Alto Saxophone

Instrument Overview

picture of a flute

The alto saxophone (whose name is often shortened to "alto sax") is a member of the woodwind instrument family despite being made of brass. An alto saxophone is larger than the soprano sax but smaller than the tenor sax. Because it is made of metal and has many keys, this instrument is a bit heavy and so a neck strap is used to help support the instrument when playing. Sound is produced by a vibrating reed.

The alto saxophone is the size that most young students begin playing. All saxophones are played exactly the same, so once a person learns the alto saxophone, it is relatively easy to play a different size saxophone.

If your dream is to play in a symphony orchestra, the saxophone is not a good choice because orchestras typically do not include saxophones. However, saxophone is a very common instrument in concert bands, jazz ensembles, and even some rock bands.

Other Resources

Alto Saxophone Facts

  • Instrument Family: Woodwind
  • Key: Eb - sounds a major 6th below written note
  • Clef: treble clef
  • Reputable Student Brands Include: Jupiter, Selmer, Yamaha

Some alto saxophonists to listen to:

  • Sigurd Rascher
  • John Harle
  • Cannonball Adderley
  • Phil Woods
  • Candy Dulfer