The saxophone is a very unique instrument. If you or someone you know is interested in learning to play the saxophone, you will want to find a good model for beginners. In the article below, we've reviewed five of the best saxophones for beginning students.
We'll share some of the features, benefits, and drawbacks of each model to help you make a decision about which option you want to purchase. Keep reading to learn which saxophone will be the best product for you.
Top 5: Beginner Saxophone Reviews
Product Image & Rating (Out Of 10)
If you're looking to start with a high-quality saxophone that will sound great, consider the YAMAHA YAS-280. This option is designed to product amazing intonations and bright sounds.
This option has a quality brass body. The body has a beautiful gold lacquer finish that will make you shine as you play it. The key mechanisms on this product also have the attractive gold lacquer finish.
A few of the features you'll find on this option include a front F key, a high F# key, and continuous key guards. It also has an adjustable thumb rest. The adjustable thumb rest is designed to help keep your hands and fingers comfortable, while also ensuring they remain in the correct position for playing.
YAMAHA also took measures to improve the mechanism from low B to C# to ensure the C# key closes consistently. This allows the saxophone's lower notes to create clearer sounds.
When you purchase this option, you'll also receive a YAMAHA 4C Mouthpiece, a saxophone strap, and cork grease. A carrying case with backpack straps is also included with your purchase.
If you are looking for an Alto Eb Saxophone, consider the Jean Paul AS-400. This is a student model designed to help beginner learn and master the skills needed to successfully play the saxophone. This product can also be used by intermediate students who are continuing to build on their craft and skill.
You'll be able to choose your preferred look and style if you choose this option. You can select either a brass, gold, or silver body. This product is designed to provide a relaxed and comfortable feeling for saxophonists. The keys are designed to be fluid and feel comfortable to play.
A few of the other features you'll find on this option include power forged keys, tapered pivot keys, and a strong bell brace. You'll also be impressed with how this instrument sounds. It is designed to have an amazing tone to help every song and note you play sound as if it were played by a professional.
When you purchase this option, you'll also receive a carrying case, a rico reed, gloves, a cleaning cloth, cork grease, swabs, and a mouthpiece.
If you want to be able to express yourself through the color of your saxophone, you'll want to consider the Mendini by Cecilio E Flat Alto Saxophone. There are 12 bold and exciting color options available with this model. You can choose from black, blue, gold, green, nickel, purple, red, black/gold, black/nickel, gold/nickel, lacquered gold, and sky blue.
This saxophone is designed with a large bore to help beginners learn how to play. It will produce a brilliant, full-bodied sound with a rich tone. This instrument includes key EB with a high F# key. The keys are contoured and have faux mother-of-pearl inlays.
This product contains more than 300 hand-crafted parts made by Cecilio. Before being shipped, each saxophone is texted two times; once at Cecilio's factory, and then again at the Los Angeles distribution center. The testing is conducted to ensure each saxophone holds up to Cecilio's high standards.
A lot of accessories are included with this option. In addition to the saxophone, you'll receive a chromatic tuner with metronome, a mouthpiece, a pair of gloves, a cleaning cloth, a cleaning rod, a neck strap, cork grease, 10 reeds, and a saxophone pocket book. A lined hard case is also included with your purchase.
Another option that is available in a variety of bold and attractive colors is the Glory Professional A lot Eb Saxophone. The manufacturers of this option produce it in 13 different colors to help you express your style as you create beautiful music. A few of the color options include gold, silver, blue/silver keys, pink/silver keys, red/silver keys, and white/gold keys.
This is an Eb E-flat alto saxophone. It also has a high F# key. A few of the key features included with this option include the leather pads with metal resonators, adjustable metal thumb rest, and hand engrave bell decoration.
This instrument is designed to be play by both adult and children. It has a more compact design and more reasonable key layout than some other models, so all players should be able to reach the keys well to play. This is a good option for beginners to consider.
Your purchase of this option will include 11 reeds, eight mouthpiece cushions, a mouthpiece, a neck strap, grease, a screwdriver, a cleaning rod and cloth, gloves, and a hard-shell carrying case.
For a beginner saxophone, the Eastar AS has an excellent sound quality. This model receives a professional tone adjustment before it is shipped to your house. This instrument is made using high-quality materials. It is made using a lead-free copper.
Other accents on the saxophone include the leather pads, blue copper needle springs, and faux mother-of-pearl inlaid keys. The bell also includes handcrafted carvings as an added detail. This saxophone has a beautiful gold color. The finish has been painted in multiple layers, making it durable and unlikely to fade. A shiny lacquer finish covers the gold coating.
A full bounding key stick gasket is included on this option. This designed not only will help make it more comfortable to press the keys, but it will help increase the lifespan of the saxophone. You'll be able to set the F# key to match your preference when your saxophone arrives.
When you purchase this saxophone, you'll also receive a carrying case, a leather strap, a mouthpiece, two white gloves, cork grease, a resin practice reed, advanced bulrush reeds a cleaning brush and cloth, and a hard saxophone stand.
A saxophone is a great instrument to learn how to play. You'll be able to produce such unique sounds and play a variety of types of music including jazz, blues, classic, pop, rock, and contemporary. Since every saxophone is different, you will want to take some time to compare the different options you are considering before making a final decision and placing your order.
First, you will need to decide the type of saxophone you want. There are a variety of saxophone that produce different ranges of sounds. There are nine types of saxophones in all, but the five most common options are a soprano (Bb), Alto (Eb), Tenor (Bb), Baritone (Eb), and Bass (Bb).
Since you are looking for a saxophone for beginners, you will likely want to select a student model. This level is designed to a little easier to play than the other models. They also weigh less than the other options, so they are a good idea if you're looking for a saxophone for a child to learn on.
You will also want to pay attention to whether the models you are considering offer any special keys. All saxophones have a basic key stack, but some will also offer special keys. A few of the special key options you may see include high F# and high G, Front F/Alternate F/Fork F, or Low A.
You should also pay attention to whether any accessories are included with your purchase. Look to see whether a mouthpiece, reed, cork grease, cleaning cloth, or carrying case is included with the different models you're looking at.
best beginner saxophone
While we think all five of the saxophones we reviewed above would be a good starting instrument for beginners, the YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophone is our top pick. This is an attractive option with a bright and shiny gold lacquer finish.
In addition to looking great, this option also sounds amazing. It is designed to product clear, bright, and stunning sounds that are sure to delight your listeners.
YAMAHA added lots of features designed to make this option easy to play and ensure it produces high-quality sounds. It is continuous key guards, a front F key, and a high F# key. There is also an adjustable thumb rest to help you correctly position your hands and fingers while also keeping them comfortable.
In addition to receiving the saxophone, you'll also receive a carrying case with backpack straps, a mouthpiece, a saxophone strap, and cork grease when you purchase this option.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Easy to Learn How to Play the Saxophone?
Many think that learning to play the saxophone is easier than learning how to play other woodwind instruments. However, if you want to become an accomplished saxophone player, it will definitely take some time, effort, and dedication.
How Long Should You Practice the Saxophone?
If you want to really improve on your skill with the saxophone, you will want to aim to practice between 30 minutes and an hour each day.
How Often Should I Clean My Saxophone?
There are different steps you'll want to take to maintain a clean saxophone and keep it in good working condition. Each time you have finished playing, be sure to remove any excess water from your instrument and your reed. You should also wipe out the inside of the saxophone every time you use it. Once a week, you should clean your mouthpiece with warm and soapy water to remove any bacteria or debris.
Beginner's guide to playing the saxophoneWelcome to the ultimate beginner's guide to the saxophone. We discuss the ins and outs of one of the most widely used wind instruments. In this article, we discuss everything from how to shop for a saxophone to the basic learning fundamentals. Enjoy!
A Little Background
The saxophone is a brass woodwind instrument with a reed mouthpiece. To generate sound with a saxophone, musicians must blow air past a wooden reed into the instrument's body.
Saxophonists can control the pitch of their notes by strategically pressing down keys on the outside of the instrument's body. The keys cover tone holes on the outside of the saxophone. Saxophones also boast vents that can be released to raise their octave key.
The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax, a respected Belgian musician. He patented the instrument in 1846.
People were keen to include this new instrument in classical music ensembles. Not long after the saxophone made it to the shores of the United States, it took on a new role in Vaudeville and ragtime music.
After that, the instrument ballooned in popularity. Musicians regularly included the sax in military, classic, jazz, and popular bands.
The Right Time
The saxophone is undoubtedly a timeless instrument. It also happens to be one of the easiest and most dynamic instruments you can learn.
Most experts recommend this instrument for children 10 and older. However, you can never be too old to learn a new skill. Once you master the sax, you can easily switch to another woodwind instrument.
Choosing a Saxophone
Most amateurs, particularly young children, start their musical journeys withalto (tuned to Eb) saxophones. These kinds of saxophones are usually on the smaller side. Moreover, they boast fewer octaves and higher pitches.
Alto saxophones cover an octave and a half.
With that said, there 14 different kinds of saxophones. Popular alternatives to the alto include:
Starting with the sopranino saxophone, these instruments gradually increase in size and complexity.
Tenor saxophones are close runner-ups to the altos. These instruments are usually tuned to Bb. They tend to be larger and deeper than alto saxophones.
Confused? Check out this brief video to listen to the difference between tenor and alto saxophones.
Setting Up a Mouthpiece
You will need to purchase a mouthpiece and reeds before you can play your saxophone. Mouthpieces and reeds both come in different sizes and varieties. However, they are mostly interchangeable.
Check out this guide to the best beginner saxophone mouthpieces. Or, reach out to your local instrument dealer for help in choosing an appropriate top to your instrument.
Reeds come in sizes two to five. Most beginners start with a thin reed, usually size two or 2 ½. Thin reeds are easier to play. Plus, they produce bright, warm tones.
Beginner Tip: Reeds are consumables. They typically only last for one to two weeks. You can stay prepared by keeping spares in your saxophone case.
Buy or Rent
Many beginners opt to rent their instruments until they can be sure they are fully committed. With that said, beginner saxophones are often cheaper than rentals. In most cases, these instruments also retain their value.
Check out this article on the best alto saxophones for students. You can pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a basic student model to several thousand dollars for a professional instrument. Naturally, new saxophones cost more than used ones.
Common saxophone manufacturers include:
What Else Do You Need?
Most musicians keep a basic collection of supplies on hand. Common saxophone accessories include:
- Reeds (usually size 2 or 2 ½ for beginners)
- Mouthpiece (there are many different kinds)
- Cork grease (for mouthpiece)
- Neck strap
- Hard-shell case
- Metronome (or supplementary smartphone app)
- Tuner (or trustworthy app)
- Metal music stand
- Various brushes, swabs, and clothes for cleaning and maitenance
- Sheet music
- Fingering charts
Starting Your Saxophone Journey
Most beginner musicians find the saxophone to be an accessible and pleasant instrument. When you are first getting started, it is important to learn about the different parts of this instrument. From the top down, these include:
- Ligature (this is the metal band that you must tighten around the mouthpiece and reed)
- Neck screw
- Octave pin
Holding an Alto Saxophone
Now, let's learn how to properly hold an alto saxophone.
First off, it is always important to maintain a proper sitting or standing posture. You should be standing tall with your neck and head aligned with your lower body.
Take a Seat
When positioning yourself in a chair, be sure to slide your body to the right side. Then, swing your sax over the right side of your body and tighten the neck strap to eliminate any slack.
Some professional saxophonists position their instruments directly in front of their bodies. However, most beginners prefer to slip the instrument to their side.
Grasp your saxophone between both of your hands. Your hands should be clenched inward, forming the shape of the letter C.
Place your right thumb below the thumb rest on the right side of your instrument. Wrap your fingers around the front of the instrument. Place your top three fingers on the lower pearl keys.
Tip: The thumb rest should have an adjustable screw. Loose the screw and move the thumb rest up or down to align your fingers with the front pearl keys.
Then, place the pad of your left thumb up against the top thumb rest. Then, swing your first, second, and third fingers around to the front and place them on the three pearl keys.
Tip: When playing to the side, make sure that you are not leaning your neck forward. The mouthpiece should be perfectly aligned with your lips.
Blowing into the Mouthpiece
Place your mouth over the end of the mouthpiece. The reed should be pressed up against your lower lip. Blow into the instrument with a steady amount of air pressure.
Practice and repetition make perfect! If you want to master any instrument, you're going to need a spectrum of warm-ups and practice exercises.
Many new saxophonists struggle to breathe efficiently. Let's go over a few simple breathing exercises you can do to improve your lung capacity and function.
Test out your breathing skills by blowing into your saxophone. Do not press any buttons at first. Pull your mouthpiece right off your instrument.
Blow consistently to create a clear, steady sound. This is called your embouchure. You've got to master your embouchure before you can move on to more advanced studies.
You may need to play around with the position of your lips. Make sure to clamp down on but never bite your mouthpiece.
Maximizing Your Breathing
Take a deep breath, drawing as much air as possible into your lungs. Make sure to open your throat fully. Hold the air in your lungs for a brief moment. Then, release the air over four beats. Repeat five or 10 times.
Beginner Tip: Play around with the tempo of your breathing.
Reminder: You should never become lightheaded or uncomfortable during these exercises. If this is the case, contact a medical professional. On the other hand, your mouth muscles are going to get tired.
If you need to take a break in the middle of your practice session, consider playing some sax music before resuming your efforts. You'll need to practice daily to develop your mouth muscles.
Practice holding long notes. Then, play around with the variables.
Finger strength and dexterity also plays a huge part in your playing experience. Incorporate finger warm-ups into your practice routine to improve your muscle memory and speed.
Practice Makes Perfect
Place your palms onto a flat tabletop. Practice lifting each finger. Once you get the hang of that, try synchronizing your lifts in sets. For example, lift your first and third finger, second and fourth finger, first and fourth finger, and so forth. Likewise, lift your fingers in sets of three. Make sure to lift every possible set of fingers.
Follow the Notes
At this point, you will need to draw upon basic sheet music. If you do not know how to read sheet music, now's the time to learn. Learn to decipher the tempo, notes, and other symbols (flat, sharp, vibrato, etc) that are employed in written music.
You will also need a series of finger charts for reference. Keep in mind that finger positions are the same throughout the entire saxophone family.
There should be three home keys (the one with pearly tops) on the front of your saxophone.
Learn Your ABCs
a G note by pressing down the three home keys with your left hand. If you are not familiar with the home keys on the saxophone, check out this brief video.
Play A by pressing and holding down the two top home keys with your left hand.
Start by playing a B note. To do this, press and hold your left index finger over the second home key. Hold your finger down. Then, blow into the mouthpiece. Breath evenly to maintain a steady tone.
Play a C note by pressing the center home key with your left middle finger.
To generate a D note, press and hold all three of the top home keys with your left fingers, all three of the bottom home keys with your right fingers, and the octave key with your left thumb.
Put them All Together, and What Do You Get?
You create a scale when you play these corresponding notes in descending or ascending order. Play G, A, B, C, D. Then, play D, C, B, A, G. Remember to tap your foot or count in your head to maintain a steady tempo.
Beginner Tip: Do your notes sound off? It is difficult to jump from one note to another without making any mistakes. Not to mention, notes tend to sound uneven when fingers are not placed accurately. Take time to smooth out any kinks in your performance.
Rhythm and Time
As we mentioned earlier, all beginner musicians must keep a metronome on hand. It doesn't matter if you're playing alone or with a group. Good music relies on a consistent tempo.
More advanced saxophonists use a variety of techniques to control the rhythm of their music. Common articulation techniques include:
Saxophonists may also rely on metronomes or percussion instruments. It is nearly impossible for people to maintain a perfect rhythm at all times. However, an advanced sense of and understanding of this concept will surely help you to succeed in the music world.
Tuning Your Inner Ear
The final and most critical skill you need to master to play the saxophone is the ability to recognize tones. You can control the sound and texture of your notes by altering your breathing patterns.
Moving on To More Difficult Concepts
Saxophonists use a variety of techniques to alter the character of their notes. One of these techniques is called overblowing. Saxophonists increase the pressure of their breath to switch between registers without actually moving any of their fingers.
An E note is a natural transition from a D note. Lift the third finger on your right hand to hammer out this pleasant note.
F is simply an E with the octave key held down. Add this note into your repertoire, and you'll be well on your way to playing your very own solos.
Simple Tunes to Get Started
Songs are simply strings of notes played together to create a medley. Once you've developed basic muscle memory and understanding of some notes, you can practice some basic tunes.
Young students often start their saxophone lessons by playing three-note tunes like “Mary had a Little Lamb, “Hot Cross Buns,” and “Ode to Joy.”
Where Do You Go From Here
There are countless lessons to be learned from this point. Once you master the fundamentals, you must work to shape your personal learning experience.
Start by researching popular saxophonists. Find a genre or artist that appeals to you. Then, dig deeper.
Some of the greatest and most influential jazz saxophonists include:
- Charlie Parker
- John Coltrane
- Joe Henderson
- Stan Getz
- Maceo Parker
- Wayne Shorter
- Ornette Coleman
- Coleman Hawkins
- Lester Young
- Eric Dolphy
If you do not have a saxophone instructor to play along with, consider using CDs and videos to complement your learning process. You can even record yourself playing and listen back. In doing this, you will find it easy to eradicate your bad habits and mistakes.
Build a Repertoire
Aim to memorize and master several saxophone pieces. Try to put a fresh twist on classics. Music is a form of artistic expression. You must develop a personal connection with your instrument.
Take Care of Your Instrument
Take the time to clean the interior and exterior of your instrument regularly. To do this, use a string to pull a handkerchief through the body of your sax. Remove and wipe down the mouthpiece. Then, take the time to grease the cork at the base of the mouthpiece. Replace your reed once every one to two weeks. Ultimately, your replacement window is going to depend on your level of use.
Without decent care and maintenance, a saxophone will become moldy or rusty. The buttons and screws may even become loose or bent with consistent use.
Most saxophonists take their instruments in for annual tune-ups.
Now that you have been schooled in the art of the saxophone, it's probably ripe time for you to head on over to your local music store and pick out an instrument that you can call your own. Whether you are young or old, the saxophone is a neverending journey.
With regular practice, anyone can join the ranks of the greats, such as Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman, and Stan Getz. If anything, this soothing instrument will help you relax and savor the moment.
You'll be impressed with the quality of music you'll be able to produce, even as a beginner, with the YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophone. Place your order today, so you can start learning on your new saxophone.