Alto saxophones come highly recommended especially for beginners who wish to pick up the sax. There are several sizes of the saxophone, by the way, and each has its own appeal.
The alto saxophone almost sounds like the soprano in that it has a similar fullness. Howbeit, they actually give a somewhat sharp sound kinda like a toot.
To fully experience the joys of playing the alto saxophone though, you’d have to first get a quality instrument. For a novice, that could mean hours online and dependence on just about any information. Thankfully, you’ve saved yourself the stress and buyer’s regret by looking here.
In this article, you’ll find a buying guide to give you a quick crash course on alto saxophones. And then we go ahead to review what, in our opinion, are the best alto saxophones in the market. Without further ado, begin by checking out this quick comparison table we made for you.
- Top 10 Best Alto Saxophones For The Money In 2020
- 1 Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone
- 2 Selmer AS42 Professional Alto Saxophone
- 3 Yamaha YAS-280 Student Alto Saxophone
- 4 Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L+92D+PB Alto Saxophone
- 5 Roy Benson RBAS302 Professional Alto Saxophone
- 6 Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone
- 7 Monoprice Eb Alto Saxophone Gold Lacquer Finish
- 8 Ammoon Alto Saxophone
- 9 Kaizer ASAX-1000NK Alto Saxophone
- 10 Costzon Professional Alto Saxophone
- Best Alto Saxophones Buying Guide
- Features To Look Out For When Choosing An Alto Saxophone
Top 10 Best Alto Saxophones For The Money In 2020
Carrying case, mouthpiece with ligature, and strap
High F sharp
B – C sharp
Carrying case, 1 cork of grease
E flat (with high F sharp)
Carrying case, mouthpiece with ligature, and strap
High F sharp
Tuner, case, mouthpiece, 10 reeds, cleaning cloth and rod, a pair of gloves, chromatic/string tuner with metronome, and pocketbook
Yellow brass with lacquer finish
Back pack, mouthpiece with ligature and cap, cleaning cloth, and carrying strap
Carrying vase, 1 Rico reed, cork grease, gloves, cleaning cloth, swabs, and mouthpiece
Ammoon Alto Saxophon
Gold and Black
Cleaning brush, cleaning cloth, gloves, cork grease, strap and padded case
Kaizer ASAX-1000NK Alto Saxophone
Molded case, mouthpiece and ligature, polishing cloth, cleaning rod, gloves, lubricant for the mouthpiece
E flat (with high F sharp key)
Carry case, neck straps, mouthpiece, cork grease, reed, cleaning cloth rod, gloves
1 Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone
Our first alto saxophone on review is a professional grade instrument. In fact, that’s quite obvious from the price which Selmer refers to as affordable. Well, this “affordable” instrument is currently priced at well over $2000 with a few accessories. So, yeah, it’s not for everybody.
Naturally, we recommend this saxophone for professional, experienced players who cannot afford to compromise on sound. Beginners might want to stay away from this for now. But for professionals who can afford this sax, you’re by no means going to be disappointed.
Let’s begin with the construction of this sax. It’s obviously high quality from the looks alone. You can be sure that it’s going to last long years of use. We also love the finish on this sax which further etches the sax on the ranks of professional grade instruments.
Altogether, in looks and build quality, this saxophone is stunning and befitting for any professional saxophone player. The key styling on this is quite professional too which enables you to always achieve accurate fingering.
Talking about keys, this comes in an F which is typical for professional saxophones. As for intonation and pitch, we found this sax to be highly focused and really consistent as well. The sound quality from this pricey sax will definitely knock your socks off.
For accessories, Selmer throws in a couple of necessities to enhance your use of this instrument. With the purchase of this sax, you get a carrying case. The case is quite high quality and will protect your investment whether for storage or while in transit.
Besides a carrying case, you also get a strap as well as a mouthpiece with ligature.
All in all, we love this sax for its versatility. You’d enjoy playing all kinds of genres of music on this.
Read more: Best Tenor Saxophones Reviews & Buying Guide
Again we review a saxophone from Selmer. These guys do a good job on their instruments and that cannot be denied. This time around, we’re reviewing its Selmer AS42 which is even pricier than the first but of course of the highest quality.
Selmer pegs this as an entry level professional instrument. The saxophone is an offspring of the Selmer ordained marriage with its Selmer USA and Henri Selmer Paris. Did this experiment work? Well, yes because we love this sax!
The Selmer AS42 features the original honest-to-goodness Henri Selmer Paris neck. It also boasts the all exclusive AM42 Selmer Paris mouthpiece. In effect, the Selmer AS42 is the only saxophone within this price range to feature a mouthpiece and neck from the Henri Selmer Paris. Now, that’s saying something.
And now to a review of its performance… This is a super responsive instrument great for both classical and jazz performances. And thanks to its ribbed construction as well as metal resonators, the player is guaranteed of exceptional projection plus a truly dynamic range.
In looks, this sax stuns as usual, it’s a Selmer after all. It comes in a beautiful finish with an engraved pattern to add detail and a unique touch. And then Selmer also threw in this pretty cool carrying case to protect your instrument as well as make carrying the sax more convenient.
Again, we are more than impressed by Selmer’s work!
We’ve all come to know and trust Yamaha for their quality musical instruments. The brand has been in the business for a while. So, naturally, many musicians have come to depend on them when excellent performance is a must.
Anyway, the YAS-280 is a student saxophone which means it’s made with beginners in mind. We would recommend this for the serious beginner though as it doesn’t come cheap. But besides price, this comes with a really beautiful intonation.
Also, thanks to its light weight and ergonomic shape, this sax is highly playable by all kinds of players, beginners inclusive. In addition to all these, Yamaha gives this a redesigned neck which also impacts playability making this one of the most responsive beginner saxophones you’d find.
To ensure that this comes easy to play, Yamaha gives this a fantastic action that’s super comfy for the beginner. Your fingers are going to feel quite comfortable playing on this without all of the pressure. This is great since you’ll be practicing a lot for the first few weeks to months.
This instrument lacks a bit in terms of accessories. We are only sure of a carrying case and a cork of grease. There’s no cleaning kit, so you’d have to get that yourself. For a student sax, this is a tough bargain, no doubt. But we also can’t deny the performance and playability of the YAS-280.
Lastly, this is a good looking sax from build quality to finish. The design and layout are clean, and it also feels really smooth too.
This right here is one of the best saxophones you can get when you talk about getting the bang for your buck. It’s not only affordable, making it appealing to students and beginners, it also packs so many accessories.
But don’t let the price of this sax fool you though, this is quite a quality instrument. Of course, it won’t hold a candle to the professional instruments we have on our list. But, nonetheless, if a pro or intermediate player ever needs a spare, the Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L+92D+PB makes a great choice.
It’s a highly playable instrument which makes it a favorite of many tutors. Plus, with its large bore, even the youngest of students will be able to achieve a full bodied sound with very little stress. With this, students can stay motivated and enjoy learning the sax.
The keys on this sax are pretty responsive and in tone and sound, this instrument shines with a deep, rich sound. And even more impressively, the sax still maintains that even tone over a full range. We can’t forget to mention the metal tone boosters as they are also responsible for this beautiful tone.
When it comes to accessories, it’s an accessory galore here. Cecilio packs everything you’ll need to begin playing the instrument right out of the box right. With purchase, you get a neck strap, a hard case, a mouthpiece, 10 reeds, cleaning cloth and rod, as well as gloves.
The best part though is that you get all this for a little under $300! Wait, there’s an even better part, you also get a tuner and metronome with a pocketbook as well! Cecilio sure outdid itself!
You probably know Roy Benson for its quality wind instruments and the RBAS302 is just one of its many quality pieces. The brand obviously puts a lot of effort into making its instruments. Construction is always high quality and so you can be sure that the RBAS302 will stand the test of time.
Now, this is a student saxophone. And although it’s not exactly cheap, it’s not expensive either, at least, not as expensive as the Yamaha YAS-280. We’d say this is just moderately priced. Nonetheless, you might want to only use this if you’re a serious beginner.
Like all beginner instruments, Roy Bensons builds this saxophone to be easy to use. Nearly anyone would be able to play great tunes on this sax without too much effort. Also, in size, this would easily suit any player with an average build.
As for action, we’d say it’s great. Players will surely find it easy to play and blow on this comfortably and conveniently. And if you want your action a bit more silent, there is the metal thumb rest as well as the felt bumpers to make that happen.
We are definitely impressed by the Roy Benson RBAS302 Professional Alto Saxophone.
When it comes to band instruments, one name musicians have come to trust is Jean Paul. This brand has contributed to the music industry immensely with its wide range of instruments suitable for beginners and intermediate level players alike.
The most endearing attribute of the brand though is their highly competitive price. One of such competitively priced products is the Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone. Although pricier than the Mendini by Cecilio MAS+L+92D, it is still not as costly as the Yamaha YAS-280. So, it’s a fair deal.
Again, we recommend this saxophone for the serious beginner else it could amount to investment wasted. Now, if you’re that serious beginner hoping to churn out some fantastic blues or smooth jazz tunes, then keep reading. This review will interest you.
First of all, we love the looks of this sax. It’s not just beautiful, it also has a touch of class that makes it look quite professional. Everything about the design of the sax is clean and up to standard.
As for sound, this is quite spot on, even i tonal quality. It’s quite easy to tune and even better, it holds its tune for as long as possible.
Like all the best beginner saxophones, the Jean Paul USA AS-400 comes highly playable. Action is pretty smooth too such that no matter how long you play, your fingers still do not cramp easily.
Finally, this is a great value purchase that packs several accessories in one package. In all, for the price, this sax is a great find.
The Monoprice Alto Sax is a decent entry level instrument worth the price. We love this sax for so many reasons. But top on the list are the facts that it is affordable and that it also gives a lot of value too.
Understandably, because this sax is somewhat inexpensive, you’d have to expect some cutbacks here and there. But that accounted for, you could say that this sax more than suffices for a beginner or student sax player.
In this one package you get so many accessories. Some of these accessories include a pad saver, a neck strap, a deluxe zippered hard case, cleaning cloth and matching gloves, and a cleaning rod.
As per recommendations, we would place this as an entry-level instrument as the manufacturers rightly described this. It comes with a pretty decent build quality which means that it will last. Plus, the gold lacquer finish means that this comes out looking quite beautiful.
We found the Monoprice Alto Sax to be highly playable. For instance it comes with key pads which help the young player easily hit notes accurately to produce an impressive tone. And since we are here, the tonal quality of this saxophone is without doubt sufficient for the audience it is built for.
If you know any young person beginning to show some interest in playing the sax, you’d be making a home run getting this Monoprice Saxophone.
So far, we’ve been looking at saxophones for beginners. This time, it’s time to review the Ammoon Alto Saxophone. This saxophone has received pretty good reviews from customers and reviewers alike and for good reason too.
First off, this comes decently priced so it’s within the easy reach of beginners. But beyond its reasonable price, the Ammoon Alto Saxophone also comes with several accessories. A Cleaning brush, cleaning cloth, gloves, cork grease, strap and padded case, are some of the stuff you get with this package.
Alright, now to looks, the Ammoon Alto Saxophone is a looker. It is properly constructed with high quality materials. And then it comes with this beautiful finish that makes it stand out from the rest. It’s a sax you’ll definitely be proud to own.
With its beautiful tone, this sax will work nicely with nearly any genre of music. From jazz to classical music, the Ammoon Alto Saxophone will fit nicely into the any of the music genres.
Its sound quality really impresses us, plus the sax designed to be highly playable. The sound holes are all accurate. Plus, there are leather pads which help to make this easy to use for younger players. The metal tone boosters also give this sax a much improved sound quality.
Altogether, we are impressed with the Ammoon Alto Saxophone. It’s a quality instrument with lots value to offer the student. We definitely recommend.
This is another student alto sax, this time from Kaizer. It belongs to Kaizer’s 1000 series where the brand seeks to introduce highly functional, versatility, and excellence student saxophones to the market.
Of course, Kaizer does not forget to put these saxophones within the budget range so they are within easy reach.
When it comes to construction, it’s easy to see that the Kaizer ASAX-1000NK was built to last. It comes made of solid yellow brass which is high quality too. Rest assured, you’re not going to have to replace this saxophone anytime soon.
We checked the playability department too and found that this comes very easy to play. Response from the sax is quite fluid and it is also super sensitive to touch too. So, all in all, you’re going to enjoy the ease of playing on this greatly.
In addition to these, this saxophone comes with steel strings, premium quality, of course. These make the action super fast. There are leather pads here too which in addition to making this sax easier to play, also enhance the tone of the sax.
The Kaizer ASAX-1000NK Alto Saxophone will make a great instrument for students/beginners, orchestra players, and school bands too.
Lastly, we review the Costzon Professional Alto Saxophone. Now, first things first, forget the “professional” accolade. This is by no means a professional saxophone. At its price range, the best category this can fall into is the beginner/student sax category.
Now that we have an honest view of this sax, we can proceed to the review at hand. We love the fact that this comes decently priced. We also like how this delivers value with the several accessories in the package.
Construction wise, this is a pretty solid instrument. But besides that, the manner of construction of this sax also enhances the sound you get from this sax. It sounds quite mellow and penetrating, almost like a higher end sax.
From the mouthpiece to the neck, the thoughtfulness in construction is quite obvious. You will easily notice how Costzon made an effort to create something that works. The mouthpiece makes the playability of this sax easier. And the bent neck also ensures that you achieve a beautiful resonation.
The key layout is also quite easy to navigate. Young players are going to find it easy to play the keys. Plus, they will experience superior comfort while using this too. And with the leather pads here, they are not just having things easier, they will also get such an excellent sound even with little stress.
Finally, we love how this sax looks. It’s quite charming and looks like it will endure the several trips to practice and back.
Best Alto Saxophones Buying Guide
In a minute, we’ll get to the nitty gritty of factors you should be looking out for when choosing an alto saxophone. But just before that, it might be a better idea to find out some general info about the alto saxophone, although briefly. So, just before you decide on the alto sax, find out if this is the right sax for you.
A General Word About The Alto Saxophone
The alto saxophone is, arguably, the most popular sax among beginners and professionals alike. It’s small in size and pretty deft in terms of its dynamic range. So, you easily find an alto saxophone fitting into nearly all kinds of music genres such from a jazz band to a pep band.
Pitched in the Eb (E flat), the alto sax has a much higher range than the baritone and tenor saxophones. However, it’s a tad warmer than the soprano saxophone.
Now when it comes to playing saxophones, the basic concept is the same. Nonetheless, each size has its own fingering. So, of course, some sizes are more difficult than others.
Because alto saxophones are small in size, it makes them ideal for young students. Their embouchures are much smaller and tighter so they are not so difficult to navigate even for the beginner.
So, by the time a student is done mastering the the alto saxophone, they would naturally find it a lot easier to migrate to more challenging sizes.
Determining The Alto Saxophone Level That’s Best For You
There are different levels of the alto saxophone depending on where you’re at in your saxophone skills.
There are beginner saxophones best for the inexperienced still taking their first steps. They usually come affordable, and quite easy to play and tune. Also, they tend to come in a bit light to accommodate the size of the usually young player.
As the beginner grows, they graduate to the intermediate level. These produce quality tones better than beginner sax but not quite like pro instruments, although pretty close. Intermediate saxophones also usually come with smoother and more responsive keys and action.
Lastly, there’s the pro instrument which gives the overall best response, intonation and tone. Visually too, these instruments are also quite appealing. You can find several professional alto saxophones with hand engravings and other more intricate detailing and deluxe finishes.
Features To Look Out For When Choosing An Alto Saxophone
An alto saxophone can either be ribbed or non-ribbed. That is, talking about the construction of the body now. You can decide to go for either one of them, however, here’s the thing…
With a ribbed construction, your saxophone is going to feel somewhat heavier which means that the vibration of the sax would also change. Plus, with added weight, comes a slightly warmer sound too. Of course, this entire narrative is the reverse with non-ribbed saxophones.
Now, while ribbed construction might look like the best thing after sliced bread, it still has a small con. A heavier sax means that its playability is also going to somehow get affected. So, keep that in mind when deciding.
Different alto saxophones come with different keys. Usually, the highly skilled players hardly need extra keys. In fact, it only ends up constituting a real clutter on the sax rather than being useful.
For the beginner, though, a couple of extra keys can be a nice touch. Now, if this is your case, then you might want to consider an alto sax in the high G or high F sharp. Also, ensure you look out for saxophones that come with alternative key positions and adjustable key height screws.
A shorter or longer neck could impact greatly on your instrument’s playability as well as your comfort while playing it. Therefore, it’s a feature you really want to look out for. Thankfully, you can always replace the neck of your sax in the market if you’re not comfortable with the one you have.
Material and Finish
The most common material you find in the construction of alto saxophones these days is the yellow brass finish. But you could also find bronze, sterling silver, and copper. Now, as with all instruments, material of construction affects sound. It also affects the cost of the instrument, of course.
As for finish, the most common one is the clear lacquer. However, there are others like the vintage, colored lacquers, black nickel plate, and lots more.
In fact, there are some that are so beautiful, they would enchant you just by their looks. But just before you decide, you might want to hear how the instrument sounds first.
From student to intermediate level saxophones, it’s important to ensure that your saxophone comes with pads. That is, there are pads covering all the holes. These pads must not be too soft. They should rather be of high quality with the potential to stand years of use.
If you can get something that’s water-resistant, that would also be quite wonderful.
If the thumb rest on your saxophone is not good enough, you’re going to experience some level of discomfort playing your saxophone. So, ensure that you check to know whether it’s comfortable for you or not.
If you don’t know where it is, it is that part of your saxophone where your thumb sits in order to make the instrument balanced. It’s hook-shaped and could either be plastic or metal depending.
Another important part of the saxophone is the mouthpiece. Bear in mind that the way it’s cut and shaped will impact on your saxophone’s tonal quality. For instance, square chambers and round chambers on the inside of the mouthpiece give significantly different sounds and responses.
Although all saxophones come with a standard mouthpiece, there’s an avenue for players to customize their mouthpiece to the occasion. For instance for a classical, jazz or ensemble performance, certain players keep different mouthpieces for each setting on hand.
Reeds are those tiny wood pieces added to the flat surface of the mouthpiece together with the ligature.
When you blow air into the sax through the mouthpiece, the air travels. Usually, it goes in between the tip of the rid and the slight opening at the mouthpiece. This air travel causes the reed to vibrate against the mouthpiece thereby producing sound.
Different brands produce different kinds of reeds. And these reeds usually offer different levels of sound quality and resistance to suit unique tastes of different musicians.
Now, keep in mind that reeds are things you’ll be replacing quite often. Plus, you should always ensure that you have no less than 3 reeds on hand compulsorily at all times.
At most, your alto sax should weigh 6 pounds especially if you’re a beginner. You need it to be lightweight so as to be able to practice more conveniently.
Design can either be straight, curvy, or the traditional shape and the right one to go for would depend on your level of skill. The straight sax is more professional with a higher key and a lighter weight. The curvy sax is the most stylish of the three while traditional styles are the kinds you find in most movies.
The best value purchase is the sax that gives you the most number of necessary accessories. You might want to pay attention to brands that offer accessories like cleaning kits, tuners, gloves, and carrying cases.
Although the Selmer AS42 Professional Alto Saxophone blows our minds, the Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone is our winner today.
This is because the Selmer AS42 does pack more sophisticated features in truth. But the Selmer SA280 packs excellent features (maybe not as great as the AS42 but still great anyway) with a more affordable price. Of course, this is for professional alto saxophones.
For the beginner/student saxophones, our first choice would be the Yamaha YAS-280 Student Alto Saxophone. But if that is out of your reach, then we’d also recommend the Mendini by Cecilio MAS-L+92D+PB Alto Saxophone.