The saxophone is a woodwind instrument. They are usually heard and played in jazz music. There are four main types of saxophones. The alto, baritone, soprano and the tenor saxophone. They are available for all different levels and abilities, including popular models from Yamaha, Sonata and Yanagisawa ranges.


Alto Saxophone



The alto (Eb) is one of the more common types of saxophones. Saxophones available have come in different prices and size; your choice will depend on level and budget. There is a great range of alto saxophones for students.

The alto is most used in classical music, including jazz, marching bands and concert bands. This saxophone is smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano.




Baritone Saxophone



Pitched in Eb they are the largest saxophone and lowest-pitched. The mouthpiece, reeds and ligature used are larger than the tenor, alto and soprano saxophones. This sax is commonly used in classical music, jazz and military bands.

Due to its weight it’s more commonly used by older and more advanced players. However he weight issue can be resolved by using a strap to hold some of the weight.



Soprano Saxophone



The soprano is pitched in Bb and one of the highest pitched saxophones. It’s pitched an octave above the tenor.

It’s one of the smaller types of saxophones and as you can see from the picture it has a slightly different shape. It doesn’t have the common curved neck like the others. You can find a soprano with a more curved neck which some players believe gives it a warmer tone. This saxophone is sometimes compared to the Bb clarinet.




Tenor Saxophone


52_1_They are larger than the alto saxophone and pitched in the key Bb. Available in different models that are suitable for different levels and abilities. The tenor is very versatile in regards to tone.

It has a swan shaped neck and this is how you differentiate it from the alto saxophone as they are very similar in looks. Many call it the crook or bend.

When playing in a concert band the tenor plays the supporting role. Whilst in jazz ensembles it’s the complete opposite. It has a more dominant role and sometimes sharing harmonies with the alto saxophone.


Thanks for reading. If you have any questions please call: 01283 535333 or email: and the sales team will be happy to answer any questions.

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About the author

Georgia was with Normans on a years placement from Nottingham Trent University where she was studying Information Systems.




  • John Finlay 07/10/2014 at 11:22 am

    Only that the baritone sax is NOT the largest sax in the family, as I’m sure you know (though it may be the largest sax that Normans sell of course).

    • GeorgiaM 08/10/2014 at 3:28 pm

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment. You’re right the baritone sax is the largest saxophone that we sell at Normans.