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Best Alto Saxophone

August 10, 2018
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Best Alto Saxophone

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Maybe you want to buy an alto saxophone to play in your school band or you need one you can play as a solo instrument in jazz. Whatever the reason for buying, you will find these horns in your local music store or online. While this will give you plenty of options to choose from, you might also feel overwhelmed. Furthermore, you will need all the help you can get if you want to make a good choice. Moreover, this guide points out the important factors you need to consider before buying an alto sax.

Key Considerations When Buying an Alto Saxophone

The alto saxophone is the most popular horn among beginners and professional saxophonists. It is smaller compared to other horns making it comfortable to hold and play for many players. This also means that there are many manufacturers. If you are unsure of the right one to buy, we have your back. The below factors will make it easier for you to make an informed decision.

  • Consider the use of the saxophone – The use of the sax will help you determine the type of features to look out for when buying a sax. If you are a student, you might want an alto saxophone that is easy to play or one that is lightweight. A professional player might be more concerned with the tonal range or extra features. These ensure perfect sounds when playing during concerts or solo jazz performances.
  • Durability – We do not want you to buy a sax that falls apart after a few practice sessions. Saxophones are expensive and you might as well buy one that will last. Thus, saxophones that come with ribbed construction and leather pads last longer compared to ones that are not ribbed. Stay away from saxophones of polycarbonate body materials. Those made from a brass body and coated with lacquer, gold or silver coating are better.
  • Price – Students or beginner players are better off with cheaper alto saxophones. The reasoning behind this is that such players might not be in it for the long haul. Many of the student’s alto horns are made with few features and handwork. Therefore, they are often cheap. Professional alto saxophones are more expensive. This is because the players might need a more durable item that has more features.
  • Condition  – The physical appearance of the alto saxophone can guide you if it is a worthy buy or not. Look for dents on the saxophone as these can mean the horn was dropped. Rattling sounds when you push down the keys might mean that the sax has not been well maintained. Markings or scratches on the saxophone body indicate that the saxophone might not be new.
  • Reputation – You will find that there are numerous no-name alto saxophones in the market. It is important that you buy a branded saxophone, especially from known brands such as Selmer, Yamaha, and Conn among others. The good thing about popular brands is that they have a reputation for making quality instruments. Also, they almost always have after service. Even if the instrument has an issue, you will know the manufacturer to contact.

Essential Accessories to Buy With Your Alto Saxophone

You will need to have accessories such as reeds, ligature, and mouthpiece among others. Some tenor saxophones will come with these accessories. However, in some cases, you might need to buy them on your own. Below, we look at some of these accessories.

  • Alto Saxophone Reeds – These are necessary as they ensure your sax produces the best sound. Different alto saxophones require a different length of reeds. Moreover, getting a reed that is too long or short will lead to poor sound quality. Additionally, consider the reed hardness, cut, and brand.
  • The Saxophone Mouthpiece – The mouthpiece is just as important as the reed when it comes to the sound of your alto saxophone. The perfect mouthpiece makes it easier for you to play your horn. It also ensures a consistent tone and good sound. Mouthpieces are usually of hard rubber or metal material. They are also made for different styles and experience level. Usually, players prefer smaller mouthpiece tip as it is easier to play.
  • Ligature – This is the device that holds your reed firmly in the mouthpiece. You should buy a ligature that comfortably fits your alto saxophone. One that is too tight will reduce the vibration of the reed. If you are a beginner, a leather ligature can adapt to the size and shape of your instrument.
  • Neck Strap– You need a neck strap that is comfortable and one that can take the saxophone weight off your arms. A padded neck strap is recommended as it will not hurt your neck or your shoulders. A neck strap with a clasp hook can prevent you from dropping your sax. If you have neck problems, you might consider a strap that distributes the sax weight to your back and shoulders.
  • Cleaning Kit – We recommend cleaning your alto saxophone after every play. This keeps your sax in perfect condition and protects you from unhealthy hazards such as bacteria that might thrive inside the mouthpiece. Buy a cleaning kit that has a long cleaning rod, cork grease, cleaning swab, disinfectant, and a cloth for cleaning the exterior.
  • Carrying Case – Most tenor saxophones will come with a carrying case. However, some of these cases might not last as they are of low-quality material. The carrying case protects the saxophone when not in use. It also makes it easier to carry your sax. Therefore, if the case that comes with your saxophone is of low quality, consider buying a better one. A hard-shell carrying case that has extra padding will protect your saxophone from damage. If you are a student, a case with backpack straps can make it easy to carry your horn. Other cases have extra external pockets to help keep your accessories organized.

Quick Links: Best Alto Saxophone

  1. Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone
  2. Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L+PB Gold Lacquer E Flat Alto Saxophone
  3. Glory Professional Alto Eb SAX Saxophone
  4. Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone
  5. LJ Hutchen Eb Alto Saxophone

Our Top Recommended Saxophones Reviewed.

Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone

  • Made of quality durable materials from the body to the carrying case
  • Comes with usable accessories
  • Well rounded intonation
VIEW LATEST PRICE

Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L+PB

  • Produces a good tone when played with the right reed and mouthpiece
  • Beautiful yellow lacquered sax that is affordable
  • Seals really well due to the non-leaking leather pads
VIEW LATEST PRICE

Glory Professional Alto Eb SAX Saxophone

  • Quality sound and tone
  • Beautiful horn sold at an affordable price
  • Perfect for practice and for stage performances
VIEW LATEST PRICE

Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone

  • The sax has quality sound and a consistent tone
  • Comes with a strong, convenient, and professional case for carrying the sax
  • Has additional features such as the F#, pearl inlays, and hand engravings
VIEW LATEST PRICE

LJ Hutchen Eb Alto Saxophone

  • A high-quality and affordable sax that can withstand accidents from small children
  • Has features that make it easy for children to play
  • Comes with additional accessories such as the mouthpiece and ligature
VIEW LATEST PRICE

Buying a saxophone is an expensive investment. We know you will need all the help you can get to make the right choice. Below are our five top recommended alto saxophones to help you narrow down your search further.

Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone

Pros:

  • Made of quality durable materials from the body to the carrying case
  • Comes with usable accessories
  • Well rounded intonation
  • Easy to play and very responsive for beginners

Cons:

  • Some customers complain that the neck strap was of low quality
  • The instruction manual is written in very small print
  • A bit pricey for a student alto saxophone

The Jean Paul AS-400 alto saxophone is for those who are just starting to learn how to play the alto sax. It is manufactured with students in mind and the smooth key action allows students to play it with ease. This saxophone offers an all rounded intonation and a fast responsiveness. Furthermore, the horn has a durable brass body that is protected with a clear or silver lacquer finish. The power-forged keys are also meant to last and the accompanying accessories are a great addition.

This alto saxophone’s quality is top notch. The sound and tone of the horn might is comparable to some of the more expensive saxophones from reputable brands. Moreover, this sax is for students as it is easy to tune and responsive. It comes with a host of accessories allowing students to save money.

Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L+PB Gold Lacquer E Flat Alto Saxophone

Pros:

  • Produces a good tone when played with the right reed and mouthpiece
  • Beautiful yellow lacquered sax that is affordable
  • Seals really well due to the non-leaking leather pads
  • Comes with additional accessories that are usable

Cons:

  • Most customers had to buy new reeds and mouthpiece
  • Hard to get a repair shop that will repair it in case of damages
  • The neck strap has no cushioning

The Mandini MAS-L Alto saxophone is ideal for all alto saxophone players. It is of high-quality materials such as the leather pads and the ribbed construction. Featuring a gold lacquered body, it stands out from the crowd.  Additionally, with warm quality sound and additional accessories, players will get great value for their money when they buy it.

This is an affordable saxophone made with durability in mind. The soft leather pads ensure there are no air leakages while the ribbed construction enhances the sax durability. The horn is beautiful to look at and it comes with accessories allowing for immediate use.

Glory Professional Alto Eb SAX Saxophone

Pros:

  • Quality sound and tone
  • Beautiful horn sold at an affordable price
  • Perfect for practice and for stage performances

Cons:

  • It is hard to find replacement parts in case it is broken or damaged
  • Most customers had to replace the neck strap as it was not padded
  • Some customers pointed out that some notes could not play

The Glory Professional Alto saxophone is for both students and professional alto sax players. It is of a quality bass body with a hand engraved bell decoration that makes it beautiful. The sax comes with adjustable key height screws and a reasonable key layout making it easy for even children to play. It also has the high F# key and metal tone boosters that boosts the sound. Moreover, it comes with a number of accessories allowing you to play it immediately you get it out of the box.

This is a great and an affordable saxophone. The fact that it has features that makes it perfect for both student and professional saxophonists makes it even better. Moreover, the sound and tone quality is good while the materials are durable. The hand flower engraving on the horn makes it a beauty to look at.

Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone

Pros:

  • The sax has quality sound and a consistent tone
  • Comes with a strong, convenient, and professional case for carrying the sax
  • Has additional features such as the F#, pearl inlays, and hand engravings

Cons:

  • The inside of the carrying case feels a bit small
  • Some customers had to replace the mouthpiece
  • Does not come with pad savers

The Selmer AS42 alto saxophone is for professional saxophonists. This is a high-quality horn with leather pads, a durable copper body, and a brass horn. It also has additional features that will favor professional players. Some of these features include steel springs for fast response, a high F# key, and a mouthpiece designed for professional saxophonists. Furthermore, the horn also has adjustable key screws for solo players who want to play jazz or classical music.

A high-quality alto saxophone for professional players. This sax has a beautiful body too. It comes with additional features such as the F # key and adjustable screws that make it easier for solo players to play it. The additional accessories are a plus as you can play it immediately. Those who buy this tenor sax will definitely get value for their money.

LJ Hutchen Eb Alto Saxophone

Pros:

  • A high-quality and affordable sax that can withstand accidents from small children
  • Has features that make it easy for children to play
  • Comes with additional accessories such as the mouthpiece and ligature

Cons:

  • Some customers complained that some notes were out of tune
  • The  neck strap does not have padding
  • This horn does not come with a cleaning kit

The LJ Hutchen Eb Alto saxophone is for students who are just starting to learn how to play the alto sax. It comes with features that make it easy for students to play it. These features include the pinky keys that make it easier for children to play it and increased responsiveness. This alto sax is made of durable materials including a heavy-duty brace and treated pads that prevent leaks and tear. Furthermore, the sax costs less without sacrificing quality.

This is an ideal sax for beginners as it keeps the student player in mind. It is easy to play, has a nice tone, and it is highly durable. The sax also comes ready to play out of the box due to the additional accessories. Moreover, the carrying case is strong and looks professional.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, with so many alto saxophones in the market, choosing the right one can be a daunting task.  The perfect saxophone should be of durable materials. Moreover, it should be within your budget. The sax should also meet your needs and be in great condition. Finally, you should buy from a reputable brand since no-name alto saxophones are often of low quality.

Sources

schooloftherock.com/html/which_saxophone_is_better_.html

saxhub.com/beginner-saxophone-guide/

omeka1.grinnell.edu/MusicalInstruments/items/show/139

saxman.co.nz/parents.htm

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Agnes holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and is an avid feline lover and adoring owner of two cats, Agnes’s love for music has led her to a successful career as a freelance writer specializing in the music space.
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