Saxophones that punch above their weight!

Best Value Saxophones 2023

As we enter 2023, it's never been more important to get your money's worth with any purchase you make. This is especially true within the saxophone world. Extenuating circumstances like the cost of living crisis, inflation and Michael’s exorbitant costume budget have resulted in costs rising. We at always do our best to keep our prices competitive and affordable for you, our loyal customers and friends. However, even though things are a little tricky, there are still plenty of saxophones out there that represent outstanding value for money, whether a new player or professional.  

Now, value for money doesn’t equate to the cheapest. Not all of the selected saxophones here will be the cheapest within their field. What value for money represents here is how much saxophone you are getting for your money. Whether that’s in terms of sound quality, manufacturing or bundled accessories like the case and mouthpiece.


There isn’t a lack of good student altos out there. This makes a lot of sense given that it is the instrument most young players and new players alike will start their saxophone journey on. Each and every saxophone we stock here at adheres to a strict level of quality, with each horn going through our workshops before being put on sale. This means that, no matter how much you spend, you’re going to get a saxophone that works. However, there’s something particularly special about the Jean Paul AS-400. 

Most of the horns within the student range can be accused of being a bit bland tonally. Even the Yamaha YAS-180, arguably the most famous student saxophone, isn’t the most interesting to listen to. That’s because student horns are made to be easier to pick up and blow, sacrificing resistance to ensure playability. The Jean Paul AS-400 is still a nice and free-blowing horn, however, it does have that little bit of extra bite. That pressure you feel at the back of your throat when playing a more resistant horn. This gives the Jean Paul AS-400 a little bit of sweetness, particularly in the upper register, as well as more presence in the bottom. 

Fundamentally, the Jean Paul AS-400 offers new players or existing players looking to get something more affordable. This horn is a wonderful blend of intermediate tonality but at a student price point.


Intermediate ALTO : P. MAURIAT PMSA-185

Within P.Mauriat’s storied history, they have become recognised across the industry as having some of the best-sounding horns out there. Saxophones oozing in style, personality and tonal complexity. With the PMSA-185, P. Mauriat has taken some of that magic and put it into a horn that may not look as unique as a dark lacquered System 76 or the Equinox, but still packs all of the punch one would expect from Mauriat. 

Unlike a lot of other intermediate horns, which suffer from some of the issues previously mentioned in the student section, the PMSA-185 has a lovely richness of tone. Thanks to its dedication to Mauriat ergonomics; a big bore, ribbed body construction and snappy key work. The result of this hard work is a thick, resonant tone packed full of overtones and other lovely things. 

Whilst the PMSA-18 doesn’t have quite the range of harmonical complexities as you would find within the professional range of Mauriats and is also finished in a rather uninspiring gold lacquer finish, this horn offers so much more in comparison to most of its contemporaries thanks to its body being that of a Mauriat.



You would be hard-pushed to find a better-made saxophone than those produced by Yanagisawa. Much like professional Yamahas, the closest equivalent being the YAS-62, Yanagisawa's have impeccable intonation across the whole range of the saxophone. The key work is delightfully snappy and responsive and the whole feel of the instrument feels precise and effortless. Unlike the YAS-62, which can be accused of being militantly precise and therefore a bit bland, the AWO1 is also packed full of character. Whereas Yamaha makes everything well, from saxophones to pianos to motorcycles, Yanagisawa only makes saxophones. This results in a horn with more of a focus on tonality. 

Truth be told, the AWO1 plays as well and has as much tonality and player flexibility as saxophones three times the price of it. Add to this that the saxophone comes with a hard rubber mouthpiece (instead of a plastic stock piece most manufacturers pack into the case) and the Yanagisawa AWO1 shapes up to be the most cost-effective professional alto on the market today.

Yanagisawa AW01


The tenor saxophone, primarily within the student range, lacks the variety that you would find within altos, simply because most people will begin their saxophone playing on an alto. However, if you are an adult learner or particularly in love with the tenor sound, there is no reason you can’t start your journey here. As the tenor is a bigger beast, they do typically cost more than altos to get started on. Most student tenors will set you back over £1000, maybe even £1500 depending on the brand. This is what makes the Sakkusu Deluxe, coming in comfortably under £1000, a particularly appealing option. 

Sakkusu Deluxe tenors consist of a gold brass body, a professional standard material not often found in student horns (most student horns will be made from yellow brass) and sport high-quality pads and comfortable key work. The Sakkusu Deluxe’s playability is extremely impressive. It doesn’t have the tonal complexities of a professional horn, of course, but what you do get here is a saxophone that is responsive, in tune and functioning exactly the way it should be. 

The package includes a Yamaha 4C mouthpiece, often regarded as the best student mouthpiece on the market, as well as other essentials like a couple of reeds, a neck strap etc. The Sakkusu Deluxe is the perfect package for the new player. Everything you could possibly need to get going will be in the case ready for you, at a price point that isn’t anywhere near as intimidating.


Intermediate Tenor: CONN-SELMER ATS-200

Conn-Selmers are a favourite for all of us here at thanks to their excellent tone and outstanding purchase bundle. The Conn-Selmer Avant ATS-200 will come as standard in a backpack-style case, including a Rovner Ligature and a professional standard Rosseau JDX Jazz mouthpiece. Considering those two things alone are worth nearly £200, we’re already off to a good start. 

The saxophone itself is also no slouch. There are some mechanical differences that step the ATS-200 above its student counterparts. The most notable being double-arms on the bell keys, allowing for better coverage across the pads of those trickier to seal tone holes, as well as a flared bell to give that little bit of extra projection. The biggest thing that sets the ATS-200 apart is the material the core tube is made from - bronze. 

Bronze is a denser and heavier material than the standard brass most intermediate saxophones are made from. This means that the tube will vibrate slower and with more of a well-rounded ring. Translated to saxophone playing, the bronze tube is going to give your sound a lot of extra body, particularly at the extreme ends of the range. The bottom end will get additional full-bodiedness, whilst the top range will feel less thin and more substantial. 

Overall, the ATS-200 is quite the package for those players looking to upgrade their student horns or jump into saxophone playing with a well-made, wonderfully expressive horn.



As the cost of importing and manufacturing saxophones has increased, the prices of most saxophones have jumped up quite significantly. That can also be said of the Taiwanese professional horns, whose main advantage over Japanese and European horns has been their cost-effectiveness. Throughout all of this, however, the Cannonball T4 series has shone. Not only by being some of the most unique and fantastically fun horns to play but by keeping their costs down to a reasonable place. 

Cannonballs are the quintessential all-American saxophone. They're bold, big, unashamedly loud and packed full of personality. Whichever finish you might prefer, from an elegant gold lacquer to the “Mad Meg” unlacquered right through to the striking black nickel plating, your Cannonball will feel responsive thanks to excellent key work, be plenty free-blowing allowing for a massive sound for less work, and project beautifully thanks to a flared bell and wide bore. 

It’s not just in the finish that Cannonball’s stand out. Rather than using traditional mother-of-pearl key touches, Cannonball uses semi-precious stones. These “power stones” are said to imbue the horn with a little extra spirituality. Whether you believe in this is up for debate, but what it certainly does is add extra weight to give that little bit extra resonance, as well as compliment the overall look of the horn, creating a truly unique saxophone. 

The Cannonball T4 series is not too dissimilar to the T5 series (the upper professional horns are exclusive to in-store purchases only). The only real difference in fact is the number of additional power stones and only having one neck in the box instead of the two found with T5s (the other neck, called the "fat neck" is an absolute monster FYI). Other than that, the saxophones are fundamentally the same. Both have a huge sound, are incredibly responsive and will be bundles of fun to play. 

Above all, the Cannonball T4 series is affordable, costing between £2300 - £2600 at the time of writing depending on which finish you prefer. That is well over £1000 less than its contemporaries. When you consider that Cannonball has recently upgraded their cases from the incredibly impractical (if super cool) alligator skin-style wooden coffins to a more modern and slick backpack case, you would be hard-pushed to find a horn at this price point that gives you as much as the T4s do.


Honourable Mentions


Sakkusu Gold Lacquer alto

Our cheapest alto in store and, like the Sakkusu Deluxe tenor, comes with all the essentials needed to get playing. There isn’t a better saxophone for under £500 out there.

Conn-Selmer Premiere 380V

One of the most striking horns in our store. This unlacquered horn is packed full of character, has a massive sound and comes with an amazing mouthpiece and ligature.

Signature Custom RAW

Another incredibly striking unlacquered horn. Signature Customs are fully assembled in the UK and sport incredibly pretty oak leaf engravings. On top of this, they have a big personalities and are very free-blowing. Perfect for those looking to get maximum oomph from their alto playing.



Buffet 100

Designed by the world-famous Buffet company and manufactured in China, the Buffet 100 is a fantastically engineered saxophone. A little sweeter and more subtle than its counterparts, this is another outstanding horn that just creeps under the £1000 threshold.

Trevor James SR

A wonderfully well-made and evenly-balanced horn. The Trevor James SR is a lovely saxophone to play. Maybe less adventurous than some of the other horns in the intermediate field, but a reliable workhorse that will respond to you.

Rampone & Cazzani Performance Series

A new model to us in-store. The Rampone & Cazzani Performance series offers a unique chance to own a traditionally handmade European saxophone for under £3000. The Performance Series offers many of the same perks as Rampone’s elite R1 range such as a massive bore and bow, but instead of thick unlacquered plating, Rampone has opted for a thinner base and a more straight ahead lacquer, albeit a gorgeous dark gold lacquer.

Couple this with a very generous accessories kit including body and neck swabs and you have a wonderful professional package.