The Best Alto Saxophones

Written by john mcdaniel
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The Best Alto Saxophones
Alto saxophones are smaller than tenor saxophones and bigger than soprano saxophones. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Buying a top-of-the-line and extremely expensive saxophone will not turn you into an expert saxophone player overnight, but it sure won't hurt. The idea of a "best saxophone" can be a bit misleading because the best alto saxophone for each person may be different. However, a few simple ideas can point you in the right direction in terms of brand, style, type and appearance.

The Best of the Best

Although there is no best alto saxophone, some of the most expensive and qualitatively good saxophones are high-end Selmer or Yamaha saxophones. For example, an Alto 62GP Selmer with gold plating is used by professionals in numerous orchestras and bands, and these retail for around £7,800. Another example of a topnotch saxophone is an Alto A992PG Yamaha, which retails for around £5,200. These saxophones are generally used and, as a result, trusted by saxophone experts.

Some Notable Brands

In addition to Selmar and Yamaha, Yanagisawa and Keilwerth are two other top brands. Yanagisawa offers a cheaper but still good saxophone that is comparable to that of Selmar and Yamaha. Keilwerth is perhaps the most unusual of the group, with a distinctly different bell shape, radius of the bell and thumb keys. Yanagisawa's 990 and 991 Series and Keilwerth's SX90 Series represent the highest and most professional grade saxophone for each of the brands.

Good Saxophones for the Price

For those who wish to play saxophones as students or beginners, the best saxophone may be a mid-range and cheaper version of one of the higher-end models. Yanagisawa makes a good mid-range saxophone called the Student Sax. A brand called Juniper makes good quality saxophones in the £975 price range. Selmer offers the Selmer Prelude AS711 for students and not-quite-professional saxophonists.

Considerations of Quality

Whereas a so-called "bad" saxophone company can make a good saxophone and vice versa, it is important to know what makes an alto saxophone the best saxophone for you. There is a debate as to whether used and vintage saxophones are better than new ones. Some people argue that old saxophones that sound good have worn well, and so they will continue to sound good. Others argue that there's no proof that a new saxophone won't wear equally. Another thing to consider when thinking about the best alto saxophone is the accessories and smaller components. Screws, mouthpieces, reeds, thumb guards, swabs and pad clamps all can affect the quality of an instrument. Be sure to consider these components when thinking about your best saxophone.

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