The saxophone is a pretty interesting, albeit tough instrument to learn. So, making a decision for this instrument, you automatically earn our respect. Yes, you do. And to show our support for your passion, we’ve decided to give you our review of what, in our opinion, are the best beginner saxophones.
When picking a saxophone, there are quite a number of things to consider. For instance, saxophones come in different types and not all of them are suitable for the beginner. The soprano and sopranino are a little complicated to master at the beginner’s level and the baritone and bass are way too big.
Today, though, we will be showing you to make sure you end up with the best beginner saxophone for you in our buying guide section.
So, are you set? Then let’s get this show on the road.
- Top 7 Best Beginner Saxophones In 2020 Reviews
- Buying Guide For Best Beginner Saxophones
Top 7 Best Beginner Saxophones In 2020 Reviews
Yamaha YAS-280 Saxophone
B – C sharp
E flat (with 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
Carrying case, 1 Rico reed, cork grease, gloves, cleaning cloth, swabs, and mouthpiece
Deluxe hard shell case, mouthpiece, neck strap, 10 reeds, cleaning cloth and rod, a pair of gloves, 92-D chromatic/string tuner with metronome
10 reeds, hard shell case, neck strap, mouthpiece, grease, screwdriver, cleaning cloth and rod, gloves
Case, mouthpiece, ligature, plus care products
Molded mouthpiece with cap and ligature, engraved bell, case
Yamaha is not a newb in the musical instrument industry. The brand is well known for building its instruments with quality materials and knack for constant improvement as well. The brand can be quite an expensive one, though.
Its Yamaha YAS-280 is the brand’s beginner saxophone, however, it does come quite pricey. That said, the YAS-280 is great for beginners for so many reasons. It has this beautiful intonation. Plus, it is quite lightweight and also comes in an ergonomic shape that makes it easy to hold and to play.
Like we said, the intonation is beautiful as per Yamaha standard so, sound is excellent. And as an upgrade to its older brother, the YAS-275, this comes with a neck receiver that’s more stable. Then there’s also the new low B – C sharp connection which helps for better adjustment.
The redesigned neck also helps to give this saxophone a much quicker response and enhances its playability as well. And with the redesigned neck also, this saxophone is a lot more durable and so your investment is secure.
Now talking about build, this is a sax with great action. So, it’s definitely going to relieve some pressure on your fingers considering that you’ll be practicing a lot on this sax.
As for accessories, Yamaha actually didn’t throw in any and for the price, we think this is a bit unfair. At least, there should have been a cleaning kit included. This, inadvertently, means that you’d need to make a separate investment in accessories, so, keep that in mind.
Besides that though, we love the finish and looks of this sax. It looks beautiful with a clean, smooth feel and a shiny look. It’s something you’d definitely be proud to own for sure.
We love the Mendini by Cecilio saxophone especially for its price and value. It is perfectly suited to the beginner but can also make a great spare for the intermediate and pro players as well.
You’ll be glad to know that Cecilio crafts all the parts of its Mendini instruments by hand. And that means that there’s nothing off the shelf used in the making of the Mendini alto saxophone. So, here’s a build quality you can trust.
The Mendini MAS-L+92D comes highly recommended by tutors for several reasons but especially because it is super easy to use.
The sax comes with a pretty large bore so even young players will be able to make a full bodied sound without much stress. This alone can be encouraging for the young player in many ways, as you know, results drive motivation.
And that’s not all, this also features keys that respond quite fast. With a high response, therefore, this sax is all the more easy to play.
In tone, the Mendini MAS-L+92D shines with a deep and rich sound. In fact, the sax maintains an even tone over the full range which is quite impressive for an instrument so decently priced. We think the metal tone boosters here have a couple of things to do with this beautiful sound.
And now to accessories, Cecilio outdoes itself in this department. At a sub-$500 price, the accessories you get with this sax are enormous. You’ll be getting a neck strap, a hard case, 10 reeds, mouthpiece, gloves, cleaning cloth and rod.
But that’s not all, Cecilio also throws in a tuner and metronome plus a pocketbook too! Talk about value!
Jean Paul is a trusted name in the band instrument industry. The brand carries a wide range of instruments suitable for beginners and intermediate players alike. One thing that endears them to their customers is the fact that their products are always moderately priced.
Its Jean Paul SA AS-400 is one of such products. It comes pricier than the Mendini MAS-L+92D but it is definitely a lot less expensive than the YAS-280.
If we were to describe the AS-400, we would describe it, not as an entry-level instrument, but as mid-level. It’s something the serious beginner should get, or upgrade to from a budget-level sax.
Now, seeing that it’s a little pricey, the user has to be serious else they are bound to waste time and money on this.
That said, if you’re hoping to learn to play some smooth jazz or blues, the AS-400 will help you achieve your dreams.
The beautiful yellow brass finish of this instrument gives the sax a touch of professionalism which we love. The overall look of this thing is clean and pretty standard.
We also found the sound of the AS-400 quite appealing, in fact, the sound and tone are so spot on, the saxophone easily competes with other more expensive instruments. Plus, it can hold its tune for long periods. Thankfully, also, it is pretty easy to tune.
As with all beginner instruments, playability is a huge concern for most. Thankfully, Jean Paul had that base covered already. The action is excellent and smooth so even if you have to practice for hours at a time, you’re not going to stress your fingers on this.
Lastly, this package comes with lots of accessories which we found quite useful and of decent quality as well.
Check more our guide: Top Tenor Saxophones
Alright, here’s our first tenor saxophone on review. Thankfully, this comes at the lower end of the price spectrum. So, it makes a great choice for the beginner/student who’s placing the premium on key placement rather tonal quality for now.
The sax comes with a solidly built body which features a ribbed construction. And with this the keys automatically already have a strong, robust support. To keep this sax sounding real nice, there are metal tone boosters as well as leathery pads.
And with the keys contoured, playing the Mendini MTS-L+92D is quite easy.
We sincerely applaud Cecilio for deciding to throw in the metronome as it is quite essential to the beginning player as they work on their timing.
In looks, this sax does not disappoint. It looks painstakingly crafted and the finish brings in the wow factor as the sax totally gives off this beautiful golden shine. When you throw in the leather pads and faux mother-of-pearl inlays, you see how this sax successful brings in a perfect blend of art and aesthetics.
All the basic accessories you’d need to begin playing right out of the box you’d find in the package. There’s the mouthpiece, cleaning cloth, gloves, neck strap as well as the hard shell case.
The neck strap and reeds are quite inferior though, so think of replacing them soon. But besides that, every other thing checks out okay for us.
The Glory Black/Gold Tenor Saxophone is a great beginner to intermediate level saxophone that most anyone would be able to use. The best part though is that this comes at a good price and yet packs loads of accessories.
In terms of sound, you’re going to be satisfied with this. We’re not saying it’s going to blow minds. We all know tenor saxophones have a pretty high expectation to live up to. But being a budget instrument, we can say we’re quite satisfied. Plus, it comes with the high F sharp key which can never be bad.
To confirm the usability of this sax across different age groups and skill levels, this sax comes with an adjustable key height. This means that whether it’s a child or adult using it per time, you can always adjust the instrument to fit.
Now, this baby is obviously made from cheap materials quite alright. But we really love how it’s not in your face and all, it still looks almost similar to a professional instrument.
What we wish, though, is that the instrument was as sturdy as it was beautiful. This guy does have some reputation for breaking easily and many customers have complained of breakage during shipping.
Overall though, no one can deny that this is a good beginner saxophone. Just be sure to take care of it properly else you might lose your investment before time.
With a sturdy build and breathtaking tone, the Etude EAS-100 strides into the number 6 position on our review today. Simply by handling this, you immediately get the assurance that this horn will make you quite satisfied.
It’s not only easy to play, it’s also tonally consistent and comes with several accessories to make this a fantastic value package. Accessories in the box include the mouthpiece, strong case, ligature, plus a cleaning cloth.
To ensure that you can begin playing this the moment you receive it, the Etude EAS-100 comes already set up and ready to play. And added to this efficiency is the fact that this comes in a brilliant finish that dazzles.
The mouthpiece of this horn is okay, however, you’ll need to upgrade as you get more proficient. Besides that though, lots of students have praise for this sax especially because it plays easily and sounds great too.
We did find a small issue though and that was in the weight of this sax – it is a bit heavy. However, it’s still not so heavy that it’s uncomfortable.
Like you’ll find in many cheapies, the neck strap here is a bit short, so think of replacing with something longer. If you don’t, the sax will become a pain to play.
Altogether though, this remains a fantastic beginner sax.
Finally, check out the stunning Selmer TS711. It costs a pretty penny but from the looks alone, you can tell that this is a mean instrument. Here are some reasons we totally recommend the Selmer TS711.
Firstly, the thumb rest comes adjustable, so, as a beginner, you have one less worry while practicing. And it’s not just beginners alone who can benefit from this, experienced players would also love this feature.
And now to playability, this horn plays well and the key response is quite satisfactory for a beginner sax. It’s good enough to guide the player as they begin the journey to the mastery of the instrument. Plus, it has the F sharp and this makes the TS711 a great practice instrument especially for playing overtones.
There are several accessories in the TS711 package including a mouthpiece, ligature, cap, and a carrying case. But with the absence of neck straps, reeds and swabs, you’d need to make another investment to get those. Sorry about that.
Now, as for weight, this is excellent. It is lightweight enough to be balanced and comfy enough for the beginner however long they hold the instrument.
This is pretty pricey, no doubt, and if it’s out of reach for you, we’ve selected the best of the best budget saxes as well as mid-level saxes. You can check them out. However, if you do go for this, you can rest assured of its build and sound quality.
Buying Guide For Best Beginner Saxophones
We understand that it can get a little overwhelming deciding on a saxophone as a beginner. And that’s why we have included this buying guide section to help put you through. We’re pretty sure you’ll get some clarity when you’re done with this.
Now, here are some things to consider when choosing a beginner saxophone.
As a beginning saxophonist, you don’t want to go for any of the extreme sizes just yet. For instance, the soprano/sopranino is the smallest but needs a bit of mastery for you to be able to achieve good intonation and tone.
And as for the bass/baritone, they are quite expensive which takes them out of the beginner saxophone category. Plus, they require a lot more effort both to finger and to actually blow.
So, most times, beginners are advised to either go for the alto or the tenor. Except the beginner is a small child in which case the tenor would be too big and an alto would be more advisable.
Now, besides all these, the make of your sax is also important. Different makes come with different ergonomics and some also come with easier fingering than others. So, you might find that a tenor from one brand might be more difficult to play than the same tenor size but from another brand.
Finally, your genre of music matters. A tenor saxophone is more suited to the rock and roll genre while alto is more suited to classical music. However, for jazz, both alto and tenor saxophones are useful.
Whether to get Secondhand
When thinking of taking up the sax, the very first thought that comes to your mind is to get a new one. That way, you’re sure it’s in good working order plus there’s the manufacturer’s guarantee too.
However though, there’s nothing wrong with getting a secondhand instrument as long as you’re getting from a trusted teacher or dealer. Just bear in mind that, expectedly, you’ll need to begin maintaining the instrument a bit earlier than you would have if you had bought a new one.
That’s pretty commonsensical.
Also, there are vintage, pro-level saxophones and you can even get some of them at reasonable prices. However, if it’s a Selmer MK VI or SBA, then you’d most likely pay a lot. But then again, be careful, most vintage instruments are not best for beginners in terms of ergonomics and tonal consistency.
Soprano saxophones should sound high and strong like a hybrid between a clarinet and a flute. They shouldn’t sound muted and if that’s how your soprano sax is sounding, return it.
Alto saxophones tend to sound harder and sharper like a toot but with the same body as a soprano saxophone.
Tenor saxophones should give you a deeper, passionate feel like velvet mixed with melted chocolate. Usually, tenor saxophones are full of soul.
Lastly, baritone saxophones come with a big sound that rumbles through your heart.
You can decide to go for painted saxophone or the more common metal colored instrument. Painted saxophones will normally require more maintenance than their metal companions though.
You’d want to get a reed that’s comfy for you, cleaning wands for obvious reasons, cork oil/balm to keep your cork in good shape, as well as cleaning cloth to give your sax a good wipe down after a jam.
Finally, think of a neck strap as these things can get pretty cumbersome to hold up while working the keys.
Although pricey, the Yamaha YAS-280 Saxophone is easily our best beginner saxophone today. Build and sound quality are excellent which are the primary things we look out for.
We would have appreciated some accessories, though. But all the same, we can’t deny a good product when we see ome.