If there’s one thing that wind instruments lovers agree on, it’s that playing a tenor saxophone perfectly takes a lot of persistence, discipline, and of course curiosity.
But for that, you need the best tenor instrument, which is usually tricky to pick especially for beginners and intermediate players.
This guide is for you. To give you clarity on the correct sax for you, not only quality-wise but also ease of playability as well.
Table of Contents
Best Tenor Saxophones for Beginners In 2024
Best Tenor Saxophones for Intermediate Students 2024
Is Tenor Saxophone Easy to Play for Beginners?
The tenor sax might be easy or hard to play for beginners depending on several factors.
For instance, if you have had an experience with any of the wind instruments before, then it might be easier for you to play the tenor sax, as opposed to a beginner who hasn’t tried any of them before.
This is because, these instruments usually have a similar playing mechanism, which with a little practice, will bring the best out of you.
Also, if you have been listening to more tenor saxophone artists as compared to alto or soprano sax, then it will be easy for you to imitate those sounds when you first hold the tenor sax.
But, for a beginner who can only remember alto, soprano, or no form of sax music in their heads, then releasing a tenor tone might take a little more practice, t anticipated.
So you see, there’s no absolute answer to this question. But I will try to give you as much of an objective answer as possible.
Honestly, playing tenor hugely depends on your passion for the instrument. If the sound of it gets your musical juices flowing, then you will be playing it with much ease within no time.
So, before trying it, you should first ask yourself what your major objective is. Having a clear objective will push you into learning how to play “faster”, as you have something tangible to fulfill.
And even after you settle for tenor and know that’s all you want, it won’t be all rosy. There will be days when things won’t be all easy.
The times when the sounds you will be getting will simply be wrong, when your fingers and mouth decide to go against you and when you can’t seem to lose the warbles no matter how hard you try.
It’s during such times that you will realize that it’s the passion you hold for your tenor sax and the beautiful sounds in your head, which will keep you going.
So, yes. Whichever way you look at it, the tenor is easy for beginners to play, just as much alto is, if only you put your mind and passion into it.
Remember, nothing can stop a passionate player!
Things to Consider when Getting a Tenor Saxophone
Tenor saxophones come in different sizes. From small, medium-sized to large, you choose according to preference.
The best size for you will depend on your body size. The last thing you want is to appear like an ant carrying an axe!
Here, consider your level of expertise. Are you a student? Teacher? Intermediate or professional?
There are various tenor sax that fit all types of players, choose the one that can comfortably cover your needs at the moment.
Just like the sizes, various models of tenor sax weigh differently.
So, whenever shopping, ensure to check out the weight. The ideal weight should be light enough to allow you to achieve balance and play smoothly.
This’s especially important for beginners. The less difficult the sax is, the better for you.
The neck of the saxophone is the main part behind the sound it produces.
So, if you try out an instrument, love its body type but not the sound that comes from it, then you might as well consider getting a new neck.
The market is flooded with various saxophone necks so it shouldn’t be difficult for you to find your perfect match.
The various models of tenor saxophones also come with different keys. This is the small metals cup-size in shape.
Some sax has more buttons than others and this makes it easy for you to play.
You can either find a ribbed or non-ribbed saxophone. This is simply the form of posts on the body of your tenor sax.
The ribbed ones give your instrument’s body parts a firm hold, thus guaranteeing longevity.
Even though the majority of saxophones are made-up of brass, some of them contain other metals, such as; copper, silver, and bronze.
Brass is considered to be more durable, rust-resistant, and hard than the other metals.
New Vs. Used Saxophone: Which Is Better?
This is one of the biggest decisions you will have to make when planning on purchasing a saxophone. In fact, if you ask around, most beginner players don’t even consider used saxophones as an option.
But contrary to regular assumptions that used instruments are all bad, you can actually benefit much from this decision, especially if you’re operating on a tight budget.
And yes, a new sax has that amazing appeal. You get one straight from the shops and you’re ready to play, without having to counter the effects of wear and tear.
Also, when you get a new sax, you receive support from the manufacturers in terms of trial days or even warranty. Something that you will miss with a used sax.
And a new sax doesn’t have to be that expensive. You can find a decent one at an affordable price.
Besides, there’s that psychological satisfaction that comes with knowing your instrument is brand new, especially for beginners when you want to be seen with a cool saxophone and the tone it produces doesn’t matter much.
On the other hand, getting a used sax needs a little more effort and skills.
You need to know its worth and its condition. If you don’t (especially for beginners), then you might be taken advantage of and that isn’t cool.
Therefore, it’s always good to confirm the details of the seller and those of the instrument before confirming the purchase of a used sax.
But, if you’re already experienced, know what you want and get a good deal out of a uses sax, then you save up a little more and get the desired tone, which is the most important after all.
It’s for this reason that we can confidently say, new or used sax doesn’t really matter. What matters is the quality of both and experience of the player in utilizing all the features that the sax presents.
So, if you’re a beginner and are blue on matters sax, then it’s better to go for a new one.
But. if you’re already experienced and know what kind of sax you want and can confidently verify that the seller is genuine and the sax is in perfect condition, then go ahead and get it by all means.
When you play, people will be more focused on the sound than the glow of your saxophone. For what is it to have a new sax that you can’t even play, correctly?
How Do You Play A Tenor Saxophone for Beginners?
Step 1: Get a decent tenor saxophone. It could be by buying or renting. And ensure it’s well assembled. You can do it yourself or let someone help you out.
Step 2: Hold the instrument with your left hand on the top and the right on at the bottom of the instrument (for right-handed individuals).
Step 3: Let your right thumb rest on the curved thumb at the bottom of the instrument. And the rest of the fingers on the easily accessible mother of pearl keys, while the pinky rests on the remaining keys at the bottom of the sax.
Step 4: As for your left thumb, let it rest on the round piece at the top of your instrument. And the other fingers should rest on the five mother pearl keys at the top.
Step 5: Now form the embouchure by curling your lower lip slightly over the bottom teeth and the rest of the top teeth should be on the top part of the mouthpiece.
Step 6: Make a blow into the instrument without covering any holes.
Step 7: Now, start practicing the notes by covering the keys. Find some music to play and try them out. Keep practicing
Here is a video for a better understanding regarding how beginners can learn to play a tenor saxophone;
Tips for Beginner Sax Players
- Practice consistently
- Practice your breathing. Your throat should always be open and you should use your diaphragm to breathe.
- Stick with one position until you master it
- Choose your reeds carefully as they determine the sound you produce.
- Have a routine instrument maintenance schedule to ensure the durability of your sax.
- Incorporate dynamics to express yourself.
FAQs About Best Tenor Saxophone for Beginners and Intermediate Students
How Much Does A Tenor Sax Cost?
The cost of a tenor sax hugely depends on the model. For a decent student sax, you can get one from around $800-$2000.
Professional models can cost you from $2500 to $15,000 and even beyond!
How Long Does It Take to Learn to Play Tenor Saxophone?
Some people can learn the tenor sax in a matter of days, others may take weeks, months, and even years!
Well, the most honest answer we can give is that it all depends on your effort and consistency. If you practice often, and for long hours, then you should be able to play decent tones in a month or two.
Can I Use Tenor Sax to Play Jazz?
Yes, you can. In fact, the tenor saxophone is the most preferred by jazz performers.
As you can see, you need to select the perfect tenor sax to produce great sounds.
The list we provided are some of the best saxophones there is in today’s market. As you settle for one, consider their playability, durability, and flexibility.
Also, don’t forget to consider between the new and used sax options, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
And remember, practice makes perfect. Always!