There Are Many Types Of Saxophones

The saxophone has been used in many genres of music, including jazz, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, heavy metal music, classical music’s orchestral repertoire, and folk music. And in order to play it well, you have to choose a suitable saxophone type because it is divided into many different types of saxophones.

Everyone knows that the saxophone is a beautiful instrument that can make some beautiful sounds. And it is not easy to play too. But once you get the hang of it, you will be able to make all sorts of cool noises. Once you have mastered how to control your breath and fingers on the keys, there are many things you can do with this fantastic instrument.

So first of all, come with us in this post to know more about the saxophones, some popular types, and their features to get the best one for your needs. We will come over these parts to learn about that:

  • What Is Saxophones?
  • A Little Information About Saxophone’s History
  • Some Different Types Of Saxophones
  • Tips To Play Saxophone Well For Beginners
  • Make Some Q&A About The Saxophones
  • Conclusion

What Is The Saxophone?

types of saxophones

Saxophones are a family of single-reed aerophones. The saxophone is usually made out of brass and has a conical bore, which means it works sort of like the bell on a trumpet. But the mouthpiece is more comprehensive than that on most other woodwind instruments. That allows for more volume and makes it easier to play specific notes in tune with others.

The word “saxophone” comes from two words: “Sax,” which was Adolphe Sax’s last name; and “phone,” meaning sound or voice (Greek). It is pronounced either as SAX-a-fone or SACKS-a-fone.

Sax is a family of single-reed aerophones. A conical bore makes it sound sort of like the bell on the trumpet, but the mouthpiece is more expansive than that on most other woodwind instruments. That, plus its volume, allows it to play specific notes in tune with others. And a person who plays the saxophone is called a “saxophonist.”

A Little Information About Saxophone’s History

The history of the saxophone starts with a family of musical instruments developed by Adolphe Sax (1814–1894). Sax was a Belgian instrument maker, born in Dinant (then located in the Spanish Netherlands). He is most famous for his invention of the saxophone. All members of one family of related musical instruments are known as saxophones and one member may be called a saxophone.

Sax had been a maker of instruments for many years before he started to create a device with the ability to produce a continuous sound that is very easy to manipulate using valves or keys, while still having a full rich tone quality. He wanted it to be similar to wind instruments but could produce a more comprehensive range of notes.

He presented his saxophones to the public and press in 1841 and had many years of success. Adolphe Sax and his instruments were involved in one way or another with music until about 1890, but even after that date there were lawsuits related to the use of the name “saxophone”.

Some Different Types Of Saxophones

We searched a lot about this instrument, and we found that it has a total of fourteen types. This may be a large number. Thus, we tried to look for some outstanding types that many people use them. So here, we gather six types of saxophones: three most popular and three less popular for you to refer to.

types of saxophones

Three Most Popular Types Of Saxophones

Firstly, we will come to the three most popular saxophones. They are tenor saxophones, soprano saxophones, and alto saxophones.

Tenor Saxophones

A saxophone is a musical instrument that produces sound by the vibration of an air column. The most common type is the alto or tenor saxophone. Saxophones are usually played with a single-reed mouthpiece similar to that of clarinet and some brass instruments. Some players use both hands to play two separate tones at the same time, which allows for more expression in their music.

The tenor saxophone was first created in 1846 by Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax (1814–1894). It has an average range from low B flat below middle C up to high F above middle C, though it can also be tuned higher or lower on the request of the player.

Saxophones come in many different sizes and can make a variety of unique sounds. They are one of the most common types of the modern brass instrument around today, especially in jazz, blues, funk, and soul music. The tenor saxophone is one of nine kinds of saxophones that has been created by Adolphe Sax, who was a famous Belgian instrument maker.

The tenor saxophone is the most popular type of saxophone today because it allows for a great range of notes to be played, and has a whole tone that sounds very strong in music. Tenor saxophones are often used by jazz musicians who need to have a wide variety of different kinds of notes available to them so that they can create music that sounds very different.

Soprano Saxophones

A soprano saxophone is a saxophone that is pitched in the key of E-flat. Soprano saxophones are typically associated with students and beginners, as the higher pitch and smaller mouthpiece tend to create a brighter and more articulate tone.

The soprano saxophone is designed to produce a tone with an emphasis on the fundamental harmonic and it offers a lighter weight than the baritone saxophone. Soprano saxophones can be made from brass or steel. This type of sax has a shaped metal neck pipe, which makes it different from other types of sax because the neck pipe allows for a reed to be attached.

The distinctive tone and comfortable size of the soprano saxophone make it popular among players. The lightweight and easy playability on the soprano sax makes it easier for many people who are trying to get their first instrument. It is also preferred by some players because of its higher pitch. It is used in almost all musical genres. Hence it is the first choice for beginners.

It has a bright sound but a precise tone with some resistance due to the small chamber opening. Most of the students will find it comfortable to play.  The soprano saxophone is made of two knuckles and button keys like alto saxophones, therefore they are easy to handle. Some of them are soft, flexible, and light in weight which makes them easy to play with.

Alto Saxophones

Though the alto saxophone is pitched in the key of F, it is larger than the soprano saxophones. The alto saxophones are favored by players because they can be played louder with less resistance. The alto saxophone has a heavier weight. It is also made up of two metal rings that are fastened to the top joint, supporting the neck pipe and the mouthpiece.

The tone that comes out when an alto saxophone is being played varies based on how hard or soft it is being played. The lightness or heaviness in sound also depends on whether you are playing high notes or low notes. If you have your fingers in place for a whole message, then you will hear a deep and intense sound. But if you play a short note, the tone will be bright and higher in pitch.

In comparison to other types of sax, an alto saxophone is smaller and heavier than tenor sax and baritone saxophones. The first model of alto was invented in 1846 by Adolphe Sax who was a Belgian inventor known as the best saxophone maker of all time.

types of saxophones

Three Less Popular Types Of Saxophones

And these are three less popular ones. Actually, they are less popular is not because it is not good. It is just because they are not too suitable for many types of music, so fewer people choose to use them.

Baritone Saxophones

The baritone saxophone is a less popular type of saxophone. It belongs to the tenor family, but it has a lower range than the alto and soprano saxophones. The baritone saxophone can be used in jazz bands or orchestras for solos or accompaniment.

They are also frequently used in classical music, where they may serve as either the bass voice (in an orchestral setting) or provide harmony to other instruments (e.g., clarinet). Baritones are not very common because they are expensive to manufacture and difficult to play compared with their more famous counterparts like bassoons, oboes, trumpets, etc.

However, some people believe that this difficulty makes them more fun for beginners. Baritones are in the key of B flat, sounding one octave lower than the alto saxophone. Their lowest note is an E, below which they say one octave lower (B).

One of the reasons that makes baritones are not very common is because they are expensive to manufacture and difficult to play compared with their more famous counterparts like bassoons, oboes, trumpets, etc.

Bass Saxophones

Bass saxophones are different from other types of saxophones in that they have a giant bell and therefore produce notes which are further back in the register. This creates a sound that is warmer and more mellow than the sound resulting from the use of any of the other types of saxophones.

The range of the bass saxophone covers a perfect fifth, from BB flat below the bass staff to EE triple-high above it. The first key ever invented also appears on a saxophone: its purpose was to produce this shallow note.

It is found on large B tenor and baritone saxophones [B♭] which is the same as BB flat. Saxophones of this type are therefore also called “BBb” saxophones.

C Melody Saxophones

The C melody saxophone is an instrument that was released in 1846. The instrument includes a conical bore and has a brass tube with tone holes. The horn’s valves are made of nickel-silver alloy, which provides for corrosion resistance. The instrument is mainly made from nickel-silver alloy.

The C melody had a large tone hole and was designed for playing tunes in the high octave of the piano, with great attention to dynamics and timbre. It has a beautiful resonance and carries well throughout an ensemble. The standard version comes with a double ring bell and another model comes with a more giant bell, which is suitable for solo performance.

This type of saxophone is tenor saxophones in the key of C that have a body that is small in size. The saxophone has an octave range that ranges from low A to high G. The saxophones come with either a curved or straight metal neck and the tube extends from the hole up into the bell which is chrome-plated brass.

types of saxophones

Tips To Play Saxophone Well For Beginners

There are many things to learn for the beginner. One of the first things you need to know is how to assemble your saxophone. Beginners should also know how to hold the saxophone properly, identify the keys, use the mouthpiece, and play some notes on it.

A player can buy or rent a music stand for their practice session or performance. They can also purchase a sturdy chair that adequately supports their body weight and provides adequate back support. The mouthpiece should be placed at approximately one inch from your mouth and tilted towards your upper lip.

After you know about that basic things, you can start to learn how to play it right now. Here we have some tips for you to learn and improve your skills better. They may be helpful for your demand.

Tip 1: Stay motivated

It is important not to get too bored with playing the saxophone. This is something you struggled with for a while, but the solution is to learn new songs or try out new instruments (people say that the clarinet is more challenging).

Tip 2: Play scales

Scales are necessary to improve your skill level on an instrument. Play scales in different octaves and tempos to challenge yourself and develop your skills.

Tip 3: Practicing is key

Practicing can be monotonous at times, but it will help you tremendously in the long run if you’re patient enough to do it. Do 10 minutes of exercises/scales before playing any music, then increase by 5 minutes every week.

Tip 4: Record yourself and improve mistakes

Record yourself playing your favorite songs so you can hear what you sound like when other people play the music. Think about how you could have improved your performance and remember that this is one of the most important aspects that separate good players from bad ones.

types of saxophones

Tip 5: Take lessons or watch online videos to improve faster

You can reach a plateau in your playing where it becomes difficult to improve, but you can become better more quickly by taking classes or watching videos.

Tip 6: Be patient

Learning an instrument, especially the saxophone, takes time and patience. By being patient with yourself, you will be more likely to stick with learning the saxophone for years to come.

Tip 7: Practice not only scales but also intervals and upper-register

Practice scales, intervals, and upper-register exercises every day to improve your tone production. The saxophone is all about the sound you produce with it, so by constantly practicing scales, you will be able to find new sounds that inspire you.

Tip 8: Relax

One of the keys to playing the saxophone well is being relaxed. Playing the saxophone too hard can lead to injuries, so playing lightly and with control is essential.

Make Some Q&A About The Saxophones

Q: Which types of saxophones are easiest to play?

A: The most accessible type of saxophone to play varies for each individual person. It is best to start with an alto or tenor saxophone if you are just beginning, but a particular teacher or instructor can be the most qualified person in making this decision.

types of saxophones

Q: What is the difference between a baritone and a bass saxophone?

A: Bass saxophones are pitched in B-flat or BC-flat, while baritone saxophones are pitched in E-flat, making them an octave lower than bass saxophones. This makes baritone saxes more suitable for playing jazz and roles that require a solo voice. At the same time, the bass variety is typically found in symphony orchestras to provide support to other sections of instruments or play lead lines with bowed strings.

Q: Which is louder, an alto or tenor saxophone?

A: The tenor saxophone may be louder. According to this resource, the tenor saxophone averages about 104dB at a distance of 50 inches, while an alto sax averages around 96dB. However, it also depends on how hard you blow into it. The tone is louder with strong blowing, but the sound is much less thick.

Q: Is there any music composed explicitly for the alto saxophone?

A: Yes, of course. And the Bitches Brew is the most famous example.

Q: What are some popular brands for saxophones?

A: There are a lot of popular brands for saxophones, such as Yamaha, Selmer, and Buffet.

Conclusion

The saxophone family consists of several different types of saxophones, each with its unique sound. The most common type is the soprano saxophone which produces a higher pitch and softer tone than other family members. Some people may be surprised to learn that there is also an alto saxophone as well as tenor and baritone models.

When you are looking for your next instrument purchase or rental, it can help to understand what kind of music you want to play before choosing one from this list. And six types we introduced above are:

  • The tenor saxophones
  • The soprano saxophones
  • The alto saxophones
  • The baritone saxophones
  • The bass saxophones
  • The C melody saxophones

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