Best Saxophone for Beginners: 2017 Student Saxophone Buyer’s Guide

LJ Hutchen student alto saxophone

LJ Hutchen Saxophone

Best Value Alto Sax

  • Very Durable
  • Built for Smaller Hands
  • Economical

Yamaha YAS280 Sax

Most Popular Alto Sax

  • High Quality
  • Built Solid
  • Lightweight

Yamaha YST23 Sax

Best Rated Tenor Sax

  • ​High Quality
  • Easy to Play
  • Very Comfortable

Saxophones are brilliant musical instruments and the best saxophone for beginners depends on a number of factors. First off there are many different types of saxophones in the saxophone family available for a new musician, and these include sopranino, soprano, alto, tenor, baritone saxophone, bass, contrabass, and sub contrabass saxophone.

Best Saxophone for Beginners

The best saxophone for beginners, and in particular for students, is the alto saxophone. It requires less air than any other saxophone and has a more compact key layout. Student saxophones are usually non-ribbed which means the instrument is lighter and will provide a better tone production for beginners to learn and identify.

Why Play the Saxophone

The saxophone is a great instrument that has a rich and different tone quality to its sound and can be used to perform in large ensembles such as concert, jazz, marching band, and wind ensembles.

As any saxophone player knows, the saxophone is a professional instrument and requires attention to posture, relaxation, hand positions, breathing, and articulation. Like with any instrument, it's best to take some lessons and with time you will develop an ear for the music and learn how to find the right notes and tone production.

When considering which saxophone to purchase, keep in mind the following points:

  • Price and affordability
  • Materials and finish
  • ​Body Construction
  • ​Additional keys
  • ​Saxophone neck style
  • Buying online versus in a store

Buying Online vs Music Store

Buying an instrument online instead of at a brick and mortar store may be a little daunting and a bit unfamiliar, but there are many benefits to using this avenue to purchase your instrument. You can get the saxophone at a lower and perhaps better price, you have more choices to choose from instead of limiting yourself to just what you see in the store, and you have more time to decide as well as other customer reviews you can consider before buying.

Best Student Saxophones

Below we take a look at some of the best student saxophones for beginners.  We focus on alto saxophones since these are easiest to learn on.  Also, included is a student tenor saxophone to consider should you want to step up to a richer sounding saxophone.

Allora Student Series Alto Saxophone Model AAAS-301

Allora student alto saxophone

The Allora Student Series Alto Saxophone features professional-style keywork, a lacquered brass body, neck, and bell, and an adjustable thumb rest. With your purchase, you receive the molded case, a mouthpiece, ligature, and cap.

This saxophone is a lightweight and affordable option that is perfect for any beginner and offers excellent intonation.

Key Features

  • Professional style keywork
  • Adjustable thumb rest
  • High F♯
  • Lacquered brass
  • Tilting G♯ key and B♭

BIG Rating:

Pros

  • Easy to play
  • Good sound
  • Quality craftsmanship
  • Warm tone

Cons

  • Sound quality could be better
  • Dents easily

LJ Hutchen Alto Saxophone with Plush-Lined Case

LJ Hutchen student alto saxophone

The LJ Hutchen Alto Saxophone features a heavy-duty brace to prevent misalignment, and ergonomic thumb rest, as well as a specially designed pinky keys that are suitable for smaller and younger hands.

This purchase includes a mouthpiece kit, cork grease, neck strap, #2 Rico reed, polishing cloth, and a plush-lined hard case.

Key Features

  • Yellow brass
  • Adjustable metal thumb hook
  • Post-rib construction
  • Front F-auxiliary key

BIG Rating:

Pros

  • Pads resist moisture and everyday wear and tear
  • Easy to play
  • Ultimate alleviation and comfort
  • Heavy-duty bracing system

Cons

  • Case is poor quality
  • Handle/strap not sturdy
  • Strap is not padded

Chateau Alto Saxophone VCH-221L

Chateau student alto saxophone

This Chateau Alto Saxophone includes ligature, cap, and a deluxe brown case. It is a high-quality student saxophone with an all-lacquer finish.

Alto saxophones are the bestselling saxophones from this brand, and this particular saxophone gives a round and warm sound.

Key Features

  • Single post
  • All-lacquer
  • Key of E♭
  • Mouthpiece

BIG Rating:

Pros

  • High-quality
  • Ideal for students
  • Well-known brand
  • Includes mouthpiece, ligature, and brown case

Cons

  • Higher price point
  • A bit heavier

Vito V7131RK Alto Saxophone

vito v7131rk alto saxophone image

This Vito Saxophone is ideal for beginners and students because it is easy to blow, produces precise and balanced intonation, and has a superior tone.

It is constructed with durability in mind and is made with a lacquered brass body.

Key Features

  • Key is E♭ range
  • Lacquered brass body
  • Key-configuration design
  • Contoured independent palm keys

BIG Rating:

Pros

  • Durable
  • Good for small and large hands
  • Comfortable design
  • Superior tone
  • Precise and balanced intonation

Cons

  • Higher price point


Yamaha YAS23 Alto Saxophone

Yamaha YAS23 alto saxophone

The Yamaha YAS23 Alto Saxophone was the industry standard for student saxophones for years and features excellent intonation and venting, power-forged keys, and a refined key shape and dimension.

It is ideal for a student or beginner and includes a sturdy plywood case with purchase.

Key Features

  • Tapered pivot screws
  • Power-forged keys
  • Refined key shape and dimension
  • Gold lacquer body

BIG Rating:

Pros

  • Durable
  • High-quality
  • Optimum intonation and venting
  • Precise adjustment and smooth key action

Cons

  • Higher price point
  • Being discontinued (but still available)

Yamaha YAS-280 Student Alto Saxophone

Yamaha YAS280 student saxophone

The Yamaha YAS-280 Alto Saxophone is ideal for students and beginners because it is lightweight with modern key work and it is built solid and durable with very little maintenance required.

The Yamaha YAS-280 is the new industry standard for student saxophones.​

Key Features

  • Improved low B-C♯ connection
  • Improved mechanism from low B-C♯
  • Adjustable thumb rest
  • Included mouthpiece

BIG Rating:

Pros

  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Excellent intonation

Cons

  • High Price Point

Yamaha YTS23 Tenor Saxophone

Yamaha YTS23 tenor saxophone

The Yamaha YTS23 Saxophone is the first tenor saxophone in this review. It features a clear baked epoxy lacquer finish and has nickel-plated power-forged keys for durability. It also has refined tone hole dimensions and placement for superior intonation.

It is ideal for a student or beginner because it is incredibly easy and comfortable to play.

Key Features

  • Adjustable thumb rest
  • Refined key shape and dimension
  • Adjustable key guards
  • Power-forged keys
  • Tapered pivot screws

BIG Rating:

Pros

  • Precise and comfortable hand and fingering position
  • Emphasis on comfort, speed, and playability
  • Natural feel of the keys
  • Wear resistant keys

Cons

  • Higher Price Point
  • Lack of high F♯ key

To recap, when shopping for the best saxophone for beginners if you are looking for an inexpensive student saxophone the LJ Hutchen Alto Saxophone comes highly recommended and is hard to beat.  Stepping up the value scale the Yamaha YAS-280 Alto Saxphone is quickly becoming the industry standard for student saxophones. Lastly, if you're looking for a quality student tenor saxophone, the Yamaha YTS23 saxophone is a great option for beginners.


Still not sure which Saxophone to buy? Check out the BIG Saxophone Buyer's Guide.