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What You Need to Get Started
on the Saxophone

What you should buy as a beginner

Check out our recommended brands and products to get started on the saxophone, including recommendations on buying or renting a saxophone.

Essential Equipment

​These supplies are needed in order to start playing the saxophone (click to get more details):
 

Maintainance Supplies Needed

​These won't stop you from playing right now if you don't have them, but should be ordered soon (click to view product pages):
 

To see a walk-through of each of these supplies, check out our YouTube video going through each item.

Disclaimer: Some links may be affiliate links, meaning we may earn a commission on some purchases made through these links. This will NEVER influence the recommendations that we give students but does help support the Play platform when purchased through this link.

Saxophones

Buying a Saxophone

Note: we recommend that beginner students generally start on alto or tenor saxophone. Learn more here on which one is best for beginners.

Jean Paul Alto Saxophone - Saxophone Buying Guide.jpg

Buy New: Jean Paul Student Models (starts at $599)

Lower-cost new saxophone option
 

Jean Paul saxophones have earned a reputation for great value for the price. You can currently expect to pay $599 for an alto, which is much cheaper than a new saxophone from our other reputable brands listed below.

Yamaha Alto Saxophone 26 - Saxophone Buying Gudie

Buy New: Yamaha Student Models (starts at $1,200)

Higher cost, but more reputable new option

 

The Yamaha 280 for alto and the 26 for tenor are our favorite brand-name options for beginner saxophonists.

The alto is around $1,200 and the tenor is around $3,000.

Yamaha-YAS-23-265727A-5.jpeg

Buy Used: Yamaha 23 Student Model (starts around $850)
 

A great name brand saxophone at a lower price point


Consider a used Yamaha 23 from Get-a-Sax for $800-$850, or find a used model for sale near you for a similar price. If buying from another seller, make sure they will either allow you to play-test the instrument (if in-person) or have other guarantees to its condition or have a very clear refund policy, etc.

You could also consider open box saxophones from Woodwind Brasswind as another discounted, new saxophone option.

Renting a Saxophone

Some local music stores (including Sam Ash) offer instrument rental. We recommend calling different music stores in your area to ask if they offer saxophone rentals and to get pricing information. 

Cost:

Based on our research, you could expect to pay around $50/month for a saxophone rental.

*Note, there may be more reputable brands than what is listed below, but these are the brands we have the most experience with and could recommend purchasing:
 

  • Budget Option: Jean Paul Saxophones

  • Yamaha

  • Selmer Paris / Selmer

  • Conn / Conn-Selmer

  • Yanagisawa 

  • P. Mauriat

  • Keilwerth

  • Cannonball

 

**Aside from the budget-friendly Jean Paul models, avoid very cheap saxophones**

We totally understand you might not want to spend much on a saxophone when you’re just getting started. But buying something super cheap often ends up costing more in the long run. Do your best to stick with the reputable brands and models above.​

 

Reputable Saxophone Brands

Mouthpieces

Recommended Mouthpieces

While there are many, many mouthpieces on the market to try, let’s just start with the basics. Beginners should start on a plastic or hard rubber mouthpiece, not metal or any other material. (By the way, a hard rubber mouthpiece will look and feel almost exactly like plastic).

 

Although we recommend beginners start on alto or tenor saxophone, some students may have inherited a soprano or baritone, so we've included recommendations for that as well.

The Saxophone Mouthpiece You Have.png

First Choice: The Mouthpiece that Came With Your Saxophone

If a mouthpiece came with your saxophone (and is made of a plastic-like material), then that is most likely good enough to start with and you won't have to spend any additional money.

Yamaha 4C Alto Saxophone Mouthpiece.png

Alto, Tenor, and Soprano: Yamaha 4C Mouthpieces

Yamaha 4C mouthpiece (see links here for alto and tenor, and they make soprano and baritone versions as well.

Back of Yamaha 4C Saxophone Mouthpiece.png

Baritone Saxophone: Yamaha 5C Mouthpieces
 

If you're one of the few beginning on baritone saxophone, you would be more likely to find Yamaha's 5C model instead of the 4C, and that will work. 

Reeds

Reeds

Reeds come in many shapes and sizes, but as far as a good starting point, here’s what we recommend:

 

  • Vandoren Traditional (blue box), size 1.5 or 2 - This is a good starting point for all beginners, especially if you’re using your stock mouthpiece or the Yamaha 4C that we recommended above.

    • Size 1.5 is good for young beginners (age 16 and under) and size 2 is likely to be a good starting point for adult beginners.

    • Make sure to order the correct saxophone, as in alto, tenor, etc depending on what you’re playing. If a size 2 feels too difficult and resistant when you try to play, try the 1.5. 

 

Tip: Start with a Reed Sample Pack - Reeds come in a box of 5 or 10. Since it may not be ideal to buy a full box of reeds when you’re just figuring out your size, you could look into buying a reed sample pack. The availability of reed sample packs is somewhat limited, so see below for our current recommendations (order both 1.5 and 2). Shop sample packs below:

*Note: Since the Vandoren Traditional Reed Samples are only available for alto saxophone, we recommend the Rico sample pack above for tenor to get an idea of the size you need, then you could order the Vandoren reeds in that size, or continue with Rico reeds if you like them (Rico/D'addario is a reputable brand as well).

Ligature
Neck Straps

Ligatures

You can keep it simple when it comes to a ligature. If your saxophone came with a ligature, that should work just fine.

  • $35-$40 -  Try this D’Addario H Ligature that is inexpensive and will work great (you can get it for soprano, alto, tenor, or baritone).

 

All the ligature needs to do for you right now is securely hold the reed to the mouthpiece. Even as you improve, the ligature won’t make as much of a difference compared to the reed and the mouthpiece, so as you start to experiment with different setups, we recommend prioritizing your reed and mouthpiece before spending more money on a new ligature, unless your ligature is actually broken or otherwise not working. 

 

Neck Straps

Our only rule on neck straps is that they do not stretch. With a stretchy neck strap (like those made of neoprene), the saxophone will move and “bounce” while playing, which may hold you back a bit in your playing. 

 

  • $30 Try this basic neck strap (it says clarinet, but will work for alto saxophone, and could work for tenor as well, however, I personally find the tenor to be too heavy for a basic neck strap to feel comfortable. See info on a harness below.)

  • ~$55 - You could also try a harness (for tenor or baritone, or to reduce the weight directly on your neck for any saxophone).

A Buying Guide for Maintainance Supplies

​See the product links below for recommended purchases:

Maintainance Supplies
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