Congratulations – you have decided to take the plunge and start playing saxophone!
If you have never played any wind instrument before then it can be very confusing knowing where to start. Here are a few tips to hopefully help get you off in the right direction as a beginner saxophone player.
Types of saxophones – which one is right for me
There are four standard sizes of saxophones that
you are likely to come across. Ranging from smallest to biggest they are:
Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Baritone. There are smaller ones too (Sopranino) and bigger ones (bass) but these really are specialist instruments for the more advanced player.
As a general rule if you are an absolute beginner saxophone player then either the Alto or the Tenor is the best choice for you. All saxophones use the same key system so the “fingerings” or the way you play notes, is the same with all of them. However, the alto and tenor are the easiest to get a sound out of when you are a new player. The tenor is larger and heavier than the alto so is best suited to adults or taller students. For beginner saxophone players up to the age of 13/14 an Alto is the best choice.
If you want to hear how each of these sound check out the videos on www.mcgillmusic.com.
Which brand should I go for?
There seems to be an endless number of instrument manufacturers these days. In addition to the long established major players like Selmer, Yamaha, Yanagasawa and Keilworth, there are now several Chinese manufacturers that are making good quality instruments for beginner saxophone players.
The main consideration is really price. Expect to pay from up to £800 for an entry-level instrument from an established brand or as little as £200 for a newer manufacturer. Bear in mind that even the major players manufacture their entry-level instruments in the Far East (China/ Indonesia). Although considerably cheaper, many instruments from newer manufacturers will still provide many years of good service if regularly maintained. As you progress from being a beginner saxophone player to a more advanced musician you will probably want to move on to a more advanced instrument anyway.
If you are unsure about the quality of instruments from a less well recognised brand then a few minutes searching Google for reviews should help you to decide.
What other equipment do I need?
So you have bought your new instrument – what else do you need to get started as a beginner saxophone player? The good news is that most instruments come with everything you need. The sound on a saxophone is produced by the reed which is very fragile. You will probably need to replace these quite frequently when you are getting started, so a box of these would be a good idea. There are many different brands of reeds but Rico size 1 ½ are great for beginner saxophone players. Your new saxophone should be supplied with a neck strap although more comfortable ones are available. You will probably also enjoy having a saxophone stand so you can keep your new instrument out of the box (because it looks so cool!), and a music stand.