In this guide we’ll take a look at the best tenor saxophones.
We’ve compared sound, design, build quality and cost
to give you our top recommendations.
What Is The Best Tenor Saxophone?
More Detailed Tenor Saxophone Reviews
I’ve always thought that Selmer makes great saxophones and La Voix II is definitely no exception! This instrument is beautiful and sounds awesome!
Check out this video to hear what a nice, clear tone it has. It’s absolutely perfect for jazz and works, as you’ll be able to hear, well for solos, but it works super for bands as well.
It’s a very versatile saxophone and feels great to play. I can’t even think of something that would make it better, it’s that good!
It’s available in gold, silver, and copper. My personal favorite is copper because it looks more vintage-like, but they’re all nice.
Who Else Might Like It?
If you have been playing the saxophone for a few years and feel like it’s time to upgrade to a better horn, you’re going to like La Voix II.
I wouldn’t recommend it to a beginner, because beginners might not be able to do it justice or even appreciate how good it is. It’s quite an investment, so only buy it if you have been playing for a while and are planning to continue.
A Few Words About Selmer
Selmer makes clarinets and saxophones and was a family business, to begin with.
It all started in Paris in the late 1900th century, with the brothers Alexandre and Henri Selmer. They played the clarinet and came from a very musical family.
Back then, it was almost necessary for musicians to be able to make small adjustments and repair their instruments themselves since everything was made by hand.
It was Henri who started making clarinet reeds. Then he moved on to making mouthpieces and built his first clarinet in 1898.
Alexandre opened a shop in New York in 1909 where Selmer clarinets were sold. The very next year they also started selling other wind instruments.
Selmer is owned by Steinway nowadays, which shows how great their instruments are!
Why I Like It
The Yamaha YTS-62III is one of their best-selling saxophones and has been around for many years. I totally get why! It offers great control and response and works for any kind of music.
Here is a short video clip that you can watch if you want to hear what it sounds like!
Another thing that I think is really good is that it comes with a 5-year warranty, which I believe is an indication of high quality.
It also looks really nice with beautiful handmade engravings on the bell.
Who Else Might Like It?
This is a great horn that suits advanced players and professionals that need an instrument that allows them to play complicated music and achieve a lovely tone.
Since it’s such a high-quality instrument there is no reason not to like it. But of course there is always room for personal taste and you might find another horn that you like more for some reason.
It has been around in one form or another since 1969, and I mean, so many saxophonists can’t be wrong!
A Few Words About Yamaha
Yamaha is a unique brand. It was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha and was called Yamaha Organ Manufacturing Company.
Yes, they started off making organs and then pianos, not saxophones. But then over the years everything just escalated and they started producing all kinds of instruments and accessories. And motorcycles. And Formula One engines. And boat engines…
The list goes on and on, and many people don’t even realize that it’s the same company that makes all these things, because they’re so different!
Yamaha is the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments. Their products are often very good and they produce instruments for all kinds of musicians, from kids that are just getting started to professional musicians.
Why I Like It
The first time I saw Selmer TS44 I just stared. It’s one of the best-looking saxophones on the market, at least according to me. Black nickel with silver keys and gold engraving… It’s just gorgeous! It’s also available in gold and silver if you fancy something more traditional.
It works great for classical music and jazz. Here is a video where you can hear both genres so that you can hear for yourself!
Who Else Might Like It?
This is a great choice for advanced or professional players who are looking for an instrument that they can keep and play for the rest of their lives. The question isn’t really who might like it but rather, who wouldn’t?
If you want to learn a little bit about the history of Selmer, read the subheading ‘A Few Words About Selmer’, which you’ll find in my review of Selmer STS280 La Voix II!
Why I Like It
Finally, a beginner instrument that is affordable but way better than I expected!
The Jean Paul USA TS-400 feels nice to play and doesn’t feel like a cheap instrument at all. If you would blindfold me and ask me to play it I’m seriously not sure that I would notice any difference between the TS-400 and a more expensive horn!
Who Else Might Like It?
I would warmly recommend this saxophone to beginners and intermediate players looking for an affordable saxophone.
Everything a beginner needs is included like reeds from Rico, cork grease, neck strap, swabs, and all that stuff.
A Few Words About Jean Paul
Jean Paul is an American brand that makes mostly affordable beginner instruments but also has a few professional instruments.
Tenor Saxophone Buyer’s Advice
If you’re in the market for a tenor saxophone, you have a fun process ahead of you. There is no greater feeling than that you experience when you find the right instrument for you.
But how can you know when you’ve found it? There are a few things that you should think about when you buy a tenor saxophone, or any instrument, really.
Here are a few thoughts that might help you to choose among all the different models available.
Decide What’s Most Important
If you would ask me what the most important thing is when choosing a saxophone, I would without hesitation answer: the sound!
For me, it’s vital that I sort of connect with the instrument I’m playing as if it was my child or close friend.
If you try a few different saxophones, chances are that you will feel when you’ve found the right one. You’ll love the tone, it will feel comfortable and easy to play, and you will like the way it looks.
What you base that feeling on is different for different people.
You want to find a horn that works well for the genre you play most often. When it comes to tenor saxophones, this genre is very often jazz.
Try listening to a few different saxophonists and analyze what kind of sax sound you like the most. Then look for a saxophone that sounds like that.
Remember that using the right mouthpiece affects the tone a lot too!
Why not watch demos on YouTube? It’s an excellent way of learning more about the different saxophones available.
You can even make a playlist with your favorites to make it easier to remember them and compare them to each other.
The next step would be to go to a music shop that specializes in wind instruments and try them out yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff for help.
It can be good to play the same songs on the different saxophones you’re trying so that you can really compare them well.
You can also put your phone a couple of meters away and record what you’re playing. That way you can hear what the saxophones sound like both to you who are playing and to the audience that’s listening.
If you are a total beginner and have no idea how to play you can ask if somebody who works there is able to play a little for you so that you can hear the difference.
If you’re taking lessons you can also ask your teacher what saxophone he or she recommends.
Another thing that will most likely help you come to a decision is the design. Do you want a very traditional-looking saxophone, or would you rather have a silver, black or copper sax?
I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the design is very important, but it can be fun to have a saxophone that looks great!
Another design aspect is what the saxophone feels like to hold. Try to play all the way down as well as all the way up to see if it’s comfortable for you to play both low and high notes.
No matter what we shop for, we often have our favorite brands. Shoes, cars, make-up- if they’re from a brand we like, we’re going to love the product even more.
This is often a result of good marketing and we might not have loved the item as much if it was from a cheap brand or didn’t feature a brand name at all.
How should you think when you’re buying musical instruments, then? How much are you paying for just the brand? Is the quality of branded instruments the same as the cheaper look-alikes?
My opinion is that you get what you pay for, and if you, for example, buy an instrument from Jupiter or Yamaha, you know what you’re going to get.
On the other hand, if you’re a beginner and want to spend as little as possible, there are pretty good affordable options out there, but it’s always much more of a gamble than if you go with a well-renowned brand.
This is something that is especially noticeable when it comes to the included accessories. For instance, if you buy a cheap saxophone, the neck strap will most likely not have any padding and will be very uncomfortable and the included mouthpiece will be really bad, as well.
Yes, I’m talking from personal experience. Overall, it’s a much better experience to buy a good saxophone from a well-renowned brand.
If you buy a cheap instrument, make sure that you test play it so that everything is working and look closely so that it’s whole and well-made.
One potential problem when it comes to cheaper brands is that if it breaks it can be hard to find somebody who wants to fix it for you.
It might be impossible to find the right parts and there is probably not much of a warranty to speak of.
Branded saxophones are usually easy to get fixed as they will be covered by a generous warranty. It’s easy to know where you need to turn to if you need to get the instrument serviced or repaired.
Buying a Used Tenor Saxophone
It’s perfectly possible to find a bargain if you’re willing to buy a used saxophone. However, you should always ask how old it is and when they last got it serviced.
Ideally, it should not be more than 2 years old, but it depends on how much they have played it. If it hasn’t been serviced for quite some time (or ever), but still plays well, try to negotiate a lower price.
Make sure that you try it out properly and that all keys are working and everything sounds good.
Look closely so that there are no scratches on the surface and that everything seems to be in place.
The tenor saxophone is a wonderful instrument that most people absolutely love, myself included. It’s a hobby that’s not only fun but can be a good way for you to express your emotions as well as entertain other people.
Now, you might think that it sounds like an awfully difficult process to find the right horn for you and wonder just how bad it could be if you simply go online and buy one without comparing lots of different horns.
My answer is that there is, of course, nothing wrong with that, and I’m not going to try to stop you. But I would recommend that you do try to compare a few and test play them before you make up your mind.
It’s extremely hard to tell if an instrument is right for you before you’ve played it. It’s just such a personal thing. Even if you might find my and other’s reviews helpful, you still need to try the saxophones yourself to find out if they’re to your taste.
That’s everything you need to know and that I wished that I knew when I bought my very first saxophone many years ago.
I really hope that this little article has helped you in the hunt for the perfect tenor saxophone and that you’ll be able to find one that you can play for many years to come!