Saxophone Buying Guide
The saxophone is a popular member of the woodwind family. Here are some things to consider when purchasing a new saxophone.
Types of Saxophone
The alto saxophone is the most common instrument in the saxophone family. Tuned to Eb, it has a wide range of applications in jazz, classical and contemporary settings. Being smaller in size than a tenor it requires a little less air volume to play and is physically lighter making it a great option for young beginners.
Tenor has a lower note range than alto and is tuned to Bb. Generally, the choice will be made by the type of music that you generally want to play. If you are in to blues, rock and jazz, then you may settle on tenor sax.
There are a range of other size saxophones including soprillo, sopranino, soprano, baritone, bass and contrabass. These are not recommended for beginners and generally require special ordering.
While every part of the saxophone contributes to its overall sound, some say the most important factor is the reed. The reed is a small, paper-thin piece of cane which together with the mouthpiece cause the air in the instrument vibrate when you blow into it.
Choosing a Reed
The most important factor in selecting a reed is the reed thickness which is graded using a scale from 1-5. Beginners almost always start with a size 1.5 reed. As the student advances they will move on to thicker reeds which are able to produce a better tone but are harder to play.
Reeds are very delicate and require careful maintenance to ensure they are playing well.
A properly treated and maintained reed will play for approximately 20 hours and peak tonally between 10 and 15 hours.
It is important to have a few reeds on rotation as each reed should be fully dried over the course of a couple of days in a good quality reed case before reusing.