For a beginning musician, the choice of a student saxophone can make the difference between success and failure. A good choice will get a student off to a great start and inspire them to stay with it when the going gets tough. A poor choice can make learning to play the sax frustrating and difficult so that they only want to quit.
Most young students who start playing saxophone in the public school band program should have an alto sax for their first saxophone. The tenor sax is heavier and larger, and the keys require more stretching of the fingers. The soprano sax is smaller, but blowing through the mouthpiece is tricky to master. It is less familiar as well, making it a challenge for the band teacher, too.
Some music teachers insist that a student saxophone is the easiest of the woodwinds to learn on. Clarinets and flutes are said to be less accommodating to someone just starting out. Embouchure, or the way you have to hold your mouth while playing a reed instrument, is said to be easier to learn on an alto sax than on any other woodwind, and it is reported to "squeak" less often than a clarinet.
Be aware, when choosing a saxophone, that the markets are flooded with poor quality imported saxophones. Your best bet is to buy a recognized brand of saxophone. If the price of a new saxophone is less than $600, it is likely to be a poor quality horn that will be difficult, or even impossible, to play. A good beginner sax will probably cost around $700 or more.
The best sax companies usually make saxophones for students, but they will generally be quite expensive. Jupiter is a company that makes a great intermediate saxophone that retails for under $1500, but should be available from a discount musical instrument provider for under $1000.
Alto Saxophones Section.
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