Woodwind Instruments

Does a really good alto ligature actually make a difference? This is a question we get a lot, have heard many times and we believe it’s finally time to give all you saxophonists out there the truth whether or not it has an effect on one’s sound. Here’s the deal, there are two main objectives with a ligature.

The first objective is to simply hold the reed on the mouthpiece. The second objective is to make the reed vibrate in a way that provides you the opportunity to best express yourself through playing your alto.

Experienced saxophonists will be the first ones to tell you that the ligature will help your alto sax performance by keeping the alto mouthpiece and reed in its place, but can a good ligature give you an advantage?

Through trial, error and experience, we review five ligatures for the alto saxophone that we believe will give players a little something extra they’ve been looking for in their sound.


Find the Best Alto Sax Ligature - Our Top 5

this is an image of the Vandoren LC27P ligature

The Vandoren LC27LP creates a warm, round sound that gets the reed vibrating almost perfectly. It is genuine leather, which is nice on the hands and gives the player quick and precise tightening.


Curious to see how the three different pressure plates will affect your sound? If yes, then you may want to purchase this one. Each pressure plate gives you the option of making your sound a little brighter (more powerful), darker, or a little edgier.


It’s designed to customize your playing and may give you the extra edge you’re looking for. It is (in our opinion), without a doubt the best ligature for your alto saxophone to go with vandoren v16 mouthpiece. It’s affordable, yet on the high end, which makes this product very special.

A great option if you use a Meyer, Selmer, Yamaha, JodyJazz, or a D’Addario mouthpiece. Rovner designed their ligatures to hold the reed to the mouthpiece without pressure points. Since there are no pressure points, the reed sits evenly on the mouthpiece, which reduces thickness, thus providing clear tone.


Our take on the Rover C1RL MK III is that it is super affordable, holds the reed in place and provides a great vibration.


There are so many players out there that get a cheap mouthpiece and ligature, then regret making that choice. The reason behind that is going cheap often makes it difficult to play the notes you truly want to play on your alto sax. Case in point, invest in quality and go with reputable brands.

If budget isn’t an issue, we say go with the BG L11BG. In addition to budget not being a factor, if you are looking for the best jazz alto sax ligature, this one is it. The control that players get is literally unbelievable.


This ligature will always stay on the mouthpiece when taking it on or off. In addition to that, you will get great vibration and crystal clear sound.


What we don’t like about the BG L11BG, is that it doesn’t fit on rubber mouthpieces and doesn’t fit on Meyer mouthpieces. So, if you have either of those, you’ll need to find something different. 

The Francois Louis Pure Brass is very similar to the Vandoren LC 27P when it comes to the sounds you can play. For your future reference, material has a really big bearing effect on the sound. In this case, it comes in three different materials: bass, silver and gold.

These materials are designed for different sounds. For example, the brass ligature opens up your sound, the silver is more resistant and you will need to blow harder and the gold ligature gives you more of an elegant sound.

If you play jazz music, the brass is a phenomenal choice because it will allow you to open up your sound and play brighter and darker tones. It’s always a good idea to try out all three, just to see which one fits you best.

We already reviewed another Vandoren, and since they are one of the top brands for ligatures, we decided to review the LC07P. If you use a vandoren V16 mouthpiece, this is a great option for you.

The one thing that so many alto saxophone players keep saying about this ligature is that it holds the reed super tight to the mouthpiece.

What is the best ligature for alto sax?

The answer is it depends. It can be one of many ligatures that are out there. At the end of the day, a good ligature keeps the reed on the mouthpiece and doesn't let it slip away. It should also provide good vibration so you can play any music and hit any note.

You will have to test some of these out on your own so you can see which ones do those two things the best. Yes, there are some ligatures out there that have some extra features. However, go see for yourself and do some trial and error. 

Conclusion

The only other brand that we didn't mention, but deserves "Honorable Mention" is JodyJazz. They create wonderful mouthpieces and they have ligatures to go with them. They have the Silver Power Ring and the Gold Power Ring ligatures. Excellent products, for sure.

We believe that a ligature can give a player an added bonus of playing a wide variety of sounds. The top five listed above are definitely the best options out there, in our opinion. Still, we encourage you to go to your local music store, or purchase a few online and test them out yourself. Trial and error is key for picking up new equipment and accessories. Good luck and we hope you find a ligature that fits your alto saxophone playing style.

Everyone always wants to know when they buy their first alto, does it come with a mouthpiece that can hit every note and produce the tone I'm looking for? The answer depends on what brand and model you buy.

With that being said, if you are serious about investing in a great alto saxophone and becoming the best player you can be, then you will want to check out these mouthpieces, providing you VERY even tone throughout the full range of your horn.

Our Featured Mouthpiece for All Skill Level and Genres

Keeping play-ability in mind first, then making sure it can fit your budget is exactly why this piece is here. After analyzing hundreds of reviews (good and bad), this is the best choice by far. It's great for all skill levels (beginner through professional) and excellent for all genres, including jazz and classical. The Altissimo range sounds great with Model 6!

Below is our list of the top selling saxophone mouthpieces with keeping your budget in mind. We’ll start the guide by showing you which piece is better for certain genres and skill levels (beginner to professional). The whole point to getting a better piece is to have more control and better overall tone, so you can take your skill to the next level.

The links will guide you for purchasing on Amazon.com, which is where most musicians buy many of their music gear (and of course everything else).

The prices on amazon are probably the cheapest and super competitive. In addition, if you have a Prime account, you can get these mouthpieces with free shipping and easy returns with no hassle.


Top 3 Jazz Mouthpieces for Alto Saxophone Players

For many saxophonists, they will be the first to tell you that they picked up this instrument strictly to play jazz music. It's a beautiful thing when you can mix and match tones fluidly to create beautiful music. Most professional saxophonists that play jazz gigs around the world will also tell you to invest in quality, proven equipment.

Whether you're about to join the jazz band in high school, or about to hit the road to play at your next gig, now is the time to find an elite alto sax mouthpiece for jazz!

Below, you will see the top three (3) jazz mouthpieces. It will help narrow down your search. If you use any one of these, it will improve your play. Again, this is hours of research and analyzing hundreds of reviews, so take advantage and enjoy!

#1

Vintage inspired and a true jazz style music mouthpiece for alto saxophone players. There is a HUGE difference between a regular mouthpiece and a jazz one. This is a known fact in the woodwind industry.


One of the elite brands, D’Addario did it again! They crushed it with this model as the Select Jazz line is milled from solid rod rubber using their high-tech computer-controlled creation technology.


If you know how good the Klums are, this Select Jazz sounds just as good and plays very even better. In addition this mouthpiece generates beautiful sound, it’s super simple to control and the intonation is pitch-perfect. These reasons alone make this piece a great value and an excellent first choice for playing jazz music.

#2

Compared to the D'Addario, the JodyJazz Super Jet 7 is a much better and more powerful mouthpiece for jazz music, but will cost more money. If budget isn't an issue, we highly recommend the JodyJazz 7 strictly on the ability to hit any note with so much control that playing jazz has never been easier and more fun. Here it is in action (video below) with Jody Espina, a wonderful player.

#3

This one is the least expensive of the three, but is still a wonderful choice (especially for jazz). The budget-friendly option that is under $150, can be a major upgrade from any mouthpiece that comes with the purchase of your new saxophone. Sometimes, it's just flat out smarter to invest in a better one that will help improve your tone and give you more control.


In fact, most players who are just getting serious about playing jazz will invest in the Vandoren SM811M A5 Chamber V16, and it will almost never disappoint because it will prove as a significant upgrade. There are over 50 reviews on this product and most are five-star ratings. Take a look at these recent customer reviews for the V16 mouthpiece below:

this image shows customer reviews of the Vandoren SM811M A5 Medium Chamber V16

#1 Professional Mouthpiece

Most professional alto players are afraid to try metal mouthpieces because they are afraid it is too bright (too much power). The JodyJazz DV Alto is so free blowing and so smooth. One of the reasons it's so special is because it has all this horsepower, including brightness, power, yet fullness. And that fullness comes from the secondary window, which is patented.


The JodyJazz DV Alto is a very versatile all-around mouthpiece and the reasons we recommend this for professionals is because of the warmth, power, and clarity that you can generate with this special mouthpiece.

Pros

  • Unbelievable Altissimo
  • Secondary window, providing extra power and warmth
  • Proprietary CNC facing technology
  • Cleaner Articulation
  • Effortless Playing
  • Improved Intonation

Cons

  • It is Made of Metal (can be difficult to switch to)
  • May not fit your budget (Sells at $550)
  • Must make sure this fits your playing style and what you're used to. For example, Meyer 6 players, will usually play a DV Alto 7
  • Be prepared to use a harder reed than you normally do due to the free blowing nature of the DV alto.


Top Choices for Beginners

There are times in a saxophone player's life that shed light on their journey of reaching greatness, and that time is choosing the right one. We're all aware by now that the mouthpiece that comes with your instrument is just another average one. The thing is, musicians have a mentality to be great, and an average mouthpiece isn't the answer.

No more stressing out while playing with one that just won't hit the notes you're looking to play. It's time for an upgrade. Maybe it's your first purchase, and if that's the case, you should always start off with a piece that fits you best.

So, without further ado, here are the Top 3 choices for beginners. We list these in order of budget first! That means, the cheapest one is at #1. However, they are all excellent choices for beginners. They are also great for intermediate players, and some professionals use these mouthpieces as well.

#1

An outstanding choice for beginners, as well as intermediate players. The Yamaha 4C has over 300 positive reviews mainly because of how much easier it allows you to play your alto. Hitting the right tone with the right power (as we all know) can be difficult without the right equipment. The 4C gives you every opportunity, especially if you are just starting out. Whether you are a student in high school or an adult ready to embark on a musical instrument journey, the Yahama 4C is affordable (under $30) and a perfect starting point.

#2

Bundle this with the right ligature and cap and you are looking at an exceptional value. The YAC AS4C fits any brand of standard alto saxophone and is easy to obtain a balanced, yet clear and focused tone in any octave. This one in particular is made for beginner players and will allow you to focus on practicing, instead of worrying. Easy blowing along with state of the art manufacturing makes this a wonderful beginner alto sax mouthpiece.

#3

One of the biggest perks of purchasing a Meyer mouthpiece is that they all come with a ligature and mouthpiece cap. The MR-402-6MM has VERY clear response ranging from the lowest of notes all the way to altissimo. There are so many great players out there that rave bout the MR-402-6MM, mainly because it is very easy blowing and produces rich and full tone quality. The price makes it affordable (under $150), especially since you won't need to buy a separate ligature and cap. It's really a great overall choice for beginners. 

What Are the Top Brands You Should Know About?

Choosing a brand is like choosing which pair of brand shoes you like. It all depends on what your preferences are and how your body responds to the particular style. With that being said, we also believe that there are better brands out there for mouthpieces specifically. In addition, there are brands you should also avoid, especially if you are looking to play at an extremely high level.

Here's our quick list of top, reputable brands that you really can't go wrong with. Most of them are on our list.

  • JodyJazz
  • Vandoren
  • Ted Klum
  • D'Addario
  • Meyer
  • Yamaha
  • Selmer

Final Thoughts

We analyzed hundreds of reviews on our way to this list. Our enthusiasm has never been higher because we believe this is the best list out there. The entire goal was to break it down by skill level, budget and genre (mainly jazz).

Only you will know when the right time comes to upgrading your equipment. When you do make those choices, chances are your performance will also improve. That's the beauty of new technology in the musical instrument industry.

Finding the right mouthpiece isn't easy. The one thing that you don't want to do is waste a bunch of time searching around for one. At the end of the day, you're going to have to go out there and test some out to see which one you like the most. Every successful musician will tell you that once you do find the right one, you won't ever have to get another!

Learning how to find and play the best tenor saxophone takes discipline, curiosity and persistence.

Anyone who is aspiring to be a beginner, intermediate or professional musician will need those specific traits, along with a desire to master such a beautifully sounding woodwind instrument.

If you have mastered the beginner stage, then it's time to upgrade to an intermediate tenor.

Are you a professional player? We consulted and helped hundreds of pro players find the perfect match.

This guide will give you clarity on which sax is right for you. It will help you figure out what you’re looking for in a tenor saxophone.

These ten beauties we chose are, right now, among the cream of the crop. They are also affordable for the beginner student. So, get your popcorn ready because the show is about to start!

best tenor saxophone for sale

Featured Tenor Sax -Yamaha YTS-62III

This horn has everything you need to raise your skill level and become the player you always dreamed of. Take a good hard look at the Yamaha YTS-62III because it's affordable and dependable.

What is the Best Quality in a Tenor Saxophone?

The best qualities in a tenor saxophone are the tone, pitch and overall sound. It can be difficult to know which one can play fine tuned pitches and sounds and also fit you and your personality at the same time. Don’t worry though, because this review article will give you every pro and con with each tenor sax for sale, so you can narrow down your choices even further.


Top 10 Tenor Saxophones for All Students (& Professionals)

#1: Yamaha YTS-62III

The first chair goes to the Yamaha YTS-62III Professional Tenor Saxophone Lacquered. Folks, this one is a gem! It is a professional player’s dream to have one of these and has been band directors’ favorite tenor for decades.

You can play all types of music with it, including jazz, rock, pop, classical and orchestra. The 62 really rocks! The neck is new and improved from previous models, allowing the player to hit almost any note imaginable.

This beautiful looking tenor is also a model upgrade from the 61 model. The YTS-62III is remarkable. It offers superior quality and durability, while at an affordable price point. In addition, this sax has some newly added features and is considered the best overall tenor sax for sale on the musical instrument market today.

Pros & Cons

  • Great for professionals.
  • Highly reliable performance.
  • Outstanding quality.
  • Long lasting (as long as you clean it)
  • Superb Tonality.
  • Affordable Price.
  • May need a better neck strap.

#2: Yamaha YTS-480 – Students & Intermediate Players

Yamaha has been designing high-end saxes for decades, and they really nailed the YTS-480, especially for students and intermediate players. This tenor sax features an insane amount of accurate intonation. It also has a warm tone and quick response.

If you decide to go with this Yamaha tenor, you can play any genre of music. The designers created an improved mechanism from low B-C#. This helps ensure the consistent closing of the low C# and enhances a crystal clear response from the low-range notes.

An unsung feature of the YTS-480 is that it’s lightweight, but durable at the same time. If you like wearing a neck strap, you won’t feel a “heavy” sense from this tenor. In addition, the 62-style neck creates a more mature sound.

If you decide to go with this Yamaha model, you’re getting a real bargain because it sits in the middle of the pack price range and carries some of the same features as some of the finest tenor designs in the world.

Pros & Cons

  • Produces a warm tone
  • Features a quick response.
  • Improved Low B-C# connection.
  • Features a new key guard.
  • Is compatible with other necks.
  • Takes a few practice sessions to break in.

#3: Jean Paul USA TS-400

Jean Paul USA comes through in the clutch once again with the Intermediate TS-400. This carefully designed tenor saxophone’s main feature is easy playability, due to power forged and tapered pivot keys.

Playing this sax is an absolute pleasure. It allows intermediate players to produce jazzy sounds. You can play almost all types of music with it. Most advanced players use it to play in a jazz band, pop music, classical and in the orchestra.

It’s extremely affordable. It is in no shape or form a “cheap tenor saxophone,” but the low price probably encourages people to call it a cheap tenor sax for sale. Jean Paul USA has been developing tip top woodwind instruments for a very long time.

The intermediate Tenor Saxophone TS-400 comes equipped with a bunch of accessories including: carrying case, one reed (Rico), cleaning kit (cloth and swabs), cork grease and a mouthpiece.

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable price (Under $1,000).
  • Power forged and tapered pivot keys.
  • Looks beautiful, boasting a lacquer finish.
  • Carrying case is a little heavy, but manageable.
  • May need to upgrade the mouthpiece after some wear and tear.

#4: Selmer STS280 La Voix II - For Concert Band

The Selmer STS280 La Voix II is ideal for concert band and solo playing. It offers the player pure intonation and fluid keywork. As a result, the player can play almost any type of music with more focus and ease of blending. To buy this tenor saxophone for sale, it will be one of the best decisions you will have made.

Great for beginner students, anyone who likes to do recordings and small chamber groups. A truly magnificent horn.

Pros & Cons

  • Amazing, unique and professional sound.
  • Cost friendly
  • Durable and lightweight.
  • High F# key.
  • Includes cleaning kid, trek type case, mouthpiece, ligature and cap.
  • The mouthpiece supplied is very basic, according to current owners.

#5: Selmer TS44 Professional Lacquer

The TS44 plays with a really nice rich, warm sound that you can use for both classical and jazz music. This horn features a genuine Henri Selmer Paris neck and it does come standard with a beautiful BAM backpack case, so you can easily transport it from your car to your lessons.

With this particular horn, you really do get a professional level and sounding instrument at an intermediate price. It’s also available in a black nickle and a silver plated finish. A superb deal and a great, high quality musical instrument.

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable for a high level instrument.
  • Henri Selmer Paris neck.
  • Treated with leather pads.
  • Includes a BAM backpack.
  • Meant for jazz and classical music.
  • The mouthpiece may need some upgrading as it is a basic one.
  • Not as lightweight as most, but still light.

#6: Jupiter 789GN - Great for Starting Out

The B flat Jupiter 789GN student saxophone is one of the best tenor saxophones for beginner students. The tonation is very crisp and clear making it a relatively easy horn to play classical and jazz music.

It features nickel plated keys, high F# tilting G# keys, B flat table keys, upper and lower stack adjustable screws, metal tone boosters and an adjustable thumb rest. If you are just starting out, this is a great option.

Pros & Cons

  • Includes a mouthpiece set, case and reed.
  • Comes with a padded neck strap.
  • Very affordable, not a cheap tenor saxophone.
  • Mainly for beginner players.
  • Will require more upkeep than better made models.

#7: EastRock - For Beginner Players & Students

What a great design by EastRock! Ideally for beginner players, users can enjoy playing classical and jazz music, which is perfect for a school band or jamming on the weekends. It is a beautiful instrument that provides amazing overall sound quality that enhances the already rich and smooth tone. This is a great fit for any level player, mainly because of the quality sound it produces.

This horn comes with a hard carrying case, one reed, white gloves, neck strap, mouthpiece, and a cleaning kit (cloth and rod).

Pros & Cons

  • Handmade from high quality materials.
  • Ergonomic key design for enhanced comfort while playing.
  • Visually appealing.
  • Under $500
  • Ideally, this horn if for beginner players.
  • Average mouthpiece.

#8: Hawk WD-S411 - Great for Moving Up to The Tenor

If you play alto saxophone and are looking to jump up to the tenor, this is a perfect instrument to do that with. It’s affordable (under $500 on sale), which helps make the curious transition a little more safer for anyone trying to find the best tenor saxophone for students.

Pros & Cons

  • Affordable and great for beginner players.
  • Average 4 star rating on Amazon.
  • Not the best handmade quality material.

#9: Mendini by Cecilio MTS-L

The Mendini by Cecilio MTS-L is a great student tenor saxophone if you’re just starting and want a good quality instrument. It’s designed to be easy to play without spending too much money. Although it is under $500, it is still made with high quality handmade materials. In addition, this horn is perfect for marching.

This horn is available in a variety of finishes, such as gold lacquer, gold lacquer body with nickel plated keys, nickel plated body and black nickel body.

Pros & Cons

  • Cheap (under 500 dollars).
  • Great tonality and sound.
  • Perfect for marching band.
  • Not great for professional players

#10: Yanagisawa Brand

One of the best tenor saxophone brands in the sax market is the Yanagisawa. Some of the top tenors of the Yanagisawa brand can cost up to $20,000. They are very attractive for professional players or beginners who are looking to become intermediate saxophone players. The lowest prices are just under $4,000. Below is a list of the most affordable options.They also provide outstanding value. After all, the Yanagisawa is considered a professional quality tenor saxophone.

A

The traditional brass model (T-WO10) has top-notch projection and is affordable for intermediate players.

10 of 10 Stars
B

Also an affordable option for players who want to improve their ability from beginner to intermediate play.

9.5 of 10 Stars
C
Yanagisawa Sterling Silver Body, Bell, Neck and Bow (MOST EXPENSIVE)

All the bells and whistles. The sounds and looks on this instrument are legit!

9 of 10 Stars

Frequently Asked Questions:

We understand this is a huge investment for you or someone you love. With that being said, there are questions that need to be answered in order to understand some of the lingo and what you will be purchasing. Here are the FAQs that we receive and questions / answers we have done research on.

What key is a tenor sax in?

A tenor sax is pitched in the key of B♭. The soprano is the highest pitch, followed by the alto. The tenor is pitched one octave below the soprano.

What type of tenor saxophone is best for professional players?

A professional player will need one that can play any note, tune to their liking, and be very versatile. It will need to have smooth key fingering so they can play for hours at a time (practice or performing live).

What is the best intermediate tenor saxophone?

In our opinion, the top intermediate tenor sax is the Yamaha YTS-480. The fact that is can hit every note imaginable, and sounds great while playing classical, jazz and current pop music, it can handle a great player.

What is the best way to clean a tenor saxophone?

The best way to clean a tenor saxophone is to have a neck swab and a body swab. First of all, your saxophone is like your silverware. You don’t clean your silverware once a week, you clean it every day. Second, the more you clean it the longer it lasts. Lastly, you should strive to make cleaning your instrument a habit.

Once you have both swabs, your main focus is to try to get rid of all the moisture that accumulates while playing your instrument. The more you can keep it dry the cleaner it will be. For a more detailed guide, please contact us and we would be happy to give you more assistance.

What is the best tenor saxophone for jazz?

We mentioned that the Selmer TS44, Jean Paul TS-400, Yamaha YTS-62III and all the Yanagisawas are great for playing jazz. Whether you’re in a band or like to rock out in your basement, be sure to check these exact models out to get the full experience.

What is the best tenor saxophone brand?

This is more opinionated than anything, but the majority of votes would go to the Yamaha brand. They have been around for decades and have some real high quality designers. It shows when you see some of the top players in the world using the Yamaha brand.

What is the difference between alto and tenor sax?

The main difference is what the instrument is pitched in. The tenor, as mentioned above is pitched in the key of B♭, while the alto is pitched E♭. They are commonly referred to as a transporting instrument.

Are there used tenor saxophones for sale?

Yes, there are used tenor saxophones for sale. Most of the time there will be wear and tear on used ones, but you will save a good amount of money if you decide to go the used route.

Where is the best place to buy a used tenor saxophone for sale?

The best place to buy a used tenor saxophone for sale is either on Amazon or a used instrument site. You can also look on ebay, as some musicians auction off their old instruments daily. Many people that buy used instruments do so on craigslist, so you can check there as well. Finally, the last option you can go with is going to your local music store and shopping around there.


Category / Accessories Breakdown

Cases

Finding and purchasing the right case is essential. You will most likely be traveling to and from school, band practice, lessons or a jam session. Look for lightweight cases that you can easily transport.

Mouthpieces

Not every tenor saxophone mouthpiece is great, especially the one you get that comes with your purchase. It is one of the most important pieces to playing really good music.

Mute

Practice anywhere any time with the mute. We write a whole review on it. Never worry about the sounds you create ever again.

Necks

Sometimes necks get damaged or you just need to upgrade them. Which ones will fit your instrument, and which ones are high quality to help you play better? We break it all down for you.

Neck Straps

Neck straps can help sooth your neck and help make you feel much more comfortable while playing for long periods of time.

Lessons (Online Video Courses and Live Lessons)

With all of the technology that we have today, anyone can pick up an instrument and learn how to play through online video lessons. We will tell you which ones are best and how much they cost.

Reeds

Reeds don’t last forever, unfortunately. However, having a quality set around just in case one of them breaks allow you to keep playing, practicing and honing your skills.


Final and Overall Thoughts

There are plenty of different tenor saxophones for sale out there from reputable manufacturers all over the world. Our list can be a great way to find one that fits you, or it can be a great way to move you closer to a purchase. Either way, we want to help you out!

Our entire goal of this guide was to make sure we hit on all the important things in buying an instrument. Those are budget, quality and performance.

As you probably know by now, a great quality tenor sax will end up costing a few thousand dollars. We tried really hard to keep a budget-friendly mindset while creating this list. As a result, we left out some of the most expensive brands and models.

Most of the time in music you get what you pay for. The instruments on our top ten list is our honest opinion and we believe brands such as Yamaha and Selmer design and create some of the best tenor saxophones for sale on the market today.

If you need additional help finding one that fits and suits your needs, shoot us a message, and we will be happy to include it in the next review series.

Finding the best alto saxophone without knowing the top brands can be a major challenge. This instrument has gained massive popularity in recent years mainly due to its smooth, but upbeat sound that provides energy and entertainment for listeners. For sax players, whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate student, it’s one of the most rewarding woodwind instruments to learn, master and perform.

The music from the alto saxophone players have lived in jazz clubs for years and carried over into today’s popular music making the saxophone an instrument to be adored, respected and admired in all genres.

Yamaha YAS-280 Top Rated Student Alto Sax

Featured Alto Saxophone

Yamaha YAS-280 - Experts in Sound

Produce pure saxophone sounds with amazing tonality. The look and feel of this alto sax is great for the high school student and adult beginner.


Find the Best Alto Saxophone from our Top 10 List

The alto sax is the best saxophone for beginners. First off, if you or your child wants to become a high performing talent in the jazz world, you will need to dig in deep with the best brands and specific models by going through hundreds (if not thousands) of reviews.

We’ve gone through all the research in buying our own alto sax. This took creating a list of questions we wanted answered and hundreds of reviews analyzed.

After years of being in the music industry and playing the alto since high school, here's my authentic review on which alto sax you should spend your hard earned money on. Listen, musical instruments aren't cheap (believe me... I get that)! With that being said though, you absolutely need to invest in a good piece.

We have a few "cheaper" options on this list, along with some of the top brands that are outstanding (if you have the budget for it). So, take a look around, read my reviews and good luck shopping. You can't go wrong with any of these choices. 

The amazing, most beautifully sounding woodwind instrument Yamaha YAS-280 student saxophone. It is mainly for beginning players. However, it is on the pricier side. Students looking for the smooth, rich sound that the Yamaha brand provides, can easily put their hands on this bad boy and produce some serious beautifully sounding notes.

This particular also saxophone is built with high quality materials and is designed to last under the musical player is ready to upgrade to a professional level sax. If you decide to start off with the Yamaha YAS-280, then the “intermediate saxophone” is unnecessary. In addition, this model is perfect for players that plan on performing in the high school band or playing small gigs.

Pros & Cons

  • Provides an excellent action for relieving pressure against the student’s fingers and hands.
  • Made of high quality material and will outlast the normal wear and tear any instrument gets.
  • This sax has a sound that is similar to a professional saxophone that can run you 5 times more in price, so you’re getting a real good bargain.
  • Easy to find the necessary accessories for this sax, and are affordable.
  • Depending on where you purchase this specific sax, it will come with a neck strap and a cleaning kit.
  • Shows a shiny, smooth and clean look so you can look your very best on stage.
  • Not for professional players.
  • Tabs can be a little different for some players with saxes that may not be tested properly.

This particular Yahama, the YAS-280, is one of the best beginner alto saxophones on today’s current, yet competitive market. There’s a reason why you are looking to play this beautiful instrument, and this one will give you the sound that drew you here. You will not be disappointed if you decide to go with the YAS-280.


A perfect mid-level alto saxophone option for the serious student - the Jean Paul AS-400! This sax does cost more than a budget-friendly saxophone, so the player should show discipline and a seriousness about sticking with learning this fine instrument. The last thing you want to do is waste your time and money on something that’s only going to be pulled out of the case just a few times.

Looking to play a little smooth jazz and blues like a professional saxophone player? This Jean Paul AS-400 alto sax is extremely popular and is a favorite choice to play those genres because this particular model is built for jazz and blues.

Pros & Cons

  • Choose between 2 finishes: Standard brass with lacquer, and a silver lacquer finish. Either choice will give you a clean and professional look.
  • Yes this is one of those saxophones that are more expensive, but the sound and tone are astonishing with this model, and well worth the price.
  • Simple tuning: this sax is easy to tune and stays in tune while you play or practice with the band or on your own.
  • Smooth Action: The Jean Paul AS-400 provides comfort and relief for your hands, so you can play for hours at a time.
  • Easy to access accessories - comes with a list of pieces you need to play the instrument.
  • Comes with (includes) a reed, neck strap, mouthpiece, carrying case, cleaning kit, cork grease, swabs and gloves.
  • Genius key placements by Jean Paul AS-400 and will allow the musician to handle as many notes as they can in a short amount of time.

If you’re looking for a beginner or intermediate saxophone, this is a great choice for any player in any genre. It’s a great instrument to purchase if you’re on a strict budget, but also looking to spend a little more for a top-notch product. Jean Paul has been around for a long time, and they strive on creating high-quality saxophones that can look, feel and play like professional level instruments.

The customer service has been outstanding for years. Sometimes our instruments take a back seat on us and need replacement parts for repairs. This company will work hard and fast to make sure your instrument will be ready to play again for your next lesson, if anything happens to it.


Picking up and learning any instrument requires focus, determination and persistence. If you are wanting to learn the sax, and you’re on a budget, then the Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L is literally one of the greatest choices you’ll ever make. It’s an outstanding woodwind instrument to start the learning process with, and it’s a great budget-friendly option.

Without question, it has everything an alto saxophone for beginners should have at an affordable price. Do you want even better news? Okay, you twisted my arm enough, I’ll spill the beans.

It’s sold as a kit! This means the new and exciting user can get all the accessories needed in order to play this instrument literally right out of the box!

Pros & Cons

  • This sax has really good sound quality.
  • Easy Tuning: Can and will stay tuned for a significant amount of time.
  • High quality materials have been invested in this instrument that will help make it last a long time.
  • Tons of beginners looking at this specific model, so you won’t have any issues re-selling it, once you upgrade to a better model of course.
  • Includes a mouthpiece, neck strap, a tuner, reeds, gloves, and a cleaning kid. In addition, it comes with a hard case so you can lug it around to practice and lessons.
  • Outstanding price (probably the biggest PRO) especially with everything that comes with this sax. It’s also one of the best sellers on pretty much every musical instrument website among beginner saxophones.
  • The inlays are a kind of a knock off, which we should all expect with this price, but still a negative attribute and one we should notice.
  • Even though the sax is equipped with a tone booster, the sound is not as sharp as some musicians would like, but as a beginner sax, it will do the job at a fine rate.
  • Not as good of materials as you would see in a more expensive saxophone.

We said it once and we’ll say it again, if you’re a beginner and looking to take up playing the saxophone, this sax is a perfect fit. It’s very budget-friendly and you can create awesome music that even your band teacher would be impressed with.

It’s really an easy decision, especially if you have high aspirations to move on to the next level (professional) saxophone. Save your money for now, invest in this one, practice like a mad man and you’ll soon graduate on to the next best sax.


Moving on to the next level playing this instrument is a rewarding experience to say the least. The Yamaha YAS-480 is an intermediate alto saxophone that fits the mold of a high school or college student who is performing in a concert band, jazz band, or symphony.

The design of this model derives from inspiration by the high-end Yamaha saxophones and features accurate intonation with quick kick back. The reason why this is an intermediate sax and not a beginners one, is the fact that it carries a more mature sound. Musicians can choose from using the Custom Z or Custom EX Yamaha necks. This model boasts the 62-style professional style neck, which is one of the main reasons for such a mature tone.

Pros & Cons

  • Super high and accurate intonation.
  • Super quick response.
  • Very cool design and feel.
  • 62-style neck included.
  • Separate key guards complimented with screw cap stoppers that are adjustable.
  • Left hand seesaw key helps increase comfort to play for hours.
  • Improved low B-C# mechanism that was derived from previously made models.
  • Lightweight and easy to carry case. It’s soft and padded, which is better than a hard shell.
  • Higher priced model, especially for students who are still in school.

Ready to Upgrade Your Student Model?

This is a fantastic choice for the next grade up. Upgrading is fun because you accomplished the beginner stage. You can have even more fun playing the Yamaha YAS-480 alto saxophone and carry it around even when you become a professional musician. There is no question this is an excellent choice for the intermediate student.

With that said, please don’t get scared away by the price. There is a reason why these instruments are priced the way they are. This particular saxophone can and will last you a lifetime, especially if you take care of it the right way. In conclusion, buying a Yamaha saxophone will grant you one of their warranties. It’s a win-win.


Musical instruments can be affordable as well as being dependable, if you know what you’re looking for. Credible musicians world wide tag this model as arguably the best cheap alto saxophone on the current market, The Kaizer ASAX-1000LQ is also the best options under $500.

If you are a beginner, spending thousands of dollars on a new sax shouldn’t be considered a viable option. However, these budget-friendly saxophones are perfect for exploring the world of creating beautiful sounds from a musical instrument.

Pros & Cons

  • This sax is sold with and includes accessories that help you begin playing the instrument on the right foot.
  • The saxophone comes with a case that is molded to the product. This makes it easy to store and carry it around.
  • Includes a mouthpiece, a cleaning kit, and gloves to help maintain its quality (Take care of your instruments kids).
  • Refund guarantee for 45 days.
  • Lifetime warranty, and it stays with the product, no matter if you bought it used or new.
  • Made with solid brass, which helps create a better quality sound from a budget sax.
  • Fast action, great response and pro pads. This gives the product intonation control.
  • Designed for band players / musicians.
  • Researching the reviews, some users have expressed air leaks, which diminishes the sound.
  • The metal of the sax can be a little too soft. This can result in a lower sound quality.

Who is this Saxophone for?

This sax is for students that are just starting in band. For parents, if your child isn’t quite sure if this is an instrument they will stick with for the long run, this model is for you as well. Purchasing a budget alto sax is a smart decision for students that want to explore its potential.

For the adult that wants to pick up a new musical instrument, this is a great option. If you find out you’re a natural and want to keep pursuing your new hobby, there’s always room to upgrade to the next higher model.


Prelude by Conn-Selmer AS711 is a student model and is arguably the perfect alto saxophone for beginner players. It is known for and built to be durable and easy to play. It features a gold / yellow brass finish with high F# table keys and articulated C#.

This affordable option for students is mainly for an entry-level, soon-to-be alto saxophone player. In addition, the AS711 is lightweight and only weighs 3 pounds, making it relatively simple to carry around from your home to practice lessons.

Pros & Cons

  • Comfortable hand positioning and key fingering.
  • Budget-friendly choice for students and beginner alto saxophone players.
  • Includes case, mouthpiece, cap and ligature.
  • Built to be durable and easy to play.
  • Conn-Selmer has amazing brand recognition amongst musicians.
  • Not many cons. May have to purchase an upgraded mouthpiece, since the piece that comes with the horn is a bit basic.

Outstanding brand, great affordable price, super high-quality horn in the Conn-Selmer AS711 Prelude Student level alto saxophone. You cannot go wrong with this choice as there are far too many 4 and 5 star reviews out there on this specific brand and model. Go for it!


One of the most prolific, stylish, super cool looking alto saxophone is the Selmer SAS280 La Voix II. This model is all jazzed up with looks, durability and most importantly (drum roll please), sound quality!

Considered an intermediate saxophone, it has an unconventional look that would attract anyone who wants to be a little different out there in the competitive world of musical chairs.

The main features of this Selmer sax include fluid keywork with perfect intonation and a traditional sized bell. Looking for a sharp, focused tone blended with beautiful sound? Well, you’re in for a real treat with the SAS280 La Voix II horn.

Pros & Cons

  • Like we said before, perfect intonation.
  • Ability to generate amazing key fluidity.
  • Leather case included (backpack style).
  • Intermediate key styling for accurate fingering
  • Includes mouthpiece, cap and ligature.
  • Not many, the one thing we know of is the tone can get out of whack at times, but can be controlled by an experienced alto saxophone player.

Selmer is a phenomenal brand that is known for high-quality musical instruments. The Selmer SAS280 La Voix II is such a good model to begin the next phase of your playing career. It is a much more professional sounding horn and can really improve the play for the intermediate student. It’s hard to find a great sax like this one. They often go out of stock, so act quickly and believe us, you will be making an excellent choice.


There comes a time in a young players career to make a decision on making the next step in their music career. To become great at anything, you need the best technology, teachers and talent. The Jupiter JAS1100SG provides the opportunity of a lifetime for aspiring intermediate alto saxophone players that want to reach the next level and play beautiful tones that can ultimately make you a lot of money.

A silver plated Sona-Pure neck that’s made with artisan tooling, the JAS 1100SG will literally knock your socks off after you fool around with it for an hour or two. It’s a beautiful, sleek and professional look that is just waiting for a great player to take it over and produce lovely sounds.

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding playability.
  • Rocker Arm for comfort and added agility.
  • Great for jazz players.
  • Beautiful look, feel and sounds.
  • Extremely comfortable fingering.
  • High F#, front F, tilting G#-Bb table keys.
  • Upper and lower stack adjustable.
  • Includes artists series wood framed case.
  • The price. This baby cost more than $2,000 (believe us, it’s ABSOLUTELY worth it), but can make this an unrealistic option for some alto saxophone students / players.

The Jupiter brand is the real deal. They have been creating musical instruments since the early 1930’s and one of the most trusted brands in music. They specialize in woodwind and brass instruments and focus on making them easier to play.

What they do best is create instruments that have the capability of producing professional sounds and allow the user to create awesome jazz-sounding music. It’s perfect for advanced students or semi-professional adult players.


For the beginner students who love playing this instrument, the Yamaha YAS-26 alto saxophone is a sound choice. This specific model isn’t necessarily a cheap alto saxophone. However, it would be a really good investment for your future, and we’ll get into the pros and cons here shortly so you can see exactly what we’re talking about.

What makes the YAS-26 so great for an entry-level saxophone player, is that it can produce some surprisingly accurate and responsive tones. It’s a great starter alto sax for beginners and relatively easy to play, due to the manufacturing of the instrument. In addition, the Yamaha YAS-26 is lightweight and has a newly designed neck receiver.

Pros & Cons

  • Improved B-C# connection
  • Amazing adjustable thumb rest to help players play longer.
  • Newly designed neck receiver.
  • Amazing durability.
  • Lightweight, easy to handle.
  • Included in your purchase is a strap, neck, mouthpiece and case.
  • If you’re an advanced player, you may need a better mouthpiece to get the tones you’re looking for.

This model, the YAS-26, is great for beginner students. It is also a minor step above cheap alto saxophones that costs only a few hundred dollars.

Yamaha is obviously a great musical instrument brand and manufacturer. If you choose the YAS-26, you’re going to spend a little more money than another entry-level sax. However, you will reap the benefits and it will last a little longer than the cheaper models because this model can be considered an intermediate saxophone. Make sure you don’t overlook that.

You will not be disappointed with this model if you decide to buy it. Yamaha is reputable and reliable and the brand itself makes this alto saxophone the best bang for your buck, especially if you decide on playing for the long haul.


We wanted to make our last review one that holds value at almost every important attribute you should be looking at. The Etude EAS-100 student saxophone is, you guessed it, very specifically designed for students who want to learn, improve and master. The EAS-100 comes with everything a player needs to get started playing. It includes a case, mouthpiece, ligature and products to take care of the horn.

Generally, you can find one of these value-packed saxophones brand new for only a few hundred bucks. First of all, it can be one of the most affordable instruments to take up. Second, is also sets you up perfectly to play it right out of the case because it’s equipped with everything you need to get playing. Take a look at the Pros and Cons to see for yourself why this model is value-driven!

Pros & Cons

  • Outstanding tone.
  • Durable.
  • Lightweight.
  • Really nice looking with a brightly colored lacquer finish.
  • Includes reeds, case, neck strap, mouthpiece and cleaning materials.
  • Some customers complain about the neck strap being too short.
  • You may need to upgrade to better reeds.
  • May need to upgrade to a better mouthpiece. 

We truly believe that this student alto sax has the best overall value, especially for students who are just getting started with an instrument for the first time. It’s less than and under $500, which is hard to find in a high quality horn. You can be sure you are making a great investment with the Etude EAS-100.


Buying Guide & FAQs

An alto saxophone, also known as the alto sax, is a member of the woodwind instrument. It is pitched in E flat and is smaller than the tenor saxophone, but larger than the soprano saxophone. In addition, the alto is the most common saxophone to play.

The notes are the same and so are the fingering positions on each type of saxophone, which is awesome because you won’t have to worry about learning new keys or notes. The only difference between them are the size and sounds.

For example, if you play C on the Alto, it will sound different than playing C on the Tenor. However, the C is in the same spot on both instruments.

Why is the Alto Saxophone the Best Type for Student Beginners?

The main reason why the alto saxophone is the best type of saxophone for beginners is because of their popularity. Notable players such as Kenny G, Dave Sanborn and Joshua Redman have inspired many young players to choose their alto.

Today, there are multiple sax players that play new pop music and can be easily recognized. Unlike the old days where you needed to listen to jazz music just to get an idea of what the saxophone would sound like.

If you’re a high school or junior high school student, and are thinking of joining the conert, jazz or marching band, your school will most likely start you off with the alto, instead of the tenor and soprano. Again, it’s the most popular and common of all the saxophones.

Man playing saxophone in a smokey jazz club

How Much Should You Spend on Your First Alto Saxophone?

The amount of money you should spend on your first alto saxophone depends on your budget, level of commitment and your persistence.

If you’re looking at new alto saxophone that are made for students (student models), they can easily average around $300. Some of these options are great cheap saxophones for kids who are just testing the instrument out, or maybe making a one year commitment. If you or your child doesn’t really know if they are going to continue to play alto saxophone, or music at all, then cheaper models are great.

As an adult deciding if you want to play a musical instrument, it’s usually legitimate. In this case, you should invest in a very nice (high quality sound and durability) alto saxophone. This way they can practice, learn and continue to grow with a sound instrument.

Maybe you’re good enough and are fortunate enough to purchase a professional alto saxophone. However, they can run up to thousands of dollars, which is why we suggest you keep it under $1,000 when thinking about buying your very first alto saxophone.

What are the Best Brands?

When looking at the best alto saxophone brands, there are five very popular brands that the music world respects. Every one of these brands manufactures professional quality alto saxophones and ensures their players will be well equipped when performing.

Here are the best saxophone brands for beginners:

1. Yamaha

One of the most popular brands for young beginners, the Yamaha brand produces fantastic options for kids and students who are starting off and finding an interest in the instrument. Perhaps they are in the band at school or starting a jazz club up at home. Regardless, Yamaha is the top brand.

The music shops will be heavily equipped with the Yamaha brands and rightfully so. After all, they have been producing super high quality student instruments at outstanding prices.

2. Conn-Selmer

These used to be two separate brands, but they have come together as a merger, and have positively impacted jazz music. Many legends of the past encourage youngsters to go with the Conn-Selmer brand as it has brought them to the place they are today in professional music.

The Conn-Selmer company produces amazing quality saxophones are are known for their tone and sound. In addition, they are hand made, making them very unique.

3. Mendini by Cecilio

Best for a saxophone on a budget or those who are looking for a cheap alto saxophone, the Mendini by Cecilio brand can be a great option for you. You can buy these alto saxophones on Amazon, which is great for all of us.

4. Yanagisawa

This company produces some of the finest woodwind instruments after being known as brasswind company for years. Yanagisawa has been producing some of the highest quality saxophones in today’s music world.

The sound quality you will get when playing a Yanagisawa sax is pure gold. It’s a trustworthy brand and getting one of these can help any player out.

5. Jupiter

Rising to the top of the musical instrument producing companies, Jupiter has really stepped up their game. High schools and junior high students have raved about these instruments, especially the alto sax.


Category / Accessories Breakdown

Alto Sax Case

A quality case is so important so you can keep your alto in great shape for a long time. Find something that is compact and easy to carry around from you car to band practice. We prefer and recommend a soft case (like this one), rather than a hard case.

Ligatures (click for more)

There are major differences in alto sax ligatures. At the end of the day they must do two things: First, they must hold the reed to the mouthpiece. Second, they must give you good vibration for playing. We discuss all the extra bonuses that a great ligature can provide. In addition, we answer some really insightful questions.

Mouthpieces (click for more)

Finding the right mouthpiece for your alto saxophone is key to playing better notes, tones, and altissimo. We break down all the top mouthpieces for professionals, beginners and jazz players.

Conclusion

This has been a lot of fun, and we hope you enjoyed it as well. Moreover, we hope you find the perfect alto saxophone that fits your personality and musical preferences. Whether you’re a young student beginner sax player, or a savvy veteran ready to get to the next level, there’s a best alto saxophone for all of us.