producing only high quality horns. 

Selmer Reference 54 Alto Saxophone (standard) 

This is a top quality horn with a vintage feel. The reference 54 produces a warm and dark tone similar to the legendary Selmer Mark VI, on which its design is based on. This professionally made power saxophone is top of the line quality which includes a mouthpiece, ligature, mouthpiece cap and a saxophone case. Talk about a full package! 



  • Excellent intonation 
  • Design improved and based on the legendary Mark VI 
  • High F# key 
  • Includes all needed kit equipment 
  • Comes with a saxophone case 
  • High quality professional saxophone models come with quality prices 
  • Service and maintenance will be costly

Selmer la Voix II

Another brilliant Selmer saxophone is the La Voix II series. This line of Selmer saxophones is available in all the saxophone types except for the baritone saxophone. This particular model comes with a beautiful black lacquered finish, giving it a unique look compared to the standard brass colored saxophone. This is primarily a professional model saxophone with a lighter weight body and a specially designed neck providing quality intonation and better response. 



  • Excellent key work giving the player a relaxed feeling 
  • Build with a traditional bell size allowing for an easy blend 
  • Perfect warm intonation
  • Good response and perfect projection 
  • Quality professional models come with high prices 
  • Service and maintenance costs will be expensive 


Yamaha is another reputable brand that has a long history of instrument manufacturing. The company is built on the philosophy of Yamaha quality, customer experience, corporate philosophy and the Yamaha way. In 2019, the company launched a brand promise called making waves. Yamaha is a company that strives to encourage music listeners and music makers to make waves with their creativity and push forward their passion for music. So why wouldn’t you buy a saxophone from them?

The company has produced some high quality alto saxophones over the last century. The following are two of my favorited alto saxophone models:

Yamaha YAS-62 III

The YAS 62 is a popular Yamaha saxophone amongst many professional saxophonists worldwide. The original 61 series has been improved and modified over the last few decades which has resulted in the renewed polished product of the YAS-62. 



  • High F# key
  • Has a front high F key 
  • The low C# has a stop mechanism 
  • Includes a mouthpiece, mouthpiece cap and ligature 
  • Includes a semi hard saxophone case for easier travel
  • Has the 62 neck design for improved response and greater control of sound.
  • Better action between the low Bb to C# keys that ensure smooth movement 
  • The saxophone is rather expensive 
  • This is primarily a professional model

 Yamaha YAS-280 

This is a brilliant beginner model for any student starting out on the saxophone. There are always a few things that one needs to look out for when purchasing a beginner model. The weight of the instrument is a big factor that one needs to keep in mind for beginner students, considering that one needs to stand for long periods of time holding the saxophone. The YAS-280 is a lightweight model perfect for any beginner player, offering top quality saxophone features. 



  • Excellent quality horn with good quality intonation 
  • Lightweight model perfect for the beginner saxophone student. 
  • Has a high F# key 
  • Has a low Bb to C# connector 
  • A comfortable fit for the beginner player 
  • A quality beginner saxophone model does not come cheap 


Jupiter is a popular instrument manufacturing company. The company  is particularly well known for the Jupiter saxophone. Jupiter, along with its Taiwanese parent company KHS, started producing saxophones in 1980. The brand is not very popular amongst the more professional and advanced saxophone manufacturing companies. However, the company has built a great reputation for designing and manufacturing high quality beginner and intermediate model saxophones.

Jupiter JAS1100 Series

The JAS1100 series is the perfect example of the high quality, hand crafted design and manufacturing. This particular horn is perfect for the student looking to upgrade from their beginner saxophone model. The saxophone neck is designed using special artisan tooling giving the saxophone a dark and vintage sound quality. The 1100 series comes in a range of body finishes being either gold lacquered or silver plated. The Gold lacquered body of the saxophone gives the saxophone a beautiful finish allowing for longer durability and perfect intonation. This horn also comes with metal tone boosters adding brightness to the saxophones sound. 



  • High F# key 
  • Gold Lacquered body gives allows for perfect intonation 
  • Sona-neck design allows for vintage and dark tone 
  • Perfect for the intermediate player or professional player 
  • Depending on your budget, this horn may be too expensive.

Jupiter JAS700 Series

The Jupiter 700 series is a beginner saxophone model made with high quality tempered brass. The saxophone is designed to give optimal intonation to the beginner saxophone student. This model comes with a high F# key and tilted keys for the left hand allowing smoother movement between keys. The 700 series is a beginner instrument with professional saxophone features. 



  • High F#key 
  • Tilted table for the left hand keys 
  • Body made from high quality tempered brass 
  • Comes with a mouthpiece and a ligature 
  • Comes with a wooden framed case
  • Does not project as well as other models, The advanced player may find it lacking

Cheap Alto Saxophone Brands 

Mendini by Cecilio

Mendini MAS-L

If you are a beginner saxophone player and if you are on a budget then I highly recommend MAS-L. This saxophone comes with the full kit of accessories, including a mouthpiece, ligature, mouthpiece cap, neck strap and a saxophone case. The MAS-L saxophones are made in a variety of colors such as sky blue, red lacquer, black nickel plated, intermediate rose gold, blue lacquer and green lacquer. These colorful saxophones are light weighted making it easy for a beginner student to start without the stress of a heavy saxophone. 



  • Comes with all accessories including a tuner and 10 saxophone reeds
  • Very affordable 
  • Variety of colors available 
  • Has the high F# key 
  • Easy to play for a beginner 
  • Intonation will wear off after a few months of playing 
  • Reeds are not good quality 
  • Size 2.5 reeds that come with the purchase may be too hard for the beginner student 

Jean Paul USA

The Jean Paul brand produces various woodwind instruments at a relatively affordable rate. The AS-400 and the AS-860 alto saxophones are slightly more expensive compared to the Mendini.

Jean Paul AS-400 

The AS-400 is a beginner to intermediate alto saxophone model for the more serious beginner student. The model is equipped with blue stainless steel springs, mother of pearl key buttons and is equipped with the high F# key. The saxophone has a bright tone with good intonation. The instrument is equipped with all the accessories necessary for beginner students including a Rico reed. 



  • Smooth action on the keys 
  • High F# key 
  • Light weight model 
  • Easy for a beginner player to start on 
  • Comes with neck strap, mouthpiece, ligature, saxophone case, cleaning swab and a reed 
  • Intonation of the instrument will fade after a few months of playing. 
  • A biannual service may be required depending on the amount of time spent practicing the instrument

Jean Paul AS-860

The AS-860 is a more professional model of the Jean Paul USA alto saxophone line. This saxophone is suited best for the more advanced intermediate player. Made from yellow brass with stainless steel blue springs and pisoni pads, the AS-860 is your more expensive cheap saxophone but definitely one of the cheaper professional saxophone models available on the market. The saxophone comes with most needed accessories including a mouthpiece, neck strap and a semi hard backpack saxophone case. 



  • Includes neck strap
  • Includes mouthpiece, mouthpiece cap and ligature
  • Includes a Rico 2.5 reed 
  • Great intonation 
  • Made from quality material at an affordable price 
  • Affordable professional saxophone 
  • Has the high F# key 
  • Comfortable to play 
  • There are other reputable brands available with similar prices 

LyxJam Saxophone

LyxJam Alto saxophone 

LyxJam is Amazon’s popular choice in alto saxophones. With almost 300 reviews and a 4.6 star rating this saxophone has become the popular choice for a beginner student wanting to play the saxophone, join a band or improve their skills. The LyxJam alto saxophone comes with all the needed accessories including 11 reeds sized at 2.5. This saxophone is incredibly affordable and provides decent tone quality as well as easy sound production for those just starting out. It is a great saxophone to have on standby for the musician doubling up on instruments. 



  • Extremely affordable 
  • Comes with neck strap, mouthpiece, mouthpiece cap, ligature, reeds, hard carrying case and gloves 
  • Carrying case is adjustable 
  • Easy to play 
  • Beautiful sound and projection 
  • Reeds are not good quality 
  • May want to invest in a better mouthpiece 
  • Difficult to repair due to low quality material of the sax body
  • Pads are thin and don’t close properly-causing intonation issues

My comments

Saxophones in general are very expensive instruments. The initial purchase is a costly one, but there are cheaper alternatives to everything. A word of warning to any buyer, always remember that you get what you pay for. Although some of the more reputable brands such as Jupiter, Selmer and Yamaha are expensive, these brands have proven over time that their product will last a lifetime with little to no problems to the player or buyer.

A cheaper brand such as Jean Paul, LyxJam and Mendini will produce wonderful sounds and perform well for any player. However, these brands are mass produced with little to no hand craftsmanship. There are often leaks caused by poor closure from the pads. This results in poor intonation and difficulty in sound production. This is a big problem for beginner players as they will be put off playing the saxophone altogether. 

There may be a good chance that you may find a brilliant cheap saxophone with little to no problems. However, you should be aware of the possibilities of extra costs for repairing the saxophone, should something break. Be aware that cheap saxophones are difficult to repair due to the poor quality material used to make the instrument. 

My Recommendation

I would highly recommend any beginner student or professional saxophone player to purchase a saxophone from a reputable saxophone brand for the following reasons: 

  • Resale value will be close to purchase price or even more 
  • High-quality saxophones come with product manufacturing guarantees
  • Intonation is perfect and last long no matter the amount of practice hours put in 
  • Sound quality is amazing and consistent 
  • Key action is perfectly designed for optimal performance
  • Saxophones are handcrafted and checked for errors before put on the market 


As a professional saxophone player I would highly recommend any of the alto saxophones from the Selmer or Yamaha brands. These are great quality saxophones that will give the intermediate to advanced player everything needed for a great performance. 

If you are a beginner player I recommend that you look towards purchasing a Jupiter saxophone. Jupiter is possibly the best high quality saxophone brand on the market at an affordable price.  It may be more expensive than the cheaper models but you will not be disappointed in the long run.

If you are looking towards purchasing a cheap saxophone due to budget reasons, I would recommend either the Mendini or the Jean Paul USA as my top choices for cheap saxophones. These horns are more consistent than other cheap saxophone brands. Keep in mind that all of the cheap brand options will most likely give you service, intonation and repair problems in the future. However, the cheaper options come with all the accessories that a beginner saxophonist needs. This is a huge plus as a cheap option and for any beginner!

However, It is important to note that it is not necessary to purchase a saxophone with many accessories. Always choose quality over quantity. Most saxophone accessories are at a beginner level or worse, being completely useless. Professional saxophone models do not come with many accessories so keep that in mind when creating your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s

Question: How much does a good alto sax cost?

Answer: Alto saxophones vary in price according to the various player levels. Good beginner saxophone models range between $800 to $2700. The price increases as the model becomes more advanced ranging over $3000. The price of a good saxophone depends on what you are looking for in a saxophone.

Question: What is the comfortable range of the alto sax? 

Answer: A comfortable range depends on the player’s ability to play the instrument. The normal saxophone register ranges from concert Db (below middle C) up to concert Ab 5. On the alto saxophone a comfortable range would be between G and C on the left hand without the octave key for a beginner. Intermediate players would find the low D to high B with the octave key quite comfortable. 

Question: Is it hard to learn the saxophone? 

Answer: All instruments have their difficulties. However, the saxophone is one of the easiest woodwind instruments to learn. The fingering is the same for all saxophone types. The higher pitch of the saxophone can be easily learned by playing the already known lower register with an added octave key placed by the thumb. This is not found in other instruments. 

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