The saxophone, also known as the “king of jazz”, is an instrument that has certainly revolutionized the world of music, even if, at first, it did not receive as much credit as it should have.
The saxophone, a wind musical instrument, was invented in 1840 by the Belgian Adolphe Sax and was initially used more for the interpretation of military music. Its name comes from the name of the inventor – “sax” – to which was added the Greek suffix “phonos” – “sound” / “voice”. Despite the fact that the sound of the saxophone, at first, was somewhat challenged by some musicians, great composers of classical music, such as Rossini, Berlioz, Bizet, Debussy integrated it into the orchestra.
Maurice Ravel, in 1928, in his famous “Bolero”, made to hear, successively, refined melodic lines belonging to the saxophone. However, the glory of this musical instrument came with the appearance of jazz, at the beginning of the 20th century.
How much does a saxophone cost?
The cost of a saxophone is influenced by many factors including the type, brand, the quality of sound it makes, and where you buy it from.
A saxophone can cost anywhere from $350 for a simple student model to as much as $9,000 or more for a professional saxophone. The average price range is between $1,200 and $4,500 for a good instrument.
A beginner’s kit is a great way to get started in the world of wind instruments. The price for a student model can be anywhere between $270 and $1,300 and will give you some quality sounds. It is recommended for the first two to three years of studying. For instance, The Conductor Model 300 Sax costs around $300 to $600.
For those who are looking to upgrade from their student or beginner model, the intermediate saxophone will typically cost anywhere between $1,300 and $2,700.
For those looking to purchase a professional-grade saxophone, prices will typically fall between $2,300 and $7,500. This price range will vary depending on the materials from which it’s made with higher-end models costing up to $12,000 or more.
Tenor Saxophones are some of the most popular instruments due to their versatility. They come in all shapes and sizes, but you can find one for just about any budget. The price for one starts at $800 and goes up to $9,000.
The Alto saxophone is an excellent choice for both beginners and more experienced players. It can cost anywhere from $280 to $5,500.
For a Baritone saxophone, you may pay anywhere between $2,700 and $7,500.
Depending on the brand, an electric saxophone can cost $500 to $900.
The price for a soprano saxophone is anywhere between $650 and $5,300.
The mini saxophones are usually bought as collectibles and cost around $60 to $120.
The price for a higher-end saxophone like the Contrabass is $16,000 to more than $33,000.
Saxophones are also recognized as hybrid instruments, located on the bridge between wooden and brass wind instruments. It is important to know that today’s ones differ from the original creations from 1840. There are a total of 9 types of saxophones: Sopranissimo, Sopranino Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass, Contrabass, and Subcontrabass.
However, even though there are 9 different types of saxophones in total, only 6 of them are more common, representing the timbres of the human voice: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Baritone, Bass and Contrabass.
Alto saxophone is the most used model, both by beginners and by professional artists, being considered the solo instrument in its family. It has an appropriate timbre for many expressions and feelings, melancholic and nostalgic, grotesque or humorous. It is also preferred by composers, having a richer repertoire of classical concerts, but it is also used in other musical genres such as jazz, commercial or modern music. Due to its smaller size and ease of interpretation, it is most recommended for children.
The Tenor saxophone, in terms of size, is slightly larger than the Alto type; the mouthpiece is also larger and has a tighter elbow. It is used in many musical styles, such as jazz, rock, pop, but also modern music.
The Baritone saxophone is bigger than the tenor one and is especially sought after by male saxophonist instrumentalists, both amateur and professionals. Because it is lower, it is harder to blow and finger press, so it is not recommended for children at first.
The Soprano saxophone is a model that can be straight or curved. It can be quite a rather challenging and complex choice for a beginner, so it is not recommended. It has a full sound and is used in fanfares and orchestras but is less common in jazz. When in the high register, its sound is between that of an oboe and a clarinet, and in the low register it resembles an English horn.
What are the extra costs?
A method book is highly recommended for the new saxophone players.
A mouthpiece is an important part of playing the saxophone. The one that’s included with your instrument may not be top quality, so it might make sense for you to purchase a premium model instead. Premium models can cost anywhere from $35 to more than $160.
All of the accessories you need for a complete set are about $60. These include a neck strap, reeds, cleaning cloths, and cork grease.
In order to get the most out of your saxophone lessons, All-Star Activities recommends that you practice for at least 30 minutes per day. This will ensure a high retention rate. Depending on the teacher you hire, the price for a 30-minute learning session is $30 to $45 and the 60 minutes sessions cost up to $65.
A beginner should purchase a number 1 1/2 or 2 reed, and according to All-Star Activities, they tend to be replaced every three weeks.
Repairing your musical instruments should always be a top priority, especially if you are investing in them. Depending on the damage, the costs can be as little as $15 for replacing a blue needle spring to more than $1,000 to overhaul the whole instrument. Depending on the type and size, the cost for repadding your saxophone is anywhere between $15 and $40.
Important things to consider
First of all, it is important to know that the minimum recommended age to start studying the saxophone is 10 years, but, in exceptional circumstances, it can start even earlier. Regardless of the age of the beginner, Alto and Tenor saxophones are the best choice for any music enthusiast at the beginning of the road. Instead, Soprano, Baritone, Bass, and Contrabass saxophones are recommended for experienced people, as a large force of keystrokes and blowing is required to reach the desired sound.
The Tenor saxophone is the best choice if you want to play rock music. Alto is perfect for a classical repertoire, and for modern music and jazz, Alto or Tenor is the most recommended.
The saxophone must be cleaned each time it has been used, using a special cloth for both the inside and the outside. After cleaning, it is recommended to store it in a special cover or bag that gives it safety and protection, so that it is protected from dust, scratches, bumps, or other shocks.
Top brands to consider
- LA Sax
How can I save money?
In case you are new to the instrument and have no idea if it will be something worth your time, take into consideration the option to rent one for a few months. The fees may add up in long term but this saves from spending thousands on an investment that could turn out not even being enjoyable after all. According to the Hub, the annual costs for renting a saxophone are even higher than a student version. If you choose to rent one, the monthly cost would be anywhere between $50 and $70.
You can find a used one on eBay or Craigslist. Check out the many listings in these two places, and you’ll save more than 40% off retail prices.