Types of Saxophones

The Saxophone family consist of 4 saxophone types, which cover the whole range, starting from the low baritone up to the high pitched soprano. The range is really similar to what you have in a choir.

On this page you’ll learn more about the 4 types of saxophones.

The Soprano Saxophone

There are two types of soprano saxophones. The straight soprano and the curved one, which is very similar to the alto and tenor shapes.

However, the soprano sax is probably the hardest saxophone to tame as you are playing using a small mouthpiece, which only take small tweaks to alter the sound substantially.

Still, the soprano is really popular in many styles of music. You’ll find it in both pop and jazz music as well as in folk and traditional music.

Many sax players in the smooth jazz genre also use soprano saxes to play really smooth sax melodies. Every genre has it’s own sets of rules, when it comes to solos or phrasing. With the soprano sax you can get pretty creative once you learn how to control the tone and embouchure, which can be quite tricky in the beginning.

Regardless, this type of saxophone is used in music schools where 6-7 years old students want to start playing the sax.  The reason is simply because the mechanics are smaller than on the Alto sax, which is the first choice for many students.

The Alto Saxophone

The alto sax, also referred to as the School model Saxophone, is the most popular student saxophone. This has to do with a couple of things, but mainly it’s because it’s probably the easiest saxophone to learn how to control.

The tone of the alto saxophone can be both hard and smooth, depending on the type of music that’s being performed.

When you get to the point where you can use the alto sax to it’s full potential, you can really make the saxophone sing. The upper register of the alto sax can be played with a lot of attitude in combination with the altissimo register.

This makes the alto sax, and saxophone players who can master that range, high in demand for recording soundtracks to both TV and film.

The Tenor Saxophone

The rock and roll saxophone of choice, which offers a little bit more low punch in the sound. As with every saxophone model, the sound has to do with a combination of your embouchure and the setup that you are using with your saxophone.

Playing rock och jazz, the metal mouthpieces are really common as well as popular choices. A metal mouthpiece can deliver a lot more brut force than it’s counterpart which is the hard rubber mouthpiece.

This can be very useful while playing in rock type of bands, where you have to compete with amplifiers and rock drums, and want to be able to match the other instruments.

So, if you are into rock you should be playing the  tenor sax.

The Baritone Saxophone

the Bari sax is the fourth part of the foundation that makes up the saxophone family. You can play down to a low concert pitch G on most baritone saxophones as they have an extra key in comparison to the other three types of saxophones.

This gives the baritone saxophone an edge, which can be used to boost base lines played on the bari or if you are playing in any type of constellation with a saxophone quartet, folk music or even in some types of pop music.

About The Author

Greger Hillman

Greger has been playing saxophone for almost 30 years and is a certified teacher as well as a well experienced musician. With the Learn saxophone Online website he shares his knowledge with students from all over the world. Here's more information on the Sax School.