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?
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.
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.
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.
So other than your saxophone, what else do you want to buy before you leave the store?
When starting out, try various reed brands and thicknesses until you find one you enjoy for general playing.
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.
Every horn deserves a good wipe down after a jam session.
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
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.
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.
Yamaha YAS-280 Student Alto Saxophones
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.
Kaizer Reliable Student 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.
Allora Paris Black Nickel Baritone Saxophone AABS-955 - Black Nickel
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.
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.