Advice on Sax Alto VS Sax Tenor

by Gyslaine
(Laval, Quebec, Canada)

I have rented for last 3 months a Selmer Sax Alto to see if I was able to play and ultimately buy one, if I liked it. I just LOVE it , and I am ready to make the investment. I was strongly advice ( 3 people) to go for a Yamaha, so I tried and compared YAS 275 and 475 and also a Buffet Crampon. Now I was ready to make the move but they don't come cheap and now I have a lingering question for anyone who can provide his advice!

I have started with an Alto, because I was told it was for the beginner, which is still what I am. But, the type of music I hope I can play at some point is Jazz / Latin type music mainly. Knowing that Tenor are more used for Jazz music /tunes, I wonder if I should continue lessons and buy a less expensive Sax Alto instrument knowing that I will make the switch at some point to a sax Tenor instrument ?

I intend to make an long term investment. I will never be a professional but hope to play for next 30 years! so i am not buying to sell in 3 years... So if I am to make one significant investment what should it be? or am I been to ambitious and should stick to making good progress on sax Alto and if i become good enough , then make the switch to sax Tenor and buy another one ?!

Thank you for anyone who's got experience and willing to share insight!

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Apr 19, 2010
Re: Alto vs Tenor
by: Anonymous

I think that you'll also find a lot of Jazz stars that played the alto sax....Charlie Parker, Johnny Hodges, Benny Carter and Paul Desmond to name a few. Tenors are very popular too, John Coltrane (although he started on alto), Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon et al. If you become an accomplished player, you may find you have a home for more than one type of sax, so chose one that you plan on living with for a long while!

Jul 23, 2010
beginner to beginner
by: Anonymous

I've also been playing only about 3 months. After learning on a student-grade alto (Vito stencil of Yamaha YAS-23), I recently bought a 90-year-old Martin Handcraft tenor.

The tenor better suited my natural embouchure, and I just liked the extra heft of the larger horn. Whether you decide on an alto or tenor, I highly recommend getting a quality vintage horn. You get a lot more bang for the buck, and there's an added good feeling akin to adopting a mutt from the pound.

These old horns have rich overtones and undertones that a new sax cannot begin to approach. Their quirkiness is a minor hassle compared to the treasured sound they return.

Mar 29, 2012
Nice Question
by: Anonymous

I advise you start out on alto i didnt but you can a profesional sax player can play any type of sax the tenor is a real good instrument for jazz like you said lots of jazz players played the alto to so you can have both and still be able to play them andif you do before you start playing jazz you need to master on overtones and undertones

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