In this article, we want to look at the best alto saxophone for a beginner or intermediate player. Most people will tell you that finding a good alto horn is a bit difficult. This is true, but only because people buying altos don’t really understand what they want in a saxophone.
Our solution is to give you information about brands and types of alto saxophone horns so that you can make a more informed decision as to what you want.
What Makes For A Good Sax
Did you know that the sax was first invented in the 1840s by Adolphe Sax, a man from Belgium? the truth is that the sax has come a long way since it was first invented. Today, the most versatile sax is the alto. Unlike the soprano, the tenor or the baritone, the alto horn can be played with almost every relevant musical genre from classical to swing, soul, funk and rock.
The alto sax is in an E flat pitch and the finger play is the same on all of them. Even so, it is this uniformity of finger positioning and note that makes for a truly accessible instrument.
As experts in saxophones, we have created a list of the best 10 alto saxophones we can source from Amazon. In our analysis, we take several factors into consideration including price, design, build and brand integrity. Then we consider performance and give you our opinion of the best alto sax for you.
Top 6 Best Alto Saxophones of 2023
1 Jean Paul USA AS-400 Student Alto
The Jean Paul USA AS-400 is a fantastic saxophone. It will take you clear up to the intermediate or initial professional level. This is the horn you want when you know you love to play the saxophone and want a horn that will play along with you across all genres. Its ergonomic keys make it very easy to play. This alto sax is well constructed and many players consider it as good as many other higher priced saxophones.
In appearance the Jean Paul model is outstanding. It has a gold lacquered body and green pad accents. Best of all, it only weighs about 16 pounds.
The Jean Paul USA also comes with a sturdy cloth case and neck strap. The strap is adjustable and comfortable. You will also find a mouthpiece with this horn. Even though you may need to quickly upgrade for this accessory.
Although the Jean Paul model is more expensive than lower end horns, it provides a superior quality that is well worth the price. This sax will certainly grow you through the beginner stages and into an intermediate player. It is a horn that will last for many years.
2 Selmer SAS280 La Voix II Alto Saxophone Outfit Black Nickel
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And in this case, you get a gorgeous sax that will grow with you. This is a classic sax to take you up to a professional level. The Selmer La Voix is also a joy to play. The fluid key-work offers relaxed finger positioning and perfect intonation. Basically, the difference here is that this saxophone makes your notes clear and perfect. You have a ton of flexibility in playing different genders and tones with this Selmer. This is the stuff that makes blending easy.
The price of the Selmer SAS280 is not too bad either. You can afford this sax, especially because it will take you a step higher in your playing ability. The professional key styling allows for accurate fingering making this alto sax easy to play. Pitch is consistent and offers that rich-dark jazzy sound when you want it.
3 Selmer AS42 Professional Alto Saxophone Lacquer
Every musician who blows this horn feels that chill of excitement that comes from giving an outstanding performance. The AS42 looks like other modern saxophones in its price class. However, we can safely say that the one word used to describe it is Gorgeous. It has beautiful engraving on the bell and nice key-work and design.
Everything is in its prime when it comes to ergonomics as well. This is as it should be in all Selmer saxophones. The horn is well-built, every key snaps into place, and the key action is solid. All that is great, but there are similar features in all Selmers. Thee stand out point on this sax is the tone. It can be bright but doesn’t have that sharp edge. This horn is easy to blow and is focused but also lets you hit those altissimo notes without giving people a headache.
Of important note here is the good balance in both scale and tone and you can easily manage it. The slightly brighter tone makes it appropriate for jazz, pop, rock, and blues but may not be the right choice for classical music.
4 YAMAHA YAS-280 Saxophones Student Alto Saxophones
The Yamaha Yas-280 is the standard beginner sax marketed by the company. It has an ergonomic design to facilitate the play of different genres. This sax makes it easy to access notes and play jazz, rock, ballads and anything in between. It is a light sax, so you won’t get tired from carrying it during long sessions. This model is stylish and resistant to corrosion.
Unlike inexpensive beginner saxophones, the Yas-280 is very comfortable to hold. It is lightweight and the keys are ergonomically placed to prevent hand strain. The Yamaha 280 also has an adjustable thumb-rest for added comfort.
5 Mendini By Cecilio MAS-L+92D+PB Gold Lacquer E Flat Alto Saxophone
If the price is really a concern for you then the Medini by Cecilio might be a good option. Just remember, you get what you pay for. This is really a very young beginner horn. It does not retain its value as well as the better name brands.
When it comes to price this is a good quality horn. However, this company is a relatively new one and was founded in 2004. The Mendini products are known to be suitable and well-made for what they are. Nevertheless, it is just a beginner sax.
6 Roy Benson RBAS302 Eb Professional Alto Saxophone
The Roy Benson line of saxophones is well known for its German engineering. The RBAS302 is a fantastic horn known for its craftsmanship and affordable price.
This sax features a relaxed neck design, bar mounted keys and an elegant brass body. The keys line up well and make it a joy to play. The horn comes with a high F sharp, a C sharp and B flat. This sax has PISONI pads which are the most popular and trusted, so you won’t need to re-pad any time soon.
The lacquer finish is outstanding and the horn comes with a ligature and cap. There are also other included accessories such as a carrying case, a padded strap and a cleaning rod.
Although this alto saxophone is manufactured in China it does retain its German engineering. This ensures that the horn is made with the highest quality while at the same time remain affordable.
Best Alto Saxophone Buying Guide
New manufacturing methods have opened up the manufacturing market to a number of companies, This is naturally a good thing as it makes the market more competitive. However, the drawback is that choosing the right alto horn can be very difficult. There are too many models out on the market today. Hopefully, this buyer’s guide can help you make a great buying decision.
Look For Company Reputation
Before making a buying decision think about the reputation of the company you are dealing with. Yes, you can buy a cheap alto saxophone, but if you plan on playing for a long time, you need a well-made horn. In this case, you might be better off getting a Selmer or a Jean Paul. These companies use metal alloys that have long been tested for quality.
Before Making Up Your Mind Though, Ask Yourself These Questions:
- What does the alto saxophone sound like?
- Do you like the appearance?
- What about the weight? Can you carry it well?
- Have you looked at the history of different brands?
- Are you planning on playing the sax for a long time?
Each brand and model has a distinctive finish. Consider the one you like first. Think about what you like and consider these aspects:
- Finish and color
- Size of horn
- Size of bell
- Metal finish
- Ergonomics of keys
Once you have your choice narrowed down. You can find the alto saxophone you want.
Something most people don’t think about when buying a good sax is the weight of the horn. More expensive altos are lighter and have more brass than other brands. Heavy saxophones are difficult to hold for more than an hour or two.
Each of these altos will feel and play differently. Check the different intonations until you find the one you like.