The saxophone is possibly one of the most different and popular woodwind instruments. But how much do you really know about the saxophone? We break it down for you.
In this guide, I’ll explain the different types of saxophones, including hybrid models that seem to be getting more and more popular, which will open your eyes to the world of ukulele and hopefully help you decide which saxophone to buy.
Are you having trouble figuring out what type of saxophone to buy? Maybe you’re trying to figure out what type of saxophone you have? Whatever your questions, we will discuss all types of saxophones and the advantages and disadvantages of each.
There are 4 most common types of saxophones:
By “most common”, I mean that they are used more in contemporary music. All saxophones have the same fingerings, so it’s easy to switch between them.
What are the Different Types of Saxophones?
There are originally 14 different types of saxophones in the saxophone family.
The 4 most common types are soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone.
- The alto saxophone is ideal for beginners, especially for younger students due to its small size.
- Tenor saxophones are the most popular saxophone and are usually what people think of when they think of a saxophone.
- The soprano saxophone provides the highest tone among the four commonly used saxophones.
- The baritone version provides a powerful and deep sound.
There are a handful of different sizes of saxophone, and each offers its own benefits, drawbacks, and tonality.
As you will discover, there is no “one size fits all” when playing the saxophones, but there are unique benefits and drawbacks for everyone. In fact, after reading this, you will probably want saxophones of all sizes!
Let’s take a look!
A soprano sax is a great sounding saxophone however due to its shorter length it is more difficult to play than a typical sax and therefore is not recommended for beginners.
The Yamaha YSS-82Z Soprano Saxophone – a great soprano saxophone
In my opinion, it is better to start with a clarinet, and then when you are comfortable with playing a reed instrument, you can give the alto sax a try.
This type of saxophone is more difficult to learn and is not recommended for beginners. The correct position of the embouchure of the mouth is essential to successfully play this type of saxophone.
In general, beginners should avoid soprano saxophones. These saxophones require very precise techniques to be played correctly. Most beginners will not possess this technique.
For more info, see our reviews of the best soprano saxophone. Take a listen to the following performance on a soprano saxophone.
The alto saxophone is one of the most played saxophones out there. This type of saxophone is widely used in all types of music, including classical, jazz, and rock.
The YAMAHA YAS-280 – a great alto saxophone
A great beginners saxophone, the alto sax is a bit smaller than a tenor but it looks and sounds like you would expect from a saxophone.
However, most of these people never sell their alto once they realize the tremendous versatility of the instrument.
Alto saxophones are quite small in stature, which makes them not only easy to hold but also easy to play. Therefore, they are ideal for beginners.
For more info, see our reviews of the best alto saxophone. Listen to the following performance on an alto saxophone.
The tenor is one of the most widely used saxophones in the world. This saxophone is widely used in various genres, from jazz to classical music, rock, and much, much more.
The Yamaha YTS-62III Tenor Saxophone – a great tenor saxophone
However, these ones are typically not for beginners.
For more info, see our reviews of the best tenor saxophones.
The baritone saxophone, although big and bulky, is a great sounding sax with a deep rich sound that provides bass.
The Yamaha YBS-62 Baritone Saxophone – a great baritone saxophone
For more info, see our reviews of the best baritone saxophones.
How do Saxophones work?
Saxophones use a reed as a vibrating membrane to create sound. The position of the mouth on the mouthpiece and reed is called the embouchure, which controls the pitch and pitch depending on how much pressure the lower lip applies to the reed.
As the keys are pressed, the instrument drops in pitch, although some fingerings are in places you wouldn’t expect them to be.
There are many types of saxophones. Each has its own qualities. There are four main types that are used in contemporary music.
The more you become familiar with each saxophone, the more aware you will be of each of its unique tonal qualities. Soon you will be able to identify each type of saxophone by listening to recordings.
To begin with, however, you will at least be able to identify each one by its appearance.
If you are new to the saxophone, I recommend starting with the alto.