The Beginner’s Guide to Purchasing a Student Saxophone

The saxophone can be a very rewarding instrument to learn how to play. You’ll be able to use it in dozens of genres from jazz and blues to pop and rock. However, picking your first saxophone can be very intimidating. You want to make sure that you get something that will be able to last for a long time. But what should you be looking for? Let’s take a closer look at some of the things you need to know when shopping for a student saxophone.

What Type Of Saxophone Should I Buy?

There are four main types of saxophones on the market. You can either purchase a soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone. Each of these will have different pros and cons. The one that will suit you best will often depend on the type of music that you want to play. Let’s take a closer look at each of these members of the saxophone family.

Soprano Saxophone

By Yamaha Corporation – Yamaha Music Europe, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The soprano is straight rather than curved. When you play it properly, it will be able to deliver a very nice tone. However, it can take a lot of skill to play this instrument. Because of the smaller mouthpiece, you’ll need to curve your lips around the mouthpiece and blow harder to get the right tone. Because of this, it will often suit a more advanced player, rather than someone trying to learn the instrument for the first time.

Alto Saxophone

By Yamaha Corporation – Yamaha Music Europe, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Next, you have the alto sax. This is one of the most popular models for beginners. There are a few key advantages to this model. First, they tend to be the lightest and easiest to hold. This makes them a good choice for children. They also have a smaller mouthpiece, which can make it easier for you to blow into.

Tenor Saxophone

By Yamaha Corporation – Yamaha Music Europe, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The other popular is a tenor saxophone. This will suit those looking to start playing jazz music. These are also popular options for beginners learning to play the instrument. This tends to be a little bigger and bulkier than the alto. However, it’s still a good place to start your journey.

Baritone Saxophone

By Sylenius – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Finally, you have the baritone saxophone. This is the biggest model on the market. As a result, it will often be the hardest to hold and can take a little more skill to play. Also, it will require more advanced finger placement, to hit the notes correctly. Because of this, it tends to be limited to more skilled players. They also tend to be one of the heaviest models on the market.


Once you know what type of saxophone you want to play, you can start to take a closer look at some of the saxophones. It’s often a good idea to check what the saxophone is made from. Most modern saxophones are made from brass. However, you might find some that use other metals. For example, you might find that they have bodies made from bronze or silver. However, because bronze and silver are more expensive, they are reserved for professional saxophones. When you’re just starting out, brass is a good choice.

Ribbed Keys

Most modern saxophones will feature ribbed keys. This means that they will be soldered to the body of the saxophone. This will ensure that they are attached firmly. If you are shopping second-hand, you might be looking for an older model. In this case, you will discover that the keys aren’t ribbed. This generally won’t be a major issue, as you’ll still be able to get good sound with or without the ribbed keys, although saxophones without ribbed keys might be a little heavier.


Another advancement in modern saxophones has been a reduction in price. You used to need to be willing to pay thousands of dollars to get a high-quality instrument. Recently, though, there’s been a rise in the number of excellent cheaper instruments to choose from. Now, you might be able to get a good beginner model for less than $1,500. This has made the saxophone more accessible to everyone.

If you want to get an even cheaper option, you might want to consider shopping second-hand. This can allow you to snag a great deal. However, it can also pose a few potential problems. For example, some people might be selling the instrument because it no longer produces a nice sound. Because of this, it’s important to be careful when buying a used saxophone. You must arrange to inspect the instrument for yourself. During this, make sure that there aren’t any dents and the keys are still firmly attached. It might be a good idea to bring along a more experienced saxophone player, so they’ll be able to help you spot any potential problems.

What Accessories Do I Need?

When you’re just getting started, you don’t need to get a lot of expensive accessories.


New York Meyer Alto Sax Mouthpiece – 100th Anniversary Model taken from

First, you should make sure to get a good mouthpiece. This will help you to create the best possible sound. You can check out a list of some of the best new saxophone mouthpieces here.


Just Joe’s Sax Gel Strap

You might also want to get a good neck strap, such as those by Just Joe’s, or you may also want to check out this online comparison article as another good place to start.


SKB SKB-440 Professional Contoured Alto Saxophone Case

When it comes to a case for your horn, just about any new horn you purchase should come with a hard case. However, if you want something light and portable, there are also soft cases (aka “gig bags”) made of nylon, polyester, leather, or some combination of those materials. That said, if you want something that will offer maximum protection, stick with the hard case.


BG A30 Microfiber Cleaning Swab for Alto Saxophone

It’s also important to get some swabs, to remove excess moisture in the horn after playing, and keep the inside of the horn clean. Once you have these items, you’ll be ready to start playing.


The saxophone can be a great instrument to learn how to play. You’ll be able to play it across dozens of musical genres. It’s important to make sure that you’re getting a high-quality instrument. Hopefully, you have a better idea of some of the things to look for when choosing a student saxophone. If you want some more tips, and to browse through some excellent options, check out this helpful analysis: