Choosing a suitable saxophone can be a tricky business. This musical instrument is a significant investment indeed, but unfortunately, there are countless models and makes to choose from. Like any other product, such as a bicycle, a handbag, or a laptop, saxophone brands have different profiles, price tags, and target audiences.
While there are famous companies on the market with decades of experience in manufacturing saxophones, some anonymous brands might disappoint your expectations.
This being said, you should get ready to avoid some of these brands if you are looking to buy yourself a new musical instrument. Otherwise, you have the chance to end up paying too much money for an underwhelming product.
For instance, you might find yourself with an instrument that returns notes and functions that are not appealing. If this happens, I am sure that you will find your saxophone singing to be frustrating.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional player, a low-quality saxophone will ruin your work at any level.
It is essential to buy the best possible option, considering how much money you spend. There is nothing new that cheap saxophones have a kind of low durability, and their sounds are inconsistent.
As such, it is crucial to avoid those saxophone brands that rate truly low in quality. This guide below will offer you tips and tricks so you can make the right decision.
Learn which are the main brands to stay away from. Instead, I will show you some names that deserve taking your money.
Avoid purchasing the lowest quality, and, instead, choose the best musical instruments manufacturers. This way, you will get the most crystal sound you wish.
The Main Types Of Saxophones
Before pointing out the worst saxophone brands on the market, it is essential to understand the main types of saxophones. Depending on the tone, you might need to understand the type of saxophone you should buy:
The Alto Saxophone is tuned to E flat and it comes with two and a half steps higher than the usual tenor saxophone. This type of wind instrument is the most famous among beginners.
Alto saxophones are truly solid and suitable for students, as they are not that expensive. However, the playability, tone, and intonation are pretty low precision.
Tenor saxophones are primarily used in playing jazz and have that curvy body style. Experts recommend the tenor saxophone for beginners.
The body is neither large nor heavy, making the playing sessions easy. However, these instruments are pretty susceptible to damage, in consequence, not that durable in time.
Bass and Baritone Saxophones
These instruments are ideal for getting those low, unique frequencies. The base model is played in the seated position and tuned to B flat. The bass saxophone goes one more octave down compared to the tenor.
These types of saxs are standard in the classical arrangement. The bass saxophone is not unique in terms of appearance but excellent as soon as you start playing.
Are you looking for a rich-sounding saxophone? The Soprano one comes with the highest registers. The best part? This type of instrument is less costly, mainly due to its small body.
The manufacturer will use fewer materials to build the straight body and all the curved details. The Soprano saxophone is built to B flat, and it goes two steps bigger than the alto.
6 Worst Saxophone Brands To Stay Away From
Everybody loves smart purchases, right? Spend your money wisely, and start focusing on saxophone brands you should avoid from now on. Ready? Let’s explore these names together:
Jean-Paul USA saxophone is a relatively cheap musical instrument. Unfortunately, the materials are pretty low quality.
I do not recommend the Eastar brand, not even for beginners. Once they start training with this instrument, they will quickly get discouraged from learning music.
Although people will tend to buy Eastar instruments due to the low prices, they will surely be disappointed by the poor quality. The saxophone’s body is weak, while the pads are making terrible sounds.
Reasons To Avoid Schill instruments:
- The intonation is poor and inadequate
- The musical instrument does not meet the quality expectations of the artists.
- We would not recommend this saxophone, not even for beginners
Although Glory saxophone is much more affordable than other instruments, they are not that quality-like. These saxophones have no proper tone.
The whole build indeed looks nice, and the cushion pads do function correctly. However, the tune of this Glory saxophone is quite dull.
Considering sound is the most critical aspect of purchasing a musical instrument, we cannot compare the appearance of a musical instrument with the quality of sound.
So, it is not worth being driven away by the appearance of this instrument. Therefore, put Glory on the list of brands to avoid, and here is why:
- The intonation is quite inconsistent
- Music tones are dull
Nuvo Soprano has a pretty poor reputation when it comes to the quality of instruments. Indeed, this is not a professional-like instrument; however, it might be a bit overpriced, considering it sounds poor. Considering Nuvo is another cheap brand, do not expect the saxophone to play and other top names in the industry.
The appearance is unique, with matte materials. While some of the reviewers said the quality is well reported to the price, I cannot recommend this brand. Even beginners do not guide this saxophone due to the dull sound.
Reasons to Avoid:
- It does not suit teenagers
- The saxophone won’t play adequately
- The build is of poor quality
- The pieces might fall apart quickly
Saxophones from Mendini by Cecilio are pretty inferior and have issues when it comes to the overall mechanism. These musical instruments will not play all the notes accurately.
There have been lots of negative comments when it comes to these musical instruments. Actually, so many reviewers said they would not purchase this brand anymore.
Reasons To Avoid Mendini:
- Poor craftsmanship
- Bad valves
- Lacking in intonation
Like the previous brand we have mentioned, the wireless musical instruments from JSK Stimulate are not up to the required quality.
Considering the very low price, most people will tend to buy one of the JSK musical instruments. However, the level of music will not be the desired one and might disappoint some of the players.
Why Avoid JSK Stimulate:
- Very poor intonation
- The JSK stimulate saxophone is not for professional players indeed
- Inferior craftsmanship
Unfortunately for Antigua Winds, they are one the worst brands to avoid when purchasing a new saxophone. Antigua tenor saxophone has received negative reviews on the forums we have checked. The brand’s products were relatively unimpressive.
Let’s take a look at the left-hand keys, for instance. They simply do not produce the proper notes. The notes will get sharper until the F quick is almost reaching a high G note.
This saxophone body is quite a poor build, and the price is not reasonable at all. You can find better quality saxophones in terms of sound and durability.
Main reasons to stay away from Antigua Winds:
- Very poor intonation
- The saxophone body is poor intonation
- The instrument is not worth the final cost
- The materials are poorly made
Buy These Best Saxophone Brands Instead
Now that you know the leading brands to stay away from, it is time to learn more about the top names in this industry.
It is pretty hard to reach the fame of this prestigious brand. Selmer Paris Saxophone is a genuine family business, a legendary French brand making wood instruments since 1885.
The very first saxophone made by Selmer Paris dates back to 1922, while the following years brought some legendary historical models. The passionate ones might have already heard about “Cigar Cutter,” The Mark VI, The Balanced Action, etc.
The Mark VI is by far the iconic saxophone of all time. No wonder some of music’s legends, like Michael Brecker, Sonny Rollins, Phil Woods, or John Coltrane, have played the Selmer Paris saxophones.
As you would probably expect, this big brand has made its historically famous name during the time, and now it is “the best of the best.” However, when it comes to Selmer saxophones, these products are not cheap at all.
It is crystal clear that this brand produces high-end and costly instruments. Considering each part of this musical instrument is created by hand, maybe the final price is worth it. Indeed Selmer Paris is on top of the list and a famous brand on the music market.
Yamaha is a trustworthy corporation, which has put its name on a wide range of products. This Japanese company is also on the list of best saxophone brands, starting from motorbikes to sporting goods and audio equipment.
Yamaha is a huge name among the biggest manufacturers of musical instruments globally. The brand’s portfolio includes pianos, drums, keyboards, and last but not least, saxophones.
Although Yanagisawa is a small family business based in Japan, this name is vast in the musical instruments industry. The company dates back to 1894, when it started making woodwind repairs.
Decades later, the company began producing saxophones, and now it is one of the top three manufacturers worldwide, following Selmer and Yamaha.
Yanagisawa does not have an extensive range of musical instruments but rather a streamlined selection of products. Since 2014, Yanagisawa has been producing the WO Series, a more exclusive line of musical instruments.
However, the brand does not manufacture intermediate or student-level horns but only professional saxophones. Although you will pay a higher amount of money, you will get the best value. As such, consider this brand if you want the best quality saxophone.
The P. Mauriat saxophones are quite a new arrival in the industry of musical instruments. However, this Taiwanese brand has become genuinely successful since the very first waves in this sax world.
The success began in the mid-2000s, and all the reviewers have appreciated the excellent value and professional level horns.
- Mauriat is a pretty new saxophone brand, which is famous for its high-quality materials. The brand is based in Taiwan, and its main focus is hand-assembled instruments.
Due to the muscular body, these instruments have excellent intonation. Moreover, the mechanism of sound is not simple at all, but it can reach remarkable sounds.
The price is also fair and reasonable, compared to other popular saxophones, which are quite the same quality.
Here is why you should buy P. Mauriat saxophones:
- They are solid and have a consistent intonation
- The price is very affordable
- These instruments are handcrafted, and the premium of the material
Buying Guide For The Best 2023 Saxophones
Below, I brought together the essential information about the best tips and tricks for purchasing an excellent saxophone in 2021. Not all these musical instruments have the same features, so if you cannot decide on a specific model, then keep on reading.
The body construction of a saxophone is genuinely complex. These instruments are ribbed or non-ribbed.
Most of these modern instruments are ribbed, and you will notice all those particular posts beautifully attached to the plates. Manufacturers are using high-temperature soldering.
The ribs are a crucial part of the saxophone body construction and the bond between the body and posts. Make sure you pay attention to the ribs, as they will keep the adjustments longer.
Material and Finish
You will see those yellow brass bodies among the majority of saxophones. However, some components have other elements, like necks and bells made of copper, bronze, or sterling silver. These materials will add those darker tones and also more costs to the instruments.
There is a standard finish for saxophones, mainly clear lacquer. However, customers can select their favorite ones from a wide range of alternatives as well, with colored or shaded colors. If you are more of an antique enthusiast, then select a saxophone with vintage finishes.
Most saxophones have that specific F sharp key, while the soprano featured one offers a high G key. But you can go further with an additional C sharp resonance key.
For instance, one of the best middle sharp C is offered by the Selmer Paris Series III. On the other hand, most of the baritone saxophones will come with shallow A keys.
Now, let’s check some of the very frequently asked questions people have when deciding to buy a saxophone.
Q: To Buy Or To Rent A Saxophone?
A: The renting option would be excellent for students or children who don’t know if they enjoy playing saxophone. Furthermore, another advantage of renting is that you can try different models or types of saxes every day.
Do a ‘drive’ test: do you enjoy more the sound of a tenor, maybe a baritone, soprano, or alto? Due to their popularity, most students will choose an alto or tenor saxophone, as these instruments are the easiest ones for renting.
Keep in mind that once learning to play a specific type of sax, the others will be pretty similar. Fingering on the musical notes is somewhat the same. So is the embouchure. As such, choosing different types of saxophones will end up in the same feeling.
Q: New Or Second-Hand Saxophones?
A: This is a relevant question indeed. Like other items we shop for, like bikes, TVs, or wireless headphones, saxophones are also sold second-hand. And the reason is quite apparent: the vast prices you might need to pay for brand new musical instruments.
Just like you have seen in the examples above, a used saxophone can cost less than a brand new model. Moreover, a second-hand saxophone can perfectly play, even better than a brand new musical instrument from the factory.
If the recently bought saxophone is new, the user will need to do more settings from the first instance. If you are not new in this business, you might already know that new saxophones do not come as perfect as you expect.
Neither will they be ready to play. While some musicians globally prefer to make only minor adjustments regarding the keys, others will think about significant changes to suit their playing preferences.
These additions translate into additional costs and spending time and energy by going to the sax repair shop. It all depends on the buyer.
Q: Is it wise to buy a used saxophone, even if it is not in the best shape?
A: Well, the answer is simple: yes. This decision is wise because, in most cases, the sax will need only a few replacements, like leaky pads. These costs are meager. Other popular issues are bent rods and keys, which are some easy fixes to make.
Last Thoughts For Today
As a musician, the last thing you want is a musical instrument to sabotage you right in the middle of the show. Knowing how to choose the top brands on the market and avoid the lowest-quality ones is essential. Keep in mind the information above and shop smart.