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Want to Play the Saxophone? A Look at 4 Different Types of Saxophones

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There are many different types of saxophones which at times can become very confusing. If you're learning how to play the saxophone for the first time, here is a brief overview of the four most popular saxophones available on the market today.

Alto Saxophone

The alto saxophone is the most commonly used in the saxophone family. When you think of a saxophone in a non-jazz sentiment, you are likely thinking of the alto saxophone. Most classical musicians and composers will use the alto saxophone rather than a tenor or soprano, and commonly big bands will rather employ alto saxophonists than tenor.

Alto saxophones are great for children who wish to start the saxophone, this is because it is at an ideal size, and fingering the notes should not be a problem. Alto saxophones have a pitch of E flat.

Tenor Saxophone

The Tenor saxophone is the most widely used saxophone in modern music. In fact, the tenor saxophone is considered the defining sound in jazz music. Many of the greatest saxophone players in jazz used the Tenor, such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

More often than not, the alto saxophone is used as a precursor to learning the tenor saxophone. This is due to the similarities and ease of integration into the other, as tenor and alto saxophones both possess the same fingerings. The tenor saxophone is in the key of B flat, as such, a lower instrument than the Alto.

The Baritone saxophone

The baritone saxophone is the second largest of the saxophone family. It is perhaps the most unlike a saxophone, in that its fingering is adapted from the oboe, and possesses a single reed like a clarinet.

The baritone is the lowest of the four most popular saxophones instruments. It has a pitch of E flat; though note that it is in a lower octave to the alto saxophone!

You may buy two types of baritone saxophone, each with different pitch ranges. The higher ranged saxophone reaches a low B–flat while the other a low A-flat. The B-flat saxophone is known as a 'BB bari', while the A-flat saxophone is known as the 'A bari.'

Note that the baritone saxophone can be very heavy and cumbersome, and can also present some difficulties if you are in a marching band. Being one of the larger and cruder instruments, it is easier to damage, so consideration should be taken.

Soprano Saxophone

The soprano is the least popular of the four most popular saxophones. It also is the saxophone possessing the highest range. The soprano possesses a key of B-flat, one octave higher than the tenor saxophone. Soprano saxophone is more frequently seen in jazz, with players such as John Coltrane sometimes employing them. Soprano saxophones are not recommended for beginners, as it can be very hard to produce a pleasing tone out of one.

Check out these options by visiting locations that offer Yamaha saxophones.


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