The alto saxophone is a versatile musical instrument that has dominated modern musical scenes across the world.
Its smooth sound has been the center of jazz entertainment for decades.
This has gained saxophone popularity, thus leading to a large number of people who would love to play it today.
While this incredible instrument is fun to learn, it might be difficult to choose one that suits your needs.
And that’s why we are here today; to help you choose the best alto saxophone for beginners and intermediate students.
Read through to the end!
Best Alto Saxophone for Beginner and Intermediate Students
Is the Alto Saxophone Easy to Learn for Beginners?
Playing saxophone isn’t as complicated as your mind might want you to believe. In fact, the alto saxophone is even easier to learn.
This is the main reason as to why it’s recommended by most composers and teachers, especially for beginners.
It has a medium size, which can comfortably allow anyone beyond age ten to handle. And of course, the alto saxophone provides sufficient learning material for learners.
So, if you’re planning on attending that 1st saxophone lesson, be ready to get a sound out of it by the end of the lesson.
Yes, it’s that simple. Of course, if you diligently follow provided instruction.
Nothing comes easy in this world. And sometimes, even the simplest of musical instruments, such as a drum, can give you a headache if you decide to follow your own impulses.
You see, the most important aspect of learning saxophone lies in the way you “embouchure.” This’s a professional term to the way you twist your lips when on the mouthpiece.
It greatly impacts the quality of the tone you produce and so, even if we say you can make a sound by the end of your first lesson, don’t be fooled into believing that the sound will be very professional as the ones you have been listening to.
For that, you will have to work on your embouchure skill for several years.
Well, let’s say for your entire professional life because learning never stops. And you will need the services of a great coach along the way.
We know what you’re thinking; “get right into it and tell me if saxophone is hard to learn!”
Honestly, there’s no definite answer to this question, just as there has never been any when it comes to all musical instruments.
The answer is simple; human beings are different. And we all have different learning capabilities.
While some individuals might find it easy to learn the saxophone, others might find it a bit difficult, while others will term it as extremely difficult.
Take, for instance, middle school learners, they won’t even be able to give the alto saxophone a hold due to the nature of their little hands and mouths.
So, if you try to teach them, then they will find it extremely uncomfortable and difficult.
As for high school students who haven’t tried playing any kind of wind instrument before, then they might find it pretty difficult in the beginning.
But with constant practice, patience and dedication, they can grasp basic concepts in a matter of days or weeks.
Now, for saxophone beginner players who have had an experience with other types of wind instruments, it might come out as easy.
They’re already conversant with the basics, which apply to all wind instruments.
They might even end-up developing a liking for saxophone over other wind instruments such as the clarinet, given that the fingering process of a saxophone is far less complicated.
One of the greatest downsides of the saxophone lies in the fact that it doesn’t offer immediate gratification.
Instead, learners have to invest a lot of time and effort in learning the ropes to eventually achieve impressive tones.
So, if you’ve been looking forward to sounding like your favorite saxophone artist within a few weeks, then you will end up getting disappointed.
The secret is not to over expect and allow yourself to get surprised at what you can achieve within a few months.
Therefore, instead of being unrealistic, concentrate on enjoying the process. And before you know it, you will be sounding cooler than your peers.
Also, remember, even those experts you’re looking up to, are still learning something new each day. So, why would you want to experience a 20-year-old career in a week! It’s fun to keep learning!
Things to Consider When Buying an Alto Saxophone
To get the best and achieve limitless impossibilities with your alto saxophone, you have to consider the following things;
Finishes and Materials
The most classic saxophone material is the yellow brass. It’s also the most famous, common and easily available in various music stores.
But, you can still find saxophones made of different materials such as copper, bronze, etc. So, you will have to pick one which suits your preference.
Also, nowadays, you can easily come across a brass saxophone but with different finishing on either the neck and bells or both.
The various materials and finishes mainly affect the pricing as some require special handling.
Settle for one which won’t be too expensive to maintain. Manufacturers usually provide this information.
This is where the terms ribbed and non-ribbed come from.
And they are used in reference to the procedure of posts/small knobs) attachment to the body. And they are responsible for dictating the keying system.
If the saxophone has ribs, it means its posts are strongly attached for better holding.
In non-ribbing construction, the posts get a direct attachment to the body, which sacrifices a little bit of its strength. But, it also translates to less weight and affordability.
So, for students, the non-ribbing saxophone options make a perfect pick.
The neck of the saxophone greatly impacts the sound quality released.
So, if the neck is faulty, then you might start “hating” the sound produced. But, the great news is that you can change it and enjoy your saxophone better than before.
A responsive neck makes a great difference.
First, it’s good to understand that mot Saxophones have their key layout standardized.
But even then, various manufacturers have come-up with saxophones with additional features and keys, which help players achieve amazing notes, with ease of playing.
But of course, this might slightly impact the price tag.
Used or Brand New?
Sometimes, you might not have enough cash to purchase a new instrument and that’s understandable.
But, that also doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. If you decide to settle for a 2nd hand sax, then ensure you research as much as possible about the seller and the reason of their selling.
And even after finding out that they’re genuine, indulge the services of a technician to ensure it’s in perfect condition.
For new ones, brand name matters, but not always. There are various less known brands with amazing instruments, so check out reviews before committing.
Renting or Buying?
Like buying used sax, renting is also an option of laying your hands on that much-anticipated instrument.
But don’t be fooled into believing that all lenders are straight-forward. Some lending costs are enough for you to get a new sax.
So, take time to examine the contract to ensure you understand all the details. Does the hiring cost cover accidents? What about repairs? Is there a viable exchange option?
These are some of the important questions to ponder before committing.
FAQs About Best Alto Saxophone for Beginner and Intermediate Students
How Much to Spend on Your First Alto Saxophone?
The amount you should spend depends on your budget. That said, you can purchase a high-quality alto saxophone at around $1000 or a little bit less.
It should serve you well enough before you upgrade to a professional sax.
Is It Easier to Learn Alto or Tenor Sax?
We aren’t surprised by this question as the alto and tenor saxophones remain the most interesting ones to many sax players.
So, choosing between the two is mostly a matter of preference.
That said, alto instruments are easier to learn by younger learners. They are not only lighter, but also smaller as compared to tenor sax.
Also, alto is likely going to be easier for you to play, especially if you have been playing a lot of. In this case, you will find tenor heavier and difficult.
But, we believe that if you take a lot of time playing tenor the same way you do alto, then you might end up feeling that the level of difficulty in learning the two is pretty the same.
So, to be honest, you can easily learn to play the two with ease if you put in the right amount of effort. Although, for an absolute beginner, tenor might seem more complex, at least for the first few days or hours.
What Are the Best Alto Saxophones Brands?
When it comes to saxophones, brand matters, although not always. Here are some of the best Saxophones brands for beginners;
- Yamaha; is one of the most popular brands among beginners. It produces top-notch beginner-friendly instruments and at an affordable price.
- Mendini by Cecilio; this brand is the most favorable for beginners in search of a cheap alto saxophone.
- Conn-Selmer; the jazz music sector is currently enjoying the use of some of the best instruments, thanks to the mega merge between Con and Selmer. Their products ooze longevity, complete with a touch of quality.
- Jupiter; established in the 1930s, Jupiter prides itself on the manufacturing of high-quality instruments suitable for beginners, intermediates, and professionals.
- Jean Paul; this brand never disappoints with its wide range of quality musical instruments. They’re a true definition of value for the quality!
Is Saxophone Harder Than the Guitar?
All instruments present a level of difficulty to master, especially for beginners. But, getting notes on a guitar might be very difficult as getting moderate ones on a saxophone.
And a guitar can also do some other things like polyphony, which a sax can’t.
Also, you can pretty easily pick-up where you left with a guitar even after months of absence, something which can be challenging with a sax.
You have to master punching and dial turning when playing guitar and mouth positioning and breathe control when it comes to a saxophone.
So, our point is that you will need to practice for both. So neither is too difficult or too easy.
How to Clean A Saxophone?
Some things are better explained in practical. That’s why we got the video below to help you understand the essentials of saxophone cleaning;
As a beginner or intermediate saxophone student. Selecting the correct instrument goes a long way into ensuring your success.
And this includes looking beyond the design and choosing a sax that’s easy to use, comfortable on your hands and produces incredible sounds.
Now that you understand this, it’s time to look at our 10 best alto saxophone selection and choose one that suits your needs.