Saxophones come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the extremely small and high pitched Soprillo right through to the behemoth that is the Contrabass. Here's an overview on the different types of saxophones.

Soprano Saxophones

Generally these horns aren’t recommended for beginners in that they can prove tricky to control and make more demands of the player to really make the most of them. One exception to this is clarinettists coming over to the sax who will probably feel relatively at home with the small reed and precise control needed.  The other big question is: straight or curved? Ultimately there’s no right answer but most folks have views one way or the other.  Once mastered, sopranos can be some of the most beautiful sounding horns out there but be prepared for a somewhat steeper learning curve over the larger saxes.


Alto Saxophone

Very much the default for beginners, the alto sax is both the classic jazz instrument as well as being the lead voice in a lot of other music from funk (David Sanborn and Candy Dulfer to start with) to classical chamber music. It is slightly smaller than the tenor and looks and sounds as you’d expect a saxophone to. Compared with the tenor it is lighter, slightly quieter, takes less puff, less finger stretching and is cheaper to buy or rent. Many people start on alto expecting it to be a stepping stone on to tenor at a later date. However, most of these people never sell their alto once they realise the tremendous versatility of the instrument.

Tenor Saxophone

The other classic voice of the saxophone, tenors tend toward a bigger, more booming or huskier tone than altos and, as such, have become the main voice of blues, rock & roll, swing etc. They’re bulkier and also take more airflow but with the right reed and mouthpiece they shouldn’t really be significantly harder work for an enthusiastic beginner. With its rich, smoky tone and warmth, for many people the tenor is the definitive sax sound.


Baritone Saxophone

These huge saxes are a fairly specialist instrument and are rarely seen except with other horns (with a few notable exceptions). Having said that they’re enormously fun to play and, in the words of Jools Holland, make “The sexiest sound in the world”. Their large size makes them rather more challenging to get to grips with but once mastered, boy are they impressive.




Bass Saxophone

Pitched at one octave below tenor, the bass saxophone is one of the largest members of the saxophone family—larger than the more commonly encountered baritone saxophone.

Bass saxophones usually cost in excess of £12,000 but we our offering our new Sakkusu Bass at a more affordable price, allowing the bass saxophone to at last finally become an accessible instrument.




Contrabass Saxophone

The Benedikt Eppelsheim Contrabass is truly a once in a lifetime saxophone. A visual marvel, standing taller then the average human height once on the stand, it not only looks impressive, but also plays unlike anything to play. As the Contrabass sits an octave below a baritone, once you play that Low A the whole room rattles. However, the quality of the manufacturing makes this horn more than a bass machine. Don’t get me wrong: this horn is no slouch to play, but getting out multi-phonics, altissimo, and the upper octave as a whole isn’t hard work, and due to the wide bore design, sounds warm, rich and complex.

This horn is the 9th wonder of the world. If you are a collector, this horn is a must own. If you are in London, this horn is a must see. If you are a saxophone enthusiast, we will see you in London soon!

February 09, 2021 — Jim Cheek