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What Does A Saxophone Look Like And How Does It Cost: Full Guide 2023

What Does A Saxophone Look Like And How Does It Cost Full Guide 2023

You need to know what does a saxophone look like? You might imagine a long, curved brass instrument with a mouthpiece when you think of a saxophone. However, there is no one standard saxophone design. The saxophone family includes a wide range of instruments in different sizes and shapes.

What Does The Saxophone Look Like

Saxophones come in a variety of styles. The saxophone has undergone various modifications since its inception and ongoing manufacturing. Many saxophones have been phased out or have become outdated due to this.

The contemporary saxophone is a transposing instrument that can play in Bb or Eb. When you play C on a Bb instrument, the note that sounds is a concert Bb. When you play C on an Eb instrument, the note that sounds is a concert Eb.

Because all saxophones have the same fingerings, switching between them is simple.

The four most common saxophones are the soprano sax, alto sax, tenor sax, and baritone sax. By “most common,” I mean that they are the ones that are used the most in today’s music.

Soprano Saxophone

Bb is the key to the soprano saxophone. The tenor saxophone is the tiniest of the four primary saxophones. It has the option of being straight or curved. The soprano saxophone is regarded as the most difficult to master. John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Sidney Bichet, and Kenny G are well-known soprano saxophonists.


  • For a pro-style soprano sax, this instrument is reasonably priced.
  • A excellent mouthpiece (4C) is included, as well as a travel bag.


  • Not as toned-down as full-fledged professional models.

Alto Saxophone

The alto saxophone is pitched in the key of Eb. The alto and tenor saxophones are the most popular. Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, Kenny Garrett, Phil Woods, David Sanborn, and Maceo Parker are the most well-known alto saxophonists.


  • It can be utilized at all levels, from beginning to ABRSM grade 8.
  • A backpack-style case and a mouthpiece are included.


  • For a student saxophone, it’s on the pricey side.

Alto Saxophone

Tenor Saxophone

The tenor saxophone has a Bb tuning. It is the most widely used saxophone. You’ll hear it the most on albums spanning from jazz to pop out of all the saxophones. John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Michael Brecker, and Clarence Clemmons are all well-known tenor saxophonists.


  • It can be utilized at all levels, from beginning to ABRSM grade 8.
  • A backpack-style case and a mouthpiece are included.


  • For a student saxophone, it’s on the pricey side.

Tenor Saxophone

Baritone Saxophone

The bari sax is the saxophone that is the largest of the four primary saxophones. It’s an instrument in the key of Eb. Jazz and funk music it has various exciting uses. Gerry Mulligan, Pepper Adams, and Gary Smulyan are well-known bari players.

The ranges I’ve written down are just that: estimates. A low A is common on bari sax, while others are only pitched to a low Bb. Low As is present in some altos, but they are uncommon. Most altos, tenors, and sopranos are tuned to low Bb. With altissimo, the saxophone’s upper register is nearly unlimited.


  • For a baritone, this is a great value.
  • As standard, a plethora of accessories are offered.


  • It doesn’t have the same tone and intonation as a full-fledged professional model.

Baritone Saxophone

Saxophones of Other Types

There are other types of saxophones in addition to the four primary categories. They are, however, less prevalent. You’ll rarely hear one of these types of saxophones in popular music.

Saxophones: Sopranissimo, Sopranino, Bass, Contrabass, and Subcontrabass

These saxophones are Bb and Eb, transposing saxophones in different configurations. I’ve listed them from smallest to largest in order of size. The soprano saxophone is only approximately a foot long, but the subcontrabass saxophone may reach heights of seven to nine feet.

These saxophones are extremely pricey and inconvenient to use. There aren’t many people that play or collect these.

Saxophone in C-Melody

From the mid-1910s until the 1920s, the C-Melody saxophone was sold as a non-transposing instrument. Without needing to transpose, you could glance over the shoulder of a pianist and play along. Its popularity dwindled fast.

Although new C-Melody saxophones are being created today, they are not a feasible instrument to acquire. If you want to acquire one for the novelty, you can get one from the 1920s for a reasonable price.


In the 1970s, wind synthesizers became increasingly popular. It was a reaction to synthesizers’ prominence. Although other wind synths exist, the Akai EWI was developed in the 1980s and most popular (Yamaha WX). “Electronic Wind Instrument” is the abbreviation for “Electronic Wind Instrument.”

Although it is not technically a saxophone, it is not difficult to learn for a saxophonist. Michael Brecker and Bob Mintzer are two noteworthy players.


There are a variety of other saxophones available. Saxophones were initially made in the keys of C and F, in addition to Bb and Eb. The alto and tenor saxophones have been made straight in addition to the best varieties.

There have been saxophones constructed of plastic, polycarbonate, and even wood in addition to brass. Some of the rarest models are shown in this movie.

Is There Any Resemblance Between The Saxophone And The Clarinet?

At first appearance, the soprano saxophone and the clarinet appear to be the same instrument, yet they are not. The clarinet, for starters, is cylindrical. It occasionally swells towards the center, but it is mainly a straight cylinder. On the other hand, the soprano saxophone has a gradually growing cone.

All saxophones, including the alto and tenor, are conical. The first saxophone was designed as a conical tube with a three-degree taper by the designer Adolphe Sax.

“Taper” means “to narrow progressively toward one end,” and it refers to the angle of the taper’s graduation on particular musical instruments. For example, it can be easier to visualize if you think of a slightly open umbrella. A different taper will provide a tone and pitch that is radically different.

The saxophone may produce a sound comparable to the human voice since it is tapered rather than cylindrical. This allows it to express a wide range of emotions and makes it an excellent solo instrument.

How Much Is A Saxophone?

A saxophone can range in price from $300 for a basic student model to $8,500 or more for a professional instrument. A quality instrument will cost between $1,100 and $4,000.

A beginner’s kit/student model is something to consider for individuals who are just getting started. A student model, which can range in price from $250 to $1,200, is advised for two to three years before upgrading. The Conductor Model 300 Sax, for example, costs between $275 and $550.

These saxophones can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 for intermediate saxophone players, depending on the brand. A model that falls between between a student and a professional saxophone will be considered intermediate.

  • Prices for a professional saxophone can range from $2,000 to $7,000. The cost will be largely determined by the materials used.
  • Tenor saxophones can cost anywhere from $750 to $8,000, although the majority of sales will fall between $1,100 and $3,200.
  • An alto saxophone, which is suitable for both beginners and intermediate players, can range in price from $250 to $5,000.
  • The price of a baritone saxophone can range from $2,500 to $7,000.
  • A soprano saxophone can cost anywhere between $600 and $5,000.
  • The Contrabass, for example, can cost anywhere from $15,000 to $32,000 or more.
  • Electric saxophones range in price from $500 to $800, depending on the brand.
  • A tiny saxophone, which is frequently purchased as a collectable, can cost anywhere between $50 and $100.

How Much Is A Saxophone

What are the additional expenses?

A method book is highly suggested for beginner players.

The free mouthpiece that comes with the saxophone is often of poor quality; therefore, it may be preferable to invest a little more money on a premium mouthpiece. An excellent mouthpiece can cost anywhere from $30 to $150+, depending on the brand and quality.

Other essential equipments include reeds, neck strap, cork grease, and cleaning cloth. The total cost of all of these accessories should be around $50.

Practice is essential, and All-Star Activities suggests taking a 30 to 60-minute professional class each week and practicing for close to 30 minutes per day to remember the information. These classes can cost anywhere from $25 to $40 each 30-minute lesson or upwards of $60 every 60-minute lesson, depending on who you employ.

A number 1 1/2 or 2 reed is usually required for a novice, and according to All-Star Activities, numerous reeds should be purchased at once because they are often replaced every three weeks.

Repairs may be required in the future for any musical instrument. The cost of a repair can range from as little as replacing the blue needle springs for roughly $10 each to as much as $1,000+ to rebuild the entire saxophone, depending on the repair.

Repadding, a frequent repair task, can cost anywhere from $10 to $35, depending on the amount and nature of the padding.

How A Saxophone Works?

The saxophone is a member of the woodwind family, which all make sound waves by vibrating a column of air. So that the reed vibrates and creates an oscillating airflow, a saxophonist must deliver a highly accurate airflow pressure through the aperture between the reed and mouthpiece assembly.

If there isn’t enough airflow pressure, the reed will not vibrate, and you’ll only hear a hissing noise. When there is too much airflow, the reed is forced shut against the mouthpiece, producing no sound.

The natural frequency of the air in the saxophone body, which is essentially a conical pipe that is closed at the top (by the player’s mouth), determines the frequency or pitch of the sound we hear. The sound is produced by a standing wave, in which the reflections of the vibrating air inside the instrument contribute constructively to the overall sound.

Each note on the saxophone is produced by a series of tone holes that open and close to produce distinct natural frequencies of oscillating air. Closing all of these tone holes has the instrument’s lowest sound.

The lowest note on a saxophone can produce a sound wavelength (wavelength = speed of sound/frequency) more than double the length of the pipe, thanks to the way pressure waves reflect inside the bore of the instrument to create a standing wave. Similar to making a pipe shorter, opening tone holes raises the pitch of the sound.

The octave key of the player’s left thumb controls the register holes of a saxophone, which also affects the pitch of a note. The frequency of the standing wave is doubled due to these holes disrupting the airflow, boosting the note keyed by the tone holes by one octave.

As any woodwind player knows, playing in tune and with a good timbre is more than merely blowing air and opening and closing keys. The applied airflow pressure and the pressure provided by the mouth on and around the reed, commonly known as the embouchure, affect how the reed vibrates to produce air oscillations.

The air pressure and embouchure can be adjusted to generate loud, quiet, bright, or mellow tones for any given note. The player’s blowing force mainly determines the loudness of silence.

How A Saxophone Works

However, as airflow or embouchure increase the pressure on the reed, the response is no longer perfectly sinusoidal, and the produced sound contains more than just the fundamental note frequency. Harmonics are extra frequencies that are multiples of the lowest note frequency. Jazz players favor a bright sound because it is rich in harmonics.

Mellow tones feature fewer harmonics and are frequently favored by classical musicians for their ability to blend seamlessly with various instruments. Accurate breath and embouchure control are essential to play loud or softly and with the desired tone.

The choice of reed and mouthpiece also affects whether a player’s tone is bright or mellow. However, in my experience, the embouchure is such an ingrained muscle memory that I sound relatively the same no matter what equipment I’m using.

Players who wish to change their “sound” to be brighter or mellower must retrain their muscle memory on every saxophone note to achieve the proper embouchure and breath control to match their desired tone.

Some sophisticated playing styles use the harmonics that saxophones can produce, known as overtones. Higher harmonics can be isolated using minute changes in the embouchure and air stream paired with alternate fingerings, allowing notes to be produced that are higher than the usual tone and register holes will allow.

These are known as altissimo notes and saxophonist Lenny Pickett, the longtime musical director of the Saturday Night Live band, is famed for using them.

What Does A Saxophone Sound Like?

One of the most versatile instruments in the world is the saxophone.

Great players can adapt their sound to any music by using different mouthpieces, embouchure shapes, and other techniques.

Regardless, there are a few words that are widely used to describe the saxophone sound:

The tone is rich, pure, mellow, and beautiful.
Other terms may be used to describe the sound depending on the setting in which the sax is employed.

Timbre vs. Tone vs. Sound

It’s critical to provide some clarification on these different words.

Some individuals use them interchangeably, while others have a specific application.

In any case, here’s what many musicians think of when discussing each one.

Tone – This is the raw audio from the saxophone or other instruments before any special effects like vibrato are applied. The pitch and volume are used to create a scientific tone.

Timbre refers to the quality of a sound or tone after being produced by an instrument. This has nothing to do with any of the game’s unique features. It’s less scientific, but an instrument’s timbre is largely consistent regardless of who plays it.

Sound – This is the outcome of a tone being modulated by an instrument to produce a specific timbre, then modulated by the player’s talent. Vibrato, shifting the mouth’s contour, changing dynamics, and sophisticated methods are all examples of these.

If it sounds like these terms are nitpicking, you’re right. It’s not a big deal to use all three without worrying about the differences.

Saxophone Sound Affecting Factors

A variety of factors can influence the sound of the saxophone.

Here’s a quick rundown of many of the major factors that influence the sound:

  • The reed’s composition
  • Reeds of varying thickness
  • Material for the mouthpiece
  • Saxophone material Mouthpiece shape
  • The form of the saxophone’s opening
  • Glue the keyholes shut.
  • Bell diameter Bell shape
  • Temperature
  • The player’s mouth form (embouchure)
  • Inside the player’s mouth, the position of the tongue
  • In the mouth of the player, there is an openness of the throat.
  • Inside the bell, a damper is used.
  • What is the amount of air used?
  • The amount of air that was used
  • How much of the body is in contact with the saxophone’s body? Where are the teeth on the mouthpiece?
  • The player’s ability to keep their mouth shut.
  • Isn’t that a lot?

Much of material is only relevant to advanced players, so you may never have to worry about it.


FAQs About What Type Of Instrument Is A Saxophone

What Is A Saxophone Made Of?

Since its inception, the saxophone has always been fashioned from brass. It is categorized as a woodwind, like a clarinet and a flute, because of the principles by which it creates sound.

Is The Saxophone Considered A Bra?

The saxophone is classed as a woodwind instrument rather than a brass instrument since it produces sound with a single reed.

Is It Simple To Pick Up The Saxophone?

The saxophone is one of the most straightforward instruments to learn. What exactly is this? The scales go up and down the keys, making it ideal for beginners or those transitioning from the piano or other woodwind instruments.


Saxophones come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each one has its distinct characteristics. In contemporary music, there are four basic types. You’ll become more conscious of each saxophone’s distinct tonal properties as you become more familiar. You’ll soon be able to recognize each variety of saxophones by listening to recordings. First, you’ll be able to recognize each one based on its appearance. Fidlar hope you found this helpful article, and let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below!

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