Best Beginner Saxophone Review in 2018

There is an incredibly large selection within the beginner saxophone market. Within this review we'll be looking at altos, sopranos, tenors and baritone saxophones for all your beginner's needs. Whether you're an adult or a parent with a talented child, finding the right saxophone takes time. If you can, take a trip to a music store to give you some "hands on" time with the instruments we've listed here.

Things To Consider

Child or Adult?

Best Beginner Saxophone

Sometimes children may not be quite ready for such a large instrument. Always have your child handle the instrument in question before buying it, especially if the child will be in marching band. They have to be positive that they can handle the weight of their woodwind. This is a little less of an issue for soprano players than it is for baritone saxophones.

Adults with long fingers or large hands may find themselves cramped on the alto or soprano saxophone. If you have your heart set on a soprano saxophone but cannot find one locally to try out, try a clarinet and see if you feel comfortable with it. The two instruments are very similarly shaped, weighted and sized.

Sound

Soprano saxophones should have a high, strong voice that meet somewhere comfortably between a flutist and a clarinet. They should sing out over the rest of the saxophone family and they should do it easily. If your soprano saxophone is straining to be heard or seems "muted", leave it and search for a better brand.

Alto saxophones should have the same body in their voice that a soprano does, but it should be "harder". Rather than a singing note, the sound should be more like a toot. The tone should border on sharp.

Tenor saxophones are the ones that most people equate with the imagery and sound of a saxophone. They're incredibly popular across most music, but they are picturesque in most Jazz bands. Good sound on a tenor saxophone isn't particularly hard to find, but knowing what to look for may be a bit of a challenge. A good tenor saxophone should hold a deep, passionate note full of velvet and melted chocolate. You should hear it with the soul.

Baritone saxophones are the big, thick brother of a tenor saxophone. Rather than purr and pour, these saxophones should growl and rumble through your heart. A good baritone beginner saxophone should sound like you've entered a very smooth thunderstorm.

Appearance

Though the most common finish for saxophones is gold, a beginner saxophone can be found in a wide variety of colors. Bronze, silver and platinum are pretty easy to find, though they may require special ordering. For those looking for neon or a wider array of rainbow, many music stores offer painted instruments.

If ordering a painted instrument in a color that is not a metal tone, make certain you read your care instructions. Painted instruments do require a little more maintenance than your average metal instrument, but if you've fallen in love with the idea of a sky blue saxophone they're still well worth it.

Accessories

So other than your saxophone, what else do you want to buy before you leave the store?

Reeds:

When starting out, try various reed brands and thicknesses until you find one you enjoy for general playing.

Cleaning wands:

Pretty self explanatory. Your spit is going to get all over the inside of this thing. You want to keep that dried up, so you use huge fluffy cleaning wands to absorb and clean.

Cork Balm or Oil:

May also be called cork grease. Your mouthpiece is fitted over a cork. This cork must be kept in good shape, and doing that means using cork oil or balm. Make sure you grab some.

Cleaning cloth:

Every horn deserves a good wipe down after a jam session.

Neckstrap:

Saxophones are rather cumbersome to both hold up and work the keys. You'll do better to let your neck bear some of the weight.

Five Best Beginner Saxophone 

Legacy SS750 Student Soprano Saxophone

Best Beginner Saxophone

Legacy is a great choice for entry level instruments and this soprano saxophone certainly fits the bill. It is standard in keys and valves, comes with high grade pads and includes a lot of extras, such as a small cleaning kit. And let's be honest, when making an investment like an instrument it's always nice to have a few extras thrown in for you.

The one thing it's really missing is an assembly guide for those just learning how saxophones are put together out of the case. This is easily rectified with a quick google search, but we do take off a couple of points for not including such an easy to produce item. We'd also like to see a slightly more high quality reed included. This one works well, but it's just a generic reed which leaves new players not knowing where to get more if they enjoy it.

Pros

  • Great sound: For a beginner saxophone, this has crystal clear sound.
  • Comes with a reed: This comes with a reed pre-installed on your mouthpiece so you can pick up the instrument, pop it together and honk out your first notes in minutes.
  • Lots of bonus items: Including a neckstrap, cork balm, and a cap for your mouthpiece. This just helps you save even more.

Cons

  • Cloth case: The cloth case that is included won't hold up long if you're transporting your instrument. You'll need to upgrade to leather or a hard case.
  • Coloration: Since this is a beginner saxophone intended for those just getting their feet wet, it's something of a "budget" model. That means that the valves are a dull grey finish rather than matching the gold body of the instrument.
  • Small: That means difficulty finding fingerings for those with long fingers or large hands.

Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone

Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone

Here with a very pretty, standard sized beginner saxophone, Jean Paul has long been a well known name in the student instrument market. Coming with a Rico brand reed is a very nice upgrade. Rico reeds brag that they're the most popular reed in the world, and they're not wrong.

Rico reeds are pretty pricey, but they're well reputed for lasting longer than others as well as producing better sound. Jean Paul USA clearly has high quality in mind, even with student saxophones. We appreciate that they want to start young musicians out on the best foot that they can. It's also appreciated that they include a branded reed so new musicians can learn more easily which brands they prefer.

Pros

  • Reinforced cloth case: Though this case is cloth, it is cloth wrapped around a very hard plastic material. The instrument is well padded against all falls or breakage while in this case.
  • Body Colored Keys: While some may prefer a "two tone" color, there is a wide difference between having it done intentionally in silver and gold, and simply not coloring the keys as in our last example.
  • Fantastic warranty: Jean Paul USA stands behind their instruments 100%, with their standard warranty included for two years. More years can be purchased after you register your instrument, if you so desire.

Cons

  • Includes gloves, but not neckstrap: Gloves can be picked up at any music store for children's band uniforms for a few dollars. Neckstraps are a good deal more costly if buying something comfortable.
  • The cork oil in this set is actually a sampler, not an entire stick.
  • This particular lacquer finish fades to a matte gold very quickly on this instrument. If color isn't important to you, this is a lesser complaint.

Yamaha YAS-280 Student Alto Saxophones

Best Beginner Saxophone

It's hard to make a list of saxophones, even within the beginner saxophone market, without Yamaha on it. Yamaha has been the standby of beginner band teachers and professional band musicians for a very, very long time. These instruments are incredibly dependable and will produce the sound they're made to produce for a very long time when treated correctly.

Yamaha stands behind their products with a lifetime warranty. If your saxophone throws a post in a year or twenty years, Yamaha will foot the bill to fix your baby. If the instrument is unable to be repaired, Yamaha does full replacement with an instrument of equal or greater value based on the model number of your own.

The one drawback to this instrument is that it may outlast it's purpose. Though resale value is certainly considerable, this may be too much of an investment for a child in their first year of band. Consider all of your options.

Pros

  • Long lasting finish and fairly resistant to scratches and dings. Drops will happen even when you're careful. Yamaha tries to guard against them.
  • Mother of pearl inlaid keys are hard to get dirty and absolutely glow when shined for the stage. Makes the instrument even more flashy than it already is.
  • Premium cork is dipped in a permanent wax sealant that helps keep it moistened in between greasing.

Cons

  • No cleaning kit: That means you'll be buying your fluffy wands all by yourself. For an instrument of this caliber, Yamaha really should include spit wands in the package.
  • Few extras in the box: Without considering that there's no cleaning kit, not even a miniature one, this instrument doesn't come with much. Like many others, it comes with a tiny sample tube of cork grease and a tiny cloth. Disappointing.
  • Questionable origin: This particular instrument states that it is made in both Indonesia and Japan. Clearer labeling would be nice.

Kaizer Reliable Student Saxophone 

Best Beginner Saxophone

Something other than gold or brass for you silver lovers out there. This gorgeous silver tenor beginner saxophone is a fine choice for students that want something that stands out. Like Yamaha, Kaizer stands behind their instruments for life. This includes drops or accidents. If the instrument can be repaired, Kaizer will do it.

However, Kaizer is a little more spotty when it comes to loss replacement. Kaizer only replaces instruments if they are lost due to damage, not wear and tear or trauma that renders the instrument unrecognizable like a house fire. This is stated in their warranty clauses in your new saxophone's case.

In some cases, replacement parts may be shipped to you and Kaizer may pay for the repair rather than asking for the instrument to be shipped back to them. While some other companies may send base replacement parts, Kaizer is careful for color and material matching so long as the item series is sent along to them. This means that any parts sent along should match your beginner saxophone.

Pros

  • Silver finish is dipped, not plated. This means that the finish will last all the longer and is far more chip and scratch resistant than those that are plated.
  • Comes with a massive care kit including a simply enormous microfiber polishing cloth that actually does get fingerprints off the instrument.
  • Pads are plated with a diamond textured coating that helps keep wear at bay. After long hours of playing, sometimes pads on keys and valves become warped or exhausted. This texture overlay helps to prevent that.

Cons

  • The cork oil that is included is a poor choice for the cork involved in this instrument. Rather than keeping it soft and pliable, it's more likely to just make it slick.
  • There's a random camera added to this package for some reason. The camera has wifi and 720p video capture, meaning it's a pretty cheap camera. Your guess is as good as ours as to why it's here.
  • Some poles are not dipped in silver. This is unnoticeable to most quick gazes, but may frustrate those that want a solid silver instrument.

Allora Paris Black Nickel Baritone Saxophone AABS-955 - Black Nickel 

Best Beginner Saxophone

This is a high quality beginner saxophone, bordering on a mid-level saxophone. This baritone saxophone produces a deep, pure sound that lays out most of the competition, including it's perennial rival Yamaha.

Allora is a nice alternative to the slightly more popular Yamaha and tends to offer different finishes on their instruments that often aren't found on Yamaha's saxophones. If you're after a colored saxophone, Allora's lineup is probably one of your better bets.

It's black nickel finish is very pretty, though it will show fingerprints easily. This instrument is best played with gloves only for that purpose. The two tone keys make it all the more showy. Pair it with a pinstriped neckstrap and you'll really impress on stage or wherever else you play.

Pros

  • Though most of the instruments in this list have had cloth cases, we finally see the upgrade to a hard case in this instrument. A hard, contoured case is one of the best protections your instrument can have when traveling
  • True to tuning and it stays that way. The slightly larger bell on this instrument helps better, "truer" sound come out for a long period, giving you a longer time between retunes.
  • Comes with a small care kit of a single cleaning wand and a medium sized microfiber cloth. Cleaning wand can be sized down to slide through the top tubes of the instrument as needed.

Cons

  • Those allergic to nickel should avoid this instrument. The color isn't just black nickel, so is the metal. This is not just a lacquer.
  • The included mouthpiece is cheap and rather flimsy. It will suit students while they learn their scales and simple songs, but will have to be replaced as students get better at their new craft.
  • Keys and valves are inlaid with imitation mother of pearl that will chip after heavy usage. While easily replaced, this is a cheap out that is hard to forgive with an otherwise quality instrument.

Conclusion

So who wins the battle of the beginner saxophone band? We've looked at all four major saxophones and gone on to pit them against each other. As you can see, it's a hard decision when comparing so many different pros and cons.

The clear winner here today is the Jean Paul USA student alto saxophone. Not only is the instrument incredibly well priced, but it's inclusions can't be beat. With their inclusion of a Rico reed, this company is clearly trying to start beginners on the very best foot that they possibly can.

Jean Paul USA's student alto saxophone is also easily used by a multitude of new students, regardless of finger reach. It is lightweight enough for young children but comfortable for adults as well.

Stephanie Su
 

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