Smooth, sophisticated, and oh so sexy, the saxophone is one of the most played wind instruments in the market. So whether you’re hoping to learn how to play one or looking for an upgrade, you can expect there to be a lot of different sax choices on the market to suit your needs. Among all the different options though, the alto saxophone is the most common, falling right between the tenor and the soprano.
The alto offers just the right pitch, making it an ideal instrument for both solo and group performances. If you’re looking for the best alto saxophone to suit your preferences, standards, and your budget, but you’re not sure where to start your search, let this comprehensive guide and review point you in the right direction.
Top 10 Alto Saxophones Comparison Table
How to Choose an Alto Saxophone
Just like any other instrument, saxophones come in a variety of models that cater to different types of users. So choosing the best alto saxophone for your use doesn’t only depend on the sax itself, but your own personal standards and preferences.
Lots of factors set saxophones apart from each other, but there are some that are more important than others when it comes to making a choice. So be sure to keep these major considerations in mind before spending on a sax to pinpoint the ideal option for your use.
- Level of Expertise – One of the main differences you’ll find across saxophone models is the level of expertise they cater to. Three categories separate saxophone choices, and these are student saxophones, intermediate saxophones, and expert saxophones.
- Student – These saxophones are designed with the budding musician in mind, allowing users to perform at par with more experienced players without complicating the process so as not to discourage beginners. They’re more affordable, comfortable to use, and produce much less complex sounds for learning users.
- Intermediate – Those who have been playing their student sax for some time can switch up to the intermediate when ready. These feel much more similar to professional saxophones, and produce a fuller sound relative to the student models. Key work can still be pretty comfortable and simple compared to the expert sax, and they often still lack the intricate detailing that high end models offer.
- Expert – Professional level saxophones present a significant improvement in terms of intonation, response, and tone. They’re often made of higher grade material, and feature keys with elaborate detailing. Because experts are expected to play much more complex pieces, expert saxophones are built with advanced playability.
- Available Parts – Certain parts of your saxophone can be replaced by purchasing spare parts at your local music store. One of the most commonly changed parts is the neck, which can significantly change the way you use your sax and the way it produces sound.
Because some brands can be more popular than others, it’s a lot easier to find parts for them. Other, lesser known manufacturers may not have readily available parts for your chosen sax, requiring that you wait a period of time to order them first.
Be sure to check if you can get spare parts for your saxophone before making a purchase as this can significantly affect the way you enjoy your new instrument.
- Material – You’d be surprised how the material a saxophone is made of can affect your user experience. Most commonly, they’re made of bronze, copper, or sterling silver. Each option doesn’t only give your sax a unique look, but also changes the way it sounds all together.
Needless to say, more expensive materials produce better quality sound, but also require more care and maintenance. These can also affect the durability of your chosen sax, so if you’re looking for something to last the long haul, consider investing in something more robust.
Top 3 Best Alto Saxophone Reviews
The top choice on our list as the best alto saxophone is the Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone. The device was designed with beginners in mind, but still offers professional level results to encourage budding learners to keep improving their skill.
The sax features power forged keys that give off warm, well-rounded, and smooth sounds ideal for hitting a succession of notes with seamless precision. The body is made from yellow brass and is coated with a clear lacquer finish, making it easy to maintain and clean.
What makes the Jean Paul AS-400 a top pick is the fact that it produces sounds that aren’t common among student-level saxophones. Providing high-quality, fine-tuned output, this saxophone may very well help you transition into intermediate level with ease and much greater speed.
For professional saxophone players who have a little more to spend, the Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone is the perfect pick. This top rated saxophone was built to the highest of standards, making it one of the most coveted (and most expensive) options on the list.
It features a finely detailed body, with intricate engravings that give it classy and sophisticated appeal. The keys are designed with utmost precision, allowing users to achieve smooth and seamless key work ideal for fast and complex saxophone pieces. With a traditional sized bell, the sax also makes it easy for skilled listeners to keep in tune with other instruments and accompaniment.
The only real downside with the SAS280 is the cost. At 5 times the price of other, more affordable saxophones, it may seem too steep a cost – even for professionals.
Designed for students, the Monoprice Alto Saxophone comes with robust, air tight keys that stand the test of time, wear, and tear, so you can practice endlessly without worrying about damaging your sax.
The entire instrument was built to be slightly more compact than others, so it can be comfortably held by a beginner, and even small children who want to start learning how to play.
The gold lacquer finish adds a sophisticated touch to the instrument, and makes it resilient against scratches and damage commonly incurred from daily use. It also comes with a number of different accessories to help you get started on your new endeavor as soon as the instrument makes its way to your doorstep.
Why didn’t it rank higher? Because it does as a very low budget piece, it doesn’t have much of a resale value, which is important if you’re hoping to climb the skill ladder as you’re likely going to end up selling an old sax that no longer suits your capabilities.