4 Different Types of Saxophones – Which One is Right For You?

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Compared to instruments like the piano that was invented centuries ago, the saxophone was created many years later in the mid-1800s by a man named Adolph Sax.

While there were a lot of instruments developed in the most recent years, the saxophone is one of the most recent non-electrical musical instruments.

The saxophone is an excellent solo instrument that can be used in almost any genre.

You would often hear a saxophone track in smooth jazz, RnB, pop, and many more.

The sax produces smooth melodies and solos that sound very pleasant and relaxing.

Did you know that there are somewhere around 14 types of saxophones?

If you are looking to use a saxophone track for your music or just want to learn how to play a new musical instrument, you should know about the different types.

Understanding the different types of saxophones will help you decide on which one you should get.

It is best to read and learn about what a sax can do if you already have a saxophone that you got from a pawn shop or music store.

Since each type of sax has its own abilities and dynamic range, a professional saxophone player will probably have multiple types of saxophones in their arsenal.

If you play the sax for a living, owning various types is essential, and it is a bit common.

It is kind of like being a guitar player and owning a bunch of effect pedals and amps that you would need to perform a song.

In fact, some guitar players even have different guitars tuned differently for specific songs.

Despite having multiple saxophones, a sax player will have a main go-to choice.

In this article, I will list down the different types of saxophones so you can get familiar with each one if you are planning to learn how to play one.

Each type will have its own unique application and dynamic range; get to know which sax is the right one for you.

4 Types of Saxophones

what are the different types of saxophones sounds

Before we move on with the list, you should know that every saxophone is played the same.

They have the same fingerings, which makes it easier for the player to switch between sax types without getting confused.

Since the invention of the first saxophones, many have been phased out and became obsolete.

I only included the newer variations that are here to stay on this list.

These types are the most common saxophones that you would hear in modern music and the ones that are available to purchase.

#1 Baritone Saxophone

Baritone Saxophone - ultimate guide to saxophones for beginners

A baritone saxophone is the largest of all the types of saxophones.

It is an Eb transposing instrument that has many applications.

You would commonly hear the baritone sax in jazz and funk music.

The range of this sax goes as low as the lowest A.

#2 Tenor Saxophone

Tenor Saxophone - alto vs tenor sax - differences and similarities

The tenor saxophone is a Bb type of instrument.

It is one of the most popular types of saxophone that you will probably hear on pop tracks.

It produces an excellent tone for producing mid-range melodies and lead sounds in pop and jazz tracks.

#3 Alto Saxophone

Alto Saxophone - which one of different types of saxophones is right for you

Just like the tenor sax, the alto is also quite popular in the pop and rock genres.

It is an Eb instrument that produces some of the smoothest tones.  

#4 Soprano Sax

Soprano Saxophone - what the best saxophone type for beginners and kids

If you want to play solo smooth jazz songs with a saxophone like artists like Kenny G, the soprano sax is the way to go.

It is excellent for playing smooth jazz as it produces a higher tone that sounds remarkable.

The soprano sax is also the smallest type of saxophone.

Keep in mind that this sax is the most difficult saxophone to learn.

It is better to start with an alto or tenor sax if you’re just beginning to learn how to play.

Other Types of Saxophones

smallest wooden rare saxophone type sounds

Besides the 4 main types of the instrument, there are others you should know about.

Let’s take a look:

  • EWI Saxophone

The company Akai created the EWI type of sax in the 1980s.

This electronic wind instrument is not technically a sax, but it closely resembles how you would play the saxophone.

Learning how to play a wind synth would be easy to learn if you are a sax player.

  • C-Melody Saxophone

The C-melody sax is a non-transposing musical instrument that is easier to learn if used to playing a piano or guitar.

Without having to transpose the notes, you can easily follow the notes of the piano.

However, despite not being a transposing instrument, it was not as popular as the common types of saxophones.

Related Questions:

  • Are there other types of saxophones not listed above?

Yes, there are more types of saxophones. There are too many types to list down in one article.

Aside from the Bb and Eb saxophones, you would also find saxophones in the keys of C or F.

Most saxophone designs as we know it is curved, but you will also find straight designs, which are quite rare.

Some of the rare saxophone types are built with different materials aside from brass, such as plastic, polycarbonate, and wood.

  • Where can I use a saxophone, and what are their main applications?

Saxophones are used mostly in jazz, smooth jazz, and jazz big band.

Modern jazz also utilizes a saxophone, and you would also hear a sax solo on rock, blues, and pop music once in a while.

Since saxophones are relatively new instruments, you would hardly listen to it in classical music.

You would also hear saxophones in orchestras, ensembles, and symphonies.

The saxophone is used in a lot of pop and rock tracks from the 50s to the present.

Because of its unique tone, you will probably hear the saxophone more in future hits.

It is an excellent instrument for soloing and creating smooth melodies.

Conclusion

Evert type of saxophone has its qualities and applications.

You will commonly hear the alto, tenor, baritone, and soprano sax on most modern tracks.

Once you understand the different tonal capacities of each saxophone type, you will be able to identify a saxophone just by hearing the sound.

I hope this article has helped you learn and decide which type of saxophone is right for you.