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Saxophone Guide

This guide shows you the differences between the saxophones, so you can decide which version of the SaxTuition Beginner Series is right for you.

Most common: Alto & Tenor

Alto Saxophone


Alto Saxophone - E Flat (Eb) 

The Alto Saxophone is an Eb Instrument, and is the most common saxophone available. It's smaller size and lighter weight make it a popular choice for beginners. Most students will have grown large enough to hold one of these instruments by about age 10.

Famous players: Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, David Sanborn, Johnny Hodges, Candy Dulfer.

Go to Eb Series
Tenor Saxophone


Tenor Saxophone - B Flat (Bb)

The Tenor Saxophone is a Bb Instrument, and is another common saxophone type. It's larger size and weight give it a lower tone, but is best suited to players aged in their mid-teens and older . Notice that the neck of the tenor saxophone has a kink in it, compared to the smoother neck of the alto.

Famous players: John Coltrane, Michael Brecker, Grover Washington Jr., Lenny Pickett, Wayne Shorter. 

Go to Bb Series

Less common: Soprano & Baritone

Soprano Saxophone


Soprano Saxophone - B Flat (Bb) 

The Soprano Saxophone is a Bb Instrument, and is considered more of a specialty saxophone. Although the smaller size can make it easier for a younger student to pick up, it also presents many challenges for inexperienced players, as the smaller size can greatly affect intonation (tuning) and tone production. SaxTuition recommends that only students with prior woodwind experience (e.g. clarinet) start with this instrument.

Famous players: Kenny G, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter.

Go to Bb Series
Baritone Saxophone


Baritone Saxophone - E Flat (Eb)

The Baritone Saxophone is an Eb Instrument, and is the largest type of saxophone readily available. It has a deep, rich sound with a gravelly tone. The baritone saxophone is only recommended for those in their mid-late teens and older, and is also considered more of a specialty saxophone.

Famous players: Gerry Mulligan, Stephen "Doc" Kupka, Harry Carney.

Go to Eb Series

E Flat (Eb) or B Flat (Bb): What does it all mean?


Saxophones are transposing instruments, meaning they are pitched differently than a piano or a guitar.

To match the note of C on the piano, an Alto or Baritone saxophone must play an Eb (pronounced E flat).
To match the note of C on the piano, a Tenor or Soprano saxophone must play a Bb (pronounced B flat).

For that reason, the
SaxTuition Beginner Series comes in 2 different versions: E Flat (Eb) and B Flat (Bb).

The fingerings for each note on the saxophone are identical across the entire saxophone family, i.e. a G on Alto is played the same as a G on tenor, even though the actual pitch they produce is different.

Apart from the playalong tracks, the 2 versions are actually identical to each other, as saxophone technique between the 4 instruments is fully transferable. The playalong tracks on the Eb version are recorded on Alto Saxophone, whilst the tracks on the Bb version are recorded on Tenor Saxophone, as these are the most popular (and recommended) choices for a beginner. The videos for both versions of the series are presented on alto saxophone, as the techniques and fingerings are the same across all instruments.





More questions?

Is the SaxTuition Beginner Series for all saxophones?
What equipment will I need before starting the series?
I can't read music! Can I still learn with SaxTuition?
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