Which saxophone to buy
Which saxophone to play
There are 4 types of saxophone, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone.
The best sax to begin on is alto, with tenor in a close 2nd place.
Although the soprano sax is small it can be very difficult to play so it’s not recommended for beginners.
Which saxophone to buy
Saxophones range in price from £400 to £17000 and there are many makes and models. As a rule you get what you pay for but here are a few or my personal recommendations and opinions:
For students from complete beginner to grade 7/8 standard my preferred make of sax is Yamaha. Their range of instruments start from around £760 (YAS280) and even this entry model sax is a superb machine. It makes a nice sound, is easy to play, comes with a good mouthpiece and case, holds its value well and every instrument seems to be made to a consistently high standard (making this a good mail order buy). As you look through the Yamaha range the features and prices increase and the YAS480 and YAS62 are both superb saxophones for students. In most cases a Yamaha saxophone will last forever and realistically you’d only need to upgrade if you go on to study music at a high level or decide to become a professional musician.
Sakkusu Alto Sax - around £400 - by far the best budget sax. This is perfect for a beginner. Ideally you would look to upgrading this sax when you reach grade 5/6/7 standard.
Once a student reaches grade 7+ standard they would notice the difference between a student model sax and a professional model. These saxes should be chosen with great care as handbuilt saxes can vary greatly, even within the same model. Prices range from £1600 to £17000 and some of my favorites are P Mauriat 67R, Selmer Reference Range, Yanigisawa AWO10 and Keilwerth SX90R.
Where to buy
My preferred place to buy saxophones and accessories is www.sax.co.uk They have a huge showroom in Crowborough, another in London and also a very comprehensive website. They do pretty good prices on saxes but their advice, testing facilities and workshop check over prior to sale are second to none. You may be able to find saxes slightly cheaper online but often these are not tested or 'set up', just sold in their boxes direct from the factory.
The mouthpiece is a crucial part of the saxophone. For beginners a Yamaha 4C (usually around £30 and supplied with all Yamaha saxes) is perfect. When a player reaches grade 6/7 standard they would benefit from a mouthpiece upgrade and the prices range from £150 to £600. Choosing a mouthpiece is a highly personal choice as everyone has a different shaped mouth, so no 2 mouthpieces will perform in the same way for the same player. Always use a tuning machine when testing a mouthpiece. Some of my favourite makes are: Meyer, Otto Link, Berg Larsen, Claude Lakey and SR Tech.