There are many brands of saxophones!
Within those brands exist several types: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and professional.
No one company has discovered how to make a perfect sax. Certain ones will suit your taste more than others. Try some out to see what you like.
Before buying a completely new horn though, try getting a new mouthpiece, ligature, and/or reeds. Those alone make a major difference in your sound.
Here are a few of the brands of saxophones. When the saxophone was made also can make a difference. A few of the brands no longer manufacture saxophones, Buescher for example, but you can buy their horns second hand.
To start off when beginning to play saxophone
A beginner model will work fine. They will cost less, but also have less special features like a high f# key or rolled tone holes. Intermediate and advanced horns will be a bit higher end and advanced are rather close to professional. Professional horns are at the top of the line with all the bells and whistles- high f#, rolled tone holes, engravings, silver/black nickel plating, etc.
Most companies make saxophones for musicians at different stages.
A few notes about the companies
Keilwerth– German company, recently acquired by Buffet.
I’m a fan of my Keilwerth tenor. One of my sax teachers, Kristen Strom, liked it too. Other teachers have preferred other horns.
The bells on Keilwerths tend to be a little bigger- so not all cases will work with them.
Mine has rolled tone holes which seems to help prevent leaks under the keys a bit better.
Selmer– French company. Probably the most famous saxophone brand.
They made the famous Mark VI, which many saxophonists prefer. Unfortunately they stopped production for a time. The older Mark VI’s are great, but some have come into disrepair, and made need more maintenance.
Some musicians also like the Super Action’s, others don’t. I played a Mark VII once, it sounded all right, but they didn’t improve on the Mark VI.
Not long ago, they began making ‘reference’ horns which are similar to the Mark VI.
Yanagisawa– Japanese company.
Good reputation. I only tried a couple many years ago. Know some people who like them.
Yamaha– Japanese company.
My friend Tom really likes his custom Yamaha. They make many student models. I’ve played the beginning and intermediate models and they have a decent sound.
I tried the Custom Z models and liked them.
I think Yamaha saxophones can be very good and also can be more affordable than some other brands.
They have made some decent saxophones. Vintage horns are often harder to play. If you find one, try it out to see what you think. I would not recommend a vintage horn for the very beginning of playing saxophone.
Cannonball– Designed in the US and manufactured in Taiwan.
Make some pretty good modern horns. I tried a few out and they are decent. Not going to give you the same tone as a Mark VI or nice vintage horn, but they make some professional horns.
Jupiter– My first sax/clarinet teacher had a Jupiter.
They play fairly well. I have a Jupiter Alto and it has a pretty good sound, better than you would expect for the price.
An older brand that made some good saxophones.
Another older brand. These days I play both a Buescher tenor and a Buescher alto.
There are a lot of Buescher saxophones on the market. Sometimes they don’t cost very much. If they’re in good shape, they can sound great.
They are less ‘user friendly’ than a modern horn. That means they’ll be harder to play than a student model horn. You may need to spend some money on repairs. But you can also get a great
These horns often are colorfully painted, the paint will not help your sound though. More of a gimmick really.
Saxophones are usually made out of brass. Some are made of silver.
Many others are plated or painted. Plating can change your sound with black nickel or silver. They say that black nickel gives a darker sound.
However, paint will not help your sound. It covers the brass with something that
deadens the sound. I do not recommend the red/black/whatever color lacquer on saxophones. It may look cool, but it will NOT help your sound.
- High f#- nice to have, but not completely necessary since you can reach the same note with alternate fingerings.
- Rolled tone holes- where the metal meets the leather pads on
the keys it is rolled to make a better connection that is less prone to
- Plating- silver and black nickel may help create a sound you want, paint will not
A decent sax will probably cost at least $800 or so. You might find a used one for less, but you might need to look into repairs also. Tenors will cost more than altos and baris more than tenors. Sopranos usually also cost more than tenors and altos.
It’s good to support local music stores. If you don’t have that option, you may want to order online or from a catalog if they have a good return policy. It’s difficult to know in advance whether you’ll like a certain saxophone.
Go and try out some different saxophones when you’re looking to buy one. Germany, Japan,France, and the U.S. generally have a better reputation, so watch out for a name you’ve never heard of.
Remember though that not all saxophones, even of the same brand are identical. So try out a few and bring a friend, preferably a musician, to listen.
Here’s a conversation I had about saxophone brands, much of it applies to everyone looking for a saxophone.
Hi , I’m about to get a new saxophone and I want to know about different brands to considder. I used to have a Silverstone alto sax, my fist and only one, but it was stolen not long ago… So I was wondering which one should i go for now, I’ve been playing for over a year, but i am really into it, already playing it live and about to record an album with it.
I would really appreciate any suggestions and feedback for known brands
not many are listed over there
such as king
Kings can be good. There is more information in the comments of this page.
Do you believe those are better than Vito for example. Because i`ve got interesting offers for those
it could be, depends on the condition
I would try both
right, i will see how it goes, any other brand like that?
i am not into getting a really expensive one right now.
I like Bueschers, that’s what I play
good to know
I guess is just about trying them out and see how it works