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So you wanna play saxophone, huh?
That’s pretty nifty!
Speaking from personal experience, the saxophone is a lot of fun to play. But, if you’ve never played the saxophone before, you may be unsure of what type of saxophone would be the best for you to begin playing. After all, there are several types of saxophones for you to choose from, so narrowing down your options can be tricky.
And since you’ve likely never played the saxophone before, you also need to figure out the best model for you to begin playing on. I’m here to give you the best advice to help you find the perfect beginner-friendly saxophone model on the market. And the great thing about beginner-friendly models is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on them to get yourself a decent instrument.
And when I say there are literally loads of beginner-friendly saxophone models out there, I’m serious. If you’ve already spent time looking for a beginner-friendly saxophone before finding this article, you’ve likely seen how many different models there are out there.
But don’t worry, you’re not in this alone. I understand how exhausting it can be to find the best beginner-friendly saxophone, especially as a new player. That’s why I’m here the help. But before I get into too much detail about the best beginner-friendly saxophones, there’s some other important information I feel you should know.
Bottom line up front: I would highly recommend you check out the Yamaha Jean Paul USA TS-400. Yamaha is a great brand that’s well-known and trustworthy, so you can’t go wrong with this saxophone.
What is a Saxophone?
Even though the saxophone is mainly made up of brass, it isn’t considered a brass instrument. Instead, it’s considered a woodwind because you have to blow into the instrument to play it. There’s a reed on the mouthpiece of the saxophone that vibrates when you play it. The read will then vibrate against the mouthpiece, causing the sound to be produced.
The saxophone looks like it’s really complicated to put together, but don’t let looks deceive you. There are really only four main parts of the saxophone: the bell, the body, the mouthpiece, and the neck.
All saxophones have the same basic makeup. But, how the saxophones look varies depending on the saxophone type. There are four main types of saxophones which are; soprano saxophone, alto sax, tenor sax, and baritone sax.
These instruments make up the most commonly found models in bands and orchestras. In addition to being the most commonly found oh, these instruments are also the most accessible types of saxophones to play. More saxophone models are available, but they aren’t as frequently used at least four main types.
While four main types are frequently used in orchestral and symphonic settings, the alto saxophone and the tenor saxophone are the two most popular models out of all four options. The alto saxophone and the tenor saxophone have some pretty stark differences, but we’ll get more into that later.
How Easy is it to Learn the Saxophone?
That’s a great question! How easy it is for you to learn the saxophone greatly depends on what your prior musical experience looks like. For example, if you’ve already learned how to play another type of woodwind and you’re just looking to switch to the saxophone, it’ll be easy for you to figure out the saxophone.
But, if you don’t have any prior musical experience at all, there are some challenges that you may face as you’re beginning to learn how to play your instrument.
Thankfully, the saxophone is one of the easiest instruments to learn how to play. Suppose you already have a little bit of knowledge from playing the piano or another woodwind. In that case, the saxophone works similarly to both of these instruments.
This is because the scales on a saxophone move up and down the keys, meaning you won’t have a lot of awkward fingerings to figure out how to play. Basically, the more holes you’re covering while you’re playing your instrument, the deeper the sound.
Do I Need a Professional Saxophone to Start Learning?
No, you don’t. I would highly recommend that you don’t even look at a professional-grade saxophone if you are a complete beginner. There are a lot of features on professional level saxophones that aren’t available on beginner great instruments.
And it’s that way for a reason. Suppose you try to start off with a professional-level saxophone as a complete beginner. In that case, your journey probably isn’t going to last very long. You might feel frustrated, overwhelmed, and really struggle to play the instrument.
Beginner-level saxophones don’t have a lot of the same bells and whistles that professional-level saxophones have. This is to help ensure you begin healthy playing habits, support the basic skills that you need to successfully play the instrument, and so you don’t end up spending as much money.
Alto vs. Tenor
You can hear the alto sax in nearly every genre of music possible. From jazz to pop music, there isn’t a genre of music that the alto sax shies away from. Many beginners tend to go with the alto saxophone just because it’s a lot easier to play, smaller in size, and very common.
Plus, the alto saxophone is a lot easier the handle compared to the tenor. It’s a lot smaller, a lot lighter, and doesn’t require as much effort to play. And because they’re so easy to find, the alto saxophone is usually super affordable.
But, let’s not discredit all that the tenor saxophone has to offer. The tenor saxophone produces a much deeper sound than the alto saxophone does. And because of this, it requires a lot more lung support to produce a rich and deep sound. This isn’t meant to scare you off from playing guitar saxophone; instead, it’s rather meant to educate you on the differences between these two instruments.
A lot of people mistake the saxophone that’s played in pop music is the alto saxophone. However, this isn’t always true. If you are familiar with the song ‘Careless Whisper’, you’ve heard the tenor saxophone played before.
The good news about playing the saxophone: you don’t just have to pick one. You can always start off by playing the alto saxophone and then transfer to the tenor sax later on down the road. Or you can start off with the tenor and learn how to play the alto. There really isn’t anything holding you back. You’ll have to learn how to adjust and change a few things, but that doesn’t mean that you have to take the option of playing both instruments off of the table.
Tips for Buying a Saxophone
As you’re getting ready to enter into the market to buy your first saxophone, it’s super important for you to know what you should expect financially. There are many different types of models available, so learning which types of saxophones are targeted towards beginners versus professional musicians will help to save you a lot of heartbreak.
New vs. Used
First, you should figure out whether you’re ready to invest in a new or a used saxophone. Determining the condition of the saxophone you’re willing to invest in will help to save you a lot of time. If you know that you’re definitely going to stick with your saxophone journey, I would recommend that you go ahead and invest in the new saxophone.
Investing in a new saxophone is a lot safer of an option if you know you’re going to stick with your journey of playing the saxophone. With a new instrument, you don’t have to worry about a previous owner who didn’t probably keep up with the care required for a saxophone.
Plus, you can look around for different options on the market that offer a little bit of personalization to your instrument. For example, suppose you really wanted to buy a colored saxophone. In that case, it’ll be easier for you to find this when you’re buying a new instrument.
In addition, new instruments tend to come with the care kits that are needed to keep up with basic maintenance required for your instrument.
But, that doesn’t necessarily mean a used saxophone should be off the table for you.
If you aren’t sure if you’re going to stick with playing the saxophone, I would suggest looking into buying a used instrument. A used saxophone isn’t going to be as nearly as expensive as a new saxophone. There are some concerns that can come with buying a used saxophone, kind of like what I was talking about above.
Buying a used or vintage saxophone can make your journey to play the instrument a little more complicated. I would always recommend that if you buy a used saxophone, you take it to a local instrument shop to have it checked out. This way, you know what repairs need to be completed on the instrument and just get a basic tune-up before you try to take your saxophone for a test drive.
Shop Online, Try in Store
This may sound like weird advice, but I would highly recommend that you try shopping around online to get a look at all of the different options available to you.
Once you have a better idea of what options you are most interested in, I would take a trip to your local music store. There, you should be able to try out different saxophones to get a better idea of which models feel the best and sound the best in your hands.
Even if you decide that you’ve fallen in love with a model end store, you could always go back online to purchase it. This way, you’ll be able to price shop around and even use coupons to help you save even more money on your purchase.
If you haven’t already, I would also highly recommend that you decide whether you want to play the alto or the tenor saxophone now. The alto saxophone is a smaller instrument between the alto vs. tenor. So, suppose you’ve got a young musician that you’re shopping around for, or you personally just like carrying a lighter instrument. In that case, the alto sax may be the better option for you to consider.
However, this choice should also largely depend on what type of music you want to play. By pinpointing which type of saxophone sound you enjoy the most, who your favorite musicians are, and knowing what genre of music you’re interested in playing, it’ll help make your job of narrowing down your options a lot easier.
Next, it’s also essential for you to consider the quality of materials used to create the saxophone. Many cheap saxophone models will be made with poor quality materials, resulting in a saxophone that just isn’t worth investing in.
Saxophones made with cheap materials have a stark difference in sound quality compared to higher-end models. In addition, the lower-quality materials won’t provide as much durability as the higher-quality options.
For example, you’ll likely see in a lot of cheaper models that yellow brass is the main material that’s used to make up the saxophone. But, yellow brass isn’t as durable as other options. Yellow brass is a good option for low and student models because they produce a bright sound and are much less expensive. But, higher-end models and professional-grade saxophones will use golden brass to make up their instruments.
Another important thing to consider is if there are any additional features available in your saxophone purchase. For example, you’re going to need a maintenance kit to help you keep up with the required upkeep your saxophone needs to stay healthy. Some saxophone manufacturers will provide all of the basic stuff you need to purchase your instrument.
This isn’t available for every model out there on the market, but if the price it’s super important to you, you could exclusively look at models that offer this to help save yourself money.
As an example, I would recommend that you look into a saxophone kid with a mouthpiece and a neck strap. These things are essential for you to begin your journey playing the saxophone and can be pricey to invest in by themselves. So, see if you can find a beginner saxophone kit that comes with both of these items, you’ll help us save yourself a lot of money.
When a saxophone has ribbed keys, it basically means that the keys on the sax have been soldered onto the instrument’s body. This is really important, as it ensures that the keys are attached firmly to the instrument.
While it’s not really a common problem for keys to become detached from an instrument altogether, it does happen from time to time. I would highly recommend you look into a feature before investing in any saxophone with ripped keys.
If a saxophone doesn’t have a ribbed key feature, it likely means that the saxophone is an older model. But, you may find that if you’re playing with a saxophone that doesn’t have a ribbed key, the instrument is much heavier than a saxophone that does have a ribbed key.
I would also be very careful when you’re looking at pricing for your saxophone. A lot of people may tell you that you need to spend several thousand dollars to get yourself a quality instrument. However, this just isn’t true anymore. As technology continues to evolve, so do the ways of making a quality saxophone. So see, you don’t need to spend as much to ensure you’re getting a good saxophone.
Best Saxophone Models on the Market for Beginners
Now, it’s time to get into the fun part. I’ve going to head, and I’ve created a list of the best saxophone models on the market for you to choose from. All of these saxophone models are beginner-friendly, and you’ve got a bunch of options to choose from here. Don’t forget to keep your personal preferences in the back of your mind as you’re shopping around for different models.
I’ve chosen the models in this guide based on availability, affordability, ease of use, and just how good of a fit they would be for a beginner. With all that said, let’s get into it.
Yamaha Jean Paul USA TS-400
Yamaha is a well-known brand; even if you haven’t ever picked up an instrument, you likely know the brand, Yamaha. Yamaha makes all types of instruments and makes both beginner-friendly and professional level instruments.
But Yamaha is super famous because of the quality they’re known for. Even with their cheapest instruments, a certain standard of quality is upheld because of the brand name. So, even though the Yamaha Jean Paul USA TS-400 isn’t as cheap as other models from different brands, we have this super affordable option from Yamaha.
This is a tenor saxophone and a great option if you’re looking for professional-grade manufacturing elements without the price tag. While testing out this saxophone, the biggest problem is that the intonation completely depends on you.
Mendini by Cecilio E Flat Alto Saxophone
Mendini by Cecilio is a great brand for beginner-level products. Personally, I wouldn’t say that this is the best-sounding saxophone on this list. But, it is a great option for you to consider if you are just looking for an instrument to help you weren’t a saxophone.
The large 4 on this alto saxophone helps produce a decent level sound, especially for a beginner. Don’t get me wrong; the sound isn’t bad. It’s just too a professional ear, you can definitely tell that this is a beginner-level saxophone.
All the parts on the saxophone are made by Cecilio. It is made with yellow brass and a gold lacquer finish. This saxophone is super lightweight too.
My favorite part about the saxophone was the contouring of the keys; it was super nice to hold onto. Plus, it also comes with a high F sharp key. So, even as you advance in your ability to play the saxophone, there are still some features there to help teach you more advanced techniques.
Jupiter Intermediate JTS 1100SG
A Jupiter saxophone isn’t necessarily a beginner-level saxophone. However, there are a lot of features of the saxophone that are friendly to a beginner. I would say that this is more of an intermediate instrument and a great option for someone who isn’t ready to invest in a professional-level saxophone yet.
Jupiter is a highly trusted instrument manufacturer and always produces outstanding quality instruments. What points out that this saxophone is beginner-friendly is in the key work.
The key work is designed to encourage agility from a new player. So, once you start learning how to play faster pieces, you aren’t going to be restricted by the flexibility of this instrument. Plus, you can purchase it and several different colors.
Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone
Selmer brand that a lot of professionals tend to gravitate towards buying from. They first got their start with guitar amplifiers, but now moved on to also selling brass and woodwind instruments.
I think that the saxophone is great for an intermediate player rather than a beginner musician. There’s something unique about this instrument that isn’t commonly found with other saxophones, which is why I would recommend it to somebody who already has experience playing with saxophone.
In terms of the physical appearance of this sax, you’ll find that it’s made with the typical yellow brass. But, instead of a silver-plated finish, you’ll find that it comes to the black plate of the nickel finish. This gives it a unique pop of color, which I think would be great for you if you’re looking to do a lot of solo work.
The keys on the saxophone are super responsive and help to support great intonation. You’ll find that the bore is the typical size that you find on an alto saxophone. I found from playing this instrument that the bore size helps to support a rich and warm towed.
Also, I didn’t like the most about this saxophone because there was a need for more support and control when I went to change registers. This is why I don’t think it’s the best option for a complete beginner but for someone who’s looking for an intermediate-level saxophone.
Plus, the saxophone is only 6 pounds. While this sax isn’t a great display of the professional-grade quality Selmber’s known for, it’s still a great instrument.
Plus, it comes with a ligature, a mouthpiece, a mouthpiece cap, and an imitation leather case that’s in the style of a backpack. But, there aren’t any neck-straps or any equipment for maintenance sold with the saxophone, so you will have to purchase those separately if you don’t already have them.
Etude EAS-100 Student Alto Saxophone
This is a super affordable alto saxophone. The body is made completely of solid metal, so it is heavy. I personally think that the worst part of the saxophone is the mouthpiece that it comes with. When I first picked up this instrument played with the mouthpiece that came with the instrument, I had a really hard time with my tone.
But, I ended up switching out the mouthpiece with one that I feel more comfortable using, and it made a world of difference. So, I would recommend just switching out getting a new mouthpiece if you find that you’re struggling with playing this sax.
Because this instrument is so affordable, I wouldn’t recommend that you compare it to the quality of a beginner-grade Yamaha. It’s a great option for a very young musician, But this isn’t something that I would recommend To an intermediate or an advanced level musician. It’s super affordable too, so I think this would be a good option if you’ve got a young child looking to start playing in a band.
Answer: The saxophone is one of the easiest instruments to learn. The notes lower and pitch as you run your fingers down the saxophone. So, any keys that you press lower on the body of the saxophone the lower the pitch of the saxophone goes.
The most difficult part about learning how to play the saxophone is transposing. Most saxophones are in the key of E flat, so you’ll likely have to learn how to transpose if you play in a band or orchestra.
Answer: The majority of saxophones have between 20 and 23 keys. There are some saxophones that may even come with an additional key to extend the range of knows that the saxophone is able to play.
While the saxophone may be called the devil’s horn, that doesn’t mean you should be scared away from playing the instrument altogether. There are a ton of great things that can come out of learning how to play the sax; marching band, solo opportunities, playing in an orchestra, playing in a symphonic band, jazz, pop solos.
The list could literally go on forever. Don’t let lack of funds stop you from learning how to play the saxophone either. Even if you’re nervous about learning how to play, there are tons of amazing learning opportunities that’ll help you master the instrument in no time.
If you’re still unsure which beginner-friendly saxophone to go with, I would recommend the Yamaha Jean Paul USA TS-400 saxophone. This saxophone is a great model to introduce yourself to, especially so you can get familiar with the quality that Yamaha is known for.
Once you get familiar with Yamaha’s quality, you could always ‘level up’ your instrument to another Yamaha model later on. Plus, any replacement parts will be easy to find since Yamaha’s a commonly used brand.
Do you have a favorite beginner-friendly saxophone model you want to recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!
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