Updated: May 10, 2015

Saxophone Reviews:

Guide to Choosing the Right Saxophone - Adolphe Sax invented the saxophone for military use. Since its days in the French and Belgian militaries, the saxophone has grown in popularity. Used in virtually any type of music, the sax is an integral component in big band, classical, jazz, and blues music. Players like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Stan Getz, and Kenny G have ensured that the saxophone has a prominent place in our musical history. Saxophones are one of the most popular instruments for music students, and learning will give you a lifelong skill that you will love to show off. Saxophones come in a variety of styles and sounds. Which is right for you? Where do you find saxophones? What can you expect to pay? Read on for your guide to buying saxophones.

A Quick Look at Different Types of Saxophones - Saxophones range from high soprano to low bass. Your choice depends not only on the type of sound you want to create, but your level of ability. Beginners, for instance, typically start with an alto saxophone, and it is one of the more commonly played saxophones because of its comfortable size and shape. It has the characteristic backwards "J" shape that we associate with the sax, but they can also come in straight models. The alto has good tone, and can be used in a variety of music. Soprano and sopranino saxophones produce a higher note, and they can be difficult for beginners because you need some finesse to produce a pleasing sound. Soprano saxophones come in both straight and curved models, though straight versions are more common. They have rich intonation and a very ethereal tone. It is generally regarded as the most difficult sax to master. Kenny G, one of the biggest selling artists in the world, plays a soprano sax primarily. Tenor saxophones are a bit bigger than alto saxophones. Tenors are able to produce a variety of sounds because of the relatively large mouthpiece, longer rods, and larger tone holes. This is a jazzy saxophone, but it can also be used for classic, ballads, swing, and rock. Baritones are larger than the tenor and can come with an extension on the horn. This allows it to play a low A. These are heavier, more cumbersome instruments, and like the soprano, they require some finesse. A baritone saxophone is not the best place to begin if you're just learning. Altos and tenors are the easiest for beginners to pick up, and there is a lot of room for advancement. Some people prefer to stick with these saxophones and never touch a soprano or baritone. This is fine; it is about what type of sound you like and what you are comfortable playing. This video has an introduction to the different types of saxophones that you may find useful (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmW2I3XKUMw).

Renting vs. Buying Saxophones - If you are a musician or music student, you know that instruments are expensive. Renting is an option, and it can be a good idea if you are just starting to take lessons. Why invest a few hundred dollars in something you're not sure you are passionate about? You can rent it to see if you like playing and go from there. There are rent-to-own programs that give you the best of both worlds. If you are sure you want to take the time to learn to play, buying your own is a good decision. Renting can cost anywhere from $30 a month to over $50; a saxophone can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. Renting for a few months to get a feel for the instrument, and then buying could be a good compromise. Because saxophone prices are so high, should you consider a used saxophone? This can be a good idea because it is less expensive, but you really have to be careful about the condition that the instrument is in. If you do want to save by purchasing a used saxophone, buy it through a site like eBay, which has buyer protection. If the sax comes with a big crack in the neck, your payment will be refunded. You can buy student, intermediate, advanced, and professional models. Prices go up accordingly. You can browse the best selling saxophones online here.

Best Saxophones:

When you play the saxophone, you need a certain level of quality so you can produce quality tones. Several brands stand out as the best, including Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagisawa, and Keilwerth.

Selmer Prelude Alto Saxophone - This is a good introductory alto saxophone in terms of size and price. The Prelude has a glossy gold lacquer body with high F# and articulated C#. It has a manageable build and good intonation. It comes with a hard shell carrying case, strap, ligature, and mouthpiece for $515. This Selmer is by no means professional quality, but it is great for the student who has progressed past the rental stage and wants his own, relatively affordable instrument.

Yamaha YAS-23 Student Alto Saxophone - The Yamaha YAS-23 Student Alto Saxophone is another good introductory model, though more expensive than the Prelude. The Yamaha features durable power forged key work, adjustable thumb rests, adjustable key guard felts for excellent intonation and venting, a gold lacquer body, great intonation, strong plywood case, mouthpiece, and saxophone care equipment. The Yamaha sells for about $1600 at Amazon.

Yanagisawa T-901 Professional Tenor Saxophone (Lacquer) - If you want to play with the big boys, get out your Yanagisawa T-901 Professional Tenor Saxophone. This is a top shelf tenor saxophone with full-bodied tone, even scale, great projection, high F# key of Bb., hand-engraved bell, mechanism that is sway-free for F auxiliary and low C# scales, and a chic lacquered body that is silver-plated. This melodious beauty is about $3300. From a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, there is an incredible array of excellent saxophones. Browse online and see which one fits your music style, ability, and budget. There is bound to be something that suits you, and you can always upgrade to a Yanagisawa when you discover your style and know you want to stick with the sax.