How to buy your first saxophone

Whether you’re the parent of a young student just starting out on the saxophone, you’re a musician looking to learn a new instrument, or you’re looking to pick up a new hobby as an adult, the decision to purchase a sax is an exciting one. But, it can also be daunting! What type of saxophone should you choose? What brands are best? How much should you expect to pay? Let’s answer these questions and more as we discuss the best saxophones for beginners.

What Should Beginner Saxophonists Look For?

The saxophone is a gorgeous instrument! It’s also one of the larger, heavier and more expensive woodwind instruments (much more so than a flute or clarinet), so take that into account if you’re selecting an instrument for a young student or if you’re on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are lots of student saxophones available for good prices and you can always find high quality used saxophones, so don’t despair.

Beginner / Student Altos

One of the most popular saxophones for the beginner is the alto. It is heavily featured in melodic sections of the woodwind score, and many band directors are happy with many alto sax players in beginning band programs.

Altos are a great choice for the beginner because the embouchure and airflow techniques you’ll learn while playing the alto will easily transfer to other saxophones, should you decide to change or add a different one to your repertoire. Most student altos feature keys with a loose action that makes it easier to move between notes. Altos are smaller than tenors, meaning they’ll be somewhat lighter to carry and also possibly less expensive.

Take a look at these great beginner altos:

Beginner / Student Tenors

Tenor saxophones are what most people think of when they picture a saxophone. The tenor is incredibly popular in jazz and other styles of music for its mellower, lower pitched sound compared to the alto. While somewhat bigger and heavier, any beginner who is able to handle the weight and size of a student tenor saxophone will be making a great choice. As with the alto, the embouchure and playing techniques will allow you to move easily between other styles of saxophone.

Give these student tenors a try:

Other Styles of Saxophone

The sopranino, soprano, baritone and bass saxophones are better suited to intermediate saxophonists who have already mastered the alto and/or tenor sax. In general, beginner sax players are steered away from these much smaller and much larger models. However, should you choose to play any of these styles, there are some excellent options out there.

Recommended Saxophone Accessories

Players who are starting out should be sure to stock up on quality sax accessories. After the instrument itself, saxophone mouthpieces and saxophone reeds are the most important items to purchase. Every student saxophonist will have his or her own preferences when it comes to mouthpieces and reeds, so be sure to try out many different brands and styles to determine what works best for you.

To protect your investment, you’ll also want to have a great saxophone case, a good mouthpiece cap, and plenty of woodwind care & cleaning supplies on hand. You may also want to buy some basic parts & tools, so you can make minor repairs.

Take a look at some of these top brands for saxophone accessories:

  • Popular reed brands include Vandoren, D’Addario Woodwinds, Legere, and Rico
  • Student saxophone mouthpieces from Yamaha, Vandoren and Selmer Paris are always excellent choices
  • Gard, Protec and GL Cases make durable and affordable cases that will protect your instrument

Buying a Student Saxophone

Deciding to play the saxophone is exciting and you should be proud of your selection. Choosing the right instrument for you or your student is critical, so be sure to give it some serious thought. As with any major decision and purchase, research, experimentation, and advice from professionals are invaluable. Enjoy your beginner saxophone and when you’re ready to step up, check out of our selection of best-selling intermediate alto saxophones.

How to buy your first saxophone

If you’re looking to buy a saxophone the options can seem endless. What type of saxophone do you buy? Alto? Tenor? Baritone? Soprano? How much is too much to spend on your first instrument?

You probably don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on your first saxophone. Don’t worry. You don’t have to.

Types of Saxophones – The four most commonly used saxophones are:

  • Alto
  • Tenor
  • Baritone
  • Soprano

Most student’s start with the alto saxophone. The alto is the second smallest of the four most commonly used saxophones. It takes less air than the other saxophones. It makes starting out easy.

Although it is a little bigger than the alto, some beginners start with the tenor. I wouldn’t suggest starting on the soprano or the baritone though. They are used less often, and they are more difficult to play initially.

If this is your first saxophone, please don’t go out and spend thousands on an intermediate or pro horn. Student saxophones are made for. Guess who. Students! Not only are student saxophones much less expensive, but some of the more difficult notes are made easier to play. If you find the right kind of instrument you can save a lot of hassle for your beginning student.

All saxophones will come with a mouthpiece and ligature. The mouthpiece is just like the name implies, the piece where you put your mouth. Believe it or not, the mouthpiece is one of the most important parts of your saxophone. Professional saxophonists spend hundreds, and sometimes thousands, on their mouthpieces. The mouthpiece that comes with your saxophone is not the best. Upgrading is usually a plus. But for a beginner, don’t worry about replacing the mouthpiece too soon.

A reed is thin piece of material that vibrates to make a sound. The reed is attached to the mouthpiece and needs replacing often. A box of reeds will often (but not always) come with the saxophone. A box of reeds only cost around $20.

The ligature is what holds the reed to the mouthpiece. The ligature should also come with the saxophone. Ligatures can also effect the sound of the instrument. But beginners shouldn’t get held up about how great their ligature is.

A student saxophone shouldn’t be too expensive. Once you get the basics down, spend some money and get a really great horn. But until then, a student horn will get you started in the right direction.

For a list of good beginner keyboards, read our recommended beginner saxophone article.

So you’ve decided you want to learn how to play a woodwind instrument, now what? You need to find an instrument so you can start playing!

The amount of options can be a bit overwhelming though, especially when looking on the internet. In my 15+ years of experience playing saxophones and other woodwinds, here’s a few things I have learned about shopping for your first woodwind instrument.

DO I NEED A “PRO LEVEL” WOODWIND? ARE STUDENT MODELS BAD?

Absolutely not! While there are differences in quality between professional and student level instruments, any student level instrument will perform just fine. Some of my saxophones are considered student models, and I regularly gig with them!

HOW MUCH SHOULD I SPEND?

In general, the larger the woodwind instrument, the more they will tend to cost. Beginner flutes can usually be found under $200, clarinets in the $200-400 range, and saxophones starting around $350.

Find something in your budget that works (look at reviews online!) and go for it. If you are worried about the investment, remember that instruments can often be resold at places like pawn shops, Craigslist , Facebook Marketplace , and Reverb , so it is possible to get some money back.

These are also great places to look if you’re interested in buying used! As with any purchase, used or new, if the price seems too good to be true there may be a problem with it.

CAN I RENT AN INSTRUMENT?

You sure can! Renting is a great option if you’re looking to try a woodwind but concerned about the commitment or amount of money.

Michon’s Music in Metairie is a great option for looking for a rental instrument. Any shop that rents will make sure you’ve got everything you need to get going, and can usually rent on a month to month basis.

WHERE SHOULD I LOOK?

While there are some local options in New Orleans, you will find most online, although it’s important you know where and how to look. Some of my favorite websites to look at are Woodwind Brasswind and Musician’s Friend .

These are places that curate what instruments they sell, so you can tend to trust the brands/instruments they stock. Most any option you find from these places will get the job done.

Places like Amazon can be a little more hit and miss, although it’s possible to find cheaper options that aren’t name brand. I like to always make sure anything I’m getting from there has lots of positive reviews.

WHAT ARE THE POPULAR BRANDS?

It depends on what instrument you’re looking at. When it comes to saxophones, some of the most popular brands are Selmer , Yamaha , P. Mauriat , and Yanigasawa . When looking at clarinets, Yamaha and Buffet are two of the most respected brands. When looking at flutes, Yamaha and Pearl make very popular models.

That being said, there are plenty of other brands that make quality woodwinds, so don’t worry if you find something else.

DO I NEED ANYTHING ELSE?

There are some accessories with woodwind instruments that are very important! For clarinet and saxophone, having reeds is the only way you can play your instrument. Reeds are placed on the mouthpiece and vibrate to make sound. Rico and Vandoren are two excellent reed brands, and a strength of 2 or 2.5 is great for beginners.

Make sure your clarinet or saxophone also comes with a mouthpiece and ligature (used to hold the reed on the mouthpiece, often metal). Cork grease is also important for clarinet and saxophone, because it helps lubricate some joints we move around.

Saxophone players will also need a neck strap to hold up their instrument without relying on their hands. For all woodwinds, having a cleaning swab will be beneficial for keeping your instrument clean from excess spit that’s made while playing.

Some of these accessories may come with your instrument, depending on what you’re buying and where you’re buying from. Keep all of these in mind, since you’ll need them in order to play for the first time.

How to buy your first saxophone

When you’re starting out on sax, should you get a new, cheap Chinese saxophone from Amazon, or should you buy a used sax from eBay?

To test this out, I’ve bought the cheapest used Yamaha alto sax I could find off eBay. I’m going to compare this used saxophone with my pro alto, which is worth 10 times as much.

I want to know, is this used saxophone good enough to get started on as a beginner player?

Buying your first saxophone

Lots of my Sax School students start out like I did on a cheap student model saxophone.

The most important thing is to find a saxophone that doesn’t hold you back and is going to make learning easy.

In this blog I’m going to look at:

  • Why buy a used saxophone
  • Why I chose this used sax
  • Put this sax to the test by playing a couple of different pieces and comparing it to my pro alto
  • Share a couple of pitfalls to avoid when you buy a used sax.

Get the PDF for this lesson – plus all of our other free resources – sign up for Sax School LOCKER

Why Buy A Used Sax?

When you go online, you’ll see loads of shiny new Chinese saxophones and they are relatively cheap. It can be confusing because there are so many brands, it’s difficult to know which ones are good.

The great thing about buying a used sax is that you can get an instrument that would have cost a lot more when it was new, and it could be a much better quality than a new sax for the same price.

It might not be as shiny, but you’re getting more saxophone for your money!

  • Better quality materials
  • Better design
  • Better durability
  • Better resale value when you’re ready to upgrade

What if my used saxophone goes wrong?

Actually, there’s not much that can go wrong with a saxophone that can’t be fixed by a good repairer, reasonably cheaply. You can find a repairer online or though your local music store.

Which used sax to buy

I bought a used Yamaha YAS-23 alto saxophone. This is the kind of saxophone you might have borrowed from school as a student learner. They were made from the late 1970s and have now been replaced by the YAS-280.

These saxophones are really robust and durable – perfect for students.

This used sax has got some signs of wear and a few scratches but no obvious dents, which is what I was looking for in the eBay listing.

I found this saxophone played really well straight out of the case.

All the notes seal throughout the range, and the altissimo and overtones play great too.

The case itself is pretty worn, but inside the case was a box of unused reeds, a neck strap and even a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece which is perfect for beginners. I’d want to give the mouthpiece a thorough clean and disinfect before using it.

I paid £370 ($480 USD) for this sax. You can get cheaper new Chinese saxophones, but most student models start at around this price. This was the cheapest YAS -23 I could find on eBay.

Comparing my used saxophone with my Pro Alto

My pro alto is a Yamaha 62. The new version of this (for example the 875 or the 82 Custom Z) would cost around 10 times what I paid for this used saxophone. Is there 10 times difference in sound?

I’m going to be playing both saxophones using my Theo Wanne Gaia size 8 hard rubber mouthpiece, with a Légère Signature 2.5 synthetic reed.

Listen to me play both of my alto saxophones and see what you think.

I’m playing these tunes, which you can learn inside Sax School.

  • One More Night
  • We Are the Champions

What did you think?

My Verdict

The YAS-23 plays great. It’s in tune, and the mechanism feels really good under my fingers.There’s a little more resistance to my pro sax but that doesn’t really matter.

Soundwise, I can hear that the 62 has a slightly rounder sound compared to the 23. Right now, I’d prefer to play my 62. But as a beginner, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

This YAS-23 would be great and wouldn’t hold me back in any way. It’s great value for money.

Pitfalls to avoid when buying a used saxophone

The main things you need to look for are obvious signs of damage. Of course a used sax will have a bit of wear and tear. but you should avoid dents, or signs of major repairs.

Look for a model that’s a proven, great saxophone.

On eBay, make sure you look for a seller with good feedback and some selling history, who’s happy to take a payment using Paypal.

You can also see if your local music store has used saxophones in stock – then you’ve got back-up if you have any problems.

I hope that helps you consider buying a used saxophone.

Don’t forget to grab my PDF download with my tips on buying a used saxophone (link at the top of this article).

This little guide to buying your first saxophone will help you get started as you begin your journey. There is much, much more to consider that what is written here – please contact us for expanded advice!

Below this guide is a list of new and second-hand saxophones which are perfect for the beginner.

New, Second-hand, or Rental?

There are two main concerns when it comes to the condition of a saxophone:

  • Issues with the build quality at the manufacturing level
  • Issues with how the instrument has been treated over the years

New horns

The first thing to get your head around is this: Almost all manufacturers (despite what they might say) release horns with quality issues.

Some manufacturers are consistent, e.g. Yamaha saxophones often have unlevel toneholes in the exact same areas. Many other manufacturers release horns with random problems. This may sound terrible, but manufacturers who produce hundreds of horns a week cannot give each instrument the hand-finishing it needs to be perfect.

This is something you must accept when buying a new horn. It is also why buying from a repair workshop like Vanguard is a smart idea! A workshop will be able to set up a new instrument; it will bend, level, and adjust the things that need to be bent, levelled, and adjusted.

A new horn is a wonderful thing. The pads are snappy, all the mechanical bits work as they should, and the player does not have to fight the instrument.

Important: if you want to enjoy playing the saxophone, do not buy a cheap new on off TradeMe. As I write this, I have just looked on TradeMe and found a “Fever” brand alto for $500 which boasts an ‘expressive tone and incredible playability.’ No! Avoid!

Second-Hand Horns

Tread carefully in the minefield that is the second-hand saxophone market. As well as the potential issues remaining from the manufacturer, an old horn might have had a tough life. It may have been dropped off stage during a drunken jazz session or left rotting under a bed in a damp Wellington flat for ten years.

If your budget only allows for a second-hand instrument, please do the following:

  • Buy a brand that you have heard of

‘Yamaha’ or ‘Selmer’ or ‘P Mauriat’ are brands you have heard of. ‘Angel’ or ‘Stonerock’ are not brands you have heard of. Google if unsure.

  • Check the horn first

Bring the potential horn into a workshop (e.g. Vanguard Orchestral) to get it checked if possible. It is no good buying a $400 alto saxophone and then learning that it needs a $2000 overhaul.

  • Buy from a workshop

Some workshops (including us) will sometimes sell instruments on behalf for people. These will generally be in good playing condition or will have the repair cost built into the price.

Renting

Renting is a great, affordable way to start playing saxophone. It can let a new player know if they want to pursue the sax without committing to buying one.

Rental instruments have usually been around the block a few times and may not be in the greatest condition. Your rental shop should keep their instruments serviced to a reasonable standard. If in doubt, bring the horn into a workshop to get it checked over.

A bad instrument can discourage a player. A good instrument can bring year of joy!

Complete Beginner’s Level Info Page

Part One – The Most Important Basics

  • How to Assemble and Safely Handle your Saxophone
  • Putting Together the Reed, Mouthpiece, and Ligature
  • Forming the Proper Embouchure
  • Your First Sounds and Proper Breathing
  • Proper Tonguing

Part Two – Fingering

  • The C Major Scale
  • C Major Scale Exercises for Building Technique
  • The D Major Scale

These 8 saxophone lessons are taken directly from my course “How To Play The Saxophone – A Complete Beginner’s Guide”

As described here ——>>>

I Know Your Frustration and Have Felt Your Pain!

It’s from my own past frustrations and the many suggestions and requests I get from my students and membership that helped me to plan this book. They Said… Give me:

“… step-by-step instruction.” How to buy your first saxophone

“… close-ups of all the fingering positions.”

“… close-ups and clear explanations of mouth and tongue positions.”

“… daily exercises to develop a good tone & technique.”

“… easy songs to learn with play-along backing tracks to make it more fun.”

Inspiration and Invention of the Saxophone

The saxophone is a relatively new instrument that was invented during the 1840s and patented in 1846 by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian musician and instrument maker. A member of the woodwind family, saxophones are usually made of brass, and are played with a single reed mouthpiece, similar to that of the clarinet. The sax is used in many genres of music including classical, military and marching bands, jazz, and contemporary music, including rock and roll.

As a youth, Adolphe Sax studied the flute and clarinet at Brussels Conservatory of Music. His father was a musical instrument maker and Adolphe apprenticed in the shop, where he was given not only excellent instruction, but also the freedom to develop his own ideas. While at the Conservatory, Adolphe began to observe the balance of brass and woodwind instruments in musical composition and performance. Eventually, he came to believe that there was a missing range that a hybrid woodwind and brass instrument might be able to fill. Sax's experimentation with the bass clarinet led him to a design that combined the projection of a brass instrument with the agility of a woodwind and the saxophone was born.

Sax's concept of the saxophone family was quite a bit wider than just one instrument. His 1846 patent described 14 different versions of the saxophone in two groups, ranging from F contrabass all the way up to Eb sopranino. The series pitched in Bb and Eb soon became dominant and most of today’s saxophones are from this series.

Saxophone Manufacturers Then and Now

Sax’s patent expired in 1866, enabling other instrument manufacturers to build new versions of the saxophone. Early interest in the saxophone waned in Europe from 1870 to 1890, but it was steadily gaining in the United States as new musical styles became popular. Vaudeville and ragtime laid the groundwork for dance orchestras and eventually jazz, greatly expanding the demand for saxophones. In the 1890s, C.G. Conn, a respected manufacturer of brass instruments, began production of saxophones in the United States, providing a much more reliable and available supply of the instruments.

The modern layout of the saxophone emerged during the 1930s and 1940s, first with right-side bell keys introduced by C. G. Conn on baritones, then by King on altos and tenors. In 1936, Selmer revolutionized the mechanics of the left hand table with their Balanced Action instruments, capitalizing on the right-side bell key layout. In 1948, Selmer introduced their Super Action models with right and left hand stack keys offset about 30 degrees apart, allowing for a more relaxed pose and greater dexterity on the keys. Selmer’s layout became the new standard and was adopted for virtually every saxophone being produced, from student to professional models.

Selmer’s Mark VI saxophones, manufactured from 1954 to 1974, are legendary. The horns are known for their tone and mechanical excellence, but music historians believe other factors contributed to the success of the Mark VI. United States production of saxophones dropped during World War II because of the rationing of many metals, including copper and zinc, which make brass. Musicians seeking professional quality instruments turned to the more readily available Selmer saxophones. The Mark VI’s allure was also enhanced by its production run that coincided almost perfectly with the golden era of modern jazz. Selmer produced between 150,000 and 200,000 Mark VI’s, most of which are still in circulation. Price tags for this model are hefty, typically $10,000 or more.

5 Famous Sax Players and Their Instruments

Although the saxophone was invented for orchestral music, the most widely recognized saxophonists came from the world of jazz. The following are five of the greatest saxophone players the world has known:

Charlie Parker is often cited as the greatest saxophone player in history. He elevated jazz from entertaining dance music to the highest form of spontaneous artistic expression. Charlie favored the alto sax, playing on Conn M series instruments, Martin, Grafton, and eventually Selmer.

John Coltrane established himself as his generation's greatest virtuoso of the tenor sax through his work with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Coltrane favored the Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone.

Sonny Rollins, a jazz tenor saxophonist, is widely recognized as one of the most important and influential jazz musicians the world has known. Rollins has been called the greatest living improviser and the "Saxophone Colossus". His preferred sax is the Selmer Mark VI.

Lester Young rose to prominence while a member of Count Basie's orchestra. He played tenor sax and occasionally the clarinet. Young played with a relaxed, cool tone using sophisticated harmonies. He is also credited with inventing and popularizing some of the jargon that came to be associated with jazz. Young played a Conn M sax during much of his career.

Stan Getz may be second only to Coltrane as the name most synonymous with the saxophone. He played tenor sax and modeled his playing style after Lester Young, who was his idol. Getz may be best known for introducing bossa nova to American audiences and for his Grammy award winning “Girl from Ipanema.” He played the Selmer Mark VI tenor saxophone.

Respected Saxophone Brands

Woodwind & Brasswind carries most major saxophone brands, offering a full range of options and price ranges for every player, from beginner to professional. Some of the most popular saxophone brands include P. Mauriat, Yamaha, Selmer and more. Learn more about 7 top saxophone brands or check out our Saxophone Buying Guide for more information.

Buying a Saxophone

If you would like advice and assistance shopping for saxophones, our music experts are available to understand your needs and your budget. Call us at 800.348.5003.

Educators can take advantage of our best educator pricing by shopping on the Educator Website or calling our school music experts at 800.346.4448.

First up; I’m very happy to talk to you before you buy or hire a sax for the first time. So if you’d like to get some completely free expert advice or ask some questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at the planning stage!

Buying second-hand

How to buy your first saxophone

I’m sure it’ll be OK, and it’s only fifty quid….

Buying a second-hand instrument can land a bargain, but it can also result in a instrument in a very poor condition. Problems that I’ve come across with second-hand saxes include;

  • key-work out of alignment
  • pads in very poor condition
  • key work damaged to the point of un-playability
  • soldered joints separated
  • springs broken and connector rods damaged

Now, all of the above problems ARE fixable , but at a price; woodwind repairs, set-ups, re-paddings etc. do not come cheap and can easily add £100 plus to the initial cost of the instrument.

If you are tempted to go down the ‘pre-loved’ route – perhaps a friend or relative has offered you a sax they no longer play – do get in touch before parting with any money. Even if the sax is offered for free, do remember that repair costs can mount up….!

Buying or hiring new

Hiring

If you’d like to ‘try before you buy’ you’ll need to look into hiring an instrument. There are a number of schemes available to you here, but it is definitely worth looking at the hire scheme offered by sax.co.uk. You can apply for this scheme online, and for £75 you can hire a brand new £399 Sakkusu alto sax for three months. At the end of the three months hire period you have three options:

Option 1: Hire for a further three months.

Option 2: Buy the saxophone outright (pay the purchase price minus any hire payments made).

Option 3: Buy the instrument over six equal monthly payments for no additional cost.

The scheme also offers Sakkusu soprano saxes and tenor saxes for hire, as well as the more expensive Trevor James ‘Horn’ range.

Buying

How to buy your first saxophone

Errr…errrr…errrr…..I’ll take ’em all….

OK; buying your first sax. I’ll look at some altos which I know from personal experience to be good choices. What I write equally applies to each company’s ‘companion tenor saxes. I’ve mostly used sax.co.uk for the links below, not because I have any link to the company, but because of their excellent specialist reputation, and for the fact that all of their instruments are checked and set up in their workshops prior to dispatch. Do, however, shop around for prices.

All of the instruments below will come complete with the essential bits and bobs included; a mouthpiece, a mouthpiece cap, a reed and ligature, a neck strap and a case. Most should also include cork grease, a cleaner and a care booklet.

The Yamaha YAS280: still probably the gold standard against which all entry-level instruments are judged. Available for around £840, a YAS280 will serve you WAY beyond entry level, believe me!

The Jupiter JAS-500: another well-tested, highly regarded entry level instrument, available for around £750.

The Buffet 100: a famous French instrument maker, still headquartered and manufacturing in Paris, though at just under £600, the 100 is almost certainly designed in Paris and made in China. Nothing to worry about in this; most of the instruments mentioned here will have a similar provenance!

The Trevor James range: another very good option. Trevor James offers a range of altos from the Artemis at just over £500, up to the SR Special at £1200.

The Sakkusu range: manufactured specifically for sax.co.uk, these saxes offer exceptional value, starting at £299! They also come supplied with a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, which – like Yamaha’s alto – is the starter mouthpiece by which all others are judged.

The Gear 4 Music range: I’ve no direct experience of the Gear 4 Music saxes, though I do know that other instruments that they offer in their ‘own brand’ ranges are OK. Their altos start around the £250 mark! The case supplied looked a bit more basic and ‘old skool’ than others in the list, and they don’t seem to explicitly mention having the instruments set up before dispatch. They do, though, offer a 30 day money-back guarantee.

One important last point:

A good mouthpiece is more important than an expensive saxophone! The Yamaha 4C is in this respect unbeatable, though Jupiter, Buffet and Trevor James mouthpieces also have very good reputations.

Despite what instrument manufacturers would like you to believe, your ‘sound’ is largely the product of your musical conception, your embouchure and your mouthpiece and reed combination. The legendary be-bop saxophonist, Charlie Parker, was notorious for turning up at gigs without a sax, borrowing one for the night, pawning it the next morning and sending the pawn ticket to the bemused owner to redeem their sax.

Charlie Parker always, however, used his own mouthpiece and reeds……..

How to buy your first saxophone

As a beginner player, why is the alto sax mouthpiece the best upgrade?

Your sax mouthpiece is the most important and cheapest upgrade you can do as a beginner sax player.

In this blog, I’m going to tell you why the Yamaha 4C mouthpiece is the best alto sax mouthpiece choice for you as a beginner, both on tenor and on alto sax.

The Right Sax Mouthpiece

This is something we talk about a lot in Sax School , where we have thousands of students learning saxophone online . Whether you’re starting out with a brand new Chinese saxophone or a second-hand, used sax, you should think about upgrading your alto sax mouthpiece or jazz mouthpiece to give yourself the best start.

If you want some tips on choosing a saxophone, and get my free buyers guide, click here.

If you’re using a second-hand saxophone, it might not have come with a mouthpiece or a mouthpiece cap. Or, the mouthpiece might not be suitable for you as a beginner. If you’ve bought a new saxophone, the mouthpiece provided may be unbranded.

Playing on the wrong mouthpiece can make it so much more difficult to get started. Your mouthpiece is the first part of your sax that you blow into, so it has the biggest impact on how easy it is to play jazz , and on the sound quality that comes out.

Why the Yamaha 4C

Firstly, these alto saxophone mouthpieces are really affordable at around £40 or $40 US if you buy it in the US. The price for alto and tenor is about the same.

This is really cheap for a saxophone mouthpiece. My pro mouthpiece from Theo Wanne would cost around ten times more – but it would also be much more difficult for a beginner to play. The Yamaha 4C is a much better choice for a beginner.

This is all to do with the shape and opening of the mouthpiece. The Yamaha 4C is designed to make it really easy to play, even if your embouchure (the muscles around your mouth) are not very developed yet. You can still get a nice controlled smooth and warm sound with this quality mouthpiece . With a soft reed, it will be much easier to play the full range of notes on your sax.

This mouthpiece doesn’t come with a ligature so you’ll need to buy one separately. As a beginner player, the type of ligature doesn’t make much difference, so there’s no need to spend a lot of money on your first ligature. The most important thing is that it holds the reed in place.

How does the Yamaha alto sax mouthpiece sound?

Listen to the Yamaha 4C on both alto and tenor. I’m playing “Pocket Rock-It” from Duets for Sax inside the Sax School Members’ Area.

I think the mouthpiece sounds great. It’s a smooth, round sound, so I wouldn’t use it for a pop gig or a full-on funk gig, but it’s perfect for when you’re starting out. It’s easy to control and keep in tune.

Plus, I can get the full range from this mouthpiece that I could get on my pro mouthpiece – so I can get right up into the altissimo. It’s great on both alto and tenor.

I’m using Légère reeds today – I’m a Légère artist and I use them on all my saxophones. As a beginner you could try a Légère synthetic reed but you might want to try a cane reed too. Cane reeds can be a good choice for a beginner because you can try more reeds, more quickly, till you find the size that suits you.

If you want to find out more about how to make fast progress on your saxophone and become one of the best jazz players , join us today and find out more. Right now you can get 14 days free access.

Check out the Yamaha 4c saxophone mouthpiece on Amazon here:

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