Best Alto Saxophone (2020)

If you’re looking for an Alto saxophone but have no idea what you want than it’s easy to become frustrated by the amount of choice. After all you want something that’s right for you and that’s going to help your playing and skills progress.

Luckily, this handy guide is here to take you through some of the best options, answer some of your biggest questions, and tell you some of the things you need to keep in mind when making a decision. 

Best Alto Saxophone

The Best Alto Saxophone - The Top 5 Reviewed

Now let’s get down to business and review some of the best alto saxophone. Please know we only considered the highest rated alto saxophone for this list:

  1. Yamaha YAS-280 Saxophone
  2. Mendini by Cecilio Saxophone
  3. Jean Paul AS-400 Saxophone
  4. Kaizer ASAX-1000LQ Saxophone
  5. Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Saxophone

We used consumer reviews and our own research to compile this list. These are unbiased reviews designed to help you pick the best possible alto saxophone for your needs.

1. Yamaha YAS-280 Saxophone

YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophones Student Alto saxophones

Our rating:

This is a student saxophone from Yamaha, and it certainly lives up to the classic Yamaha standard. Delivering a full rich sound, this saxophone is perfect for a beginner looking to take their music seriously and offers them something to really get stuck into. It’s a well-built instrument, that’s built to last until you’re ready for a professional level sax. It’s a sax that could take you through from beginner all the way through to advanced without needing to be replaced.​

If you’re looking to gig or play in a school band than this is a perfect instrument until you’re ready to play something a bit larger. The action on this instrument is excellent which helps to take the pressure off your fingers, the finish is smooth and good quality exactly what you want if your performing and have to be on stage.

If you feel you need accessories to get the most out of your playing than this is a good option, the accessories are easily affordable and easy to find, so this really is an instrument that will keep on giving you what you need to be the best player you can. If you want to play the sax, this is the instrument that will deliver the high quality sound you’ll have heard on professional recordings. 

Pros

  • Smooth and clean finish, ready for the stage
  • Amazing sound and tone 
  • A sax that’ll take you through from beginner to intermediate level 
  • Durable and made from high quality materials 

Cons

  • You’ll need to test the tabs as they’re not always perfect straight out of the box
YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophones Student Alto saxophones
  • Complete with Case
  • Made by Yamaha - World Leaders in Guitars and Keyboards
  • Yamaha Alto Sax, YAS-280
  • Gold lacquer finish. High F# and Front F auxiliary keys

2. Mendini by Cecilio Saxophone

Mendini by Cecilio E-Flat Alto Saxophone, Gold Lacquered + Tuner, Case, Pocketbook - MAS-L+92D+PB

Our rating:

If you’re a beginner that’s not certain the sax is right for you, or maybe you just don’t want to spend money on an instrument you’ll use casually, than this is a great option to start learning on. This model comes with a beginners bundle so you’ll have everything you need to get started straight away, and you’ll have a chance to work out what you like and don’t like without blowing the doors off the budget.

This is a sax with a great rich sound, and once you get the hang of tuning you’ll find that it stays in tune for a long time with little to no adjustment. It’s built to last, so if you do decide to upgrade then you can always sell it on or pass it forward, knowing that it’s still going to deliver. The inlays are faux mother of pearl, which look great and you won’t need to break the bank to know that you look as good as you sound. 

Pros

  • Built from quality materials, you won’t have to worry about this sax breaking after a few practices

  • Comes with everything you’ll need as a beginner to get started and is a great way to get to grips with accessories and what you like and don’t if you’re just starting out

  • High resale value when you upgrade

  • Great rich tone and sound

  • Fitted with a tone booster so you can really get the most out of playing 

Cons

  • You shouldn’t think that this is the sax that’ll last you forever. It’s a great one for learning and practicing with, but at some point, your skill will outstrip it’s capabilities and you’ll want something new. But you’ll certainly get your money’s worth out of it before that happens!

Mendini by Cecilio E-Flat Alto Saxophone, Gold Lacquered + Tuner, Case, Pocketbook - MAS-L+92D+PB
  • Gold lacquered body and keys Eb alto sax
  • High F# key
  • Rib construction, stainless steel springs, quality leather pads, metal resonators
  • Includes: tuner, mouthpiece with ligature, hard case, box of 2.5 reeds, neck strap, cleaning rod, polishing cloth, a pair of gloves and pocketbook
  • 1 Year Warranty Against Manufacturer's Defects

3. Jean Paul AS-400 Saxophone

Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone with Rico Reeds Strength 2.5 (10 pack), Neck Strap, Pad Saver, and Book

Our rating:

If you're serious about your music then this is a great one for you. Priced slightly higher than other beginner saxophones, this is the right choice for someone who knows they want to become a great player. You will need to practice a good deal to get the value out of it, but if you’re prepared to do it than you won’t find a better instrument to improve on. 

Perfect for most skill levels, this sax makes it easy to play smooth jazz and blues. It comes in two finishes, either standard brass or silver both of which are professional standard and will help you to stand out when you’re on stage. Sound wise this sax can play with big boys, easily outstripping other similar priced saxes and easily competing with more expensive ones too. It is easy to tune and great at staying in tune while you play, its suitable to be played solo or in a group. If you’re looking to perform as part of a band at some point than this is a good investment.

The action is nice and smooth, and your fingers will thank you for it. This sax makes it easy to spend hours playing without getting tired, another reason why it’s a good one to perform with. If you’re a beginner it comes with everything you need to get started, and includes a carrying case to protect your instrument while you’re out and about. The keys are specifically placed for you to be able play multiple notes in small amount of time making it the perfect option for classical musicians or jazz artists. 

Pros

  • Excellent key placement to make playing multiple notes easier

  • Portable and lightweight 

  • Comes with all the accessories you need to get started

  • Excellent at most skill levels 

  • Great for performances, either solo or in a group 

Cons

  • Beginners may struggle to tune at first, but this is a problem that goes away with practice

Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto Saxophone with Rico Reeds Strength 2.5 (10 pack), Neck Strap, Pad Saver, and Book
  • The Jean Paul Alto Saxophone is in key of Eb
  • Comes with robust contoured carrying case for easy transportation
  • Thinner vamp cut designed for ease of play
  • Strength 2.5, Unfiled cut, box of 10 reeds
  • Fits most bass clarinets, English horns, bassoons, oboes, saxophones and more

4. Kaizer ASAX-1000LQ Saxophone

Kaizer Alto Saxophone E Flat Eb Black Lacquer Body Gold Keys 1000 Series Sax Includes Case Mouthpiece and Accessories ASAX-1000BKGK

Our rating:

This is a good quality American made saxophone perfect for those who aren’t certain the sax is right for them. It’s budget friendly but will help give you a real joy for playing, and help you build your technique till you want to upgrade. It includes a molded case, complete mouthpiece and ligature set, polishing cloth, cleaning rod, gloves, lubricant for mouthpiece, basically everything you need as a beginner to get started and is useful for figuring out what you want in the future.

There’ a refund guarantee for 45 days, which is plenty of time to decide whether you want to stick with this model or try something else if it doesn’t suit you. The solid brass body has enhanced tonality and the sound it produces is nice and rich, perfect for a beginner. While a professional might have some issues with the tone, a learner probably won’t notice anything unusual and it’ll let you get a feel for your chosen genre. The action is nice and fast with a great response and it’s perfect for a classical musician just starting out. 

Pros

  • Solid brass body with enhanced tonality 

  • Great sound, especially considering the price point

  • Comes with everything a beginner will need

  • 45-day refund guaranteed

  • Good fast action which will help protects learners’ fingers and hands

Cons

  • Again, this sax will need to be upgraded, and it’s not going to be great in performance. But if you’re just looking to get a feel for the saxophone or want to practice in your home than it’s a very good option

Kaizer Alto Saxophone E Flat Eb Black Lacquer Body Gold Keys 1000 Series Sax Includes Case Mouthpiece and Accessories ASAX-1000BKGK
  • Includes molded case, complete mouthpiece and ligature set, polishing cloth, cleaning rod, gloves, lubricant for mouthpiece.
  • LIMITED-TIME OFFER: Kaizer Welcome Kit - Ultra-Pure Alto Sax Care Kit (made in USA); Built using quality solid yellow brass which enhances tonality comparing to any other types of materials. Advanced sensitive response, premium steel springs for faster action.
  • Professional leatherette pads offer maximum intonation control and comfort; Kaizer 1000 Series Alto Saxophone in the key of E flat (Eb) is designed for beginners, school band and orchestra players.
  • 45 DAY FREE TRIAL. Play it, test it for 45 days. If you don't like it, send it back and receive a full refund.
  • Lifetime no-hassle warranty. If the instrument ever fails due to manufacturing defects, for as long as you own the instrument and have proof of purchase, we'll provide you with parts for free.

5. Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Saxophone

Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone Outfit Silver Plated

Our rating:

If you want something that sounds great and looks amazing, then this is the one for you. Perfect for all skill levels, but especially intermediates stepping up to a more professional sound. Plated in black nickel this model looks incredible and you’re sure to stand out from the crowd when you perform. 

The keywork makes for a remarkably fluid playing experience, with incredible intonation and a traditionally sized bell. If you’re looking for a focused tone with a blended sound than this is the instrument for you. The key styling is geared towards professional which, if you are looking to make the leap up to a more advanced skill level, will help make sure your fingering is accurate. It comes with a backpack style case and mouth piece and ligature. 

Pros

  • A bold look that is sure to make sure all eyes are on you

  • A sax great for performing and practicing at all levels

  • Comes with carry case and mouthpiece

  • Perfect intonation and great blended sound 

  • Comes from a brand known for their high quality instruments 

Cons

  • Tone can go a little wild when switching registers, but an advanced player would be able to control it

Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone Outfit Silver Plated
  • Ideal for concert band and solo playing Professional key styling Includes trek-style case Selmer mouthpiece Ligature and cap Care products

Final Thoughts

There so many different saxophone options available, like baritone or tenor saxophones, it can seem pretty hard to make a decision about which is the best one for you. You don’t want to waste your time and money getting something that’s not right, and it can seem impossible to make a decision. Luckily, this section will take you through some of the things to think about before you make a purchase. If you’re just starting out this could help you keep in mind some of the things that are important when choosing which alto sax you want, and for working out what you like and what you don’t like. 

As with everything the first thing to consider is money. How much do you want to spend, or a better way to put it how much can you spend. Saxophone’s come in all shapes and sizes and you want to get something that suits you, saxophone’s also come in all sorts of budgets so don’t worry that the one you want is too expensive. You will find the right instrument for you! If you are a beginner than it’s worth looking into some of the beginner bundles that come with some saxophones.

This will give you all the accessories you need to get started, and will help you realise what you like and don’t like for the future. Think about your skillset before you make a decision, after all you don’t want to get something that’s below your level and you can’t play without growing frustrated. Equally, getting something above your skillset might slow you down because you don’t know how to get the best out of your instrument. Beginners can get annoyed by their lack of skill, which is only highlighted by a superior instrument, and you don’t want to give up because you’re frustrated.

Pick something that suits you, most brands offer something that’s good for beginners but will grow with you as you progress. Investing a bit of time and money into an instrument that’ll stay with you for a number of years is often the best way to go. If you’re certain the sax is the instrument for you than don’t skimp on quality. Once you’ve made a decision, you’re better to get something that will last, than something that’s cheaper but needs replacing every few months. Check out what your sax sounds like on youtube when you’ve decided what you want but before you’ve bought it. Making sure you like how it sounds is the most important thing after all!

Think about what sort of music you want to play. The alto sax is more suited to classical than the tenor sax which is better for rock and roll. If you’re just learning what you like to play, than buying something a bit cheaper to get started on isn’t a bad idea. You don’t want to spend money on an alto, only to realise that it’s a tenor or soprano you want. Listening to some of your favorite musician and finding out what they play is a good idea and will give you a clue as to what sort of sound you’re aiming for. 


FAQs

How much should I spend on an alto saxophone?

As much or as little as you want. Think about what you’re going to be using it for and how often you want to play, If you just want something to have a go on at home, than a budget sax is a great option. There’s no need to discount something a little cheaper when you’re playing for yourself. Many brands spend a lot of time and money producing quality budget instruments because they know you’re more likely to stick with a brand you trust and spend a bit more if you do decide to upgrade. Equally if you’re serious about your music than be prepared to spend a bit more to get the most out of your playing. Don’t be afraid to branch out, and make sure that your instrument will be able to carry you to where you want to go. 

Is the alto sax hard to learn?

The alto sax can be picked up by anybody who wants to learn and is no harder than any other instrument. In fact, the fingering system on the alto sax is easier than other wind instruments, like clarinets and similar to the system used on a trumpet and if you’re willing to put in the hours than you’ll be playing like a pro in no time at all. If you are still worried than remember that you don’t have to develop playing harmony as directly on the sax as you do with other instruments like the guitar or piano, so many beginners pick up the basics quickly.