Alto saxophones are woodwind instruments with a pitch range between that of soprano and tenor saxophones. They are tuned in the key of E on the treble clef, with a pitch range from concert D flat to concert A flat. They are the third smallest and most commonly used member of the saxophone family, and are often used by beginners before moving on to tenor saxophones.
Types of Alto Saxophones
Kinds of Alto Saxophones include the following:
Student alto saxophones
Student alto saxophones have soft plastic mouthpieces and soft ligatures. The mouthpieces are usually removable, allowing the student to replace them with better mouthpieces as they advance. They usually have softer reeds for easier tone control.
Intermediate alto saxophones
Intermediate alto saxophones have hard rubber, ABS plastic, or metal mouthpieces. They offer the feel and key work of professional saxophones, but usually have less detailing and limited tone range.
Professional alto saxophones
Professional alto saxophones are made of high-quality metal alloys for full tonal range and sound quality. They usually have hand-hammered keys and elaborately designed bells. They often include additional keys, including an F# and a C# resonance key.
Choosing Alto Saxophones (Buying tips)
Material: Choose an alto saxophone with a yellow brass body for general amateur use and instruction. For professional use, look for richer metals such as sterling silver, bronze, and copper, which provide a darker and more distinct tone. Body construction: Choose an alto saxophone with a ribbed body for better resonance and sturdiness. This is ideal for touring bands and orchestras where the instrument is frequently packed and transported. Ribbed bodies are heavier, though, so non-ribbed models may be more ideal for children and beginners.