Before getting a tenor saxophone, it is necessary to have a good understanding of how it works and how you would use it. The saxophone is somewhat complicated and requires adequate knowledge to fully appreciate its beauty and usefulness.
Of the different sizes of saxophones, the tenor saxophones are the most common after the alto saxophones. It fits right between the baritone and alto saxophone in the hierarchy and has earned its popularity due to its size and sound.
Today, we are taking you through the ins and outs of tenor saxophones. What it is about them that makes people love them. And, more importantly, how you can choose your best tenor saxophone whatever your need or budget.
Go through our review to read our guide as well as our reviews on 6 of our top tenor saxophones currently available.
Top 6 Best Tenor Saxophones Reviews
- Top 6 Best Tenor Saxophones Reviews In 2020
- Buying Guide For Best Tenor Saxophones
- Best Tenor Saxophone Brands
Top 6 Best Tenor Saxophones Reviews In 2020
Jean Paul USA TS-400 Tenor Saxophone
35.5 x 16 x 10 inches
Rico reeds, carrying case, cork grease, gloves, cleaning cloth, swabs, and mouthpiece
33 x 8 x 14 inches
Pro-deluxe durable hard-shell case, mouthpiece, neck strap, 10 reeds, cleaning cloth and rod, gloves, Cecilio 92-D chromatic/string tuner with metronome
11 x 16 x 35 inches
Brushed finish and dull lacquer
41 x 16 x 13 inches
Shaped case, Selmer paris S80 mouthpiece, cap and ligature, and Selmer saxophone care products
Glory Black/Gold Tenor Saxophone
32.9 x 14.7 x 8.9 inches
Carry case, 10 reeds, mouthpiece, screw driver, nipper, gloves, soft cleaning cloth
32 x 6 x 10 inches
Molded case, mouthpiece with ligature set, cleaning cloth, cleaning rod, gloves, lubricant for moutpiee
The Jean Paul USA TS-400 tenor saxophone is a pretty attractive instrument with its yellow brass body as well as its yellow brass neck and bell. Plus, it also comes with a lacquer finish which gives the instrument both beauty and durability. You need not worry about chipping or corrosion here.
Still on build, the keys come power-forged so they are quite easy to pick which improves playability. The body is also quite tough which makes it strong enough to stand the test of time and withstand abuse.
Jean Paul throws in a good number of accessories with this sax. And with its somewhat decent price, we’ve got to point out that you’re getting pretty high value here. In the accessories kit, you get a mouthpiece, ligature, cap, swabs, cork grease, cleaning cloth, gloves, plus a carrying case too.
Long story short, all you need to begin playing the saxophone out of the box comes in the package.
To ensure that this saxophone performs above and beyond capacity, this brand tests its saxophones twice before leaving the factory. This ensures that the saxophone is up to standard and without defect. And if it falls short, feel free to call Jean Paul. Their customer service is actually swift and sweet.
If we were to recommend this saxophone to a particular audience, we would recommend it to the beginner or the advancing student. It’s quite easy to use, somewhat affordable (for the intermediate player), and sounds great too.
It will also work for the entry-level intermediate player seeking to make the upgrade from a budget sax.
Mendini by Cecilio saxophones are usually quite low end in price which makes them a good choice for beginners or students. If you’re just learning the ropes and you can’t invest so much in a saxophone right now, then you’ll be making a great choice with this.
With this saxophone, you’ll be able to practice and perfect your key placement first. And then as time goes on and your skills advance, you can then concentrate on style and tonal quality. At this price, we’d say this is pretty fair game.
The body of this saxophone looks and feels solid. And with its ribbed construction, this saxophone gives a pretty robust key support. Together with the metal tone boosters, the ribbed bell also improves and enhances the tone of your sax giving it a beautiful feel.
To make the sax quite playable, Cecilio contours the key which helps you with your fingering. Plus, the keys also come framed against the inlays made from faux mother-of-pearl.
As is common with Cecilio saxophones, this sax packs a number of useful accessories. Of all these accessories, one of the coolest is the metronome.
A metronome is quite essential in helping the player practice and perfect their timing. Not many brands include this in their package, and that’s one more reason we’re really impressed by this brand.
Besides the metronome though, there are several other accessories that you get here. They include a cleaning cloth, a mouthpiece, a neck strap, reeds, a hard shell case, and gloves.
Well, keep it in mind that the neck straps and reeds are pretty low quality. So, you might want to consider replacement.
Selmer is a high quality brand known for its quality wind instruments. Its saxophones usually come a bit high end, most times targeted at the professional audience. But for a professional sax, we’d say this comes a bit cheap at a sub-$3000 price.
Most times, Selmers are used in jazz settings. However, they are still quite versatile nonetheless. So, you can also find this very at home in a symphonic ensemble or a chamber. It’s a saxophone that many professionals absolutely love and if you go for the TS44, you definitely won’t be disappointed.
This is one of the few quality saxophones in the market with genuine Henri Selmer Paris neck and mouthpiece. They give the saxophone a warm and rich sound which makes this ideal for playing both in jazz and classical settings.
Also, thanks to its ribbed construction, blue steel springs, and pro pads, this saxophone gives a fantastic reaction time. Projection is also pretty exceptional and you will enjoy a fully expressive performance when you use the Selmer TS44.
This is a professional saxophone by all standards, and its many high end features easily give that fact away. So, it’s definitely not for beginner or intermediate. It’s fantastic for the advanced player or entry-level professional though.
With a price nearly entering the $10 000 arena, the Selmer Paris Reference 54 is easily one of the most expensive pieces in the market. Of course, this sax is not for everyone. In fact, many professionals might not even find this within their reach.
Nonetheless, it’s on our review today and review it we must. Come with us…
The Selmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone is drop dead gorgeous. Of course, you should expect that at the price this sells for. It is modern in its appeal and gorgeous in its overall looks. The craftsmanship is also quite exquisite with an obvious eye for intricate detailing.
The keywork here is amazing. And because it is placed close to the body of the sax, it automatically enhances the playability of this instrument. The crafting of the keywork also makes this sax really comfortable to play such players enjoy the rich tone as well as the comfort of using this sax.
When it comes to tone, it hardly gets better than the Reference 54. You only find precious few saxophones that can give you the quality of sound and tone that the Reference 54 would give you. in fact, Selmer created the tone of this sax based on that of the legendary Mark VI (1954).
When it comes to pricey instruments, it’s expected that they would be high maintenance and all that. Surprisingly, this sax isn’t so high maintenance. That is, you wouldn’t need to do much besides the regular saxophone routine care.
Finally, the Reference 54 might seem super pricey upfront. But in the end, you might be saving yourself a lot as this would hardly break down, neither would it need extensive repair at any point.
Maybe you or your child just developed an interest in the saxophone. And now you don’t feel like breaking the bank just to get a sax. The Glory Black/Gold saxophone is for you! It’s targeted at the beginner/student. It also comes at a budget with several accessories that you actually need.
Now, even though this is one of the low end saxophones, it does not mean that construction is cheap here. This is quite nicely built with attention to sturdiness and durability. This is one sax that will definitely see many years to come.
To perfect the looks of this instrument, the Glory Black/Gold Tenor Saxophone comes in a gold lacquer finish. This makes the saxophone stand out in the aesthetics department. Plus, it also helps to ensure that your sax remains resistant to corrosion and chipping.
For an extra touch of beauty, it comes with hand engravings which make the sax look attractive. So, if you love bells and whistles in your products but are working on a tight project, try this.
Glory delivers this tenor saxophone to you along with a number of useful accessories. You’ll find the mouthpiece, 10 reeds, nipper, neck strap, gloves, screwdriver, hard-shell case, and a carrying case.
We are quite pleasantly surprised to report that the reeds in this package are actually quite good. At least, compared to what you get from competing brands, these reeds are the bomb diggity!
That said though, you might want to consider changing out the gloves, and neck straps. The gloves aren’t exactly durable and the neck strap isn’t padded so it’s a bit uncomfortable to use.
Lastly on our review, check out the Kaizer TSAX-1000LQ. This is a highly durable student tenor sax with a nice weight and a nice price.
First, this is made from yellow brass which gives the sax its solid feel and beautiful sound. Finished in gold lacquer, this saxophone shines, making it an attractive instrument.
Plus, with the choice of material, as well as construction choices, this sax comes out lightweight, making it playable by all kinds of people.
We are quite happy about the leatherette pads on this saxophone. Obviously, Kaizer wanted to make an easy to play saxophone and it got it right.
Below the keys, you would find some premium grade steel strings. These strings ensure that your saxophone give a quick response. They also ensure that the keys are in full control of the pads.
Like many beginner models, the Kaizer TSAX 1000-LQ comes with several useful accessories. There’s a mouthpiece with lubricant and ligature. There are also the gloves, neck strap, cleaning rod, gloves, and polishing cloth.
Finally, we love that Kaizer stands behind its products. They have a 45-day free trial period. This means that if you’re not impressed with the performance of the sax, you can send it back to the manufacturers for a refund.
Buying Guide For Best Tenor Saxophones
Before choosing a tenor saxophone, you should be aware of how it will sound as well as its playability. We compiled some features that could help you decide. But before then, let’s see why you should consider owning a tenor saxophone.
Why You Should Consider A Tenor Saxophone
The following are our top reasons you should consider owning a tenor saxophone.
- A tenor saxophone is a good size. Although it tends towards the large size, it’s not too large. But it’s not too small either.
- Of all the saxophones, the tenor sax is the most versatile.
- Tenor saxophones give a pretty wide and dynamic tonal range.
- Lastly, tenor saxophones look classic with their curvy design.
There are large and small tenor saxophones, it all depends on the player’s choice. To choose a good size, you should consider your own body size. You don’t want anything that feels too bulky against your body.
Also, don’t forget that tenor saxophones do not come as small as alto saxophones. So, just keep your expectations realistic. As long as you do that, you’ll find the right size for you.
Different tenor saxophones weigh differently and so, again, you have to choose wisely. Actually, most times, the weight varies across brands. You actually want something that’s lightweight enough for you to play comfortably.
If you’re just starting out, then try to go for something light. This will help you to easily learn the sax while you try to gradually get adjusted to the size of the sax. As you make the upgrade to a bigger model, it gets heavier too. But then again, you’d have been accustomed to it.
Typically, tenor saxophones come in the key B flat (Bb). The keys on a saxophone are cup-like metal pieces, normally small in size. They expose/cover tone holes accordingly and usually come padded too.
The way keys are placed is pretty much standard in all kinds of saxophones. Nonetheless, there are saxophones that might come with a few more keys than others. For instance, some saxophones might come with a low A or a high G.
Be that as it may, it is important to state here that even in the absence of the extra keys, you’ll still be able to play those notes. The extra keys just make things a bit easier.
Most saxophones are made from brass. But there are also others that are made from other kinds of metals like copper, bronze, or sterling silver. However, these other ones are the exception. Most saxophones, including tenor saxophones, you’ll find will be made from brass.
Manufacturers prefer to use brass because it is resistant to rust, quite strong, malleable, and hard.
Best Tenor Saxophone Brands
The list we are going to provide is, by no means, exhaustive. But it should give you a head start. We tried to select the best of the bunch and we know that any tenor sax from any of these brands would surely amount to a quality piece.
Alpine is a beginner’s best friend. Their tenor saxophones come excellently constructed, with a high playability and an affordable price.
Alpine tenor saxophones are made from brass with double epoxy coating to keep them sturdy and durable. As you know, durability is important when discussing beginner saxophones.
This is a more professional brand and it’s evident in their prices. Their saxophones are easily recognizable with their rich lacquered finish, state-of-the-art mechanics, and mother-of-pearl keys too. That said, the brand is still somewhat underappreciated.
Be that as it may though, we believe that Keilwerth is one of the best brands a professional can shop with. Their sound is always warm and melodic and they go well with ballads and adagio solos.
Yanagisawa and Vito
Yanagisawa and Vito are two subsidiaries of Leblanc and they offer two classes of tenor saxophones for two different players. The high end saxophones are found in the Yanagisawa line while the budget saxophones are found in the Vito line.
Vito saxophones are commonly found in student saxophone circles.
Selmer saxophones are known for their quality and dependability. The brand is a trustworthy one and you can be sure that they will deliver in terms of value.
The beautiful thing about Selmer saxophones is that they retain their value even as they age. This is part of the reasons they usually come with a really high resale value. For this reason, you find many Selmers in professional circles, ensembles, and studios.
Yamaha tenor saxophones stand out from the crowd all the time. Many renowned artistes have used professional Yamaha saxophones of all kinds. So, there’s no doubt about it, a Yamaha tenor saxophone is high quality.
One thing about the brand is that it provides all kinds of saxophones for all kinds of players. So, whether you’re a beginner/student, an intermediate player or a pro, there’s a Yamaha tenor saxophone for you.
Now, of all Yamaha tenor saxophones, it’s most exquisite is its Yamaha 82Z. It comes pretty pricey, naturally. But when you check out the features, you find that it is totally worth.
Firstly, Yamaha 82Z tenor saxophones are crafted from French brass and embellished with mother-of-pearl. Needless to say, sound and tone come out authoritative, rich, and even across the full range. In professional circles, the Yamaha 82Z is referred to as the “Custom”.
Now, besides the Custom, Yamaha also offers great student tenor saxophones. You can find these saxophones in Yamaha’s YTS saxophone series. They are nicely sized and priced for the beginner.
Windsor is another brand you can trust when it comes to tenor saxophones. They don’t exactly come cheap but they deliver value nevertheless. In fact, they have some of the best saxophones in the market. We are confident that you will never be disappointed with any Windsor saxophone you get.
Kaizer carries the more affordable tenor saxophones. But even at that, their saxophones still come with an appreciable level of quality. If you’re a beginner, you could consider a Kaizer saxophone. They won’t break your pocket and they are also quite playable. Plus, they sound great too.
We’ve had the pleasure of reviewing some of the best tenor saxophones on the market today. But today, we crown the Jean Paul USA TS-400 Tenor Saxophone our best tenor saxophone. It brings exquisite construction, affordability, and impeccable sound in one instrument and we love it!
Of course, if you can afford it, the Reference 54 will probably give you the best sound of all the saxophones we reviewed. The only reason the Jean Paul USA TS-400 beat the Reference 54 was because of sound.
But that aside, the Jean Paul USA TS-400 is an excellent piece that’s usable by beginners and intermediate players as well.