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saxophones - sopranos, altos, tenors, baritones and bass instruments

Saxophones form an instrument family of conical bore wood wind instruments all of their own, with a whole range of instruments from Sopranino to Bass. The main instruments however are the Soprane (Bb), Alto (Eb), Tenor (Bb) and Baritone (Eb).

Today the Soprano sax is more popular than ever - particularly in the jazz and popular music idioms. Good quality modern instruments have now virtually eliminated the intonation problems that dogged older models - making the soprano a very expressive and playable instrument. The Alto is generally considered to be the "standard" instrument for most classical players and jazz performers. Its ideal balance between size and range makes it very versatile. The Tenor saxophone's ability to deliver smooth warm tones at one moment and then raw, guttural depth the next has made it a mainstay of the jazz genre. Although seldom a star player the baritone is indispensable in saxophone quartets and jazz - where there's a requirement for a solid, deep saxophone low end.

saxophone woodwind instruments

Technical Specifications


Most models now come with the high F# key as standard - or two models, one without, one with (at a small additional cost). This key (as its name suggests!) enables the high F# note to be played. Unless cost is a major consideration we therefore suggest you go for a high F# specification instrument.

saxophone woodwind instruments
saxophone woodwind instruments


Many instruments now come with a detachable bell. This has no acoustical benefits to the instrument, and we don't recommend you try and detach the bell at home! It is simply advantageous if you are unlucky enough to dent the bell and you need to mend and/or replace it - as it makes repair work much easier (and cheaper!).


Saxes come in a multitude of finish options including black lacquer, silver plate, and even custom paint jobs! - none of which effect the instruments tone. In addition many manufacturers offer a range of engraving options.

The "standard look" is gold lacquered body and key work. If you want to digress from this anything's possible! - it just depends on what sort of image you want and what you're willing to pay!


The quality of a saxes action is imperative. A good quality well balanced action will enable the player to effortlessly move from note to note with the slightest and lightest of touches to the pads. A poor action will result in "clanky" keys that rest high above the instrument's body and don't sit properly on the tone holes when depressed - causing difficulties with tone production.


Like the leadpipe on brass instruments the specification of a saxophone's neck is very important to the overall feel and tone of an instrument. Some manufacturers offer optional necks with specific characteristics.

With soprano saxes, specifically a number of models come with two necks, (one curved, one straight) to facilitate two different playing positions.

Baritone Specification

Baritones have a range to low Bb as standard. Some models however (due to a longer bell and an additional key) go down to a low A. This is the recommended specification if finances permit.

Professional Instrument Specification

With professional instruments various additional optional features present themselves - such as "front F" mechanisms, additional "rollers" and slight changes in key design. For more information about the exact specifications of expensive saxes please call.

Instrument Recommendations With the exception of inexpensive student altos and high specification top-end instruments Yamaha dominate the market.

When it comes to cheap student instruments there are many different makes available - all of which are of a similar (good) standard, and all of which come from a handful of Taiwanese factories. We generally recommend the Elkhart and Jupiter models as the best of the bunch.