Do you love the deep rich tones of the tenor saxophone? Buying a new sax can be a difficult process. You must consider whether you want a beginner inexpensive horn or a sax that will take you up to an intermediate level. Ask yourself, do you want a horn to get by or one that will endure for years to come?
The truth is that finding the right tenor sax can be difficult, and you can’t just go out and buy the first one you see. You need at least an idea of what you want before you make a purchase.
To help you make a more informed decision we have put together a list of great tenor horns for you to look at. After some thought, you are sure to find a model that you really like and want to make that investment in an instrument that really fits the need.
Top 6 Best Tenor Saxophones in 2023
1 Jean Paul USA TS-400 Tenor Saxophone
The Jean Paul tenor TS-400 is a great horn with an outstanding sound. However, it is probably more appropriate for the high beginner or intermediate student.
The TS-400 is the sax you want to buy when you know what you are doing and want a horn that will grow with you. When it comes to appearance this Jean Paul model is gorgeous. It has a bright lacquered body and green pad accents and only weighs about 16 pounds.
Before trying this sax, I was a bit worried about comfort, but my concerns were unfounded. This horn is comfortable to hold (especially if you have a good neck strap). Like all new horns, the keys have an ergonomic design which makes the finger movement smooth. You won’t hear any annoying clicking sound here, as you do on some horns when you change keys. The Jean Paul TS-400 allows you to change notes very easily which gives you better play flexibility. This is a soft toned horn with a wide range of sound. Jean Paul models are known for its soft, even sound, and nothing disappoints on this horn.
The Jean Paul TS-400 comes is a yellow brass construction. The keys are tapered and pivot for easy access. The bell brace is strong for added durability, easy holding and added durability.
To sum it all up. It is all of these features combined make this an excellent tenor horn. A big plus is that this sax comes with a strong carrying case.
2 Selmer TS44 Professional Tenor Saxophone Lacquer
The Selmer TS44 is an intro pro horn and is ideal for the beginner to intermediate player. If the student is a beginer he/she should know that he is looking for a good sax to play for the long haul. This tenor horn plays like a high-end sax but comes at an intermediate price. The Selmer TS-44 is fast becoming a popular horn for thousands of saxophonists because of its outstanding sound and flexibility. It is designed for the person who loves the sound of Selmer and wants a great sounding instrument.
An interesting point to note here is that this instrument is the first collaborative result between Selmer US and Henri Selmer Paris. This combined design has resulted in an affordable saxophone with unexpected performance.
Musicians love the features on this horn that are more common in pro instruments and relatively uncommon on student models. The TS44 has a huge timbral range, something a professional musician really needs to deliver the mood of a performance. The best part here is the low-end price for such a dynamic instrument.
3 Selmer Paris Reference 54 Tenor Saxophone
The first thing you feel when blowing this horn is special. It gives you that freedom to do what you want, yet it has that controlled feel you want for tone production. This is an intermediate to pro horn that gives you a warm and darker sound with a lot of resonance. Think the Reference 54 has a definite centered tone. It is reminiscent of the old Mark VI but with the light action and comfortable hold and feel of a modern sax. The action is super smooth and fluid, and as with all Selmer Reference models you’ll love the response it gives.
The Reference 54 is slightly different from the ref 36 in that you get a more open sound which allows you to flex your creative juices and make those details. The 54 works well with more funky jazz and the notes offer a lot of punch and clarity.
4 Mendini by Cecilio MTS-L+92D Gold Lacquer B Flat Tenor Saxophone
Mendini horns are great inexpensive beginner horns. This is the option you might make for the young beginner who is unsure of his desire to play. Even so Older beginners might want to look towards a different sax as the Mendini is nice but not built to last.
Now, despite the above information, I have to say, that this sax has stand out sound. It offers warm, rich tones and some flexibility in range, which is rather nice for a horn that sits on such a low price point.
5 Glory Black/Gold B Flat Tenor Saxophone
OK guys, this is the sax you might want to consider getting for your child or when you first have an interest in playing the sax, but aren’t sure about this being a true passion. The Glory Black is not a sax that will break the bank. But let’s just say you get what you pay for. This is a very beginner or student horn that comes at a budget with a few inexpensive accessories thrown in to make the pot a bit sweeter.
The appearance of this sax is quite nice. It comes in a black and gold lacquer finish which makes it stand out from others. To perfect the looks of this instrument, the Glory Black/Gold Tenor Saxophone comes in a gold lacquer finish, which also helps to ensure that your sax remains resistant to corrosion and chipping.
This tenor sax also comes with a number of useful accessories like a mouthpiece, 10 reeds, a nipper, neck strap, gloves and a hard-shell carrying case. Most of these accessories are just free gifts, and not very good.
6 Kaizer Tenor Saxophone B Flat Bb Gold Lacquer TSAX-1000LQ
The Kaizer B Flat tenor is a popular beginner saxophone. It is a great horn for the price. Here you can expect a well/crafted instrument with quality sound and easy playability. The Kaizer Tenor comes in a nickel silver finish and is built to endure a variety of environments. It is specially designed for beginner students but can also do very well for lower intermediate students. It comes in a nickel gold finish and the manufacturer has thrown in a few nice accessories: molded case, glove, lint-free cleaning cloth, reeds and a neck cloth.
Best Tenor Saxophone Buying Guide
We know that choosing the right tenor is difficult. There are just too many options available on the market. That’s why we have put together this buyer’s guide to help you find the tenor horn that meets your exact needs.
Think about the reputation of a brand before you decide to buy a tenor. Yes, you can purchase an inexpensive horn, but if your intentions are to stick with playing for while you might do better by choosing a Selmer or a Jean Paul model, as both of these brands are well known. More importantly, Selmer and Jean Paul use metal alloys that have been tested for sound quality and endurance.
When thinking about buying a beginner to intermediate tenor saxophone, you should take a moment to think about these questions:
- Do you like the sound of the tenor horn?
- Do you like its style and looks?
- Do you prefer a certain brand?
- Are you planning on playing the sax for a long time?
- Is the saxophone for an adult or child player?
- Does the seller offer a returns guarantee?
Different saxophones have distinct finishes and different lacquer finishes. Think about the look you like best, but you also want to consider these other important features:
- Color and finish
- Size of bell
- Metal finish
- Country of origin
- Price range
- Fluidity of key play and finger position
When you find a tenor horn with everything you want, that is the instrument you should buy.
Consider the weight of the horn you want. Notice that the more expensive horns are usually lighter and have a metal alloy that is almost all brass. Consider that a heavy saxophone will be harder to hold for an hour or two.
Each of the tenors we have listed here has a different feel and play to it. Check the intonation and if you like it then consider purchasing that model.