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Best Alto Saxophone 2024: You NEED To Try This Alto Sax!!

How much is a good alto saxophone? Here's the lowdown on the best professional alto saxophones...

The best alto saxophone is a whole lot more than just ‘another Brass instrument’.

In fact, despite the saxophone not usually starring in the orchestra or being the typical ‘starter’ instrument that kids learn at school, it’s a fantastic way for beginners to get into Brass. Aside from which, it’s also a form of Brass instrument that’s in high demand on a professional level too. Let’s just say that in today’s world of computers & online business, very rarely do you come across a Saxophonist.

And that’s a good thing – saxophonists are a unique breed. Exactly why if you reach that professional level (in comparison to other more ‘run-of-the-mill’ instruments), you can actually make a decent living as a Saxophonist, often travelling around the world to showcase your talents. In fact, we actually know of a saxophonist who does exactly that by playing her saxophone on a major cruise liner. Shout out, Emma!

So, be you a beginner or intermediate who’s wanting to live the lifestyle of a touring saxophonist, knowing how to spot the best Alto saxophone is a ‘must’. With the majority of saxophones not being cheap (a result of their low production numbers), it’s important that you invest your money in the right instrument. No professional saxophonist makes do with a sub-par piece of kit! That’s because to a large extent, the quality of your instrument not only determines how you perform, but also how fast you can learn.

So make a schoolboy error here wouldn’t be advisable. Therefore, to help you track down the best alto saxophone for you, we’ve put together a list of the top 11 that we think you should consider.

After something specific about the best alto saxophone? Or just curious about how much you’ll play for a good saxophone? Use the menu below to track down all the answers you need in 1 click…

saxophonist playing their sax at a jazz bar

NOTE: Interested in more than just alto saxophones? Be sure to also check out our guides to the Best French Horns + the Best Beginner Trumpets.

Our goal with this article is to influence how we think about what it means to be an entry-level instrument. We want people to be able to purchase these alto saxophones for sale and not have to worry about needing to upgrade to more advanced instruments a few years down the road.

Depending upon your budget, we will provide you with all the details necessary to make a choice for your next musical endeavour, and this may be your only and only major instrument, regardless of your degree of proficiency as a musician. So read on and we’ll reveal what we believe to be the best alto saxophone for sale today…

1: Yanagisawa AWO10 professional alto saxophone

On the commercial market, Yanagisawa produces the best quality and professional saxophones available. They are a specialized maker of high-quality, handcrafted saxophones for professionals. They are a tiny factory that combines old-world handicrafts with cutting-edge design and function to create unique products. It is the most economical model in the Yanagisawa series of professional alto saxophones, and it is also the most popular. Make no mistake, and the Yanagisawa AWO1 is a truly professional, handcrafted saxophone that deserves to be heard!

In addition to the complete palm key plate attachment, which was previously only available on the A99x series, the Yanagisawa AWO1 now has a neck plate. While many may consider these modifications to be insignificant, they ultimately contribute to the bulk of the saxophone at the top of the horn, resulting in a fuller tone across the whole instrument..

alto sax nestled in its travel case

2: Yamaha YAS-62III professional alto saxophone

When it comes to “perfection,” the Yamaha alto saxophone is exceedingly difficult to beat. Very much conceived as a blank canvas, this horn is equally at home in a variety of contexts, from rock to classical, and reacts admirably in all of them. Anyone feeling stifled by their student instrument, or a more experienced musician searching for a fantastic saxophone on a tight budget, should strongly consider a 62 as their next step in their musical development.

Regardless of where you buy the saxophone, it will be shipped with a neck strap as well as a cleanup kit. There are no imperfections in the finishing, and it is perfect to be displayed on stage. However, the tabs may be a little finicky when using saxes that have not been well tested.

3: Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone

The Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone ~ Lacquered streaming keywork confers a feeling of unwinding. At the same time, its brilliant pitch and rich tone make it an ideal instrument for chamber ensemble or soloist use. The Selmer La Voix II saxophone’s customary chime helps saxophonists keep a concentrated tone and works with blending. The Selmer SAS280 La Voix alto saxophone’s estimating is just about as appealing as its tone.

With the Selmer alto saxophone, they have made an alto sax that is both playable and reasonable. The pitching is consistent and liberated from pressure from the low finish to the top of the line. In addition, the La Voix II saxophone has a great deal of projection and can give a dim energetic tone when required. The Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone is a player’s instrument that is made economical for all entertainers by the Selmer Corporation.

4: JupiterJAS1100SG Alto Saxophone

Conveying a properly splendid tone that would be satisfactory in any saxophone-fitting setting. The JupiterJAS1100SG Eb Alto Saxophone is quickly comfortable, nobly resounding from its low Bb to high F#, though the lower end might be a touch harsher sounding than different models. The upper register, then again, is extremely responsive, impacting out rich-sounding suggestions and false fingerings with next to zero trouble by any means!

At this kind of premium range, we envision you’d be unable to find a sax as versatile or apparently impressive as the Jupiter JAS1100SG, fit for multiple uses. 

saxophone mouthpiece close up towards the camera

5: P. Mauriat 67RX Influence Alto Sax (un-laquered)

It made a big impact when the Mauriat 67RX first appeared on the saxophone scene a few years ago. Saxophonists of all levels, including some of the world’s finest performers, were instantly drawn to their dramatic but adaptable nature.

Starting at $5000, the P. Mauriat 67RX is no ordinary piece of instrument. However, with its rich history, the Sax has been among the best alto saxophone of all time. Reviewers have praised it as being “the closest thing you’ll find to the iconic Selmer Mk6.”

It has an unlacquered surface, rolling tone holes, exquisite conch shell key grips, and a high F# key. This Custom Class “Vintage Series” alto has an unlacquered finish. The appearance is in line with the vintage tone for which this model is renowned. The bigger bell and the absence of lacquer contribute to the instrument’s replete, powerful sound.

6: Trevor James Classic II Alto Saxophone

The TJ Horn Classic II Alto Saxophone is a rising instrument with excellent workmanship that is geared at the student market yet comes at a more affordable price. The Trevor James Classic Alto Saxophone would be an excellent option for both beginning and advanced saxophonists who are searching for a dependable, fantastic instrument that is also simple to learn and play.

Because of the bigger bore size of the Classic II, the saxophone will enable more air to travel through it, resulting in a free-sounding instrument that amateurs will find extremely easy to learn and enjoy playing. The Classic II Alto Sax also has a mouthpiece designed in conjunction with Bari and Trevor James, which is connected via a ligature and a Vandoren Reed.

7: Roy Benson AS-202A EB Antique Alto Sax

With an alto saxophone price tag under $1000, the Roy Benson MOD.AS-202A EB Alto Saxophone is a real competitor. The body is made of brass and is antique lacquered.

Keys made of brass and antique lacquered. The high F#-key and the C#-Bb key is linked to the table key. Metal hinges that have been toughened and come with ligature and cap on the end of the mouthpiece 

Aside from the tone, the Roy Benson MOD.AS-202A EB alto saxophone is distinguished from other saxophones by its simplicity of usage. Because it is not exceptionally enormous, it does not need the use of large hands to play it. The comparatively tiny mouthpiece is simple to use and to learn the technique. 

In comparison to other saxophones, the alto uses less air, and there is an extensive body of music produced just for this instrument. Thus, an alto saxophone is an excellent instrument for beginning players to acquire proper posture, breathing rhythm, fondling, and phonation because of all these factors and the general design of the instrument.

saxophone being played as part of a jazz band

8: Yamaha YAS 480 Intermediate alto sax

9: Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone

10: Yamaha YAS-280 Student Alto Saxophone

The Yamaha YAS280 Student Alto Saxophone is undoubtedly the greatest student model Alto Saxophone money can buy. For more than two decades, this model and its predecessors (YAS23, YAS25, YAS275, and so on) have served as THE industry standard in their respective classes.

This Yamaha alto saxophone has a fantastic motion that reduces strain on the student’s fingers and hands when they are playing. It is constructed of high-quality materials that will stand up to typical wear and tear for many years. The tone is comparable to that of a professional saxophone, which may cost up to six times as much. The instruments and supplies required to play this saxophone are readily available and reasonably priced at $850.

musician reviewing some of the best alto saxophones for sale

Worried about spending a fortune on a student alto saxophone?

Don’t fear – you don’t have to! While we obviously don’t recommend scrimping when it comes to quality (especially if you’re an intermediate/ pro player), if you’re a beginner and just want to get the feel of a sax, then a cheap saxophone may be the best place to start.

In which case, here’s the best cheap alto saxophone for sale, that (we think) offers a good balance of quality and value for money…

11: Eastar AS-Ⅱ student alto saxophone

The Eastar Alto Sax is an excellent option for any budding saxophonist who wants to nail the e Flat key, and it has a long history of success in the educational sector. This gorgeous instrument has a precise, long-lasting construction, a beautiful finish, and a powerful sound with excellent projection, not to mention the saxophone is also lightweight, making it easy to carry. In addition, the package includes a mouthpiece, sax strap, cleaning supplies, and a case which makes it a better deal.

Putting a finger on the best alto saxophone you can buy wasn’t easy… but we’ve done it.

When it came down to it, there were two saxophones that really stood out to us: the Yamaha YAS-62III & the Yanagisawa AW01. Both of which are incredible free blowing saxes that’re highly responsive, have a smooth tone and create a really nice rich sound. To be honest, in terms of sound, we’re besotted with both. Hence why our verdict on the best alto saxophone really comes back to build.

An area where we’d say the Yanagisawa has the edge. in true Japanese fashion, everything just feels that bit more solid and well put together. Not to say that the Yamaha isn’t built well – it most certainly is! Exactly why for a lot of alto sax players it’s the way to go. However, we do think that with the W Series, Yanagisawa is in many ways a step ahead.

That being because in comparison to the previous 991/992 models, the newly shaped bore and brass formulation you get with the AW01, really do make it sing. We found the 991/992s to be not as warm as we’d like, but the AW01 is a HUGE improvement. In turn, these adjustments have also impacted the build too.

The AW01 doesn’t only feel very professional, but it’s also sounds first class too. We particularly like the extra piece of bracing around the neck, which not only makes the neck more durable, but (according you Yanagisawa) also gives this alto some extra tonal resonance. Something which you can sense during play, as you can with the intonation of this alto saxophone too. It’s warm silky sound is truly first-class!

All of which makes this alto sax is incredibly versatile. So be you a classical player, or a member of a jazz band, this Yanagisawa alto saxophone is sure to suit your style of play. And it’s small perks like this that we really think make all the difference. So much so that we’d be tempted to say (as many other already have) that Yanagisawa is one of the best saxophone brands out there. And as for the AW01 – well that’s the best alto saxophone you can buy today.

Yanagisawa AW010 = Best Alto Saxophone

Enjoy this review of the best alto saxophones & eager for more? Check out our latest Reviews Of Brass Instruments, as well as tap into our vast Musical Instrument Knowledge. Recently, we also published an article on the Best Pocket Trumpets + another on the Best Brass Instrument Care Kit, which may also be worth a read.

the golden shimmer of an alto sax in the reflection of a mirror

Or, if your heart’s fixed on an Alto sax, keep reading to delve even further into world of Alto saxophones + what to look for when trying to find the Best Alto Saxophone for you…

The Alto saxophone is the most popular sax today, closely followed by the Tenor.

The reason behind this popularity is most likely due to how easy it is to play an Alto sax in comparison to a Tenor. Aside from being more compact (a god-send for travelling musicians), it also requires a lot less breath to play an Alto sax. So as you can imagine, Altos are far more popular with beginners, as well as slightly older players too.

Part of their popularity (as you’d expect) also comes back to price. A professional Tenor Saxophone can set you back more or less double that of an Alto. So unless you’re a full time saxophonist, an Alto sax is most probably the most logical way to go.

And yet another for the popularity of Alto saxophones is their sound, which while not as deep as that of a Tenor, is more than sufficient for the majority of performances. In fact, many professionals learn both Tenor and Alto sax, in an effort to make themselves appear more versatile. Exactly what you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that Tenor saxophones are reserved for pros, as many Alto saxes (many of those above) are too.

Professional saxophonists can play both Tenor and Alto saxophones.

Reason being that what saxophone a professional uses is usually dependent on the sound they’re going for. Just like the choice of their mouthpiece or song. So for instance, if a professional saxophonist was asked to a Jazz bar, they’d probably rock up with their Tenor sax, sporting a specific Jazz mouthpiece. Our favourites are the Jody Jazz mouthpieces! They may also do so if they’re asked to play as part of an orchestra.

Whereas they may use an Alto sax along with a more conventional mouthpiece (like the ones above), if they were off to do a casual street performance, perform on a live session with a music artist or teach a saxophone class.

And while which saxophone a professional uses does to a large extent depend on sound they’re after + the environment, if you catch a pro in the flesh, we’d put bets on their saxophone being an Alto.

Yes – saxophones by Selmer are renowned worldwide for their rich tone and high levels of build quality.

The company makes some of the best alto saxophones that you can get your hands on. So much so that for many brass fanatics, they’re actually the benchmark. Selmer saxophones are no slouch, especially when it comes to build quality. Just as with Yanagisawa & Yamaha (our topic picks), Selmer saxes use high quality brass formulations and produce a really rich sound.

Really the only reason we didn’t conclude that the SelmerSAS280 La Voix II was the best alto saxophone for sale, was because in comparison to those by Yagagisawa and Yamaha, they do take a slightly more to master. Don’t get us wrong – Selmer saxophones are playable, just not perhaps as much as some of those we reviewed.

But with that being said, a Selmer sax is a great choice for a professional and shouldn’t be overlooked.

Yes – a major reason why Alto saxes are so popular is because aside from professionals, they’re also a solid choice for a beginner.

The main reason being down to their size, which is substantially smaller than a Tenor sax. Therefore, even the best alto saxophones require a lot less air to produce sound. Good to know, especially for anyone new to Brass instruments, as it makes it easier to build up a relationship between the sound of a sax and the way you blow.

Not only that, but being compact means that Alto saxes are incredibly portable and (crucially for a beginner) cheaper to buy too. Your equivalent Tenor sax will likely set you back double the price fo an Alto. Exactly what you need if you’re planning on becoming an intermediate player pretty soon. That way, an upgrade to a sax like the Yanagisawas & Yamahas listed above, shouldn’t be that big of a jump.

Choosing the best alto saxophone isn’t as easy as it seems. In fact to do so you need to know a fair bit about saxophones in general, which is why we’ve taken the time out of our day to compile this list (above).

Out of all the areas of the sax itself, we’d say the places you should pay most attention to are the keys and pads. Although even touches like the overall finish can give you a good gauge as to what level a saxophone has been manufactured. Usually saxophones with a lacquer or that are made out of a specific formulation of Brass (i.e. Red Brass or Nickel Silver) are a safe bet.

However, it is worth noting that such finishes can influence the sound of your sax ever so slightly. For instance, silver plating enhances the brightness and clarity of your sound, which makes it perfect for marching bands. Whereas, a golden finish often adds a warmth and gives you sax a slightly heavier tone. And while even the lacquer can alter your sound ever so slightly, it’s something we’d always suggest you opt for, as it protects your sax + requires a lot less maintenance.

But back to the topic of keys and pads, things get slightly more technical. Student saxophones for beginners will likely feature imprinted keys and cardboard or felt pads. Their keys will also be plastic. Not bad if you’re a newbie as this does keep the price of these saxophones low. However, with a more professional instrument (the majority of those above), you’ll be given die-cast keys and leather pads. Both of which last far longer and make for a more precise playing experience. The better the seal around the pads & the keyholes, the better your sound!