Whether you’re joining a jazz band or just learning the saxophone for your own pleasure, it goes without saying that you need a high-quality saxophone for beginners that’s reliable and can keep up with your learning process.
Shopping for musical instruments is no easy task because there’s no way to know how the instrument will perform a few years down the road just from looking at it, and shopping for saxophones is no exception.
However, I went on an expedition to find you the best beginner saxophones to come up with this list. So, keep on reading to find my top picks, along with a detailed review of each sax.
At a Glance:
- Mendini By Cecilio — Best Overall
- Glory E-Flat Saxophone — Runner-Up
- Eastar AS-II — Best Alto Saxophone
- Jean Paul USA AS-400 — Best Sound Quality
- YAMAHA YAS-280 — Premium-Pick
- Kaizer Soprano SSAX-1000BLGK — Top Soprano Saxophone
- Conn-Selmer Prelude Student Model AS711 — Best Playability
The 7 Best Beginner Saxophones in 2021
Without wasting any more of your time, here are the best beginner saxophone reviews with their pros, cons, and everything in between.
1. Mendini By Cecilio — Best Overall
Allow me to kick off this list of the best beginner alto saxophones with one of my all-time favorites, the Mendini By Cecilio saxophone.
As an E-flat alto saxophone, this one is incredibly comfortable to hold and easy to play for students who are new to the world of saxophones. Additionally, it has a High F# key, making it even easier for beginners to get used to this instrument quickly.
The Mendini By Cecilio student alto saxophone comes in many color options ranging from gold, rose gold, and black nickel to more out-there options like sky blue, blue, red, and green. That way, if you’re shopping for a budget saxophone for your kid, they can pick their favorite color, and that’ll encourage them to play the saxophone a lot more often.
Construction-wise, this saxophone has a solid brass body, a large bore, leather pads, and metal tone boosters. It’s quite durable, and I’d comfortably say that this saxophone can take a beating from a beginner who’s still new to how the instrument should be handled.
However, I have to mention that the pads don’t seal perfectly, and they might fall off with time. It’s not a massive deal for beginners, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless.
For your convenience, the alto saxophone comes with a durable hard-shell case, a mouthpiece, ten 2.5-inch reeds, a neck strap, a cleaning cloth, a rod, and gloves. Moreover, it doesn’t end there.
The instrument also comes with a Cecilio 92-D tuner that has a large display to help beginners tune the saxophone perfectly. It can even play a beat with tempo options ranging from 30 bpm to 230 bpm to help you practice your timing.
Unfortunately, there’s a downside to this alto sax that I have to talk about. The included mouthpiece and reeds aren’t the best out there, and they might hold back a beginner who’s still not familiar with the instrument. So I strongly recommend getting your own mouthpiece and reeds for the best experience.
Keep in mind that this instrument is quite affordable, so getting your own accessories isn’t a deal-breaker in this case.
Lastly, if your saxophone produces a vibrato sound when you’re playing low C or lower octaves, the mouthpiece is to blame. That usually happens when the mouthpiece isn’t sitting deep enough into the instrument’s neck, so you should consider getting that fixed or just opting for your own mouthpiece, which is what I’d recommend.
- Lightweight and comfortable to hold and play
- Fast-action keys
- Reasonable price tag
- Good sound quality
- Comes with a Cecilio 92-D chromatic tuner
- Excellent finish with many color options
- The reeds and mouthpiece aren’t of the best quality
- The pads don’t seal perfectly
Who said you have to spend thousands of dollars to get a decent saxophone? Definitely not Mendini By Cecilio, thanks to their E-flat saxophone, which is the best student saxophone on the market. This alto saxophone is highly durable, lightweight, and easy to play; everything you might need in a beginner saxophone.
2. Glory E-Flat Saxophone — Runner-Up
Another one of the best E-flat student saxophones is the Glory one, and let me tell you why. As an alto saxophone with a High F# key, it’s incredibly easy to play, and beginners will quickly get used to the instrument and feel comfortable with it.
One of my favorite things about this saxophone is the bell decoration. It gives the instrument a unique look that’s so stunning, and it’ll catch all eyes during a performance. It’ll even make you want to pick up the instrument and play because of how beautiful it looks. It’s definitely a musical instrument you’d like to put on display.
As for the construction, it has leather pads with metal resonators. Moreover, it comes with adjustable key height screws, which make its adjustment to any hand easy, so it’ll be comfortable to hold for extended periods. It also has a metal thumb rest that anyone can appreciate.
The Glory saxophone comes with 11 reeds, an 8-piece mouthpiece, a hard-shell case, a neck strap, and more accessories, including a screwdriver, a cloth, and gloves. They all contribute to making the beginner’s life much easier.
It comes in so many color options, from basic ones like gold, black, and silver to more unique options like purple, pink, blue, green, and white. The saxophone offers many color combinations that are all stunning with their own aesthetic appeal, so you can pick your favorite and play with style.
I’d say this is a perfect saxophone for beginners who are looking to test the waters of owning a saxophone without committing to buying an expensive professional saxophone. This Glory instrument will get you familiar with a saxophone; then, you can always upgrade later.
Unfortunately, there are two downsides to this saxophone. Firstly, the pads aren’t very secure, and they fall off after a while, so you might have to get that fixed. Secondly, the overall construction isn’t very durable; this isn’t a saxophone that can take a beating; you’ll need to be very careful with it.
- Easy to hold and play
- Perfect for beginners
- Affordable instrument
- Stunning bell decorations and many color options
- Has adjustable key height screws so you can fit it to your hand
- Not very durable
- The pads aren’t secure
The Glory alto saxophone is an excellent student saxophone because it’s easy to use and hold, even for small hands. Its affordable price and stunning high-quality design will encourage you to pick it up and have more practice sessions. Besides, it has many color options available, so you can pick your favorite.
3. Eastar AS-II — Best Alto Saxophone
Now I’m moving on to the next student alto saxophone on the list, the Eastar AS-II. This beginner saxophone is one of the best for all students out there because of its easy playability, comfortable grip, and rich sound.
This student saxophone has a stunning gold lacquer finish, and the color is here to stay. It doesn’t fade or get scratched easily; it’ll look as good as new for so long. Besides, this alto sax has a faux mother of pearl inlaid keys, leather pads, and a blue copper needle spring.
Moreover, the Eastar AS-II saxophone is quite easy to play, thanks to its F# key and U-tube shape that provides the new players with a stable feeling.
To make a beginner’s life easier, this instrument comes with a case, a mouthpiece set, a leather strap, cork grease, two shoulder backpack straps, and gloves.
Additionally, the included resin practice reed and 2.5 advanced reeds are of good quality. It even comes with a cleaning kit that consists of a soft swab, a cleaning cloth, and a brush. If you want to put your sax on display, it also comes with a stand.
Even though this is advertised as a beginner saxophone, the materials used in its construction and playability make this sax also suitable for different levels of playing skills. In other words, this saxophone can grow with you and be used as an intermediate saxophone as you learn and become more experienced.
When you receive this instrument, make sure you remove all the safety tabs before you start playing. They’re there to protect the sax and its keys, but they can be a little difficult to spot, so take your time to examine the alto sax and make sure you got them all removed.
- Good construction
- Produces a rich sound
- Great value for the price
- One year warranty
- The safety tabs are difficult to spot
The Eastar AS-II is the perfect student alto saxophone. Its beautiful gold lacquered brass body is durable, and it provides the sax with an excellent sound output that anyone can appreciate. Overall, this saxophone is made with high-quality materials, and it’ll grow with you and stay as good as new.
4. Jean Paul USA AS-400 — Best Sound Quality
I just can’t make a list of the best student saxophones without including one from Jean Paul, one of the best saxophone brands on the market these days. Even though this one isn’t as affordable as other saxophones on the list, it’s one that’s worth every penny. It offers high-quality construction and sound that no other alto sax can compete with.
This alto saxophone has a yellow brass body with a stunning gold lacquer finish that’ll give the instrument a unique, eye-catching look among other saxophones in a band. Did I also mention that it has a High F# key? Because it does!
Moreover, this saxophone is perfect for both beginners and intermediate-level players as its sound quality is superb. It produces a rich, warm tone with consistent pitch; you’ll feel like you’re playing a professional instrument.
This saxophone has tapered pivot keys that make the instrument so easy to hold and effortless to play. With the USA AS-400, you can focus on the technique and the notes rather than being distracted by how you’re gripping the instrument.
It comes with a carrying case, a Rico reed, cork grease, gloves, a cleaning cloth, swabs, and, of course, a mouthpiece, so a beginner would have everything they might need right there. Additionally, its mouthpiece cap is nickel-plated, and it has nylon resonators.
There’s something worth mentioning about Jean Paul, which is their excellent customer service. If you’re having any problems with your saxophones or if it’s your first saxophone and you’re struggling with something, you can contact their customer service, and they’ll be able to help you.
If there’s one thing to complain about, it would be that the pads tend to get a little sticky. However, some maintenance will definitely fix it, so make sure you regularly clean your saxophone and do basic maintenance with the included cleaning kit.
- Outstanding build and sound quality
- Suitable for all skill levels
- Comfortable to hold and easy to play
- Excellent customer service
- Great value for the money
- The pads can get a little sticky after a while
The Jean Paul USA AS-400 is an alto saxophone that can easily compete with high-end saxophones. It’s a sax that’s worth your money for how excellent its build quality is; it can easily last for years without suffering a scratch, thanks to its yellow brass construction. Besides, it’s comfortable to hold, which is a critical factor for a new and an experienced player alike.
5. YAMAHA YAS-280 — Premium-Pick
When on the lookout for the best beginner saxophone, you need to take a look at the YAMAHA YAS-280, a staple brand in the music industry. YAMAHA is a brand known for making high-quality instruments, and their quality saxophones aren’t to be missed out on.
The YAMAHA YAS-280 is a student saxophone that can also be used as an intermediate saxophone, thanks to its high-quality construction, excellent sound, and overall unmatched quality.
Let’s talk about the construction of this alto saxophone. First of all, it has High F# and Front F auxiliary keys, which are helpful for a beginner. It also has an adjustable thumb rest so you can fit the sax to your hand and make sure that it’s as comfortable as it can be.
Moreover, this YAMAHA YAS-280 saxophone has a quick-response neck receiver and a better mechanism from low B-C#. This makes the instrument perfect for those who play music with many low notes and want a reliable sax.
On top of that, this YAMAHA YAS-280 alto saxophone comes with a carrying case, a Rico reed with 2.5 strength, a polishing cloth, cork grease, and a neck strap.
The YAMAHA YAS-280 has a brass body with a gold lacquer finish. Overall, this instrument looks stunning and feels premium; that’s because it is. This is not a budget sax by any means, but it’s worth the investment. This excellent sax is perfect for committed students who are seeking a high-quality instrument that can last for years and produce excellent sound.
However, make sure you remove all cork pieces when you first get this alto saxophone. They’re there to protect the keys, but they’re pretty hard to spot, and they’ll prevent the keys from working, resulting in an out-of-tune sound if they’re not removed.
If I’m nitpicking, the neck strap isn’t the most comfortable one out there; I’d recommend you purchase well-padded straps if you’re planning to practice the instrument for extended periods. However, it also comes with the YAMAHA 4C mouthpiece, which is one you can’t go wrong with.
- High-quality construction and gold lacquer finish
- Excellent sound output, especially in low range
- Premium look and feel
- Unmatched playability
- Perfect saxophone for beginners and intermediate players alike
- The neck strap isn’t too comfortable
YAMAHA is among the best saxophone brands, and their YAS-280 is one of the best beginner saxophones on the market. Besides producing rich and consistent tones, this alto saxophone is incredibly well-made. It might be a little pricey, but it’s worth the investment.
6. Kaizer Soprano SSAX-1000BLGK — Top Soprano Saxophone
Even though alto saxophones are what I’d recommend to beginners, Soprano saxophones are the better choice for those seeking a richer sound in high registers. So, if you’re more interested in a soprano saxophone and you don’t mind the challenge, the Kaizer SSAX-1000BLGK is the one for you.
This saxophone has a beautiful yellow brass body with nickel-plated keys that provide the instrument with enhanced tonality. Moreover, it has leatherette pads to help beginners by offering the best intonation control.
Even though some soprano saxophones have a curved body, this one is just straight, a lot like a clarinet. So, if you’re a clarinet player looking to make your debut into the world of saxophones, this is the path you should be taking because it’ll feel the most familiar to you for a smooth transition.
The SSAX-1000BLGK comes with a molded case, a mouthpiece and ligature set, a polishing cloth, a cleaning rod, and gloves. It even comes with lubricant for the mouthpiece, which is a thoughtful addition from Kaizer.
One of my favorite things about this saxophone is that it comes with a lifetime warranty to completely repair your sax if it has any defects from the manufacturing process.
However, I strongly recommend getting your own mouthpiece. The one that comes with the sax is fine but not the best; you should experiment with different types of mouthpieces, especially with a soprano saxophone, until you find the one you’re most comfortable with. The mouthpiece can make or break the sound of your instrument.
Lastly, make sure you do a full checkup of the sax when it arrives because shipping can be ruthless, and your saxophone might get damaged on the way.
- Yellow brass body for better tonality
- High-quality nickel-plated keys
- Offers a lifetime warranty
- Accurate intonation
- The mouthpiece isn’t of the best quality
If you’re looking for a high-quality soprano saxophone, the Kaizer SSAX-1000BLGK is an excellent choice for you. Its yellow brass body guarantees rich sounds from this sax. Besides, you don’t want to miss out on the lifetime warranty and the sax’s excellent intonation.
7. Conn-Selmer Prelude Student Model AS711 — Best Playability
Another excellent alto saxophone that I strongly recommend is the Conn-Selmer Prelude Student Model AS711. Its mechanics are incredibly smooth and easy to play; any beginner would highly enjoy this sax and how it performs.
Moreover, this Conn-Selmer alto saxophone has a yellow brass body with a detachable body-to-bow connection. That design provides the instrument with durability and longevity, which is an important factor for younger players who need a durable sax to keep up with them.
The AS711 saxophone has an adjustable thumb rest, an articulated C# adjusting screw, and a High F# key, providing you with maximum control over the instrument. You can fit it to your hands to make sure you get the most comfortable grip possible.
Additionally, the sax comes with a molded mouthpiece and ligature, a neck strap, cork grease, and a 2.5 strength reed. It also comes with leather pads, metal resonators, and, of course, a carrying case so you can carry the sax around to your lessons.
Design-wise, the sax has an engraved bell and a dark lacquer body and keys, making it stick out among other saxophones for how stunning it looks.
However, the included mouthpiece isn’t the best out there; I strongly recommend you get your own mouthpiece for the best experience possible with this instrument.
- Excellent design with an engraved bell
- Detachable body-to-bow connection for durability
- Excellent playability
- Comfortable to hold
- A little pricey
- Not the best mouthpiece
For the best mechanics possible, you need to check out the Conn-Selmer Prelude Student Model AS711. It has a detachable body-to-bow connection, an adjustable right-hand thumb rest, and even an articulated left-hand C# adjusting screw. Overall, this sax offers outstanding playability that any beginner can benefit from.
How to Pick Beginner Saxophones?
When looking for the best saxophones for beginners, a few questions have to cross your mind. Should you opt for a tenor saxophone, a baritone saxophone, an alto saxophone, or a soprano saxophone? What should you look for in a beginner saxophone as opposed to a professional saxophone? Does the saxophone cost affect its performance?
There are a lot more questions that you should be asking yourself right now if you really want the best sax out there. However, to make things a little easier for you, here’s a buying guide of everything you need to know before making the final buying decision. So, let’s jump right in.
Type of Saxophone
With four different types of saxophones that you might come across, it can be difficult to decide which one is the best for you. Even though they all have the same fingering technique, they don’t perform the same. So, here are the ins and outs of each type.
A general rule of thumb states that alto saxophones are the best for beginners. Alto saxophones are the easiest to play and hold because they’re small and lightweight.
They have a more compact design and layout, so they need less air to start producing sound. Not to mention, alto saxophones are relatively affordable.
On the other hand, tenor saxophones are slightly larger than alto saxophones, making them perfect for taller players or adults. Adolphe Sax made the first-ever tenor saxophone in the 1840s, so they go way back.
Also, if you’re learning the saxophone to enter the jazz world, a tenor sax is what you need.
Soprano saxophones have a straight body or just a slight curve. They have higher pitch sounds than alto saxophones, and that can be both a blessing and a curse. Moreover, they sound amazing, but they’re challenging for a beginner to learn, so keep that in mind.
If you want to play in low registers, baritone saxophones are the way to go. However, they’re not the optimum choice for young students because of how massive a baritone saxophone is.
A young student might not be able to reach all the keys to play the saxophone. Besides, their large size makes them not as portable as other saxophone types.
It goes without saying that you need the best materials possible for your saxophone. The last thing you’d need is a saxophone that breaks down after a few months of playing, and you’re left with nothing.
Look for a saxophone with a yellow brass body if you want the best tones and durability. However, copper or bronze bells are fine as well if you want to save some money.
High F# Key
Even though that note is absolutely playable without having its own key, most saxophones nowadays have a High F# key, and that’s something that I really appreciate. It makes it easier for beginners to get into the instrument faster without struggling with minor issues.
The budget is one of the most critical factors. It’s no secret that professional instruments cost a lot more than starter instruments, and that begs the question of whether going for a used saxophone is a good idea.
Renting an instrument isn’t at all a bad idea, but it can be quite costly in the long run. So, opting for investing in your own instrument is the best approach if you’re a committed student and you know you’ll be playing the sax for a long time, not just for a few weeks until you’re bored.
Student models tend to be more affordable, so start looking there, and I assure you that you’ll find the perfect sax for your needs and your budget.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Beginner Saxophones Any Good?
Beginner saxophones are reliable instruments that any beginner can benefit from. You don’t need to start your learning journey with a professional instrument because they’re way too expensive. So, yes, beginner saxophones are a great place to start.
What to Look For in a Beginner Saxophone?
To keep it short and sweet, look for an alto or a tenor saxophone that’s made with high-quality materials, like yellow brass. Students don’t need the same quality as professional players, so it’s fine to make a few sacrifices here and there.
Woodwind instruments are on the rise because of how good they sound. Now that you’re at this point of the article, you should have a clear idea of what exactly you need to look for in beginner saxophones. Still, here’s a quick recap of my top three picks to make your decision a little easier.
First of all, the Mendini By Cecilio is the overall best beginner saxophone on the market. It’s lightweight, comfortable to hold, and affordable. Moreover, it’s made with high-quality materials, ensuring that this saxophone is built to last.
My runner-up is easily the Glory saxophone. This instrument is just so comfortable to hold; beginners will be able to practice for hours without feeling any fatigue. Besides, it’s pretty affordable with many color options that you can choose from.
Lastly, the Eastar AS-II is the best student alto saxophone because it’s so easy to play and get used to. Besides, it produces high-quality sounds without breaking the bank. Not to mention, the one-year warranty is a nice bonus.