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:

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


Options for Buying or Renting a Saxophone

Buy or Finance a New Saxophone 

You can buy a new saxophone from a local music store or from online retailers like Woodwind Brasswind (WWBW). 


Some retailers offer financing/monthly payments on new instruments.


For a new student model alto saxophone, expect to pay about $950 to $2,000. Financing tends to run from around $23-$51/month.

Open Box saxophones from WWBW will get you closer to the lower end of that range.

Buy a Used Saxophone

You can search for used saxophones near you. Try to stick to the reputable brands we have listed below this section.


Used saxophone from reputable brands can run from about $800-$2,000. Get-a-Sax (a reputable seller) currently has several Yamaha student models for $800-$850.

If buying a used saxophone in person, consider asking the following questions:

  • What was the instrument used for? (marching band and other outdoor applications are likely to have endured more abuse)

  • When was the last time a repair tech checked it out?

  • Do you have a record of repairs?

Rent a Saxophone

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


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

Tips for Which Brands and Models to Buy

Our list of reputable saxophone brands:

*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:


**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 is not worth it. Do your best to stick with the reputable brands above.​


Consider these specific models:

New: Yamaha 26 Student Model

Higher cost, but more reputable option


The Yamaha 26 student model is the sequel to our favorite, highly-recommended beginner saxophone (the YAS-23). The YAS-26 replaced the YAS-23 in 2012.

New: Prelude Student Model by Conn-Selmer

Lower-cost new saxophone option

Although we don't have personal experience with this Prelude by Conn-Selmer (AS711) Student Model Alto Saxophone, it comes from a reputable brand with great reviews, and rings in at a lower cost than the YAS-26.

Used: Yamaha 23 Student Model (lowest cost option)

Lowest-cost option, but less availability

Consider a used YAS-23 from Get-a-Sax for $800-$850, or find a used one for sale near you for a similar price.

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Prelude by Conn-Selmer.png

A Buying Guide for the Other Essential Supplies


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).


What to start with:

  • $0 - The mouthpiece that came with your sax. 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.

  • $23-$50 - Yamaha 4C mouthpiece (see links here for alto and tenor, and they make soprano and baritone versions as well. On baritone, you may be more likely to see the 5C version, and that will work.) 



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 adult beginners, especially if you’re using your stock mouthpiece or the Yamaha 4C that we recommended above. 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. 


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).


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: